Hi, my name is Clare Winton and I live in West Wales with my lovely husband Tim, who just about manages to keep up with the many projects I have on the go, and our small red dog, Kiera. And three cats. And a multitude of chickens and ducks. And a running-wild veg patch. I don’t have so much of a small holding, more an enthusiastically jam-packed garden.
I lived in several countries before I settled in Wales in 2004, but I am Anglo Irish (a very small demographic these days!) and grew up in beautiful West Cork, in Ireland. While I have many passions (my horses, kung fu, travel, fencing, camping… the list goes on), I decided to create this blog to share my love of food and all the things in my life that relate to putting a good meal on a plate – growing veg, rearing chickens and ducks for meat and eggs.
It was about ten years ago that I really got into cooking in a big way (although I have loved good food as long as I can remember). I was away from home doing some research for my Masters degree, and I was rather lonely and generally bloody freezing as I was in a grotty uninsulated student flat. I found I gained considerable comfort and satisfaction from putting together a really tasty meal. No fancy Michelin-style cookery, just good home cooking, with quality ingredients that had been well cooked with care.
At about this time that somebody gave me two Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall cook books – “The Meat Book” and “The River Cottage Cookbook”. This was cooking in a way I really identified with, and it ignited a desire to not just cook well, but to try to grow my own vegetables and fruit and one day to rear my own meat. Now I was still living with my parents at this point, but that spring I commandeered my mother’s (unused) polytunnel and vegetable beds on their smallholding, dug it over and in my ignorant enthusiasm packed it with as many different vegetables as it would take. I think I probably had a touch of beginners luck that year, as I have never had as good a crop of carrots or tomatoes in the years since!
The following year Tim and I were able to buy our own little place a few miles away, and not long after I bought my first chickens, to keep as pets and for eggs. A couple of years ago I made the jump to raising chickens and then ducks for meat. It has been a steep learning curve, and it is hard work on a “processing day”, but the quality of meat we are producing is unmatched by anything commercially available – guests are always amazed at the size and taste of the bird produced at the dinner table.
For me, food is more than just about what I put in my stomach, it is about sharing something special with friends and family; creating something delicious and enjoying it in the company of your loved ones. So many of the special occasions we celebrate throughout the year centre around food in some way, whether it is Christmas, Easter, Chinese New Year, Burn’s Night, a romantic date or birthdays. The experience of sharing food is a universal part of human culture and history. So here in this blog, I have decided to share my own experiences, experiments and adventures with creating a damn good meal.