Tag Archives: vegetarian

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

Rice Bread and Blossom

It seems that I am on an unstoppable bread (making ) roll…(eek, arrgh, squeak, sorry…. for a no good, horrible, very bad, but irresistible, pun 🙂 ), because, yesterday, I made some rice bread. I had some lonely, left- over cooked rice in the fridge, so I decided to use it in one my favourite recipes, Philpy, Hot Rice Bread. Philpy, is a quick (non yeast) bread which, apparently, has its origins in South Carolina.

Philpy (Hot Rice Bread)

Philpy (Hot Rice Bread)

I have been making versions of Philpy since 1987, which was the year I first discovered the recipe in American Harvest by Nava Atlas.

American Harvest by Nava Atlas

American Harvest by Nava Atlas

American Harvest, (Regional Recipes for the Vegetarian Kitchen) is a gem of a book, beautifully researched and illustrated. Every recipe comes with a small note on its history, as well as a delightful quote expertly, and often humorously, illustrated by the author. For example,  the quote for Philpy comes from Abe Martin’s Almanack, 1911, and goes like this “Q. My husband buys forty-five cents worth of mixed drinks every time I send him for a five-cent loaf of bread. How long will we keep our home? A. It takes longer to drink up some homes than it does others. Try baking your own bread. -Kin Hubbard.” Well, that may, or may not, be a helpful answer but baking your own  Philpy Hot Rice Bread is certainly a good idea. It’s easy and fun and it’s a great bread for a snack, or for breakfast, or lunch. And it goes well with lots of different toppings. Nava’s recipe is also a versatile one.  It  can be made gluten-free and dairy-free with ease. Yesterday, I made a gluten-free Philpy by using a combination of buckwheat flour and brown rice flour, instead of the usual whole wheat flour. I also whizzed  up the ingredients in the food processor, for the first time ever, and that gave my bread a very good texture. (Why has it taken me 26 years to work out that little trick????)

Come and sit with me, in the spring sunshine of Christchurch. Let  me offer you a warm slice of South Carolina Philby, spread with butter and sweet, young rhubarb compote. Sound good? It tastes good 🙂

Philpy for Tea

Philpy for Tea

Spring Blossom

Spring Blossom

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For those of you who would like to learn more about Nava Atlas, I would recommend a visit to her VegKitchen website which has links to her career as a writer and artist as well.http://www.vegkitchen.com/

And, as a little sampler of the way Nava brings joy to my baking through her art and wit and research, take a peek at my collage!

How to have fun with history, food and art

How to have fun with history, food and art

© silkannthreades

In whom we trust…..

In my last post, but one, called Short Stories, I promised to provide recipes for the featured spicy lentil soup and easy fruit and nut cake.  I dealt with the soup in my previous post, so now it is the turn of the cake. Whilst the soup recipe had its genesis in my trusty Edmonds Cookery Book, the fruit cake recipe comes from another trusted and reliable source of everyday cooking wisdom in New Zealand; Dame Alison Holst. ( http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/new-years-honours/4504137/Dame-Alison-Holst-Queen-of-the-cookbook/ ) A food writer and television chef ( and oh so much more, in my opinion ) she produced the first of her many cookbooks in 1966. Today, there are approximately  four million of her books in print.   Again, like the Edmonds Cookery Book, that would equate to about one Alison Holst cookbook for every person in New Zealand!

The fruit cake recipe is from ‘Very Easy Vegetarian Cookbook” by Alison and Simon Holst, first published in 1998 by New Holland Publishers (NZ) Ltd P1020775The recipes that Alison and her son Simon present are meticulously tested and are fail safe.  They are utterly reliable and delicious, easy to prepare, and I haven’t met one yet that I didn’t like.

The ingredients for Easy Fruit and Nut cakeIngredientsThe method (with apologies for the poor photos)  and the final result.

Dame Alison, who was made a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2011, graduated from the University of Otago with a Bachelor of Home Science and was a lecturer in Home Science before she began her present career. Over the years, as well as cook and write, she has raised over $4 million for charities.  She is a ‘star’ in New Zealand and held in such high esteem that, one year, it was  rumoured that she was to be appointed as our next Governor General. She was not, but, this year, she was placed 4th on the annual Reader’s Digest  most trusted people list. (http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/CU1306/S00264/new-zealands-most-trusted-in-2013-revealed.htm)

At the top of the most trusted list is  Sir John Kirwan, former All Black, coach, and depression awareness spokesperson and advocate.  Next comes Willie Apiata, soldier and Victoria Cross winner and, in third place, is  Richie McCaw.  He was the All Black captain who brought home the all important Rugby World Cup in 2011!  At the time, he was akin to the saviour of the nation.  The current Governor General holds the position of the 8th most trusted person in New Zealand, well behind Dame Alison, the cook.

Now, the most trusted list is  not something I take very seriously but I do find it interesting. And it’s fun to compare our list with the Reader’s Digest list for America where the top positions of trust seem to be held by actors and news anchors.( http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/readers-digest-announces-100-most-trusted-people-in-america-206435821.html)  In both countries, politicians occupy lowly places on the list, which makes me wonder, at least in the case of our country, why we vote for them at all,  if we don’t trust them!  In fact, it seems quite nonsensical.

Perhaps we would be  better off if we simply voted, via the likes of Reader’s Digest, for John, Willie, Richie and Alison to lead the country. Under the guidance of these multi talented individuals,  we would most likely be a fitter, healthier country. Alison would see we were well nourished, John would guide us mentally and physically, and Willie and Richie would  help us maintain the  team spirit  to fight the good fight for the nation’s wealth and prosperity. Indeed, with these four trusted leaders in charge,  the governing of our country could become efficient and economical and ‘common sensical’, just like one of Alison’s good, wholesome, everyday recipes. With our improved health and nutrition and fitness, the Ministry of Health would have very little to do; as would the Transport  MInistry, because, with our new-found energy,  we would all be able to walk so much further and faster than we do now. Alison, with her teaching skills and home science degree, could organise the education and budgetary needs of the country; Willie could take care of security and defence, with a little policing thrown in; and Richie, being a lad of the land, could take over all matters agricultural. Lots of politicians and massive Government bureaucracies would be surplus to requirements. What a saving; there would be enough money freed up to provide everyone with a living wage, and a lot else besides.

Joking aside, Sir John, Dame Alison, Willie Apiata and Richie McCaw, and many others at the top of the list, are wonderful examples of fine citizenship. We are lucky to have them. They make a fine mix.

Enjoy your cake.

Photos from these sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willie_Apiata

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richie_McCaw

http://tvnz.co.nz/national-news/sir-john-kirwan-most-trusted-kiwi-5470276

http://alumni.otago.ac.nz/page.aspx?pid=782

© silkannthreades

Baking on a Summer Evening

I wanted a quick and easy dessert for tonight, so I baked an old favourite which uses tinned (canned) peaches. The recipe is from ” Very Easy Vegetarian Cookbook” by our truly excellent New Zealand mother and son team, Alison and Simon Holst. They call it “Peach Danish”.

Here is the end result, with the light of the summer evening in the background. The cake is drizzled, ( very unprofessionally! ), with lemon icing.

The red object on the window sill is a solar powered torch. These torches are common household items since the earthquakes began in 2010; part of emergency preparedness, but rarely used.

Back to the dessert cake; looks so good. Can’t wait to have some with a scoop of ice cream!