It would be easy to forgive a passerby to a wassail for thinking that to wassail is to simply sing  songs about fertility and getting trashed while taking as many slurps as you can from the shared wassail bowl, for its contents are most certainly alcoholic. But it is oh so much more than that.

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The Farm | River Cottage, Devon

Down to River Cottage

Park Farm sits in a valley and on 100 (organic) acres neatly split by the Devon/Dorset border. You’d think it was a ready made set created just for the River Cottage show with the way that it so perfectly (even in- and probably because of- its wonkiness) ticks the ‘good life’ box.

It is one of those happily English cottages sat next to a few pimped out barns with a polytunnel, walled kitchen garden and of course rolling fields to boot. Shrouded in mist as it often is being in a valley was a pretty sweet way to get my first autumnal view of the iconic farm, setting the tone for a night of seasonal goodness I got lucky with thanks to This is Your Kingdom.

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Autumn Apple Picking

Autumn apple harvesting

I wasn’t quite sure what constituted the grand title of ‘orchard’… till I googled it.

Turns out its ‘a group of fruit or nut tree’s in an enclosed space’, rendering the term orchard a bit more loose and less grandiose than we are first inclined to assume. AND SO, I spent a portion of the weekend picking apples from my friends very own grand spanking- three tree strong- orchard.

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Beetroot Ketchup

Harvesting beetrootHarvesting beetroot on a London rooftopBeetroot ketchupParsnip chips and beetroot ketchupAnna Jones The Honest Burger and beetroot ketchupAnna Jones The Honest Burger and beetroot ketchup

Beetroot are that veg that, along with parsnips, are always described as earthy.

I think there is some science thing happening there to do with them being root veg and all soil-y and stuff. Whatever the science, that earthy vibe tastes right good.

Here enter a root veg adaptation of, irrefutably, Britain’s best loved condiment: beetroot ketchup.

Get 250g of tomatoes roasting in the oven until they browning, juicy and smell good (4o mins ish). Blend this with 250g of cooked beets and put  the combination on the hob on a medium heat. Add 2 cloves of crushed garlic, some grated ginger, some dried chilli flakes, and a good spoonful of cajun spice. To sweeten it up add a couple of teaspoons of honey in too alongside a tablespoon or so of balsamic vinegar. Let all this good stuff simmer for a while. You know the rule, the longer it simmers- the better. Ours stayed on the hob for around 40 minutes. Once cooled, jar it up and hello. A new take on a classic [warning: you might not go back and this may cause controversy].

There are some tricks to making it taste even better. Firstly, use your mate’s homegrown beets from her London rooftop (thanks Sarah) and secondly, pair it with a batch of [earthy] parsnip chips and Anna Jones ‘The Really Hungry Burger.’ And mates, obviously. Them too.

*Thanks Hannah for taking dinner pics