Some days are bread and jam days. Surely we all have them . . . you know the types of days I mean.
"I wish I was a poet like the men that write in books
The poems that we have to learn on valleys, hills an' brooks;
I'd write of things that children like an' know an' understand,
An' when the kids recited them the folks would call them grand.
If I'd been born a Whittier, instead of what I am,
I'd write a poem now about a piece of bread an' jam."
They are the days when you just can't be asked to put together much of a supper . . . or a supper which demands much of your time . . .
"I'd tell how hungry children get all afternoon in school,
An' sittin' at attention just because it is the rule,
An' lookin' every now an' then up to the clock to see
If that big hand an' little hand would ever get to three.
I'd tell how children hurry home an' give the door a slam
An' ask their mothers can they have a piece of bread an' jam."
Days when you want something simple, yet tasty . . . days when you yearn for the warmth of hearth and home comforts.
"Some poets write of things to eat an' sing of dinners fine,
An' praise the dishes they enjoy, an' some folks sing of wine.
But, they've forgotten, I suppose, the days when they were small
An' hurried home from school to get the finest food of all;
They don't remember any more how good it was to cram
Inside their hungry little selves a piece of bread an' jam."
An ice fog is rolling in and tonight we supped on mugs of warm milk . . . lightly sweetened with honey and slabs of Nigel's lazy loaf, served up with dabs of Dark Cherry and Vanilla jam, next to the roaring fire.
I wish I was a Whittier, a Stevenson or Burns,
I wouldn't write of hills an' brooks, or mossy banks or ferns,
I wouldn't write of rolling seas or mountains towering high,
But I would sing of chocolate cake an' good old apple pie,
An' best of all the food there is, beyond the slightest doubt,
Is bread an' jam we always get as soon as school is out.
~Edgar A Guest
It was good . . . very good. We were happy.
*Nigel's Lazy Loaf*
Makes one casserole sized loaf
A simple recipe adapted from Nigel Slater, which proves that anyone can make a tasty loaf. (Even me!)
225g wholemeal flour (1 3/4 cup)
225g plain flour (2 1/4 cups)
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp golden caster sugar
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
350ml of buttermilk (scant 1 1/2 cups)
Preheat the oven to 220*C/425*F/ gas mark 8. Put a rather large covered casserole into the oven along with it's lid.
Whisk together the flours, sea salt, sugar and soda in a large bowl. Add the buttermilk all at once and work it in. Quickly shape into a shallow round loaf, about 1 1/2 inches in depth.
Remove the casserole from the oven and lightly dust the inside with some flour. Carefully drop in the loaf. Cover with the lid and return the bread to the oven. Bake for about 25 minutes, upon which time the loaf should be well risen and golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to stand for about 5 minutes before removing from the casserole. Allow to cool slightly before cutting into slices to eat. This bread is best served warm and fresh.
It goes fabulously with soups, stews . . . and butter and jam!
*Black Cherry and Vanilla Jam*
makes about 2 cups
Adapted from a recipe from Gourmet Preserves by Madelaine Bullwinkel.
1 pounds (about 2 cups) sweet black Turkish cherries, washed, pitted and halved
1/2 pound (about 2/3 cup chopped) peeled and cored cooking apples (Granny Smith or Bramley)
1/2 vanilla bean
1 TBS lemon juice
8 TBS granulated sugar (85g)
Pulse the cherries and apples to a medium fine texture in a food processor. (Or as chunky as you would like your jam to be.) Toss the fruit into a large stock pot and stir in the lemon juice. Halve the vanilla beans lengthwise and scrape the seeds into the pot along with the fruit, add the empty pods as well. Cover and bring to the boil over medium heat. Reduce to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for about 20 minutes to help reduce the juices.
Begin adding the sugar in 2 TBS amounts, allowing the jam to come to a simmer in between each addition. Simmer actively, stirring frequently, for another 20 minutes, or until the jam noticeably thickens and the temperature reads 100*C/ 212*F.
Pour into a clean jam jar. Keep refrigerated.