Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Waste not, want not!

When I was a child and lived in the fens of Lincolnshire we had not much spare money, so it was the norm to use up everything - never to waste and always to use up "free" food from the hedgerow. So my mother would make crab apple jelly, blackberry pie, liver and bacon with field mushrooms my Dad had picked early in the morning, damson cheese; her larder shelves would be full of preserves, pickles, bottles and home made sauces. We had no freezer - not even a fridge, so that everything had to be preserved. She would even utilise any sour milk by straining it through muslin and making it into soft cheese.
Now that I live back in the countryside again I find that that spirit still prevails here, albeit that a lot of the "free" food is now frozen. And I find myself satisfyingly back in that mode again. So we pick the blackberries and make jam or blackberry whisky; we pick the plums, the gooseberries, strawberries and raspberries and make jam, and now we have also picked the sloes and this morning the farmer has made the sloe vodka.
Then there is the matter of the apple orchard and the walnut trees. Although our walnut trees are forty years old they do not fruit heavily - we are lucky if we get fifty nuts from the two trees!
So I have yet to try my hand at pickled walnuts (my favourite), as we soon eat our way through our walnut harvest (if you have never tasted a walnut straight from the tree you cannot imagine how good they are.) But apples - well that is an altogether different story
In the years when we get a good crop we store them in crates and eat them gradually over the Winter. In other years we manage to eat them all in a very short time. But the windfalls are a different story. I composed this ditty in my head on the way to Tesco this morning. It fizzles out because that was as far as I got - and I am due at a meeting in half an hour.

Steamed apple pudding.

Men always seem to smile when you
have steamed pudding on the menu;
It's as rare as hens' teeth here.
Maybe happens once a year
When there's been a sudden windfall
then he gathers up them all
and puts them on the kitchen table
with a smile to match Clark Gable's.
I cannot resist that wistful smile
so you will find in a little while
I've succumbed and made a pud! (and to hell with the diet for one day!)


The villager: said...

I would probably smile with steamed apple pudding on the menu !

Anonymous said...

husbands and dogs can always melt the heart with a look!

your charming "ditty" has left a smile on my face.

Jenn Jilks said...

You write of terrific memories! My mom used to can and preserve so much.

Cathy said...


Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

What a yummy post. Your mother's larder sounds very inviting - as hard as it must have been to maintain it.

I've never had a pickled walnut.

Do love how you Brits call dessert, 'pud' - and love your poem about farmer's Clark Gable smile - I know it's about pudding, but the image that remains is C.G.'s smile!

Totalfeckineejit said...

Nobody can resist a wist.We have an apple tree, lonely and handsome, almost beautiful, we love it, preen and prune it, nature and nurture it, oooh and aah over it, watch it grow in the golden horizon of our lives, three years old and this year, for the first time, produced a single glorious apple, surely the appple to end all apples, and we salivated and we waited ,in baited anticipation ,till it fell from the tree unoticed and some other fecker of nature's wonderful design stole it away! Ain't life a beech tree?

Heather said...

Oh what delights Weaver - steamed puds, bread and jam, and all the rest. I daren't make jam now as it means eating more bread and butter than normal! I can remember my parents making wine and storing it in the cupboard under the stairs. One day one of the bottles exploded! There was a great deal of cleaning up to be done, as you can imagine. I have made dandelion wine which is like a light table wine - very pleasant. How ever did we manage to keep jams, chutneys and pickles from one year to the other without the aid of fridges, freezers or preservatives?!!

willow said...

That pud looks devine. Can you believe I have never had a steamed pudding? I'm so darned American.

Leilani Lee said...

Now Weaver... if you are going to mention things like steamed apple pudding, you must put the recipe too! I grew up in the big city so there was not much canning and preserving going on but my mom sure knew how to stretch her food dollar...

Life's poetry said...

Aah. Waste not; want not. That was the prevailing philosophy where I grew up - on the Canadian Prairies. My grandparents homesteaded there and they were experts at using everything. They recycled before that became a catch word! I grew up on that farm/homestead. My parents took it over from the grandparents when I was five. I remember picking wild saskatoons, chokecherries, and pin cherries. Alas, apples did not grow there. My mother had an enormous garden in the brief Prairies summer. My father grew wheat to sell, but always kept a bit to be made into flour for us. We raised our own animals for meat, so were almost self sufficient. During the winter, the shelves in our basement were chock-a-block with canned meat, vegetables, fruit, pickles. The potato and carrot bins were full. Like your family, we had no fridge or freezer, but during the winter, my dad, with help from neighbours, would cut big blocks of ice from the creek on our land and place them under a big shed in the yard, and cover them with straw. This was our fridge until the ice melted in the late summer. The next winter it started all over again. Seldom was there ever any 'garbage' to be disposed of. Everything was used and if possible re-used. Those were the days, my friend....

jinksy said...

Oh, for an apple pud, and the slightly soggy bit round the rim of the basin, when the pudding cloth is unwrapped!

Anonymous said...

We don't have steamed puddings in America.
You must instruct Willow who is good at cooking and she can try one out this side of the Atlantic.
We often had them in England when I was a child.

Large green cooking apples in the garden.
Blackberries outside the gate.
Actually too much apple altogether in autumn
apple pie
baked apple
apple crumble
blackberry and apple
etc etc etc
ad infinitum.........

The Watcher said...

I saw Sloes a plenty on my birding travels last weekend. Reading your post reminded me of my GrandMother who lived in a small village in Norfolk. On the marble slab in the pantry was rows of goodies and all kinds of strange things to my young eyes.

Crafty Green Poet said...

I'm planning to make an apple pie very soon with our harvest of apples, but I might make an steamed apple pudding instead (or as well!).

Titus said...

I am exceedingly jealous of the walnuts. I love nuts!
My favourite are Kent Cobs, though wet walnuts are also right up there.

steven said...

steamed pudding - does that inclued suet pudding? see i have a mum who occasionally will bang up a really smashing suet pudding!!!!
sweet lovely post weaver - thankyou so much!!!! steven

Cloudia said...

I love the ethos of appreciating, cherishing, and being "stingy" with food (and else). Waste seems a great sin to me. As I suspected all along: you are a paragon of virtues!

Ted Hughs! A poet even yanks have heard of, LOL :)

Aloha, Friend!

Comfort Spiral

The Weaver of Grass said...

Well - just as I thought - there is nothing like a steamed pudding to rouse everyone into moth-watering (especially the men!) I am surprised to find that there are no steamed puddings in America, so I shall send the recipe to willow (as suggested by elizabeth) and see if she wishes to make it. There were some lovely comments - Jinksy remembered the soggy bit around the rim - everybody's favourite. I have just read through the comments and have found that several people would like the recipe - so shall post it now on my blog.

Derrick said...

Great ditty, Weaver! Steamed puddings to the fore now!

Country Girl said...

I know my husband would be smiling if that was on his plate tonight!

Janice Thomson said...

Mmm that sounds awfully yummy Weaver.
I still make jams, jellies, pickles - all kinds of preserves and a lot of frozen veggies too.
Like "Life's Poetry" I too was raised on the prairies and now am going back again - it truly is the ideal life for me.


Elizabeth told me about your pudding post - I was with her when trying by buy suet at an English grocery store. My favourite pudding was always steak and kidney pudding. The others I had forgotten about, but do remember the blackbury and apple pudding. And yes we would go blackberrying for the berries. Now that we have found a source to buy suet I can at least make dumplings for the stews!