Tuesday, September 09, 2014

This could be Interesting. Or Not...

Have still hardly worked my way through the second chapter in Clarissa Dickson Wright's book about the history of Engish food/cooking (can't remember the correct title, the book is in another room and I can't be bothered to get up and find it), but it amazes me how there are so many protein foods eaten then that we never eat now.

I'd mentioned the rather sparse diet of the poorer labouring families, although it didn't differ a lot from the rations in World War II, but I hadn't read the next chapter, and there are lists of menu served to those wealthy enough to 'eat like kings' (most of them were kings!), and these included many foods that the rural folk could trap/kill to supplement their diet, other than the more normal rabbit, hare, deer, and the game birds that we eat today.

Could we face eating sparrows, rooks, larks, blackbirds, thrushes, bitterns, swans, peacocks, curlews, lapwings, lampreys, porpoise, whale, beaver tails, badgers....?  and that's just the few that I can remember. There were more.

Another thing I found interesting, and maybe still known by woodsmen or those who burn logs to heat a room or oven.  Different woods burn hotter than others, as well as being suitable for other uses.
Applewood when burned on an open fire (to heat a room) gives off a very pleasant smell.

Examples given in the book are that bowls were always made of sycamore as the close grain didn't harbour germs.  Ash wood is good for kitchen fires/cooking and was also used to make handles for knives. Light coloured woods such as beech and lime were used to make buttertubs, and oak chips were perfect for smoking fish/meat. 

Oak we know was used in ship building, but also crucial in the building of medieval buildings, and the story goes that the oak chippings from the building of York Minster were so plentiful they were the origin of the particularly delicate flavour of smoked York Ham.

Moving towards the present day we know that cricket bats are always made of willow. Walking sticks of ash, and no doubt readers can come up with the best purpose for the same or other woods.

At the side of me, standing on the marble in front of our fire grate are two blocks of wood, not solid pieces but in thick layers of maybe different woods.  The wood I believe came from Russia and was used in the building of 'Tenacious', one of the two Tall Ships owned by the Jubilee Sailing Trust (expect they can be seen on their website).  My Beloved was one of the volunteers in the building of the Tenacious and spent some time at the JST in Southampton helping to fit the planks and other struts, even wrote his name on one of them before it was screwed down (and why he was able to bring back two of the 'offcuts'). He later was able to sail as part of the crew on one of his holidays.

Although the morning was cloudy, the sun came out about midday and it was still very warm, although chilly in the shade.  Looks as though the harvest has been good this year, and as the weather is said to be set fair for several more weeks, we could have a bumper crop of corn.  This means animal food should be cheaper and also cereal crops. Whether this will bring down the cost of breakfast cereals, and baked goods remains to be seen.

Heard on the news that farmers in the north west may have to give up producing milk if they don't get more money.  Apparently Russia are banning the imports of our milk, but myself can't understand why we have to send milk abroad and then replace it with imported milk from (say) France.  Probably because French milk is cheaper - but that doesn't help our farmers.  Although we - as consumers - are enjoying the cheaper milk (4 pints for £1) sold by practically all supermarkets now, and would probably moan if the price rose again, I personally wouldn't mind paying more if the farmers were then paid the extra.

Again, many thanks for your comments.   Do you think jane, if the altering of shifts throughout the warehouse is causing a lot of problems for shift-workers, they couldn't band together and request their shifts stay as they are?  What is the reason for the change anyway?
You didn't mention the variety of apples picked from the trees, but if cookers (and some eaters) they should keep quite well in a cool place if packed so they don't touch each other, wrap each in tissue paper helps to prevent this.

Anyone with a surplus of apples could peel and core them, then slice fairly thinly and dry out in a cool over until like leather.  These should then store well for months if kept in airtight containers.

Do remember we had a Bramley apple tree in my parents home, and when picked my mother would store them (as above) and they kept well for many weeks, probably months. So Alison, you could try this if you have a lot of Bramleys.  Or peel, core, stuff the centres with Demerara sugar, and then wrap closely in rolled-out short-crust pastry.  Freeze, then bake from frozen.  Bramleys soften quite rapidly when cooked so by the time the pastry is cooked (allow a little longer than usual) they will have thawed and be perfect for eating.

It's a good idea to make herb jellies with surplus apples.  Strain the cooked apples (that have been cooked in a little water) and then boil the liquid with sugar (1 pt juice to 1lb sugar), adding chosen herb to pan, then strain before bottling.  Not sure if anyone has yet mentioned crab apples, but these make an excellent jelly.

A lovely comment from Anna who sends us her thoughts on the EU.  Am sure that living on the continent certainly will make a difference, especially moving from one country to another, especially now they share the same currency.  Have also heard than many French people ignore EU rules if they don't like them, and no-one seems to check or even care.  Maybe the problem lies with us Brits, our powers that be seem so insistent on us obeying every rule and jumping on anyone that flouts them.

So terrified was I that I'd be fined £5,000 if I sold a jar of marmalade using a recycled (but of course fully sterilised) jar, that I bought loads of new ones.  But still had to sterilise those in the oven, and buy lots of new lids (but I normally use new lids on old jars anyway when selling the preserves), and very shortly after heard that there had been such an uprising in the WI re having to use new jars, that they did a U-turn and we are now allowed to recycle jars as long as the produce is sold for charity (which mine always was).   Think it would be a much easier life if we took the French view and carried on doing things as we have always done.

Not only are we getting gluts of autumn fruits, this week it seems I'm gathering Grannies, as we have yet another to add to our happy band.  Welcome to Granny Margie, who remembers me from the past (and I bet there aren't many who can do that).  If truth be told I bet half my readers are grannies, or even great.g's.

By the way, thanks to Ciao for letting us know that hawthorn seeds are poisonous.  We do need to be quite sure that any hedgerow fruits we pick are safe to use, so always read up on it first.
Incidentally, reading the list of 'ingredients' on the tub of glucosamine plus that other long name that begins with a 'c', it gives rosehips, ginger, and turmeric.  So I bet these three also help to ease arthritis.  It is said that nature has a cure for everything.  We just have to discover them.

I've finished knitting one side of a cushion cover, and have now begun another square and even before I opened my email and read Granny Margie's comment, myself felt very much like Whistler's Mother, sitting there in a chair, and when she wasn't being painted I bet she was knitting or doing some handicraft work.  All I need - I thought - was to sit in a rocking chair as I worked.  We do have one, but it was on the opposite side of the room.  Perhaps I will get B to move it, and it might even make it easier for me to rise.  All I would have to do is lean forward and the rocker would tip me out.

Not sure what is the name for the type of rocker we have.  It is not the sort with legs fitted to a curved base.  Our chair has a base with four very short legs, and a thick wooden bar above them with a curve in the middle on which sits the main chair, it has thick springs at the back fitted to the base so that sort of bounces it back up when rocked backwards.  We don't use it as it need reupholstering, something I've been meaning to do for years.  It cost me only £5 from a antique shop many years ago and am sure it is worth more than that even though it needs attention.

Believe it or not I managed to go to the church 'circle' meeting.  It was so nice to see the regular members again, although there were only five others there.  Perhaps the rest were on holiday. Normally there are more, often as many as 12, but it was a very pleasant meeting.  We just discussed the different ways that mediums works, and am afraid I made them laugh a lot when I told them I'd decided I didn't want to be a medium and say nice things to cheer people up, I just wanted to make contact with the other side so I knew what was going on 'up there'.  But they knew what I meant.

I still feel I need more proof, despite the many strange things that have happened to me already that have given me the knowledge that there definitely is something/someone who is our 'guide'. And that includes seeing ghosts, so there is 'something'.  But I want to know what, and more importantly Why?
Will persevere and - who knows - maybe I will learn more.  But only if I'm supposed to.  Suppose I have to understand that I need Faith, not Proof.   Life would be much easier if I didn't have such an enquiring mind.   Have a recollection of being told when as a child  'stop asking so many questions' '

Sorry, but I haven't a recipe to give today.  Am still trying to gather my thoughts after the last couple or so weeks on those pills (plus withdrawal symptoms).  My knee still is painful, but not nearly as bad as it was on rising from a chair or bed.  Maybe, once the other supplements have kicked in (everything seems to take at least two weeks before it has a noticeable effect) then by the end of this month life should seem even brighter.  It is as though I've been on the bottom end of a 'Low' and now starting to rise again.  Life does have it's ups and downs, almost with great regularity like a wavelength, so it is good to know I'm on the up. 

That's it for today.  Hope to find something interesting to chat about tomorrow.  See you then.