Friday, 31 October 2008

Ancestral Traits

I apologise for the break in regular service and thank you all for all your messages and comments that have been sent to me over the last few days and weeks and my apologies if I haven't replied to you or have been slow, or haven't left a comment on your blog.... I just seem to be so snowed under at the moment - or perhaps the shorter days are playing tricks on me but I can't seem to fit everything in! I am very grateful for every single one of your lovely words, and I am still lurking about on your blogs, even if I don't always comment. I think I have become a BlogLiner ... Also special thanks to Primrose Corner, Lesley's Creations and Kitty's Bloggy Bits for the awards and tags! I will get to them soon. Promise!

It's been a funny old day today on this festival known to the ancient Britons as Samhain (pronounce Sow'en) which is the day and night where the veil between worlds is thinnest, hence the more modern tradition of witches and ghosts and trick or treating ... in reality, this time was when the ancestors were especially remembered by the living, and the 'treats' were offerings to them. And so today I was at my usual post behind the counter in the cafe, when I saw a little old man at the door. My heart lurched because I thought it was my Grandfather. This little old man was the same sort of size, old and wizened with sallow skin and sunken cheeks and he was smartly dressed, wearing an old fashioned hat, and raincoat. When he walked in through the door and I could see him properly, I was certain it was and yet my grandfather died 11 years ago. Then the man made a grimacing gesture with his face exactly as Pepere would have done. It was uncanny and I got that funny lump in throat and watery eyed feeling as I stared at this man like he was a ghost. The spell was broken a little when he asked politely for the menu with a crisp English accent - my Pepere spoke with a thick French accent and it was always a regret of his that he could never communicate with my sister and I easily. The old man infront of me however, read the menu, but decided not to have anything after all, and left. I've never seen him before, and I wonder if I ever will again, but I am glad for his appearance today and the wonderful memories he brought of my beloved Pepere.

Now, if hubble bubble toil and trouble is the order of the day, can anybody please explain why my lovely, recently pickled beetroot, has fermented? I caught it leaking all over my cupboard, and when I opened it - luckily over the sink - it was a beetroot volcano! Jimmy found it highly amusing!

While Jimmy has been grounded over half term, we have been cooking together - fitting for this time of year as most of our ancestors were chefs and I am hoping their gifts will carry on through him. Jimmy did a fine job of carving his halloween pumpkin yesterday, so with the pulp, we made some pumpkin bread.

It turned out DELICIOUS! Soft and fluffy on the inside, crispy on the outside. I thoroughly recommend the recipe which we found here.

And from The Italian Connection who loves to get into the sprit of things, a recipe:

Pumpkin Soup Drizzled With Bats Blood


500 g pumpkin flesh; cut into chunks
100 g potatoes; cut into chunks
2 md onions; peeled and chopped
25 g butter; (1oz)
600 ml vegetable stock; (1 pint)
1/2 ts plain flour
1/2 ts grated fresh nutmeg
1/2 ts ground mace
125 ml double cream; (4fl oz)
1 tb sunflower oil

1 tb sun dried tomato paste
1 tb olive oil
1 ts tomato puree


Place a saucepan on a moderate heat and add the oil. When the oil is hot add the onions, pumpkin and potato and cook for 5-6 minutes. Once the vegetables have started to soften slightly add the butter and some salt and pepper, along with the ground nutmeg and mace. Add the flour and vegetable stock and bring to simmer for 15 minutes. Once the soup is coooked place it in a liquidiser along with the double cream and blend until smooth. Season to taste.

For bat's blood: Mix all the ingredients together and use to drizzle over the soup and serve.


Kitty said...

Your photographs today are especially beautiful Julia.

It's strange when those 'weird' things happen - and even more strange as we approach Samhain. It somehow feels as though we have again seen the person who has gone. At least it does when it happens to me.

Oh and by the way - I can't fit everything in either!


the flour loft said...

a strange yet wonderful story. i have been looking through photos of my dearly departed today and remembering, reminising and relating stories to my girls. happy samhain
ginny xxx

solsticedreamer said...

how odd but how appropriate tot he time of year!
my sole pumpkin will today be turned into two gorgeous pies!

Anonymous said...

What a great way to keep communication open while he's on "homestay" with you.

dottycookie said...

Your bread looks scrumptious - Tall Small and I are going to look at the site now!

Helen said...

What a strange encounter. Your pépère looks like a lovely man in the photograph.

I love the sound of the pumpkin bread - the photo looks good enough to eat!

jennyflower said...

Sounds like a soothing meal. I wish I could have seen the exploding beetroot! Isn't it strange how poignant these ranom encounters can be? Imperial leather soap, bold, roll-ups, the smells of my three grandparents. Very symbolic of their characters too!

Tracy said...

What wonderful post, Julia! This story is lovely...And so is your bread...anything pumpkin related I love...mmm...Happy Samhain belated ;o) ((HUGS))

Gina said...

Fabulous post Julia and great photos. I too am finding it increasingly difficult to fit everything in - it must be the shorter days!

pebbledash said...

Delicious bread recipe and link - made and devoured, thank you!