In years gone by people didn’t entertain nearly as much as they do now. The rich did, but of course, they had servants, people who we called ‘in service’ back then.
Most of the time we had guests over it was in the summer so the children could play outside and we could use the outdoor oven. Regardless of the season it would be well planned and everyone would bring something towards the meal.
On the occasions where people did come over to the cottage in winter it would be quite simple food, much like what we had on a day to day basis but we would use the best dishes and put on our Sunday clothes to show we had made an effort. It would usually be a roast dinner if we were eating indoors, whatever meat we had or could get at a reasonable price.
Brisket of beef was a very cheap cut, as was chine of beef but cooked properly, and very slowly, the flavour was bootiful (beautiful). There would be plenty of vegetables to go with it, and hopefully leftovers to make a soup or stew the next day.
If we were having a garden meal there would be lots of salad and skillet grilled chicken cooked on the outdoor range. Guests would bring a bit of home cured ham or some sausages and that would be the basis of the meal. There was often lots of soft fruits coming ripe and I would put aside all the softer ones to make a summer pudding which everyone loved.
I don’t know if you have summer pudding there. Its very simple to make and uses up all the older, dry bread you may have laying around.
- Put all the berries in a pan with a little honey and bring to the boil. Simmer for a minute or two and leave to stand.
- Cut the bread into slices if it’s not a sliced loaf, ours was always homemade so it was never sliced until we wanted to eat it. Anyway, dip the sliced bread into the juice in the saucepan and press it into the bottom of a lightly buttered pudding bowl. Don’t soak it, just swish one side through the juice and that’s it, it’s alright if it’s dry on the inside as long as the side touching the bowl is juiced.
- Do this all around the sides as well until the bowl is covered in bread.
- Sieve the softened fruit and put it in the bowl on top of the bread. Add fresh strawberries if you have them. Never put the strawberries in the pan as they will go all mushy, okay for jam but not for summer pudding.
- When the bowl is full coat more bread and put on the top. The top layer of bread should stand a little proud of the rim of the bowl.
- Put a plate on the top and something heavy on the plate and leave it somewhere cool for a few hours.
Turn out onto a plate just before you want to eat it and serve with a little clotted cream. What a delight, bootiful, all the flavours of summer and it saves the stale bread going to waste.
We made our own clotted cream, do you do that over in America? It’s really easy, ‘specially if you have raw milk, that makes the best cream in the world, and the best butter. Let me know if you want the recipe and I’ll send it over.
My mouth is watering now. I think I’ll get one of the kids to bring over some berries and make one of those. Even Skinny Ginny…that’s the granddaughter that’s always on a diet, can’t moan about that pudding, I can have her cream if she don’t want it!
Oh well, better get on. I’m going to school this afternoon, getting picked up by the headmaster no less. They are running craft sessions in the school holidays for the children and they have asked me to go and show them the basics of crochet, fancy that, me teaching the children.
I think it’s good that the kids learn some of the old ways you know, it’s a funny old world and one day some of it might come in handy.
Right, time to go, love to the family,