Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Ash Wednesday

Today is Ash Wednesday.   After the feast of pancakes with fresh lemon juice and sugar (all you US readers who never have pancakes that way, do try it - they are so refreshing after maple syrup I promise you) now is the time abstemiousness,  for the giving up of something you really like, for the period of Lent.

I am in no way a religious person, but old habits die hard and I can't help but wonder what I could give up from now until Easter.   Friend M used to give up her favourite tipple of a little whisky before bedtime - don't know whether she still does.   Me, I am still wondering - I shall probably give up eating cake.   It is not good for me anyway.   I am not all that keen on chocolate, so that is no good, but cake - well that is a different matter.   Once forbidden I know my thoughts will dwell on the odd cream cake, doughnut, battenburg although I rarely eat them these days.   If one believed all the food advice you read these days then all sweet things would be forbidden - bad for you.

Where did all these ideas come from?   Being a child during the war I don't think we worried about anything we were given to eat - being country children we were never at all short of food but toast and dripping (with lots of salt on it) was never turned down and I  am still here to prove that it didn't do me that much harm.

Its years since I had toast and dripping (or any dripping in fact) but I have to report that my mouth is watering at the thought.

I am still enjoying 'Notes from Walnut Tree Farm' by Roger Deakin.   I have read it many times before but I never cease to find something new in it.   He writes in February about looking for a piece of architrave in one of his sheds.   He says 'half the tin roof has rusted through and caved in'.   Instead of mending it (which would have meant he would have to cut down some brambles) he moved all his bits of architrave to the other end of the shed and let the roof fall in.  Also the rabbits have made their homes in the earth floor.   After searching through various bits of this and that he found that all the bits of architrave he had saved were too short for what he wanted.   The farmer would sympathise - we have one or two sheds about the farm that fall into that category.

Much cooler today and only peeps at the sun now and again. The farmer is still working his way through that enormous, spreading holly hedge. (photo at top)


Ellen said...

Oh what a hedge :D...I didn't spot the farmer until I enlarged the picture. What a big job for him.

Frugal in Derbyshire said...

I LOVE toast and dripping and often have it for supper.
As children, we used to have fried bread with salt or brown sauce on for breakfast(pobs in winter) and would eat it on the way to school ( when we walked obviously!)
It's a wonder we survived really.

John Going Gently said...

Pat, thanks for reminding me it as Ash Wednesday
I wondered why the village church was ringing its bell this morning

thelma said...

Also love dripping on toast, especially that brown jellied stuff at the bottom. Noticed an article in the Guardian this morning, that too much protein is bad for you now, that includes not only meat but cheese, eggs etc. But here is the twist in the tale, once you get older over 60 I think, you must eat more protein. I like vegetables, so can be classed as a'mostly' vegetarian person...

Heather said...

The farmer has set himself a mammoth task by the look of it.
There were so many shortages during the war and with rationing too, I don't think anyone worried too much about what they were eating. Also, very few had access to motor cars so would walk, bus or cycle everywhere and thus work off any excess calories. We must all have been so much fitter then.

Elizabeth said...

Ah dripping!
What bliss it was. We had it at school on horrid white bread sans salt - but later on in George's Cafe in the covered market in Oxford on toast with a pint of tea - and lots of salt.
I think what is bad for people is lots of prepared foods with who knows what in them.
I'm so dull, I make almost everything 'from stratch' but still seem to be here.
How I would love to give up sugar in my tea for Lent.
Maybe I can just halve it.
We used to knit squares to be made up into blankets for Palestinian refugees during Lent. A positive knitting frenzy under the desks at school.

JoAnn ( Scene Through My Eyes) said...

The hedge does look like quite a job.

And I'm still pondering what dripping could possibly be - obviously we didn't eat it here in the states. And salt on toast? I prefer my toast with a little honey or jam.

Em Parkinson said...

I'm not religious either Pat but I think the rituals were so drummed into us at school that they're ingrained.

littlemancat said...

In this part of Pennsylvania we enjoy fasnachts, a kind of fried doughnut, for Shrove Tuesday. They are delicious! It was a way to use up fats, sugar, and butter to begin the period of Lent.

Virginia said...

What a huge holly bush that is! I've never seen one more than a metre high, so until you photographed it I was imagining a squat fat hedge that the farmer was simply lopping the sides off.

I think the primary difference in diet 'back then' and 'now' is the proportion of prepared foods used, most of which contain far more salt, sugar and artificial filler ingredients. I made the decision a few months ago not to buy anything that had ingredients listed that I didn't recognise... I'm making much more from scratch as a result! And enjoying our food more.

Cro Magnon said...

Toast and dripping with a little Marmite.....Yum. You've reminded me too of grilled beef marrow on toast; another favourite that I imagine is now verboten.

Robin Mac said...

I have never had toast and dripping,but used to adore fried bread (in dripping) with liberal dashes of salt! We always had pancakes and lemon juice on wet Sundays - I think my mother dreaded those days, she was kept busy at the stove for ages. We grew all our own vegies, and kept chooks for the eggs, so rationing was not so much of a problem for country folk. I still make our meals from scratch and avoid whole aisles of stuff in the supermarket. I dread the thought of a cyclone ever coming over us as we hate all the tinned stuff and I would not know what to stock up on which would not need refrigerating! Cheers.

Maureen @ Josephina Ballerina said...

Hi Pat,
I am with JoAnn in wondering what "dripping" is. I imagine it might be melted bacon fat? To this day I save bacon fat to fry other things in for a bit of added flavor.
Since I found out last year I am extremely lactose/wheat/gluten intolerant (I find this out at age 58???) I have decided, for Lent, to tackle one difficult thing per day -something that can be done in a day that I have been putting off -either pleasant or unpleasant.
I'm gonna enlarge the holly hedge pic now and look for the farmer!

Hildred said...

Yes, lemon and sugar on pancakes!!! And your post reminds me of my Grandmother and her toast and dripping, Pat. Of all the various ancestral backgrounds in my lineage English has certainly been the most impressive, - probably because it is the closest in time.

For the first time in eons we didn't have an Ash Wednesday service or a Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper and I go into Lent without any determination to give up anything. I have thought lately than rather than the 'giving up' discipline it would be better to adopt or expand on a good practice and so I have decided to make Kindness my motto
this year....

Terry and Linda said...

The hedge needs to stay...but of course that is just my thoughts.


Terry and Linda said...

Of course we have to cut down weed trees here so I understand about the need to remove. Sure looks like spring there.