An Old Fashioned Kinda Pie!
Heirloom Apple or Fruit Tart
Damp tea cloths are drying on the handles of an AGA range, and as well as damp linen the air is full of baking aromas……cinnamon vies with apples and the vague scent of buttery pastry is also omnipresent in the old cottage kitchen; it’s baking day and there are cakes, scones, pies, tarts and bread ranged over the table, marching across the scrubbed pine with determination whilst flaunting their fragrant beauty. Such was the sight that met my eyes when I stayed with or visited my grandparents in rural County Durham when I was a child. Rich in “Pounds, Shillings and Pence” they were not, but their riches were far more valuable than money as they had their own fresh water stream, a large one acre garden filled with fruit, vegetables and herbs as well as the old stone cottage where the scrubbed pine table took pride of place in the kitchen. Ingredients were seasonal, there was no “air miles” asparagus in December, or lack lustre strawberries in February, but seasonal ingredients were the pride of each meal that was cooked, and the flavour was all the better for it. Bread was made at home, and milk was delivered in milk churns on the back of a farmer’s wagon, and then ladled into shiny billy cans.
My grandparents grew rhubarb, the most amazing gooseberries the size of plums, apples, pears and a myriad of other fruit, flowers and vegetables. We went “nutting” in early autumn and “brambling” at the end of the summer……there were “fairy mushrooms” in the garden and birds who were so tame they would hop through the front door in search of crumbs. They had no running water when they first moved in and the “loo” was a chemical “thunder box” outside, but my bedroom was in the attic and my little truckle bed was directly under the roof window so every evening I viewed the magnificence of the firmament as it spun around the earth…..shooting stars were my television viewing and I once saw a shower of shooting stars that rivalled most Bonfire night displays, spinning and careering across the sky in a burst of silvery sequins, they shimmered for hours in my imagination afterwards, and I fell asleep with a sense of excitement and wonder.
These aren’t nostalgic ramblings, they are simply a record of the way things were……it’s wasn’t easy or glamorous, water had to be collected by buckets from the stream and we used to walk 2 miles to the nearest bus stop; most winters my grandparents were marooned and “snowed in”, but, I can honestly say that they were happy and content with their lot. I once re-visited their cottage in my late twenties and wished I had kept my memories of the old cottage rather than the ugly vision of the new “cottage” that confronted me – it had been over renovated to what can only be described as “yuppy” standard with many “faux” features added, such a stone cladding on top of the BEAUTIFUL old stones that the cottage had been built from. The kitchen was modern, the open fireplace had gone – along with the soul of the building and the garden had been tamed…….it was a painful journey that I wish I had never undertaken. There were still some gooseberry bushes growing down by the stream though…..a prickly green remnant from the past…..it made me feel slightly happier.
Today’s recipe for Apple and Blackberry Tart (or pie) is taken from the 1933 edition of the Radiation Cookery Book, and is exactly the same recipe as my grandmother used to bake in her old cottage kitchen. It’s my VERY late entry for Dom’s (Belleau Kitchen) Random Recipes in April, that was a combined challenge with Caroline Makes and Ros’s (The More than Occasional Baker) Alphabakes baking/cooking event. The letter was “A” and the random book was the Radiation Cookery Book 1933, and, my mum made the pie you see in the photos! The “A” is for APPLE in my recipe, and I am so sorry that a nasty bout of flu’ got in the way of me posting this on time, as my mum DID bake this pie well before the deadline! That’s all for today, do pop back later for more musings and new recipes, as well as my Cooking with Herbs round-up (also LATE) and the new Cooking with Herbs challenge, which is late too! Have a great bank holiday weekend, Karen
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