It still seems so strange to be spirited into the middle of an English summer, the weirdest thing being the evenings that stay light until ten o’clock. The children are in bed, but still wide awake and chatting away, unconvinced that it really is bedtime, even though it’s way past their normal time.
We’ve had soft summer weather, some sun, some cloud, a threat of drizzle that fades to nothing, warm enough for T-shirts, with a gentle breeze now and then that teases you into a warm top, if you stay still too long. It’s hard to remember that we still need to wear sunscreen even under a cloudy sky.
Out in the garden the children have discovered wild strawberries nestling under their leaves and found that they are only sweet once they are red all round - the one in the photo looks completely plastic but tasted wonderful!
Today was the village street fair and my mother had our roles all organized – our son was to run the marble race that Grandpa used to do every year, with a wooden marble run that takes two marbles hurtling down parallel to see which is the fastest. She ended up manning it herself most of the time, as he wandered around watching all the other attractions.
I helped on the bric a brac stall and took my children’s money from them as they repurchased several of the things that we had donated, including half my old keyring collection! They couldn’t believe the purchasing power of three quid in bric a brac and have now amassed a collection of ceramic birds, soft toys, little boxes, cushions, bags and stuff that will need to be fitted into their cases on the return journey … I was kept so busy inventing prices for pots, ceramic knick-knacks, a playstation and all sorts, that I didn’t take any photos at all, even of my two older children, who had been persuaded into presenting the bouquets, after the fair had been pronounced open.
The hardest part was clearing up at the end, when we had to sort the leftovers into piles for the dump or to take to a charity shop. It was hard for me to send anything to the dump, when it was perfectly good to use still. In
When I saw the theme of this month’s WTSIM event hosted by Jeanne was Berried Treasure, I knew that I’d be making a Summer Pudding at least once after I got here and in fact my mother had already planned one for this weekend, just in time for the deadline.
It has always been one of our favourite family puddings, the epitome of an English summer. Purple berry juices transforming stale bread into a luscious, jeweled slice of flavour to be smothered in cream and savoured. The classic version has redcurrants and raspberries in I think, but ours has always majored on blackberries, with raspberries and loganberries and had apple in to bulk out the berries. Blackberries are really an early autumn berry but my father was always an industrious gleaner from the hedgerows and usually picked enough to freeze for the rest of the year. You can use any sort of berries for this but they need an edge of sharpness, so strawberries and blueberries on their own would be too bland and sweet.
Summer Pudding Recipe
500g / 1 lb mixed berries
500g / 1 lb cooking apples
½ - 1 cup sugar
1 loaf stale white bread
These quantities are approximate, as it depends on the size of the bowl you use and how many berries you have. This does a medium size pudding basin. The sugar needs to be added to taste as the berries vary in sweetness. You are aiming to sweeten them enough to be pleasant but not sickly sweet.
Slice the bread thickly and cut off the crusts. Line a pudding basin with the slices, patch-working them together so that there are no gaps.
Peel, core and chop the apples and put them in a pan with a little water and sugar and stew gently for 5-10 minutes until starting to soften. Add the berries, which can still be frozen, and plenty of sugar.
Warm them over a medium heat, but don’t let them boil. As soon as a simmer is reached they are usually already tender enough, as you want the berries to retain their shape.
Spoon the stewed berry mixture into the bread-lined bowl until they are level with the top of the bread. Any left over juice can be kept to pour over it later. Put a layer of bread slices on top to seal in the berries.
Put a saucer or small plate that just fits into the top of the bowl on top of the bread layer and weight it, so that the berries are compressed and the juice soaks into the bread. Leave it for at least twelve hours and make sure that it stays weighted down.
Serve by turning the pudding onto a plate and pouring over a little of the leftover juice wherever the bread still shows white. Serve with double cream.