Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Linking Hands....

It's lovely to have readers in so many countries around the globe.  Possibly more that haven't yet sent in a comment.  Meant to reply to Julie yesterday (apologies) as she lives in Brisbane where a close friend of mine lives/lived.  Have lost her address since we moved so doubt I'll be hearing from her again.  She originally lived in Leicester.

A welcome to mumfypat whose comment seemed to imply she was born in the UK but now lives in another country.  If so - might I ask where?  It's always good to hear about cookery/food prices etc compare with those in the UK.

We too have had good weather Lorna, but as we are also in the west (north compared to you in the south), it is often the same. Usually milder than the eastern side of Britain due to us having the Gulf Stream warming the sea around Ireland and the west.  Even in the northwest of Scotland many tropical plants grow naturally.

Do agree that 'Roots' is a painful programme to watch.  Yesterday they wouldn't teach the slaves to read (in case they became too intelligent) and today Kunte Kinte (aka Toby) had one of his feet chopped off when he was captured after running away.  Reminds me of some of the Arabic nations, we hear how they won't allow their womenfolk to be educated.  What are they afraid of?  They also chop off hands when someone has been thieving.  

I've been reading a huge tome all about Islam and it is very enlightening, saying how the Koran does not prevent women from being educated, in fact it believes they should be. Apparently there are more women judges in Tunisia than there are in the UK.  Women too should dress modestly, covering the hair but not necessarily the face, so it does seem that often a religion (of any kind) is twisted to suit, rather than followed to the letter.

Thanks for giving Mrs Beeton's recipe for Tipsy Cake Hazel. No doubt there are several different versions in early 20th century cookbooks.  Same with every recipe I suppose. 

It sounds as though there is a part of England in Perth Mary.  Somehow I've always believed that Australia is so very different.  I'd have loved to visit as my uncle and aunt used to live in New South Wales - close to the most eastern point - about 60 miles away from the Queensland border.  Their son moved there (had an avocado farm or something), so they emigrated to live closer to him.

Today a new series of 'Coast' began.  Normally this is a series that travels around the coast of Great Britain (and sometimes Ireland), but this time it is set in Australia and today covered part of the coast in the Kimberley area.  I'm always amazed at how red the cliffs are (and inland how red the soil is). What makes it this colour?  We do have a short stretch of red cliffs in Devon (where the rail track got washed away during the recent winter storms).

Good to hear from you again Pam.  Pleased you are having good weather of the 'English' type, and am feeling that our English seasons are memorable to those who have left our shores.  I have to say there is nothing closer to Paradise than our countryside when the weather is perfect (blue skies, not too hot, and preferably woods full of bluebells and hedgerows full of white blossom - and cuckoo calling in the distance, or a skylark singing overhead). 

Am giving a traditional recipe today, firstly because it is something made and eaten for several centuries I suppose, eaten by farm workers at the end of a long hard day in the fields.  This version originates from Shropshire, but there are many variations.   This one is especially economical with the ingredients.  We can - if we wish - include cooked or raw chicken or minced pork or sausage meat, and line a cake tin with pastry before adding the filling and covering with a lid of pastry - this ends up more like a Pork Pie, but that could make it more expensive.  As always (and as did happen in farm kitchens) the cook has the final choice of what to include and how to make and bake..
If we have no brown flour then use all white flour.  Or use short crust pastry (home-made or bought) and follow the recipe for the filling. 

Shropshire Fidget Pie: serves 5 - 6
3 oz (75g) plain flour
3 oz (75g) wholemeal flour
pinch of salt
2 oz (50g) lard, diced
1 oz (25g) butter, diced
cold water
1 tblsp sunflower oil
8 oz (225g) lean bacon, chopped
2 onions, thinly sliced
1 lb (450g) potatoes, thinly sliced
2 tsp sugar
2 cooking apples, peeled, cored, sliced
4 sage leaves, chopped
salt and pepper
half pint (300ml) veg. stock or dry cider
egg/milk to glaze
Sift together the flours and salt and rub in the fats until it resembles fine crumbs. Add enough cold water to bind the mixture, gathering it together to form a ball of dough.  Chill for half an hour. Meanwhile heat the oil in a large pan and cook the bacon until crisp, then transfer this to a mixing bowl. Add the onions, potatoes and sugar to the hot pan and brown until beginning to soften, than add these to the bacon. Add the apples, stir in the sage, and seasoning to taste.  Mix well together.
Tip this mixture into a 1.5lt pie dish, level the surface and pour over the stock or cider.
Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured board to a shape large enough to cover the pie dish. Brush the edges of the dish with beaten egg or milk, then lay the pastry over the top.  Trim the edges and make a hole in the centre, brush the surface of the pastry with egg/milk.
Bake at 180C, gas 4 for about an hour, or until the crust is golden and the filling cooked through.

Second recipe is not a traditional one, but something similar may have been made in the past.  I chose this as it's a good way to use up those cream crackers that - at least in the Goode household - always seem to be left in the bottom of the 'cheese biscuits' tin.   Instead of cream crackers we could use crushed cornflakes or potato crisps.
Goes without saying we could/should use a cheaper white fish instead of cod.  Shallot instead of spring onions.  Myself would probably using instant mash (Smash) making this up with the milk that the fish has been poached in, this giving the cakes a more pronounced fish flavour.
If you grow your own herbs, omit the sweetcorn and add chopped fresh parsley.

Crispy Cod and Corn Cakes: serves 4
4 tblsp milk
1 lb (450g) cod fillet
1 x 198g can sweetcorn, drained
6 spring onions, finely chopped
1 lb 10oz (750g) mashed potatoes
salt and pepper
2 eggs, lightly beaten
12 cream crackers, crushed
oil for frying
Put the milk and fish into a saucepan and bring to the boil, reduce heat, cover and leave to cook for 5 minutes. Set aside until cool enough to handle.
Put the mashed potato into a bowl and fold in the sweetcorn and onions, adding seasoning to taste/  Remove the fish using a slotted spoon, flaking the fish, then stir this into the mash, taking care not to break up the fish too much.   Divide into 8 and shape into round flat cakes.
Put the beaten eggs into a shallow dish and the crushed cream crackers into another, then dip each cake into the egg, then into the crushed crackers.
Heat a little oil in a frying pan and fry the cakes, four at a time, for about 3 minutes on each side until crisp and golden.   Serve with a salad and tomato ketchup.

That's is for today, half an hour to go before it becomes Thursday, but want to go and watch a late-night film.  Should be back this time tomorrow (Thursday) evening to publish the blog ready for the Friday read. 

One problem about altering blogging time is that two blogs could be published the same day, one written very later the previous night ready to be read in the wee small hours of the next day, then maybe the next blog written in the early evening.  Am concerned that some readers who read only towards the end of the day might pick up the latest blog not realising there was a previous one they might have missed that ended up being published very early the same day.  So worth checking, then I can blog when the time is more convenient to me, rather than waiting until the last minute.

Catch up with you all again tomorrow, with more traditions recipes.  If there are any you remember your mothers/grandmothers making and wish to make them yourself, I will find the recipe for you. TTFN.