Photography & words: © Anna Rubingh
The rain is pouring down as I drive the small Sussex country lanes to Philippa's farmhouse kitchen. After visiting the Esse workshop in Lancashire, where all those famous cooking ranges and wood fired cook stoves are made, it is time to see those cook stoves in action. In her Bluebell Farmhouse kitchen on their family farm Phillipa runs a cookery school working with Esse stoves and ranges.
With autumn in full swing, it's time to cook up an autumnal feast in Philippa's kitchen. She slow cooks local beef into a hearty stew that you can eat on its own with some mashed potatoes and vegetables on the side, or soak up the sauces with the turmeric flatbreads she also makes. Part of that home-cooked stew she turns into a comforting slow-cooked beef pie. Meanwhile, she roasts a whole pumpkin in the oven of one of the ranges in her kitchen. "Look how soft and delicious that flesh has become! You can turn that into a soup, dumplings or a pumpkin mash eaten instead of mashed potatoes, fantastic! Or put in some cheese in the whole roasted pumpkin and just scoop it out with some friends or family around the table, nothing better than sharing food."
Pumpkin and rose hips that she picked from the hedges the day before, she turns into a savoury upside-down tart.
"And for dessert, I make an apple and blackberry bakewell tart." She uses frozen blackberries she had picked from the hedges around their fields earlier that autumn, the apples came from a friends' orchard. "I want to cook as locally as possible," she explains, "and of course I use a lot of produce from the farm and neighbouring farms. Just down the road is a fantastic cheese maker, for example, and of course I use vegetables from our own kitchen garden."
When all the cookery is done, we sit down and eat and talk while outside the rain is pouring down. The fire burning in the Esse keeps the kitchen nice and warm. "Yes, that's very nice, it's both a stove and a cooker, that's what I love about it."