Sunday, 21 October 2018

Magic Pain Killers and Peg Dolls

Even if I were able to obtain laudanum these days I definitely wouldn't know how much was in a drachm, however, thanks to M L Riley, and her little black book of handwritten kitchen notes and recipes from 1892, I now know that a drachm is 2 salt spoons.   It would be even more handy if I possessed a salt spoon.

Magic Pain Killer

Spirit of harshorn, 1oz
Olive Oil, 1 1/2oz
Cayenne Pepper, 2 drachms
Laudanum, 2 drachms
1 tbsp salt
2 tbsp brandy

Shake well in a bottle, rub the affected part with it.   It removes pains and swellings.   It is a magic remedy...allegedly.    Recipe taken from Annie's Edwardian Cookery Book.

Drawing Ointment
(for festering wounds)
Soft brown sugar
Household Soap

Mix one ounces of soft brown sugar with one ounce of plain household soap which has been softened by being cut into shavings and mixed with a teaspoonful of warm water.  Work well together so that you have an ointment consistency.  Spread on a piece of lint or clean cloth and bandage on to the wound.     from Hebridean Cookbook by Lillian Beckwith

I am thankful that I don't need either of those at the moment, as long as I remember to get up and move about every now and then, and keep doing the back exercises, a nuisance, but they do work.

I have moved on (for the time being) to making some peg dolls for the bazaar.  People request these year after year, I suppose they make useful little 'extra' gifts.   Each doll is unique, no two are dressed the same because I enjoy making them that way, dressing some for a day out, others for a day in.  They are my 'everyday' angels.

These three peg dolls are the first in a new range.   Madness!   They each have a hand sewn skirt/underskirts, plus tiny hand knitted jumper, some have hats/bags/mittens, according to my whim.

I still have some of my mother's old knitting needles and a few balls of wool.   This style of dressing the pegs came about by my need to do something fresh to relieve the boredom and goes to show, that despite the fact that I have never taken to knitting, all those years of attempting it, learning the basics and how to do some of the fancier stitches for Aran patterns, shapings, etc, but mostly just from 40 years of watching my mother constantly knit, have actually paid off.

I just made up the patterns for their jumpers and so on.   It wasn't exactly rocket science, but I was quite chuffed with the result.     My mother would be thrilled to think that she had managed to teach me this much!

These little snowmen will have hooks driven into their heads, they are tree ornaments, both sides are painted up as snowmen.     Not my original idea, I saw it somewhere else, unfortunately I can't remember where, so I can't credit them.   They are very cute, fun to do, though I could wish for a steadier hand - time creeps up on us in the most peculiar ways.

These, along with my fancy angels, all sequins and lace, are my offerings so far.    I have some other ideas simmering, so watch this space.

My self-allotted task today will be to paint some pegs to resemble 'Nutcracker' - no doubt the wobbly hand will show up, I can only hope that this adds to the charm.  😀

As you can tell, not much housework is getting done these days.      A quick dash around with the hoover and, occasionally, a duster, plump up the cushions, and that is about it.     My creative head is full of ideas but I keep getting interrupted to make meals, mow lawns and help cut back the wild growth from summer.   

All this sewing/knitting/painting time is allowing my mind to roam free and I have had lots of ideas for incredibly interesting posts - of course none of them will make it to the blog because I haven't got the time.   

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Village Life + Quince Chronicles Part I

A blaze of autumn colour trails along the side wall of the village hall.     Our small village hall used to be a Wesleyan Chapel, and was built around 1800.      When the 'new' chapel was built in 1895, the old chapel became a store shed for a horse and cart.

This old photograph shows you that it was a two-storey building, quite a commodious shed, then!   The building was given to the Parish Council in 1911, for public entertainment.   By the 1920's/30's it was heavily used for plays, dancing, meetings and even 'Smoking Concerts', so named because free cigarettes were distributed during the interval, along with the refreshments.   They were very popular!

It was a much used and busy venue right the way up until the late 1980's when it was decided to to remove the old chapel gallery and windows (the upper floor was removed) and add a new kitchen and toilet facilities. 

It gave the building a new lease of life and once again the building buzzed with village gatherings, plays, concerts, fairs and fun.    Not so these days!

I continued my walk up the road and headed for the mobile library van. 

They used to park right outside the village hall but these days they park up near the junction, the change being made so that a disabled resident would have a shorter distance to travel.    She paid one visit to the van, then decided it wasn't for her.    The van continues to park there, in hope.

Meanwhile I am normally the only person to use the service, which means that whether I want to take out a pile or books or not, I feel that I have a duty to do so.    Of course, normally that isn't a problem, but right now I am so busy with one thing and another that it was an effort I could have done without making. 

Wouldn't you just know it though, the shelves were groaning with tempting volumes, I staggered home (the far side of the village) with a dozen books which had waved at me from the shelves.

Two old books on local history, a book about embroidery, crime novels, and best of all, 'The Secret Life of Cows'.     It is a book about cows, surprise, surprise.     It is a fascinating read and confirms what I have long observed, that a cow is not 'just' a cow, but more of that another time.

I have watched this handsome bull grow larger all through the summer.   He, and just one cow, have spent the summer in a field in a nearby village.     He is interested in everything, but most of all he loves his food.   When I took this he was waiting for his morning rations to be dropped off.

I disappointed him, but he posed anyway.

I managed to squeeze in a quick visit to watch my grandchildren decorate 'their' windowsill for the harvest festival.    The cheesy grin tells you how chuffed my granddaughter was with what they achieved.     They were being photographed by one of their Sunday School teachers, so I thought I would get in on the act and photograph her, too.

My baking adventures with quince continue.   

A few days ago I made a Ginger and Quince Cake.  It was described as part afternoon tea, part pudding, and suitable to be served warm with custard, or on a pretty plate with tea and scones at teatime.    It stores well, keeps nice and moist.

I have tried a slice and found it to be moist, thanks to the chunks of quince, with a little bite because it also contains whole pecans, and flavoursome because of the diced chunks of ginger - recipe called for preserved ginger but I used crystallised ginger because that was all I had in the pantry.

The photographs are terrible, but the cake is delicious.  I will post the recipe over on my kitchen blog later in the week.  It can be found in the 'Quinces' book shown in the photograph.

The next dish I try from it will be a savoury one.   

I quite like the sound of 'Hot Lightning'...

Sunday, 14 October 2018

Florence, after the Angst

Yesterday was another busy day.   

This morning I had to smile when I got up and found Florence had fallen asleep, propped up by my work basket, her head cushioned by a ball of wool.   Quite when that happened, I don't know, but she does look very cute.     I half hoped to find that she had been busy finishing off my fairies, but no.   Perhaps she had been out dancing or partying.

Months of meetings, note-taking, typing, finding suitable photographs and a smidgeon of hard work have all paid off.      Yesterday I collected the printed booklets and, on the way home,  dropped a copy, plus the invoice,  off at the local 'squire's' house - he will pay the bill on behalf of the local parish council.

Next job was to collect Toby and take a walk along to visit Miss Read and hand her the finished version of her booklet.   

So that is it, warts and all.    Now I can concentrate on getting a few more bits finished for the bazaar, and then the rest of the time will be my own - ha! as if.

My granddaughter was 'tidying' my doll dressing fabrics yesterday, and discovered the remnants of a skirt which used to be hers...  It was a lace and silk concoction, a party skirt, which she had long grown out of.   For a moment her emotions were poised, they could have gone either way, luckily I had the dressed fairy to hand, she could see how the fabric had been dyed a soft pink and then embellished with bits and pieces.   It got her stamp of approval.   Thank goodness.

Out in the front car park, construction work continues.

Wood Henge is being built.    It is a bit further along than this now, the apex roof line is beginning to take shape, where just the uprights have protruded for the last couple of months.     Local wood being used to make an open-fronted garage/log store.     

I'm not sure quite how much work will be done on it today, the winds may have dropped, but heavy rain is forecast.     Not that it will bother me, my work is indoors.    A bit of housework and then a lot of sewing, maybe watch an old film.    Indoors things - apart from dog walks, of course.

How about you?

Friday, 12 October 2018

My Kitchen in October

Designed for practicality, not looks.   I like to have my most frequently used kitchen tools handy!

My excitement over my potential quince harvest was somewhat tempered by the surprising contempt in which these golden globes are held by so many people.

We planted two quince trees last year, one lost all the fruit very early on, the other one has gone on to produce three dozen beautiful fruits.

I had hoped that they would have a few more days of sunshine to help ripen them, but the weather has other ideas, about a quarter of my crop has fallen, due to the high winds.    Four more fell while I was typing these few lines, so I have been out and picked the lot, rather than risk having them all bruised.  I have thirty-two of them left, some are huge, others quite small. 

People complain that they are rock hard and difficult to peel and cut, but I found them surprisingly easy to prepare for cooking, so far so good!   I put two of the smaller ones into an apple crumble, grated, and then mixed in with the apple.     Wonderful.   The fruit took on a pretty pink colour and the flavour was greatly enhanced.   Success!

There are lots of recipes I intend to try out, but next I wanted to try out a savoury dish, stuffed quince.   It was simply quince cored and cut in half, then baked for twenty minutes.     Make some patties out of finely chopped onion, mince, spices/herbs/seasonings to your taste.   Put one on each quince half, then bake for another 25 minutes.     I made a fresh tomato sauce to go with it, but gravy would do, then served it with brown rice and buttered kale.

I would normally insert a photograph, but my phone is refusing to let me share any pictures at the moment..

It was delicious - and no, I didn't use real mince, I used a vegetarian substitute, because that is my choice.   Meat eaters could use lamb, beef, goat, camel, whatever animal you fancy!

So far, so good.   They are delicious, sweet or savoury.   Each and every one will be used in the kitchen.

Fresh bread for Friday, crusty, chewy and delicious.  A quick and easy no-knead loaf fresh out of the oven.

Yet another photograph which I can't share, even though it let me send it to instagram.   Hey ho!

There are gremlins at work.

Ha, I have found a way round it - here is a cropped screen shot from IG.

The new cooker is working well, so is the double ended wood burner stove at the other end of the kitchen.     It has been a mild autumn so far, so we haven't had to have the heating on, but I must admit that just every once in a while I have found myself backing up towards the cooker, to warm my back (!)  in the way that I used to do for the Rayburn - only to realise that it is no longer there.

Old habits die hard.

Tomorrow I plan to bake a quince cake.    I also need to help my grandchildren to make a large salt dough sheaf of corn, they have to decorate a church windowsill for harvest festival.     That should be quite fun.     I have gathered some bits and pieces which may help them, some hessian, a couple of baskets, some lovely long leek seed heads (to give height to their display) a couple of home grown pumpkins for colour, the wheat sheaf we can make, plus anything else they think may do the job nicely, the church mice could be enjoying themselves for a night or two!

Much of my time is still being spent on making the fairies, why oh why didn't I just make a few each month throughout the year?   

I love it really, personal dresser to fairies, what is not to like?

The cats love it, especially old Sparky.   She steals any glittery trims or ribbons she can get a hold of and the wooden balls which I use for heads are whisked away for a great game of football.   Toby watches with amazement as she whizzes them all around the conservatory floor, he glances at me, then back at her and presumably wonders how she can get away with it.

I need to head off to try to sort out my mobile phone problems.    Enjoy your weekend.

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Torture in the Village Hall

I enjoy singing, in private,  but I have a truly terrible voice.    Even Toby the dog cocks his head on one side and looks sad when I sing, I draw comfort from the fact that at least he doesn't howl.

I learnt that my voice was rubbish when I was eight or nine years old, my friends were trying out for the school choir and urged me to, as well.  The choir master was kind, he told me to come back when I hadn't got a cold.   I got the message!!

Luckily it is one of those afflictions which can be well hidden, most of the time.

Monday afternoon saw ten of us - yes ten(!) gather at the village hall for the monthly TED's meeting.  Our group has slowly grown from just four regular attendees, which is great.   It does mean that we have to work rather harder to make the meetings interesting for the expanded group. 

The small core group are all happy to do local history, but we can't expect all the others to become quite so engrossed.

A nibble of home baking, a pot of tea and the offer of coffee, made everyone relax and feel welcome.   As usual, the hall felt chilly, despite the warmth and sunshine outside.  Next month will see us having to switch on the wall heaters, which will mean that by the time we finish our meeting, the chill will just about be  gone.     Hot drinks will be even more necessary then.

Our one and only man had come along with lots of old photographs and information about the village so these were passed around and discussed while the refreshments were enjoyed, best china, of course. 

We had yest more discussions about the booklet, more discussions and plans about the Christmas bazaar, the hanging of the old WI memorial tablecloth, and then, it was time for the torture.   

Out came the keyboard and the music books, followed by four pages of songs which we were expected to sing.   

Carol played keyboard, we sang... if you look at the photograph, you can see her head is turned away, she had a fit of the giggles.     Our assorted voices came out high and quavery, low and raspy, with every level between.   

No one was in tune.   

It was truly terrible.

We all had a wonderful time, the hall was filled with laughter.

As soon as I could I escaped to the kitchen to wash dishes and tidy things away. 

Much safer.

Guess what we are doing next month.

That's right, our older members enjoyed it so much that they want a repeat performance.   Aaaargh!

Sunday, 7 October 2018

The Pig Who Caught a Cold

Old Fred lived in our village almost a century ago.   Like many people in those days, he kept a pig in a sty at the bottom of the garden.   His pig was lovingly cared for and fed as well as any pig that was being fattened for the table.    It was Fred's pride and joy.

Unfortunately for Fred, just before it was time to slaughter the pig, which would have kept him and his family fed for the best part of a year, it became unwell.   Old Fred decided to stay up all night to look after it, but the pig died in the night.   The next morning Fred asked a friend to help him bury it.

A little later that day an even older neighbour called in to see him, and was told the sad news about the pig.

"Why, it wud ha' been all rate if you ha' killed it, it wud only ha' been a bit of a code*."

They dug the pig up, cleaned it off, bled it, hung it until the next day and then cut it into various joints and shared it with the neighbours.

Amazing as it seems, no one was any the worse for it.

This tale was told to me by our lovely Miss Read, she assures me that it is a true story.

*code=cold in broad Lincolnshire, or so I am told.