Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Brambles and Crumbles

Speaking of Apple Pie with Birds Custard as I did the other day, reminded me of the delights of  Blackberry and Apple Pie, or Blackberry and Apple Crumble  -  home-made by our Mum, or by our sister Maureen.


Scarcely over a mile from our home was a semi rural enclave within the City of Bristol.  It was and is known as "Clay Bottom" (bu it is now "developed"),

Back then we would wander up to Clay Bottom when the Brambles were loaded with entirely sweet and juicy wild black berries,

If we hadn't gorged ourselves whilst harvesting, there would be sufficient berries to take home to become part of a pie or a crumble.

We'd do the same in other rural or semi rural areas on the outskirts of Bristol.

Bramble with  Berries

Blackberry and Apple Crumble. (Served in our home with a generous helping of hot Birds Custard.)


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I hope that rural England still has hedgerows with brambles, and free for the picking blackberries.


My brother Martyn and his wife will certainly remember the trip we took to rural Brittany in 1995, with their daughter Laura and our Mum and Step-dad.

I will draw a discrete veil over our horrendous journey from Calais  (?)  to the cottage we had rented, when we could not find the cottage because a local bridge was "out", and that when we eventually found the tiny lane which led up to our cottage I reversed into Martyn's  Company owned car.  You don't need to know about that,

But I will tell you that the next morning we found ("Oh Joy, Oh Bliss") some fruit laden brambles just outside the cottage,

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In SRQ and other places the local markets sell cultivated blackberries.  They look good, but for flavour and juiciness they are not a patch on their wild cousins.  They have been so hybridized and standardized that they look like the wild original, but are tasteless and have no  juiciness.


I feel the same way about Strawberries.  Not far from SRQ is a town called Plant City.  It is the centre of the Florida Strawberry agribusiness. 

Every year, and in harvesting  time, our local supermarkets advertise with banner headlines and a profligate use of exclamation marks (!!!!!!)  that they are selling "Plant City Strawberries".

We are thus encouraged to rush to the market to buy these "delicacies".

"We", but not "I",  

For although the berries look good, packed as they are "pointy end up", upon opening the package it is to discover that the stem end is not yet ripe, and  that these alleged strawberries have no good flavour, no grand taste, and that they are utterly devoid of juice,

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"Plant City" strawberries look like the right thing.  But they taste like ....... (please use your own word")



I'll most likely be expelled from Florida for saying this, but nevertheless I assert that "Plant City Strawberries" are a faux version of the real thing.


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It's like this:  You can dress up a Chevy to look like a Mercedes, but it will still be a Chevy.



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I love being a curmudgeon!



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Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Memory, My Mum, and "YUM"

Memory can often be triggered by taste or smell.

It happened to me yesterday as I remembered our Mum's "Custard Tart".  She would make this at weekends for "afters" (the name we gave to dessert or pudding).

Last night (Sunday) as  I chatted with my brother Martyn we each salivated as we remembered the "Custard Tart" of our youth,

Now the Custard we enjoyed in the U.K  (and maybe in Ireland, Australia, India and New Zealand) is not the classic egg-based custard of  French fame see:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Custard


Rather it is a faux custard made with milk,sugar, and "Bird's Custard Powder"  see:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bird%27s_Custard






Faux or not, my taste buds kicked in today, leading me to make a Custard Pie, with a store bought  pie crust, with "Bird's Custard", and with sliced banana.


My home made custard pie

It was pretty darn good, but it would have been improved if I'd added a bit more sugar, and used half and half instead of whole milk.

Bird's Custard fans also "love"  to serve it hot over apple pie  (or even better blackberry and apple pie)

Apple Pie with Custard ( photo' from Google images)

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Splendid Police Honour Guard at a Funeral

It fell to my lot to preside and preach on Saturday 30th April at the funeral for a man who found comfort and grace in God at St. Boniface Church  in his latter years.

I'd had the privilege of praying with him one Sunday at Church, and twice on the day of his death,

He was but 61 years old.  He had been a Police Officer in Fairfax County VA, and then a Sherriff's Deputy, before he retired to Sarasota.

He had a a stellar and honorable career, often exposing himself to great danger in his noble desire "To Protect and Serve".

Although he had never served locally  the Sarasota Police Department provided a Guard of Honour, with two Police Officers, a man and a woman.

Dressed in their splendid dress uniforms, they, taking it in turns one by one,  stood vigil next to the Urn from the moment it entered the Church until it was placed in the Columbarium.

The thought is that no departed Police Officer should have funeral rites without the presence of another Officer - who, in a word,  will "Stand By Me"  (in death as they would have done in life)

The two Officers from the SPD  were impressive in their (volunteer) service at the Funeral Rites for "one of their own",

Oh the dignity, oh the poise, oh the professionalism of this police woman and this police man.

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Of course there are no photo's from yesterday's rites, so these  are "generic",  lifted as they were from "Google Images".






Saturday, 30 April 2016

What a difference 36 hours makes.

After a day and a half on her meds Penne has stopped itching and scratching.

Her appetite is now good, and her energy level has bounced back,

Now my job is to keep her on the meds for the next 13 days in the hope of a full cure.

(She is my darlin'),