Mandy interviewed the Yorkshire Sherpherdess, Amanda Owen for the Todmorden Book Festival. She began by declaring ‘there can’t be anyone who hasn’t watched Our Yorkshire Farm’, well there can and it’s me. But I’ve watched it now and I’m a total convert. Oh boy, what a delight. A lovely family, gorgeous Yorkshire landscapes, beautifully filmed.
One question Mandy asked was how on earth do you feed a family of 11 every day ? The answer is in Mandy’s food column in Saturday’s Yorkshire Post. If you missed it, here it is. Two Amanda’s for the price of one.
‘There can’t be anyone in the land who hasn’t watched Our Yorkshire Farm, Channel 5’s series about the Owen family farming 2000 acres in one of the remotest parts of the county, Ravenseat in Swaledale. Clive and Amanda and their nine ‘free range’ kids have captured the nation’s hearts with their down to earth, ‘make-do’ philosophy. As well as being a telly star, Amanda is a successful author, and her third book ‘Adventures of the Yorkshire Shepherdess’ is out now, and it was one of the things we talked about for the upcoming Todmorden Book Festival in November. But the question I was itching to ask her when we zoomed was ‘how on earth do you put food on the table for eleven people every day? “I’m lucky because my family aren’t at all picky, though it can get competitive – no one sits too long with a sausage on their fork! We try to eat decently – we look at what’s on the farm – at the moment there’s an egg glut. Then I look in the pantry and think right, what can I make – basically it looks like a shop – and there’s pretty much everything I need, though all the good stuff goes first, like chocolate. But there’s always tea bags, wine and whiskey!” Does she have a favourite cookbook or chef?
“Most of what I cook is hearty and seasonal – I make casseroles and tagines – Mary Berry is queen in my kitchen, everything she does works – but if I’m really busy there’s always the good old jacket potato shoved in the aga and I can work wonders with a bit of mouldy cheese. I’ve got Clive of course – he doesn’t mess about, he wants proper food. When I first came to Ravenseat I couldn’t cook at all. Apparently I tried to woo him with shepherd’s pie. He said it was the worst he’d ever eaten! Once you’ve got a hill farmer for a husband and he shouts ‘Amanda! I’ve got you half a bullock’ you’ve got to learn quite quickly how to cook”. ’
Amanda is funny, self-effacing and hugely entertaining – book tickets for her interview on Saturday 14 November. Todmorden Book Festival runs from 6 – 14 November. www.todmordenbookfestival.co.uk