High in the hills of South East London there’s a portal to another time and place. Not a police box or wooded park, nor the back of a wardrobe. It doesn’t announce itself with strobing lights or whooshing noises. It’s almost diffident really … except that it seems kind of impossible. It’s an unpaved lane, pot-holed and dusty, lined with squat little cottages that leads into the briefest of shaded woods and then bursts into a glorious vista of the entire city. It’s invisible from either end – I doubt if many more people than those who dwell on the lane even know of its existence.
Charming though all that is, that’s not what makes this spot the aforementioned portal. What makes this lane an enchanted pathway to the past is that recently it’s been simply covered in blackberry-laden brambles.
The past I’m speaking of is, of course, my past. My childhood, to be exact.
When I first ventured down this lane a few weeks ago, and my eyes fell on the jet clusters of berries swarming over the lane walls, I was instantly back in a hot English summer of my childhood picking blackberries alongside the train tracks with my siblings and my Granny.
February may be a short month but it is in no way short of culinary holidays and foodie observances, including but not limited to:
Cherry Month – considering how many types of cherries there are, we may need more than a month to celebrate them all properly. And really, who wouldn’t extra time for cherry pie, cherry sorbet, cherry sundaes, chocolate covered cherries, dried cherries (excellent in summer salads not to mention in trail mix) and cherry preserves. Maybe we should – within National Cherry Month – declare a day for the top 20 or 30 most popular species? Someone get on that, right away! Thanks.
Oh the weather outside is … well, actually it isn’t frightful at all. It’s rather brisk and chilly, yes. But bright and sunny. Never mind the song then. What else can we talk about? Oooh, it’s December 4th – Cookie Day! We can talk about cookies. What is your favourite cookie? By which I mean either to eat or make (or both).
Today, so my research tells me, caviar day. Which kind? Whichever kind you like.
Black caviar is from sturgeon varieties – beluga, sturgeon and stellate sturgeon – and is not (as one might expect) always black. Sometimes it is grey (beluga), sometimes a quite a dark bronze-y shade (sturgeon) and finally deep inky black (stellate).
Banbury is, as you may know, forever entwined with Banbury cakes – flat-ish oval pastry filled with spiced currants. They’re not unlike Eccles cakes and they’re still available in Banbury though not in the two shops most associated with them in days or yore. I present to you – the days of yore.
E. W. Brown’s Original Cake Shop, 12 Parsons street.
There was some dreadful idea being tossed around about turning that A. Betts High Street space (very much present and in use lately as a pop-up shop) into an arcade. Continue reading “Banbury and the Bard”→
Instead of nattering on about how much I love spaghetti and pasta in general (which as I go on and on about it, I’ve made abundantly clear), I thought I’d demonstrate how much more there is to spaghetti than you might think. So many kinds, so many ways to serve it.
I went to see if I could find some interesting or odd details about chocolate covered cherries when I was brought up short by the SHOCKING number of recipes online for making your own chocolate covered cherries.
Don’t misunderstand. I love chocolate covered cherries but at no time, in no way and in no circumstances that I could ever imagine would I make them. Who does that? Anyone?
Before anyone asks: yes, my fellow Americans – bicarbonate of soda is the same as baking soda. Now that we’re on the same page – Happy Bicarbonate of Soda Day!
There was a time when I assumed the only thing bicarb was good for was, once mixed in with water, as a hangover remedy. These days I bake more so I realize there’s more to it than that. But I’ve also realized in the past year or so, that its usefulness as a tool in the cleaning arsenal around the house is unrivalled. Well, only rivalled by lemons. Between bicarb and lemons, I hardly need anything else.
I’ve been switching to greener cleaning options these days – for a number of reasons, chief among which is the obsession that cleaning product manufacturers have these days about scenting EVERYTHING. They clearly have a very different understanding of the word “lemony” or the phrase “pine fresh scent” than I do. YUCK!
So, I thought to mark the occasion of Bicarbonate of Soda Day, I thought I’d round up a few of the ways I used bicarb around the house. You may find a useful tip or two – and by all means, share any others you might have.