Home Made, Home Grown, Home Crafted

The Proof of the Pudding is in the Eating

October 2, 2017

After watching a recent episode of The Great British Bake Off I started thinking about some of my favourite puddings and desserts and wondering what the difference is. 

For me, pudding should be hot and served with custard but it mustn’t be so filling that I regret eating it. 

A dessert on the other hand brings to mind an equally lovely treat – I’m thinking of profiteroles or cheesecake where cream plays a leading role. 

There are several words to describe the course so many of us look forward to at the end of a meal. 

In the Midlands the question ‘what’s for sweet’ was usually heard  half way through dinner (lunch if you’re from down South). ‘Afters’ was the word favoured in the North of England. 

The terms dessert and pudding were used by our friends in the South - or if we wanted to sound a bit posh. Traditionally we might describe pudding as something we cook at home and dessert as a course ordered in a restaurant but times are changing. The ‘Pudding Menu’ in pubs and restaurants nowadays lists favourites such as treacle tart, spotted dick, sticky toffee pudding and jam roly-poly.

Our modern use of the term pudding has evolved since the nineteenth century when sugar and flour became more widely available and puddings took on their modern form. For many centuries before, most puddings were savoury and served as a main course. They often consisted of a mixture of meat, vegetables and spices encased within animal skins or a cloth bag before being boiled to set the contents. Haggis is an example that we’re still familiar with and methods for making it can be traced back to the Romans. 

The Victorians were famously fond of puddings; a pudding on the table was considered to be a common denominator within society. The arrival of gas ovens in the 1890’s led to an increase in the variety of puddings that could be baked at home. Increasing mechanisation outside the home meant family favourites could be produced on a large scale. It’s unlikely the Victorians could have imagined how successful mass production would become. Last year supermarket demand for hot desserts such as tarts and sponge puddings rose by 10%, producing an increase in sales of £2.6m according to analysts at Kantar Worldpanel.

At this time of the year when there’s a nip in the air and the evenings are getting darker the thought of a proper pudding is very appealing. 

For a special treat why not follow this recipe and make your own custard – it’s really well worth the effort: 

4 egg yolks
50g caster sugar
1 vanilla pod, split
300 ml double cream
300 ml milk

Scrape the inside of the vanilla pod and put it into a saucepan with the cream and milk.

Slowly bring to the boil, then remove from the heat. 

Beat the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl until well blended.

Pour the cream and milk into the egg mixture and stir thoroughly.

Return the mixture to the saucepan, place on a gentle heat and stir continuously until it begins to thicken then remove from the heat.

Don't let it boil or the custard will split.

The result of a little poll among BCM Producers put sticky toffee pudding at the top of their list of favourites so we’ll have this and other puddings such as fruit crumble, apple pie and bread and butter pudding on sale at the next Market on Saturday 7th October. 

Come along and try some of our puddings before deciding on your favourite!

The Joy of Afternoon Tea

June 26, 2017

The ritual of Afternoon Tea has seen a resurgence in recent years and as far as I’m concerned this is a cause for celebration.

Afternoon Tea dates back to the mid nineteenth century when Anna, 7th Duchess of Bedford asked for a tray of tea and cakes to be brought to her room to stave off the ‘sinking feeling’ she experienced in the long interval between lunch and dinner. She enjoyed it so much that she invited friends to join her and a new social event began. As the century rolled on aft...

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Gardener's Diary: May

May 2, 2017
This time of the gardening year has a rhythm all of its own.  

Tasks need doing in a set order to ensure everything is ready to be planted out or sown at the right time.  

Then of course the weather intervenes and puts plans awry.  

The warm early spring caused many of the spring crops to run to seed, then the very cold weather has brought an abrupt halt to any ideas of planting out all but the hardiest plants.  

I will be starting to harden off tomatoes, peppers, corn, beans and aubergines and f...

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Gardener's Diary: April

March 26, 2017
As I write at the end of March it is definitely not going out like a lamb!  

Today has been cold and there have been high winds and heavy downpours of rain. 

Frosts have been forecast and this serves as a warning to those of us gardeners who have been tempted to start sowing and planting out too early. The odd day of beautiful sunshine, the welcome appearance of spring flowers and blossom as well as the unwelcome appearance of weeds can trap the unwary.  

The last average frost date for our area...

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March On

February 26, 2017
March is a belter of a month.

Full of promise, it heralds the arrival of spring and the season of renewal and growth.

The name comes from the Latin Martius, the first month of the ancient Roman year, which was dedicated to Mars, the Roman god of war.

Strong and fearsome, Mars was also a great defender and protector. People prayed to him to keep storms, disease and famine at bay and promote bountiful crops, animals and farms. 

This association with battle and struggle fits well with the English pr...

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Love is in the Air

January 29, 2017

The hopeless romantics out there will have only one thing on their mind this month.
Valentine’s Day is on 14th February and they’ll be hatching plans to express undying love for their significant other. 
A good start would be twelve red roses, the favourite flower of Venus, the goddess of Love, followed maybe by a candle-lit dinner.
A card is important.  Chocolates are a must. 
A full wallet will get you a long way too. Apparently, we lovesick Brits spend around £1.6 billion on Valentine...

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Cold Comfort

January 2, 2017

January is generally the coldest month of the year in London.  

Coming so soon after Christmas, it can be a bleak and uninspiring time.

But, if you think it gets cold now, it’s nothing to how it once was.  In days gone by, it was quite common for the Thames to freeze over.

The years between 1309 and 1814 were known as the Little Ice Age and the Thames iced over at least 23 times!  

The river was wider then and flowed a lot slower.  Blocks of ice would catch in the narrow arches of the Old Londo...

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May All Your Christmases Be White

November 24, 2016
Are you dreaming of a White Christmas?

Just like the ones you used to know?

Let's face it, the odds on this happening in London are pretty bad. But that won't stop people who enjoy a flutter taking a punt on it.

All it takes, according to the Met Office, is one single snowflake to fall during the 24 hours of Christmas Day.  

The last time a “bookies'” event was triggered in London was 1999 when, literally, a few wet flakes fell from the sky. Very disappointing. 

There's something about a white...

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Turn Back the Clock

October 27, 2016
Come the 30th of October this year British Summer Time will end. The clocks go back an hour and we’ll be coming home from work in the dark.

We weren’t the first to introduce daylight saving hours but it probably wouldn’t have happened without the campaigning of a builder from Kent called William Willett. 

He thought it a defect in our civilisation that for nearly half the year the nation slept while the sun shone for several hours each day. 

Rather than get up earlier, he proposed to advan...

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Goodbye Summer Hello Autumn

September 26, 2016

Like it or not, it’s now autumn!

Whether you measure the start like the weathermen from 1st September or astrologically from the autumn equinox, which fell on the 22nd September this year, there’s no denying it.  The nights are drawing in.  The air is cooler.  And damper.  As John Keats famously put it, the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness is upon us.

After the wet spring, the summer ended well.  September just kept giving with sensational temperatures.  If this continues the autumn ...

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