Friday, 28 January 2011

Food, Glorious Food...

Just a brief warning on today's blog, those of a sensitive disposition to their weight should look away now.

Our canteen staff are very good indeed; they care, they try to bring variety as best they can under the finance constraints they work under (they are self financing) and they are good people. However, sometimes they are ever-so naughty in some of the puddings they provide and today was no exception.

Chocolate crunch and pink strawberry custard. Oh my goodness I had to have some - I have let my diet go very badly this last few weeks and I am going to have to start redeeming myself, but frankly it's damned cold outside and I thought a few extra calories to keep the internal heater going would be in order.

I don't have many disappointments in life (well a few, but nothing major if you don't include Michelle Pfeiffer, but that's another story) but one of them relates to puddings. Chocolate pudding to be specific with chocolate custard. Now at my secondary school in Cottingham in the East Riding, a regular feature was the said combo of choccy pudding and choccy custard. As you do when you are a kid, I went home to mum and asked if she could make the same.

Now my mother was, and still is an excellent cook and a superb baker of sweet delicious things as well as cakes including the chocolate variety - moist and light. I don't know if you can understand this but the chocolate pudding at school was slightly stodgy but very filling and tasted like cheap chocolate. The Custard was the same, distinctive and nothing like the Bird's custard out of a packet my mother provided - actually thinking back, it was powder out of a tin.

What my mother could not do was replicate the taste of school puddings. She did great puddings, but it just didn't taste the same somehow. There was a cheapness, a sort of basic instinct quality to school puddings plus of course happy memories may exaggerate the quality, who knows, but if anyone knows why they tasted differently, please let me know.

Sticky, stodgy thick rice puddings with thick burnt skin on the top with dollops of strawberry jam were another favourite at school. Tinned Ambrosia from the shops never quite came up to scratch.

School meals were always bog standard stuff, roast meat, two veg and roast potatoes, thin watery gravy, plus a pudding - it rarely varied. No pastas, bolognese, sandwiches, fruit, chips or anything like that. A jug of water or dilute (very dilute) orange juice helped wash it all down.

So here's a salute to memories and school dinner ladies (sorry - they all were ladies) who were always prepared to put an extra roast potato on your plate if you looked appealingly at them and smiled and said a big thank-you, they had their favourites!

Here are some fun food related quotes from the daft and famous:

A man went to the doctor who told him he had just three minutes to live. "What can you give me doctor?" he asked in a panic. "A hard boiled egg?" the doctor replied. - Tommy Cooper.

A friend of mine drowned in a bowl of muesli. A strong current pulled him in. - Tommy Cooper.

Two cannibals were eating a clown. One says to the other, "Does this taste funny to you?" - Tommy Cooper.

'This rock salt is over 200 million years old, formed through evolutionary geological processes high in the German mountains. Use by 30 September 2011.' - Label on a salt container.

I cook with wine. I sometimes even add it to the food. - WC Fields.

I'm at the age where food has taken over from sex in my life. I've even had a mirror put over the kitchen table. - Rodney Dangerfield.

Nouvelle Cuisine, roughly translated means, 'I can't believe I paid two hundred quid for this and I'm still hungry.' - Mike Kalina.

I went to a restaurant which serves 'breakfast at any time.' so I ordered French Toast during the Renaissance.' - Steven Wright.

My doctor told me to give up eating those intimate little dinners for four - unless there are three people eating with me. - Orsen Wells.

Have a great weekend

Chat soon



  1. This made me smile. My mother was also an excellent cook and it was a matter of pride to her that our cakes and breads were home baked. I used to go to tea at my friend's where the cakes were always bought ones and I used to come home and rave about Lyon's Swiss Roll - she used to get pretty annoyed I can tell you.

  2. Hi Weaver
    I love it - a perfect example, many thanks for sharing!

  3. OOH I used to love pink custard, I'd forgeotten it even existed xxxx

  4. I make my own puds, and looking back, I suspect tho' made with simple ingredients, they contained a hard fat, perhaps suet, and were steamed rather than oven baked. Or oven baked, then kept hot over steamers :)

    There's a good chance they may even have been made with powdered egg, powdered milk, and water too.

    I've just finished making individual ramakins of what's left of my ginourmous Christmas Pud for freezing (it lasts forever), which had me thinking.......

  5. School dinners??? UGH!!! Everyone was always telling me I don't eat enough -- still do. Food is just not my favorite subject. As for school dinners, I remember finding a caterpillar in the cabbage. That ended it for me! I like the rock salt label joke!

  6. I'm not a big eater ChrisJ :)

    I love to cook tho'. I suspect you do too. Think of yourself as an Artisan. An art form. An expression of yourself. Portray a visagé of scents, colours and flavours to a few personally Selected friends. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

  7. Hi Auntiegwen
    Pink custard, until that pudding, I've never had it - delicious but disgustingly sweet.

    Hi ChriJ
    Not a fan of school dinners eh? They didn't inspire much, even then, simple but basic.

    Hi Wheelie
    Something I miss that my grandmother made (so I must have been younger than 13,) was suet pudding. Mmmmmm

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  9. Oops! I had to remove a misprint - apologies.

    Our favourite school pud was something we called "chocolate concrete". And that's exactly what it was. Mmmmm!

    (By the way, that picture looks like a small mammal that has succumbed in a bowl of shampoo. Are you sure it's a pudding?)

  10. You were 13 once Bro'? Gosh! Is that allowed?

    Suet Pudding? Suet Pudding? :)

    Would that be jam or savoury? I suspect Jam.

    Here we go....

    4 oz self-raising flour, sifted
    pinch salt
    2 oz sugar
    2 oz shredded suet, veg or beef
    2 tbsp milk
    4 tbsp jam of choice

    1. Mix the flour and salt together in a bowl.

    2. Add the sugar and shredded suet and blend well.

    3. Gradually stir in the milk, blending until the mixture is firm.

    4. Grease a 1 pint (600 ml) pudding basin.

    5. Line the base with two thirds of the pastry and put the jam in the bottom.

    6. Cover the pudding with the remaining pastry, then cover with greased greaseproof paper making a pleat across the top for the pudding to rise.

    7. Secure the paper around the basin with string.

    8. Place the basin over a saucepan of water and boil for 1 1/2 hours.

    9. Turn out onto a warm serving dish and heat some extra jam or make custard to pour over the top.

  11. Hi Frances,
    Chocolate concrete - I like it - that crunch pictured was fairly hard, but my teeth are still intact. I hope it wasn't an animal - mind you, it never moved (having said that, I haven't seen the mice at work lately)

    Hi Wheelie
    MANY thanks for the receipe - guess what I'm going to try this weekend coming! Sounds yummy MMMMM. Now I think about it, it was treacle & suet pudding.