Thursday, 28 October 2010

Warm Food for Cold Nights

In these more sophisticated days girls and boys find no use for such superstitious practices; Hallowe'en, where it is still observed, is just another opportunity of harmless merrymaking for the children.

Because the days are short and dismal, the Children's Party fits well into November's sequence...

From Children's Games Throughout the Year (1949) by Leslie Daiken

It is interesting that amidst the solemnity of early November's Days of Remembrance (All Saints' Day, All Souls' Day or the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed, and Remembrance Sunday) we have two major and ancient festivals which are mainly celebrated by children. The origins of the two festivals - Hallowe'en and Guy Fawkes' Night - are a bit of a heady mix, particularly for observant Christians: pagan origins or religious and civil unrest which fractured Britain?...take your pick! However, what I think is most interesting about this time of year it that we both commemorate our dead and give parties for our young, for who else is Hallowe'en and Guy Fawkes' Night for except children. There is death and sadness, but there is also life and vibrancy and hope in our young. There is something truly wonderful about getting all wrapped up and going outside on a cold, winter's night with the rest of your family and community and watching the bonfire. Also, like all good festivals there is ritual in the celebration: bonfires, fireworks, dressing up, party games: these things haven't changed appreciably for generations. Celebrations keep the year glued together, without them there is nothing but the drudgery of modern life, just tea in front of the telly, school and work.

The foods that were eaten at Bonfire Night/Hallowe'en/Guy Fawkes' Night are a constant. They are the punctuation marks of the festival: fireworks then jacket potatoes, the bonfire and then ginger cake, apple bobbing and then sausages. It seems worng not to indulge in them at this time of year, somehow. Particularly, as they are the kind of seasonal and warming foods which are so very appropriate to our climate as it changes from autumn to winter.

I think what is important, with any kind of celebration, is that we keep the good of others, our children and our community in mind. A celebration should be peaceful and positive and not about the excesses of the modern age. (Here endeth the lesson).

So, however you choose to party in the coming few days, here are a few good, tried and tested , recipes which go with the season.

Jean Toynbee's Ginger Cake - a Two Fat Ladies Recipe. The best I've ever had, they suggest serving it with stem ginger and clotted cream - and why not?

Shropshire Soul Cakes - please email me for the excellent Mary Norwak recipe or go here. You can go here to read more about the origins of this lovely bread.

You may want to try this easy Ginger Shortbread.

Here's one my gran used to do for us, and a recipe I found in an old WWII cookbook. Use and apple corer to hollow out a large, scrubbed, potato. Fill the hollow with a longish chipolata sausage. Pop in the oven for a few hours, serve with butter and chutney when done.

The Blessed Delia of the Mispronunciation's Root Vegetable Soup. Truly very nice and warms the hands after a cold night around the bonfire.

Here's a Casa Domum tradition. Nigella Lawson's Rocky Roads. She doesn't muck about with broken biscuits or bits of dried fruit in her original recipe. Just nuts, marshmallows and chocolate and for this we salute her. My eldest girl added a broken up bar of unmelted white chocolate to a recent batch of this delicious treat and a very fine addition it was. Email me for the recipe if you don't already have it.

Well, enjoy goode huswives and until anon!


Sue said...

In our house we have toffee apples at Hallowe'en and pumpkin stew/curry with the remains of the jack o'lantern. I'm tempted to try the Soul Cakes this year too as I have Mary Norwak's book.

For Bonfire Night it has to be bangers and baked spuds followed by gingerbread.

Like sunshine in the home said...

Mmmm fooood. I'm so hungry.

Chatterbox and I are planning to do a study on Halloween - because she keeps asking me what is it? what is it Mummy? And, apart from my Mum's distaste for it I really didn't know a lot. I found out it's a real mix of things. Mischief night was anciently (is that a word) celebrated around Halloween, then you have the pagan stuff, then you have the souling thing from Ireland, All Hallows Eve when you pray for those in purgatory. It's a lot more complicated than we first assumed. Very interesting though.

Are you planning any Bonfire Night festivities?

Pip, pip ol' bean.

Gumbo Lily said...

Halloween for us means going to our friend's Victorian home, setting up the styro gravestones and other scary things, and after the trick-or-treating and scaring is over, we have a hot bowl of chili and fresh bread.

Your recipes sound excellent! I may have to make the ginger cake to take with me.


Angela said...

Oh please share the soul cake recipe from Mary Norwak [she only died a few weeks ago.]