Nondescript, but vitally important 70 years ago.

A few pictures, no words

Why was it so important?

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There’s a literary connection as well a the computer science one.

Coming Soon.

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Just submitted for Layout. Expected release in the middle of December. Stay tuned.

An Arc

No, not this kind

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This kind

My first “real” book, “The Curious Profession of Dr. Craven.” is in the final throes of production with booktrope. (You can see the kind of company it will keep at runawaygoodness. So we’re talking about a professionally edited and quality work.)

Right now I’m looking for reviewers. That means I’m giving away, yes free – though I want a review, advanced copies, or ARC’s. If you’d like one please fill out this form.

It’s a sweet romance set vaguely in the regency, definitely in the towns that are now London suburbs, and  certainly a dashed good read. Any book that starts with grave robbing and the heroine waking up on the hero’s anatomizing table can’t be all bad.

Serenity

Serenity

Edward Rowland Sill

Brook,
Be still,—be still!
Midnight’s arch is broken
In thy ceaseless ripples.
Dark and cold below them
Runs the troubled water,—
Only on its bosom,
Shimmering and trembling,
Doth the glinted star-shine
Sparkle and cease.
Life,
Be still,—be still!
Boundless truth is shattered
On thy hurrying current.
Rest, with face uplifted,
Calm, serenely quiet;
Drink the deathless beauty—
Thrills of love and wonder
Sinking, shining, star-like;
Till the mirrored heaven
Hollow down within thee
Holy deeps unfathomed,
Where far thoughts go floating,
And low voices wander
Whispering peace.

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Irish Soda Bread – with a Greek Twist

Not sure if this will work when I get back to the land of the free but it works well in the UK. My family was getting their fix of sausage, bacon, and black pudding (They’re different over here). The trouble was how to accompany them. Irish soda bread would be great, but
a) we didn’t have any baking soda, and
2) we didn’t have any buttermilk.

What we had was self-raising flour (coarser ground and a different wheat from the US), Greek yogurt and the ability to improvise.

Preheat the oven to 200C (figure this out yourself if you want to use irrational units – but 350F would be a good guess).
While the oven is heating mix and then kneed gently:

2 cups (more or less) or about 250 grams of self-rising flour. In the USA, use plain flour and add a tablespoon of baking powder. Self rising flour in the USA is very salty and a touch bitter, nasty stuff.
1 tsp salt
100g +- of Greek Yogurt. (about a cup, you can mix in a little milk if it’s too solid)
This should form a dampish dough. You may need to add some water, or flour, but the dough should hold together and not be sticky.

Put it on a floured baking sheet, and cut a cross in the top. It should look something like this:

After about 1/2 hour in the hot oven, it will look like this:

It will also sound hollow when you tap it. (Much like yeast bread). It goes very well with bitter, sausage and carrots.  It can be a bit tricky, and will sound hollow when slightly underdone, so if you’re not sure wait a few minutes.

I “re-purposed” an old post for this. Here’s what it looks like in the USA

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This recipe would work as a “damper” bread and bake well in a Dutch oven.

Rock Cakes, Translating an old recipe

A recipe from the “Sure to Rise Cookbook.” About 1900. This is a typical Victorian cookie or biscuit, and something that would have dated back to the regency. Modern baking powders only date from 1843, but there were other approaches that would have been used before that.

From P.G. Wodehouse

This is one cook who thinks rock cakes aren’t rock cakes unless you break a tooth over them. (Clara Lippet in Sam the Sudden)

I’ve always been curious to see how they taste.

ROCK CAKES

1 breakfastcup flour

2 heaped dessertspoons sugar

2 ozs currants

2 ozs butter (or lard)

1 oz or 1 round candied peel

1 dessertspoonful Edmond’s Baking Powder

Milk to mix.

Rub the butter into the flour, then add the other dry ingredients, the egg beaten and sufficient milk to make stiff dough. Place in rocky shapes on cold greased oven shelf, and bake in hot oven 10 or 12 minutes.

The first thing to note is there is no egg in the list of ingredients. It’s basically a shortbread with fruit. So time for a little research. I found similar recipes on an Australian web site, and they use eggs. It looks like the idea is to make shortbread-like bits and then suspend them in a looser mix.

Using conventional ratios for flour and baking powder (1 teaspoon/cup) I get:

1 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 tablespoons sugar.

Mix, then work in 2 oz butter.  It’s probably a good idea to chill this for a bit so it hardens.

Add 50 g raisins (can’t easily find currants in the US) and 50 g candied peel (I’ll weigh these, but it’s about a quarter cup of each). The Australian recipe uses 115 g of each and a 1 1/2 cups flour but 28 g is an ounce.

beat one egg and mix. Do not over work this. It took 5 teaspoons of milk to make it into a dough.

bake at 350 F (200 C) on a greased cookie sheet. (I use a silicon sheet, but grease will do.) Use lumps about the size of walnuts.

2015-10-19 18.00.55 Before mixing
2015-10-19 18.11.17 After the egg and 5 teaspoons of milk.
2015-10-19 18.13.52 Before baking
2015-10-19 18.32.50 After they’re done.

How’d it do?

  1. They’re not rocks. Very delicate texture.
  2. Not as sweet as modern cookies. Modern recipes have more sugar and vanilla which make them decidedly sweet.
  3. D*mned good.  I’d repeat this recipe.

A Meat Pie in the English Style

A Meat Pie in the English style.

This is something that would have been eaten during the Regency (although without the pyrex baking dish). Dashed good, if I say so myself.

Cut 2 lbs (1 kilo +-) of beef into 1 inch/ 2cm cubes.
Marinate overnight in:
1/2 bottle guiness stout
1 cup red wine
teaspoon dried thyme
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed.
2 bay leaves.

3-4 hours before eating:
cut up and saute:
2 onions
handful of mushrooms
2-3 carrots

when soft add the marinade, a teaspoon of bouillon paste (or about cup of stock) and reduce.

Meanwhile, flour the beef and brown it in a frying pan.

Once the marinade is reduced:
put the vegetables in the bottom of a baking dish, cover with the meat. Use the reduced marinade to deglaze the  pan the beef was browned in. (There will be flour that has stuck to the pan, this will dissolve it to thicken the gravy.) Add the deglazings to the baking dish. If the volume is correct, it will just cover the meat.

Bake in a cool oven (300F, 150C) for 3 hours. Use a covered baking dish. (important, you don’t want it to dry out.) The meat should be very tender by this time.

Remove from the oven, place a pie crust over the top (I used Type L biscuit mix here; my sister in law in the UK uses suet dumplings.)

Return to the oven and bake at 375F 180C for 45 minutes until the crust is done.