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Country cooking on the menu at school

PUBLISHED: 07:00 16 March 2010 | UPDATED: 11:14 07 July 2010

Pupils LtoR, Katie Morris and Bradley Frazer, with book author Laine Christmas-Hall.

Pupils LtoR, Katie Morris and Bradley Frazer, with book author Laine Christmas-Hall.

Richard Parr

Recipes from the kitchen of one of England's most famous historic country houses are helping a tiny village school to be brought into the 21st century.

Recipes from the kitchen of one of England's most famous historic country houses are helping a tiny village school to be brought into the 21st century.

As part of a major fundraising drive to build a new classroom and convert an existing classroom into a multi-purpose space at the century old Harpley Primary School, a recipe book featuring mainly game recipes from the kitchens of Houghton Hall has been produced.

It was officially launched on Friday in the tea rooms within the grounds of the hall which was built for England's first prime minister Sir Robert Walpole.

The recipes, which include such game delights as sautéed squirrel and rook pastie, have been collected by Laine Christmas-Hall , a cook in the Houghton Hall kitchens.

As wells as recipes from the hall, Mrs Christmas-Hall has collected recipes from people who have been visiting the hall on shoots. A foreward to the book has been written by the Marquess of Cholmondeley, who owns Houghton Hall.

He tells of how Mrs Christmas-Hall loves trying out new combinations and recipes while also retaining a great respect for traditional English fare.

“Living off the land, eating what you can catch or shoot, as well as what can be grown or collected from the woods or the hedgerows, has been the bedrock of country cooking down the years. However, most of the meats used in these recipes cannot be found on the shelves of today's supermarkets,” writes Lord Cholmondeley.

School head Ann Beardall said everyone is delighted with the finished book which had been produced by a team of people involved in typing, designing the pages and putting it together.

The 46-pupil school, which celebrated its centenary in 2008, has two classrooms but no multi-purpose area that could be used for activities and the new building project is estimated to cost about £150,000.

There is £95,000 in the school capital reserves and in the past two years a variety of fundraising activities have raised £20,000, leaving a shortfall of £20,000.

As well as the new recipe book, there is a buy-a-brick scheme for businesses with bronze bricks at £25, silver bricks at £50 and £100 for a gold brick. The firms and individuals who buy a brick will have their names included on a special board recording their donation.

People attending the book launch were able to sample some of the recipes and buy copies of the book.

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