Tag Archives: custard

It’s all turned to custard….. remix

From Time by Ursula Bethell

“……….

Those that come after me will gather these roses,
And watch, as I do now, the white wistaria
Burst, in the sunshine, from its pale green sheath.

Planned. Planted. Established. Then neglected,
Till at last the loiterer by the gate will wonder
At the old, old cottage, the old wooden cottage,
And say ‘One might build here, the view is glorious;
This must have been a pretty garden once.”

[Warning! Post 301: some maudlin thoughts involved.]

Some months back, Seth of  Sethsnap asked this question, What “sound”(i.e. legacy) do you hope to leave?

It’s an intriguing question but certainly not new, for it belongs to the ages.  It is also not an easy one to answer. One of the hardest, I am guessing. Yet, assuredly, it will call to each of us, at some stage, in our life’s journey.  Will you be ready to reply? I have only the merest tinkle of a response running through my mind.

Here is  what I am hearing ~

For some, like Seth, their legacy may be in their  photography. For others, like   Sophia (teamgloria) or Juliet or  Vickie or  Helen (Tiny), their legacy may reside in their books; in their written/spoken words. Yet others, like Lynley and Kerry, may leave us, and their families, the richness of heirloom garments and quilting. Still others, like Lisa, may bequeath us their creative art and special ‘thank you’ smiles. Legacies exist in a myriad different forms.

Just as each of us has our own instantly recognisable swish of sound ( the one the dog hears, the cat knows and your loved ones sense  as you try to creep upstairs in the dark of night), so, too, do we each have a legacy that is only ours to give. It may be intended and specifically chosen, or it may be accidental and unplanned, but we all have our unique envoys/legacies that will carry us forward into the millennia in some form or other.

Since I am unlikely to leave a legacy of beautiful poems, as did  Ursula Bethell, or a treasured  Writer’s Residency  in my name,  I may have to settle for something more modest  ( though, potentially,  equally valid ); something like Everyday Kindness; the kind espoused by  Stephanie Dowrick , in her book of that name.Everyday Giving

Wouldn’t that be a lovely legacy? ” Here lies Gallivanta~ known for her everyday kindness, (especially to caterpillars 😉 ). “  Mmmmmm…. though carved in stone,  a little ephemeral, perhaps? But I like it.

I also like the slightly more tangible legacy opportunities given to us by archives. In November 2013 Ruth mentioned, in this  post ,  her Deed of Gift to the Canterbury CEISMIC  project.   I thought this was a wonderful idea and, after making some enquiries, discovered that some of my blog posts were suitable for gifting too.  Just prior to Christmas, and after much hard work by CEISMIC staff, my work was uploaded to the digital archives. And I received this letter

Legacy in a letter

Legacy in a letter

from the University of Canterbury CEISMIC Co-ordinator.

To say that I was thrilled barely scratches the surface of my feelings. I was moved to tears, and beyond tears, that my experiences, my life mattered; that someday it might, just possibly might, matter to someone else. And not because I did anything great and famous, but simply because I existed, and I let my existence be heard.

Now, although, I was lachrymose in the extreme, on account of  this one small legacy of mine, I did have to laugh, once I had wiped away my tears.  Because one unintentional legacy from my digital whisper, (not footprint, please, my imprint is  more delicate than that ), is that if,  in years to come, someone looks more closely in to my archives they will find that, of all my posts , the one which receives the most views, on a regular basis, is this one, “It’s all turned to custard”.

I find that very funny. And, as a legacy, even funnier; ” Here lies Gallivanta whose life all turned to custard.”  Considering how much I love custard that could be a good thing. Or not. But to return to  Seth’s question, “What sound (i.e. legacy ) do you hope to leave?”. Perhaps part of the answer, in my case, will have to be  ‘Custard’.[ Just for fun…google “It’s all turned to custard” and see what you find…..bet I am near the top of the page! ]

By the way, what sound does custard make? ;).

creamy

Favourite creamy custard

Envoy
Vitae summa brevis spem nos vetat incohare longam 

They are not long, the weeping and the laughter,  
    Love and desire and hate:  
I think they have no portion in us after  
    We pass the gate.  

They are not long, the days of wine and roses:  
    Out of a misty dream  
Our path emerges for a while, then closes  
    Within a dream.  

[The title translates, from the Latin, as  
'The brief sum of life forbids us the hope of enduring long' 
and is from a work by Horace] 
Ernest Dowson 1867 -1900 http://worlds-poetry.com/ernest_dowson/vitae_summa_brevis_spem_nos_vetat_in
```````

© silkannthreades

Light-hearted

My previous  post was, on the whole, written in a sombre tone. I don’t like to dwell too long in darker spaces so, today, I want to lighten the mood and switch, in a rather mercurial fashion, to a relatively light and fluffy topic….. Spanish Cream……a favourite dessert, from yester year, which is probably no more Spanish than Canadian War Cake is particularly Canadian. Or French fries, truly French.

This is Spanish Cream

Spanish Cream

Spanish Cream

I am not sure how old-fashioned a dish is Spanish Cream ( Google and Wiki are unhelpful in this regard) but I first encountered the creamy, silky-smooth, mousse-y deliciousness of this jellied  custard when I was at boarding school; decades ago!  It was one of the few items on the boarding school menu to which I looked forward.

This is the recipe  I use. It is from my very old Edmonds recipe book.

Old recipe in an old book

Old recipe in an old book

As with most of my recipes, this one is very easy to make. How easy is illustrated by the young man in the embedded video. Although  his method is slightly more carefree than mine, I love his relaxed approach!

And, there, you have it. Ready to eat , either on its own, or with any fruit of your choice. I prefer slightly sharp-flavoured fruit, like rhubarb or berries, to complement the sweetness of  the Cream.

Sweet and simple

Sweet and simple

Now, although I adore Spanish Cream, made to the original recipe, I am sure it  would work extremely well, (and would be better for me and kinder to the world), if it were made  using a vegetarian setting agent and coconut milk/cream or almond milk .  I have yet to try making a vegetarian alternative but thinking about doing so makes me realise that, in our rush to industrialize/ rationalise/commercialize food production,  we have condensed the fascinating art of jelly making to a convenience food that comes in a small packet of garishly coloured crystals . For much of history,  a banquet (think Henry VIII) was no such thing unless it came with elaborate jellies, and, in Victorian times, every well-dressed table required a jelly, to be considered properly presented. And even the more humble home table, with Northern English or Scottish origins,  may, long ago, have enjoyed  a simple type of jelly or flummery called Sowens, which was  made from strained oatmeal.  For more on the history of Jellies and Creams, take a look at this fascinating site http://www.historicfood.com/Jellies.htm

Then, come back here and enjoy a few more moments of light-hearted fluff.

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© silkannthreades

Rhubarb Rhubarb

In my previous post, I mentioned eating rhubarb compote with my rice bread. https://silkannthreades.wordpress.com/2013/09/10/rice-bread-and-blossom/ The rhubarb was fresh, young, spring rhubarb  from my garden. And the very first rhubarb I have  grown.

The growing season before last,  a good friend gave me a corm from her beautiful, bountiful rhubarb plant.  I planted it in a big, blue pot in sweet spot near my back door and let it be, as one should, for its first season.

Big Blue Pot of Rhubarb

Big Blue Pot of Rhubarb

This past weekend, I noticed that a few stalks on the rhubarb were ready for picking; only just ready, but I was so anxious to try my own home-grown rhubarb that  I couldn’t leave them on the plant any longer. I harvested a few stalks,

Spring Rhubarb

Spring Rhubarb

cooked them the merest amount( and even that was too much because the stalks were so tender!); added some sugar and there it was …..rhubarb compote, (aka stewed rhubarb 🙂 ), to be tasted one careful teaspoon at a time. Delicious, if over-mushed.

Rhubarb compote

Rhubarb compote

Now for a few fun facts about rhubarb.

Rhubarb is a vegetable. It’s true. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhubarb

Rhubarb is the word actors utter repeatedly and  softly to emulate background conversation. Its use is “Attributed to the practice by Charles Kean‘s theatre company c1852 at Princess Theatre, London of actors supposed to be talking together inaudibly, repetitively saying the word rhubarb, which was chosen because it does not have any harsh-sounding consonants or clear vowels. http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/rhubarb

Rhubarb is the title of a 1969 film by Eric Sykes where the only word used is Rhubarb. The film was remade in to a short television comedy in 1980 called Rhubarb Rhubarb.

So there you have it. Who knew a spring vegetable in a blue pot could be so much fun?

Rhubarb  Rhubarb

CUSTARD (what actors say when they are bored with Rhubarb 🙂 )

CUSTARD

CUSTARD

© silkannthreades

Recipe, as promised

Substantial

Spicy Lentil Soup

As promised, in my previous post, here is my recipe for Spicy Lentil Soup:

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter or oil in a large, heavy duty saucepan. Add one onion, one carrot and one stalk of celery,  all coarsely chopped. Add one clove of garlic, peeled but whole. Stir. Then let these ingredients ‘sweat’, or gently cook, with a lid on the saucepan, for as long as you can be patient.  Do not let the mixture burn or brown. I sometimes let my ingredients ‘sweat’ for about 15 to 20 minutes because the longer I leave the carrot, onion and celery and garlic, the sweeter the soup will be.  Remove lid and add 1 teaspoon of curry powder, 1/4 tsp of chilli powder and one dried, red chilli.  Stir for a minute.  At this stage, I add 3 or 4 slices of bacon*, chopped in to large pieces. Stir and cover for another minute.  Then add one cup of washed, red lentils. I stir and cover for a few seconds whilst I open a 400gm tin of crushed tomatoes in juice. In go the tomatoes, another stir and cover, and a few more minutes to allow the lentils to be coated with the tomatoes etc.  Lastly add 4 cups  of liquid stock and half a cup of bulghur wheat* . I use chicken stock made from stock powder or cubes. Add salt to taste. I  use  a teaspoon of salt.  Simmer covered, on very low heat, until the lentils and vegetables are soft; usually about 30 to 40 minutes. Once cooked, remove the slices of bacon and blend the soup till smooth. (Remove the whole chilli too, unless you want a really spicy soup!) Chop the cooked bacon into smaller pieces and use for garnish, along with some chopped parsley.

* I haven’t tried to make this soup without bacon but I am sure it could be made without.

* The bulghur wheat is optional but it does make the soup superbly thick.

My spicy lentil soup is adapted from the Spicy Lentil Soup recipe  in Edmonds Cookery Book, 45th Deluxe Edition, 1999.P1020772The first Edmonds Cookery Book was published in 1908 by young Mr Thomas J Edmonds who had established a thriving business selling baking powder to New Zealand housewives.  He promised the home baker that, with Edmonds baking powder, their baking was ‘sure to rise’ and so it did, and has continued to do so ever since.  He made his  first sale of baking powder in 1879.  Edmonds became a trusted name in our country’s households. In the last 50 years, or so, over 3 million Edmonds Cookery Books have been printed, which equates to almost one copy for every  person in New Zealand 🙂

Thomas Edmonds built his first factory in our city, Christchurch, in 1922. The factory and the company’s trademark  “Sure to Rise” slogan are featured on the cookery book cover. The factory was not only famous for its products but also for its beautiful gardens. Even when the factory was demolished in 1990, the site continued, and developed, as a garden for the public to enjoy.  Thomas Edmonds was an enlightened employer and subscribed to that lovely philosophy of a beautiful workplace to enhance the lives and working standards of his employees. He also wanted to live in a beautiful city and, to this end, was a prolific benefactor to the city. Sadly, some of his gifts to the city were destroyed in the recent earthquakes and have since been demolished. Amongst them was the Repertory Theatre, which began life as the Christchurch Radiant Health Club.( http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/culture/radiant-living/the-origins-of-radiant-living)

Thomas Edmonds believed in the therapeutic qualities of the sun, and in the study and practise of diet.  I think I would have liked him. And I am sure he would have enjoyed a bowl of my soup,  followed by a bowl of my custard.  Good healthy, economical, everyday fare.

Such a pleasant, sunny piece of our city’s history. I wonder what Mr Edmonds would think of his successful home grown business, now in the hands of multinational, Goodman Fielder. Would he be pleased, philosophical or pragmatic about this development?  Or would he be worried, just a little, like me, about a company that will not tell me  why it proudly proclaims on the back of its Edmonds Sure to Rise Baking Powder that this important “Part of New Zealand’s Heritage” all “started in Lyttleton”, when clearly it did not; there being no such place. Thomas Edmonds first footprint on New Zealand soil was made in Lyttelton. (Spot the difference Lyttleton (wrong); Lyttelton (right) )

And can you spot the common denominator on the custard packet and on the cover of the cookery book?

So, here’s to the sunshine and soup  in our lives. Hopefully, we will see the sun again tomorrow.

http://christchurchcitylibraries.com/Heritage/Publications/ChristchurchCityCouncil/ArchitecturalHeritage/LegacyofThomasEdmonds/

http://christchurchcitylibraries.com/Practical-Living/People/E/Edmonds-Thomas/

© silkannthreades

It’s all turned to custard

It rained on my mother’s birthday (15 June), it rained yesterday, and it rains still…and HOW! 110 ml in the past 36 hours.  Rivers and drains and ditches are overflowing and some of the city streets are flooded. When the weather deteriorates like this, or when anything worsens, New Zealanders often say ‘It’s all turned to custard.”

I don’t know the origin of this expression. When I left New Zealand in 1977, custard was confined to the family dinner table. When I returned to New Zealand in 1999, I was astonished to learn that a great many things, including our attempt to win the Rugby World Cup, had “all turned to custard”.  Why custard? Why was poor, innocent, humble custard chosen to represent the unbright side of life. Had New Zealand become a nation of custard haters in my absence?

I love my custard. So I am deeply affronted by the sullying of custard’s good name. 😉CustardI make all kinds of custard but,  for my favourite quick custard, I use Edmonds Custard Powder. Edmonds used to be a genuine New Zealand brand but it has been sold out to a bigger overseas concern . So does that mean even our national custard industry has turned to custard?

So, those are photos of  the beautiful custard which nourished my body and soul yesterday.  Here is how it was made: Three tablespoons of custard powder, mixed with one tablespoon of sugar and 1/4 cup of cold, full cream milk.  Mix into a smooth paste.  Add 1/4 cup cream, mixed with a lightly beaten egg to the mixture.  Heat 1 and 3/4 cups of full cream milk and add this heated milk to the cold mixture.  Put the combined mixture in to a saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer gently, with frequent stirring, until the custard thickens. Add a few drops of vanilla or almond essence and serve hot or cold. This recipe makes a very thick custard. ( I like thick custard with a thick skin on top! ) To make a thinner custard use 2 tablespoons of custard powder.

That’s the custard. Now look at the photos of the weather that has ‘all turned to custard.’ Can you see a connection to custard? I can’t.

Footnote: I have taken a light-hearted approach to custard, and the weather, but the weather and flooding are extreme in some parts of the country. There will be extensive damage  to land and property as a result.

© silkannthreades

Glum crepusculum and other twilight zones

Twilight, or the crepuscular hours, can be beautiful.  The twilight of a warm summer’s evening,  the twilight of a desert dawn, or the brief twilight following a tropical sunset, are especial favourites with me.  But twilight that starts around eight in the morning, before a sunrise that barely happens, and  then  seems to go on for the entire day, as it did today, is altogether a case of glum crepusculum.  Today was the fourth day of winter; assuming that winter’s official start was 1st June. It was wet, dreary, cold, grey and sunless.  I am already over winter.  And it’s only just begun.

What to do?  Glumness is too dull to bear. Well,  I made a hearty, spicy lentil soup!  That was a bit cheering. But not quite cheering enough. So I made a golden, creamy custard which we ate for afternoon tea with homemade apple sauce and whipped cream.  Not my usual ‘cuppa’ for  afternoon sustenance but I figured that, if I was living in a twilight zone, a dessert, in place of tea, was neither here nor there. And it was delicious. One helping wasn’t enough. We had seconds.

Then what? Having fed my body, I decided to feed my mind, which is when I googled  ‘twilight’. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crepuscular  and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twilight).  And I discovered that cats  exhibit crepuscular behaviour which explains that cat you always see sitting at the gate, watching the world go by, shortly after sunset. That crepuscular activity is vespertine  which I think is a lovely, languid, slinky word that perfectly describes  that cat that sits and waits as the evening draws in.

Back in the realm of the ‘twilight zone’, I was amused to learn that another meaning for twilight zone is an “area of a city or town, usually surrounding the central business district, where houses have become dilapidated’.  That meaning  aptly describes  the state of the centre of our city,  post earthquakes.

But glum and gloomy as the day was, I have to admit the obvious, which is  that twilight is never completely dark; it cannot be, because in every twilight there are always degrees of light. That is the essence of twilight. So to lighten the mood, and feed the soul, here are some photos.

The first series features my beloved Tibetan carpets. They are a riot of colour and joy and light up my life every time my eyes alight on them. And strange to think that such vibrancy came from the hands and hearts of Tibetan refugees, who had moved from one twilight zone to live in another in their temporary home in Nepal.

The big picture:In full lightThese second photos were taken last week  to celebrate the birthday and enlightenment of The Buddha.

Now, as I end this post,  the true dark of night is here, and we again await the next twilight hour.  It  will be a matutinal twilight and, perhaps, will hold the  promise  of sunlight.Brilliance© silkannthreades