Nov 21 2004

Autumn into Winter 2004

Autumn

Autumn is suddenly fading into winter. The wind blows, leaves fall like huge crispy golden snow flakes and colour vanishes from the valley. The smell of the wet, fallen leaves takes me back, in a split second, to my London childhood, to Kensington Gardens, the Round Pond, The Broad Walk, Christopher Robin, Peter Pan. There I am walking home with Nanny in my little tweed coat and gaiters kicking leaves into the air. Fifty years on I watch my own little grandchildren playing in the leaves on the farm just as I did along the pavements and under the Plane trees. They help me to muck out the donkeys’ stables too, which is a slow and hilarious affair. Flo-jo is too small just yet and may only look on, but Bee and Harry get right down to it. Bee, two and a half, shrieks that the chickens are pecking her bottom. She has to duck and weave to avoid being sprinkled with donkey poo as Harry man-handles a huge shovel into the wheelbarrow, all the while regaling us with a running commentary about his future life as a farmer or maybe a “plane flyer“. He‘s four.

Continue Reading »

One response so far

Nov 21 2004

Quinces and Tomatillos

Quince Ratafia

Quince1

Quince Ratafia will be wonderful by Christmas. It will add a glow as we drink it with the Christmas Pud and the Mince Pies. It will cheer up vanilla ice cream and add a sparkle to the winter fruit salad. Added to the pork gravy or stirred into a pheasant and apple casserole, it will enrich and bring a sweet wintry depth to the sauce.

Continue Reading »

No responses yet

Nov 02 2004

Letter from Brittany. October 2004

Marcel

My Dear Sally,

What a dull summer we have had in Brittany! Nature was in a very bad mood this year and very cross with human beings ! All the vegetables in the garden were rotten before being ripe – the fruits had no taste. I have made a lot of jam, but this year will not be a good vintage! We had a lot of big storms coming from the sea, but our lovely old house resisted with bravoure the attempts of the gods! “La Fée Margot”, the wicked Fairy Margot, living very close in the Croquelien woods, thought, I think : “that house is 600 hundred years old, it is a young girl and it can have some more fun!!!”
Continue Reading »

No responses yet

Nov 02 2004

Gourd, quince and green tomatoes

Tomatos

Gourd en gratin

Cut the gourd in two, put it in the oven (180o) and leave it till the inside is soft.
Empty the flesh of the gourd and put it in a bowl. Smash it with salt, pepper, a soup spoon of cream, a pinch of curry, a handful of chives (cut in small pieces), put it back in the gourd, spread on it grounded parmesan, put some little pieces of butter and put it back in the oven. Grill it slowly and eat immediately.
Continue Reading »

No responses yet

Oct 08 2004

Widdicombe Fair

Aulduncletomcobley
Auld Uncle Tom Cobly

It’s September, and Widdicombe Fair again on Tuesday, but which Tuesday? “Tuesday in September”, yes but which one? I rang Colin Pearse, moorland farmer and poet, to find out when his book was to be launched. “In the Sheep Heritage Marquee at 12.30.” Yes but which Tuesday? An amazed silence, then “Well, second, of course, always has been, has been since the Fair started back in 1850’s.” Colin has taken four years to write a history of the White Face Dartmoor sheep and, published at last, it is to be presented at the Fair. It’s the perfect setting, a celebration of this rare old moorland breed on it’s own territory.
Continue Reading »

No responses yet

Oct 08 2004

Pasties, Quiche and Victoria Sponge

Cornishpasty

Pasties

The pasty question is a vexing one! Should they be crimped along the top or flat like a fat bolster. Is the beef minced or chopped – must it be beef? Does carrot go into the filling or just turnip and onion? Mrs Beeton, 1926, adds baking powder to her pastry and gravy to the filling! “ Farmhouse Fare” 5/- 1956 slices the beef and makes pastry with butter. Even Jane Grigson finishes the pasty with a frill on the top. She does makes the pastry with lard though. A minefield! My Cornish mother-in-law’s son is quite adamant: you cannot get a proper pasty in Devon, not even Widecombe!
Continue Reading »

One response so far

Sep 10 2004

White Face in Autumn

Ofthesheepiscasteaway_1

Of the Sheep is cast away nothing
His horns for notches – to ashes goeth his bones
To Lordes great profit goeth his entire dung,
This tallow also serveth plastrers, more than one,
For harp strings his ropes serve everyone,
Of whose head boiled whole and all
There cometh jelly, ointment full Royal.
For aches and bruises
It is remedy that doeth ease quickly
Causing men’s stark points to recure,
It doeth sinews again restore to life.
Black sheep’s wool, with fresh oil of olive,
The men at arms, with charms, they prove it good
And at straight need, they can well staunch blood.

C13th Verse
Continue Reading »

No responses yet

Sep 10 2004

lamb

Vicarage Mutton.

“Hot on Sunday
Cold on Monday
Hashed on Tuesday
Minced on Wednesday
Curried Thursday
Broth on Friday
Cottage pie Saturday”

Continue Reading »

No responses yet

Sep 01 2004

Letter from Brittany. August 2004

rabbitmushrooms

Dear Sally,

I left you without news for a long time! Sorry, we have been very busy with the house, but now we are in and I have more time to think about what I am going to cook from the garden.
Continue Reading »

No responses yet

Sep 01 2004

Rabbit, mushrooms, strawberries

Lapin aux coulemelles

Cut your rabbit in pieces, fry it in some olive oil with spring onions, add salt, pepper and 2 soup spoons full of cumin seeds. When the rabbit is golden brown it is cooked.
Continue Reading »

No responses yet

Next »