Category Archives: Food

Woolton Pie

No, M'Lord, that's where I wash me smalls!

Woolton Pie was created in 1941 at The Savoy Hotel in London and was named after Lord Woolton who was head of The Ministry of Food.

It can be made with just about any vegetables that you have to hand; fresh bought, leftovers, odds and ends, roasted veg, frozen mixed veg. – the decision is yours.  This recipe is about as Wartime Housewife as it gets, using all the elements of  leftovers, using what you have in the fridge or cupboard, and is very, very cheap.

The basic elements are:
Mixed vegetables
A sauce
A topping of pastry, crumble or potatoes – mashed or sliced

WOOLTON PIE

Utensils:
A deep-sided pie dish or casserole

Ingredients:
*   Mixed vegetables cut into similar shapes if possible eg julienne strips or cubes
*   White sauce flavoured with cheese or herbs or both (see HERE for recipe)
*   A quantity of shortcrust pastry OR mashed potato OR sliced potatoes
OR savoury crumble mix (see HERE for crumble recipe)
*   Beaten egg to glaze pastry or grated cheese and butter for the potatoes

Method:
Pre-heat the oven to 375 / 5 / 190
If using fresh vegetables, steam them very lightly until they are just cooked
Put the vegetables into the dish
Pour over the sauce
Top with mash, sliced potatoes, crumble mixture or pastry
Top potatoes with grated cheese or brush the pastry with beaten egg
Bake in the oven until whichever top you’ve used is golden brown

 

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Filed under Food, Leftovers, Nutrition & Sensible Eating, Recipes, Storecupboard

Children’s Lunch Boxes – a cheap lunch option for the grown-ups as well

There was a pear but we eated it

Sometimes when I’ve been out shopping, I need to have lunch, I don’t want very much, I don’t need sophisticated but I need to stop feeling hungry.

The Wartime Housewife presents The Children’s Lunchbox.

This is not nearly as ghastly as you might think and many shops have caught on to the healthy options thing for children as well.  The children’s lunch box usually allows you to choose five or six items from quite a wide selection so you can be as healthy as you like.

Choices are usually a simple sandwich (often on wholemeal bread), crisps, fruit, cheese, raisins, yoghurt or fromage frais, a drink which is often fruit juice and a small chocolate bar.  The smarter the shop, the smarter the choices; for example John Lewis has a huge range which includes Pomme Bears (hurrah!), yoghurt or chocolate covered raisins and slightly more interesting fruit.

I have sampled the lunch boxes in cafes at supermarkets, department stores and garden centres for the purposes of this article and have found most of them to be of a high standard and very reasonably priced.  A lunch box rarely breaks the £4.00 barrier (and is usually much less) so is excellent value.

Unsurprisingly perhaps, John Lewis was easily the best, using quality ingredients, wholemeal bread with a generous amount of filling, and appealing choices.  ASDA was the worst, insisting on using white bread, cheap sugary drinks and boring fruit.  The rest were pretty good, with independent garden centres nearing the top.

And the best thing is that you always, always get a little packet of crayons and a colouring-in sheet.  How therapeutic.

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Vampires – a Practical Guide

Vampire by Edward Burne Jones

Imagine you are a vampire hunter on the trail of a beautiful young girl who has just been taken by the evil yet strangely alluring Count Dracula and you have ventured into the family crypt to release her from her terrible curse and allow you and your family to sleep at night without a string of pungent alliums and a sharpened piece of two b’four.

The vampire appears!!!! Aarrghghg! You dive into your bag for the acknowledged accoutrements of vampire slaying; garlic, wooden stake, crucifix … when suddenly you remember that you’re Jewish.  What do you wave at the advancing fanged predator?

I’m sorry to say that this is a situation that has been vexing me for some months now, so I did the only thing possible.  Some research.

Vampire legends go much further back than one might imagine, although the word ‘vampire’ only really came into common usage in the 18th century and comes originally from Serbia.

Lilith - first wife of Adam

Mysterious creatures of the shadows who feast off the living exist in the myths and legends of nearly every culture around the world.  Early Hebrew writings describe a winged demon  with the body of a woman and talons like an owl.  Her name was Lilith and she was the first wife of Adam and, as she was created from the same earth as him, she believed herself to be his equal.  But she refused to be submissive, so God banished her to the realm of demons after which she was believed to devour infants and small children, seduce men, steal their semen and then drink the blood of her victims.  She vowed to feed off the children of Adam i.e. humans, forever.  Without Lilith there would be no vampires.

This type of vampire is called an estrie and the only way to make sure she stays dead is to stop up her mouth with earth.  Estries don’t always attack in obvious ways and they would sit on hands or fingers, waiting for the person to rub their eyes or mouth and they could then enter the body.  To prevent an attack by vampires, Jews would place a bowl of water at the side of the bed to wash their hands before walking, thus preventing invasion.

Vampire legends appear all over the world and it occurs to me that the form which the creature takes tells us something about the psyche of the region.  Often the vampire will appear in the guise of a beautiful woman in order to gain access to its prey whilst others present as monsters, animal forms or pallid and degenerate replicas of humans.  They are often shape-shifters which adds another layer of fear as the vampire hunter may not even know what he’s looking for.

Vampires legends in brief:

China - Chiang-shih

China – Chiang Shi:  A recently deceased corpse who becomes possessed by a demon, covered with white or green hair, with long claws, teeth, glowing red eyes and lethal halitosis.  It can fly and  change into a wolf.  Repelled by garlic, salt and rice.  Killed by a bullet or thunder.

Japan - Gaki

Japan – Gaki:  Pale-skinned, cold and hollow-eyed blood drinkers.  Can shape-shift, impersonate humans and possibly go invisible.

Philippines – Aswang: Beautiful woman by day, tubular-tongued blood drinker by night.  Prefers children and after eating them, its belly swells and it flies home and breastfeeds its own children with the blood.

India - Rakshasa

India – Rakshasa: If a child is forced to eat human brains it becomes a Rakshasa who then needs human blood.  Again a shape-shifter, sometime a beautiful human, sometimes animal.  It lurks in trees to spy out its victims and if you so much as stray into its territory you will become seriously ill.

Ireland - Leahaun-shee

Ireland – Dearg-Due: This ancient vampire goes all the way back to the Celts.   The only way to stop it is to pile stones on the grave if you suspect the incumbent might be a vampire.
The Irish  also have the Leahaun-shee who is not technically a vampire but is vampiric in nature.  A beautiful woman, she lures young men under her spell  and then effectively shags them to death.  I’ve known women like that.

Scotland – BaoBahan-sith: is similar to the Leahaun-shee but is always dressed in green.

Germany – Doppelsauger: In the Slavic region of northern Germany, the Wends believed that once a baby was weaned, if it was breastfed again it would turn into a vampire.  It would eat the breast and take the life force of the mother.

Africa: the Africans are generally terribly keen on vampire stories and have Asanbosam, Adze, Impundulu and Ramanga to name but a few. The Ramanga is my personal favourite because it not only drinks blood but eats the toe nail clippings of nobles. Now that is truly horrible.

The Americas are awash with stories because they have the varied cultures of French and African Voodoo, the West Indies and South America as well.  Their monsters are often female and often corruptly sexual in nature.  The Chupacapra of Mexico/Puerto Rico is particularly well known as a creature that eats the flesh and drinks the blood of domesticated animals.

Isn’t it interesting how often these creatures are female and involve breasts and babies?  Is it at all possible that some of these stories emerged in cultures who were terrified and mystified in equal measure of blood, women, childbirth, breast feeding and women’s perceived power to enchant and ensnare?

Nosferatu

Modern Vampires

Although vampires have appeared in fiction and poetry since the 1700s, it was Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’ which changed the depiction of vampires into elegant, sophisticated and desirable beings with their romantic suggestions of virginity, sex, blood and death.

Now, of course, vampires are all the rage with ‘The Vampire Diaries’ and the ‘Twilight Saga’ and psychologists think that this has come about through a combination of the modern fascination and pre-occupation with sex and the enduring terror of our own mortality.

But what’s really interesting is that every so often, present day societies will still become convinced that vampires are among them, these hysterics often emerging at times of terrible political or economic turbulence.

In 1970 it was rumoured that a vampire haunted Highgate Cemetery in London which a local man claimed to have exorcised and even that he destroyed a ‘nest’ of vampires in the area.
In 2002 stories of vampire attacks swept through Malawi in Africa which culminated in one individual being stoned to death and four others being attacked, one of whom was the Governor who was believed to be colluding with the undead.
In 2004 a Romanian family feared that their dead relative had become a vampire so they sensibly dug up his corpse, ripped out his heart, burnt it, mixed the ashes with water and drank it.

Clearly vampires are everywhere so, in true Wartime Housewife style, here are my top tips for repelling or killing these modern-day, blood-sucking hooligans.

How do you know if a grave contains a vampire? Get a virgin boy to ride over the grave, naked and bareback on a virgin stallion.  When the horse stops at a grave and won’t move forward, there’s your vampire.

Preventative Measures: Garlic, nailing clothes to coffin walls, do not invite them in to your house (no really, don’t), religious symbols* made of silver, mustard seed, wolfsbane, mirrors will sometimes repel.

Killing a vampire: sunlight, a wooden stake through the heart, preferably made of aspen or hawthorne (although this might just immobilise it), decapitation (dead cert), total immersion in running water or fire, drinking the blood of the dead, a silver bullet or knife, holy water, nail its coffin shut with silver nails.

* In order to bring this fascinating subject back to the beginning, religious symbols are a relatively modern method of protection.  The Catholic church decided that they, and only they, had the power to kill vampires and this is where the idea that a cross would repel these beasts but only, only mind you, if it was held by a true believer.  Presumably the unbelievers deserved to die. They also had the monopoly on holy water which should be thrown directly onto the vampire in question.

If you are at all worried, please feel free to contact this website for further advice.  And consider adding silver nails, sharpened sticks and a small phial of holy water to your DIY kit.  The rest, as one would expect, are probably Storecupboard Ingredients.

Christopher Lee - that's more like it

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I ran out of time…

I believe I may be very cute indeed

I had such a lovely post lined up for you today but the day ran away with my.  I spent all morning working on … well working on something, then I spent an hour doing paperwork, followed by lunch (Boy the Elder is still on half term) then some work on the post.  Except that I have just taken delivery of a new vacuum cleaner which needed building, which BTE did with great skill, so I had to try it out as I haven’t been able to vacuum for two weeks. In the middle of that I got a ‘phone call from a friend who was trying to organise a meeting point for the children to do some Halloween stuff, except that Boy the Younger had Cubs first and I had to sort out some stuff for him so he could get his IT badge and then I remembered that I needed another pumpkin to make a big pot of soup for us all.  But the pumpkins were all gorn so I had to use a butternut squash which took twice as long because Boy the Elder wanted it to make another lantern. I was going to write the article when BTY got home from school and then, while he was at cubs, make the soup.  Except that Cubs was cancelled at the last minute so we had to re-arrange the entertainment and abandon the article in favour of the soup.  By the time we got back it was time for ‘Doc Martin’ and now I have a splitting headache and I’m afraid I shall have to retire to my bed.

Sorry.

However, if you click on the link above, you will find three recipes for pumpkin as you’re bound to have some left or be able to pick up some post-Halloween bargains.

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Filed under Children, Food, Leftovers, Life in general, Recipes, Seasonal

Bread Pudding recipe with Suet

I have had a few requests for a wartime recipe for Bread Pudding which uses suet, so here it is.
As it is a wartime recipe, you’ll find it’s a little lighter on the fruit and sugar than my earlier recipe, but there is a war on… somewhere.
This recipe serves 6 apparently

I'm afraid I don't have a photograph of this particular bread pudding, so here is a picture of Princess Margaret for you to enjoy instead

BREAD PUDDING WITH SUET

Utensils:
1 x medium bowl
1 x ovenproof dish or a basin for steaming

Ingredients:
8oz / 250g stale bread
a little cold water
2oz / 60g grated suet
1oz / 30g sugar
1 tablespoon marmalade
2oz / 60g dried fruit
1 egg
Milk to mix
a little ground cinnamon

Method:
Put the bread into the basin and add the water
Leave for 15 minutes then squeeze dry with your hands – discard the liquid
Put the bread back into the bowl and add all the other ingredients
Add milk a little at a time until you achieve a sticky consistency
Grease the dish or bowl
If baking, put the dish into an oven preheated to 140 / 1 / 275
Bake for 1 ½ hours
If steaming, steam for 2 hours
Remove from the oven or steamer and allow to rest and cool for 15 minutes
Serve with custard or cream
If there is a war on, you might consider condensed milk as an alternative

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Filed under Food, Leftovers, Recipes, Storecupboard

Local meat producers and Waterloo Cottage Farm

British Saddleback

Before the Shire Book of the Month, currently Pigs, changes, I want to tell you about a local meat producer called Waterloo Cottage Farm and the important role that small producers have in selling good meat from happy animals.

Meat is expensive and so it should be.  To produce good meat takes time, through slow fattening on the right kind of food, fresh air and exercise for the animals, slaughter in the least stressful way possible followed by a decent period of hanging before it finally arrives in your kitchen.

With this in mind, I visited local producer Waterloo Cottage Farm in Great Oxenden, Northamptonshire and was given a tour of the farm by owner, Kirsty Clarke.  We met in the light, cool shop, where a mouth-watering array of meat and produce was displayed.  After a brief chat about what I wanted to see, I was taken out through the back door to the business end of the enterprise.

Glorious Pig

I was confronted by lots of open pens, with several different types of pigs enjoying the sunshine.  I was wearing a long skirt and strappy sandals, so I tucked my skirt into my knickers and prepared to meet the pigs and what a gorgeous crew they were.  I have a big soft spot for pigs at the best of times, but being able to climb into the pens and actually scratch them and talk to them was a treat indeed.

Happy Pig

Saddleback Piglets

And Kirsty did indeed talk to her pigs and her care and enthusiasm for the creatures came across loud and clear.  The farm has a herd of British Saddlebacks which are allowed to mature fully in the fields and woods which surround Waterloo Farm, as well as Petrans and Ginger Durocs.  I became extremely soppy when she introduced me to the piglets who were running and rolling with their mother in the straw.

The Clarkes also have lamb and hogget, chickens, ducks and geese and they select beef and veal from local farms who also use traditional breeds.  All the animals have something in common.  They are all reared using traditional, sustainable farming methods which work with nature, not against it.  The animals are free to lead full, natural lives on healthy soil and fed on natural, local feed and the pigs are slow grown until they are 9-10 months which is a significantly longer life than an intensively bred animal. The barley comes from the farmer next door and the slaughterhouse is only nine miles away, the animals being accompanied there in a quiet and unstressed way which is better for the animal and better for the resulting meat.

Looking at the meat in the shop is a very different experience to browsing the chiller aisles in the supermarket.  The meat is darker in colour and more wholesome-looking than perhaps we’re used to and the bacon and sausages sit in great piles, pleading with you to take them home.  The bacon and hams are cured on the premises and their master butcher produces fresh piles of traditional and artisan varieties of sausages every day.

I bought some bacon and something I haven’t eaten for over thirty years – veal.  I have deliberately avoided veal because of the unspeakable practice of veal crating, but with the sure knowledge that the animal that provided this had been happy, healthy and natural, I took a chop home and had it for my supper.

My veal in the shop

I can honestly say that I’ve never tasted meat like it; it was tender, sweet and juicy and so flavourful I could have wept.  I also had some of their dry cured bacon for my breakfast the following morning and, apart from the taste, the most obvious difference was visual.  No white scum stickily coating the bottom of your frying pan here, and two rashers and a couple of fried eggs was distinctly more filling that the abominable mid-range stuff you buy at the supermarket.

Local producers do an incredible job of farming.  Not only do they help to preserve the rare breeds but they also help to preserve the very land on which they’re reared because of the sustainable ways in which they farm.  The meat hasn’t travelled huge distances and is therefore beneficial to the environment in a wider sense.  They are also firm protagonists of old skills such as proper butchery and artisan methods of preparation and, because of the renewed interest in this kind of food, many farms  are taking on apprentices.  Waterloo Cottage Farm also runs meat craft courses to encourage you to get the best out of their meat.

We must support these local producers in their endeavours by shopping with them whenever we can.  I have said it before and I will keep saying it until you do as you’re told; eat less, eat better.  Learn how to use to meat to get the best out of it and, I am convinced that properly reared, slow grown meat actually fills you up more so you don’t need as much of it.  Eat less, eat better.  It’s better for all of us.

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Filed under Animals, Ethics, Food, Livestock, Nutrition & Sensible Eating, Regional, Slider

The Fastest Cheesecake in the West

Yes, there is such thing as an emergency cheesecake, sometimes cheesecake is the only thing that will do.  Such it was on Saturday night – we wanted cheesecake and we wanted it fast.  You can use anything you have to flavour or decorate it; grated lemon or orange rind, grated chocolate, tinned fruit, fresh fruit, ginger, even a little peppermint then decorate it with After Eights.

If you don’t have a mini-chopper, biscuits can be crumbed by putting them in a sealed plastic bag and assaulting them with a rolling pin. You could write the name of your least favourite politician on the bag before you start thumping it.  You get everything here – recipes, therapy…

This is how I made it using things I had in the cupboard.

THE FASTEST CHEESECAKE IN THE WEST

Utensils
:
1 x 7” flan dish
1 x mini chopper
1 x electric whisk
1 x medium saucepan

Ingredients:
3oz / 90g butter
4oz / 120g digestive or ginger biscuits – reduced to breadcrumbs in the mini chopper
8oz / 240g cream cheese
¼ pint / 150ml double cream – whipped
1 egg white – whisked to soft peaks
2oz icing sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Something nice to put on the top.  I had nothing so I used a bit of raspberry sauce although jam or cranberry would have worked as well

Method:
Melt the butter in a saucepan
Add the pulverised biscuits and blend well
Grease the flan dish and press the crumb mixture firmly into the bottom
Place in the fridge to chill
Fold the icing sugar gently into the egg whites
Fold the cream gently into that, then
Fold the cream cheese and vanilla extract gently into that
Spoon the cheese mixture onto the flan base
Decorate the top if you have anything
Return to the fridge until needed

Total time from fridge to gaping maw – 15 minutes

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Filed under Food, Leftovers, Recipes, Storecupboard