At bowling the other day, we were discussing conservation. I frequently tease a friend of mine because, being from England, I am familiar with buildings so much older than seen in the North American continent. However, as I pointed out this time, in England, nobody ever conserved any buildings, those of historical interest which we have (and there are many), survived by accident, not by design. Today there are conservation groups in England and houses similar to the Queen Anne house (about 200 yrs old) in which I used to live, are designated of historical interest. There are gorgeous Tudor thatched cottages littered all over the countryside which date back to the 1500s or earlier; they are still there and many are still lived in although thatching is something of a bygone art. If you do have to employ a thatcher, you had better be sure you have plenty of money to pay for his work. I used to have a friend who lived in one called Smuggler’s Cottage which made me wax poetic.If you check the first letters of the poem, they spell the name of the cottage. I used to do a lot of that at one time.
Surely its name
Must give us a clue
Under the shadows
Gone from the blue
Gone are the shnaties
Long past are the kegs
Eased up the Downs
Returned with the dregs
Cutters were flying
Over the sea
The Revenue men
Trundling over the lea
Avast there you smugglers
Get you gone from the sea.
England is Free.
Then there are whole towns like Rochester, in Kent, which has streets of old buildings, some of which have been compromised because being a tourist area (Charles Dickens) has suffered from cutesy type shops being opened with Dickensian names. However, the original buildings go back a heck of a lot further than Dickens. The streets were built with overhangs protecting the sidewalks so that when residents threw their slops into the street, passers by did not get soaked. Rochester Castle was built in the 12th century and Rochester Cathedral was founded in 604 AD. Henry VIII met his fourth wife, Anne of Cleaves, in the Bull Inn in Rochester High Street; the Bull is still there. None of these buildings were intentionally preserved, they just survived the years since they were built. That is just one town with which I am particularly familiar.
If you look at London, there are signs of the Romans in some areas, it was originally Londinium which was a Roman Camp. Westminster Abbey was started by Henry the Confessor prior to the invasion of the Normans in 1066. Which, I might add, was the last time England was invaded although both Napoleon and Hitler were planning to give us a visit. Although Westminster is one of the most important churches in England, nobody tried to preserve it, it just happened. Same thing with Canterbury Cathedral which was founded in 597. Of course repairs were effected over the years, but that was it. Both towns, London and Canterbury, are full of old houses and buildings of all kinds which just happened to still be there. Of course in London there is also the Tower of London which is also world famous and was started by William the Conqueror in 1066 after his armies had invaded England and shot King Harold in the eye effectively ending his reign. In fact the correct name is Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress which is something I didn’t know. This picture is taken from the River Thames I visited the Tower a couple of times, once the same way everyone goes and the second time as a guest of the Chief Warden at a cocktail party and we were able to see the Ceremony of the Keys which very few outsiders get to see apparently.
These days, many of these buildings have become World Heritage sites, and are being preserved, but, they have stood the test of time and survived into our modern world. Which is why I tend to be anti conservation in the North Americas because I feel a building which survives on its own is somehow more worthwhile.
As an aside, I fully support conservation and the preservation of natural resources, parks, lakes, rivers and so on and in particular animals or flora and fauna.
I got the following recipe from a magazine which is sent to Matt regularly as a consequence of where he used to work. I actually don’t remember recipes in this magazine before, but as I am “into” slow cooker recipes, I jumped on it. I am not sure Julia Child would approve of this version of Boeuf Bourguignon but although I think I am a good cook, I am certainly no Julia, I haven't got the time or patience for a start. I am cooking this dish for tonight. One thing, the ingredients call for 1 tbs butter. I figure that you add that to the bacon fat once you have finished cooking the bacon itself.
Slow Cooker Beef Bourguignon
6 slices bacon
2-3 lbs beef stew meat cut into 1 inch pieces
1 med. carrot, thickly sliced
1 onion sliced
3 Tbs Flour
1 (10 3/4 oz) can condensed beef broth
1 Tbs tomato paste
2 minced garlic cloves
1/4 tsp thyme
1 bay leaf
1/2 lb white pearl onions
1 lb mushrooms
1 Tbs butter
1/2 cup red wine (like Burgundy)
1. Fry bacon until crisp and cut into 1/2 inch pieces and set aside. In the bacon grease, brown the beef. Place beef into crock pot. In the same pan, brown the carrot and onion, add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the flour and condensed beef broth. Mix well and put in crock pot.
2. Add the bacon, tomato paste, minced garlic, thyme leaves, bay leaf, mushrooms, pearl onions and wine to the crock pot.
3. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours (or in 300° oven in a covered pan for 2 hours).
This recipe calls for pearl onions. I don't know how many know the trick, but an easy way of peeling them is as follows:
1. Fill a pot with water and bring to a boil.
2. Cut off the tip of each onion opposite the root end.
3. Place onions in the pot and boil for two minutes and then drain.
4. Place into a bowl of ice water in order for them to cool and then drain.
5. Squeeze the root end and the onion will pop out
6. Cut off the remaining roots.
Have a great weekend