Thursday, 22 April 2010

Last Lambs, Persephone Books, Farmhouse Cheese-making

This morning I walked the dogs out to the letter box and on the way back came through the field where the sheep are at present and discovered that the last of the ewes had lambed producing a pair of very healthy twins, probably only an hour or so before I found them.They were sticking close to their mum who was very protective of them. She was stamping her feet at the labradors who were very unimpressed and not particularly interested in her or the lambs. They know better than to even contemplate looking at the sheep.

This morning in the post came that bi-annual treat, the Persephone Books newsletter. I love Persephone Books ( and through them have discovered such lovely reads as 'Miss Pettigrew lives for A Day' by Winifred Watson, 'A House in the Country' by Jocelyn Playfair and 'The Making of a Marchioness' by Frances Hodgeson Burnett amongst many others.
The reprinted books on housekeeping are wonderful, such as 'How to Run Your Home Without Help' by Kay Smallshaw, giving a glimpse into a time when having to manage without 'staff' was a real challenge. Now we do it without thinking and I think methods of housekeeping have changed hugely because of the advent of washing machines, refridgerators and vacuum cleaners. How many people scald milk jugs now or beat carpets?

One of my favourite books, not published by Persephone and out of print, is 'Farmhouse Fare' which was published by the Farmers Weekly originally in the 1930's. It is a collection of the most marvellous recipes sent in to the Farmer's Weekly by farmers wives from all over the country. Many of the recipes we would  no longer would consider making, such as rook pie or lambs-tail pie*. The Farmer says that's because no-one is hungry now. However, I use some of these old recipes quite often, particlarly cakes & puddings and over the past couple of days the Farmer has been using the recipes for making cheese. We have experimented with cheese making before with no great success I  must admit, but the Farmer decided to have another go at it so we now have several rounds of a cheddar type sitting maturing in the larder.

* Lambs tails; Younger Son has eaten them out in New Zealand, deep-fried I think. He said they were disgusting!

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