Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Beautiful Earth Day One and All!!

Some recent beautiful creations by Mother Earth!!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Jam Roly Poly in honour of St. George's Day April 23rd

Here is my Jam Roly Poly in all it's stodgy glory basking in a pool of duck egg custard (eggs courtesy of my friends Jay and Gail...thank you!), 'stodgy' being the British word for stick-to-your-ribs, heavy, filling comfort food that is usually very high in the carb department...this one fits the bill big time!! St. George would be very proud!!
St. George is the Patron Saint of England, April 23rd is his feast day and is also the day Shakespeare's birthday is officially celebrated too...pretty heady stuff if you ask me!!

And now for the Roly Poly...nursery food of the highest order and one of those war time type puddings where the merry wives of England attempted to make something delicious out of almost nothing!!

THE RECIPE:
4 oz unbleached white flour
2oz shredded suet (hard to find sometimes I found mine at Farmers Fare you could try substituting butter but it will be different...how I couldn't tell...a bit more greasy I think)
2 tablespoons sugar
Good pinch of salt
4-6 tablespoons cold water
3 big tablespoons of warmed JAM.....preferably strawberry or raspberry to be traditional but I used blueberry because I live in Maine
A little milk for brushing
One lonely little egg whisked also for brushing

METHOD:
1. Rub the shredded suet into the flour along with the sugar and salt.
2. Add water spoon by spoon until the dough sticks together but is not sticky.
3. Turn dough onto a floured board and roll out to about 4" by 8" rectangle.
4. Spread chosen jam over dough but keep 3/4" clear of all the edges.
5. Fold over long edges and press lightly down...the object is to prevent the jam escaping when you roll the roly poly up...see pic below...

6. Brush milk on to turned over edges and start to gingerly roll up the poly as below being careful to seal the edges as you go but not squeeze the jam out either.7. Here's how your poly should look...like a great big sausage roll...no jam escaping here!!...seal well you don't want get that roll soggy!! Sprinkle with sugar and wrap up in a layer of parchment and then a layer of aluminium foil
8. Now put the wrapped sausagey thing into the top of a steamer and steam the living daylights out of it for about 1 1/2 hours...thus..
9. This is unusual but I took the roly poly out of it's wrapping, sprinkled it with more sugar and then baked it in a 400F oven for about 15 minutes to dry and crisp the exterior...as below. And there you have your Jam Roly Poly...not the most exciting of desserts, sorry puddings, not the most elegant...a humble little pud that is oh so very traditional...I had it for pudding at school!!

CUSTARD SAUCE, ANLANN CUSTAIRD
from "Irish Traditional Food" by Theodora FitzGibbon, a goodly trusty cookbook
1 heaped tablespoon white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 duck egg and 1 duck egg yolk whisked together, large regular eggs work just as well
10 fl oz/ 1 1/4 cups whole milk

1. Beat together the egg, egg yolk, vanilla and sugar in a bowl.
2. Have another double boiler on the go.
3. Heat the milk to almost boiling in the top part of the double boiler but on the stove top to make it go faster.
4. Stir a little of the hot milk into the egg mix and then a bit more to temper the temperature.
5. Then put the top part of the double boiler back over the bottom and the boiling water and whisk the egg and milk mix into the rest of the milk
6. Do not leave the custard alone now until it is finished or it will curdle whilst you are not looking and you will have to start again. SO stir and stir and stir with a wooden spoon until it starts to thicken and coats the back of the spoon as in the picture below...you take the spoon out of the custard, turn the spoon over, run your finger through the custard and if the line doesn't fill back in it is ready, don't let it cook too long or get too hot as the eggs will start to turn into scrambled eggs and the sauce will be grainy.....take off the heat immediately and continue to stir.


THE TRUE DRAGON

St George was out walking
He met a dragon on a hill,
It was wise and wonderful
Too glorious to kill

It slept amongst the wild thyme
Where the oxlips and violets grow
Its skin was a luminous fire
That made the English landscape glow

Its tears were England’s crystal rivers
Its breath the mist on England’s moors
Its larder was England’s orchards,
Its house was without doors

St George was in awe of it
It was a thing apart
He hid the sleeping dragon
Inside every English heart

So on this day let’s celebrate
England’s valleys full of light,
The green fire of the landscape
Lakes shivering with delight

Let’s celebrate St George’s Day,
The dragon in repose;
The brilliant lark ascending,
The yew, the oak, the rose

© Brian Patten 2008
Brian Patten, a poet from Liverpool, was commissioned by English Heritage to write this poem to revive the waning interest in celebrating St. George's Day...thanks Brian!
On St. George's Day you are supposed to wear a red rose in your lapel in remembrance.
Happy St. George's Day everyone!!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Earth Day is coming...April 22nd 2010

...not just for Earth Day but all year round...maybe refill your non-disposable water bottle instead of buying new plastic ones?
Celebrate Mother Nature...she does a lot of good work, along with the help of our hardworking farmers. I am donating some of the profits from this design to Maine Farmland Trust whose HQ is on Main Street in Lovely Belfast, Maine
You can buy this organic 't' and the SIGG water bottle above from my print-on-demand (no inventory wastage there!!) online Cafe Press Store

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter one and all!!!

The Easter Bunny says "Happy Easter to you and yours, have a fun day and don't eat too much chocolate or you'll have tummy ache later today""
Our Easter Bunny had three beautiful golden eggs, like the one above, which were given out at the First Farmers Fare EGG stravaganza to the lucky children who won their category of Egg Hunt. James made them especially for the occasion...thanks James!!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Sedgemoor Easter "Cakes"

CAKES??? Quoi?? Don't know why these are called cakes because they are made like biscuits/cookies and they end up like such!! They are good though, and I can't wait to dunk one in a steaming hot cup of tea.....James said they taste like Christmas in a cookie, which may be because the recipe is the old English standby of various, sundry and seemingly unending combinations of flour, sugar, better, eggs, dried fruit and candied peel. I searched high and low for a more elaborate Easter recipe to do but honestly the only other one I came up with that is traditionally British is Simnel Cake which I did last year...(you can do a search up in the left hand corner for this, I tried to do a link here but it didn't work)....it was LOVELY though and again a combination of the heretofore mentioned ingredients....make them both I say!!! Cookie cakes and a cake!!
Here's todays easy and quick recipe:
"Sedgemoor Easter Cakes" from a recipe in "Good Things in England" by Florence White...a great compendium of wonderful old English recipes...recently republished and available through Persephone Books

White flour 8ozs/2 cups
Butter (salted for me please) 4ozs/1 stick
Fine sugar 4ozs/1/2 cup
4ozs/1/2 cup plus a little more currants/raisins/white raisins/sultanas...whatever you prefer...I prefer sultanas because they are juicier
2ozs candied peel...I made my own and did orange and Meyer lemon peel
1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
(I personally am not that keen on mixed spice and cinnamon so I put in 1 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg, my fave!)
1 egg whisked
2 tablespoons of brandy (I didn't have brandy on hand so I used maple syrup so I wasn't missing out on this amount of liquid)
1. Rub the butter into the flour
2 Add sugar, dried fruit, candied peel and spices..and gently mix in
3. Add brandy, or in my case maple syrup!, to the egg, mix and then mix into the dry ingredients.
4. The mix/dough is very sticky so blend as well as you can and then just tip it all onto a well floured board and gently squush together until it is ready to roll out...I actually didn't even use a rolling pin...I just used the flat of my hand and pushed it into the shape I needed...a 1/2" deep round.
5. Cut out circles of about 3" diameter...you should get about 5 or 6...transfer to a cookie sheet.
6. The recipe says bake in a moderate oven which I translated to 325F for about 25 minutes...I actually turned mine over when I could see they were getting quite brown on the bottom and were not done on the top...and I think I overbaked them a little, which I have a tendency to with cookies/biscuits, follow your intuition...they should be nicely golden brown.
7. Ta dah!! Let them cool and munch away!!

The 'cakes' before and after...
The first daffodil.....right on cue!!! Well done little flower and welcome!!
More daffs on the way and some lovely bright crocus...hello!!
And a picture of what we call the enchanted forest next to the house...plenty of daffs here...hooray!!
I'll be with you again on Sunday...just to say "Hi"