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River Cottage  RSS feed

 
Franklin Stone
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My new (to me) favorite reality TV series is River Cottage, written by and starring chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. This is a British TV series that airs on Channel 4. It's primarily a cooking show, but with a difference: it follows the food back to its source. If Hugh uses eggs in a dish, he shows you how to raise chickens, if he wants pork, he raises and butchers the pigs on his show, showing every step along the way. (This may not be a show for vegans or vegetarians.) Same goes for gardening, hunting, and foraging - he shows EVERYTHING that goes into every meal that he cooks. So the show has lots of relevance for homesteaders, small-holders and permaculturalists.

I had never heard of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall before a couple of weeks ago. Lacking cable or satellite TV I do not know if his shows have ever been broadcast in the United States - I was turned on to the show by some British friends of mine. Here's the Wikipedia article about Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hugh_Fearnley-Whittingstall

And here's the episode guide from Channel 4: http://www.channel4.com/programmes/river-cottage/episode-guide

Unfortunately, the Channel Four site appears to be region restricted. A quick Google search will turn up some sites that stream his shows, like this one: http://www.factualtv.com/documentary/Escape-to-River-Cottage-Episode-1

Some of the shows are also available for rent on Amazon's streaming service and some have been collected to Region 2 DVD. Many clips can be found on YouTube as well.

The earliest TV show I have seen hosted by Hugh was 1995's A Cook on the Wild Side in which he drove and boated around Britain eating and cooking only food that he foraged or hunted himself, basically living the nomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyle. In the first few seasons of River Cottage, he rents a cottage, and sets up a small homestead, selling his goods at farmers markets. As the series progress, he eventually buys a much larger farm, and begins renovating old buildings, opening up his own shop and restaurant, all featuring locally grown and sustainably raised food. I have found it all quite inspirational (and addictive) to watch, and I wish I had discovered it years ago.
 
Chris Fitt
Posts: 115
Location: Eastern Shore VA
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That sounds amazing.  Is it on in the US at all maybe on Direct TV?
 
Franklin Stone
Posts: 152
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I just looked at the website, http://www.rivercottage.net , there are a lot more details there, as well as forums http://www.rivercottage.net/forum/ much like the forums here.

As far as I can tell, the show doesn't seem to be broadcast in the United States. My guess is that there are no advertisers or sponsors willing to support such a show here. Hugh's message is to buy local or grow your own food. He uses only raw ingredients, so there are no name brands. His message is of total food transparency - you should know who grew your food and who prepared it and you should understand every step of the process. That goes completely against the wishes of the corporations here that want total food secrecy.

Perhaps we should start contacting our local PBS stations and try to convince them to carry the River Cottage series.
 
Franklin Stone
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This blog post explains the charm of River Cottage far more eloquently than I could ever hope to:

http://thepauperedchef.com/2010/12/guide-to-the-river-cottage-why-hugh-fearnley-whittingtsall-should-be-your-food-celebrity.html
 
Jami McBride
gardener
Posts: 1948
Location: PNW Oregon
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books chicken duck food preservation forest garden hugelkultur trees
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I think you do a great job of explaining   And that link you provided streams more episodes on the right-side bar.

Great link!
 
Leila Rich
steward
Posts: 3999
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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Hugh, as he's affectionately known in my family, has been around in book and tv incarnations for years  in NZ.
His tv stuff has everything from collecting and preparing wild food to getting a poor, queazy vegetarian to help butcher a sheep.
He drives me a bit nuts with his very English thing for terrible puns; but I'm also a bit allergic!
His books are really good. He's a chef, so definately in the grow/cook/eat tradition.
The "Meat" book is great. That man really loves his animals, alive and dead! The books also come in American editions with imperial measurements, as I found out when I ordered online, so beware...
 
                                    
Posts: 44
Location: Lynnwood, Washington
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Thanks for introducing me to Hugh!  What a fun and informative show.  I have to warn about episode 7 where he brings home the blood from his slaughtered pigs to make "black pudding".  I'm afraid I had to click off at that part.  Besides the interest of the show itself, I have a fondness for British entertainment in general. 
 
Jami McBride
gardener
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Location: PNW Oregon
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I would love to know a couple of things after watching the show -

Like why he (they) pluck birds dry, without scalding.  I thought birds had to be dipped in hot water to get the feathers out, but on his show he just sits down and plucks.  He also hangs them with feathers for a week before processing, wow.

And hanging meat so long and outside, I'd love to read up on all of that - anyone know of a good old-fashion meat butchering & curing books?

He makes gardening look way to easy, I suppose a lot is missing in the show 
 
Leila Rich
steward
Posts: 3999
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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Jami: dry-plucking's a total pain, but possible. Scalding supposedly makes poultry 'go off' faster, and since Hugh hangs his (for longer than some would be comfortable with...) he would be trying to avoid that kind of thing.
The 'Meat" book's got a fair amount on curing etc, but if I remember right, 'The River Cottage Year', has more in-depth info about hanging and so on.
"The Complete Book of Butchering, Smoking, Curing and Sausage Making" by Philip Hasheider is apparently very good, but I haven't read it.
 
Jami McBride
gardener
Posts: 1948
Location: PNW Oregon
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Thank you Leila, I'll look into that book

Dry plucking does seem like it would be a pain, at first I thought he was trying to preserve the feathers.... or something.
 
Warren David
Posts: 187
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Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall on Harry Hill's show. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7s_LKdxTDiI  
 
Kathleen Sanderson
Posts: 985
Location: Near Klamath Falls, Oregon
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I haven't done it (it's usually too warm here when I'm butchering birds to hang them for any length of time), but I imagine that hanging for a week loosens the feathers about as well as scalding does.  Even if he doesn't save the feathers for re-use, you certainly could, so it's a useful thing to know about.

Kathleen
 
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