Small fragments of my week.
Lots more rain fell this week making the surrounding fields very muddy and under several inches of water in some places. The water levels at the mill illustrate this quite well. The mill race has flooded as has the stream to the right, they have joined to become one large pond.
The bountiful quince harvest of autumn allowed me to experiment in how best to use the fruit. I made lots of quince marmalade, jelly, quince brandy, quince vinegar, cakes and stewed quince, then I froze the rest. Just a spoonful of quince marmalade/jelly added to a bowl of Greek yogurt makes a delicious desert. The brandy I gave away as Christmas gifts, along with small bottles of my quince vinegar.
Best of all was the quince vinegar. I made several pints of that last autumn, as a trial. I wish I had made it by the gallon. It is perfect on winter salads. I have used up all my supplies now, dash it all!
I hope the quince trees produce lots of fruit again this year. I will make some marmalade, etc, however, most of the fruit will go towards making plenty of quince vinegar.
Books have been an important source of interest and entertainment, useful as my back has been going into spasms.
Old cookery books, plus the autobiography of an old cook, Florence White, author of 'Good Things in England' 'Flowers as Food' and 'Good English Food'. She spent many years researching and gathering almost forgotten regional recipes. Florence didn't marry but she did live on the Continent for several years, spent quite a while in India, worked as a Cook, Social Worker, Broadcaster and Journalist. In her later years she relied upon what she could earn as a journalist augmented by a small allowance from her brother and sister.
She mentions that her work was sometimes plagiarised, as in the case where she made a mistake in the quantities required for a regional speciality. About a year later she found it published elsewhere, with exactly the same quantities and method (word for word) under a fellow cook's name. Several times she mentions having been betrayed by women who took her idea (for Good Things in England) and were able to get sponsorship, present the idea in a slightly different format, and made quite a lot of money from it.
Meanwhile, Florence struggled on, working when she was well enough, paying for research, travelling and getting recipes from all over the country, as funds allowed. It took her many years of careful work and she finally got her book published in May 1932, I believe.
Intrigued, I set out to try and identify who this cook may have been. It took a while, but I think I found her. That little task kept me well and truly occupied for many an hour. There were several candidates and luckily I already possess copies of their books. Florence was too discreet to name her, so I won't point the finger either.
One dark evening someone tapped at the patio door, it turned out to be my granddaughter, she had done a picture for me. Crayons on canvas. A family portrait. I'll leave you to guess which one I am, the white hair and the huge boots may give it away. Apparently, my hair is always spikey on one side, I hadn't noticed!!
The following night the same happened and I was presented with another picture.
Yesterday afternoon she gave me this one... Granny and Grandpa with Toby.
I also have a folder of some stories which she wrote and then printed out for me. Add to this the large number of letters she has written and I can truthfully say that she has not been idle during this last year with all the time away from school. Handwriting, vocabulary, and composition have definitely improved, and she is enjoying her artwork. All this on top of her school work.
Enough of the doting Gran.
One more thing I have made with Quince - a Quince Pudding.
A sponge pudding, steamed on top of the log burner for one and a half hours. Quince marmalade was stirred into mixture and a good spoonful or three were put into the bottom of the basin before the mixture was poured in.
A special and indulgent treat on a cold winter's day.
And now I need to go off and stretch out my back again.
Have a good week.