Sunday, 31 January 2021

Chit Chat (Watermill, Quince, Books, Betrayal, Art and a Pudding)

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.

Elaine

20 comments:

  1. I feel guilty now for all those quinces added to the compost heaps many years ago. Should have made more of an effort!
    Love your granddaughters drawings.

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    1. Retirement, and lockdown life, have given me the time to fully appreciate them.
      You shouldn't feel guilty, Sue, you were busy with other things.

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  2. Sorry to hear about your back. Hope it improves. That quince sponge pudding looks delicious. Love your kitchen.

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    1. Thank you. This part of the building was a cart shed, up until we converted it fifteen years ago. It was charming as a cart shed but I prefer it like this!

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  3. My daughter discovered quince several years ago. When she moved to her present house she bough a quince bush. It produced nothing and she dug it up after several years. I mentioned quince to her recently and she knows of one where she might be able to harvest in 2021. She made fabulous jelly from quince that's why I asked if she ever would again. Your marmalade sounds lovely. Toast and marmalade with a cup of tea at breakfast!

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    1. I hope your daughter manages to get a good harvest, Marcia. Perhaps she will gift you some quince marmalade for an indulgent breakfast treat! My old cookery books often mention quince recipes which may have something to do with my passion for the fruit.

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  4. Interesting story about Florence but sad she had her work plagiarised. Hope your back is better now. The sponge looks really delicious - sadly I don't have any quinces. Just love those wonderful pictures.

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    1. It is one of those puddings in which you can just use whatever you have to hand - golden syrup, marmalade, jam, dates... Florence led an interesting life, I think she would be thrilled and delighted to know how much her books are still appreciated and consulted.

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  5. Thank you for a look at your granddaughter's art. Charming. Please take care of your back. I wonder what causes it to give out.

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    1. When I was 16 years old I had a horse riding accident and broke two bones in my neck and hurt my back. Now that I am galloping through old age my old injury has come back to slow me down. Just like you, I refuse to give in, Joanne.

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  6. Back problems...yes I am familiar with that more so since the lockdown started. I commiserate with you Elaine. Quince is very popular here in Spain (called Membrillo) they make a type of jelly with it...super sweet! That is typical here...the Spanish do love sweet stuff! Sr P does like his Quince jelly. I wonder if they do the vinegar here I would like to try that. Mmmm...That pudding looks delicious! The GCH make the best portraits says I, from one grandmother to another. :-) Your GD does seem adamant about your hair style in her pictures :-) Do hope your backache eases up soon. stay safe Amanda x

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    1. Hi Amanda, I made Membrillo a couple of years ago - as you say, very sweet! As to the hairstyle, I took a couple of selfies to check it out - boy was that a mistake. I nearly fainted with horror when I saw the old woman I had captured in the image, so much so that I forgot to check out the hair...so many wrinkles, etc, etc! I had a bad night with back pain but this morning it feels much better. Thanks, and may you be free from pain too.

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  7. I'm more than familiar with lower back pain. I feel for you! I've heard of Quince fruit before, but have never seen or tasted it. I'll have to check into it as I like fruit that has multiple uses. Do take care and stay safe!

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    1. Hello Tehachap, I try to keep my spine fairly healthy by sitting and standing correctly, as well as doing the exercises my chiropractor prescribed. Some days all that effort works, the less said about the other days/nights, the better! I do hope you have the opportunity to try some Quince. Part of the fun is seeing how cooking changes a pale and almost unedible raw fruit into something which glows rich red and tastes marvellous.

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  8. A good physiotherapist can do wonders for back spasms.
    I used to cook quince segments with pears. Plenty of time to peel the pears while the quinces cooked first.

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    1. Hello CG, Many thanks for your comment. I have a chiropractor who used to regularly check out my back alignment for me. Lockdown, virus, etc have meant that I have to rely on the exercises which she recommended. They do help, but I am well overdue for a checkup and a bit of professional help.
      I absolutely love the taste of cooked pears, so will definitely try cooking some with the quince. Many thanks for that.

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  9. Sounds like some delicious quince goodies, haven´t made a steamed pudding in years. Your quince vinegar sounds interesting. Works of art to treasure, lovely. Nothing worse than backache, hope it comes right soon. xcx

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    1. Last night I had my first pain-free night for quite a while, thanks, Chrissie. Today is cold and dark, with very heavy rain, I feel that another steamed pudding would be appropriate, especially as the log burner is glowing nicely so it can be cooked on top of that. I hope your weekend is set for fairer weather.x

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  10. AHH all those quinces. I was encouraged by your enthusiasm and didn't throw ours in the compost this year. I made cake and tarts and have two big containers of quince puree in the freezer. You've inspired me again.
    I must look up the vinegar recipe though it will have to wait for next year's bag of fruit which is always dropped off by a neighbour.

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    1. Hello Linda, oh, that is good news! I am so glad you had a bit of fun with all those quinces instead of composting them. I will try to root out a few more recipes before the next quince crop is delivered to you. I hope you and the family are all managing to stay safe and well.

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Lovely to hear from you!