(Answer: d) Rose. Apples are related to roses.)
(Answer: c) Strengthens the heart. John Evelyn said that ‘Generally all strong and pleasant cider excites and cleanses the Stomach, strengthens Digestion, and infallibly frees the Kidneys and Bladder from breeding the Gravel Stone’)
(Answer: b) Groggy. In the 18th and 19th centuries, grog was served on naval vessels to combat drunkenness (grog is rum mixed with water, lemon juice and sugar) but many sailors saved up their rations and got drunk on it and ended up feeling the effects of ‘grogginess’ the next day.
Jingled is an American term to describe being mildly drunk
Symposium comes from the Greek word meaning to drink together, or have a drinking party.
Glorious can be used to describe the funny stage of drunkenness. It is not a quantitative measure of drunkenness, but a qualitative one.)
(Answer: a) Coriander)
This is essentially an Apple Genoise, which sounds really complicated, but is actually one of the easiest cakes to make, in my opinion/experience. The only thing you have to do is make sure that you prep everything ahead and take the time to get lots of air into your batter. If you do that, you will be left with a light and fluffy, heavenly textured apple cake.
First off, I’ll give you my great-gran’s tip for a guaranteed light sponge: sieve the flour three times. It sounds like a gimmick, but it makes a huge difference. If you want to guarantee a perfectly light cake, take the extra 60 seconds and sift away! This isn’t just for Genoises (I don’t think she had much truck with ‘fancy’ cakes like that) but it makes it is also an indispensable tip for Victoria sponges and Yorkshire puddings. Get the air into the flour and 50% of your work is done for you.
My other tip is to work fast. You have to take 6 minutes to whisk your eggs with an electric whisk (apparently 8 minutes with a stand mixer, but I’ve never tried that), again to get the air in, and as soon as that is done be sure to get your dry ingredients and apples in quickly and get that cake straight in the oven. Sugar reacts with egg yolks and if you leave the egg/sugar mixture standing there while you get other ingredients sorted out, you’re going to end up with a tough cake. Pre-prepare your ingredients!
Anyway, enough with my rambling, here’s the recipe:
Serve with Gin and Tonic.
This cake is pictured with preserved bilberries, but raspberries and blueberries work very well too.
This is a Japanese snack and really, truly, utterly delicious.
I’m a big fan of pumpkin, but do sometimes find it takes a lot of time to deal with, when you’ve got to roast it off, let it cool remove the flesh, etc. etc. So, imagine my delight when I found a recipe for pumpkin that’s done in 4 minutes, is comfort food and tastes like the best aspects of pumpkin, paired with the best things about sweet potato fries!
To be honest, I’m a bit in love.
My only warning about this recipe is that these things are FILLING. I only made half a Hokkaido Pumpkin’s worth of these babies, but it still took me three days to finish them (they reheat really well in the oven or air fryer), because my goodness do they fill you up.
They can be eaten on their own, or dipped in soup, or (if you’re going non-vegan) into runny egg yolk, which is my new dream lunch. Actually… they really go with everything.
Strawberry and Lime Frapple goes so well with tempura!
A Drop fell on the Apple Tree -
Another - on the Roof -
A Half a Dozen kissed the Eaves -
And made the Gables laugh -
A few went out to help the Brook
That went to help the Sea -
Myself Conjectured were they Pearls -
What Necklaces could be -
The Dust replaced, in Hoisted Roads -
The Birds jocoser sung -
The Sunshine threw his Hat away -
The Bushes - spangles flung -
Let’s ignore the fact that this is technically a poem about summer showers. Rain persists, even in the latter stages of November. I like Emily Dickinson. So, I’m going to make this a poem about autumn turning into winter, because why not? (Because it’s not. It’s about summer showers. Please don’t let my shoehorn poetry habits mislead you!)
It’s very hard to remember, when sitting in the middle of three days of drudging damp rain, how exciting it is when those first drops fall when you’re least expecting them. There’s a skylight in my attic and one of the things I love to do is go and sit up there (in amongst a lot of stuff that really needs to be sorted through) and listen to the drops of rain falling on my head, while I stay lovely and dry!
How special is it that Emily Dickinson felt the same way!
I know, it’s a very common thing that lots of people like, but it’s still cool!
So, my dear Emily,
The apple trees will grow well, because the drops falling on them have fallen into a downpour.
The hundreds of thousands of raindrops that followed soon after are definitely helping the stream! It’s running a torrent outside right now, but it’s nice to think about that random little raindrop that’s trying to fall on my head, eventually rolling out to the sea. Lots of adventures await it, I’m sure.
Do you think they are pearls of wisdom, falling from the sky? That wisdom is most certainly to stay inside, or invest in a better raincoat! Pearls make sense, Emily. I can see where you’re coming from. The luminescence of a raindrop, with all the colours of the rainbow potentially trapped within it, just waiting to escape with a ray of sunlight… which is most assuredly trapped behind a cloud at this moment, but I suppose you were writing about a summer shower.
I could make you several thousand necklaces, if you like. As you said, the drops are spangling the bushes so much that it look like fairy lights are being thrown from every bush around. How many necklaces should I make you? I’m inclined to say ‘all’. It would not do to let that image go to waste.
As I say, I am writing this as autumn turns to winter. The singing birds are robins, the dust never has time to settle between the storms and the sunshine has most definitely thrown his hat away! But he will come again another day, just as the rain will go away. There are advantages to writing to you at this time of year, though, since the pearls that have captured my imagination so are beginning to seem more solid on the leaves. So much easier to turn jeweller in those circumstances. I will send them to you, from the tips of my fingers.
I hope you are keeping well in the ether. You are alive and well on the page.
(Answer: c) 4-5 years.)
(Answer: a) Julius Caesar. When Julius Caesar invaded Britain in 55BC, he and his army found the Celts making a drink out of fermented apples. They liked it as a drink and took it back to Rome as a better alternative to wine than beer)
(Answer: d) 1970!)
(Answer: b) dark red and delicious looking)
Tiramisu is the perfect dessert and I will physically fight anyone who tells me otherwise. You have cake (technically ladyfinger biscuits, but once they’re soft, it’s basically cake), you’ve got rich mousse, you’ve got whatever you’re topping it off with… actually, it’s not that complicated when I put it like that, but that’s the point: it’s simple, easy to make, and perfect every time.
I’m not a big coffee lover, though, so to change it up a bit and add to perfection (in my opinion) I like to do twists on this classic and so this is my version of an apple (and rum) tiramisu.
Recipe (Serves 8)
I served this recently with a liqueur glass of Grumblebee Honey Spiced Rum and my guests were blown away by the combination!
I don’t have very much to say about this recipe. It’s quite simple, but perfect on a foggy, drawn in night and so I thought I would share it with you. The only thing that is remotely ‘complicated’ is the onion sauce, the recipe for which is below.
Cook your sausages (I made beef sausages for the first time for this and they were absolutely delicious and worked really well with the rich onion) in your preferred manner. I’m personally not very fond of fried sausages, so tend to do mine in the oven (25 minutes at 180°C) or air fryer (10-15 minutes at 180°C). Boil new potatoes until tender. Serve with peas and carrots and the sauce.
French Onion Sauce
Whimple Orchards Cider
Caravaggio’s The Supper at Emmaus (1601) is a religious history painting, painted at the height of Caravaggio’s fame. There is a lot going on in this painting (it’s one of my favourites, I could seriously talk about it for hours, if anyone wants…), so I am going to concentrate on the still life within it, or try to, at least: the bowl of fruit.
Caravaggio’s composition and verisimilitude are (in my opinion) unmatched. In this painting, depicting the moment that Christ is revealed to the two apostles at the inn in Emmaus, is like a photograph with the intensity of action that is being displayed. Even the way the scene is cropped at ¾ length feels like a zoomed in cinema shot, and we’re just waiting to move onto the next frame.
The way the apostle in the chair is jumping out of his seat, which is disappearing out of the frame, pushing the scene out further than we can see. The way the second apostle is throwing his arms out in a crucifixion position, reaching out of the frame to us the audience. It’s dynamic and active and so deeply contrasted with the peaceful pose of Christ, blessing the bread. It's also contrasted with the rather befuddled innkeeper staring at the scene with no idea what is going on but casting a halo shadow behind Christ’s head.
Caravaggio loved a good contrast, whether it was with light, being a master of chiaroscuro (my favourite word), or action, to highlight the focus point of his scene. In this case, the focus of the painting of unquestionably Christ.
With all this movement (and contrasting stillness) it is easy to overlook the bowl of fruit, perched rather precariously on the edge of the table. Caravaggio was a master of still lives, having made his bread and butter (literally) in his early career churning out still lives for sale. Maybe he just added the fruit to show off. He was a master of realism after all, and even at the time critics (wealthy patrons) commented on how astonishing it was to see a painting of fruit that looked like you could pluck it straight out of the bowl and eat. Even the spots on the apple add to the realism. This fruit exists in our space.
However, nothing about this painting was unplanned. There is only evidence of one change to the composition of this painting (the placement of a knee), which was incredibly rare for the time and meant that Caravaggio knew exactly what he wanted to paint and why. The fruit bowl is of compositional significance.
First of all, the placement of the bowl. As I said earlier, it is a rather precarious placement, hanging over the edge of the table, with a shadow of the protruding base clearly visible. As with other framing devices in this painting, this is designed to draw the viewer in. The bowl is entering the audience’s space and serves as a bridge between us and the scene.
It is slightly funny that the inclusion of the still life aspect of this painting was a point of praise at the time of its painting, because it was also one of the few points of criticism: there is no way all these fruits could have been in season at the same time! Apples and grapes at once? Never! Bellori, a relatively contemporaneous biographer of Caravaggio, highly criticised this supposed goof, as it took away from the immersive realism that the verisimilitude of structure evoked (sorry for all those words – I did Art History at university and haven’t been able to show off in a while).
But, the whole point of this moment caught in Caravaggio’s imagination is that it is timeless. The biblical scene exists in its moment, true, but it also exists throughout time and is relevant throughout the year. Again, it doesn’t matter what time of year it is, the fruit provides a bridge between the past and now. There is a tangible connection between the scene and us, the viewers.
There is a more literal meaning behind the fruit being caught between the image of Christ after the resurrection and us the audience (Caravaggio painted this with a Christian (Catholic) audience in mind) and that is the connection with first fruits. First fruit is a religious offering of harvest produce to a deity. References to First fruits appear throughout the Old Testament – people were instructed to give the first fruits of the harvest to God, to honour that God had made the harvest possible, but also people (people of Israel) were the first fruit devoted to God. This was taken up by early Christian writers who referred to Christ as ‘the first fruit of the dead’.
So, the meaning here is manifold: the fruit, sitting between the audience and Christ serves as an offering to God (Christ); is thanks to God’s abundance and benevolence; is a symbol of Christ himself and his sacrifice on the cross; and is a representation of Christians offering themselves to God (again, it was painted for 17th century Catholics), which is highlighted by the ignorant innkeeper, who should be shrouded in darkness, but is still illuminated by the light being reflected off Christ.
And speaking of light in this painting, there is a lot going on. There is no tangible or singular light source, which is slightly unusual in a Caravaggio painting, and instead light and shadow is used to highlight what Caravaggio wanted it to highlight. This could be seen as a metaphor for ‘the light of recognition’, which is the direct theme of this scene (the apostles recognising Christ after the journey on the road to Emmaus). One of the little easter eggs, for want of a better term and pardon the reference, is that the shadow from the apples and pear leaves hanging above them form a fish (a symbol of Christ) on the tablecloth!
(Answer: b) England. The first recorded Apple Pie is from 1381 and includes figs, raisins, pears, apples and spices and was served in an inedible pastry known as ‘coffin’ pastry, which meant you could walk around with it and eat the filling as street food.)
(Answer: a) Yes. Proper Cider is always gluten free and is suitable for a gluten free or paleo diet.)
(Answer: d) Go on, have another! Splicing the mainbrace (repairing the ship’s main mast rigging) was a particularly onerous task, so sailors were given an extra dram of rum as a reward whenever they had to do it.)
(Answer: b) It helped prevent scurvy. Tangentially, at least. The English Navy developed the gimlet, a lime and gin cocktail, as a means of getting the sailors to get their daily lime juice (and prevent scurvy) and stop complaints. It worked. It also had the effect of ‘fortifying their spirit’.
There are very few I crave consistently, but this is one of them. I make it at least once a month. There is no way to describe the texture to you. It’s smooth and ‘creamy’ and kind of like a cross between a jelly and a custard... maybe like a panna cotta…? It’s really nice, but I can’t really think of a modern equivalent.
This recipe is adapted from Chireseye, recipe XVIII in The Forme of Cury, a recipe book from the Court of King Richard II. I’ll leave the original recipe down below for nerd points, but very basically, it’s a cherry and red wine dessert, thickened with breadcrumbs. It’s incredibly easy to make, very quick and very cheap!
It’s one of those desserts that is easy enough that you can whip it up as a mid-week treat, or make for a fancy dinner party and it would be equally appropriate. Seriously, people think you’re really cool when you tell them they’re having a 600+ year old recipe fit for a king.
Onto the adaptation and reasons behind it: I wanted to stick to the original when I first started making the recipe about 5 years ago. The cherry tree in our garden is laden every year with wonderful looking cherries. Wonderful looking, I say? Yes, because every year it keeps getting raided by a greedy little blackbird, who lies in wait and just as they’re ready to pick, he stares me straight in the eye and eats every. last. one. in a single sitting.
Other birds try and get a look in and he chases them off. Even magpies!
He sits there for two weeks before and just challenges me to a race, which he knows I have no chance of winning. Mrs Blackbird (they’ve been a couple for years and are a very entertaining duo, who have dates in the dog-rose tree, where they take it in turns swinging the branches for each other) always has to come and find that her partner has eaten so many cherries in one sitting, he turns completely round… and then gets drunk as they all ferment in his gut… then has a hangover for two days afterwards. Have you ever seen a blackbird with a hangover? It’s a mess, every year.
Anyway, with no access to the cherries that are rightfully mine, I went to the shops to get some cherry juice and the result was absolutely spectacular.
But, cherry juice is quite expensive, which I could not justify as a regular occurrence (as this recipe deserves) so I decided to figure out some substitutions. Plum and red wine was very decadent. Orange and white wine went down very well (orange and red wine at Christmas is very good). That was a favourite for a while, but I did want to figure out what to do with apple juice, since apples is what we usually have in.
Please feel free to judge me, but the first time I tried it, I stuck too close to the recipe and did it with white wine. Big mistake. Huge. The entire thing came out too acidic and the flavour of the fruit was lost entirely. It even put me off this dessert for a whole 2 months.
Then I remembered that I am an idiot and made it with cider instead. Gamechanger, obviously. The flavours balance out perfectly and it is now my go to.
Nothing more to say. On to the recipe.
Tak Chiryes at the Fest of Seynt John the Baptist and do away the stonys grynd hem in a morter and after frot hem wel in a seve so that the Jus be wel comyn owt and do than in a pot and do ther'in feyr gres or Boter and bred of wastrel ymyid  and of sugur a god party and a porcioun of wyn and wan it is wel ysodyn and ydressyd in Dyschis stik ther'in clowis of Gilofr' and strew ther'on sugur.
Take Cherries at the time of the Feast of Saint John the Baptist (24 June), stone them, grind them up and sieve them, so that you are just left with the juice and add them to a pot with butter or grease and breadcrumbs and a good amount of sugar and wine and when it is well cooked serve it in dishes and stick on cloves of gillyflowers and sprinkle with sugar.
(makes 4 servings)
Note: The ratios of ingredients are 180ml juice, 60ml alcohol, 1oz butter and 1 slice of bread per 2 servings. The sugar and spices can be added to taste.
Silly Cow Cider