Thursday 30 January 2020

Books and Biscuits

A cup of tea, a biscuit and a book.   


Well, normally that would mean happiness, but just lately I have been finding it difficult to find a book which I can really get into.

Time to pull out my old recipe books, especially the ones written by Florence White.     A fascinating woman.   I have been re-reading her autobiography, A Fire in the Kitchen (the red book) click the link if you would like to read a little of what I wrote about it.

I rarely read just one book at a time, so I have also been dipping into that most appropriately entitled book:  Spring Cleaning and How to Avoid it!  A quick glance told me that I stand no chance of ever being a good housewife/cleaner.   Apparently I should possess a wall broom which should be used every day, to sweep the corners of the rooms, tops of doors, windows and wardrobes, and that is just for starters.

"Only dirty, careless, and untidy housekeepers really need to do a spring-cleaning."

That's me told!

I'll stick with her autobiography and the collections of old English recipes.

My collection of Florence White books.

These old books were sent to me by a blogging friend!  So generous of her.   I already have a copy of the book top left, but the one she sent is old, worn, has notes written in it, bits and pieces of paper and newspaper articles, the boards are completely detached (hence the string) and it thrills me to bits.    It is an old recipe book which has been used again and again for almost a hundred years.    The other three books are fascinating, I am enjoying dipping in and out of them.

Thank you, Bovey Belle - Codlinsandcream2 blog, you can find her in my sidebar. 

I really am enjoying these books!

The biscuit tins were empty.   Time to get baking.   

Ginger biscuits, but not just any ginger biscuits!   

Over recent years I have experimented with several recipes for them, all based on an old Victorian recipe for Hunting Nuts.

This time I used:

8oz butter
8oz dark brown sugar
8oz black treacle

all gently melted together.   Then I added 4 oz chopped preserved ginger, 4 oz chopped candied ginger, 4 oz chopped dates, 2 oz powdered ginger, 3 teaspoons of Cayenne Pepper and several decent glugs of cheap brandy.

Stir them altogether, then work in as much plain flour as you can.   I didn't weigh how much I put in, but it was approximately one pound.   You will know when the consistency is right because it suddenly all comes together and the sides of the pan are left almost clean, the dog will be firm and very glossy.

I used my very small ice cream scoop to measure out the portions (approx 48 this time) roll the balls, flatten them with a fork, then bake them at 180C for approximately 22 minutes, the biscuits firm up as they cool, but adjust timing to suit your taste, and the size of your biscuits.

Dunk and enjoy.  Be warned, they are very gingery, very nicely textured with the dates, and two lots of ginger chunks.    The Cayenne Pepper gives a wonderful heat, especially with a cup of tea. 

Of course you don't have to add all the extra ginger chunks, you could add dried fruit, or chocolate chunks, chopped peel, whatever takes your fancy.   Perhaps you would prefer to flavour with cinnamon, or cloves.  The possibilities are endless.

Time for tea, biscuits and a good read before I have to stir my stumps and get some tea on for the grandchildren.

Tuesday 28 January 2020

Rural Wuhan

A few years ago my younger son got married to his beautiful wife, Poppy.     Although she had lived and worked in Shanghai for many years, they had to travel back to rural Wuhan, the place where she was born, to get the official documentation stamped for their Chinese wedding.

This red bed is very much a country bed (rural Wuhan) and although I wouldn't want to sleep in it, I do think it has a real charm about it. 

This is 'Poppy', one of my beautiful daughter's-in-law.

Later that year they came back here not only to get their UK documentation sorted out but also because we were hosting a big party to celebrate their wedding.   It was a wonderful day, family and friends came from all over the country and some even travelled from Shanghai. 

Poppy wore her gorgeous red Chinese wedding dress and looked very beautiful, though I think she looks just as beautiful without the makeup and wearing one of my aprons.


A year or two later they returned to live over here, in a village four or five miles away from Parsonage Cottage.    They have settled down to a much quieter life than that in Shanghai.

Those seven years have flown past so quickly!

Why have I written this post?  Simply because Wuhan is in the news, China is in the news, everyone has something bad to say about it.

Well, I am delighted to say that my daughter in law is Chinese, she was born in Wuhan, and she has brought much happiness to my family.x

Thursday 23 January 2020

Owl Wood. A Battleground.

The owl box is under siege.   

Tawny Owls should have possession, but they haven't been back for a few years now.   

So Jackdaws have been living there, big noisy birds.     The box was vacant and they liked the look of it, so in they moved.       Trouble is, they like going away on holiday several times a year.     They don't ask me to keep an eye on the place, or send me a postcard, they simply disappear and I suddenly notice that the woodland has become much less active and a whole lot quieter.

They were away for several weeks over Christmas and New Year.  The smaller birds have enjoyed feeding in peace and I suppose Mr Squirrel must have noticed that things have quietened down, too because when I was walking around the other day I saw him disappear into the box, then he nipped out and returned again and again.    Not sure if he is simply using it as a store room for food or whether he has decided to call the place home.

I had to smile to myself when I spotted two Jackdaws quietly perching on a high branch, just watching.  I know they are smart birds, I wonder what they are planning to do about the situation.

I wish them all well.   May the best man win and all that, but I would much rather have some owls living there.

Tawny Owl Box

Friday 17 January 2020

Post me your Favourite Corset

Small ad seen in an old Women's Institute magazine from 1952:  "Post me your favourite garment - Corset, Brassiere, or Corselette, no matter how old fashioned you may think it is.  I will gladly send you a free estimate for copying it.  Satisfaction or money refunded."

I found this image on pinterest
though i have lost track of where it originated.
I bought the magazine from an ebay seller. 

I don't belong to the WI, but Miss Read was a very active member for much of her life, so I want to scan and greatly enlarge some items which I think may be of interest to her.    She may be losing her sight, but she is most definitely not losing her 'marbles'.   

I think she will enjoy doing a bit of 'time-travelling', she may even remember some of the events and discussions which are mentioned, though the only mention I can find of our village is that three members gave a demonstration on pastry-making and pastry fillings. 

Meanwhile, just five or six miles away, a Dr B gave a talk about his alpine adventures with Lincolnshire schoolgirls, which was probably much more fun than the talk given by Mr L on the care of the feet.   There was a  talk on electric cleaners, another on dress-making, though I think I would probably have enjoyed the talk which ex-Police Sergeant R gave on 'A Policeman must have nerves of iron', rather more.

During her reminiscences Miss Read has often made mention of the plays which were performed in the village hall and the magazine is full of advertisements for play scripts, comedies seeming to be the most abundant.     There is an item on theatrical makeup, another one about village drama and the coronation, drama reviews and, most helpfully, what to cook when funds are low.

It makes for an interesting read for me and, I hope, for Miss Read.

Wednesday 15 January 2020

Embracing my Inner Thespian

I can think of no better way to describe the way I feel today.    The clips go on a bit, but they capture my lightness of spirit.

I still don't want anyone near my left-hand side,  but a high tide mark has been left there,  the pain has begun to recede!    I feel in control of it again, the rawness has passed.

I am so sorry that I was unable to answer all your lovely comments, but I do thank you for each and every one of them.

Friday 3 January 2020

Felled, by a Feather-weight!

Day one of the new year was fun and laughter-packed as we had all three of our children, and their children, here.     By the end of the day I was happy, but worn out, and my back was protesting.   It was worth it.

Day two began well enough.   Increasing back pain soon had me on the floor doing my back exercises.      The feather-weight flower fairy, who lives next door, came bursting in, full of some little story which she wanted to share with me.    She skidded on the floor and landed 'smack' on my ribs, left side.

Her horrified face made me try to scrabble upright, to reassure her that I was alright - trouble was that I was winded - and I didn't know whether I was alright.   As soon as I could talk, I told her not to worry, I was fine. then I slowly took myself away to find out whether it was true!

I am relieved to say there are no bones broken, just severe bruising, which doesn't sound so bad, until I try to move.

My apologies for not having time to answer your lovely comments, I will get around to it, in a day or two, when things settle down a little.