This is where I note my efforts as I try to recreate some old recipes. Most are taken from my small collection of handwritten recipe books which date from the late 1700's to around 1922. I also have a collection of old tatty old recipe books, well thumbed and heavily splashed from years of use. I love them all!

The old-fashioned very stylised handwriting writing is sometimes difficult to decipher, measurements and cooking instructions are minimal, no tin sizes given. Luckily I enjoy a challenge. Just to complicate things I cook and bake on my wood-fired Rayburn, which can be... unpredictable.

I suspect this blog is less about the food and more about my passion for these lovely old books and the wonderful women who wrote them.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Duck Egg Sponge Cake

I was given a dish of duck eggs and decided to take the opportunity to try them out in some baking.  I had heard that they make wonderful sponge cake.

My mother used to love duck eggs and would eagerly seek them out, although she preferred to eat hers fried.

The first surprise I got was when I cracked the shell open, though I shouldn't have been surprised really, had I given it more thought.   The shell was almost bouncy and felt exactly as I had always imagined a turtle egg, more tough parchment than shell.

The second surprise was the smell, completely unlike that of our own hens' eggs.   Obviously they were larger, too.    The yolk was the same colour as the rich yolks which our girls produce on their diet of free-range pecking, hen food, grain and spinach (which they adore).

I followed a very basic recipe for a Victoria Sponge cake but baked it for longer as the resulting batter was rather greater in volume.

Once cooled, I sandwiched it together with some strawberry conserve which I made last week.

The sponge was so different from a regular sponge.  Definitely fluffier, very moist, and something I cannot quite explain.  Max loves it.   It has become his new favourite cake, but then Max really likes cake.

So that is teatime sorted out.

Home grown strawberries made into strawberry conserve and freeby eggs made into a moist and delicious cake.   Simple, delicious, frugal, low food miles.  Shame about the calories!

Thursday, 21 July 2016

The Village Show

It is that time of year again.    Time for the Little Bunting Village Show.   Last year we were told that there wouldn't be another show.    Not many people paid attention.

Until now.  I have written a post about it on Felicity at Parsonage Cottage.

Suddenly things have changed, a show is to be organised (in 4 short weeks) for the middle of August.   Eeeek! on all fronts.   Shall we be able to pull this off, can we possibly achieve in 4 weeks that which normally takes at least a six month run-up?

Of course we can, although it may not quite be as slick as the normal production.

It does mean that I shall have to hand back my 'Best in Show' for cookery, plaque.  Dash it!

On the plus side, it means that we all get to try again and share some laughter along the way.

Long live the Village Show!

Tried and tested or new bread recipes need to be perfected.

Scones was always a hotly contested class, although I don't think they used that category last year, which is a shame.

Cakes, cordials, jams and biscuits - and let's not forget the flowers and produce, arts and crafts, photography.

Fun for all.

Hard work for a few.

Monday, 4 July 2016

A Birthday Cake for Max

Last week I bought a punnet of gooseberries then quite forgot about them until this afternoon when I found them in the back of the salad drawer.    Mmmmn.   Well we have been busy working down at Cowslip Cottage, trying to get it finished in time for the return of Miles and Poppy, our son and daughter in law.    They fly in from Shanghai next week, along with their beautiful cat, Boy.

He is an indoor cat so once he gets used to being in England and living in Cowslip Cottage, he is going to enjoy watching these handsome animals in the parkland beyond the back gate.

He'll also enjoy watching the rabbits, squirrels and birds which visit the gardens.    Life is about to become very exciting for him.

Back to the gooseberries.   I decided to experiment, after all, Max loves the rhubarb and custard cakes which I made earlier in the year, so i reckoned it was worth swapping out the rhubarb for the equally tart gooseberries.

I originally posted about the rhubarb and custard cake here just substitute gooseberries for rhubarb.

I made it in the same way, baked it for the same amount of time, and then let it cool in the tin.   By the time Max came home from the cottage it had cooled and was ready to serve, with a scoop of really good vanilla ice cream, although it would work equally well with a drizzle of cream, creme fraiche, Greek yogurt or yet more custard.

It was declared a total success.    I'm delighted, that is puddings sorted out for this week.

Happy Birthday Max!