November 2011

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English Seed Cake

Sometimes I think I am half hobbit. I’m short and stocky and cheery and (to overshare) I have slightly hairy feet. My dad first read The Hobbit to me when I was about 5, and I re-read it on my own soon after; it was one of my first real chapter books. During the first chapter when the dwarves descend on Bilbo and eat everything in his pantry, the first thing consumed is seed cake; I always wondered what this tasted like (yes, even at age 5), and assumed it was poppy-seed based. So, when I found a recipe for a traditional English seed cake in my latest cookbook acquisition (a 1940s collection of old English bread and cake recipes), I immediately had to satisfy my curiosity.


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Black Bottom Pie

Most of the recipes on this blog are here because they caught my eye in some way – they had a funny name, interesting ingredient combos, a cool twist on a classic dish. This particular recipe – for black bottom pie – is rather special to me; it leaped out from the pages of The Southern Cook Book before I ever started to blog. The recipe was set out in a dauntingly rambling manner, with vague measurements, so I know adaptation would take work and I kept putting it off. Boy am I glad I got over that…


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My mom’s mother Maureen passed away last Monday afternoon. She had just turned 86, and she was my last grandparent. I both started calling my grandmother “Grandma Mo” when I was too young to say “Maureen,” and it stuck; my younger cousin grew up calling her “Mama Mo.” My Grandma Mo is not as linked with food in my memories as my Grandma Viv is; my mom’s mom was British – from Wales – and was married to an Italian. Her main signature dishes were cheesecake (already posted here) and roast beef; she was a solid meat-and-potatoes cook, except when she made Neapolitan dishes at my grandfather’s request. I will, however, always associate my grandmother with one particularly unique meal: tea. She lived on Twining’s English Breakfast, and would always have a cup in the afternoon. Often with Walker’s shortbread. So, I’ve made biscuits and a cuppa for my grandma, and am going to sit down to reminisce for a bit. I’m much better at writing about humor than I am about feelings, so bear with me…


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