Tuesday 31 August 2021

Coconut Haystacks

As a child coconut haystacks were a luxury. My Aunty Marma made the best haystack maker in the whole wide world, well in my world as a 3 year old. Marma's real name was Florence Marjorie and she had been a nurse at one time at the isolation fever hospital in York, which is now Fairfield Manor. On her days off she used to come back to stay at the family home and make treats of coconut haystacks. I would only be around three years of age and allowed to sit on the kitchen table and help mix in the sugar and eggs to the coconut. That was the easy bit stirring up the mixture. The next stage was harder as the shape was formed by wetting the inside of an egg cup and then pressing the mixture in tightly. Shaking it out on to a baking tray was far too skillful for a 3 year old. Any attempted usually ended up with what they would these days call a 'deconstructed haystack' in other words a disaster. The next testing time was having to wait for them to bake and to come out of Granny Preston's oven. Why on earth, when she was only about 4ft 10, was the cooker stacked up on 3 bricks in height. She couldnt even look on the pans to see how the contents were cooking. Deep frying was a potential danger, but on Fridays, Mrs Maw the housekeeper would take her role on as cook with great gusto. Beating the batter with the strength of a heavy weight boxer to coat the fish. It made the best fish and chips. My Grandfather insisted on mushy peas been home made. They were disgusting and to this day I still turn my nose up at them . He used to dry his old peas out that he had grown in the garden. These were passed their best and if they had been cooked like that would have been like trying to eat bullets. They were then stored in a old Horlicks jar and kept on the top shelf in the pantry. When they were needed they would be put in a bowl and with a teaspoonful of bicarbonate of soda and soaked in water overnight. Anyway now the coconut haystack are ready to be taken out of the oven. Thank you Mary Berry for the recipe as I could actually remember the ratio of ingrediants. The haystacks should be crisp on the outside and soft in the middle. Slightly brown at the top of the hay stack. Mary made hers' pink but Marma used to put a quarter of a glazed cherry on top if there was any spare in the pantry before they were baked.

Tuesday 10 August 2021

First time in York

Cant believe how long it has been since I was in York Centre during the day . The last time I was there was 27th Jan 2020. I was drawn to the City as I was attending a Welcome 2 Yorkshire PSMG board meeting at the Grand. I have been on the board now for nearly 10 years. As a meeting was long overdue I wasn't going to miss this one. It was held at 2pm,so perfect timing as I was able to catch up with Heidi Hatfield, who I have known for years. Heidi worked at the Tontine when it was taken over after the MCCoys sold it.It never was quite the same after they went. Heidi left too, for the bright lights of London ,Twickenham to be exact. Heidi has now taken a position up at the Grand in sales ,so it was a perfect place to grab a bite of lunch before the meeting. Knowing a lot of the same people in the industry we found plenty to talk about. We were both tempted to have the Scotch egg which came with perfectly runny yokes. It always amazes me how chefs can get the eggs peeled and coated in sausage meat without breaking them. Maybe that is why they are called chefs and I am just a cook. Glad Jack is happy with a hardboiled egg underneath the sausage meat. There were some beautiful flower arrangements in the foyer and I kick myself that I didnt take a photo of them. Out into the still bright sunshine at 4 0'clock. I got my camera out, even after seeing the Minster in the distance hundreds upon hundreds of times I still took the obiligatory photo of it .Well after all this time away I did feel rather like a tourist.

Wednesday 4 August 2021

August and we are into the 8th month

Can't believe where time has gone this year. The garden though I must say is about as good as it has ever been and guests like to sit up in the raised patio as it is sheltered and west facing so the best way to end the day. Although it has been known on more than one occasion that breakfast has been enjoyed up there too. It is getting to look more as I want it now and less of a plain shelter. I have mixed flowers and vegetables and fruit so from lavender to rhubarb there is something popping up every few day. I have harvested the angelica and collected so many seeds to grow on .It is a very easy plant to grow and looks quite exotic so if you are coming to stay and would like to have some seeds, please think to ask me for some when you are here. The strawberries are more or less finished now. The raspberries have been a poor crop as only got 2 good pickings from them this year. I am disappointed with the tomatoes too, dont think the bees got to them enough to pollinate them. So glad my Dads supply of tomatoes is more plentiful. I think I must have put too much Tomarite on the flowering pots as they have gone leggy and rather out of shape but hey ho they are full of colour and the bees dont disapprove. Minty, our little cocker spaniel, is enjoying the garden too and the attention from guests.She enjoying following the hose pipe about as I water the pots .For those of you who love herbs I cant recommend the Daisy Plant Centre,just off the roundabout at Kirkbymoorside, enough. As I am far from green fingered, I dont take any gift of gardening from my parents, but the herbs seem like to living here and are in abundance under the dining room window. Hope you are enjoying all your gardens and if you havent a garden then the parks. It is hard to believable that in London with all the parks and balconies that bees produce more honey than they do out here in the countryside. We have the benefit of heather on the Moors and as the bees fly is less than a milehere for them to collect the nectar. . The Moors are a carpet of purple at the moment and well worth a visit. When I was a child, we used to go in my Dads little black Morris Minor, RWX 872, with its split windscreen up to the Moor. Choicing a big sprig of heather then sticking it into the chrome radiator cover next to the chrome and yellow AA sign. That little Morris Minor used to have red leather seats. Swinging our legs from the seats, on the way home we used to sing 'Show me the way to go home" little did I know that the words drinking meaning someone had had too much to drink rather, I thougth it was drinking water as we used to stop down Wass Bank at the spring that comes out of the woods and cup our hands together and drinking the ice cold water.Happy Days.