Friday, September 07, 2012

Hedgerow Harvest

A bit disappointed in the first episode of 'Wartime Kitchen' as was hoping for more 'kitchen demos', but then the scene had to be set to get us in the right 'mindset', and hopefully next week we will see Ruth showing us all how cooks had to make do with the little they had.
At least we did get to see 'rose hip syrup' being made (a recipe for this has been given on this site), and it was made in quantity during war-time to give extra vitamins to the children.
Today I'm giving a recipe for a drink (and variations) that I always remember my mother making both before, during and after the war. Those that grow their own fruit or can collect berries from the hedgerows will find these very cheap to make. But even if having to pay for the fruit all these variations very well worth making as they have multiple uses.

Your mention of knitting socks Lisa has reminded me how my mother used to knit in extra strands of wool/cotton when knitting the heels and toes, she said this helped to prevent them wearing thin and holes appearing. Although myself have never knitted socks, those bought for my Beloved (in early days of marriage made with wool), and I used to 'darn' the heels even before they started to wear out, this also helped to stop holes appearing.

Sausagemeat and cheese do go well together, so would add extra flavour to sausage rolls. Vegetarians would probably make 'Glamorgan Sausages' (cheese based with no meat) for their rolls.

Thanks Margie for giving us an insight into Canadian politics. Didn't realise how your country was divided into virtually two 'cultures'. Good to know that Canada has a better economy that most countries of today with fewer people out of work. What's the secret?

After several days of really lovely autumnal sunny weather - and still waiting for that delivery - planned today to scoot out with Norris, B not working today. What happens? I woke to see rain falling with little chance of it stopping, at least not this side of lunchtime. Have to wait and see if it clears this afternoon then might take an hour to pop down to the seafront. Otherwise it will be Plan B (this being sort out the wardrobe and bedroom cabinets and get rid of all the old clothes that are too shabby and now far too large (yippee!) for me to wear.

Beloved has told me that he will continue to work at the furniture company, probably three days a week (add to that his morning with the RNLI), and it's amazing how much happier he is because he is now working again. He doesn't need the money (being 80 and retired) but it is the feeling of 'still being useful' that is working the magic. Have a similar feeling myself when I cook for the social club.

Although wartime brought great hardships it also brought the same feeling of 'usefulness' and 'togetherness', everyone working for the same cause. 'Doing our bit for the war' think it was called. Just wish today we could regain that feeling, do more to help the country, help each other, than just live in the world of 'me, me, me...'. Am sure there would be less misery around if we began thinking more of improving not just our lives, but everyone elses as well. But where do we start? 'Charity begins as home' the saying goes, but it needn't stop there.

Lay in bed last night and gave myself a good talking to. Always believed that I'd tried to 'be good' and do the right things as and when, but too many memories of the past came creeping back to remind me I am lacking in many areas. So today am beginning the first day of the rest of my life and trying to work harder and be a better person. Will try to stop moaning and remember to live for the day and not always hanker for the past, although bringing the best part of the past back into our lives would not be a bad thing. It is possible to do both as we can only work with what we have now.

Was a bit late starting my blog as have already begun my 'domestic day' even before I sat down to right. Supper partly prepared, chutney to be made later, and the bedroom tidied. Going out for a scoot could be considered a waste of time with my new 'regime'.

Before beginning with today's recipes (as useful today as ever was), am first giving a couple on how to make Sugar Mice (as requested yesterday by Rachel). One much simpler than the other as no glucose is used and no need to use a sugar thermometer. Basically Sugar Mice are 'lumps' of thick fondant icing (or royal icing in the case of the easy one) formed into mouse shapes and then left to air-dry before being eaten. Possibly the softer fondant icing (sold in supermarkets for covering cake) could also be used to make the mice. The only way to find out if suitable is to break off a piece then leave it to air-dry and see if it ends up hard enough.
If you wish to make coloured mice add a drop of food colouring to the water.
Sugar Mice (1):
1 lb (450g) icing sugar, sieved
8 fl oz (225ml) water
2 tblsp liquid glucose OR...
...golden syrup
Put the sugar, water and glucose into a pan. Heat gently without stirring (but OK to swirl the pan to help dissolve the sugar), then bring to the boil. When temperature reaches 240F/115C (soft ball) remove from heat. Do not beat, but allow to cool for a while until it becomes firmer.
Dampen a work surface with warm water then tip the fondant onto this, again leaving it to stand for a while to allow it to stiffen up, then work with a spatula until it becomes very white and firm. Cut into even portions and work with one at a time (cover the rest with cling film to prevent it crusting up), and shape into ovals, pulling the fondant at one end to form a head, and pinching up two tiny ears. Press a length of string into the back end to form a tail. Leave uncovered to dry for 24 hours at room temperature.

Sugar Mice (2):
1 egg white
1 lb (500g) icing sugar, sieved
currants for eyes
string for tails
Beat the egg white until frothy, then stir in the sugar to make a very stiff mixture (you may need more or less sugar according to the size of the egg white). Knead well then divide into 12 pieces. Roll each into ovals, shaping one end pointed for the face, pinching up the ears. Press string into the other end to make a tail, and push two currants into the face for eyes.
Leave uncovered to air-dry for 24 hours.

First of today's recipes is for Raspberry Vinegar. My mother used to make it to give me to drink (neat) when I had a sore throat. She make Blackcurrant Vinegar in the same way - this time diluting this in hot water to give me when I had a cold. Blackberries can also be used. Am pretty sure in those days my mum wouldn't have had wine vinegar in her larder, and almost certainly would use the plain 'white' distilled malt vinegar.

Today Raspberry Vinegar is sold over the counter and can be quite pricey, many cooks use this not for drinking but adding to gravy and sauces. Myself find it a very good substitute for Balsamic Vinegar - and of course far cheaper when we make our own.
Note that this recipe uses 'cup' measurements, one 'cup' being 8fl.oz (225ml)
Raspberry Vinegar:
3 lb (1.5kg) fresh raspberries
4 cups (see above) white wine vinegar
Pick over the raspberries removing any that are 'going off' etc and place the rest in a large glass or ceramic bowl (pref not metal or plastic). Pour over the vinegar, cover the bowl and leave to stand in a cool place for ten days, stirring gently each day.
When the 10 days are up, strain through a fine nylon (not metal) sieve or through muslin, allowing it to drip into a bowl (but do not press or squeeze the fruit). Measure the liquid and allow 1 lb (450g) sugar for every 2 cups (16 fl oz) of the juice. Put the liquid into a saucepan and gently to the boil, then add the measured sugar. When dissolved, simmer for 10 minutes, skimming off any foam from the surface. Leave to cool then bottle in sterilized jars and cork/seal securely. Store in a cool place.

During wartime cooks saved every bit of fat that came from cooking meat, beef dripping and bacon fat being especially prized due to the flavour and can make a great difference to the end result (taste) when frying.
Here is a very old and traditional Scottish recipe that would possibly have been made during 'rationing', the single cream would then be the 'top of the milk'. How I wish we could now have milk brought to our doorstep again in (returnable) glass milk bottles where we could see inches of cream that had risen to the top of each bottle. With all this homogenisation, we no longer can separate the cream from the milk ourselves, this is now done for us and we end up with semi-skimmed or skimmed milk. Believe that Channel Island milk still DOES have cream-to-be-seen in the bottles sold in supermarkets. But not the cheapest of milk to buy these days.

The Scots take their oats seriously and whereas we (or at least I) would use bog-standard 'porridge oats', over the border they may use 'fine, medium, coarse, rolled, pinhead'...etc'. If you wish for an oatmeal rather than just 'porridge oats' then whizz these up in a food blender for a few seconds. To make an even finer 'oat flour' blitz for longer.
Oatmeal Pancakes: makes 8
2 oz (50g) plain flour
good pinch salt
2 oz (50g) oatmeal (see above)
1 egg, beaten
5 fl oz (150ml) single cream
5 fl oz (150ml) milk
bacon fat or beef dripping for frying
Sieve the flour and salt into a bowl then stir in the oatmeal. Make a well in the centre and pour in the egg and a little of the cream. Gradually mix together, adding a little milk and then a bit more cream (you may not need to use all) beating to form a smooth batter.
Grease a heavy based frying pan with bacon fat or dripping (or butter if you have neither) and when hot pour in a thin layer of the batter. Cook for about 3 minutes or until the underside is browned, then flip over and cook the other side.
Serve with fried bacon, tomatoes and mushrooms for breakfast or as a brunch/lunch meal.

Next recipe was almost certainly one used in wartime, but once powdered milk came onto the market, it was then 'timeless', so we can make it now. Most of us probably wouldn't bother but as one who has lived in 'hard times', learning how to make anything that we would normally buy has to be well worth knowing about.
Powdered (dried) milk was part of wartime rations and even better was the occasional tin of powdered baby food (milk) that had gone past its 'sell by/use by' date as then it cold be sold over the counter to any customer (not just mothers with babies) lucky enough to be there when it was available. This baby milk was much richer than the normal dried milk.
Make Your Own Margarine:
5 tblsp skimmed (liquid) milk
2 heaped tblsp powdered skimmed milk
half tsp salt
1.5 cups (12 fl oz) sunflower oil
Put the milk, milk powder and salt into a blender and set on lowest speed, then slowly pour in the oil, blending continuously until the mixture is very thick. If not thick enough then beat in a bit more powdered milk. Pour into a container, cover and leave in the fridge to chill. This will then harden to a 'margarine' and can be used as a normal 'spread'.

In an hour it will be noon, and still raining. Will probably spend most of my afternoon in the kitchen as am using part of a pack of puff pastry (for B's 'Koulibiac' supper), so might as well bake extra pastry (thin slices) to then fill with jam and whipped cream, topped with water icing to make B his favourite 'cream slice' (normally - but hardly ever - bought). Also make some cheese straws or 'savoury spirals' with some of the left-over pastry trimmings.
As B is out tonight (Friday being 'social' night at the club) can choose what TV progs to watch, and even though there is a footie match on (England playing) B prefers to go to the social. What a surprise!
No need for me to bake for the club this weekend, the following weekend they are having a barbecue, so maybe no need for me to provide anything then, but do hope they think of something, I am getting withdrawal symptoms from lack of numbers to cook for.

Maybe the weather will improve as it does seem that it is the far North (and of course us in Morecambe) that is having the rain, the rest of the country faring better. Maybe tomorrow the sun will shine again and Norris can be taken for a ride. Let us hope the expected delivery comes soon then I won't feel tied to the house (not that I ever feel 'tied', it's always been my choice to stay at home rather than venture beyond our gate, but in a way waiting for a delivery is a bit like dieting, when you know you can't have/do something then this is the only thing you want to have/do). Neighbours around us are either absent (on holiday), live in an upstairs flat (and too ill to come down) or out at work, so deliveries for them are usually left with us to give to them later, and deliveries for us have no-where to be left other than on the doorstep (and the way our street is numbered, more often than not on the wrong doorstep).

Enough rambling, really have to make the most of the rest of this morning, then have lunch whilst watching 'Doctors' then back into the kitchen again to do all the cooking, B's supper etc before watching 'Downton Abbey' (how I love that series). Enjoy your day, tomorrow sees the start of yet another weekend so a chance to relax or catch up on all the chores that have been left (the latter advice I must follow myself). Hope you find time to join me tomorrow, so see you then.