“Most people think that game is a commodity to be used only in the winter months. Not so. Game can be cooked a number of different ways on a BBQ; breast of pheasant and partridge being some of my favourites. Rabbit and hare lion can also be good, as can the old forgotten but ever succulent pigeon breast.
All of these are great on a BBQ, and now that the summer is here, these meats tick all the right boxes being a very healthy meat cooked in a healthy way. The reason they cook well on a BBQ is that they are what we as chefs call ‘first class cuts’ of meat - these are the most tender muscles - in this case the breasts and loins, that do little or no work. These cuts also contain little or no sinew and therefore can be cooked using quick cooking methods.
So called ‘second class cuts’ are muscles that do lots of work, are fibrous and contain lots of sinew. This does not make it a bad piece of meat - in fact the cuts from these muscles are full of flavour and moist and tender once cooked. They just require longer cooking to break down the sinew and tougher muscle fibres in the meat to make it palatable and digestible.
So all meat falls in to two main cooking categories:
First class cuts:
These can be used for first class (quick) methods of cookery, e.g. pan frying, grilling, griddling, roasting and BBQs
Second class cuts:
These can be used for second class methods of cookery e.g. pot roasting, stewing, braising, and boiling.
Pheasant breast seasoned and brushed with a little light olive oil, cooked for a few minutes on each side on a BBQ can be served a multitude of ways: At last week’s East of England Show I served the pheasant breast with a ramekin of sweet chilli dressing and baby leaf salad - this makes a fantastic summer combination. Here is the recipe for the sweet chilli dressing.
Sweet Chilli Dressing
4 Red chillies
2.5lt White wine vinegar
300g light brown granulated sugar (you can use white sugar this will make the end product lighter in colour)
3 balls of glace stem ginger
2 desert spoons of honey
Step one: Cut the chillies in half and remove the seeds.
Step two: Slice the chillies into very tin strips and then chop finely.
Step three: Add some oil to a pan when the oil is hot quickly stir fry the chilli until you can see the oil going a reddish colour.
Step four: Add the white wine vinegar and bring to boil.
Step five: Add sugar and honey
Step six: Cut the ginger into slices and then strips, then add to vinegar and sugar mix.
Step seven: Allow to reduce by half. The dressing should have thickened slightly so that it just coats the back of a spoon.
Step eight: Remove from stove, allow to cool. If it tastes too sharp replace on stove and add a little more sugar and reduce a little further. If too sweet add more vinegar and again replace on stove to reduce a little further. Then place in fridge to chill.
This dressing is best served cold. It will also keep for a long time provided it is stored in a sealed bottle or jar."
Editor's note:Don't forget to leave your comments and questions by clicking the 'Comments' tab below.
“Following our first strawberries last week, they are now ripening at a rate of knots. In fact, I think the jam pan will be on tonight. The gooseberries are being picked – Dan eats them raw, which gives me the heebie-jeebies. I prefer mine with a nice oaty crumble topping. We’ve had a real problem with sawfly, on both the gooseberries and the red and white currants. These little blighters can strip the leaves off a bush overnight. Sometimes, they can be controlled by hand stripping, but in bad cases, derris does the job.
I’ve bought four bags of calcified seaweed and, now that it’s rained, I’m going to top dress the sweetcorn, which is looking really miserable. I don’t think the bed that it’s in has the best soil, but it will get better as we get more organic matter into it.
The Hubbard chicks doing well – they’re now four weeks old and growing like weeds. Dan gave them a pot of bolted lettuce yesterday – that was great fun. Eat it then dust bathe in the compost.
The broody is still broody. Thursday 2nd July is day 21 so by next weekend we’ll either have chicks or not. Our Cream Crested Legbar cockerel, Hugo, has settled into his new home and has found his voice – his new owner says it feels like she’s really in the country now.
Lyra seems to have recovered from whatever ailed her. I’m so glad. I feel almost confident enough to splash out £5 to register her. She was playing with Dickie last night which was good to see and was running around just for the fun of it. Then all the sheep joined in – even Juno, who is a little porky, was springing around with all four feet off the ground. You may have felt the tremors as she landed!
The pigs are now 16 weeks and on 12lb of food each day. We need to find a new supplier – our usual one has closed down, unfortunately. Add that to the “to do” list.
We’re expecting two new additions to the family in a few weeks – Harry and Bertie are two nine week old black kittens, who are going to be our new rodent control, following the demise of Cassius in March. Why Harry and Bertie? Well, I looked at one kitten and the name “Harry” popped into me head, so that was that. We were then persuaded to go along a Harry Potter theme – Bertie has been provisionally Sirius, Dobby, Albus, but he is now named after (as all Harry Potter fans will know) Bertie Bott, the maker of the famous All-flavour Beans. We can’t bring them home until they have their second vaccinations, because Felix carries Feline Herpes Virus (cat flu). So 22nd July is the big day!”
Training your dog to greet people in a calm manner is essential
"A walk in the park with your dog should be a pleasurable and fun experience for both you and your dog; unfortunately, for many dog owners it can deteriorate into something more akin to a walk on the wild side.
Several borough councils have initiated moves to ensure that in certain public areas all dogs will have to be kept on leads. So it is all the more important that we teach our pooch not to pull on the lead, and to meet and greet other people and dogs with a degree of self-control and decorum and generally be all round good citizens.
Many of the behaviour problems that we see in really quite young dogs can be discouraged when owners learn to lead from the front. We expect our dogs to follow behaviour patterns that are unnatural to them; for example, when dogs meet each other in the wild there is much excitement, licking of lips, wagging of tails and sniffing of each others ‘bits'. Most people are a little more restrained when encountering friends and family and while you might get away with some of a dogs meet and greet behaviours, you will be in big trouble if you try the sniffing business!
Don’t encourage your puppy to jump up or nip. If he does this, stand up, turn away and ignore these behaviours, and then praise the puppy in calm, relaxed and gentle manner as soon as he settles at your feet. If your praise excites him, turn away again and praise him in a more sensitive way as he calms down. You will need to be consistent with this and ‘train’ as many people as possible that have contact with the puppy to do the same. Training the people will be much more difficult than your puppy."
Editor's note: Don't forget you can leave your comments for Howard by clicking the 'Comments' tab below.
“The next couple of days, I’ll be guiding for barbel down on the glorious River Wye on the borders of Wales. Along with the salmon, the barbell is the most majestic European river fish.
The recent appeal of the barbel is not hard to define. They look absolutely magnificent and they fight like they’re supercharged. They’re cunning and they represent a real challenge to the angler. Above all, they inhabit rivers which are the real test of an angler’s mettle.
The story of the Wye and its barbel is an interesting one. Until the 1960s / 70s, the Wye was England’s premier salmon river. The salmon then declined rapidly and, from the later 80s, the barbel began to fill the niche. Now, they are throughout the lower and middle river. In areas, they are heavily populated. A river that really was on its knees is once again a Mecca for anglers.
Me? I can’t wait.”
“Another fantastic day here at Hickstead with Geoff Luckett and Shane Breen firmly dominating the leader board once again. Geoff rode the Old Lodge’s R Little Lefanie to another stunning victory in the Stoner Jewellers Vase and Shane very nearly managed another victory in the Bunn Leisure Derby Trial. However, he was pipped to the post by two fantastic rounds from Jo Pay. The only two clear rounds after Kelvin Bywater’s course proved particularly challenging this year, Jo inched ahead with a stunning clear in the jump off - a particularly impressive feat from a lady who suffered a nasty fall just yesterday and whose doctor tried to sign off for the week!
Elsewhere on the showground has been a veritable hive of activity as the crowds poured in at opening time. Honestly, I’m certain a huge number of our visitors come just for the shopping! Catherine and I managed to squeeze a quick five minute ‘walkabout’ into our hectic day - to check on our sponsors tradestands of course (code word: shopping), not just a good excuse for a quick nose around the shops!
The press descended on mass today as the stories begin to hot up and the rivalry heightens, and our broadcasters arrived for their first interviews. This year, instead of the usual Derby related feature or montage, they plan to do a special piece on dad, and interviewed a few of the old favourites about what dad meant to them and his contribution to the sport. Poor Ellen (Whitaker) got a wee bit tearful recalling all her memories of dad and banished me from sight so she could concentrate! Geoffrey Billington on the other hand, fresh from a comedy fall in the main ring (sorry Geoff, but it was quite spectacular, and you are absolutely fine!) spent the entire interview reminiscing about wild nights out on the town with dad at various shows around the world, and had to be tactfully guided back to the subject in hand.
Despite heavy rain in the early hours of this morning (those ordinarily sacred hours of sleep before the hours of 7am that seem a distant memory to show organisers during an event), it proved welcome relief from the dust and we were very lucky all day. Glorious sunshine is predicted for the rest of the weekend, so everyone has everything kept crossed.
Time for me to sign off, I’m a wee bit late tonight, but I’m hoping to make it just in time to catch the end of the live band in the stablefield bar.”
“Just when you think you have reason to be a bit pleased with yourself, something comes along to burst your balloon.
If you thought I’d been crowing over my recent arrivals, I have been seriously put back in the shade. Email shot from the Haras de Brullemail this week announced the availability of this little guy. At the risk of sounding like a BLC groupie, our pal Bernard has got himself a seriously fabulous foal here. First, he’s totally a Diamant product, and has the imperious look of his daddy and the wise expression of his grand-daddy. The other thing that’s interesting is the Sandro bloodlines in the mare. Sandro is a great foundation stallion of both show jumpers and dressage horses. Again, massive doses of thoroughbred, which seems to work well with the Selle Français stock.
Anyway, I understand he’s for sale to a serious buyer. Sadly, I am not going to be making a bid.
On another front, we do have some great news that one of our fillies from this year, the Norway de la Lande, has been accepted into the sale at Ravenoville next month. So we may actually have our first sale! I’m afraid I can’t pretend she’ll fetch anything like Bernard’s foal, but I would be very pleased to make the cash register make a little noise nonetheless.
I’ll keep you posted.”
Sharon managed to beat thunderstorms to take Bob xc schooling
"Back to normal yard life after Bramham. It’s a nice sunny day, but it’s also a sad day, as Tiffany is leaving for Nikki Ryan’s yard again. Tiffany's been a real asset to my team and I am very disappointed to see her go but she wants to compete more, and who can blame her? I wholeheartedly wish her all the best with her horse Valerie. I schooled my horses; they all feel great even after my week away – all credit to Tiff and Nathan. Katie, the web editor for H&C (recently relaunched and looking great!) came to spend the day with me and Alex (who helps me with PR). Katie and Alex both took lots of photos – it was like having my very own paparazzi! I schooled various horses and then over a quick lunch I answered some questions for H&C TV Facebook fans. It was a really fun day and the stormy weather held off just long enough for me to take Bob (Good Sport II) XC schooling. He was brilliant and is definitely ready for Longleat – I really adore this horse as he is super talented.
On Tuesday I was up early as Yogi is coming to see me for my six-month review – it went well and the horses are all making sufficient progress. Jasper's (Tankers Town’s) Spring results are mixed but we are all confident that he will be better than ever – this was proved at Bramham. I had lessons with John Thelwall with Joe (Jorrocks Curtis), Romeo (Romeo Z), Dave (Mightaswell) and Kenny (Kenny) – they were all very good. I then tidied up as I was due to give a lecture demo at the College of West Anglia that evening. I took Jasper and Harry (Azeb) and Rachel Nicholson, my new head girl – not an easy day to start but being experienced she took it all in her stride.
The following morning, I schooled Dave (Mightaswell) and Joe (Jorrocks Curtis) before leaving for Towerlands with Bob (Good Sport II), Beanie (Breeze IV), Harry (Azeb), Romeo (Romeo Z) and Kenny (Kenny). Bob jumped impeccably as ever – two double clears and fourth in the Newcomers. Romeo ditto: double clear and clear in the 1.15, as was Harry, who is an exceptional horse. Beanie had an unlucky fence in the1.15 and the Foxhunter. All seems to be looking good for Longleat.
On Thursday I schooled Harry (Azeb) and Romeo (Romeo Z) ready for their Novice Regional Finals. Lizzy came for an interview and she’s going to help me ride and school the horses – I will need some extra hands soon to get the horses ready for their autumn three-day events. The farriers arrived too, which always takes organising with lots of different things going on. I lunged my young horse Bomber (Bomber), who only bucked for five minutes today! Jenny (my physio) treated me, Harry (Azeb) and Beanie (Breeze IV).
The next day, I was up early and ready to leave for Longleat. It takes forever to get down to Wiltshire especially with the road works on the A303. Romeo (Romeo Z) and Harry (Azeb) are in the Novice Regional Final – a very hotly contested section – and need to finish in the top 25 per cent so fingers crossed. Bob (Good Sport II) is in the OI and Kenny (Kenny) and Beanie (Breeze IV) are in the Intermediate; Dave (Mightaswell) is in the CIC 2* and I hope he qualifies this time. Romeo performed a very nice test, a little green for this level, but sadly the judge didn't like him and he scored 36; he was up against some seriously good horses though who were working at a much higher level. I worked the horses afterwards – they were all very good considering the buzzy atmosphere, boats, sea lions and so on – it's not everyday you have a setting like this! Things got even better when a hippo swam along the river’s edge and proceeded to stop and watch me working Bob for about 20 minutes – superb! My stabling was fantastic – it really is beautiful in this part of the world.
On Saturday I was up at 6.30am as I had a trot up at 8.30am for the CIC 2*horse, Dave (Mightaswell). He's well practised now as he's done a couple since the 20 penalty rule has come into play. Dave was first on and did a very nice test with only a couple of small mistakes. I walked the courses, undulating as always, but they looked good although the ground was quite firm. I went to the scoreboard to look at my score and it was a 70! I was quite surprised as I had been pleased with my test; when I saw Sam Griffiths’ score was 85, I started to think something was wrong, and later my score was changed to 51 – much more respectable!
Both horses in the Novice Regional Final (Romeo and Harry) had been practising mid-week over decent size fences but the track was built relatively small and Romeo jumped clear but Harry had two down, which is unheard of! Romeo went well XC and clear, and again Harry, unusually, had a glance off at fence 4; I think it was possibly due to a lack of concentration as he's usually very focused – must be the beautiful scenery! I finished late but with a good team spirit we packed up and sorted the horses quickly and then had a lovely meal.
Kenny (Kenny), Beanie (Breeze IV) and Bob (Good Sport II) all performed good tests on Sunday – just one small mistake from Beanie – and they all scored good marks. They show jumped well too, Kenny jumped a great round but sadly incurred some time faults; the arena is incredibly undulating and you need to ride forward around the turns, which I then did with the others but they both had one down. The XC had been causing all sorts of problems, one fence in particular – a crocodile in the water after a steep slope down into it. I think the problem was there was not enough water so the horses jumped in and ended up on a half stride and either stopped, fell, or hit it hard. It became a joke that lots of horses were coming back without their riders.
I rode Bob first, he's not the best water jumper but flew through both then sadly ran out at a corner and then, as he'd just been naughty, ran a bit quickly into the coffin and the distance was so short coming out, he did one stride and tried to put in another but there was no room so he ran out quickly and deposited me! I landed on my feet but my point two air jacket went off anyway – it was my first experience of this and I was very impressed at how quickly it inflated and it wasn't at all uncomfortable. It was very amusing and no injury was incurred so all good fun!
I then went XC on Kenny and the chaos continued on the course. He jumped the first seven fences in copy book style then, low and behold, he stopped at the crocodile; with a good approach and unsure how to improve on the next attempt, I retired – it is unlike him to stop and with so many penalties being gained at that fence throughout the day, I give him the benefit of the doubt. I decided to withdraw Beanie as he's green but confident and I just wouldn't want to upset him. I'd nearly decided to save Dave for Barbury CIC 2* when I heard the fence had been taken out and he show jumped so well that I went XC and he was superb. There were plenty of places where he could've run out but this seems to be a thing of the past now. So we left the event at 7pm happy as Dave now had his 2* qualification so the trip had been very worthwhile!"
Editor's note: Don't forget to leave your comments on Sharon's blog by clicking 'Comment' below.
Howard hopes his ASBO dogs will all pass their assessments
“Some bright spark had the brilliant idea that we might like to revamp some of our kennels and, while we’re at it, we might as well construct that new day yard that we had always fancied. We are now two weeks into the construction project and we seemed to have hit on the two hottest weeks of the year. I know we shouldn’t moan about all this beautiful weather, but digging, laying concrete, plumbing and drainage all while running a busy training kennels is certainly keeping us all fit.
Professional dog trainers have turned their hand to all manner of building skills, including Head Trainer Annie Buckley who can now justify two years at university gaining a degree in art and pottery. She has spent every spare moment in a pair of overalls with a builders float making sure we have an inch perfect, smooth finish to the concrete floors.
The new day yard has proved a real hit with the dogs; they have whiled away the last week basking in the sunshine and enjoying a view across the training field. It has allowed a much clearer view of pack behaviour. As with all social groups of animals there is a hierarchy and we do our best to ensure that it is fairly self governing; aggression between dogs can have very serious consequences so we have a zero tolerance arrangement when hackles are raised.
This intolerance of our dogs showing aggression towards other dogs and people is essential and should be established early in a young dogs training. Your dog must understand that you are the pack leader and that you and you alone decide who, when and where other people, dogs and animals enter into your space.
Our ASBO dog training group met for the penultimate time this week, nerves are tense and there is still plenty of training to be done before next weeks assessments. We have our local Dog Warden and Deputy Mayor coming to present what we all hope will be 100 per cent successful training awards.”
“Absolutely great to be in front of the cameras again up near Darlington with Mick Watson on his Hooked on Fishing lakes, even though the rain teemed down from morning right through until dusk. Can’t remember when I was on a more varied shoot. Mick is such an inspiring guide to talk to; he’s an ex-copper who is now saving so many disaffected lads and lasses from the area by giving them a love of fishing. So many really bright, enthusiastic kids around the place. Thanks, Mucka, for a fab interview.
And thanks, Phil, for your eloquence, your infectious enthusiasm but also for catching that massive twenty-two pound common carp. Awesome is a word overused but fitting here.
So a fabulous day...even though Howie was behind the camera. Anymore of his fish puns and I’ll scream! “I don’t mean to carp on, but...” “It’s a wrap. Been a brill day.” I needn’t go on!
And so from one filming day to another and Nige the Hat, Charlie and I pitch up at Sweethope Lough to film the Hardy Greys pro/celeb fishing event. It’s to raise money for the Grace House Project in the North East - a hospice for kids and support for the parents, which is invaluable in this area. The good news is £5000 or more was raised on the day and it was a great event to film and support.
Jamie Noon was happy to give an interview. It’s a shame this England International is deserting Newcastle Falcons for the French, but what a nice guy and what a good fisherman. Fishing to Jamie is a complete wind-down after the stresses of a high-level rugby career. A man who just wants to put back into a life that has rewarded him richly.
And then Sean Wilson, ex-Coronation Street and Dancing on Ice. I’ve known Sean a long time. He’s an avid birder and living on the North Norfolk coast means I see much of him. But he’s also a top-rate fly fisherman who could have easily reached international level if it hadn’t been for acting demands. He, too, was full of praise for the event, the water and the whole spirit of a vastly enjoyable day. Well done to Lucy Bowden of Hardy and Greys for working so hard to set the thing up.
It ought to be pointed out that, again, it rained and the winds blew. Charlie Gilbert of H&C TV arrived looking exactly like the glam TV person she is, but after a couple of hours out with yours truly and Nige the Hat in a storm-tossed boat, she didn’t look quite as well groomed as she had. In fact, the little darling serving coffee actually offered her a comb!
Of course, Nige the Hat didn’t help when his hat blew off! And would Nige give his hat up? You must be joking! At severe risk to all our lives, he circled the boat again and again in waves that would have troubled the Titanic. White as a sheet, Charlie simply screamed she’d buy him a new hat but Captain Pugwash wouldn’t have any of it.
Do you think filming sounds glamorous? Think again.”
“There’s a few shell shocked faces in our office tonight - some showing relief that the first day is over, others exhausted and surprised. Show organising is a little bit like childbirth I’ve been told, and after the event, you forget the pain. Joking aside, we’ve had a hugely successful first day and the show is now well and truly under way.
There’s a rumour that someone has installed a magic carpet under the main ring as the horses are jumping out of their skin, and the competition has been fantastic. Geoff Luckett stormed to victory in the Bunn Leisure Derby Salver, followed by Shane Breen in the Bunn Leisure Derby Tankard. The Bunn family were obviously delighted at our brother-in-law’s success, but our sister, his wife Chloe, slightly less delighted when Shane held their daughter Lorna aloft in the prize presentation – he’s determined to have her competing internationally before her fifth birthday I think!
Elsewhere on the showground, the hot topics of conversation (and the source of much illicit gambling I suspect) is whether Ben Maher and William Funnell will be able to score the magic hat trick in the Speed Derby and Derby proper respectively this weekend. As always with this sport, and perhaps with the Derby classes particularly, the excitement lies in the fact that despite form and odds, and the best laid preparations, it really is true that on the day anything can happen.
Likewise there are a lot of very excited boys dying to meet Phil Packer when he arrives on Saturday and are keen to bombard him with questions about his time in Iraq and his incredible achievement climbing in Yosemite. The boys in our office have been arguing furiously about whether they too would be capable of climbing a mountain using just their arms.
Finally, I feel that I must mention the incredible outpouring and support that our family has received from everyone at the show; from officials and competitors to loyal members of the public who have been visiting the show for decades. The first show day without dad was obviously going to be incredibly emotional, but it felt very special, and there are more than a few people who are convinced that dad had something to do with Shane’s win!
Right, enough from me, I’m off to the exhibitors’ party to let my hair down after a long day, and try out one of our new mobile Pimms bars - if only I had one of those with me at all times!”