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Dearest Sharon, you always bring back some joyous memories for us! We had got married in the spring on my Birthday, so I would not forget our Wedding Anniversary, and Sarah would not forget my Birthday present. Due to work and other pressures our Honeymoon was only four days in Winchester. So that Christmas I decided to make it up to her.
We have Bed & Breakfasts here, that are good, cheap and you basically get a good breakfast and somewhere to stay. Normally they are someones House, just converted for guests.
So I cunningly booked for us to go to Tenterden in Kent for the Christmas Festival. The place I had booked was a farm, with everything including a four poster bed etc. in our room.
Although only built in the late 1600s it was beautiful, and the lady a magnificent cook\baker. You could get an evening meal there as well if you so wanted it, but I had other plans!
Every time we go to Tenterden we go on the steam train ride, because I like steam trains and it takes you through the unspoiled wonders of Kent. This time it was the Christmas ride, or so I had been told.
As we walked through the High street towards the little station, the snow was falling upon a Christmas tree, glistening with lights. Carol singers stood around it singing, whilst a man dished out roasted hot sweet Chestnuts to everyone. Someone came out of nowhere and gave Sarah a plate of toasted marshmallows. As we walked to the station, Traction engines were at full steam, with an old belt powered fair organ playing Christmas Carols, quite magical. Sarah was invited up onto a Traction engine, then handed a mug of Brandy as she stood there, with smoke and steam puffing everywhere. What a truly wonderful sight, I was spell bound as they blew the whistles to welcome Christmas as well. We did get to the station on time, and in the carriages everything had fresh holly and ivy etc., with Christmas music playing. Halfway through our trip a Lady appeared and most kindly gave us Mince pies, the smell of the mixed spice (has nutmeg in it), was immense, and a glass of sherry each. Then Santa came round, after giving the children their presents, he gave the ladies their ones. As Sarah opened this wonderfully made box, the smell hit me again, for it contained amazingly wrapped spices, cinnamon, whole cloves, allspice and nutmeg etc., everyone's dream.
Sharon it was truly magical, for we got off the train after a round trip, and walked down the High street, the snow was a bit deeper and crisp, the Men had mistletoe so kept kissing Sarah (allowed I suppose), and everyone was out in the street. You could not walk anywhere without someone trying to give you mince pies and brandy butter with a glass of something alcoholic.
As we were cold we went into the Coach House we normally go to, in a huge big log burning walk in fireplace, there hang a black cauldron on chains full of simmering mulled wine.
This was free and was just handed out to anyone who would join in with the Christmas Carols, so we did. I can remember the smell of the spices coming out of that Cauldron, especially that nutmeg!
So we had a great Christmas in a winter wonderland, full of snow and fun. In fact the snow was so bad we stayed for a couple of extra days, enjoying farmhouse cooking and baking, plus egg custard tart with nutmeg on, of course.
p.s. I did not get a Christmas present on the train, and as we did a round trip Sarah got two!
Regards and many fond memories again.
Gloria, not a movie it was cold, yet magical at the same time, if that makes any sense at all. Although not many people could feel the cold with the alcohol in them. We go to Kent every Sunday as it is the"Garden of England," however we have never forgot that Christmas.
Now our treat is to go in the Woolpack Coach House ( early 1500s), and have lunch and me a pint, then if the steam trains are running to have my trip on them. I am always dragged back by the Church as the steeple is built separately. This is because the ground is too soft to hold the weight of a steeple on a Church, if it were to be placed on top, it would sink. As the town wanted a Church with a bell tower, they had to build it that way. So Sarah is fascinated by it, although it is common all over even near us.
Then once lunch has worn off we go to the Tudor Rose, this wonderful ancient Tea house is a bit later than the Coach House, late 1500s I am told.
It has an amazing cottage garden that you have to go through to get to it, so I like to look at the plants I love, as you wander through it, although the smell of the warm scones beckon you.
Then a lady comes out, takes you to your oak or elm table (beams are oak and the place is white plaster), and kindly sits you down. On a silver old trolley, she lovingly serves up a huge plateful of warm scones, their own Butter, own thick whipped cream, Homemade Kent strawberry jam and of course a teapot of proper tea with milk and proper cubes of sugar with tongs.
The cups are without saying China and the teapots are Silver!
This delight is cheap, thank goodness, for Sarah is not. well at the eating of this she is not expensive , but is when she has demolished it, the expensive bit begins then!
I do admit it is lovely and the scones are nearly as good as grandmas recipe, but they have a shop selling everything. As every single item is made on their own farm, Sarah goes mad in the shop, another boot load of stuff, good job the veterans get some.
The atmosphere in this place does help, for the smell of baking scones does have a weird tendency on people (Sharon beware). Plus the oak beams and of course its magical History.
When I have paid for it am normally in shock, so I go and sit calmly by the Trout stream at the back of this totally atmospheric place, as I love to see the Trout jumping for the newly hatched flies, and the Foxgloves in flower down the stream side.
Once we have gone to lots of farms on the way back, to get the veterans their food parcels. Then, when we get home Sarah releases me from my ball and chain, and allows me over the pub, to see the veterans. Oh what Joy!
All this Thirty five minutes away.
Regards to all.
Neil, what wonderful pictures you paint with your words! I agree with Sharon, that was something out of a Christmas movie, that I will come back and read again, when I need a dash of Christmas spirit. I could "see" all of it! Ball and chain, indeed, you are a lucky man to have such a lovely lady as your wife! (Of course, she's lucky to have such a generous soul as your self as a husband, so there you are!) I do hope that we can all meet some day, and and do some cooking and entertaining together. Sharon, we should invite Neil and Sarah to the Kentucky Roundup! I also think we should organize a Dave's Garden "road trip" to England for Christmas next year. ;-)
Dear Bonnie, Christmas spirit, you need a wee dram whilst the Bagpipes are on! Or indeed remember Dickens Christmas Carol, for that always gets me going.
I am of course delighted that your Goodselves liked the music I sent, and the fact that Sharon got hers albeit a bit later, although I posted them together!
I am not too sure about this Roundup bit, as a Roundup is normally when they round the sheep up off the Hills and shear them, or to overwinter them in lower pastures.
I do not fancy being sheared although the lower pastures I don't mind. The only other Roundup I know is a weedkiller, unless as usual I am wrong.
Personally i think you should come in the spring and I could take you around the worlds most famous flower show, I am of course referring to Chelsea.
Mind you we have Hampton Court after that, so you could look around Henry VIII gardens and of course the Palace.
Then we have Wisley the R.H.S. Gardens in Surrey, which is about 45 minutes from us. Or Sissinghurst and the gardens of Kent.
The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew is nine miles from us.
Of course if you just want to enjoy food that is easily arranged, as Hastings is not far from us, and has wonderful fresh fish and shellfish straight of the beach.
If you are a vegetarian then that is not a problem at all, even the pub grub does vegetarian meals now, and is very tasty and cheap.
Bed and Breakfast with lovely rooms and surroundings is about £21.50 a night, cheaper in some places.
If you wish to go to Europe a coach trip to France and the ferry costs mere dollars, or the Channel Tunnel (more expensive).
Plus we have have English cream tea, with scones and all the trimmings, I would however be most worried about getting Sharon out of there.
Plus our Cathedrals and just a few ancient buildings. The war rooms, our Royal Parks and Gardens etc. Although I do suggest you bring a camera, and the Men not to wear an outrageous tropical shirt.
I await my commission from the English Tourist board!
I love how these threads turn into wonderfully interesting discussions from all corners of the world. Thank you, Neil for all you contribute. I love your words as well as the photos you share.
Neil, my dear, a RoundUp is in this instance a gathering of like minded people. No shearing allowed. We could have a RoundUp at your place or mine, and wouldn't that be fun. Personally, I would love to be in England, wet and cold though it might be...because my studies in ancient cultures took me there many times, but only in my dreams. I love the age of the buildings, wonderful craftmanship, they'll last forever. I'd really like to see them. And the countryside.
It's so great to hear from all of you.
Thanks for reading the articles.
Dear Sharon, there is me waffling on about a wonderful Christmas and I forgot a very useful fact about nutmeg! If you like spinach as I do, grate a bit of nutmeg on it, whilst it is cooking!
The reason is simple, nutmeg stops the acid in spinach, that sometimes gives it a bitter taste, and causes us mere mortals to get gout and other illnesses.
I was taught this years ago by an Indian, and although I love the taste of it with the spinach and did it every time I cooked it, I thought no more about it. Then I was talking to my Doctor and he was talking about different herbal and natural medicines, so I told him about nutmeg. He looked it up and it was true it does do that, according to something he found.
I also grate a bit on cabbage and other greens as well, a remarkable spice.
A question if I so dare what is a nog?
Zinus thank you for your kind comments, I just love to write as we live a long way apart, many thousands of miles in fact. With modern technology we can now write to each other quickly over that vast distance, send pictures or video conference if you so wish, for free! So I love to hear from America and all the other Countries that join in to these sometimes lively discussions.
That is what I enjoy, for someone to write from Australia and ask me for a recipe that their grandma used to make and did I know how to make it? So if I do know it, to write back and tell them how to do it, that is indeed a very nice warming feeling. Especially when they write back to say it was like their grandma made it.
If the whole world just smiled, said hello to each other and then helped each other, I think it would be a much better place to live in, It also might get us out of the mess we are in now.
Sharran, after reading your excellent article, I was going to suggest you make a pan of apple dumplings with cinnamon/NUTMEG sauce this weekend; had thought to send you some via email, but seriously, they have to be homemade and eaten just as soon as they come out of the oven. THEN I read Neil's delightful descriptions of England at Christmas time...now I think we'll have to work in a cream tea at some point. Maybe even two! And I think I'll make some scones tomorrow.
Kathy, we need to move closer together. I would make apple dumplings, but I'd eat the entire pan while they were still warm. It would be much better if we could share.
Yes, with tea!
And scones tomorrow...
Or maybe we could both just pack up and go to Neil's...all of us, actually..I'm sure Neil wouldn't mind.
So good to hear from you. Thanks.
Stay warm and Merry Christmas.
Neil...this is for you, but might be fun for others to read as well. I googled 'eggnog' and this is what I found:
Eggnog! - History
Many believe that eggnog is a tradition that was brought to America from Europe. This is partially true. Eggnog is related to various milk and wine punches that had been concocted long ago in the "Old World". However, in America a new twist was put on the theme. Rum was used in the place of wine. In Colonial America, rum was commonly called "grog", so the name eggnog is likely derived from the very descriptive term for this drink, "egg-and-grog", which corrupted to egg'n'grog and soon to eggnog. At least this is one version...
Other experts would have it that the "nog" of eggnog comes from the word "noggin". A noggin was a small, wooden, carved mug. It was used to serve drinks at table in taverns (while drinks beside the fire were served in tankards). It is thought that eggnog started out as a mixture of Spanish "Sherry" and milk. The English called this concoction "Dry sack posset". It is very easy to see how an egg drink in a noggin could become eggnog.
The true story might be a mixture of the two and eggnog was originally called "egg and grog in a noggin". This was a term that required shortening if ever there was one.
With it's European roots and the availability of the ingredients, eggnog soon became a popular wintertime drink throughout Colonial America. It had much to recommend it; it was rich, spicy, and alcoholic.
In the 1820's Pierce Egan, a period author, wrote a book called "Life of London: or Days and Nights of Jerry Hawthorne and His Elegant Friend Corinthina Tom". To publicize his work Mr. Egan made up a variation of eggnog he called "Tom and Jerry". It added 1/2 oz of brandy to the basic recipe (fortifying it considerably and adding further to its popularity).
Eggnog, in the 1800s was nearly always made in large quantities and nearly always used as a social drink. It was commonly served at holiday parties and it was noted by an English visitor in 1866, "Christmas is not properly observed unless you brew egg nogg for all comers; everybody calls on everybody else; and each call is celebrated by a solemn egg-nogging...It is made cold and is drunk cold and is to be commended."
Of course, Christmas was not the only day upon which eggnog was popular. In Baltimore it was a tradition for young men to call upon all of their friends on New years day. At each of many homes the strapping fellows were offered a cup of eggnog, and so as they went they became more and more inebriated. It was quite a feat to actually finish one's rounds.
Our first President, George Washington, was quite a fan of eggnog and devised his own recipe that included rye whiskey, rum and sherry. It was reputed to be a stiff drink that only the most courageous were willing to try.
Eggnog is still a popular drink during the holidays, and its social character remains. It is hard to imagine a Christmas without a cup of the "nog" to spice up the atmosphere and lend merriment and joy to the procedings. When you try out some of the recipes on this site, remember that, like many other of our grand traditions, there is history and life behind that little frothy brew.
Thank you Sharon ! I learn so many things from you!! There is a lot there I never knew... knew dad always liked Eggnog and Tom and Jerry...but never knew all this history...Right now I am more interested in a nice Hot something than cold...some areas of the county were down to 2* this morning...way too cold for my taste.
Dear Bonnie & Tom, now that Sharon has most kindly told me what egg-nog is, well the History of it. I hear that Tom makes a rather special one, so I wondering if he would be so kind to spare a moment and send a poor Englishman the recipe and destructions how to make it!
For I would love to try it and then I could say this recipe came all the way from a very kind Gentleman in Poquoson, VA!
Checking in from work - Dearest Neil, we would be delighted to share "Eddie's Eggnog" with you! (Eddie is the bartender who gave Tom the recipe back in the 1950's when Tom was stationed in Munich). like most simple recipes the important thing is the quality and freshness of the ingredients. I hope you enjoy it as much as we and our guests have. Typically, when we have our Christmas open house parties, we go through about three or four double batches of this. Here goes:
6 eggs, separated
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 Cup of Bourbon and 1/3 Cup of Rum
3 ½ cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
Freshly grated nutmeg
Beat the egg yolks with the sugar until lemon-colored. Gradually beat in the bourbon and the rum. Chill this mixture well for up to 6 hours. When chilled (and no more than a half-hour before serving), add the milk. Just before serving, beat the egg whites into stiff peaks and gently fold into the mixture, and whip the cream and gently fold it in. We serve it in a big silver punch bowl, and our custom is to sprinkle a bit of fresh grated nutmeg over each cup as we serve it. You can sprinkle the nutmeg over it in the bowl if you prefer. We also have a bowl of salted nuts nearby. They seem to go with it very well. Please let us know how you and your guests like it!
Yours in sharing traditions,
P. S. "Poquoson" is pronounced "po-KO-sun", believe it or not.
Dear Bonnie & Tom, thank you ever so much for the recipe and destructions. I can't wait to try this! However the only Bourbon I think we can get is Jack Daniels, some of the American students who were at my University used to complain that it did not taste as good as back in the US! I do not know as I have only ever tried it once, and as someone who was brought up on Scotch it was 'Different." I shall give it a go however, for I am sure if you sent it to me, it will be good.
The Dutch have an Egg liqueur drink called Advocaat which you can buy over here in bottles, that has Brandy in it.
It seems like Tom and I have something in common, for I was stationed in Germany whilst I was in the Army, right on the I.G.B. when it was rough out there.
Sarah's firm has that horrible Air conditioning\heating in place, that starts on the bottom floor then goes through to the next floor up and continues doing this right to the top of the building.
When swine flu struck someone came in with it and of course it spread everywhere in one day, Sarah got it.
Someone came into Sarah's firm last Friday with some bug and now everyone is down with it, she kindly brought it home and so I have it now as well!
Thank you for everything, keep well.
Regards from a surprisingly mild England.
Dear Neil, you mean you can't get "Old Granddad" or "Wild Turkey" there? Oh, well, I guess Jack Daniels will have to do. It might be interesting to try it with Scotch, sometime, and see what kind of taste that gives. I certainly would not waste a beautiful single malt in eggnog. Besides, I think it would need a blended whiskey. By the way, I do love a nice single malt (neat) myself - my favorite is The Macallan.
Tom was in Germany as part of the occupation forces after WWII, in the early to mid 50's and absolutely loved being in Munich, and Bavaria in general.
I am so sorry that you and Sarah have the creeping crud - there's never a good time to get sick, but this festive time of the year is the worst! Please get well soon. If I lived closer, I'd bring you both some "Miracle Tea" (eucalyptus leaves, thyme, honey and lemon) that my dear French friend Anne-Marie told me about, and a box or two of Oscillococcinum that knocks out the flu faster than anything I have ever used. At any rate, I hope you are both healthy soon, and can try the special eggnog.
Dear Bonnie, well I have never seen the names of the Bourbons mentioned anywhere, I am maybe not looking.
You are obviously a Lady of fine taste for Macallan is indeed a quality dram, to say the least. There is so many it is hard to nail one down I could call my favourite.
Out of Irish whisky I like white 25 year old Bushmills, Scottish I like 25 year old Dalmour or the Gold malt Famous Grouse! The one every one is raving about is this Penderyn Rich Madeira - Welsh Single Malt Whisky £275.00 or in your money $445.846 a bottle, new! Which is a tad expensive, for a new Welsh Distillery.
I also like Green Bushmills which is a cheaper Irish malt. Though I might have to go on to blended after buying Sarah a new car!
My grandma was diabetic and the doctor told her she must not have this and had to stop this etc. she asked me to throw him out!
The Doctor was trying to tell me (outside the house), that I must make her see sense, she was in her nineties then.
For I must stop her from drinking her two measures of whisky a day, that is why she was upset.
She always had a whisky in her tea in a morning (called Gunfire in the Army), and a glass she took to bed with her!
Although she was blind due to her diabetes she could pour an exact measure out, and if as I once did by mistake got her the wrong whisky, you were in deep trouble.
Always had her scotch with water, and enjoyed it, always a malt!
When she was over a Hundred years old, I remember her plucking Grouse on the Glorious 12th (August), with me and cooking Dinner for the shooting party, I had been out on that as well.
Of course a few drams were consumed that night, I can tell you.
Despite what the Doctors said, she passed away in her rocking chair, with an empty glass of malt on her little table next to her, at 103 years old!
Grandma used to drink Glenmorangie, as she liked its slightly orange flavour.
Sarah likes anything, or at Christmas Drambuie!
My father is blind and diabetic and he much to the Doctors annoyance likes Islay malts, but does like most if my mother allows him!
I am not allowed all these cold cures and powders you get from the pharmacist, as it may interfere with my epilepsy medication, or so I am told.
However as Sarah and I are not in 100% health with this bug, someone kindly spread, I have just made her some Cranachan! It is unfortunately not to restaurant standards as I was not in the mood to muck about!
So I thought you I would send you a picture of it, two versions as I was a bit heavy handed with the whisky in one.
Bonnie I only used blended whisky in this.
Regards to all.
p.s. it is Hot Toddy night tonight, with some nice lemons and Kent Honey and of course a large dram!
Dear Sharon, it is eaten with a spoon! It is made from; Raspberries, thick cream, toasted oatmeal, honey and a tablespoon of whisky (or more).
It used to have a Scottish soft cheese in it, but that is difficult to get hold of, so a lot of people leave it out!
It is a true Scottish dessert dish. The proper way to serve it is to put all the ingredients separately, into large bowls and everyone helps themselves to how they like it.
Truly wonderful whether you have a bug or not!
I thought that looked like one of our favorite dishes...Ours is layers of Granola, Yogurt and honey and your choice of fruits or berries...very similar...often have this for breakfast...hm, could add the whiskey for the dessert version!
Dear Zinus, there are lots of versions of it, and indeed recipes! The Scottish Raspberries are world famous, due to the colder climate from where I live, which is about + or - 400 miles away, they have time to mature and are quite beyond belief! So with the rich cream, sweet strong heather honey, the slight tartness of the fruit, the taste of the oatmeal and of course the whisky, it is an ideal desert!
Although it is very Moorish, so it does not last long before everyone demolishes it and wants more.
So a small glass of it like I made for her indoors would not last long!
I love your description of the Christmas in Kent, Neil. You know how to describe things vividly. I am not an eggnog fan, but wouldn't nice rum work well in eggnog? Can you buy bottled pomegranate juice? I find that 2/3 mug of very hot water, 1/3 mug pomegranate juice (I buy a brand called Pom), and a goodly amount of honey stirred in helps with a cold or flu congestion. I've not made scones for a long time; you inspired me to start again.
Dear all I had seen someone asking for help on the recipe forum for Gingerbread. As I adore Gingerbread and it fits in with Sharons spice Articles, I thought I would put it on here as well.
My nephew loves making these and indeed like any seven year old eating them as well.
This is my grandmas recipe from her 1911-1921 diary.
Here is my grandmas recipe from England.
This is a very old recipe for gingerbread men, but you can make shapes (stars, trees etc), out of it but remember that if you want to hang these shapes on a Xmas tree or use as presents you must put a hole in the shape with a cocktail stick BEFORE BAKING!!!!
3ozs soft brown sugar.
2 tablespoons golden syrup. Tate & Lyle Golden syrup available on Amazon.com I am now told.
1 tablespoon black treacle.
1 table spoon water.
3 and a half ounces of butter.
1 level teaspoon cinnamon.
1 level teaspoon ground ginger or to taste, I use a bit extra.
1 pinch ground cloves.
finely grated rind of half an orange.
half teaspoon bicarbonate of soda.
About 8ozs plain flour.
two lightly greased baking sheets.
preheat oven to gas mark 4 350 F 180C.
Put sugar, syrup, black treacle, spices and orange rind in a large saucepan. Bring to the boiling point stirring all the time. Now remove pan from heat and stir in the butter, which is cut up into lumps or should be, add the bicarbonate of soda. Next stir in the flour gradually until you have a smooth manageable dough, add a little more flour if you think it needs it. Now leave the dough-covered in a cool place NOT THE FRIDGE- for 30 minutes or so. Now roll out the dough on a lightly floured board to about 1/8" thick cut into desired shapes and place in greased trays. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the biscuits feel firm when lightly pressed with fingertips. Leave to cool on the baking sheets for a few minutes then transfer them to a wire cooling rack, decorate as desired, slot ribbon through the pre-made hole to hang on trees, or as a gift\present!
Regards from a cold England.
Thank you very much! For I put this on the Recipe forum (not under my name), and people were asking what Golden syrup was and Black treacle!
Well Black treacle is not something you put on pancakes, it is used in baking, and especially Christmas cakes\puddings etc.
Whereas Golden syrup is light Golden and sweet and is put on pancakes on Shrove Tuesday with lemon juice, or Yorkshire Puddings on a Sunday.
Plus it is of course used in baking for its lovely light colour and sweetness being pure cane sugar and not to be confused with corn syrup, which i am told is different!
Black treacle is strong although sweet and is also made by Tate & Lyle, but now thanks to Sharon I know you could put dark brown sugar in the recipe.
This is good news as it does mean that I might not have to fight with a screwdriver to get the Black treacle lid off.
So that is something I have learned today!
Although my grandmas recipe was written a long time ago it still makes nice gingerbread, according to my chief taster my nephew Alfie.
I have just been watching America Today on the TV, as I thought if I watched it, then I would get a better idea of what goes on over there.
Instead I got 30 minutes of your President in Norway getting his Nobel Peace prize.
So I am no the wiser.
Neil, forgive me is this question is ridiculous, but is maple syrup used much in England? I can't recall ever seeing it mentioned. I consider it the very best syrup for pancakes, waffles, and French toast. It is also delicious as a sweetener for hot oatmeal.
Here's what is going on in the US. Congress is putting us so far in debt that we'll never get out. They seem to ignore the fact that government money comes out of the pockets of people who work for a living. I also heard yesterday that the government agency, the federal Environmental Protection Agency, wants to make all water in the country, including not only coastal waters but also every river, stream, creek, marsh, wetland, lake, pond, drainage ditch, etc., the property of the federal government so local governments, state governments, and landowners would have no control over any water at all and could be subject to huge criminal penalties. Horrifying.
Dear Dollykat, maple syrup is used over here and is much loved. However it is expensive for the proper stuff, the synthetic stuff is awful and I do not know why people buy it.
I use it once year when I smoke all the Hams for everyone, when they are nearly done I cover them in maple syrup, it makes them taste wonderful.
As we are a Nation of Gardeners, there is side shoot of this (excuse the pun), for a lot of people keep Bees, or if you have a large garden with a lot of plants for the Bees the beekeepers come round and put a Hive or Hives in your garden. So for allowing them to put their Hives on your property they give you ex amount of the Honey produced, a good system.
Scottish Heather Honey is the strongest tasting and also expensive. Our Catford Honey Hives are actually situated on an old bomb site, the Council have never found out who owns the land.
So Dave a great friend of mine, simply built a small hut and lived there, with his Bees, in fact lots of them. People are scared of Bees, so they left him alone whilst he scattered any flower seeds he could get over the land. Under English Law if you live on a piece of unclaimed land for Ten years and one day, and no one else has a legitimate claim to it, then it is legally yours!
I met him over a pint in our local pub and became friends, plus I supplied him with lots of seeds for his plantings, for the Bees!
If he wins the World Championship next year in his category for Honey he will go in the Guinness Book of Records for 15 years at the top of his class.
Dollykat there is a reason why the British eat and use a lot of Honey. For in King Henry VIII time June 1491 January 1547 someone gave the King some Honey that had sugar beet in it.
This was a way to cut down on putting the amount of real honey in it, he was not best pleased and you can imagine what happened to the culprit!
So he made it law that any English Honey must be 100% pure with no sugar or anything else in it, or the penalty was death!
On the supermarket (stores) shelves you will see runny Honey and it says from more than one Country of Origin, this means that they are allowed to put up to 80% white cane sugar in it, the rest being Honey. Not very good for you, I am afraid.
The monks have been Beekeepers since time immemorial and on the little of Island of Lindisfarne they have made Mead which is said to be the oldest Alcoholic drink in the World.
There mead is simply stunning, here is what is said about it.
St Aidan's Winery is the home of the world famous Lindisfarne Mead and Lindisfarne Preserves.
Mead has for centuries been renowned as an aphrodisiac
The word "honeymoon" is derived from the ancient Norse custom of having Newly-Weds drink Mead for a whole moon in order to increase their fertility and therefore their chances of a happy and fulfilled marriage. World famous Lindisfarne Mead is not only the connoisseur's choice but makes a supreme drink for young and old alike whatever the season. To many it is regarded the "nectar of the gods"
Of course Honey is a natural Antiseptic and was used in the first Worl War when they ran out of dressings.
Dollykat whatever a politician does i am afraid does not shock me. Our have been very quiet lately after the mass MP's Expenses scandal (just recently), where 66 have had to resign, although others have not resigned as they think it will all blow over, they are wrong.
This was started by a lady who could not believe what the MP's were claiming for and how much, so she copied it all on computer Discs and gave it to one Top Newspaper, the shock, split the House of Commons apart overnight, and the Nation was horrified. For they were claiming to have their Moats cleaned out, buying Duck houses for the Moat, two houses for their families, even down to a bath plug. It ran into untold millions of pounds for one year alone, out of taxpayers money!
So the backlash has been extreme, and is now a standing joke for everyone. As everybody asks for a bill now, so they can put it on expenses!
Dollykat, they claim they cannot live on; £86,000 wages, plus £80,000 post and for a secretary, two free houses if they live more than 25 miles from the House of Commons, free cleaners, a chauffeur driven car, subsidized meals and free lunches of course, and other benefits.
I think the thing that upset people was they banned smoking cigarettes in pubs, shops, restaurants and public places, except the House of Commons!
So it is not do as they do, it is do as they say!
I used to help make maple syrup when I was a kid in Northern Michigan. You tap the trees in spring when the sap starts to run in the maple trees. There is still deep snow on the ground so I would get around to all the trees in skiis. You get the sap spiles commercially -- at our local co-op. They are made out of white metal - aluminum or galvanized. My uncle would bore the holes with a brace and bit. Then you set the spile in place with a whack from a piece of wood. As the weather gets warmer there is more and more sap, we caught the sap in syrup pails -- maybe a gallon or gallon and one half. On a warm day the pail might fill two or three times so you had to be quite attentive to make sure the pails did not over fill. The sap goes into a huge 'horse tank' -- a big galvanized tank that the horses drink out of.
My uncle build a fire and the tank was suspended over the fire. When the sap had evaporated into syrup we took the containers over to the next county where there was a cannery. The canned the syrup into gallon tins, with a pry-off lid.
I notice now, maple syrup sells in the store for $4 for a small 12 oz bottle.
I should be a millionaire! Ive made so much maple syrup!
I wondered what those things were called, Gloria, I could only think of spouts...now I know, it's spiles. What a great memory for you. I can see that little girl you running around the trees on skis. Thanks!
Very few people (and that includes Virginians) know that there is a thriving maple industry in the western mountains of Virginia. Every March, we go up to the northwest corner of the state to the Highland Maple Festival, where we visit the sugar camps (actually, the Eagle's Sugar Camp in particular) and watch them cooking the syrup. They have the shiny modern equipment, but they always have one batch cooking over a wood fire so that people can see how it was done in the "old days". ;-) That's when we buy our yearly supply of maple syrup and maple sugar. The maple syrup we use for pancakes and oatmeal, but I use the maple sugar to make maple sugared peanuts. We have to buy the raw peanuts now that we're not growing them on our North Carolina farm (long story), but they're the big, sweet "ballpark" type peanuts that we grow in southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina, and they are delicious cooked that way. Unfortunately, almost all of the maple products that they make in western Virginia goes to Ohio and other states rather than to eastern Virginia. (Huh?). All of the maple syrup that we get in our stores here in the eastern part of the state comes from Vermont and Canada. Go figure.
Dear Gloria more like a Billionaire if you had sold it in Britain! A jar of class B grade in the Health food shop, does not say how much weight it is $27.5259.
Even a tiny bit is & £6.95 or $11.2879, food for thought.
Dear Gloria, Acer saccharum does grow over here, but is not used for extracting maple syrup out of (that I know of). More an ornamental tree, as of course it is not native here.
Honey is relatively cheap depending where you go, a pound jar in your money is anything from $2 to $4, although you get what you pay for. If you buy it in the big 5 or 10 pound tins it is a lot cheaper, and as Honey never goes off that is how many people buy it. I do as it gets used a lot, in this house.
Sugar maples in he North woods grow to about 80 ft and they are one of the biggest forest trees.
My brother lives in Ottawa, Canada and in Canada you may know that the maple tree is the emblem of Canada - but the trees were so small. I could hardly believe they were maples -- and supposedly they were full grown trees.
It may be in Northern latitudes such as England the sugar maples just don't get very big.
Dearest Gloria, I was shocked by this as In my copy of Alan Mitchells book of the Trees of Britain and Northern Europe, published in 1988, the biggest Sugar maple is in fact in Dumfries on the west coast of Scotland. In 1988 it was 113.816 feet tall! I have checked and it is still there and still growing.
That is not a bad size for somewhere so far north.
Or do you ones get bigger than 80 feet?
I think that is about the average size-- the 80 to 100 ft range. So 113 ft is conceivable for a maple tree in a good location. But on the streets of Ottawa maple trees-- supposedly mature ones -- were only about 20 ft tall.
I remember seeing oaks in England in the old Jane Ayer movies that were so huge -- much bigger than they usually grow in the U.S. But they probably were ancient trees.
Dear Gloria, thank you I just thought I would mention it as Scotland is up north to us, so that Sugar maple is doing well in the cold!
It is claimed that Robin Hoods Oak is the oldest and biggest in the UK, it measures 35 feet around its circumference, which is more than the wife.
Here is a bit about this lovely tree.
This giant tree, with a waistline of 35 ft, a height of 52 feet and weighing an estimated 23 tons, has been here for about 800-1000 years. The exact age of this magnificent tree can only be estimated. Its huge size is a clue, and yet at the same time as some oaks grow faster than others, the enormous trunk conceals the real answer.
Its large canopy, the leaves and branches, with a spread of 92 ft points to it being a tree that has grown up with little or no competition from oaks nearby. This has allowed the large branches and network of leaves to spread out. Its huge trunks forming as the tree demands food, water and structured support which increased during its continued growth, as it still does today.
However as Robin Hood was supposedly to have hid inside this monster tree, the rings can be seen. Which has led to much speculation to is it in fact one tree or in fact lots that have simply fused together. I have seen it and it is impressive, but no more than some in the wilds of the New Forest in Hampshire.
In Greenwich park where I used to work, there is a sweet chestnut that was planted by Queen Elizabeth the first 1533 1603, it is still there as so are many others as she was born there.
It too has a huge cavity in it and was turned into a jail! For anyone caught in the Royal park drunk was locked up in it. They do not use it for that anymore, but it is still an impressive sight.
Some of our Yew trees are over 2400 years old, that they know of.
Even your Giant Redwoods on our estates and parks are now massive, and beautiful, I love them for my friend in Winchester has one in his rather large garden.
Sorry Gloria i like trees.
I will have to take more pictures with my new camera, so I can you all a few of the lovely trees.
Dear Gloria, of course I did, but the children are not allowed to play it now, as Health and Safety have banned it from all schools.
Although they still play it on the street. Oh what fun!
What kind of Health and Safety Rule is that? Or, was yours the kind where they use the conkers to beat up on little girls?
I found out another shocking thing about English school boys when I was writing the native rose article: They save the hairs off the rose hips to make "itch" powder and drop it down the back of select little girls dresses. This was verified by my friend Kathy who lives in London. She had it done to her!
Ah Hah! Now we see that all kinds of male behavior had to be corrected for an English young man to be trained as an English gentleman - which all the world admires and respects.
My dearest Gloria, not only are you a most lovely Lady, but one is most amusing as well! I am how ever afraid that I missed out on the alleged offenses, so therefore have to plead not guilty on both counts.
For I went o a an all boy primary school, and a strict all boy public school. The only beating up I ever did, was on the Rugby pitch where I was the Captain, a sport watched by gentleman and the only fighting is on the pitch, not amongst the spectators. Although I do admit to have been a bit tough on the rowing team, on the odd occasion that we lost.
I fully confess to being caught in the pub when I was fifteen by my House Master. For he came in for a Cheese and onion sandwich and a glass of wine, and I was playing darts, with a pint of beer in my hand.
He was gentleman though, for after he had finished his luncheon he did come over and ask if I wanted a ride back to school, in his 1937 Bentley, one could hardly say no.
I did get six of the best in his office next morning for my misdemeanor, which did somewhat seem a bit harsh at the time, for one had to change pubs and indeed dart teams.
Other notable offenses that I do plead guilty to; after winning the World Championship at coxed fours (Rowing), a reporter who was eager to get a photo shot pushed me into the water, he claimed it was an accident, so I threw him into the water, in a fine gesture of sportsmanship and goodwill. Plus the fact that it is the cox who you throw in the water not the stroke!
Whilst the Head Gardener at Greenwich, I had to ask the Admiral (retd.), who was in charge of everything, permission to get married, which he duly granted on a from in triplicate.
So he duly took me out to the Queens room in a famous pub, where every year the they opened a cask of 1805 Brandy that was repossessed from Napoleon at the battle of Waterloo.
It was in fact a most pleasant afternoon, however when the cold air hit me on the way back to work, I did feel a bit lightheaded, I do think it was Napoleon getting his own back for liberating his Brandy off him.
However when I got back to work one of the security guards came up and asked me to see a skip lorry in (a skip is a big metal thing for dumping rubbish in), so I duly guided him to the rubbish chute. The skip lorry then picked up the skip on its chains to put it in position down the sloped ramp. I suddenly realized that there were two bollards behind it, so rushed to get them out the way, whilst behind the lorry (truck). The driver saw me and hit his brakes, the skip swung on its chains and flattened me into the fence, it hurt, quite a lot in fact.
So they took me to Hospital but let me out as i had only broken two ribs. The problem was I had organized to meet my fiance at the time for Dinner, to inform her if I had permission to marry her, and I was an hour late.
As you can imagine she was not best pleased with me, walking in smelling of Brandy an hour late. I told her what had happened and she claimed it was the lamest excuse she had ever heard. I suppose sometimes telling the exact truth does not work.
As for conkers we all liberated mothers vinegar for the soaking and roasting of them, it was supposed to make them tougher, it did not work.
I played conkers and as you know we used to count how many yours could beat, till if you were lucky you get a magic 100 conker!
A young boy was playing conkers at school not so many years ago, and his conker shattered and a bit of the skin went in his eye. Thankfully it did not do any damage, just a trip to the Hospital. So the Health & Safety people banned all conkers from every school over this incident.
I have asked my wife about the rose hip hairs and she says; when they used to gymnastics and got changed into leotards at school, the boys used to sneak into the girls changing rooms and put it in their normal underwear! I do not know anything about this as we did not have any girls at ll to practice on.
My Kindest Regards.
Neil a quick question or two for you from a previous communication?
What is your recipe for Port Sauce to go with the Goose for Christmas?
Are there any special instructions for preparing the Goose, as this will be my first one?
My dearest Trisha, how lovely to hear you are having a goose, you will not be dissapointed!
Before you roast it make sure the giblets are out of it as you need them for the sauce.
Then with some boiling hot water pour it over the skin of the breast\back\legs as this tightens the skin up and will make lovely crispy skin!
Due to the amount of fat in a Goose it cannot be cooked like a Turkey, it must be stood above the roasting tray on a rack or trivet as we call it.
It should be checked about every half an hour as the fat will drain into the tray, do not waste this as it is like Gold dust to any Chef, the finest cooking oil in the entire world.
It should be drained off and saved. It makes the best roast potatoes and parsnips you have ever tried.
The fat is so pure and can stand such a high temperature, compared with other cooking oils it is amazing. To purify it just get a big airtight jar and drain it through some muslin or an old tea towel (cotton), until it fills it. It will last up to six months in a fridge.
You will not usually burn a goose as it does not go dry, cook it at 375F, a normal 14 pound goose takes about 2 -2 1/2 hours but check it.
As with any bird do not stuff it, as if you put anything inside them it stops the heat from cooking the inside, so people keep it in the oven longer which dries anything out.
To make a gravy\port sauce! Boil the giblets with a bay leaf an onion, some carrots, celery, then strain when boiled right down into a bowl, add back to a clean pan and add some juniper berries (optional), ground black pepper and some butter then add some port (to taste). finally if it is not thick enough put a teaspoon of cornflour in a mug add a little bit of wtere then stir and stir till smooth and add to the sauce. This thickens it, stir well until ready.
If there are no giblets in it which there should be, use a chicken stock or cube.
Cover the bird once out of the oven and allow it to rest ,which is important for 15 minutes then carve and enjoy.
A 14 pound goose will normally serve 8-10 people, it is NOT like Turkey for it is a darker meat and is not dry and tastes stronger, but not relly gamey unlees it is a wild one.
Don't forget geese only eat grass and cannot be kept indoors like Turkeys so they are free range and healthy, don't waste the fat!
Happy Christmas and have a Brilliant New Year!
From an Ice and snow covered London!
Dear Gloria, I am sorry to hear that your goose came out like that!.
A bit of History, if I so dare. The reason they were much loved and official National Christmas dish, although some people eat Turkeys now is; the geese were kept by cottage gardeners as they mowed the lawns, as they eat grass, and will keep it short and tidy. Then as they are a seasonal bird they put fat on for winter which when cooked provided cooking fat for ages, which was a precious commodity. The quills were used as pens as they are the best for writing, in fact Charles Dickens wrote a Christmas Carol with one!
The down was used for quilts, as goose down is incredibly warm, and is still used.
They are also brilliant guard dogs, if you do not know what you are doing don't go near them on their territory.
Most Scotch whisky Distilleries in Scotland, have them in mass flocks, the noise and the bites they can inflict are not nice.
They went out of popularity but have now come back as people have realised that they are a natural thing, you cannot try to farm them, or indeed feed them chemicals or anything else, they are happy with grass, for that is their natural food.
Unlike Chickens or Turkeys it is impossible to raise them in sheds, barns etc, they must be free range, and even the most stupid Fox would not come up against a flock of them.
Like a swan, they if annoyed, have the power to break a mans arm with their wings!
I have seen it happen when I worked for the Wildfowl & Wetland Trust, although it was a big goose it was a bit upset at being caught to ring it, and then we let them go. You really must know how to handle such a powerful thing, never underestimated them.
Sorry about more useless information, I am always doing this!
It is freezing here 2500 people trapped in the Channel tunnel, as the trains froze.
Keep warm and safe.
Thank you so much Neil...we are all getting quite excited, in spite of the expense ! And in addition to your wonderful cooking information I enjoy the bits of history and other information you share with us. I think it quite sad if a day goes by when we don't learn something new.
The trains in the tunnel were on the news here...don't know if I would have fared well in that situation being a tiny bit claustrophobic and having too vivid an imagination.
My dearest Gloria, it is something to look forward to and a wonderful thing. A few things I forgot which come naturally to me. When you pour boiling water on it, make sure it is dry before you put it on a rack, as you want to roast it not boil or steam it! If it is not browning on the skin turn the oven up after about 2 hours, this depends on weight, of course!
Do not salt the skin as that will ruin the precious oil/fat.
I do not know if you have sweet chestnuts in the US, but if so you can make separately a chestnut stuffing quite simply.
Just use 40% chestnuts 40% breadcrumbs, chopped onion and a touch of sage. Then add some boiling water a bit at a time till it is swells up. Whilst still hot add butter, salt and ground black pepper and stir well. You can of course add other herbs if you do not like sage or would like a combination.
When it is nice and very moist place in an ovenproof dish put knobs of butter on top, then cook in the bottom of the oven for 40-45 minutes.
You can add cranberries to this but we add bilberries if we have any frozen ones left from the moors.
If you can't get chestnuts just make a normal sage & onion stuffing, although you can use chestnut puree if you can get it.
I can see no problems, unless you try to cook it for too long!
With a skewer or a very sharp knife puncture the thickest part of the thigh in the leg, if the juices runs clear it is cooked!
Make sure it is brown, covered and left to rest beore you attempt to serve it, this allows all the juices to go back into the meat, and is critical.
I do hope you love it as much as we do, personally I don't think you will be disappointed.
Do me a favour don't get up early to cook it as you would a turkey, it does not need that, and let me know how how you got on.
Hands across the ocean!
Regards from a totally Ice bound London.
p.s if the Atalantic is frozen I might walk over there, I have done worse!
Dear Sharon, I will try not to hit an iceberg, if I can help it.
However you must promise that if I make you an English cream Tea, with loads of warm scones, jam, cream and all the luscious bits that go with it, including gorgeous tea, you will at least try it?
p.s. or a good old fashioned Lobster with a healthy salad, as well!
Well as healthy as the English can make it!
Oh yes. We do have chestnuts. The big American chestnut trees, though are gone. Mostly in the stores there are Chinese chestnuts. Some breeders are trying hybrids of the American chestnut, but we only have the trees so far, not the chestnuts in the markets.
I do hope the people are out of the channel tunnel by now. What a terrible catrastrophe for the Christmas season.
I doubt if I will be cooking goose again, since I am now vegetarian. But it would be nice to have some for watch dog/ geese and to keep the place mowed down. We have peacocks next door which serve as alarm clocks. We have peacock vocalizations instead of a rooster crowing.
Dear Sharon, glad you agree about my photo I sent you! I had always wished to see one in the wild, and in the Himalayas I did from a great distance as they are very secretive and stunningly beautiful! A dream come true for I love Tigers as well, and have seen them in the wild, awesome sight!
However as I know that you now do like shellfish and seafood, that puts a whole new perspecticve on things, for the UK is only 866 miles long, yes as the crow flies is from Lands End to John o'Groats, that all it is.
So we are never far from the sea, to get to the sea from where we live is 48 miles ( I know I walked it for charity), so there is a multitude of seafood and shellfish.
Our crabs are simply beautiful, and Chefs from other Countries rave over them for their sweetness and taste, I am a bit partial myself.
We have a place called Lulworth cove, it is a sea inlet and is a wonderful place to go to. It used to be used by smugglers, but now by the fishermen.
They have a pub that is famous as it is very old, and made into the cliff face overlooking the cove. The water is clear and at low tide you can walk out in the sea for as far as you dare as it only gets up to your waist (no skinny dipping). The fishermen catch these huge crabs and sell them to the pub, which then cook them straight away and serve them with a lovely salad and warm home cooked bread. If you can get a window seat so you can see the cove that is a treat made in heaven, they do Lobsters as well and big prawns on a charcoal grill, unbelievable.
As they know you have to drive there they do a non alcoholic pear drink for the drivers free of charge, it is well just the best, and I love it.
When my mother was ill with a smashed disc in her back, I was sent to live down there with my Uncle as he was in the Army as well. We used to fish for Mackerel from the beach as there are so many of them. My Auntie used to collect the driftwood and make a fire, so she used to to cook them instantly over the wood on a little spit we had. Straight out of the sea straight on to the fire, oh memories like that you never forget, or indeed the taste.
p.s. I am hungry now might have to raid the fridge!
Cook the Broccoli and make a cheese sauce, pour over the top and put in the oven with some nutmeg and black pepper.
Leave till the cheese goes slightly brown and serve, with some crusty bread!