Family history, Food, Uncategorized

The story of those new names; part II

It’s been a long time since part I.  I wrote that back in August when we were at our busiest and haven’t blogged since. So I’ve no excuse now as we are pretty much closed for the season.

Nancy,  my mother, was born in 1935 in the same small village in Wales where I too was born and grew up. Her parents, Gran and Grandpa Salmon hadn’t had such a settled life. Granny Salmon lost both her parents as a little girl and was informally adopted; as a young woman  she moved from Merthyr to work as a housekeeper. Grandpa’s family had travelled from Bristol and Dorset, probably  seeking work in the mines which were booming at the time.

Mam collage

as a toddler, schoolgirl, with my Dad before they were married, a young mother (I’m just out of shot) and in the 1970s

Mam*  hated school, and left as soon as she became fourteen to work in the drapery department of the Co-operative in the next village. It’s long gone now but as a child most of my clothes and footwear were bought there. In Mam’s day the assistants wore dark uniforms with starched white collars and cuffs and woe betide if you let a customer leave empty handed. I owe my neat packing ability to Mam’s demonstrations of the correct way to fold any item of clothing.  Other skills she passed on were the positioning of a brimmed hat (on the front, never the back of the head) and what a “dropping” creamed butter and sugar mix for a sponge cake  should look like. Currently I find the latter most useful  but do have a fondness for a properly angled tifter.

in purple hat

Trying out her Christmas present

 

 

Mam and Dad met as teenagers and courted at the local cinemas and youth club then following Dad’s spell in the RAF for his National Service married in 1957. A small aside here, Dad was always very keen on our education and was proud that we girls  won places at university as he had not had a chance to go. Mam later revealed that his older brother had offered to fund university when Dad returned from service but he hadn’t wanted to wait any longer to get married. Anyway they got married but not in Mam’s home  village, she was too shy for that. Even when I was a child people stood outside their houses to watch brides leaving for church and then waited outside the church for the couple to reappear after the wedding**, and as everyone knew my Grandpa because he was the bin man there was sure to be a big turn out which Mum could not face so they married in Dad’s parish next door.

Mam and Dad settled in her village, first in digs and then in the house I grew up in, where Dad still lives.  With my sister’s birth she gave up work outside the home and then had even more work on her hands when I turned up.  Mam could dress my big sister ready for an outing and leave her to play nicely whilst she had to wait until the very last minute to get me ready or I would end up dirty or torn or both.

Mam wasn’t well travelled, she and Dad spent their honeymoon in Jersey, though that did involve a couple of scary flights in tiny planes and later we had a couple of family holidays abroad and she and Dad visited France on their own after we had left home. Most of all though she loved home and being with her family. She enjoyed meeting our friends too;  she wasn’t at all upset when my sister returned from her 21st birthday drinks with most of her workmates and was actually quite amused when one of them invited her “to make herself at home”. And when I turned up with six hungry university friends, was only perplexed by the question of what the ones studying politics would be “going in for”, feeding them was a doddle.  Her favourite country was Wales, though  Scotland came a close second after I moved here. She really enjoyed her visits to Edinburgh and I’m sad that she never got to visit Seil.

I think she would have liked the room that’s named after her. Coincidentally it’s painted a very similar colour to her own bedroom, the cushions are Welsh tapestry from Melin Tregwynt and I’ve chosen pictures and objects which were her style. Most of all I hope I can bring just a little of her kindness and generosity to our visitors.

And cake, she made marvellous  cake.

 

 

*Growing up we always called her Mam or Mammy, in the Welsh way.

**this wasn’t for the “scramble” of coins, I only once witnessed that, it didn’t seem to be a local tradition.

Food, Uncategorized

Banana bread, blogs and downward dogs*

As I write this the house is filling with the delicious scent of bananas and baking; I’m making a banana loaf ready for our next guests.

 

When I first started baking for guests I made Welshcakes, (though these are  cooked on a griddle not baked) to share a little of my Welsh background. And of course because they’re delicious

 

I also wanted to use Scottish recipes, though I still haven’t perfected shortbread despite having a few favourite family  recipes to choose from.   Oatcakes and butteries have been more successful

finished oatcakes

 

and  bolstered by that experiment with puff pastry I’ve had a go at the French breakfast classic, croissants.

ome made

Following other blogs has opened up a world of recipes for me, I love reading the posts here and made a batch of breakfast cookies last year.

cookies

 

And so back to my banana bread, it’s out of the oven and cooling down. But where did this recipe come from?

 

Well I tasted it first on a picnic last week and asked for the recipe. And this morning after yoga class I was given not just the  recipe but a little bag containing some essential ingredients.

banana bread recipe and ingredients

 

And now to share…

slice on a plate

 

*the yoga pose

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Food, Uncategorized

Work in progress…..

We’ve been away doing our own bit of ancestral tourism and exploring a little of the Western Isles.

uig teapot

..and maybe enjoying the odd cup of tea

Now we’re home it’s all systems go for the summer so I’m back to the baking. Yesterday was Welshcakes and oatcakes, today I’m trying something new.  Croissants.  So far the technique is similar to the one for Aberdeen butteries but more, well, buttery. I don’t have a family or neighbourly recipe for them, I’ve gone back to my trusty Good Housekeeping cookbook.

 

They need to rest in the fridge for half an hour, and that time’s nearly up.

 

 

To be continued……

Food, Uncategorized

Spring

We might not have a Superstore on Seil but we do have a super store. We go there most days, for our newspaper, eggsjam and other essentials. For the past few months we’ve been trying to make the journey on foot which though admittedly challenging on our more humid days is a much more sociable way to travel.

B at the shops

Bramble waiting outside the shop 

 

The weather has been lovely for the past few days  and it’s brought out a wonderful display of flowers, in gardens and growing wild. I can’t name them all, but here are just a few from this morning’s walk.

And then there are also these cute youngsters

ropped cute lamb

Which did give me qualms about some of the contents of my shopping bag, but it’s all part of the cycle of life, here on Seil.

Food, Uncategorized

Oatcakes

I tried making an old Scottish staple today. Oatcakes. I didn’t have any family recipes, though I’m sure there must be some, so I used this one from BBC GoodFood. And as I was using up some ingredients,  I tweaked it slightly. My gluten free oats were coming to the end of their shelf life so in they went and then I thought it would be nice to make them entirely gluten free so used gluten free buckwheat flour. I used salted butter, again using up stocks, so didn’t add all the salt.

oaty dough

work in progress

The finished products suited my taste but I think in future I’ll add the recipe quantity.

This  recipe and all the others I found asked me to bake the cakes but I set aside some to cook stove top on the griddle , this is how they would have been cooked in the past. The stove top version worked but the oven baked ones were crisper.

baking tray

ready to bake

All in all I was pretty pleased with the result and they weren’t at all difficult. So now I have an addition to my repertoire and one I can offer to guests on a gluten free diet.

finished oatcakes

finished product

Food, Uncategorized

A recipe from across the Atlantic*

My baking repertoire expanded this week.

I was given this recipe for butteries by a neighbour recently. They are a speciality of the North East of Scotland, particularly Aberdeen, a flaky buttery confection, perhaps the Scottish version of croissants; but unlike their French cousins these pastries are salty.

 

My first memory of them is one in which they were elusive. I’d gone  to the North East for the wedding of a college friend and my travel companion who knew the area better insisted I try them. Unfortunately our search took place  as we drove back South the morning after the wedding and fell foul of Sunday closing. Not a buttery could be found.

 

Later they began to be available in Edinburgh but I was never that keen. Now I think I just didn’t try the right ones. They were a bit fiddly to make being a puff pastry, and very far from “healthy” as they are full of fat and quite salty. But the end result. Mmm. Even if I do say it myself. Flaky, buttery scrumptiousness.

A picture you ask? Too late. Sorry Reader, I ate them**

emptyplate

 

*Clachan sound which runs past Sheiling is technically the Atlantic, our neighbour lives on the mainland .

** I didn’t eat them all, MrS had some too and we froze a batch before baking.

 

 

 

Food

Branching out

I’ve had a move away from family recipes to explore gluten free baking. My initial attempts substituting gluten free flour in regular recipes had varying success, shortbread ok, bara brith (a Welsh tea bread) less so. I decided to look for recipes which were designed  flour free. A quick search took me to Nigella Lawson’s website nigella.com which has lots of delicious flour free choices.

So far I’ve tried her chocolate olive oil cake (also dairy free), flour free brownies and clementine cake. All turned out well, I’m blaming my ancient oven for the burnt top of the clementine cake!

IMG_3641

I cut off the “overcooked”bits and added lime buttercream

All three of these use ground almonds as their main “filler” so beware if you have a nut allergy. They are pretty rich and calorific too, enjoy in moderation….

Nigella advises that they are best enjoyed fresh and perhaps even warm but  you’d need quite a large party to polish them off. The  brownies at least freeze well.

P1030570

chocolate brownie – I had to “test” after freezing

I have cooked a version of the clementine cake using polenta rather than almonds but can’t find that recipe at the moment, if I remember correctly it produces a denser cake.

After all that “testing”  thank goodness for sunshine and some lovely walks.

P1030566

Food

Keeping it in the family

I’ve been busy baking today, another batch of Welsh cakes (though they aren’t strictly baking) and then a new departure: Islay fruit loaf, recipe provided by my clever sister in law. She also does a lovely line in ginger biscuits too but I didn’t have all the right ingredients for those, so that one’s been saved for another day.

P1030424 P1030429

After that that I was on a roll and decided to see what else I could do. This pretty book, a present from my lovely sister has masses of tempting treats inside, but I thought it best to keep things simple and tried my hand at soda bread.

P1030434

P1030431 P1030432

It turned out not too badly, so then I needed some quality assurance.

P1030437

Time for tea!