Tuesday, 31 October 2017

All Hallowes Eve

We do not often hear this expression, this name for 31 October 2017, it more often being referred to as "Halloween".  When in fact "All Hallowes Eve" is the correct name when supposedly the  veils between the earth and the spirit world are at their closest and communication between the two worlds takes place.

The Wikipedia information says as follows:

"Halloween or Hallowe'en, also known as Allhalloween, All Hallows' Eve, or All Saints' Eve, is a celebration observed in a number of countries on 31 October, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows' Day. It begins the three-day observance of Allhallowtide, the time in the liturgical year dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints, martyrs, and all the faithful departed".

The Daily Express printed the following article:

"Where did All Hallows Eve come from? 

Halloween is celebrated each year on October 31, and takes its name from the Christian feast of All Hallows’ Eve, which falls on the same day.

The holiday dates back to the ancient Gaelic festival of Samhain, meaning Summer’s End, which marked the end of the harvest season and the beginning of the “dark half” of the year.

Gales believed that during Samhain the walls between our world and the next became thin enough for spirits to pass through".

These ghosts would come back to life for the day and damage crops.
Some would leave places set at the dinner table to appease the good spirits, with bonfires lit to ward off evil.

To mark the event, animals would sacrificed to the gods, feast would be held and fortunes told.

In the eighth century the Christian church began celebrating All Hallows to coincide with the Gaelic holiday.

Why do we do Trick-or-treat?

During Samhain, Celts would dress up in white and blacken their faces to trick the evil spirits they believed would pass through to the world of the living.
Druids would also dress up in costumes of animal heads and skins.

When the Christian church began to celebrate All Souls’ Day by the 11th century, this practice had evolved into souling – whereby the poor would visit wealthy families’ homes and promise to pray for their dead relatives in exchange for soul cakes.

These were sweet pastries with a cross on top, which when eaten represented a soul being freed from purgatory.

In the 19th century souling gave way to guising – where young people in Scotland and Ireland would dress up and perform songs, poems and jokes in exchange for fruit and nut.

When immigrants went to the US in the early 20th century, it evolved into modern trick-or-treating, with children threatening pranks in exchange for sweets.

Today, trick-or-treating is a multi-million pound industry.

Why do we carve pumpkins?

During Samhain, Gales would carve turnips to ward off spirits.

It is believed that Irish immigrants who travelled to the US in the 1840s began carving pumpkins as they were more readily available than turnips"

More commonly known as Halloween where these days the kiddies go out dressed up in fancy dress trick or treating. They will knock at the door and sometimes the little imps will play a trick if you do not answer.  Equally if you give them sweeties they will leave you alone.

When I was growing up we did not do such things.  Its funny how customs change but the kiddies seem to enjoy themselves these days, although whether they are aware of the true meaning or not seems neither here nor there these days.  Together with apple dunking, all sorts of scary treats on the tea table  it is a time to have fun for the littlies as long as they have responsible parents with them. However these days I think it is more a way of crossing palms with silver.

Catch you soon.



Spiced Blackberry Liqueur

This recipe has been talking to me for weeks but unfortunately at Blackberry time I was unable to find a lot of blackberries.  However I did note the other week that Waitrose had them in both fresh and frozen.  Fortunately yesterday I was able to get fresh blackberries not wildings but still blackberries. I already had the brandy in the house.  The recipe comes from Notes from the Jam Cupboard by Mary Tregallas.  This book is wonderful.  Sometimes when I buy a book I am not too inspired until I start reading the wonderful recipes - this is a wonderful book and has some seriously wonderful ways of using the preserve made and supplied different options for using.  Well worth the buy.


1.75kg (3lb 13oz blackberries)
550ml (19 fl oz) water
1 tablespoon of whole cloves
1 tablespoon of grated nutmeg
2 large cinnamon sticks
900g (2lb) white granulated sugar
300-350ml (10 to 12 fl oz) brandy

Makes about 2 litres (3 1/2 pints).


Place the blackberries, water and spices in a large pan, cover and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes until the blackberries are soft.

Strain through a scalded jelly bag or a sieve lined with muslin.  Leave to drip for about an hour.

Mesaure the juice and pour it into the cleaned pan.  Add 500g (1lb 2oz) of sugar for every 600ml (1 pint of juice).  Heat gently and stir well to dissolve the sugar.

Stir in 300 (10 fl oz) of the brandy.  Taste and add a little more brandy if required.  Strain again through the clean jelly bag or sieve before bottling up.

This one sounds a real winter warmer.  Another one for the pantry shelf.  

Catch you soon.



PS This liqueur is very delish.  It is definitely going on the list for next year.

Monday, 30 October 2017

Things to do this week

Things I would like to achieve this week are:

  1. Bottom out the kitchen cupboards clean everything out and reorganise. Imperative in the run up to Christmas in view of the fact that I have a lot of cooking to do and I want to get the specialist containers etc. ready to use without having to do a deep search to find them.
  2. Sort out the pantry.
  3. Make mustard (the seeds are soaking as we speak). here is the link to a post I did previously on this and here is a new link
  4. Finish the Raspberry Vinegar.
  5. Start a new batch of Raspberry vinegar.
  6. Make orange and passionfruit jelly.
  7. Ginger sauce.
  8. Red onion marmalade.
  9. White onion marmalade.
  10. Tomato ketchup
  11. Brown Sauce.
  12. Make first batch of pomanders.
I think that will do to start with.

Catch you soon.



Chestnut Recipes

I have seen the first of the small nets of Chestnuts at £4.50 a strip net.  I shall look around to see if I can find any cheaper.  Chestnuts are something I always have in at Christmas but I always weigh up the costs.  I want to have a go at several of the recipes below but the Ruth Mott Chocolate pudding is an absolute favourite.

As I mentioned recently I was doing some research for some future posts (this one included) and I ended up on You Tube checking out the videos from River Cottage Especially those that I had not come across before.  One in particular by John Wright of River Cottage fame entitled "Ginger Nut Fizz" which is a cocktail drink  that took my fancy.  


Within that video John Wright mixes in a Chestnut Brandy at which my ears pricked up as it smacked of something different.  I like different.  I have since then been looking around for a Chestnut Brandy recipe and low and behold I have located it again by John Wright.  According to John this should be ready in a couple of weeks which is all well and good and the bonus is that you can eat the brandied chestnuts.  However thinking laterally this may be something for you to make for the store cupboard this year in readiness for next.  There is no time like the present and besides its good to get a head start on the coming year.

Here is the link: 




There are four links here for making your own puree all seem pretty similar:

It is the Chestnut puree that forms the basis for the Chestnut and Chocolate Terrine.


I have always made this particular recipe from Merchant Gourmet tins of Chestnut puree.  This is the way I always used to buy this very useful puree and I have been looking for it to no avail.  One of these tins makes one of the terrines and I always used to make two so that had one in the freezer to bring out and one for the Christmas holidays.

It would seem that the packaging has been replaced and that the above way of buying the Chestnut puree has been replaced.  The new packaging only includes 200g of the Chestnut puree whereas the above version had about 450g in it.  So I have started stockpiling the Chestnut puree for use over the Christmas period. I have four bags so far and will get some more in due course. Afraid its a matter of snapping it up when you can otherwise you end up without and this pudding is too useful not to make.  I am also hopeful on obtaining some Chestnuts that I can turn into my own puree and/or jam for use throughout the year.

I love chestnuts and particularly in the form of puree  which can then be incorporated into a beautiful easy pudding which is a Chestnut and Chocolate Terrine which can be frozen and then cut off slice by slice from the freezer for pudding or it can be decorated as a centre piece for the Christmas table.  It is delish and I mean delish.  It is a Ruth Mott recipe (Ruth Mott played the cook in the Victorian Kitchen  and Kitchen Garden) and it has been a firm favourite here for many years.  As I have said it is simple to make, delish and can be stored in the freezer and slices taken off from frozen so a good cut and come again pudding/dessert.

At the time of typing this I could not locate my Rut Mott recipe book but I have found the recipe on another site which is more or less exactly the same.  Instead of Grand Marnier which is divine you can add a little rum instead. 

Here is the link.


In its simplest form I know this pudding to be pureed chestnut which is topped off by whipped cream representing the mountain Mont Blanc whose peak is covered in snow.  However there are different versions of this recipe and the one below is a good one to make as well.


The video

The Recipe

There are lots of links littered all over the Internet but I also found this link which has a lot of recipes off of it but also how to store things so that you get the best out of them.

So lots of things you never knew what to do with the humble Chestnut apart from eat them on a cold winters day and in the process warm your hands up.  I am certainly going to be trying some of them.


There are some very different ones here which look very good too.

and here

I am sorry that there are so many links on this post.  I thought it would be easier to give the links and then you could decide yourself if you wanted to make any of them.  There is so much you can do with chestnuts and they are delicious.

Catch you soon.



Some of the Christmas Decorations and accessories I have for Christmas

As most of you know I am nuts about Christmas and I just love Christmas decorations whether they be home made or boughten (as in the words of my friend Bovey Belle).

So I thought I would share some of my decorations with you; I have managed over the years to build up quite a nice collection of things; some of them very expensive "one-offs" and others home spun and made at home but all of them part of my precious collection. The ones below are the ones I have easiest access to at the moment. I have always been bought up to look after the decorations some of which are memories in themselves if bought by a family member or even made.  Irreplaceable.

This cheeky moose is a favourite as well

This Santa and Moose if you pull the strings the legs and arms shoot into the air.

This is one of two brass candle rings I found last year on offer at M & S I think they were £40 apiece but I got the two for £30.

A light up star

The platter below was bought by an old boss it also has the cake slice to the side.

The cake stand below was a charity shop find but I love the colour of it.

I tend to go for Victoriana meets country in style.

There are loads more - but I cannot get at some of them as they are at the Unit but there are still quite a few more in the house which I hope to find in the next few weeks.

Catch you soon.



Sunday, 29 October 2017

Busy afternoon

I have been pottering quietly in the kitchen doing a bit of this and a bit of that until the cat decides that the top of the kitchen unit looks a good place to hide and goes scrambling up to the top of the cupboard knocking down bits and bobs.  When I do eventually get through to find out where the heck she is all I can see is a tail  - she has buried herself in one of the boxes.  She has been removed rather rapidly which she does not think much of but the kitchen is not her domain and she is not required in it especially when I am cooking!  OH has gone to walk Missy - so we shall have tea when he comes in.

I decided I had too much to do to cook a roast so I have cooked the steaks and made onion gravy to go with them.  We have Yorkshire pudding and veggies to go with so that should sort out the bottomless pit that is my OH.  Updated: tea was not too bad it was tasty and nice and warm and has gone down very well.

Its just about to go dark; the moon is already up and it is chilly.  I have not had the heating on today yet but it is chilly out there so if the temperature drops rapidly it will be put on.

I still have things to do for getting ready for work tomorrow; another week another day.

I have a week on leave in the middle of November -  A lot has to be done and other things happen before then as I really have a lot of sorting out to do.  That is when I am going to see my cousin again so I really do need the bulk of the work done before then. Oh well I can only do what I can do.

Right upwards and onwards.

Catch you soon.



Sunshine on my shoulder

Makes me happy as in the words of John Denver.

Today the sun is out it is cheerful weather although the gentle wind (compared to yesterday) has a bit of an edge to it.  But we have to be thankful for small mercies for this time of year the weather really is not that bad. 

With the clocks going back last night there has definitely been a shift in the Circle of the Year I can feel it.  It is the time of year where everyone hibernates like hedgehogs, and either watches TV or is busy working on something that interests them in the meanwhile.  As usual it has also sent by bodyclock haywire including OH.  He was up at 5:00am this morning instead of the usual 6:00pm!

I have been to the local shop and had a root around the reduced counter and have come away with two trays of stewing steak (£2.30 a pack) and two sirloin steaks (£2.75 a pack) and a chicken for £2.50.  All will be useful additions to this week's recipe menu.  Steaks are for tomorrow night.  Stew for the night after and I will just cook the chicken and we can pick at it inbetween for sandwiches or whatever.  It will not get wasted just something else to pad out the meals and also the stock from the chicken carcass, and I will possibly get a soup or stew out of some of the meat as well.  I also have usual veggies, hispi cabbage, carrots. peas and broccoli. I always buy them loose as you get more for your money out of them this way and I can get at least three or four meals out of them.  I also got some petit pois peas.  

I have also bought some Conference pears to make a batch of the pear and chocolate jam and maybe some pear and ginger as well.  It will all be useful for pastries, cakes, puddings, spread on fresh bread etc. or on toast. Its just a little something different to the norm.  I believe I have popped a recipe up for this quite a way back with some ideas on how to use it as well.  Its just something a little bit different to the norm and a way of using up the hard Conference pears or other pears.

I think the jam will be very nice in a chocolate sponge with layers of cream and then the chocolate and pear jam and then covered in home made chocolate rose leaves. 

I make a trifle out of a chocolate Swiss roll (with the cream in - you can use shop bought for this).  But I think it could well be nice if you make your own, fill with the chocolate and pear spread and then buttercream). 

You basically slice a couple of Swiss rolls and then arrange them in your chosen dish (I use a deep one) and then build the Swiss roll up the sides of the bowl.  There will be gaps which is all quite normal.  You then add sliced pears in syrup, dribble over some of the syrup onto the sponge, going up the sides as well.  You then make a chocolate Blacmange or custard (home made is lush and not difficult to do) and spoon this into the dish making sure the custard is deep in the bottom of the dish but also coating the rest of the Swiss roll so that the custard goes into the gaps between the Swiss roll.  It has not got to be deep on the sides but a good coating is required.  I then leave the custard to set.  Then add a layer of whipped cream and then either some chocolate curls or sprinkles to the top and pop back into the fridge to chill.  This is a yummy alternative to a trifle and can be had at anytime of the year.  It is a recipe I used a lot when the children were living with us at home.

I also have Clementine and Passionfruit jelly to make.  This one is a new recipe to me but it sounds heavenly.  I absolutely love Passionfruit anyway and oranges.  Hopefully I might also get some little Clementines bottled in syrup, which are delightful to serve up at the Christmas tea table but also extremely fiddly to prepare. I do use a proper paring knife for this process which is not very big to handle and gets rid of the pith without damaging the fruit very effectively but it is time consuming like peeling shallots or pickling onions and indeed making your own preserved ginger in syrup for the pantry shelf or crystallised ginger and kumquats in syrup which are lovely and very different.  My Dad was quite taken with these. All of which I have done at one time or another and will no doubt do again (probably when things quieten down again and I can then pop up for next year).

I have the mustard to do this week as well. I use different beers, different combinations of mustard seed brown, black and yellow.  There are lots of different ways of using them.  Not everyone likes mustard but I do.  I often add a blob to gravies (OH is not keen so I don't tell him what goes in) we also use it in bacon and cheese puff pastries as it accentuates the flavour of the cheese.  The same with cheese straws.  You cannot beat home made cheese straws.

The sun is still shining as I finish this post; however I do have things to do in readiness for the week to come and also get Sunday tea on.  Today we are definitely having a roast.

Catch you shortly.



The Cheesboard and things to serve with Cheese

One of the golden rules in this household is that when it comes to Christmas I am more than happy to do everything necessary in the preparation of Christmas and am quite happy to cook the Turkey and everything else to go with it.  However, then its my turn to have a break.  This is another reason why I make so many different pickles, chutneys etc. because after Christmas dinner we are on cold cuts, cheese, pickles, cold meats sometimes served with a little bubble and squeak.  This is so I get to have a rest too and am able to do some things that I want to do over the holiday period.  This year I have Christmas at home.  The firm I work for has given us an extra three days holiday which means that we do not have to work between Christmas and the New Year for which I am grateful.  I also have the week off before Christmas in order to get as much as I can get done, done.

We are a tad partial to a lot of cheese in this household - a family tradition.  The stinkier the better.  In fact I order a "Stinking Bishop" cheese direct from Charles Martell especially for Christmas as both of us like it so much.  It pongs and I always keep this in a Lock it box in the fridge, but the pong is more from the Perry pear wash that is given to the cheese rather than to the cheese.  The cheese will keep for approximately 6 weeks so plenty of time to eat it in.  We love it anyway.  Here is the link if you also want to place an order for your own Christmas table or indeed give it as a present to a friend or family member.  There are other goodies available on the website as well.  I am particularly interested in the other cheeses Nuns de Caen and also the Hop.  However they do not sell them via the Internet which is very much a pity.  They are however available from all good cheese shops!  Might mean a visit to the Stamford Cheese Shop.  Could quite fancy a visit on a Friday when I am off before Christmas I could go on the train or the bus.  Friday is market day in Stamford so it might be an opportune time for me to make a visit and do some shopping.

When it comes to the cheeseboard I am afraid we do tend to go the whole hog.  I do my own pickled onions and pickled shallots.  They always go with a cheeseboard; there is also a chutney of one sort or another or an onion marmalade.    Sometimes there is a cheese apple or quince.  However there is a fruitier option to serve with cheese made from dried fruits which is very tasty.  Fig and Walnut slice.  We also have the option of crusty bread and a variety of crackers.

There is a link here:

and a post I previously put up here:

There is also a different variant made from apricots and cranberries.

the link is here:

This is also a very useful thing to make and then give away as a Christmas pressie especially for a cheese lover.

You can make this in balls, in a pattypan tin, but the more usual way to make it is in a cake tin and then cut into wedges. This is how Waitrose sell it and it is quite expensive for a little bit.  If you make it yourself you will get more for your money.
We also have a variety of different cheeses including Stilton, Brie, Caemembert.  We always have a strong cheddar I am fond of Cornish Cruncher from M & S but I also like their Welsh cheddar too.

Something else I always serve with a cheeseboard or indeed to put in sandwiches is roasted leeks.  Basically I slice a load of leeks and roast them in some oil and butter in the oven until the leeks start to caramelise.  You just want them golden you do not want them burnt.  Once cold pack into a jar and keep in the fridge until you want to use them.  This is very useful to liven up cold cuts, to serve in sandwiches and or buns, with some pate etc. etc.  You just keep it in the fridge until it is all gone.  This one does come under the short term keeping preserve which does have to be kept in the fridge.  It is not a long keeper.

A cheeseboard is a very important part of our Christmas celebrations.

Catch you soon.



Saturday, 28 October 2017

Saturday Catch up

This morning started early with a large cup of coffee with a shot of rum in it as it was bitterly cold (Masawatti coffee).  I needed something to reinforce me.  OH took me to Lincoln and I took my thickest coat, hat, scarf and gloves as well as my Uggs (all wrapped up like Nanook of the North) - it is always colder in Lincoln than here (well for the best part).   I went to Lincoln to spend time with my cousin at her cosy home.  It was good to spend girlie time with her which we have not done for so long and also go into Lincoln itself for a little shopping trip.  I did not get time for a sewing machine tutorial with her today (and I still have not let her know that I have the Janome) I want to learn a bit first and if I can get my butt into gear maybe have a go on my own with my own machine all well and good and make her a little something. She would not expect anything less. We are due to meet up again in November so that will be good and I may then let on then. You know just drop it into the conversation.  This time though will be going on the train. Fortunately her husband and my partner get on very well which makes a heck of a difference.  G came back to Peterborough as he had things to do and made arrangements for collecting me later on.  The pair of us also got fed a very lovely rich beef stew with lots of mashed potato; which went down really well as it has been cold.  My cousin is a really good cook too.

I have bought one or two goodies (I cannot divulge what as they are for someone's Christmas pressie) and I know he pops in from time to time.  So I do not want to spoil things.

So tomorrow because I have been out to play today I have to work on the house and try and catch up on some of the chores that have not yet been cleared.  Deep joy.  NOT!

However I also have a few things I want to try and accomplish in the run up to Christmas including planning out the recipes I would like to make and making a shopping list of the items that I still have not got together in respect of them.  There is always something to do.

Its been a really good but tiring day; right am off to pop my feet up.

Take care.



Peaceful Evening Friday 27 October 2017

Where is the year going to.  It seems to be speeding up the older I get.  I am not old in the greater scheme of things, but sometimes I just feel like "Methusalah" and time seems to race and you do not get time to catch your breath and spin yourself round in the process - sometimes losing all sense of direction and having to cope with what is.  The older you get the more precious people in our lives start to "disappear" only with us for part of our journey but a very precious part their impact and love never forgotten, their presence still with us but we cannot hold give them a hug and hold them close; but still ever present ever in our hearts.

It was bitterly cold here in Peterborough tonight.  On went the heating later on when the temperature had dipped (I try for as long as I can not to put the heating on but when I get cold that's it) and I also upped the minimum temperature to lock in over night as this house does get very cold; and I don't want the animals being poorly I know they have fur coats but they feel the cold like us and if it gets too cold end up with colds which I do not want to happen.  It is the extension to the house i.e. the kitchen and the bathroom that get the coldest).  Fortunately by the time I went to sleep the house was nice and toasty.  I was ready for bed last night as it has been a long tiring week.  It was also  nice and quiet during the evening which was what was needed to be able to potter and just "be" makes all the difference.  I spent some time on the computer, writing  a few posts (for later) and researching information for posts yet to come. I enjoy the researching as much as the writing although if the muse is missing that's when things quieten down or when I run out of time.  Time a man made thing so fleeting like quicksilver and which we need so much more of especially if we do things and are into things and work full time and are forever looking for new ideas and stimulus and ways to do things out of natural curiosity.

I have a busy day tomorrow in that I am meeting up with my cousin and spending a little quality time with her which we have not had in a long time.  It is important to renew those links every so often and to reinforce them. So I am looking forward to that very much.  Catch you soon.



Dulche de Leche - For You and Pressies for Christmas

One of the perks of preserving stuff and putting it up in your pantry is that you can quite economically prepare a small hamper as a present for a friend or a loved one out of what you have in stock.  This is one of the other reasons I make so much as I have found over the years that people who are busy often quite welcome home made preserves, because of the flavours and they have not had to go to the trouble of making something themselves.  I therefore see this as a win win situation.

I am always keen to use the equipment that I have to hand and also preserving something which I do not have to nurse and so frees me up to do other things i.e. multi-tasking. A slow cooker fits into this wish list very nicely.

I like Dulche de Leche (toffee sauce).  You do not need much of it, but to buy it in the shop it costs an arm and a leg for a jar so for me it makes sense to make it yourself, keep what you want and then dish it out as presents to friends and family alike.

I am not making this yet but have it time-tabled for the week before Christmas to make.  It has gone on to my Timeplan.  I can leave it on overnight and when I get up in the morning it should be done.  Once cooled it can be kept in the fridge for up to four weeks.  So this could be very useful for yourself and your family and friends.  The basis for this recipe is a couple of tins of condensed milk.

The most comprehensive recipe/tutorial that I have found to date is here:

This makes about six little pots in the slow-cooker and fills it up.  So you are getting your monies worth.  That is from two tins of Condensed milk.  However if you wanted larger jars then I would suggest that you could do this but I would double up on the quantity of condensed milk and use the standard sized jam jars.

However if you want something a little lighter and a little less sweet Davina McCall has a recipe on the Lakeland website and the link to this is here:

This recipe uses evaporated milk.

So a couple of options here.  Hope this helps in your present making plan.

Catch you soon.



Friday, 27 October 2017


Well I gave in - eventually and that was only because there was 20% discount from M & S on the Stag Candleabra from M & S and I am very chuffed with them.  I have been looking wishfully for the past few years or so at the different variants on a theme but never managed to save up enough in time. Therefore when I saw these I was determined that if it is one of the only new things I have on the Christmas decoration front this year then so be it.  

With the 20% offer on I went in yesterday but they did not have any on the counter.  I was reliably informed by one of the Assistants that they were going quickly.  I therefore thought that I would go back today and if they had any then I would treat myself and if not I would order them to take advantage of the discount.  A considered purchase but I think they will look lovely in a front room on a small table or elsewhere rather than just on the dining room table as they are so distinctive.

They are quite a bit bigger than you think as well.  Am quite chuffed with them and its a change for me to go for silver as I normally go for gold.

There is something else I am after from M & S but I need to go into one of the stores and have a look at it first - basically we need a new mattress and whilst the 20% offer is on might be a good time to buy a new mattress.  We shall see what we shall see.

Catch you soon.



Thursday, 26 October 2017

A step back in time - Danish Peasant Girl with a veil

Its been a busy old week with one thing and another; and this evening I decided to nip into town as it was late night shopping in the Queensgate Centre in Peterborough.  So I duly tottled off after work into town.

I went to several places before I descended on M & S to get one or two bits on the food front and I also investigated the magazine rack at M & S.  I ended up buying  the Good Food Magazine Christmas 2017 edition as a result.

I have not done much since we got back in but I did drag my magazine out and started to peruse the same.  I always browse through carefully to see if there is anything new to try or a different article that inspires me or just basically a different take on things.  Imagine my surprise when I found a recipe entitled Maidens in the Mist.  Oh I thought that sounds interesting  - a different pudding for the repertoire.  As I began to read the small print  it said "Maidens in the mist.  Also called "peasant girls in a veil"  Funny I thought I know that recipe!

In my time it was called "Danish Peasant Girl with a veil".  It was a very new recipe then.  When I was sixteen and taking my practical on cooking (I was with the County Examiner for the practical side of the exam [only so many of us were chosen to be observed]).  We had each received different questions of what to do mine had been something along the lines.  You have an elderly relative coming to stay to recuperate with you.  She is a little weak and needs building up.  What would you propose to feed her for her first meal with you.

It had to be a three course meal.

I started off with a very small prawn cocktail, then did roast beef, Yorkshire puddings, and veggies and then a very new recipe  "Danish Peasant Girl with a veil".  At that time the recipe used white breadcrumbs, but you can in effect use either.  Its a lovely light pudding.

Apparently so rumour has it (and I gleaned this information from younger students at the school) I had apparently come top in the practical exam.  It was never confirmed to me but by the mere fact that younger students who I did not know too well were coming up and saying this to me there must be something in it somewhere down the line.  Apparently from what the youngsters were saying I had been held up as a good example of how to do things correctly at that particular time when it came to cooking and had passed with flying colours with the County Examiner.  I will never know but I did pass my cookery exam.

I had had previous experience of cooking and looking after patients and my brother and my Dad.  When I had just turned 15 mum had been taken seriously ill and diagnosed with "Primary biliary cirrhosis" which was thought at the time of diagnosis to be a disease of the liver. At the time of diagnosis mum was told that they really could not do much and that the longer she could hold on the better chance she stood. In reality they have now found out that it is actually a disease of the auto immune system which manifests itself in the liver and can ultimately lead to liver failure and they have tracked it down to a faulty gene.  The condition does not manifest itself with everyone which complicates matters a little.   At the time of diagnosis by the pioneering Liver Specialist Dr Professor Carne (mum was one of his patients) there were only four diagnosed patients in the country with the condition.  Mum was given an option in reality die or have a liver transplant.  She opted for the liver transplant and that lasted 25 years.  However the primary biliary cirrhosis came back and they found a whole host of patients with this condition ended up with the problem back.  That is when they stopped doing liver transplants for this particular condition, but by then they had newer more effective drugs and a far better understanding of the condition generally.  According to the Consultant my issues are related to mum's problems but have not come out in the same way.  Very fortunately from my perspective as it really is a most horrible disease.

At the time of my mum's emergency admittance to Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge I was taking exams and looking after my 12 year old cheeky brother and my Dad was going to visit mum every night in Cambridge and not getting home until about 10:00am each night.  He walked into a cooked meal every night (my brother and I having had ours earlier).  I was looking after the house, my brother, my Dad and sitting exams.  However we did this  between us pulling together without any outside assistance. Thanks in part to my Dad insisting that I should learn to cook and be in the kitchen with my mum to help with the cooking as part of my pocket money as he did not want me to not be able to cook in later life. How times have changed.  I was lucky that I was taught proper cookery and all the different disciplines which gave me a very in my view imperative life skill which meant I could feed myself and others properly.  Today they are not taught half of what they need to know and I think that is an absolute tragedy. 

As many of you know mum lost her battle a couple of years ago with the liver failing after 25 years.  But they were 25 precious years we would not otherwise have enjoyed with her.  For that we are eternally grateful.

Anyway I have gone off track again.  The meal I cooked at school I brought back home well the bulk of it and it was warmed through for tea that night. I was only 16 at the time of the exam and reading the recipe for "Maidens in the Mist" or "peasant girl in a veil" really did take me back to happier less constricting days, just for a moment to a more innocent time and lets just say that there was not anything left afterwards.  They mopped everything up.  However to this day I have never made "Danish Peasant Girl with Veil" even though we all liked it.  I think I will have to remedy that and make that again soon.  Will post the recipe shortly.

Is there a particular recipe that takes you back in time to a particular event or incident in your life or was it memorable for other reasons.

Love to hear from you.



P.S. I shall pop the recipe up but here is a link on the Lakeland website which is the same recipe more or less and yet again called something different.

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Today has not been a good day

In the greater scheme of things.  To start with I managed to oversleep.  I am normally up around 6:30ish but this morning that was not to be.  I slept right through until 8:22am - I have to be at work for 9:15am.  One little pooch was happily snuggled up with mum and did not stir.

Big gulp much rushing about and I managed to get out the house for 8:55am.  The taxi was early as well but managed to make it safe and sound.

Lunchtime I met a friend for a hot chocolate and a bit of cake.  Whilst talking to her I managed to knock my hot chocolate all over the floor - big mop up session.

Oh and I broke my heel on my shoe; not good when you are about a quarter of a mile from the office and have no other pair with you.

I think it has just been one of those days. Trouble is it sends me off half-cocked for the rest of the day.

If I had a brain I would be dangerous.

Catch you later on.



Meet the Moggies

  • Merlin (approx 18 months)
  • Squeak (approx 2 years)
  • Poppy (approx 16 years)
  • Tyson (approx 17 years)
  • Tinky (official name Clover approx 18 years)