Monday, June 02, 2014

If Only Now Could be Then

Having been to the spiritualist meeting on Saturday evening, my thoughts this morning were not far away from angels, so decided to watch 'Highway To Heaven' on the True Entertainment channel, remembering that Michael Landon played the part of an angel sent to earth to do good things.  Not that this episode was at all interesting as it concerned boxing, but decided to watch the start of the following programme 'Little House on the Prairie' as I used to enjoy that.  The few times I've checked it out recently, Laura Ingalls had married and I hadn't seen Michael Landon in it anyway (did like him).

Joy upon joy, today was the showing of the very first episode/s of 'Little House....' and these I'd never seen before.  It was when they moved from the family home in 'the big wood', leaving behind grandma and grandpa and aunts etc, and moved to Kansas. 

What came across was the hardship the pioneers went through in those times.  Not only did they find land to settle on (I believe the government gave 60 acres to people to settle), but once there they had to build a house to live in, and just about manage, seeing as how they were many miles from the nearest town.  Food had to be grown, water only to drink until a cow was bought (or given in return for labour).  Once the Ingalls had the cow (it came with a calf), they could then have butter and make cheese. 
To cut a long story short (well, two hours of it), the episodes ended with the government of the day having then divided up Kansas giving part of it to the Native Americans, and the Ingall family were on the wrong side of the boundary, so they were forced to leave their land and move on.  Am hoping to keep up with the story so that I can see more episodes that I never saw before.

If only life today was as it was then.  People worked hard to make a life and home, usually by their own efforts, and the family ties were much closer than they seem today.  People looked out for each other, neighbours willing to help.   Sacrifices made, and if there wasn't much money, no-one expected more than could be afforded.

I know the above programme is based on fact, but am pretty sure that is how things were in those times.  Had the same feeling when I watched 'Roots'.  Families that stay close together are the fortunate ones.  Nowadays everyone seems to want to do their own thing without considering whether it affects other members of the family (often in a bad way).  It's all me, me, me, and however much it may appear technology and all the advancements made over the last hundred (or so) years has improved life,  none of this has done much other than make it easier for people to be lazy, and lead to even less interest in the family.  Youngsters today seem to give far more thought to tweeting and texting people they have never even met, ignoring that perhaps mum might like a bit of help, or even just having a 'family chat'.  We seem to have lost something very precious and quite necessary when you think about it. 

Suppose in my youth the 'world outside' did seem more exciting than those lived in pioneer times, but as I was about 19 when rationing finished, nothing much had changed from when I was small (the war prevented any advancement).  After leaving school, very few boys of our age were around as they'd all had to go and do their National Service.  Even in late teens having a boy friend (usually just 'demobbed' and wearing his only demob suit), we met only a couple of nights a week, the rest of the time was spent doing more 'domestic' things like 'hair washing night', or meeting 'best friends' (old school chums) in each others homes.  Can't really remember what else I did at home, maybe ironing, helping dad in the garden, but do remember that I was allowed out to meet 'a boy', only twice a week - usually once mid-week to go to the cinema, and on Saturday to the local dance hall.  Had always to be in by 10.30pm (or there would be trouble), an extra half-hour added if it was a special occasion.   When 'going steady', much the same until B and I were engaged, the curfew time then being slightly extended, but always back before midnight, although we did go out several evenings in the week, not just two.

In those days B didn't have his own transport, and as he'd always see me home, on the later nights he often missed the last bus so had to walk 5 miles across Leicester to his own home.  Later he did buy a bicycle, so would ride over to collect me before we went out, and leave his bike at our house to collect on our return. 

As you can see I'm in a nostalgic mood tonight.  At least one of the lucky ones, old enough to remember what things were like, and feel very sorry for the young folk of today who have no idea of how good life felt when things seemed to move at a slower pace.  True, we all worked hard (five and a half days a week, in my case 8.30am - 6.00pm weekdays, 9.00am - 1.00pm Saturdays),  but that made free time all the more precious so we enjoyed it all the more. 
Don't remember my parents every sitting idly, my mother always knitting, crocheting, or sewing - and of course cooking meals, doing the washing, ironing.... her way of relaxing was reading books.

On return from work - and weekends - my dad spent much of his time in the garden (we had a large garden), but during the winter he would spend a lot of time doing carpentry, or decorating, whatever needed repairing etc.  His relaxation was also reading.  Sometimes, as a family, we would sit and listen to the radio...."It's Monday night at 8 o'clock, oh can't you hear the chimes...?" (anyone remember that?) and ITMA, Dick Barton, Special Agent, and something with Bebe Daniels and Ben Lyon. 

Not sure when "Mrs Dale's Diary"("I''m worried about Jim') began to be broadcast, but that was an everyday 'must listen to'.  As was later - The Archers.  By then I think this must have been in my early married years.  Time moves so fast.  I have begun listening to The Archers again after several years of having given it up, although to tell you the truth I'm not quite sure who everyone is now. The children have all grown into adults and got children of their own.  One or two voices/names I still recognise (thankfully).

Back to life as it is now. The meeting last night at the church was so-so.  The lady directly behind me got a message, as did the lady directly in front of me.  However, I was sitting where I could not see the medium unless I leaned sideways, and as I wasn't wanting any 'contact', I was happy to just keep hidden and listen to others.  Everything still a bit too vague for me, I'd like to hear names that people recognise, along with a description.   We all have a Henry, Robert, John, Margaret, Susan, William, George in our family ancestry, somewhere - because in a century ago these were common names.  So easy enough to 'connect' with a name (if we want to believe this).
Next Saturday think the medium will be the one at the first meeting I went to, and he chose to give me a message that did have some truth in it.  So maybe he might do the same again. 

Had decided to join the church, so checked the details on the website.  A bit expensive, but when the meeting was over yesterday evening, asked the lady there (who is there on Tuesdays) about joining, I said I needed to know if I would be expected to attend the Sunday services etc, because if I was, then it wasn't for me (I like to be a free spirit) and she said members can come and go as they wish.  Anyway that little section of their church is 'affiliated' so the fee is very low, so I said I'd join and they gave me a form to fill in.  Which of course I now can't find, and think it must have fallen out of my cardigan pocket (where I put it - not having taken a handbag with me) between leaving the church and returning home. 

Does that mean I shouldn't join, or was it just an accident that it has got lost?  Next time I go I will ask for another form, maybe fill it in when I'm there and pay my dues at the same time.  Once joined I can go to 'development' classes to learn how to be a proper medium (if I wish).

Enough about me.  Your comments should have taken first priority, but as food has been mentioned thought I'd leave them to the end so I can follow them with the requested recipes.

Can't say jane, that I've heard of 'Baked Cheese.  I'd imagine cheese cooked on its own in the oven would end up soft and a bit chewy, unless finely grated and then it could end up as a crisp biscuit. Cheese on toast is the only thing I can think of, although Alison sent in a cheese/ham/egg version.
I'm about to read the chapter on Dairy Foods, in the book on the history of food in this country, so maybe there might be a mention of something as simple as baking cheese.  Simplicity being the order of the day, centuries ago.

Also haven't come across a recipe for Barley Pudding Jane (not the same jane as above). Suppose it would be similar to rice pudding, as the two grains today are sometimes substituted one for the other.

We give a welcome to Maz, a regular reader sending in her first comment.  Believe the dish you are querying is Sussex Pond Pudding.  Basically this is just a suet pudding, filled with butter, sugar and a whole lemon (pricked all over), then steamed for 2 -3 hours. 
It is possible to make individual versions of the above, same recipe as for the large (that I give below), but the lemon is not left whole but thinly sliced and layered between the butter/sugar.  The pastry is divided into six, to line six small pudding basins (each holding 6.fl oz), or we could use teacups.  Even though the puds are smaller, they still have to be steamed for 2 hours, then turned out and eaten immediately.

Whether the small puds would freeze after making I have no idea, it would be useful if they could be, and maybe worth making half the mixture (to make three little puds), eat one freshly made, reheat the second in the microwave the next day, freeze the third to see if it works (and if you do this, please let us know if it does/doesn't).

For those who enjoy the flavour of lemon, am also giving another recipe - one of my favourites - as it separates as it cooks, and makes it's own sauce.

There seems to be no exact recipe for the traditional 'Pond' recipe. Some use all flour with suet, others use flour and breadcrumbs (plus suet).  The sugar can be soft brown, or Demerara.   How to put the ingredients together is the same for all.  So here it is...

Sussed Pond Pudding: 1 large or 6 small
5 oz (150g) self-raising flour
2 oz (50g) fresh breadcrumbs (or s.r.flour)
3 oz (75g) shredded suet
2 fl oz (50ml) each milk and water, mixed
6 oz (175g) chilled butter, cut into small cubes
6 oz (175g) light brown sugar
Mix together the flour, crumbs and suet. Add just enough milk/water to make a soft rollable dough.  If making one pudding, roll out into a large circle, then cut out a quarter to set aside (this to use for the lid).  If making individual puds, divide the dough into six.
For the large pud, fit the larger piece of dough into a well-greased pudding basin, pressing the cut sides together to seal.  Put half the butter and half the sugar into the bottom of the basin.  Stab the lemon all over with a skewer or fork prongs (to allow the juice to escape during cooking).  Then push the whole lemon into the centre of the basin, putting the rest of the butter/sugar around and on top of it.  Roll out the reserved pastry to make a lid, placing it on top and sealing the edges together.
Cover with a piece of pleated foil, tying this round the basin, then place in a pan of boiling water - to come half-way up the sides of the basin - and simmer for 3 - 4 hours.  Remove foil, and upturn pudding onto a shallow dish, and serve immediately.
for individual puds divide the dough into six, rolling each into a circle - removing a wedge to make the lid - then press these into well-buttered small pudding basins or tea-cups, working it round evenly with the fingers so the dough reaches the top of the containers.   Slice the lemon very thinly, then and layer these between the butter and sugar in each container.  Roll out the reserved pieces of dough to fit the top, place over, wet the edges and seal.  Cover each with foil (as above) and steam for 2 hours.

Next recipe only works when it is cooked when the dish is standing in a bath of hot water. Don't ask me why.  The safest way is to put the roasting tin - holding the pudding dish - into the oven then pour in the boiling water.   Take care when removing tin from oven as it will still hold some scalding hot water.

Yorkshire Lemon Surprise: serves 4
2oz (50g) butter
grated zest and juice of 2 lemons
4oz (100g) caster sugar
2 eggs, separated
2oz (50g) self-raising flour, sifted
half pint (300ml) milk
Beat together the butter, lemon zest, and sugar until light and fluffy, then beat in the egg yolks. Fold in the flour, then gradually whisk in the lemon juice and milk.  It will look curdled, but that is how it should be.  Whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks, then gently fold these into the flour mixture.  Pour into a well-greased 2pt (1.2ltr) dish, then stand this in a roasting tin.  Pour boiling water round to come half-way up the sides, then bake for 45mins at 190C, gas 5.

Noticed when I was checking the last posting, it came up as two published on the same page/day.  That can happen when I publish one just after midnight (early in the morning), then write the next publishing it just before midnight on the same day.  Hope it doesn't cause problems.  I'd hate to think that a posting might be missed or thought to be missing because it wasn't on the day it should have been. 
At least my comp. clock shows it is five minutes short of 1.00am.  So even allowing for the hour difference (blogger don't recognise BST), this should appear as the Monday blog.   Best to ignore dates/times and just keep reading.  I'll just keep blogging and stop stressing about what really doesn't matter (must try doing that with other things that really don't matter...).

As we left the church yesterday evening, B drove back along the prom as there was a most beautiful sunset.  The tide was right out leaving just the sandy Bay, but with a few pools of water here and there this gave lovely reflections of the sun as it began to touch the horizon. 
Today has still been fine, but slightly overcast although the sun kept popping through from time to time, especially in the afternoon - as it usually does.    Am hoping the weather will still stay fair as it turned out it wasn't the Bare Village Festival this Saturday (B's mistake - and it would have been a glorious day for it), but it will be next Saturday.  Fingers crossed for a dry day. 

That's it for today.  It would be fun to hear about the radio progs that readers remember and enjoyed. Might awaken a few more memories for me.  Do remember 'Toytown' and Uncle Mac and Larry the Lamb.  I used to get so cross because I had to miss it sometimes because the air-raid sirens would go just as it began and we all had to run to the shelter in the garden.

Hope you've all had a good weekend, and keep those comments coming.  They do cheer me up. TTFN.