Saturday, 27 March 2010
Thursday, 25 March 2010
First, a very kind friend found an old hand written recipe/household book her Mother wrote around the War period and rationing and gave it to me. It's falling apart, stained and faded, and quite simply one of the most beautiful old books i have ever handled. It gives such an insight into how people lived and what they ate and how they looked after their homes. The recipes for cakes ask for egg powder (!), and there's little tips such as homemade metal polish and even china cement - presumably if they dropped a cup or a bowl they couldn't just toss it away and instead found ways of mending it. But one page just grabbed me, and it's simply titled, Grandma's War Cake. This is the recipe copied verbatim:
2 cups Brown Sugar
2 cups hot water
1/4 lard or dripping
1lb of fruit
1 teaspoon salt
1 cinnamon or 1 and half allspice
Boil together for 5 minutes. When cold add 3 cups of flour, 1 teaspoon carb. soda dissolved in 1 teaspoon hot water. Bake in two loaves for 45 minutes in slow oven.
I haven't tried making it yet, so if anyone else does, could you let me know how you get on as I just love the idea of it! Alternatively as soon as i can i''l make it myself and blog about it here.
* * *
What next... Ah, my dad's old mate Len Goodman sent me an email
What a lovely guy he is. Dad and Len were best mates for donkey's years, all well before Len became famous with the TV show Strictly. Dad used to tell stories about the two of them, and i wrote a funny article about them for my newspaper column, and it seems someone sent Len a clipping and he emailed me to say he found it 'interesting', ha-ha! Len's a star, in every sense of the world!
* * *
The book is going great guns, and i'm being booked up for radio, magazine and newspaper interviews, all of which i will of course blog right here. Amongst all of this i'm supposed to be hedging, and will do my best to post on that soon.
Monday, 15 March 2010
Alternatively, of course, you can read my full review in Devon Life Magazine, the link to which i will put up just as soon as it's published.
Wednesday, 10 March 2010
Tuesday, 2 March 2010
Monday, 1 March 2010
Kylie was my first pig - that's her in the picture. She was about as close as a farm animal could get to a pet. She was my friend. I found her in her pig ark, just laying quietly. There was no sign of stress, or pain, or panic. No straw bunched up around her. It just looked like she went to sleep, and never woke up. I guess, if you’ve got to go… and all that. That’s not how I feel, but you know what I mean.
I did start logging in the week. Just a couple of hours chopping trees down ready to lay for next year’s firewood. It’s probably a man thing, but there’s something incredibly satisfying about chopping down a tree. I’ve got ten acres of woods, so I’m not taking them all by any stretch of the imagination, just setting myself an area that needs coppicing and chopping the trees down within that. Most of it will go for firewood, but I have half an idea to make a table out of some of it. I really like the idea of doing the whole thing myself, from chopping down the tree right the way through to the finished, polished table. Nothing big, just something like a coffee table. I’ll sketch out a couple of ideas and see how it looks.
Stinging nettles should be up this month, and stinging nettle soup will be back on the menu again! It’s incredibly good for you, and a few hundred years ago it would have been a staple in this country, but the appeal does seem to have died out somewhat – probably the thought of putting a spoonful of nettles into your mouth that did it, but honestly, the cooking process takes out any sense of the sting, and it’s just like spinach, only with more of an iron taste. As soon as they’re up, I’ll blog about making the first bowl of the year and put it up along with photographs and the recipe.
I do love this time of year. Late winter, early spring is about the most creative in the self sufficient year. It’s not that there’s so much to do, it feels much more like there so much you can do. It’s a time of potential, and ideas, when anything seems possible. Whatever we need, whatever we want to make our life pleasant and comfortable, surrounded by things that are unique and handmade at home, things that make us smile, we make. It’s nice – life is good.
And life is sad. Rest in peace Kylie. I love you and I miss you.