Thomas Hood wrote the poem ‘November’, whining on about how grim it is… but experience (and previous blog entries) shows that November has something to give too. We went to the beach today – in the glorious warm sunshine, and I think, perhaps it is nicer in the winter months than the summer – emptier, enough room for all and their dogs. We went for breakfast, when the sun was low, and the quality of light so special
and the shadows lending extra definition to the textures
4oz self raising flour
pinch of salt
2 tsp ground mixed spices
4 oz dark brown sugar
4 oz suet
14oz mixed dried fruit
2oz flaked almonds
grated rind and juice of 1 orange and 1 lemon
1/2 tbsp black treacle
3 tbsp brandy
20z grated carrot
2oz grated apple
Mix all the ingredient together thoroughly. Each member of the family should make a wish at this point, (never miss the opportunity to wish! – keep it secret!). Leave the mixture in a covered bowl overnight.
Next day, spoon into a 2 pint pudding basin. cover with foil and secure with string. Steam for 6 hours. Cool completely, then renew foil cover and store somewhere dark and cool.
To serve, wrap a silver coin (we use 50p) in foil and insert in one side of the pudding. Steam pudding for one hour. Loosen sides with a knife and tip our onto a plate. Pour over more brandy and set alight!
Whoever gets the coin has their wish come true…
n.b, in our house its tradition to let the steamer boil dry at least once during each steaming.. but really it is not necessary!!
It is at last cold here – which I like as only this week we picked the last of the courgettes – November! enough already!
The esse ironheart has been fabulous – much better than I thought, as I imagined it would be like have a woodburner you could do a little cooking on, whereas we cook pretty much all things on it. We are finding a lot of the heat control relates to the sort of wood put on – big fat logs for slow roasting, but bung in some pallet wood (all dry of course) and soon we can be frying. I even made a Victoria sponge – the ultimate test. and it was light and moist and.. nom.
One of the nicest things about having the new range is lighting it in the morning on a cold sunny weekend day – such as we are having lately, that radiant heat, the cosy kitchen is hard to beat, and it is the room we use all day long. Then come late evening we might move to the living room and light the little woodburner there.
Today was a three fire day though, as we took the opportunity of the cold clear day to have a bonfire to burn the old pea and bean sticks, which felt sort of symbolic of winter arriving too. It was beautiful with the low sun, and the smoke from the fire highlighting the sun’s rays, and of course we finished with toasting marshmallows too. Good times.
My blog is 6 years old. I’ve been having a fun little trawl back in the archives – funny reading your own words when you don’t remember them – sometimes I even hit my blog when googling for something.. then surprise myself when it turns out I have already done the thing I was looking up! That’s getting older for you.
Funny how times have changed – some things are gone – like the home ed days, and other things are the same. I don’t blog so often, because sometimes there is nothing new to say on a subject – other times I go right ahead and say it again!
I’m planning a bit of a revamp – aren’t I always…. time seems spread over too many things, but I shall carry on blogging – I like writing, I like the record of things – and how I have managed to record moments of our lives in general wittering chat . Sometimes the small things, sometimes the big.
We do love our winter squashes;,crown prince being the favourite, so tasty and creamy, and truth be told many pumpkin varieties are not developed for taste, but instead for their showy size. Atlantic giant will grow huge given the right conditions (we once grew a 104 lb fruit – yes that’s 7.5 stone! ) and can be a lot of fun, but not the best for eating – the flesh of these monster varieties is usually a bit stringy and watery, and often there is a big cavity inside . So when we cut open one of our pumpkins to carve for halloween, we were pleasantly surprised to find a good deal of worthwhile pumpkin flesh inside.
The variety was ‘jack-o-lantern’ and it met its remit perfectly – producing fruit the right size for a big lantern We carved out over three kilos of flesh and I made pumpkin cake – based on this recipe, only I left out the orange completely and added in some cinnamon – and delicious it was too.
Alas a person cannot live on cake alone (regardless of what our son says), and I went on to make a soup which I think is seriously delicious – spicy enough to make me sniff, so if you prefer milder, alter the amount of curry powder:
Curried pumpkin and lentil soup
I kilo of pumpkin (peeled and deseeded weight) cut into chunks
200g red lentils
4 tsp medium curry powder
seasoning to taste
double cream (optional)
thick plain yogurt to serve.
Cover the pumpkin and lentils with enough water to cover, add the curry powder, cover the pan and simmer until both the lentils and the pumpkin are very soft and mushy, adding more water if necessary. Blend – I used a hand held blender, alternatively use a liquidiser or push through a sieve.
Taste and adjust the seasoning, but be careful as curry powder often has salt added. Add more water if it is too thick, but creamy is the consistency to aim for. Reheat through, stirring all the time. At this point you could stir in some cream for extra indulgence
Serve with a dollop of creamy yogurt
There’s something lurking in the shed….well several somethings, our pumpkin and squash harvest. This lot was brought in a couple of weeks ago, and we cut the last few green ones to see if they will ripen in the light of the french doors.
Along with the apples, in another shed (apparently you shouldn’t store them together…something the apples give off can make the squash go bad – is this true? no idea.. we put them in different sheds so they will behave) this harvest, thankfully, are not taking up freezer spaces. The freezer crisis is bad, and we did not have any pigs to put in this year! – how we shall clear space for thingymas foods, not to mention future pig years, I’m not sure, but it is a good problem. The pumpkins are grown for halloweeny reasons, the crown prince is our favourite large squash, but I am really taken with the little sweet lightening – I like the idea of a squash of manageable size, and will be experimenting with other small varieties next year.
We also have had a bumper bonus harvest of haricot beans, thanks to a really good bean year, we stopped picking the beans for slicing and freezing and let them mature up and we have had many pounds of podded beans. Not an unpleasant task to sit chatting and podding by the fire.
The stormy weather predicted and the clocks changing this weekend makes it feel a good time to retreat to the warmth and safety of indoors and enjoy the stored food.