Hills, Cheese, Snow, Cake

Grasmor from Harris Park, Cockermouth

19th March 2013

As you can see it is pretty wintry still in England this week. This view of the fells from Harris Park in Cockermouth gives you a feel for the raw and unsettled weather we have at the moment.

Windfarm on Cumbrian fieldsToday we drove in search of Dad’s opthamology appointment to two different hospitals as he wasn’t sure which one it was in, which added a certain frisson to the proceedings, but all went well and we had a lovely drive over the fells, waved at the sea at Whitehaven, and passed the windfarms on the fells as the snow and sleet gusted around us.

We returned via Thornby Moor Dairy Cheese Farm (as recommended by our friend Andrew Auld of the Loaf in Crich) where we sampled and bought some wonderful cheeses.

Thornby Moor Dairy

Cumberland Farmhouse Cheese from Thornby Moor Dairy, Carlisle

Cheeses made with unpasteurized milk from shorthorns, delicious goat cheeses and artisan farmhouse cheeses.

Before being unwrapped and cut

We admired the timeline of cheese on the shelves and then returned to Cockermouth for lunch. Edit: In view of some of your comments I will try and add a bit more here – I may not have understood this in its entirety but the cheese maker who came out to help us expalined that the rows of cheeses on the shelves were all the same cheese, the small version of the farmhouse cheese at different points between 0 – 3 months. The mould gathers on the outside of the cloth the cheese is wrapped in, which is removed before being presented for sale. The dairy produces a blue cheese but this wasn’t it. I apologise if I haven’t got this quite right.

Maturing cheese at Thornby Moor Dairy Cheese Farm

This afternoon we popped out to the New Bookshop for coffee and cake.

Coffee and Gingerbread

The New Bookshop alone has sold more than 200 copies of The Cockermouth Poets, which I think is pretty impressive for a poetry anthology!

The Cockermouth Poets

Zeb has been not very well but we hope he is finally on the mend. He loves it up here usually and he has been very miserable. We love the out of hours vets who gave him pain relief on Sunday night at 10 30 pm when he couldn’t stand up without twisting and turning. Yesterday he managed to produce part of the bag that he ate 12 days ago which has somehow managed to travel through his digestive tract and re-appear as a gigantic Cuban cigar of rolled leather. So lets hope that he recovers fully. He slept in the middle of the bed last night.

Now it’s time to cook supper again: roast vegetables and chicken pieces I think, and maybe sharpen the kitchen knives before I start.

42 thoughts on “Hills, Cheese, Snow, Cake

  1. skybluepinkish

    What beautiful cheeses. I’m only over the hills from you, I wonder why we tend to go north or south on our days out rather than west? Shall have to rectify that. Meg sends Zeb lots of tail wags (and tramadol if he wants it!!)

    1. Joanna Post author

      I love driving over the Penines but like you tend to go north and south. Thanks for the doggy love. I am sure Zeb would love Meg.

  2. Misky

    Great news on the anthology, and such a good cause, too. And those cheeses, oh, my! Love to Zeb, and I hope that he’s on the mend now. xx

    1. Joanna Post author

      It was a wonderfully cool and damp place and a good distraction. I am hopeful he is over the worst now. I only write about it to let doggy people know just how long it can take for foreign bodies to work their way through. I would not have credited it.

  3. Celia @ Fig Jam and Lime Cordial

    Poor Zeb, I thought only goats did things like eating leather strapping. I hope he’s feeling better soon. The wintery mountains look cold but strikingly beautiful, and I do wonder if you might have put me off blue cheese forever.. ;-) Have a lovely time, darling! x

    1. Joanna Post author

      Some dogs eat all sorts of stuff, labradors are famous for it. Cats too apparently. I hope I haven’t put you off cheese! I have had a go at explaining the process, but I am not 100% sure I remember it right. The cut cheese in the post is the big version of the smaller ones. He took the cloth off while we were there and cut it. No furry mould.

  4. drfugawe

    I thought doggies were supposed to have stomach acids that take care of those kinds of things! Hummm. I love the mold on that cheese – I once tried my hand at making a blue cheese – it aged more than 6 months in my garage and looked to have the right kind of molds, etc. But first taste was quite awful, and my career as a cheese-maker ended abruptly. I have great respect for cheese-makers.

    1. Joanna Post author

      Not thick leather like this. We puzzled over this, as he eats chews made of hide but the vet said they can”t digest because tanning changes the structure of the leather.

      I would love to be a cheese maker,sorry to hear yours didn’t work.

  5. Cas

    The furry cheeses I find rather alarming but the others look gorgeous, real farmhouse cheese and fresh baked bread, mmmm. It takes me back to school days and Oxfam lunches, they were no hardship as they were beautiful crusty bread and farmhouse Cheshire Cheese.

    1. Joanna Post author

      We wanted to stroke them -in that context they made sense,not like discovering one in a forgotten tub in the darkest recesses of the fridge.
      Oxfam lunch sounds perfect, with maybe a dill gherkin or a little lime pickle :)

  6. ardysez

    Would love to taste those cheeses! Had a similar day with my ageing, somewhat confused Mum, but without the nice scenery!

    1. Joanna Post author

      Hi Ardy (is that the right way to address you?) I wish we could have tastings on the blog too. Hospital visits do take it out of everyone a bit, I hope your day ended up OK xx

  7. timethief

    Poor Zeb. I feel sorry for for him. It’s good to hear the plastic bag has passed through him now after 12 days. Thank goodness he has only a single stomach, which is not to say that cannot be problematic, nor is it to suggest that pets that ingest plastic bags will always pass them as that’s not always so. It is to say my friend has lost three sheep who have eaten plastic bags that got entangled within and resulted in her having to put them down. She now has a large sign and a trashcan for tourist use. The sign features photos of the dead sheep and explains that people must not feed any apples or carrots to any of her farm animals and toss the plastic bags on the ground. Plastic bags are not innocuous. They are killers of pets, farm animals and wildlife too.

    1. Joanna Post author

      It was leather he ate, the straps and tags and toggles off a large ‘manly’ Healthy Back Bag. This big piece was about a third of the main single backstrap. The rest of the bag is canvas. One of these bags :- http://www.thehealthybackbag.co.uk/bag/4605-bk
      He doesn’t eat the metal or the canvas bits at least. Our vet at home took a dessert spoon out of a dog’s stomach last week.
      Paradoxically if it had been plastic he wouldn’t have eaten it.

      If the foreign body makes it through the small intestine – the main danger site where it can easily form a blockage – and into the colon and out, his chances are good, though he may yet get an ulcer or pancreatitis. He is doing better now and I appreciate your concern. xx

      I hear what you are saying about sheep though. Plastic bags are a complete menace to both terrestial and marine animals. Net bags for fruits are also dangerous and those plastic bands that hold bunches of cans together can strangle birds. On the few occasions I have to dispose of these I always cut them up into pieces. I am sorry for your friend.

      1. timethief

        Thanks for explaining it was leather that Zeb consumed. Sorry I missed that and was off base when I replied. Plastics are horrific polluters that do not always break when exposed to stomach acid. Our vet has alerted us all to plastic bag dangers and I hope that knowledge spreads. I hope Zeb gets better soon and doesn’t develop either an ulcer or pancreatitis.

        1. Joanna Post author

          Not at all,. I was interested to read your comment. He is on a very sloppy soft diet right now and am hoping he makes good recovery. (He of course thinks he is fine !)

  8. ray@garlicbuddha

    Cheeses look great!
    Did you catch the Paul Hollywood Bread programme? I thought it was rather good.

    We only have cats in our household and they can get up to plenty of mischief. Sue filmed one of them destroying a paper bag recently…. I shall see if I can post it……

    1. Joanna Post author

      Missed it, was it on today? Cats and dogs – at times I wonder why, but in my heart I know why :)

  9. heidiannie

    The cheeses are beautiful- moldy is kind of gross- but also quite cool in that the flavor of the cheese is produced partly from its aging process. Since I am going through the aging process myself- it is rather impressive.
    So sorry for Zeb- my niece’s dog ate a plastic child’s toy and had to have surgery- a rolled up cigar of leather sounds like a much easier way to get it out.
    And I love sharp knives- I carry my sharpener with me when I travel to other kitchens in which I will cook.
    Love the bookstore, books and cake – and I love to hear of your traveling the fells.
    Even in the winter cold.
    (Spring is tomorrow.)

    1. Joanna Post author

      Brian says that as far as he knows most cheeses are matured in a similar way with moulds, just some look nicer than others. The rind moulds are the ones we are more familiar with like Camembert and Stilton. I think we are maturing too :))

      I was just impressed with how his guts dealt with it and think he was lucky. Poor neice’s dog. The trouble is they don’t seem to learn to leave the unsuitable things alone…

      I think I will copy you and take my sharpener with me next time. That was a very good gingerbread style cake, one I would love to make.

      The paper says that last year at this time we had a heat wave, hard to believe xx

  10. Ann

    Oh poor, poor Zeb – and you – it is so dreadful to see animals suffer. Spot sends commiserations and we hope he is recovering well now – I had no idea it would take so long for something to pass through. The cocos palm seeds that Spot ate are covered with fibres which stuck to his gut so there was no option but surgery in his case.
    Best wishes to your Dad – I had cataracts removed last year and it is an amazing op. I couldn’t get over the brightness of colour and it is lovely not to have to bother with glasses.
    What fantastic cheeses!

    1. Joanna Post author

      Thanks Ann and Spot -gosh those palm seeds sound horrible, are they ‘designed’ to kill the animal that eats them, very nasty sounding indeed. Dad sends his best wishes and looks encouaged to hear how you have got on.

      Yes, those cheeses … and oh… my waistline …. :)

  11. Melanie

    I love your pictures of the beautiful countryside. I do wish I get to visit Europe/England some day. I think I will come in the summer though:)
    So sorry to hear that Zeb has not been feeling her self. I know it was scary for us when once our retriever decided to ingest some big chunks of his plasic toy. If you catch them right away you give them Hydrogen Peroxide followed by warm H2O and it will come right back up. We quit giving our dog rawhide chews because contrary to what they tell you, they DO NOT digest very well. We only gave our retriever chews made of digestible food solids.
    I loooove cheese. Your visit to the cheese shop sounds very fun. I like to learn how things are made!!
    Take care and hoping you are having a lovely day!!

    1. Joanna Post author

      Hi Melanie! We drove home today and there were warnings of ‘adverse weather’ on the overheads all the way down the motorways and the gritters were out. It was sunny most of the way, but it is pouring and blowing tonight down here in the south-west. Do come to our little country one day, it’s a lovely place. The vet did talk about making him vomit but said that also carried risks and it was a bit late by the time we took him in. The main thing is not to leave desirable leather goods on the floor as he thinks if it is on the floor it is fair game.

      I might have to experiment one day with cheese making, I love cheese too!

  12. bakecakecrumbs

    Hope Zeb is continuing to improve, it all sounds fairly traumatic so I’m glad the worst is hopefully over. I’m very impressed by that mouldy cheese picture, fascinating to think that this is part of the normal process for a mature cheese. I can’t believe how bitter the weather has been recently – I was up in Kendal a couple of weeks ago for my mum’s birthday and it was snowing then. Needless to say, she doesn’t usually expect it to snow on her birthday!

    1. Joanna Post author

      He is doing OK now thankyou! I just wish we could have some sunshine, cold or not I don’t mind, but this gloom is not inspiring me to go out and wag my tail… Lets hope Spring will be lovely when it turns up finally xx

  13. Jan

    Poor Zeb – it’s such a distressing thing to see an animal in pain isn’t it. However, I bet if you served Zeb ‘handle of man bag’ in his dish for dinner he would look askance at it! I remember our dog just thought it was heavenly to gulp down the cats’ dinner from their dish but if we put it in his bowl – he would look at us as if he was going to report us to ‘the authorities’. I hope Zeb is continuing to improve, which I see from the weather reports, your weather is not doing. The photos of the countryside, to me, look fabulous and your description of snow and sleet gusting around the car is my stuff of dreams – as is repairing to a bookshop for coffee and cake – I shall now take those thoughts with me and stand under the fan to do our ironing! Your Dad’s book is doing very well, he must be quietly very pleased with the response.

    1. Joanna Post author

      It makes you feel very anxious that’s for sure, but the vets are very good at explaining what the options are and doing what they do. This isn’t the first time he has gone for leather, when he was a pup he took Brian’s belt out of his trousers where they were lying on a chair and ate it all and ended up in vet hospital for two days and nights and he once took a friend’s wallet out of her bag (on the floor) and ate it, but he hadn’t done it for years and B has had this bag for several years so it was a bit unexpected. We have always moved shoes and not left him with them, but he only does this when we are home, never when we are out. Go figure eh? One theory of mine is that he does it when he is bored as a way of getting attention and then when we don’t notice, he just kind of goes for it…

      We haven’t had the dreadful snow yet that they have had in the North this time round, but it is bitter cold and grey and sad out there, there are a few daffodils and some cherry blossom, but the wind is from the East and very very nasty. You are welcome to come and do your ironing here, bring extra sweaters and woolie socks xx

  14. helenogorman2013

    Hello Joanna I am not sure if this is a way to make a comment as it is really a general question. I have been making the weekly sourdough for some time . I notice sometimes the finished product is a bit sticky to the touch when sliced. I like this technique because it means I can have a fresh sourdough about 11. 30 am. I previously did the Dan Lepard mill loaf for ages and still really enjoy that too. Any observations about the gumminess would be appreciated. I love your blog and I hope Zeb is feeling better. Best wishes to you , Helen

    1. Joanna Post author

      hi Helen, I can suggest a couple of things to think about. The most likely is that it needs longer baking time in the oven. You could also start the bake at a higher temperature. Start at 240 and drop it back after 10 minutes to 220 and so on… None of these things are set in stone, but are the way I did them at the time I wrote the post. Also you should mke sure it cools completely before cutting as the crumb or middle of the dough needs time to set. My baking books talk about cooling being the final part of the baking process. It may be the rye that makes it a little sticky when fresh. I sometimes use wholemeal or spelt instead of rye in this loaf, it works fine too.

      Susan at Wild Yeast always used to leave her loaves in the oven for ten minutes with the door open and the oven switched off, I have done that too, it gives you a slightly firmer crust and dries the bread out further. Have you tried making the bread all in one day without the overnight prove and seeing if it gives you a better crumb? That is another thing to try as well, or experimenting with a different brand of flour maybe?

      Thsnkyou for reading my blog and best wishes and Happy Baking – Zeb is back to naughty self again! Joanna

  15. Sincerely, Emily

    Sending healthy vibes to Zeb. I imagine the bag tasted great as he was chewing, but doesn’t sound like fun while it has been in him. UGH!. The cheese looks great.

    1. Joanna Post author

      He has finally stopped producing remnants and is off to be clipped and bathed today. Thanks for the vibes Emily, I wish I could send him over to you for a cuddle and a tummy rub xx

      1. Sincerely, Emily

        Yes, we did. What a unique place with all the things he collected. I really enjoyed seeing the little “house” out back where he and his wife actually like.The big house was just for his collections. And loved the gardens.

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