Today i wander round the house like a bear with a sore head. In earlier years you might have supposed i was nursing a bit of a hangover - and lord knows it feels like one - but in fact my 'hangover' is little more than an ultra-late night's fiddle playing at the little pub where i go to play with a group of friends. It seems almost unfair that so little alcohol was involved in the resulting headache. I turn for solace to an old copy of 'the pudding club book'. If they can't help me, no one can.
The pudding club was founded in 1985 by Jean and Keith Turner at The Three Ways House Hotel in Mickleton, Glocestershire. It was started almost as a joke but since then the revival in traditional puddings has been phenomenal. Seems a long time ago now, but even the call to eat a Mediterranean diet has not dented our enthusiasm for comfort-eating. Many of the puddings are traditional sponges which take some time to steam and can be a little heavy on the stomach. I prefer the kind of pudding that is basically a sponge batter which rises as the sauce sinks through it to a delicious goo underneath. There are two lovely examples in this book, the Caramel pudding and Sultana and Butterscotch pudding. I favour the latter i think and set to work. It is very satisfying to make this in an old pie dish; the very shape of which brings back memories from childhood. It cooks in the oven in 40 minutes.
You are also indulging in a bit of pudding, i see, and, hair of the dog or not, i see it contains a goodly helping of limoncello liqueur. This might be very handy for the majority of the us who inevitably have a little handbag bottle of the stuff knocking around in a cupboard somewhere from a holiday in distant memory (along with a completely unopened bottle of Ouzo that you can't remember why you bought). I like the idea of using lemon curd in your lemon trifle and the scattering of crystallised violets lends the Edwardian air that you were aiming for.
By the next day you are sitting quietly barefoot in the garden 'sipping green tea and listening to the sound of church bells'. How a change in weather can change our behaviour and whole outlook on life. It's raining here. Still. There is a drought elsewhere in the country if we are to believe what we are told, but we are drowning in the stuff here. I drove past the new bottled water factory. It has a wavy roof and large picture window looking out over the countryside. I think it is well-designed and, as it is placed near to the recycling centre, does not blot the landscape. But they call it Nestle water now - not quite so poetic somehow.
You find sweet cicely at the market to flavour an omelet, and completely environmentally-unsound baby monkfish which you marinade in rosemary and garlic and grill .We all follow our own principles most of the time but from time-to-time pure lust gets in the way and we stray. You attempt to appease your conscience with a fool made with rhubarb from the garden and not laden-down with food miles.You use a few of the sweet cicely seeds in with the stewed fruit and sugar. I think i will try that if i can get my hands on some sweet cicely. Our markets aren't up to such delights but i might have better luck in one of the smaller plant nurseries. Seems almost unusual to shop for the kitchen at such a place but the quality and the price is often better.