Category Archives: Foodie Finds

Pudding Time with Mrs Charles Darwin’s Recipe Book

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It was Sunday afternoon, the winter sun was low in the sky, bright and hopeful, casting long shadows across the room.

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One of the things that marks the passing of winter is when the chickens start laying again. With a bumper batch of eggs and a beautiful new recipe book, I set about making a decadent sounding pudding.

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Mrs Charles Darwin’s Recipe Book is a delight, full of an interesting array of Victorian recipes and accompanying annotations. It’s quite special to see her handwriting, I nearly made the Nesselrode Pudding purely because of this, but then Lady Skymarston’s won me over.

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It was a simple recipe to follow, involving just a few ingredients – sugar, milk, eggs and vanilla. Sounds like a kind of egg custard, yes? Good. But not as good as the name, Lady Skymaston’s Pudding, say it again!

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Emma Darwin’s original notebook is housed in Cambridge University Library, if you are interested you can see the whole manuscript here.

Being born of the Wedgwood family I bet Emma set a rather special table. I did my best to honour her with a bit of 1930’s Royal Paragon and some beautiful daffodils from my friend Fiona.

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Who was Lady Skymarston? I don’t know, but her pudding is a bit like an upside down creme brûlée gone wrong. Not decadent in any way, but interesting and very much of it’s era, very Victorian.

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Apparently February 12th is ‘Darwin Day’. Maybe you could knock up a Victorian pud and celebrate?

Mrs Charles Darwin’s Recipe Book by Dusha Bateson and Weslie Janeway is published by Glitterati Incorporated.

Thank you to the team at Glitterati for kindly sending me a copy of Mrs Charles Darwin’s Recipe Book, and to Sandra chicken for the egg input. Onwards, to the next pudding!

Chickens Win Prizes & So Do I!

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On Sunday, whilst I was competing in the Speed Championship at Hethel, I was also involved in another competition.

For the past two years I have spent the first Sunday of August at the Wimblington and Stonea Horticultural Show with my friend Liz, pimping my produce and judging the Children’s and Art categories.

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It was weird to be all dressed up in my race suit and helmet at the Hethel track, secretly wondering how my bacon muffins were performing.

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Last year I was quite successful. My Lemon Curd got a 1st, my herbs got a 1st, my honey recipe (a lovely sponge cake that I will share here soon!) came 2nd, my Victoria Sponge got nowhere, but most excitingly, Cheryl and Sandra chickens came 1st and 2nd in the egg category, bringing home the egg cup!

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Poor lovely Cheryl chicken died a couple of weeks ago. I wasn’t going to say, because I like to just share the happy things, but it happened and it was very sad. She got ill and we tried to help her, did everything we could, but one morning Adam came down and found her dead. He buried her tiny body in the garden, next to the chicken house.

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She was only just a year old, but she’d had a lovely year of joy and gallivanting around, hanging out with Sandra and their friend Jonathan in his garage up the road, eating strawberries in the sun, sheltering from hail in the chicken condo, launching herself through my studio window and rushing to see us and squatting down ready to be picked up and cuddled. She really was a lovely chicken, a dear little creature and rather exceptional for an animal with such a small brain.

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We entered Cheryl’s last egg into the competition, along with one from Sandra and one from April, and, guess what? My little trio of chickens all took podium places! (Shame I can’t get some of their skills for the Sprinting!) April won 1st, Sandra 2nd, and Cheryl 3rd. That great big egg cup will be back in our kitchen soon!

I also got a 1st for my herbs, which weren’t particularly exciting, but they were colour coordinated!

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I got a 1st for my honey recipe – you have to create the recipe yourself, I made Smokey Bacon and Honey Muffins – yum. I used the special Willington Hall honey that I brought home last week, which I think made all the difference! Apparently I get to share the honey cup, I guess it’s like the egg cup, but it sounds a bit more weird.

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And I got 2nd place for my Lemon Curd.

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Last year, rather amusingly,  my prize-winning lemon curd got pinched – we think it was sent off to the lab for analysis by my rival! So in a way it was nice to come 2nd and know that Liz and I will be able to tuck into some fresh bread and lemon curd for lunch when we meet up this week!