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As a young girl I loved to look at the laden shelves in my Mother’s and Grandmother’s walk-in pantries. There was so much to look at, indeed it was quite an education. It was like a guided tour of ingredients, flavours and aromas. Hanging from the ceiling were all sorts, ranging from baskets, strings of things tied together, utensils and stockinged meats maturing.


The stone shelf usually had an array of bowls containing dripping, yesterdays leftovers, today’s pudding, cheeses, butter and the bottomless jug of milk that had been boiled in order to prevent it going off. If you were very quiet with the door shut, not only did it serve as a hiding place for games of hide & seek, but also you could hear the drip, drip, drip of the boiled fruit in the jelly bag in readiness for bottling the next batch of preserves.


So, with the above being my inspiration I always sought to own a walk-in pantry myself .  I acheived this with the house I now live in and would never want to have to crouch down on my haunches to be able to select foods for meals ever again.  Believe me mother really did ‘know best’ on that score. Back ache is no longer my bet noir since I have been able to select foods standing up!


My recommendations for starting your own pantry are firstly to have easily washed shelf surfaces, walls and floor.  As much airy space as you can afford in the space allotted. Plenty of washable storage containers and jars. Also if you have exposed ceiling beams as I have, plenty of hooks on which to suspend certain items, such as strainers, bread baskets, brown paper bags on a string, or foods wrapped in muslin such as preserved or dried meats.  I even hang herbs and flowers from the ceiling too.


Lidded baskets for storing potatoes in darkness and a bread bin for bread and rolls is a must for your pantry. You may also find an electric socket or two useful. Should you be fortunate enough to have a counter top or stone shelf you could perhaps use a food mixer and keep it and the mix away from any busy kitchen traffic. I use mine to make yogurt in the electric yogurt maker.


Any recesses can also be shelved out or made into a wine storage area.  At one point two doors led into the pantry I inherited and we blocked it up and put a very large wine rack which male visitors enjoyed perusing.  Not to mention the wine being out of harms way when excited children or animals were visiting.


coices of food to store in your pantry are of course personal. However, I would recommend staples such as tea, coffee, bread, potatoes, dried pasta, tinned tomatoes, baked beans, canned vegetables and fruit, jelly, jams, eggs, milk and butter.  If you are a keen cook then of course flour, sugar, herbs, spices and flavourings.


I am sure your new pantry will not only be enjoyed by yourself, but also others. From my experience my children, even though adult, always head into the pantry to take stock of the  treasures therin … after kissing mum hello …. of course!



Lastly I learned from the special ladies mentioned above that a store of standbys proved very useful when unexpected guests arrive. I would like to share with you the following recipes which are so easy and quick to prepare using some basics from the pantry. Why wait for the guests ?





QUICHE  ME  QUICK                       Serves 12  or 6 hungry people.


6 oz / 170g                Self-raising flour, sifted

2 oz / 55g                  Bran

6 medium                   Eggs

¼ tsp.                         Salt

¾ pt. /425ml             Milk

3 oz /85g                   Butter

1 large                        Onion, finely chopped

1 large                        Tin of salmon

3 – 4                            Large mushrooms sliced finely

8 oz / 225g                Broccoli cut small

Dill to taste

Ground black pepper & salt to taste

Medium to strong cheese grated to flavour

¼ – ½ tsp.                  Grated nutmeg


Preheat your oven to Gas 4,180C, 350F.


Into a large bowl put the flour, salt and butter.  Rub in the butter and add the bran.

Beat together the milk, eggs and cheese then stir in all the other ingredients until well mixed.

Pour mixture into a well-greased quiche dish and bake on the middle shelf for 30 mins. Until golden brown and risen.


Serve hot or cold with lemon wedges, and salad of your choice.


CHOCOLATE FUDGE PUDDING


3 oz /85g               Self-raising flour

2 Tbs.                      Cocoa

4 oz /115g             Butter

4 oz /115g             Caster sugar

2                               Eggs

2 Tbs.                      Water

¼ tsp.                     Vanilla extract

Pinch salt


SAUCE

4 oz /115g              Soft brown sugar

2 Tbs.                       Cocoa

½ Pt. /280ml.         Hot water



Preheat oven to Gas.6, 380F


Sift flour, cocoa and salt.

Cream butter and sugar beat in eggs and fold in the flour, cocoa, and salt.

Add water and vanilla extract and beat a little more. Pour into a well buttered 2 Pt. Dish.

Mix together the sauce ingredients and pour over pudding. Bake in centre of oven for 40 mins.


Serve with fresh cream or crème fraiche.

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This is the time of the year when the weather is unpredictable and often cold, wet, and demoralising. Spring seems so far away and a bit of spice may be just what we need to fill that gap leading up to Christmas. Perhaps the winter blues will be lifted once we turn the corner of Winter and welcome Spring once more, but until then we still need to produce warming, nourishing food for both family and friends. Right now the trees are so bright with fiery Autumnal leaves and berries. I think they echo many colours of spices available to us and have inspired me to be spicy in my cuisine. Here are some recipes which are a little different yet using ingredients that we are familiar with.

SPICY GINGER & CORN SOUP SERVES 4

50g /2oz butter

1tsp. Ground ginger

1 red pepper, chopped finely

1 onion, chopped finely

1x340g /12oz can of sweetcorn

560ml /1 pint chicken or vegetable stock

50ml /2fl.oz milk

50ml /2fl.oz single cream

Melt the butter in a large pan and add the ginger, pepper and onion and cook for 3 minutes on a low heat. Add the sweetcorn and cook for 1 minute then pour in the stock and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for a further 5 minutes and then add the milk and cream. Pour the soup into a blender and liquidise until smooth. Return soup to the pan add seasoning to taste and reheat before serving.

JAMAICAN PLAICE SERVES 4

Preheat oven to Gas 5, 375 F, 190 C.

2-3 / 50-75g butter

4 large plaice fillets

2 bananas, sliced

2oz /50g blanched almonds

juice of 1 lemon

seasoning

Melt the butter gently and use alittle to grease an ovenproof dish and arrange the fish in it. Season lightly and brush with a little more butter. Cover and cook for 15 mins. until the fish is tender and looks opaque. Fry the banana in the rest of the butter for 2-3 minutes, add the almonds and the lemon juice, stirring to mix well. Remove from the heat, arrange fish on warm plates and garnish with the banana and nut mixture. Serve with potatoes and garden peas.

BLACK CHERRY BATTER PUDDING SERVES 2 – 3

Preheat oven to Gas 5, 375F, 190C

Put into an ovenproof dish a tin of cherry pie filling then pour over ¾ – 1 pint of yorkshire pudding batter that has had 1 tablespoon of sugar added. Bake until batter is raised and browned on top. Serve with cream or cinnamon ice-cream.

Autumn

Cool waters’ edge

I softly tread

Feasting my eyes

Upon emblazoned skies

Crimson clouds

Scarlet tides

Vast ocean so red

Seems earth has bled

Rusty heather kissed

By red evening mist

Dream-like haze

Bubbles around

Ignited aurae

Seduce my mind

Autumn Sea

Rising from land and sea

Young soldier of the world

Fighting for you and me

So that we

Can still be free

 

Not for him deathless war

Rising soldier of the world

Fear runs through his core

What is this all for

There’ll always be more

 

Tired unshining eyes panic

Brave soldier of the world

It’s war zone manic

Pain of injured is chronic

In this blood ridden sonnet

 

Taking a backward glance

Historic soldier of the world

A hundred years of dance

To cry of war and advance

In action without a chance

 

He is trained to kill

Armed soldier of the world

Even when weak and ill

And depleted of all will

Carries on and does it still

 

Yearns a woman’s charms

Frozen soldier of the world

Longs to be within her arms

And so sleepily he warms

To dreaming elusive dreams

 

His mother’s goodbye ache

To her soldier of the world

Knows his life he will forsake

The risks he has to take

For peace he cannot make

 

Prized photo in her locket

Of her soldier of the world

His love’s picture in his pocket

Like a well thumbed docket

Makes his heavy heart rocket

 

Faded photo in broken frame

Cherished soldier of the world

Coveted by a family lame

By an enemy’s wounding aim

At their warrior in the game

 

Doubled like a bended stick

Exhausted soldier of the world

Unwashed hot and retching sick

Yan, Carlos, Ali, Ben or Mick

Is still some mother’s chick

 

He’ll never feel alone

Loved soldier of the world

Greetings on returning home

When so worn and truly done

He’s proud he’s his Father’s son …

 

Yet wishes peace had been won.

Sindh

In honour of the great writers both old and new of the Province of Sindh and also the victims of the recent awful and treacherous floods there I gift this poem to the people of Sindh via the Poet Zaib Sindhi who was the first Sindhi I got to know through the internet.  I wrote this poem through the eyes of a Sindhi person .

Sindh first Sindh last

In the heart and blood

Won’t ebb or wash away

By ravaging raging flood


So long its river’s dry as

Sun beats down it heats

Warm hearts and souls

Living in olden streets


Aged roads and paths

Winding, worn to tread

By ancestors so old yet

Open to young threads


Outlying working farms

Feed the rich and poor

Thanks must go to

Farmer’s hands so sore


In life oh so busy

Let’s not forget in time

Words penned by the

Artists of written rhyme


Poetic verse that was

Scribed upon paper leaf

Still giving joy today

By Ayaz, Sarmast and Latif


Ancients in Sindh’s East

Five thousand years ago

Did build a lovely city

Named  Mohenjo-Daro


Many years have past

Since it all began

But ancient and modern

Live in created Pakistan


Please remember do

And never to rescind

Accept the old age name

For you can’t erase Sindh


Castles, temples and

Persons old and new

A wonderful history

Loved, by not a few


Should you get chance

To spend time here awhile

Walk in the ancient’s shoes

Drink it’s history and style



Racing Over The Dunes .

Sitting alone in the conservatory looking out at the rosebeds and the lily pond gracing my garden I felt tired and was more than ready for a mid afternoon nap.  My young grandson James had paid a visit along with his mother and the young child had exhausted me with his lively excitement and chatter.

So keen was he to tell me about his holiday, his first stay at the seaside.  He had rushed in and clambered onto my lap draping his sticky chubby hands around my neck in a hug.  “Oh Grandpa it was terrific . I wish you could have come too. I made a new friend called Tommy and we played together EVERY DAY! “   He hardly seemed to take breath as he continued to rattle off his tales of his holiday at the seaside whilst shifting occasionally from one cheek to the other on his bottom.

“So young man you made a pal did you?” I asked.   “Yep , we are bestest friends and are going to be blood brothers when we get older .  On the beach we had picnics, built sand castles, dug trenches and filled them with water and we loved racing each other over the dunes so fast that we rolled and rolled down the other side “ he said laughing at the memory of it all.  “ Sorry Grandpa,  I lost the ball that you bought me so me andTommy couldn’t play football but Tommy showed me how to play kick the bucket instead.”

“Aye lad, never mind about the ball. I am just pleased that you had a cracking time there.” I interjected sincerely even though I was getting weary and could no longer feel my old knees. “Mummy made us sandwiches for the picnics but I didn’t want to eat them” James said looking sheepishly at his mother.  “Oh really?” I queried as I raised my eyebrows at him . “Why was that then eh?”   James wrinkled his nose “Hmmm, they were gritty from the sand and I didn’t like that, tasted ‘orrible! I bet you didn’t have gritty sandwiches at the beach when you were little eh Grandapa eh?” Deary me, he had made me laugh. If he only knew I mused.

Now as I sit here reminiscing, looking sleepily out at my garden I acknowledge that James definitely would have found my first stay at the seaside a very different experience.  Strangely, I too had made a new chum called Tommy who was a little older than I.  We too were inseparable. We too shared everything for the short time we knew each other. We too raced over the dunes together shoulder to shoulder.
In my dreamlike state I remember vividly us running over the dunes and just how hard and fast Tommy raced past me, shouting at me to get out of the way,  He pushed me with all his might and I spun then rolled … rolling .. rolling over the sand. My open mouth filled with the stuff .  Oh yes James lad you are quite right it tastes horrible and gritty alright .  Dazed as I was I got to my feet albeit it shakily.  Looking around I couldn’t see Tommy at first .. then my ears filled with a howling scream and I fell to my knees and wept tears as salty as the sand.  Weeping, sobbing relentlessly , my friend, my blood brother was lost to me … gone .  Tommy had saved me whilst along with every other member of our troop he had demonstrated one last time just how to kick the bucket upon that death ridden beach at Arromanches.


Here is your Easter Egg

the chocolate surprise

there lies within an invisible kiss

open carefully …. cautious wise

‘cos as you break open the egg

out it floats in silent wisp …..

ever so gently touching your lips

you will feel truly blessed

to find you’re loved so greatly

a gift to you … who never guessed.