Monday, December 29, 2008

Bell Tea Company

What a delightful website for Bell Tea Company here in New Zealand, it appeals to me. They seem to have been in business a long while. Are they well known in New Zealand? Maybe some New Zealand readers can let me know.

Lil Bit Brit and Teatime Musing

Well I've been playing around and came up with this new header, using many photos you have seen in my Lil Bit Brit Blog. I pulled out photos which I thought fitted Teatime Musing. Views of distant relatives in far away places. A teatime picnic and tea at the railway restaurant in New Zealand. Along with some views from my home.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Pudding Power

I was under the misconception that if I scanned these pages in they would be legible, but if you double click on them you can read the recipes clearly. I just wanted to share with you some of the puddings that I grew up with. Spotted Dick, Summer Pudding and Golden Syrup Pudding. Spotted Dick was always on the school dinner menu and Golden Syrup Pudding was something my mum made and we loved. If you've ever tried Golden Syrup, there is no substitute for it.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A Slice of Organic Life, By Sheherazade Goldsmith

I have to comment on this book. I love it. It covers so many different topics. It's published by DK and I always seem drawn to their books, especially the photography.

There are projects for everyone, however big or small your endeavor is to live organically. Take a look at it. And if you'd like to purchase it, you may find it through Lil Bit Brit Book Shop at Amazon.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Medieval Britain and The Tudors

'Newe Conceytes'

Cookes with theire newe conceytes, choppynge, stampynge and gryndynge

Many new curries alle day they ar contryvynge - John Russell

1066 changed not only the politics and the language of Britain, but the very face of authority, now clean-shaven.

Ale barm was so vital that is was sometimes know as godisgoode.

In the twelfth century, a pound of pepper cost the equivalent to two or three weeks land labour.

Peacocks were used as center pieces, more for display than taste, as many said the meat was stringy. To emphasise social power through magnificent display; more than a hundred of them were presented at the installation feast for Archbishop Nevill of York in 1467.

Saffron was a costly statement, with more than 50,000 hand-harvested crocus flowers needed for each pound of dried stamens. The fields around Saffron Walden in Essex must have been a mirage of colour.

By Chaucer's time a sucking pig bought blind at market in a closed bag was already know as 'a pig in a poke' - or a shot in the dark, since its quality could not be inspected.

The old term messe for 'a dish' remains in the mess halls of the army and the expression to 'mess food about'.

Scullions might have made their beds on the kitchen floor, but these rooms cooled fast and Norman laws ruled that all embers had to be covered at night with 'couvre feus, or curfews'.

Stiff quince pasted, originally know as charedequynce, were the first marmalades - marmelo is Portuguese for 'quince'.

Usually the narrow trestles, used for tables, or boards (from which comes 'boarding school', 'board wages', 'bed and board') were set up as dinner approached in the hall.

Russell's Book of Nurture advised that it was considered rude to put your elbows on the table, and this was over 600 years ago.

The Dissolution of the Monasteries changed at a stroke the way the countryside looked and the rules according to which people ate. The monks, their masses and their fish-ponds disappeared. Eating fish became so associated with Catholicism that one would rather not eat fish and keep in favour with the new Protestant faith, eating fish went into a steep decline. Considering Britain is an island eating fish from then on was not a big part of the British diet.

In 1525 turkey was introduced from the colonies in America, fabulously expensive, they were sold for 6 shillings a piece.

The original term for grilling was broiling - the term that survives, like pumpkin pie, in most of the United States to this day.

Wafers were puffed up with yeast in the Flemish fashion, and biscuits - from bis cuit, or 'twice cooked'.

I have to tell you about this, a Frenchman complimenting British cooking. The quintessentially British boiled pudding was born, spawning a repertoire of dishes that would lead the French visitor Henri Misson to exclaim in delight,

"the pudding is a dish very difficult to be described, because of the several sorts there are of it: flour, milk, eggs, butter, sugar, suet, marrow, raisins etc are the most common ingredients ... They make them fifty several ways: Blessed be he that invented pudding for it is manna that hits the palates of all sorts of people ... Ah what an excellent thing is an English pudding! In Scotland they were called 'bag puddings' or 'clootie dumplings'. The earliest written record of a pudding boiled in a cloth comes from Cambridge in 1617 in a recipe for 'College Pudding' made of flour, breadcrumbs, suet, dried fruit, sugar and eggs.

It was a practice that in Yorkshire led quickly to the expression 'them as has most pudding can have most meat' and that continued right into the nineteenth century: in Mrs Gaskell's novel Cranford (1853) Mr. Holbrook served the 'pudding before meat' with no 'apology for his old-fashioned ways...'

I grew up eating pudding, but have never made it over here. I did run across a Boiled Pudding book in the dollar store, so really should have a go this winter. It is more a winter, stick to your ribs food.

By the 1690's tansies had metamorphosed from pancake to pudding and within a generation that most British of all puddings, Yorkshire, would appear for the first time a batter of milk, eggs, salt and flour poured into the hot fat of the dripping pan under roasting meat.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Kate Greenaway, Tea at High House

This was one of my grandmother's favourite paintings. It's by Kate Greenaway . When I was a teenager she sent me a card with this painting and said Tea at High House.

Grandma grew up at High House and she just loved it. The house is still there with the same name. It sits up high on a hill. Either side of the front door are bay windows that go from ground to roof, two stories. So I can just imagine grandma having tea on the lawn like this.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Taste, The Raider Centuries

I'm enjoying this book Taste and wanted to share some more with you, now we are into the next era of Brit history in eating.

The Raider Centuries.

This is the time period when the Roman Empire was crumbling in Britain, by 347 A.D. raiders were already making incursions from across the North Sea, followed by Scottish Picts and Irish Gaels. Taking advantage of the Romans' withdrawal of troops back into their crumbling Empire.

At this time spoons were used of metal, bone, horn and mostly wood. The Old English word for wood is - spon, which means a splinter of wood.

It was at this time, outside the male dominated world of the hall, that many people were foraging for food, deprivation was there and much of the population was undernourished. The Old English word for 'to die' is steorfan. At this time it had not evolved into the word we use, 'starvation'.

Bread was the staple of the poor, the darker and coarser it was, the lower you were on the social scale. It was to them the staff of life. From the Old English we have such words blaford - the lord, literally the bread guardian or bread-winner, blafdige - the lady, was the bread-maker and dependants, blafaeta - the bread eaters.

In honour of Eastre, the goddess of spring which is where we get the word Easter, bread dough would be studded with dried fruits and baked into small loaves, as Christianity spread they added a cross to the bun and christianized what was a pagan custom and made them Hot Cross Buns.

In summertime they would soak bread in the juice of wild berries, this is the origen of Summer Pudding. I was going to give you a recipe for Summer Pudding, when on the very next day I saw that tiny happy had posted one so this is her Summer Pudding.

Anglo Saxon times was when much loved crumpets came into Brit cooking. Made from a thick yeast batter dolloped on to a hot, flat pan and cooked until the air bubbles rose, making holes at the top.
Haggis, made from chopped up organs, including, oatmeal and herbs, this term may have derived from the Viking word hagga, meaning to hack.

Introduced during this time were walnuts, which take their name from wealh, meaning 'foreign lands'.

In small houses it was the women who cooked, but in the great kitchens of noblemen, only men had the strength to lift the enormous equipment. The Old English word for 'cook', cok , is a masculine noun.

To know why we say, what we say, and why we eat, what we eat, gives depth to who we are.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Taste, The Story of Britain Through Its Cooking, By Kate Colquhoun

This book is just fascinating with a wealth of information. It starts at with pre-Roman times , through the Roman occupation of Britain and continues right up to the present day. Describing the different foods eaten, and how they fit into the culture of the time.

Something that I find interesting is the derivation of words and phrases, so I thought I'd share some of these with you as I read through the years of British cooking history.

Roman Britain

This mosaic, from Chedworth Villa, illustrates how the British and Roman cultures integrated. The character is depicted as Winter wearing a typically British hooded cloak (birrus) and carrying a brown hare introduced to Britain by the Romans. The bare tree is a symbol of Winter.

Some believe that the routes of the imperial army through the south of England can be traced by following the white blossom of the wild cherry trees, distant descendants of the saplings that sprang up wherever the soldiers spat out stones as they marched.

Dinner or cena, taken at twilight, was abundant, often in the form of a convivium, or dinner party,that oiled the wheels of commerce, politics and friendship. The word convivial must originate from this word convivium.

Apicius wrote down many recipes. The first word of each of his culinary instructions gives us the noun that we use to this day, for recipe was the Latin word for 'take'.

Winter stores of food were crucial and salt preserved them. Salt was so valuable that it could form a part of a man's pay or taxes - his salary - so important that an inadequate man would be labelled 'not worth his salt'.

You will see this book in my Lil Bit Brit book store. Where you will find books that I've enjoyed and would recommend.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Perfect Kitchen Range

Growing up as a child we always had a Rayburn . This is like the Rayburn we had, this model is the 1946 one. It's richer brother is the Aga . Ours used coal. With an oven on the other side and heated the water, plus you could run one radiator off it. Over the years we had three. Mum and dad had one in their last little thatched cottage, that one was in their sitting room, in the big old open fireplace.

Mum always had a kettle of water simmering on the side, so a cup of tea was almost instant. It was the center of our home and brought comfort on a cold winter day

Sunrise, Sunset in Blogland

Teatime Musing

Teatime is a nick name of mine that was given to me when I first came to the States. So I thought it was a
good name for my new Blog.
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