Category: food

Getting historical with Meridith Towne

Last month, we had my ideal meeting: History. Clothes. Women. REAL historical bags.

On arrival, our speaker, Meridith Towne proceeded to unpack a history lover’s dream from her boxes. Edwardian dresses were placed onto dummies, fur trimmed boots worn by a real Edwardian woman were carefully set onto the table. Beautiful beaded bags and purses glimmered as if they were only made yesterday.

I knew it was going to be a fascinating talk from the start. Meridith brimmed with enthusiasm about her subject and her collection of original items was astounding. I love a good talk with real objects to see and touch – it’s what history is about.

At the beginning of the meeting we also had an extra treat. The Sheffield Country Market ladies (including the one and only Nora Tebbutt …. recognise the surname?…) had brought us a range of sweet and savoury treats to try and taste. I particularly enjoyed the breads and pates. However, after having a Street Food Chef quesadilla before the meeting, my stomach didn’t agree…..

Lovely food from Sheffield Country Market

The ladies then gave us a talk about how the markets had originally been linked to the WI alongside some information about what they do and why. It was a lovely overview and hopefully got some of our members to either go and buy from them on a Saturday morning or to join in and sell their own wares!

After the usual info swap and Laura’s usual comedy routine (seriously, this girl should go into stand up) we prepared for the talk we had all been waiting for.

Meridith Towne

Meridith didn’t disappoint. Gliding into the room in her full Edwardian shopping outfit, we all gasped. She introduced us to exactly what Edwardian middle class women would have experienced if they had had the extra cash to roam the new department stores of the day such as Harrods and Selfridges. From gloves to French underwear which you wouldn’t tell your mum about (oo-er!) the story of the Edwardian shopaholic was a fascinating one. As well as being able to look at the original pieces of fashion in Meridith’s collection, we found out some amazing facts about women during the period. The ones that particularly stuck with me included the fact that there had not been women’s toilets in shopping stores previously as women ‘didn’t do that’. Also the dark detail (I like a bit of horrible history!) that a women would buy a shroud to go in her wedding trousseau. Because this was frequently needed due to the high rate of death through childbirth. It was just something that you had to prepare for!

At the end of the evening, ladies were allowed to look at and handle the original objects, connecting them to the women of foregone times.

A truly fascinating and insightful experience from an unusual and enthusiastic speaker.

Grace Escott-Tebbutt

Seven Hills WI return to Sheffield Food Festival

South Yorkshire’s largest Women’s Institute group, Seven Hills WI will be selling cakes once again for a local charity at this year’s Sheffield Food Festival.

The group have taken part in the festival since it began in 2011, selling homemade baked treats by women from the group. 

Members at Sheffield Food Festival 2015

This year, the Seven Hills WI stall will be in the Peace Gardens on Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 May 2016. All money raised will go to local charity, Light Sheffield.

Light Sheffield is a small local charity run by volunteers providing support across Sheffield to families affected by perinatal mental health illnesses, including post natal depression and anxiety. Seven Hills WI’s members voted to support Light Sheffield as it’s charity for 2016.

Kirsty Bowen, President of Seven Hills WI said: “Every year, our members pull out all the stops to bake some impressive cakes for visitors at Sheffield Food Festival.

“We hope to beat last year’s amount raised and help Sheffield Light who provide a really important service to women and families in our community.”

Jess Rennie from Light Sheffield said: “We are absolutely delighted that Light Sheffield were chosen as Seven Hills WI’s charity of the year.

“We are a small charity so the money raised at Sheffield Food Festival will really make a difference to our work supporting women and families who are affected by perinatal mental health illnesses.”

Sheffield Food Festival is an annual event in the city centre, celebrating the quality and diversity of food and drink produced within the region.

The Cheese Factor

As summer drew to a close, there was one thing on the mind of all us SHWI foodies – cheese tasting!
On Thursday 17th September, SHWI was delighted to be joined by Simon Davidson from The Cheese Factor. Simon gave a wonderful insight in to how his father, Roy, established a successful cheese shop serving the good people of Chesterfield and North Derbyshire for over 50 years.

He told us tales of Roy’s adventures in the Merchant Navy, to settling down in Chesterfield to try his hand at poultry farming, to becoming a door to door vacuum sales man before finally finding his passion for fine cheese.
Starting out by serving the cattle market, The Cheese factor soon became a staple for locals and eventually moved into the main Chesterfield market. Tales of Roy’s profiteering techniques were reminiscent of Arkwright from Open All Hours, asking the bakery to deliver later in the morning to cash in on the warm fresh smelling bread! Whilst initially Simon wasn’t keen on joining the family business, he eventually took over from his father who sadly died in 2011.
Simon then went on to tell us about the triumphant story of how a small consortium of locals saved Hartington’s history of cheese production after a large corporate put profits over quality and closed the only remaining creamery in 2009. This small consortium battled for funding and investment but finally opened Hartington Creamery in 2012.
This is when Simon captured our full attention as it is from this very creamery that our fine cheese samples were produced. He handed around samples of both blue and white Stilton whilst explaining how it is produced, as well as giving us all a perfect pub quiz fact that Stilton can only be produced in 3 places in the world, Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire. If it’s produced anywhere else it just ain’t Stilton! Our small and tasty samples were delicious, particularly the white Stilton! But in the words of Wallace, Simon left us craving “more cheese Gromit!”.
The Cheese Factor now has branched into the wholesale market, so good news for us as there are plenty of places in Sheffield to get our cheese fix.
Louise Worn
SHWI Member

Seven Hills WI President is guest judge on Great British Menu

We’re excited to announce that our President, Kirsty Bowen features as a guest judge in the new series of the Great British Menu later this summer on BBC Two. 

The show returns to commemorate the Centenary of the Women’s Institute and this year the chefs must plate up perfection, as they fight it out for the chance to cook at a glorious banquet at London’s historic Drapers Hall.

The challenge is produce 21st century dishes that honour the custodians of first class home cooking, and pay tribute to the generations of women who have helped make Britain the great culinary nation it is today.  The chefs have taken inspiration from the women in their families – their mothers, grandmothers and great grandmothers – and the pioneering women of the Institute, to turn home-cooked classics, into modern masterpieces.

The Women’s Institute was formed in 1915 to revitalise rural communities and to encourage women to produce food for our nation during the First World War. A century later the Institute is synonymous with British home cooking.  Right from the get go the pioneering women of the WI were a force to be reckoned with – promoting equality for women, education, and impeccable standards – and in 2000, the WI Calendar Girls produced a nude calendar which raised millions for charity and proved once and for all that the WI are anything but a stuffy organisation.
As ever, the regional heats will see all of the chefs’ dishes scrutinized by Britain’s most accomplished chefs and veterans of the competition. Winners of this first round will present their menus to the judging panel, award winning critic Matthew Fort, doyenne of British cookery Prue Leith, and restaurateur Oliver Peyton.  Joining the Great British Menu judging panel each week will be guest judges – longstanding WI members, mothers and home cooks – who will ensure the dishes going forward to the Great British Menu national finals measure up to the exacting standards of the Institute.

For further information or pictures please contact:
Francesca Sostero, Publicist
Vanessa Land at Optomen Television on 0203 227 5941 or


SHWI Eats: Inox Dine review

SHWI Eats is our dining out/foodie club where members can enjoy visiting restaurants across the city. Member and Food Blogger Ros recently reviewed the group’s trip to restaurant, Inox Dine on her blog The Nibbly Pig.

Inox Dine was the chosen destination of the Seven Hills WI Eats group (of which I am a member!). The restaurant is nestled in the heart of Sheffield University’s campus on Durham road.
If you have been to the Octagon before, look at the skies to the right and you will see the Inox Dine sign on the 5th floor in the student union building opposite.
The restaurant focuses on using local quality ingredients to produce a predominantly British menu with fusion influences. As you walk in, you come to a smart bar area where you can take a seat and enjoy a relaxed drink, as we did while others arrived. I indulged in a bottle of the local(ish) beer, an IPA from Nottinghamshire’s Welbeck Abbey Brewery.
Blanche, a fellow WI member and the restaurant and hospitality manager at Inox, welcomed us to our table. It was in a quiet spot, but actually we had the place to ourselves for the evening as we were the only diners.


The table was attractively laid with lit tea-lights, bottles of water together with an appetiser of sliced focaccia with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
The first courses were brought in and the presentation was precise and delicate. I had the chicken roulade which was well-seasoned and had a decent flavour, in texture it was similar to pate/rillettes. It was served with a red onion and ginger chutney and toasted onion bread. I am greedy by my own admission and I could have eaten more, plus (in my view) you need to have the right balance of toast to roulade, so a few more slices of toast wouldn’t have gone amiss.
The young staff were friendly and attentive, efficiently clearing the plates and topping up drinks between courses.
For mains, I went for the teriyaki Moss Valley pork belly with a ginger and garlic noodle broth. Again, this was a nicely presented bowl of food with vibrant colour from the sprigs of coriander and sliced red chillies. The balance of soy, ginger and spice in the broth was well-balanced and very flavoursome. The belly pork was cooked spot on, the meat was tender and crisp on the outside. A comforting dish and my kind of food, as I love anything with Asian flavours.
I didn’t indulge in dessert but I can say that the sticky toffee looked very nice and seemed to go down particularly well with those who’d ordered it.
At £12 for 2 courses or £15 for 3, the evening offered value for money (as part of the Inox’s early bird menu served from 11.30am until 6.30pm Tuesday to Friday, or until 5.30pm on Mondays). It was just a shame that the restaurant wasn’t a bit busier to add to the atmosphere. That said, a good night was had by all!

Inox Dine

Level 5, Student’s Union Building
Durham Road
S10 2TG 

Seven Hills WI Christmas Market

On Saturday 15th November, we will be hosting a fabulous Christmas Market with a chance to buy handmade crafts, homemade food and gift ideas galore from both WI members and local traders.

The Market will run from 11am and 2pm and is being held at Electric Works, Sheffield.
Interested in taking a stall?
Please be aware that completing an application form does not mean you will automatically be given a stall. We will prioritise WI members and local people that make or design their stock themselves, or that sell unique products and vintage items. We will also try to ensure that we have a variety of different types of stall.
Able to help out on the day?
We are looking for willing WI members to volunteer to bake, help set up, look after stall holders and serve refreshments. If you can help, please let us know by emailing
The front entrance to Electric Works can be found on Sheaf Street, conveniently located in front of Sheffield Interchange and on the opposite side of the road to Sheffield Railway Station.
Can you display a poster? If you have somewhere you can share our poster, such as your workplace noticeboard or in a window, we’d be really grateful.

Lastly, we’d be delighted if you could share this post on social media using the icons below. Thank you!

SHWI Mad Skillz: Myth Busting Bread Making

Mad Skillz is one of our spin-off groups organised by Di and Anna T. They organise bespoke sessions where SHWI members can learn a new skill in a smaller-sized group. Last week, two groups of five members went along to Forge Bakehouse on consecutive evenings. Committee member Ruth tells us all about it….
A beautiful loaf of freshly baked bread is one of my all-time favourite things to eat, but alas my limited baking skills (and my dodgy oven) have put paid to any attempts at actually making it myself. I tell a lie, I made focaccia once in 2008. So anyway, I was in need of some bread-based education and I was thrilled to be one of the lucky few to secure a place on the oversubscribed SHWI Mad Skillz ‘Myth Busting Bread Making’ session at Forge Bakehouse.

It was a thoroughly damp day in Sheffield, but there was a warm glow from the oven in the shop and Martha, the young owner and all round baker extraordinaire, greeted us with freshly brewed tea and one of the most amazing brownies I have ever tasted. Having trained at the School of Artisan Food, she clearly knows her stuff. After the obligatory SHWI catch-up over said cuppa, it was time for the session to kick off.
Anna is amazed by the fermenting dough
It was a very hands-on lesson and we started off by mixing our own dough. I think we were all expecting a serious upper arm workout from all the kneading (we’ve clearly been watching too much Great British Bake Off), but Martha shared an absolutely revelatory tip with us: the ‘Ten Second Knead’ technique. Forget pummelling your dough for an age. Oh no. Kneading the dough in a circular motion for just ten seconds, then leaving it to prove for ten minutes and repeating a couple of times is just as effective and far less exhausting. Win! Whilst the dough was proving, we learnt lots of other interesting snippets about all of the different factors that can affect the success of your bake.
Plaiting the dough
We then went on to shaping and slashing a whole variety of loaves. Martha had kindly prepared lots of dough for us to practice on and I was disproportionately pleased with my baguette. My poor plaits left a lot to be desired though. Other members of the group were far more successful – there was some very impressive plait action going on – but my Great British Bake Off application will have to wait for another year (or four), me thinks.
Jen, Ruth, Di, Cat, Anna and Vicky
I know I speak for the rest of the group when I say what a great evening this was. Martha was knowledgeable, interesting, and thoroughly lovely. A great teacher. Some left with their own sour dough starter to bake for themselves at home. I left laden with some of Mr Potato Bread (it was delicious) and my very own scraper (essential baking kit apparently). I definitely won’t be leaving it another six years between bakes from now on.
If you’re a Forge Bakehouse regular, don’t fear – our loaves were not made to be sold to the paying public. All of the waste products from the shop are given to the pigs at Heeley City Farm – such lucky piggies! That gesture reflects the overall ethos of Forge Bakehouse. They use locally sourced organic flour in all their loaves and provide lots of local cafes with their goodies. Best of all, everything is really reasonably priced. It’s only been open for a couple of years but this place is going to become a Sheffield institution, I’m sure of it.
To find out more about what SHWI Mad Skillz have got coming up, speak to Di or Anna T at a meeting or search for the Facebook group ‘SHWI Mad Skillz‘. 
Ruth Kirkman
SHWI Committee member