Tuesday, August 05, 2014

A British ceremony, some British cookbooks


apologies for awful photo, I have a very old phone 
Yesterday marked the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I and last night we went to a candlelight ceremony outside Cirencester's fantastic and wild medieval church, where various dignitaries read war poems and letters from soldiers at the front. A choir sang. There were prayers. It was solemn and powerful and at the end the officiator said, very calmly, “That concludes our simple ceremony. I hope it was alright for all of you. Those of you who have been in the military service are invited back to the Horse, for a drink.” 

And the crowd dispersed. Mark and I walked back to the B+B where our kids’ lights were still on. They wouldn’t go to the ceremony. Too much happening on their iPhones. I’ve lectured them until I'm hoarse and it does no good. I've thought about throwing the phones out the window of our car. 

The dollar is weak and I could spend all our money on British cookbooks and go into debt shipping them home. I’m keeping a list of the irresistible books and will track them down back in California, either at a cookbook shop or online. There are two titles solidly on the list right now: The River Cottage Cakes Handbook and Bread, Cake, Doughnut, Pudding by Justin Gellatly. (Gellatly used to work at my least favorite restaurant, St. John, but the book is so beautiful I can get past that.)

I did buy two used cookbooks (see photo) at a charity shop because they were practically free. 

Laurie Colwin once wrote about her love of Josceline Dimbleby and Dimbleby's recipe for chocolate pear pudding, an improbably great dessert that I've made several times. On the strength of that recipe, I decided to give Dimbleby's book a chance, despite the plethora of scary ‘80s flavor combinations: passion-fruit and fresh lime flan, lychee lime ring, pumpkin and goat’s cheese lasagne with yogurt and cardamom. . . 

We shall see! 

Gary Rhodes’ book, published just nine years later, feels totally contemporary. He’s not trying to concoct sexy new dishes, but reviving long-neglected classics, like Lancashire hot pot, jam roly poly, and raspberry cranachan, which appears to be a sort of Scottish toasted oatmeal cream pudding. Very enticing. I was feeling kind of uninspired and unmotivated in the kitchen, but this break has revived my enthusiasm. Four more nights and we’re home. Today, though, we go to Wales.

27 comments:

  1. Just started reading "Wounded". Chronicles the injured and their caregivers in WWI. Hard to read but even harder to put down. Amazing anyone made it out alive.

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    Replies
    1. I've been reading a lot of books set during WWI and I swear it must be the saddest war of all.

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    2. I read Wounded per Ginny's recommendation and it's grim and powerful. Agree, it seems like the saddest war of all.

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  2. My Welsh mother-in-law has that Gary Rhodes book. Years ago, reading through it, I was astonished to discover that he wanted you to par-boil potatoes before roasting them. I was outraged by the idea of the extra work, but when I tried it recently? Yum. Have fun in Wales!

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    Replies
    1. I'll have to try that, Laurie. (We did have fun in Wales!)

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  3. Just so glad you are posting more regularly! Please keep it up. Here is a subject I would love for you to write about: how in the heck do you manage your cookbook collection and kitchen equipment and ingredients?? You have cooked from wildly varying cuisines, so I assume you have lots and lots of condiments and ingredients. Also, do you clip/print recipes from magazines and online, and if so, HOW do you manage it? I'm assuming you do not live in a huge castle with a librarian....I have a more than decent kitchen in terms of room, but oh my....the "stuff." Willl you consider? Thanks!

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    1. This is a good idea. I was looking in the pantry for candied ginger, which I knew we had, but I couldn't find it in the chaos. This happens all the time. Maybe if I write about kitchen organization I will be motivated to do something about kitchen organization.

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  4. Try Brilliant Bread by James Morton! That and River Cottage Veg Every Day have won space in my luggage when we move back to the US (we live just outside of London right now). Enjoy Wales, it is easily the most beautiful place I've ever visited.

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    1. Ok, these two are going on the list. Just what I needed! Have you cooked from Dan Lepard's books? I think he's really great, as British cookbook writers go.

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  5. What I wouldn't give to go to Wales! My great-grandmother was a war bride from Swansea, but I never met her because she passed when my mom was fourteen. I forgot to tell you that I made the chocolate pear pudding. It was a lovely, chewy thing that tasted best cold on the third day- with whipped cream. Amazing castle experience. Too bad your children missed it :(

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    Replies
    1. ugh my GRANDMOTHER, not great-grandmother

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    2. You'll get to Wales! My great grandfather was Welsh and he's the one whose name I inherited so I was always curious. I have to make that pudding again soon.

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  6. I'd love to see that chocolate and pear pudding recipe. One of my all-time favorite recipes was from Lorenza di Medici's beautiful coffee-table-type book called, I think, The Renaissance of Italian Cooking. I got my hands on it back around 1990, a gift from my mother (who got it as a gift from a publisher I think, and at first wouldn't give it to me, despite the fact that she didn't cook!) Anyway, the book wasn't perfect; there were confusing omissions in recipes (skinless chicken breasts or skin-on?), but her recipe for a Tarta di Cioccolato e Pere was basically a flourless chocolate cake batter poured over peeled, quartered ripe pears in a chocolate sable crust and baked. I'm sure the photographs in the book would look dated now, but they made me want to move back to Italy and live in a villa.

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    Replies
    1. I'm going to have to look up that book. It sounds gorgeous. Here's the recipe I was talking about: http://karensbooksandchocolate.blogspot.com/2009/09/laurie-colwin-and-chocolate-pear.html

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  7. What an interesting event to attend. For some reason, I can't imagine a comparable gathering taking place in the U.S. Not commemorating WWI, anyway.

    Thank you for letting us vicariously participate in your vacation!

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    Replies
    1. No, I can't imagine such an event happening here to commemorate anything.

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