Saturday, May 16, 2009
Early Days and Nostalgia.
I have just been reading some of my earliest blogs thinking about copying them wholesale for you to read today. Not sure that's such a good idea though. I notice I didn't post a daily recipe in the early days either. My very first blog told you how I had been born in England just before the Second World War (yes I am that old). I didn't mention then that my father had been posted to what was then Rhodesia, to train young men to become pilots for the RAF. He spent three years out there so other than a photograph I had no idea what he looked like but I swore I would recognise him from the photo. I remember going to the station with my mother one day and tugging on her coat whilst she was kissing this strange man in uniform saying "Mummy, mummy, who's this?". I must have been around 4 or 5 when he returned. This pic is not my father, I don't have any pix from that time, but it is the kind of uniform he would have worn. Air Force Blue. I guess in some ways I am lucky I don't remember much about the war years, I wouldn't call them the halcyon days of childhood, but at the same time I only remember being bedded down under the stairs when we heard air raids. Living in Cheshire, we were fairly well away from the operations areas although in fact we were not that far from a large town, Manchester, which was bombed pretty heavily I believe. Looking at pictures, it looks quite a nice town. I really don't remember very much about living in that area, I do have mind pictures of our house, but when I was shown the road where we once lived, it didn't look one bit like the place I remembered. In my day there were fields behind the house, these days of course its all built up and the road is paved which it certainly wasn't then. I was also surprised to discover how hilly the area is and also to see the canal. One of these days I would like to spend more time there to see where I came from. My first real memories were when I was older, after the war and we moved south to Kent. My parents bought a delightful Georgian house in Rochester Kent. It had a big mulberry tree in the back garden (yard) and if you peered carefully through the bushes and trees you could see the River Medway. When we first moved there, there was a factory which built airplanes. However, soon after we arrived, they moved to Ireland so we had the view of the river to ourselves. Rochester was also where a lot of Charles Dickens' novels were set and he lived in a house called Gads Hill which was later turned into a girls' school. (I went there). I don't know how long he lived there as, in recent years I have heard of lots of different places in the UK laying claim to the famous author and never having made a study of his life, I am not sure how long he lived where. Rochester itself was a lovely old town, but these days they have done tacky things to appeal to tourists and we were very disappointed when we visited there a few years ago. The main street is no longer open to traffic; considering it is so narrow, that's probably a good thing. That is the street I fell across getting out of the car once, I mentioned it a day or two back. But when we lived there the town was still a thriving, busy centre with lots of good shops and restaurants along the high street. Not any more. The castle and cathedral are still there and the old Elizabethan buildings which hang over the sidewalks are still there too, but the shops are not the same any longer. Oh well, times change. Being nostalgic makes me think I should give you a recipe for frummerty or something similar, but I don't suppose it would be appreciated. Instead I will give you a recipe from the Asparagus Growers Marketing Board of Ontario. The recipe actually comes from Foodland Ontario. Mediterranean Asparagus Tart 1 frozen 9-inch (23 cm) deep-dish pie shell 3 eggs, well beaten 1 lb (500 g) Ontario asparagus 1/2 cup (125 mL) crumbled feta cheese 1 cup (250 mL) canned 2% evaporated milk 3 tbsp (50 mL) chopped fresh Ontario dill 1/2 tsp (2 mL) grated lemon rind 1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt Line pie shell with double layer of foil; bake in 450º F (230º C) oven for 8 minutes. Remove foil and brush with some of the beaten eggs; bake 5 to 7 minutes longer or until lightly browned. Break tough ends from asparagus; steam or cook stalk in large skillet of boiling water for 2 minutes or just until tender-crisp. Rinse under cold running water; drain and pat dry with towel. Cut off 3-inch (8 cm) tips; slice remaining stalks into 1/4-inch (6 mm) pieces and spring 1 cup (250 mL) into baked crust. Sprinkle cheese on top. Arrange asparagus tips pointing outward in spoke-like fashion in shell. Whisk together egg, milk, dill, lemon rind, salt and pepper; pour over asparagus. Bake in 375º F (190º C) oven for 35 to 45 minutes or until puffy and set. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Yield: Serves 6 Have a great day.