Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Cookery challenge October - Christmas Pudding

This month’s challenge: a recipe handed down through voice, hand written notes or inspired by your memories. The point of this month's challenge was to step away from the internet and remember the meals cooked by our elders, family and friends. If we could speak to the person who inspires this recipe then that is wonderful. If you can't, then honour them with your cooking.                                                                                                                                                          

If you had to instantly think of a recipe or dish handed down or vividly remembered what would it be ? My list was as follows:-

My Granny - Cornish cream teas
My step granny - Rock cakes, and jam puffs.
My Grandfather - Homemade blackberry jam
My mother -  Roasts with Huge Yorkshire puddings and home-made gravy.
My sister - Beef stroganoff, Roast lamb cooked with silvers of garlic and rosemary (she is 13 years older and it was the late 70's, I thought this was so cool and different to what I had at home.)
My mother in law - cakes and puddings

It occurred to me as I wrote this, that most of these were childhood favourites as my grandparents died while I was in my mid teens, I don't remember any of the main dishes they used to cook. So which of these did I choose?

I have decided to share with you my mother in law's (see picture above) recipe for Christmas Pudding. It differs from many of the shop bought ones as it includes breadcrumbs and is much lighter than any others I have come across, which is just what you need after a huge Christmas Roast.

Every year at this time of year she would make her Christmas Puddings. It was much earlier than stir up Sunday (the last Sunday before Advent), which is traditionally the day to make Christmas Puddings. The house would fill with steam as she boiled them for 7 hours. She always made a few, which she stored and would bring out to eat long after Christmas.

Glady's Christmas Puddings - Makes 1


4oz (100g) self raising flour
4oz (100g) white breadcrumbs
4oz (100g) shredded suet (Ii use the vegetarian one)
4oz (100g) currants
4oz (100g)raisins
4oz (100g)sultanas
2oz (50g) mixed peel
4oz (100g) demerara or soft light brown sugar
1 small apple grated
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon mixed spice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 lemon rind and juice
2 eggs
1/4 gill  (2 tablespoons) of brandy or sherry (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 gill (6 tablespoons of milk)

Lightly grease 2x600ml/1 pint or 2x1.2 litre/1 pint pudding basins.

Place all dry ingredients in large bowl, mix together  all  the liquid ingredients and add to the dry ingredients. 

Spoon into in the glass bowls cover with greaseproof paper and then foil, If doing it Glady's way put the basins in a large steamer of boiling water and cover with a  saucepan lid. Boil for 5-6 hours, topping the boiling water up from time to time, if necessary. If you do not have a steamer, put the basins in a large pan on inverted saucers on the base. Pour in boiling water to come a third of the way up the sides of the pudding bowls. Cover and steam as before. 

Or alternatively place bowl in a slow cooker add enough boiling water to come up 2/3rds up the side of the basin.Steam in a slow cooker on high for 12 hours.

 Allow to cool ,replace the greaseproof lid and  foil and wrap up and store in a cold place until Christmas Day. Occasionally you can feed with brandy. To reheat steam for a further 2 hours or 3 hours on high in the slow cooker.

Serve with  brandy butter, rum sauce,  cream or custard.

I'm now off  around the world to visit the other participants to see what interesting things they have made this month.

Sarah x

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Animal welfare - the bad and the good

What do you think is the third most farmed animal in the UK?
I was quite surprised to learn that the answer is ducks.

Over the weekend I read on Tales of simple days. about a campaign that the RSPCA (Royal Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) is running to persuade the supermarkets to buy duck meat from suppliers who give ducks full body access to water, so that they can fully bathe in water. See this link for The sad tale of Jennifer the duck

Our neighbouring village has a duck pond and it is so lovely to see the wild ducks swimming in this beautiful setting.

The ducks here aren't always popular though, an incident happened earlier in the year when the annual scarecrow's competition was held. The theme unsurprisingly was "The Olympics".

Unfortunately the synchronised swimmers had to be removed after a few days as the ducks had eaten the straw that had been used for their heads!

We don't eat very much meat, and we  always try where possible, to buy local good quality free range meat . This quote comes from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall :-

Think about the meat that you eat. Is it good enough? Good enough to bring you pleasure every time you eat it? Could it, should it be better? Are you among the millions of consumers putting pressure on farmers to produce mountains of cheap meat of dubious quality, by dubious means? Perhaps it would make sense to spend a little more on it, a little less often. Or to buy cheaper cuts of better meat.”

Occasionally during the year we visit local producers and learn how they run their businesses of rearing their animals - this year we have been to a smallholding rearing pigs, and a water buffalo farm. We are always heartened to see the care and devotion that the owners give to their animals. These are such good examples and show the huge difference in the way our meat is produced and the how the animals are cared for.

Thank you everyone so much for commenting of my last post. I was quite over whelmed with the response and the  wonderful company It was just as well  it was a virtual walk or the beach would have been very crowded! Welcome  and hello to my new followers Joy (if you have a blog please let me know), and thank you Janice for your link.
Sarah x

Saturday, 20 October 2012

A cup of tea by the shore

We're off to Portland to Church Ope Cove to sit on the beach with a cup of tea and admire the views. I wondered whether you would care to join us?

It's quite a climb down, with many steep stone steps, but we can stop and admire the view on the way.......

This is a favourite destination of ours, maybe you recognised some of the stones from my header above.
 Isn't it beautiful down on the beach, I could sit down here all day. Do you take sugar?

 Some lucky people have beach huts down here. The walls of their "gardens" have been created from the stones on the beach.

The gaps in this stone wall have been filled with smaller pebbles - it's a sculpture in itself.

We are not quite alone, there are fishermen here too, it looks like one of them may be in luck!

Also, there are a few photographers here today, they are taking a picture of the rusty winch that used to haul the fishing boats onto the shore. 

As we can't get close to the winch today, so I will  show you instead a picture of it  taken sometime ago. I'm sure it has been moved further up the beach now.

 Unfortunately as we have climbed down, so we will now have to climb back up, let's follow the coast path.

Phew, that was a quite a climb! Can you see now see the cove below us? On the skyline to the top left is the  badly ruined remains of Rufus castle - a Norman castle.

 Let's head back home now. I hope you have enjoyed the sea air too.

Hello and welcome to my new followers Janice (if you have a blog please let me know), Maria Glazacheva, and Mrs Black from Mrs Blacks this n that  it's so lovely to meet new friends.

Sarah x

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Following a tree

It's been a very long time since I wrote anything about the tree I am following.  Back at the beginning of the year I joined with others over at Loose and Leafy  and agreed to follow the life of a tree for a year. Over the past few months I have continued to keep and eye on it. Last time I shared any pictures with you the leaves were all fully out and the CowParsley was flowering. Where does the time go?

 In July when we had such heavy rain and flooding I rushed down the lane to make sure that the tree hadn't suffered in the floods. Luckily it hadn't suffered much and I expect it has experienced many floods like this in it's lifetime.

Part of the bark
I have attempted to take quite a few photographs of the bark, but the colour doesn't seem to come out well in the photos. Any hints how to get a good photo of the bark would be greatly received!

The willow tree is on the top left of the picture, to the right in the distance is the village church.

I have taken the tree at dusk and the other morning I managed to capture it as the sun rose over the horizon.

 Stinging nettles and Himalayan Balsam have grown around its feet and some branches are already bare of leaves.

If you would like to see other pictures of the willow there is a separate tab at the top of the page.

Sarah x

Sunday, 14 October 2012

An apple a day

I love apples and eat at least one a day so they don't last long in our house! The basket of apples in my previous post is going down fast and so today we set out to replenish the stock. Our trip took us just over the border into Somerset and to North Perrott Fruit Farm, which was celebrating a crop of 30 varieties of apples and pears with an apple tasting day.

 Apple Day is on the 21st October. It is an annual celebration to celebrate the local distinctiveness in apples, and there are many events this month all over the country. Apples are thought to have been brought over to Britain by the Romans and there are still thousands of different varieties, but how many varieties do we eat on a regular basis? I love some of the old names such as Slack ma Girdle, Buttery Door, Hangy Down, Arlingham Schoolboys, Sussex Duck's bill, Sops in wine - those names conjure up such images!

Back home it didn't take me long to make an apple and blackberry pie, using some frozen blackberries from the freezer. Last week I made a Dorset Apple cake - a speciality of the county that I live in.

Easy Dorset Apple Cake
7oz (175g) Self raising flour and 1 teaspoon baking powder
1oz (25g ) cornflour
4oz (100g) butter (I don't ever use margarine in this recipe as the butter gives it a lovely flavour.)
4oz (100g) caster sugar
8oz (200g) cooking apples which have been peeled, cored and diced. (I use dessert apples sometimes and e cut  them up quite small.)
1 lemon zest
1 large egg and 1 tablespoon milk

Top of cake
1 large apple and soft brown sugar

Sift flour,baking powder into bowl
Cut butter into small pieces and rub into flour
Stir in sugar, apples and zest
Bind together with egg and milk
Place in 8 inch (20cm) cake tin and peel and slice remaining apple and arrange over the top of cake. Sprinkle over the brown sugar and cook in a preheated oven  Gas Mark 6 /190C/375F for 30-40 minutes.

Allow to cool before serving.If you are feeling indulgent you could always serve it with clotted cream.

Thank you for  all your lovely comments and big welcome to Anita from Castles crowns cottages and Margaret from Margarets patch.

Sarah x

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Reflections in the water

Do you remember those paintings we did as children of  making butterflies on one side of the paper and then folding it and recreating a copy on the picture on the other side? Reflections in the water remind me of this but they are much more beautiful than the pictures I created!

The reflection changes as the water moves.

Or if still creates a perfect mirror image in the water.

The symmetry of this appealed to me.

Hope you are having a great week whatever you are doing.

Sarah x

Sunday, 7 October 2012

A walk around the garden in October

The garden is starting to take on a more autumnal feel.

The pelargoniums have now been replaced with pansies and heathers, and the colours of the hydrangea heads are starting to fade.

However there is still lots of green in the garden, but fewer patches of bright colours - the yellow of the  rubeckia that has been in flower since July and the purple of the verbena and  lilac of the Michaelmas daises that are at their best right now.

Michaelmas daises
 Some of the roses are still flowering and the sedum gives a burst of pink in the background.

Francine Austin rose, it is the smallest one we have in the garden but still very pretty.

 The hardy fuchsia is cut down hard in the spring and it repays us by producing such lovely flowers.

 You know it's Autumn is when the Canada geese fly over head at dawn and dusk as they go inland to feed in the fields. They are such a spectacular sight and you hear their honks a long time before they appear, they come over in groups in a V shape formation.

The apples are all gathered from the apple tree we planted over 20 years ago. The crop hasn't been very good this year.  The last two years we have had a bumper harvest, so we can't complain. I heard the other day that the apple crop is down by over 20% in England this year due to bad weather we have had this year.

Do you like my basket ? I bought it on a second hand stall in Totnes recently, I love it's branch handle and it's pretty shape and the fact it is hand made.. It will also hold lots of goodies when visiting the local farmers markets too. 

Autumn is the time of planting bulbs for spring, with the dry weather we have managed to plant the daffodil bulbs this weekend, but the tulips can wait another month until they are planted, which is just as well as I am still planning what to buy. I can be like a child in a sweet shop with such a choice in the variety and colour of tulips! Do you have any favourite tulips that you wouldn't be without?

Hello and welcome to my new followers Juanita Tortillia , David from Wellcome allotment ,
Stitches scraps and tidbits  and Karen from Katie Claires cottage.blogspot.co.uk/ also hello and welcome to all my silent followers too thank you for visiting. Happy thanksgiving day tomorrow, for those of you celebrating in Canada.

                                                                        Sarah x


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