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Essentially England News, January 2011 - More to Explore
January 29, 2011

More to Explore

A cheerful welcome to everyone who subscribed to Essentially England News during the last month! Here you'll find England news, site news, travel tips, reviews and our Recipe of the Month, all in one easy-to-digest email.

Essentially England is relocating! We're leaving the Cotswolds and moving to South Northamptonshire. Despite all the upheaval, I'm really rather excited about the prospect of exploring an area of England I know relatively little about.

There's Towcester (pronounced 'Toaster'), a Roman garrison town on Watling Street, mentioned in Charles Dickens' Pickwick Papers. Buckingham, Brackley and Daventry are close. Stowe Landscape Park is right on our doorstep and the asparagus fields and endless beaches of Norfolk are now sooo much closer!

What's New at Essentially England?

Moving home is a rather disruptive activity, and we're going to do it twice this year! Still, I'll try and fit in as much writing as I can to keep you up to date with all things England.

In the first instance, keep an eye on the Royal Weddings page for lots of info about the grand spectacle of 2011. As well as the wedding of William and Kate, I'm having a lot of fun researching historical royal weddings. Hands up if you know which king secretly married the woman of his dreams while his cousin negotiated an 'official' marrige for him with the daughter of the King of France.

Travel Tips and Reviews

With a whole new area of England to explore right from our doorstep, I doubt that we'll feel the need to travel further away this year!

But there's still lots going on. There's still time to book a romantic weekend away in time for Valentine's Day.

Alternatively, a holiday cottage makes an ideal base to explore a specific part of England in comfort and there are some really good deals to be had if you book now.

Fairs, Festivals and Things to Do

January and February can be a bit of a dearth, with the weather still far from inviting. Maybe that's why Valentine's Day, National Toffee Day and Pancake Day all attract so much interest.

This year, I might actually make it to Olney in Buckinghamshire for the traditional Pancake Day Race. But Pancake Day celebrations are held all across the country, so take a look at what's going on locally around your neck of the woods or keep an eye on the Essentially England blog, where I'll post up any news I find.

Recipe of the Month - Potted Cheese

We love cheese and tend to buy rather more than we need to cover the Christmas festivities. Once the indulgent days have passed, there tends to be lots of leftover cheese in the fridge. But, after days of feasting, rich cheesy bakes are not so high on my list of favourites. I tend to crave fresh food and salads, so what is one to do with all that leftover cheese?

Potted cheese is usually the answer. It uses up all the leftovers and, served as a light lunch with crunchy toast and lots of salad, feeds the January cravings perfectly. In addition it's also easy to make and needs next to no cooking.

To make potted cheese you need a few greased ramekins or small ceramic dishes. You also need cheese, butter, sherry and flavourings.

Use any hard cheese you like - Cheddar, Cheshire, Wensleydale, Red Leicester and Stilton all work well, even all mixed together. To flavour your potted cheese you can use chopped chives, mustard, a little mace or even cracked black pepper. Cheshire goes well with chives or chopped watercress. Red Leicester makes a tasty spread with cracked black pepper. And I find that Cheddar is amazing flavoured with grainy mustard - even though my husband disagrees.

As you can see, it's only your imagination that's the limit to a tasty spread. So be brave and experiment!

Grate your cheese and mix with half the quantity of butter in a blender. (i.e. if you have 100g of grated cheese, add 50g of butter). Add 1-2 tablespoons of sherry and your chosen flavouring, then blend to a paste. Taste the mixture and add a little more flavouring if needed. You want to end up with a spreadable paste.

Fill your ramekins with the cheese mix and flatten the top. If you don't plan to serve the potted cheese the same day, heat a little butter in a pan and - when hot and bubbling - pour it over the cheese mixture to seal. Once the butter is cool, store the ramekins in the fridge and eat within 2-3 days.

And Next Month …

I've had quite a few queries about holiday and caravan parks in England recently, so I'm spending a bit of time researching this topic. Look out for a few pages on the things I find out...

Until then, keep well and think of England…

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