My sister doesn’t like crumble. She refers to it alternately as ‘poor man’s pie’ or ‘sugary grit’. I for one think she’s missing a trick. I also think she doesn’t do a lot of baking – how can you not love a desert that takes minutes to prepare? No making of pastry, then letting it cool, then rolling it out, trimming it and hoping it’ll bake through when it makes it to the oven. Crumble is fail safe, quick and I always forget how tasty it is.
I’m lucky to have been offered cooking apples from one of my pupil’s gardens for the second year in a row. We enjoyed our first apple crumble of the season this weekend and we’ll polish off a few more before we head into the festive period I’m sure.
If you’ve never made a crumble then shame on you. Here are the ingredients and the method courtesy of Be-Ro – have a go. I guarantee ‘sugary grit’ will be the last words on your lips…
50 g (2 oz) margarine
100 g (4 oz) Be-Ro Self Raising Flour
50 g (2 oz) sugar
1. Heat oven to 190ºC, 375ºF, Gas Mark 5.
2 Place sweetened fresh fruit or canned fruit in ovenproof dish.
3 Rub fat into flour until it resembles breadcrumbs.
4. Add sugar, mix thoroughly and spread evenly over the fruit. Bake for about 30 minutes until fruit is cooked and top is golden.
Near the end of August we spent a few days in London and I finally got round to visiting my brother and SiL-to-be in their lovely flat in Harrow. This was a delight for lots of reasons but I’m blogging about it today because of a vintage find my brother made himself. He literally found some china discarded on a street – most of it broken – and picked up a couple of teacups and this jug.
The minute I saw it I knew the design – Homemaker. I’m sure I saw a few pieces show up on an Antiques Roadshow once. A quick glance at the maker stamp confirmed my suspicions!
It shows some lovely key mid century pieces of furniture and homeware.
It was designed by Enid Seeney for Ridgway Potteries in Stoke on Trent in 1957. The design was printed using a new technique where gelatine pads were used to apply the print to the ceramic. It was mass produced and a budget range, sold by Woolworth’s. Many newly married couples in the late 50s and throughout the 60s would have added a set to their new homes.
Nowadays prices start at about £10 for a plate and go as high as £500 if you can find a complete teaset.
I don’t know about you, but I think my bruv made a pretty good find there – I’ve yet to spot a piece, and I visit charity shops most weeks.
This isn’t a #neverbakeditbefore challenge because it’s something I’ve baked many times, just not for many years.
I asked my Mum to send me the recipe for boiled fruit cake from her Be-Ro book. I have a Be-Ro book but the recipes change over the years and this one has been omitted for some reason.
If if you can’t quite make that out here it is:
12oz dried fruit
4oz butter or margarine
1/4 pint of water
8 oz self raising flour
From then on its pretty easy, just boil up everything apart from the egg and flour for about 20 minutes.
You end up with a nice glossy looking, rich buttery pan of dried fruit. You can use any dried fruit you want, and throw in a handful of nuts too if you like. I also add a teaspoon of mixed spice. It’s a nice recipe to tailor to suit your tastes. Let it cool, mix in the egg and flour and then pop into a 6 or 7 inch round tin.
My oven is a little on the fierce side, plus I put it in the round tin the recipe recommends, whereas Mum always did it in a loaf tin and it was a little more moist that way I think. Either way, I made a batch of scones and it all combined to make a very nice Sunday tea with a round of egg sandwiches. Low on effort but high on taste!
It is with the sound of bubbling fruit still in my ears I say:
As you know I’m a biscuit fan. These Mcvities biscuit tins take me right back to my childhood as I’m sure we owned a couple of them. My Mum could never resist saving the coupons and sending for various merchandise and kitchenalia over the years.
Couldn’t believe my eyes when I walked into a charity shop recently and found not only my Catherineholm pan but sitting almost directly next to it, these three beauties.
The charity shop is a fickle mistress and she has given me the cold shoulder most of this spring, but I was in luck the day I found these. Now I just need to find the Digestives tin…
It was a momentous day when I finally took delivery of my piano!
Admittedly, it was pretty scary to see it being expertly manoeuvred into my home by two amazing professional piano movers! They knew exactly what they were doing, and carefully cajoled it through the door and from my tiny hallway into my downstairs dining room.
This piano is most definitely vintage. The piano tuner who attended to its insides recently showed me the maker’s number inside and said that German piano makers (Bluthner in this case) were very particular about cataloging their pianos. When I googled the number I discovered it was made somewhere around 1863. My Dad bought it in the late 1970s and it was the piano we learned to play on when we were children.
Considering it’s been around so very long, it has a few war wounds – we took it apart to clean it once when I was a teenager and found – among other things – a piece of cheese, some pins and lots of glitter. Young children love to ‘post’ things between piano keys!
It’s something I was looking forward to being reunited with and I’m lucky to have it. It has a lot of special memories, and I’m a bit rusty but I’m enjoying playing it again! My next job is searching out some music to play on it…
It is with a desire for some new sheet music I say:
I thought I knew lots about designers and manufacturers from the past. I like to think I know my Meakin from my Midwinter, my Cornish Blue from my Willow Pattern but following lots of other vintage has introduced me to a few names I wasn’t familiar with.
The current penchant for Mid Century Scandinavian designs has thrown up the name of Catherine Holm.
Now it turns out – and I hope I’m not the only person to make this mistake – that Catherineholm is actually the name of the factory in Norway, not the name of the designer. The lady responsible for the enamelware designs is Grete Prytz Kittelsen and apparently the lotus leaf motif was added by another designer, Arne Clausen, and Grete never much cared for it, preferring the plain colours and smooth lines of her pieces to speak for themselves.
Ironic that it’s gone on to be so iconic. It was very popular in America and across Scandinavia in the 50s, 60s and 70s and it crops up regularly on my Instagram feed. I loved the design but had never seen a piece in real life.
Until, that is, I made a quick dash into a charity shop in Salisbury when the Dr (my husband) and I were on a little day trip. He is very tolerant of my need to nip into every chazza we wander past, and I do try to be quick, but inevitably he spends much of his life standing outside The British Heart Foundation (in this case) playing Candy Crush on his phone.
I hit the mother lode when I spied this beauty for just £3.99! Have literally never seen another piece of this enamelware and maybe I never will. But for now Grete, I like the lotus leaf design, I’m keeping it. So long and thanks for all the bowls.
There were many things I was looking forward to having when we moved into our new home just over a year ago. Top of the list was being reunited with my piano and getting a record player!
I grew up in a house with a record player. My Dad was a vinyl enthusiast and he loved valve hifi equipment too. The living housed his record player, large speakers and various other bits of kit. I still remember flicking through boxes of records, their dusty smell and the fact that long before I could read, I could recognise my favourite tracks by the colour and design of their sleeves!
When choosing my own record player, what I really had my eye on was one of these gorgeous 1960s Dansette models. The kitsch value is unbelievable isn’t it? And the styling and colours are just so great. There is someone in my vicinity that refurbishes them. He really does give them a very thorough overhaul, fixing the innards, replacing broken components and replacing cosmetic details too if necessary. I watched his hard work come up for sale on eBay and then watched the bidding soar into the many hundreds each time. Sadly, it was just not an amount of money I could justify spending.
I happened to mention that I wanted a record player when we were staying with my husbands family last Christmas and his mum mentioned she had a record player that had been in a cupboard for the last 20 years! She was on the point of taking it to the charity shop and offered it to me instead. I of course accepted much to the dismay of the Dr (my husband) and it was bundled into the boot of our car to the make the journey home with us.
Surprisingly, when we got it home and connected the amp, speakers and record player – it worked! The effects of 20 years in a cupboard hadn’t been too detrimental, and it was quite a novelty to try to remind myself how to choose the correct speed and lower the needle onto the grooves of the disc.
It has been used – it has been the accompaniment to meals and a barbecue already this summer and it will be used for many more events to come. I now have a new hobby – buying vinyl!
It is with a yearning for an extensive vinyl collection I say:
I had some friends coming over and thought I’d use it as an excuse to take on a #neverbakeditbeforechallenge! I had been meaning to have a go at Whoopie Pies for ages and when I found this simple but tasty sounding recipe (http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/chocolate_whoopies_67418 ) on BBC Good Food I knew today was the day…
150g/5½oz chocolate, minimum 70% cocoa solids, plus extra for melting (optional)
3 free-range eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
30g/1¼oz cocoa powder
½ tsp baking powder
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
Melt the butter and chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. (Do not let the base of the bowl touch the water.)
Whisk the sugar, eggs and vanilla together in a separate bowl then fold in the chocolate mixture.
Sift the flour, cocoa and baking powder together, then fold into the chocolate and egg mixture.
Place tablespoonfuls of the mixture onto the baking tray (the mixture should make 36 biscuits) and bake in the oven for 6-8 minutes.
Remove from the oven and set aside half of the biscuits on a cooling rack. Turn the remaining biscuits over and place a marshmallow on top of each. Return to the oven for 2-3 minutes, or until the marshmallows have softened.
Remove from the oven and set aside on a cooling rack to cool slightly. Press the cooled biscuits on top.
Optional: Melt 100g/3½oz extra chocolate and pour this over the cookies, then set aside to cool.
I did use a really good 70% cocoa solids dark chocolate and the cake came out tasting nice and rich. The marshmallow filling was very messy – I was covered in marshmallow and so was my kitchen! I think I need to let it cool a little more before sandwiching next time! The reviews were unanimously good – the Dr (my husband) isn’t a big fan of chocolate cake but he nabbed the last one and declared them delicious!
Whoopie pies have a long history in the USA, with several places claiming to be the birthplace of the treat. They’re widely acknowledged to have been created by the Amish community and show up in cookery books from the early 20s onwards. The most intriguing thing about them though is surely the name – originally they were made from leftover cake batter and on finding them in their lunch bags Amish children would cry ‘Whoopie!”.
Well, I’m sold and I’ll definitely be using that recipe again. I may also have a trawl for other kinds of Whoopie Pie. I hear chocolate chip is good, red velvet looks great or maybe something gingery? The sky is the limit!
I popped into John Lewis the other day as they had a sale on and I wanted to see if they had any baby bits I could nab. I did find a few things that seemed reasonable with a discount but my real delight – if I’m honest – was the bag for life I picked up to carry my purchases home…
The minute I saw it I knew I had to have it. These photos show both sides of the bag. Love the design. Very kitsch I think you’ll agree. I did have a search online but couldn’t find out the reason for the design – anyone know?
My baby clothes were well housed in this attractive carrier and I have folded up this beauty and tucked it into my handbag for many more uses.