Alcester's Country Market
PUBLISHED: 11:01 18 February 2010 | UPDATED: 16:43 20 February 2013
Country markets are unsung heroes of the local food scene. Since 1919 these markets in towns all over the country have been quietly getting on with the business of selling local food made by local people.
Id taken the children for an impromptu break to Wales. It was February half-term. Cold but dry and we needed a change of scene so I booked a room in the Youth Hostel at Little Haven, piled them all in the car and by lunch time we were playing cricket on the beach and making sandcastles. Next morning we popped into St Davids and it was there I saw the queue that had formed outside the small hall. At 9am on the dot the doors opened and we followed.
That market in St Davids was a haven of local food homemade cakes, preserves, jams, home-grown vegetables, eggs, pies, quiches. And not just food. There were handknitted childrens jumpers and baby jackets, plants and crafts. I bought a homemade sausage pie for lunch, enough marmalade to see us through the year and a couple of hand-knitted mittens for the children. As we ate our sausage pie on the beach with the wind blowing straight in off the sea I decided that Country Markets had my full support! Now whenever I holiday in this country I always check the Country Markets website before I go to make sure I dont miss out on some truly local goodies.
Country Markets Ltd is a co-operative organisation run by a voluntary board of directors.
There are 400 markets around the country organised into 65 regional market societies. The 12,000 producers are all shareholders in the society (which costs 5p to join) and anyone who has suitable produce to sell can apply to join. Around 10 per cent commission from the sale of goods is given to the market to cover the running costs, such as hall rental, the rest goes back to the producer. Country Markets Limited has an annual turnover of 10million 9 million of which goes back to the producers.
One of the most wonderful things about these markets is that no two are the same. One could have wonderful cakes, another may be good for pies. The joy is in the variety and the friendliness. Try one for yourself and discover one of the countys untold food secrets.
A Taste of Country Markets
Lamb and Apricot Pasties
450 g (1 lb) shortcrust pastry (made using 450 g flour/225 g fat)
1 onion, finely chopped
25 g (1 oz) pine kernels
30 ml (2 tablespoons) lamb stock
450 g (1 lb) minced lamb
175 g (6 oz) 'no soak' dried apricots, finely chopped
teaspoon ground cinnamon
Salt and pepper
Egg or milk to glaze
Preheat oven to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6 - reducing to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4
Mix together all filling ingredients.
Roll out pastry and, using a small plate, cut out 8 circles.
Divide the filling into 8 portions and place in the centre of the pastry rounds. Moisten the pastry edges, fold in half
Place on a baking sheet and glaze with egg or milk. Bake for 10 minutes and then reduce the temperature for a further 15 minutes or until golden brown.
Moist Carrot and Ginger Cake
200 g (7 oz) soft dark brown sugar
150 g (5 oz) self-raising flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
160 ml (6 fl oz) vegetable oil
250 g (9 oz) carrots, grated
75 g (3 oz) sultanas
100 g (3) stem ginger, chopped
450 g (1 lb) loaf tin lined
Preheat oven to 150C, 300F,
Gas mark 2
In a large bowl, place sugar, flour, bicarbonate of soda, vegetable oil and eggs and beat well
Add grated carrot, sultanas and ginger and mix well - the mixture will be very runny.
Pour into tin and bake until firm - about an hour.
These recipes are from A Taste of Country Markets, 6.50 available from www.countrymarkets.co.uk
Country markets in Warwickshire
37b High Street, Alcester, Fridays (8am-12noon) and every second Saturday in the month (10am-1pm)
Allesley Village Hall, Birmingham Road, Allesley, Coventry, Wednesdays (9.45-11am)
Village Hall, Station Road, Balsall Common, Saturdays (10-11am)
Community Centre, Widney Road, Bentley Heath, Knowle, Solihull, Fridays (9.30-11.30am)
The Parish Rooms, 132 High Street, Coleshill, Fridays (8.30-11 am)
Methodist Church, Dale Street, Leamington Spa, Fridays (9.30-10.45am)
John Lees Memorial Hall, Regent Street, Rugby, Thursdays (9.30-11.15am)