Parkin


From Wednesday evening 8th November 2017

I’m making Parkin. It reality I should at this point be finishing the last crumbs of some  Parkin I made earlier rather just getting round to it now but beggars can’t be chooser, so here we are. Bit of a spur of the moment thing, I really should be making tea, we’ll be having beans on toast now instead of toad in the hole, I really haven’t thought this through…

You can tell by the way I’ve gone about it too. No military operation, no careful & organised collection of ingredients & equipment, each put in their proper place, it’s utter chaos, (well it is for me). There’s stuff everywhere & I’m not even wearing an apron. I will have nightmares about this for days… Or rather my OCD will.

And I’ve actually chosen a recipe & completely & utterly stuck to it. No deviations, no adaptions, no little tweaks as I go along. An unheard of occurrence, I NEVER do that – ever!!! I always change recipes, always. There’s definitely something in the air…. I may need a lie down…. Mind you, it does come from a rather excellent recipe book (Cakes – Regional & Tradional) so I am hopeful. Julie Duff is the author & if you want a fount of all knowledge when it comes the traditions of British cake baking then she is the lady in the know. So let’s hope she knows. I’m sure she does.

It also turns out the 7″ square tin I bought some years ago & have never used is actually 9″… It’s obviously been an invaluable buy. Thank goodness for that awkward but equally useful square multi pan thing from Alan Silverwood, now that was an excellent investment.  Unlike the 9″ tin, one for eBay perhaps.

It’s beginning to smell rather delicious with its spicy autumnal overtones, the very definition of devine especially at this time of year. Nothing is more lovely that warm cosy mugs of deeply rich hot chocolate & decadent spicy morsels, warming your insides, calming the soul & filling your entire self with happiness. Unless of course you can’t stand ginger or cinnamon or worse still, are allergic…  So sad but then all the more me.

Twenty minutes to go & then a week under wraps, Parkin is a torturous cake. Tempting you with its promises of sticky gorgeousness but waiting is worth it, if it’s made right. Let’s hope so.

It’s a fairly Northern cake you know, Celtic in origin & called Thor, Tharf or Thar cake which I really rather like. Makes it sound all the more delicious  & possibly a super food in its own right I shouldn’t wonder.  Just as well its traditionally only eaten on Bonfire Night, we’d all be superhuman which really wouldn’t do.

Ten minutes to go, I’d best clear up the mess. Everything back where it belongs, all filed neatly in its place, pots & pans in dishwasher for a good scrub, treacle gets everywhere. I really should’ve worn an apron..

Beep beep beep! Done. It’s out! Well I don’t know about you but that looks OK to me, not bad at all. Of course the proof is in the tasting & so we wait… Although I’m really not sure I can.

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Autumn Light


Autumn

I love Autumn! It’s such an amazing season, so much change, so much colour & so much seasonal yumminess! We’ve got three pears on our tree in the ‘orchard’, 2 fruit trees make an orchard don’t they? They’re hanging on in there, it’ll be our first ‘crop’, too excited for words!  The alleged ‘Pink Sparkle’ apple tree is having an amazing year with a bumper crop, I’m growing inpatient waiting for them to be ready to pick & it seems so are the squirrels! This may be war!!  The brambles have been making a run for it, they are prolific growers are they! I thought I had it all under control, relegating it to a patch under the fruit trees, but no, they are EVERYWHERE!!! Given that my gardening ethos runs along the lines of ‘the natural look’ with the emphasis on ‘slightly wild’ it really should come as no surprise! The benefits are a bountiful crop of rather delicious blackberries!! Once again I’m thinking impossible thought of growing my own, of working the ‘land’ and the book on self-sufficiency is out again… Maybe it will get done… Maybe..

Blackberries!

The season of Autumn brings with it a change in our needs & wants with regards to food.  No more calling for refreshing salads, thoughts turn to hearty soups, veg laden stews & streaming hotpot, of crumbles & pies, syrup pudding & custard, & treacle pie & custard, of wholesome things & filling stodgy – warming, cosy comfort food & custard! And lets face it Autumn has well & truly arrived, like a switch, suddenly it was here! Cold, wet & cloudy, outdoor adventures to be rewarded with cake & hot chocolate & indulgence – it’s chilly, we need the extra calories to keep warm! Yep, of course we do…

The first crumble of the season has been made & it was divine! Apple, pear & blackberry with lashings of fresh homemade vanilla custard! It was the food of kings, with just enough let over for breakfast! The perfect amount made! I did forget the oats, but it just means I needs make it again to aim for perfection, with custard.

DSCF8542

The change in flavours brings about a change of menu too & I’ve been having great fun, looking for old Autumn recipes, mouth drooling as I work and now I have the daunting task of putting it all into the menu.  Simply, there’s just too much loveliness to choose from. Old favourites such as sticky toffee are back with a potentially explosive twist, apples feature hugely starting with apple & cinnamon & ending with Queenies!! And Treacle, Autumn without a mention of Treacle is just wrong! Or pumpkin! Lovely, squishy, squashy pumpkin with hints of spice! Are you drooling, you should be! I haven’t even mentioned gingerbread yet, my utter delight! I LOVE to make gingerbread, & my modest (ahem..) collection of cutters is ready & waiting to tease into fantastical shapes & things, if only for my amusement!Silly Moo

Hugely looking forward to the traditional activities, the Autumn season creates, Harvest, gathering in the fruits of our labours! So pleased to see this becoming something we talk about again.  It seems to have become something taken for granted over the years, but with the resurgence of interest in where our British food comes from, it’s logical Harvest should now get a mention! The glorious taste of carving the pumpkin, although I remember it being a swede when I was youngun! How things change! I can’t wait for Hallowe’en & Bonfire Night!! And all the food & yumminess associated with them! Glorious feast of apples & spice & treacle!! I just can’t wait!

So I will try my best, to create the best Autumn Menu I can, full of warmth & delight, of morish mmm’s, & magical morsels, perfectly resplendent in the lovely Autumn light! Ready & waiting to tempt you at Treacle Market, at this seasonal time of year!

Pumpkins

Christmas – has it arrived too early this year?


SO Christmas is here… already… And has been for at least a week in Sainsbury’s give or take a few days. Lakeland have launched their Christmas range for 2012, getting in there at the beginning before all the rest I imagine and who can resist a Lakeland Christmas! Then there’s the seamless appearance of all the Christmas cards in those wonderful Charity shops but I can’t help thinking that it’s all a wee bit early this year…

It’s a weird thing to say from my point of view – I ADORE Christmas! I drive my entire family nuts and a fair few of my friends with my August playing of cheesy Christmas songs, planning and plotting the festive frivolities; I’ve often wondered what Christmas would be like all the year round! I gleefully welcome the onslaught of the Season of Good Cheer but this year I think it’s all just a little bit early, a little bit heartless, a whole lot commercial and just a little bit lost…

There are those who feel Christmas should stay in December and only December, but I just think that’s just a bit late by then, but I can see their point. In merchandising terms, it used to be that Christmas kicked off on Bonfire Night, that was the deadline for shops and stores to be ready – which is over a month away from now! These days we’re drip fed Christmas from late August, to the point that when stores do jazz up their shop windows, hang up their decorations to dazzle us we’re all a little bit indifferent, a little bit worn down and a little bit fatigued by the season of good will. We’ve already bought our festive short breads and After Eight mints way back in late summer when they were on offer, and possibly again in October because we were feeling a bit peckish one night and there wasn’t anything else…

So it seems to be me that no matter how traditional our Christmas’s appear, no matter how personal we make it, we’re governed by commercialism, by marketing stratagems and forecasts, by clever psychological shopping tricks that actually entice us to shop early, to shop for 2, 3 or even 4 Christmas’s in one year. More to the point are we actually happy, have our spirits been lifted, have we shown good will to all men (whilst fighting over the last turkey crown in Sainsbury’s because you always forget something!) The answer is probably no…

So this Christmas, the one in December, the only one in this year of Glorious 2012, have a little think about whose in charge of your Christmas. Yes the shops may have festive biscuits on their shelves, those cards may be sparkling at you at eye height but you don’t have to buy them just yet, you don’t have to buy anything at all, in fact you could instead, just for a change buy from a quirky, nothing is too much trouble, local independent shop or you could always, even more special & worthwhile, make it yourself…