From me to you...

May food and drink be plenty in your house, always.

Yuletide cookies for the tree

My mum and I used to bake yuletide cookies every december, and every year they came out burnt. As a child I was convinced they should be baked until the bottom part was nice and dark, after all, my mother made them that way.
When I asked her for the recipe last week, to make them in my own home for the first time, she added after listing the ingredients - don't let them burn like we always did.
So here I was, making dough with a house full of foodie friends who were visiting to have an early christmas feast. Yet another excuse to eat well and be merry. To celebrate, in times where there is so much sorrow.
I bought my first christmas tree, named him Marcus and the plan is to plant him in the garden for next years christmas feast. On sunday morning we decorated Marcus with the cookies and he filled the living room with the scent of butter cookies and pine.

John Lamond Interview - all about Whisky

My dad has been drinking Whisky for as long as I can remember and on the occasions when he actually let me sip his glass ... I hated it! I wasn't drinking it the way I should, 'nosing' it  ... turning the glass ... 'nosing' the warm aromas again ... and then ... taking the tulip glass to my lips and just wetting them with the fiery golden liquid. Then licking my lips and warming the Whisky with my mouth ... a whole other flavour appears ...chewing the small amount of alcohol and feeling its scent rise up in your nose ... blossoming. At the back of your tongue the flavour matures and becomes sometimes masculine with notes of tobacco or feminine with hints of vanilla ... add a drop of water to this godly spirit ... taste ... and experience how the flavours evolve ...
Trying a new kind of Whisky is an experience ... a journey ... so much more than a drink.

In my early days of Whisky savouring I got an email from John Lamond, one of the world’s leading authorities on Scotch Whisky. The winner of the prestigious 'Master of Malt' title  and he is the author of The Malt Whisky File, The Whisky Connoisseur’s Book of Days and The Whisky Connoisseur’s Companion. 
My lucky day and a chance to ask him the questions I had as a newbie to Whisky. It has taken me nearly a year before posting this interview with John, I felt I had to taste some more Whiskies and grow up a bit in my knowledge before being in the right place to post it.
So here it is, the questions of a Whisky 'virgin' to a Whisky expert.

Why do you love Whisky so much?
I was weaned on whisky.  Both my parents drank it as did all four of my grandparents.  Several amongst my ancestors have been involved in the hotel business, so it goes with the territory I suppose.  I worked with Dewar’s in Perth for five years and then with Low, Robertson & Co., a small Edinburgh based whisky company for a further nine years.
Whilst I was at Dewar’s I was introduced to cask strength whisky, to single cask whisky on a visit to Aberfeldy distillery and this, in 1976, was a revelation to a 23 year old.
I truly believe and preach that Scotch Whisky is the world’s premier spirit: nowhere else in the spirit world can you experience such diverse flavours and such degrees of maturity for so few pennies.  I find this diversity, both of flavours and of the people involved in the industry exciting, friendly and very often also humbling.

Cobnut brandy to wet the baby's head

We are a bunch of friends, food bloggers and one of them is becoming a mom at christmas time. Much like our Food Revolution Potluck in the summer, we decided to do a Virtual baby shower for Emiko, our dear friend who moved all the way to Australia last year. We all see each as often as we can, even if we do live in different countries and continents, this virtual baby potluck was plotted in the bedroom of an Umbrian casale on one of our foodie get togethers last month. After those first talks before going to sleep, the plotting started via email, getting all excited imagining her pretty face when she finds out we've been planning this surprise. 

Our friendship lasts through our never ending conversation on twitter, facebook, instagram and very long emails... yet far away, we are always close...
Emiko's blog was the first food blog I started to follow back in 2011 and the first food blogger I ever talked with when I first got on the mighty twitter.
She is one of the kindest people I know and I wish her and her husband Marco all the happiness in the world with their gorgeous little daughter end of december.

I bring to Emiko's baby potluck a home made cobnut or hazelnut brandy for Marco, the dad to be.
It is tradition in Britain for the fathers to 'wet the babies head' when their child is born. As much as it is often an excuse to get drunk, it is also part of a drinking culture that has been around for centuries. To 'wet' or to 'whet' the babies head refers to baptism, however in pagan Britain a newborn baby would most likely be celebrated with a drink… or two, or three.

Brilliantly British - Cawston Press

I discovered Cawston Press at this years Food Blogger Connect. Three days long we were spoiled with their sparkling and still apple juice. I'm picky about my apple juice to be honest, I don't like it too sweet and Cawston Press delivered a perfectly balanced flavour. The apple juice has a pleasant clean taste and the blends like Apple & Elderflower don't overpower the apple flavour. Cawston Press have been pressing apples for juice since 1986 and every carton of Cawston Press has 10 whole apples pressed into it! What I also love is the whole brands design! This one caught my graphic designers eye at once! My favourite of them all? Apple & Rhubarb ... so British.

Cobnut and apple tart

I'm very happy to announce, I've been asked to write for Great British Chefs
Here I am, a Belgian girl writing about Britain and British food and I am really proud that they have taken me under the Great British Chefs' wing.

I didn't have to think twice when I was asked to write about something for a mostly British audience, recently I've been quite obsessed with Kentish cobnuts and I have many more recipes up my sleeve.

When I think of my beloved Kent, apples, cobnuts, cherries and hops are the four things that define this county for me. They have moulded the landscape with their orchards and plats and have influenced the kitchens and culture.

I discovered Kentish cobnuts on a late summers day when they are sold fresh in their green husks. The kernels are then juicy and resemble a chestnut flavour, yet more delicate. When autumn arrives the cobnuts are ripened, the husks, then turned brown, are removed and they look more like the hazelnut we generally know. Now they are dried and referred to as Golden Cobnuts. The flavour of the nut has developed while ripening, and has gone from fresh and juicy to an intense nutty flavour. When stored dry they keep till christmas. The Kentish cobnut is larger and more ovoid shaped than a hazelnut and also has a different and slightly more intense flavour.

Cobnuts generally grow in Kent, where the variety the 'Kentish Cob' was planted in the 19th century by a Mr Lambert of Goudhurst.
They have however been around since Tudor times and were but revived by the Victorians who considered them to be a delicacy. There are more varieties of cobnuts but as Kent has historically been the main county producing cobnuts, the term Kentish cob is often used generally for every variety of cobnut grown in Britain.
Cobnut orchards are known as 'plats' and the nuts are harvested by hand by workmen called 'nutters'. In the old days cobnuts were also sometimes picked by hop pickers coming down from London as cobnuts and hops both ripen at the same time. The disappearance of the Hop pickers roughly corresponds with the decline of the cobnut plats.

I had my mind set on Sloe Gin

I had sloes on my mind the last two times we drove up to Kent...
On both occasions I went home without them…
My eyes were on honesty boxes by the road, people selling produce from their garden at car boot sales and little blue-ish dots in the trees we drove passed.
The location of sloe trees is a well guarded secret of those who have discovered them on foraging trips. This makes them even more mysterious to me, I just had to have some sloes. I heard stories saying the native British sloe is so very rare it only grows from ancient trees. They look like black olives, and like olives best not eaten straight from the tree. Sloes are very tart and mostly used to make jams to accompany cheese and for making sloe gin…

The sloe or 'Prunus Spinosa' is a berry from the blackthorn. Sloes or blackthorns were planted around the countryside in the 16th and 17th century as hedges around the fields to keep the cattle in. The word 'sloe' comes from the Old English slāh, in Old High German slēha and in Middle Dutch sleuuwe.  
Traditionally when making sloe gin, the berries must be gathered after the first frost and one must prick each berry with a thorn taken from the blackthorn bush. Sloe gin is made by infusing gin with the berries. Sugar is required to ensure the juices are extracted from the fruit. Some swear by freezing the berries before use.

Jo's Hotpot - British family recipes

I think she didn't realize how much she filled my heart with joy when she handed me a jar of pickled red cabbage to go with a Lancashire hotpot she cooked for me to take home. Insecure about what I was going to think of her dish, she provided me with the instructions for heating the hotpot at home.
Joanne, a bridal gown designer originally from Lancashire, moved to Birmingham a few years ago to open her fabulous bridal studio in the old Custard factory. She cooks this hotpot a lot for her family and I was lucky enough to have a taste myself.

The Lancashire hotpot is the most famous dish to come from the county of Lancashire. Traditionally it is made from mutton, topped with sliced potatoes. It's a quick and simple dish to prepare with long slow cooking, the tale goes that the women who worked at the cotton mills prepared this dish in the morning and placed the Hotpot in the oven to simmer. Hours later when the family returned home, they would have a warming dish to enjoy. This is an economical dish, making the most out of cheap cuts of meat. Nowadays lamb is mostly used but in the old days cheap cuts of mutton were used as they have a strong flavour and therefore little would go a long way.

Jo's Hotpot is made with a pastry lid instead of being topped with sliced potatoes on top. The pastry gives some extra texture to the dish that I quite like!
I'm sure this dish will be a favourite in our house like it is at Jo's. Thanks so much for sharing Jo, you are amazing!

This is the first of hopefully many recipes sent to me by readers, friends of readers, mums and aunties for my British family recipe challenge. Do you have a family recipe for Huffkins, puffkins, pudding or any other traditional recipe?
Something you mum made a bit differently because her mum told her to?

Submit your recipe and I will cook the dish and post it here on the blog!

Do let me know where you got the recipe from, it could be your grandmother or even your grandmother's grandmother! And tell me the story behind the dish if you like!
Can't wait to read all about it!

More in info here  >
You can send you recipe to:   Cheers x

Jo's Hotpot 

Send in your British family recipe and I'll cook it!

Florence White called out to her readers in the 1930's to send her their traditional family recipes. 
The contributions of those people turned into a beautiful book called 'Good things in England'. It is also the book you'll always find on my bedside table.

Challenge me!
Do you have a family recipe for Huffkins, puffkins, pudding or any other traditional recipe?
Something you mum made a bit differently because her mum told her to?
Submit your recipe and I will cook the dish and post it here on the blog!
Do let me know where you got the recipe from, it could be your grandmother or even your grandmother's grandmother! And tell me the story behind the dish if you like!
Can't wait to read all about it!

Submit here

or send me an email at


x Regula

Harvest soup for Samhain

The Celts called it Samhain which celebrated the end of harvest and the beginning of winter. It literally means 'summer's end' and is the primary festival marking the end and the beginning of the year.
Along with Imbolc, Beltane and Lughnasadh it makes up the four Gaelic seasonal festivals.
Samhain was the evening when the veil between our world and 'Netherworld' was believed to be at their thinnest. It's the feast of the dead, like Beltane is the feast of the living.
Bonfires played a big part in the festivities -much like with Beltane- people would jump over the fires or walk between them as a cleansing ritual. 
Costumes and masks -usually animal heads and hides- were worn, as an attempt to cast of or taunt the evil spirits, this was referred to as 'guising'. 
It was also the time for farmers to choose which animals would need to be slaughtered to get through the winter. This custom is still observed now by many who raise livestock as the animals will no longer graze outside.
Food offerings were also made at Samhain, people would leave vegetables outside of their door to please the evil spirits and fairies. Later in time the food offerings changed into lanterns made of hollowed turnips - much resembling the carved pumpkins we know today.

The earliest record we have of Samhain in the Celtic world comes from the Coligny Calendar, a Celtic lunisolar calendar engraved on bronze tablets believed to be dating back to the first century AD. It was written in Gaulish, a Celtic language very close related to the Brythonic being Cornish, Welsh, Breton, Cumbric and maybe even Pictish.
Celtic mythology is originally a spoken tradition, the irony is that the traditions and tales were eventually written down by Christian monks in the Middle Ages who then Christianized them to suit there needs and believes. After all the best way to strip the people of their believes is to simply adopt them to later on adapt them...

Bramley apple and Blackberry pie

Today is apple day.
In 1809 a young girl, Mary Ann Brailsford, planted a few pips in her garden in Southwell. Those pips grew into the apple tree that is responsible for one of Britains most beloved fruit.
Forty years later a local butcher bought Mary Ann's cottage and garden, after a decade of enjoying the trees fruits a nurseryman from the area asked him if he could sell some of the apples from the tree in his garden. The butcher agreed but wanted the apples to bear his name... Bramley.

Bramley's seedling were an important source of food during the First World War as during the 1900s the trees were extensively planted and the crop plenty.
Every single Bramley apple tree has come from the tree planted in that cottage garden in Nottinghamshire.

The tree was almost lost forever when in 1900 a destructive storm knocked it over, leaving it wounded on the grounds of the garden where he had grown and grown for nearly a hundred years. But from the old wood of the tree emerged a new one and it grew to be the monument we can see today.
The Bramley apple tree in Southwell has become the towns treasure and they host many celebrations of the Bramley Apple, there even is 'The Bramley apple Inn' which is located just a few doors away from where the original Bramley apple tree still grows his apples to this day.

Food Blogger Connect - Back to the Victorian school

Ellen Silverman at the photography workshop

When I started this blog not a bone in my body imagined that I would also gain so many friends.
It all began with Food Blogger Connect last year, I arrived at the conference without a twitter account, instagram or even Facebook page. To be honest I only knew of a few people's food blogs and I was almost convinced I was the only food blogger in Belgium...

This conference has changed my life, it has shown me that there are still people who are selfless and kind. People who are driven by passion and creativity. I was embraced by a community and went home with friends from all over the world.
I speak to them nearly every day trough various social media platforms and we see each other as often as we can. We travel to each others homes and have a taste of each others cultures, leaving to go home again full of inspiration.

As a first time attendee of the conference last year, a world of SEO, social media and photography opened for me. I discovered that (food) photography is my real passion in this world -other than this blog of course but they are entwined anyway-

The Ragged School room, our venue. picture
You get a taster of different kind of things, you enrich yourself with knowledge. What a lot of people don't realize is that as a (food) blogger you have be a storyteller, photographer, SEO-geek, social media expert and occasional web developer.
Luckily Food Blogger Connect offers talks and workshops on all these subjects.
Last year Jaden Hair from Steamy Kitchen explained to us how to create solid foundations for our blog and branding, Fiona Beckett from The Guardian told us to write something every day even if we don't publish it, Food and Travel editor Alex Mead gave us some pointers about pitching to magazines and Béatrice Peltre shared her knowledge on food photography.

Last year the venue was a posh hotel, this year it was the Old Ragged School of Beaconsfield. A Victorian school building and railway arch that made my heart skip a beat. How romantic, having a weekend of lessons in a Victorian school... For three days I was trying to imagine how the school would have looked in bygone times.

Kentish Cobnut cake with apple compote - a marriage made in autumn

It seems like in a weeks time the days have started to get more chilly and shorter. The trees are starting to shake off their leaves and we are greeted by cobnuts, apples and plums. Autumn is definitely upon us.

Last week I walked in a sunny meadow in Kent wearing a summer dress and red dancing shoes, today I'm packing a warm cardigan for London where I will stay with friends for a few days to attend this years food blogger conference. This time away from the hectic magazine deadlines and the company of like-minded food lovers from all over the globe will warm me with a fire of creativity.

In Kent, my mission was to find the 'Kentish cob' which is a type of hazelnut that has been grown in England since Tudor times and perhaps even earlier. The Victorians considered the Kentish cobnuts to be a delicacy and therefore are responsible for planting 7000 acres of cobnut orchard or 'plats'.
Like the cherry orchards, after first world war the amount of cobnut plats in Kent was
drastically decreased to no more than 730 acres with a further decline to 250 acres today.
Unlike most hazelnuts, cobnuts are sold fresh and not dried. They are in season from the end of august through october.
At the beginning of the season the husks are green and the kernels very juicy, further into the season when the nuts have ripened the husks and shells are brown and the flavour has developed further to the hazelnut taste that we are used too.

This cake has a wonderful nutty flavour, together with the apple compote the flavours are a marriage made in autumn. Just glorious cake.

Kentish cobnut cake
traditional Kentish recipe adapted from English Teatime Recipes

Raspberry Vinegar - Summer in a bottle

As the end of summer is approaching I feel the urge to start preserving things for the winter months to come.
I made Cherry brandy to enjoy at the christmas holidays and next week the damsons are going into the copper kettle to become a gooey jam to use in pies.
This is how I hang on to those months when we had plenty of light and warmth from the sun, colorful delicate fruits at the market and fresh strawberries on our bread.
Summer in a bottle or a jar.
When autumn has deprived us of the last of the warm days, I will make a salad with perhaps some quail and walnuts, this raspberry vinegar will be used to drizzle the green leaves with a radiant red color. Like blood it will be dripping on my plate and I will remember the summers day when I bought the raspberries at a farmshop in Kent and the lunch we had after we strolled trough the little village by the sea. The Cider vinegar came from a road trip to the Cheddar gorge on my parents 35th anniversary and is the tastiest I've ever found. Memories are stored in this bottle if you like, if you are as romantic about it as me. 

This recipe for Raspberry vinegar is fuss free and takes minutes to make, you only need to let the vinegar rest for 4-6 days before you strain and bottle it.
I used Isabella Beeton's 1860's recipe as a guide and amended where needed. As she uses a lot of sugar in hers, I didn't in mine and I find the vinegar doesn't need it.

Raspberries are a rich source of vitamin C, B, iron and magnesium. Up to 20 percent of their total weight is made up of fiber and they are also high in antioxidants. The leaves of the raspberry plant have been used for medicinal purposes for generations.

Raspberry and Strawberry Fool - A treat enjoyed by the Elizabethans?

I started my second year in Culinary school this week. It's going to be tough again combining this with my day job as a graphic designer. It always seems that the one day I can't seem to get away from the office in time is the evening I have Culinary school to rush over to. I love the experience, the knowledge passed on to us by the chefs. I'm the student with the questions, the never ending enthusiasm, with the jokes and the loud giggles. Lessons always end with dinner, bottles of wine are opened and if we're lucky a fellow student Jean, otherwise known as 'the butcher' has brought some of his home made port. We have a good time, have a laugh, a taste and a discussion about food. Our class is always the last to remain in the building and we leave the school grounds with rosy cheeks and a little bit pie-eyed.

The weekend has started and it's time to enjoy the last of the summer weather. I found some fleshy raspberries and strawberries at a carboot sale in Kent and I decided to prepare a 'Fool'. When researching this dish I wanted to find out about the origin of the term 'Fool'. 
A fool, is a dessert made by blending pureed tarty fruits - most commonly Gooseberries - with sweetened cream but it seems the exact origin of the name of this dish is lost in time.

A lot of modern recipes for Fruit Fools state the dish dates back as far as the 16th century. There is a recipe for Trifle in 'The Good Huswifes Jewel' by Thomas Dawson written in 1596. The recipe goes as follows:

Take a pint of thick cream, and season it with sugar and ginger, and rose water. So stir it as you would then have it make it luke warm in a dish on a chafing dish and coals. And after put it into a silver piece or a bowl, and so serve it to the board.

The Goods Shed farmers market - Canterbury

Food with flavour.
You take it for granted -flavour- but the truth is that retaining the taste of each ingredient in your dish is actually pretty hard.
This is what makes a good dish for me.
Not how it looks, or how expensive or exclusive it is.
Getting your timing right and capturing flavour of every single item on the plate is what makes a good chef.
A chef who works with the best locally sourced produce takes pride in his work. This is what makes the difference between a chef by passion and a chef by profession.
Not often a dish sings to me but yesterday a The Goods Shed in Canterbury, it certainly did.
It was the hottest day of the year in England and although we were hungry, we didn't really have an appetite due to the heat.
The Goods shed is a covered farmers market with restaurant serving British food prepared with fresh local ingredients from its own market.

Drunken cherries - make your own cherry brandy

Preserving cherries for later, for generations to come.

"My top way of eating cherries is a bowl of cherries. If good, they need no adornment, other than perhaps a glass of pink champagne."
Fergus Henderson.

Before the second world war there were about 40 000 acres of cherry orchards in Britain. These were mainly in Kent, Worcestershire and Herefordshire.
The past 50 years however 90 % of these cherry orchards have disappeared.
The labour was very intensive as the trees were very high, too high to cover the crop from the birds. I were mostly women who harvested the cherries on high ladders with baskets tied to their waists.  

To tackle this problem nowadays and to revive cherry growing, dwarf plants are planted to replace the towering trees. The dwarf trees are covered with netting so the birds can't steal the crop and the orchard has a maximum yield.


The people from Food Lovers Britain have started 'CherryAid', a campaign to point out to the supermarkets and consumers that the British cherry needs our attention and preservation. Since the campaign started most of Britain's biggest supermarkets like M&S and Tesco are selling British cherries and Waitrose has stated that imported cherries will be phased out completely for the five week the British cherry season.
So it's fair to say, British cherries are on their way of being saved for future generations.

Blaeberry pie - Going back in time

The first time I baked this pie it felt like magic when I took it out of the oven.
Not only has this dish been around for centuries, I got to taste a bit of Britain's beautiful food heritage. There are quite a few cookery books around that were written more than hundreds of years ago and are still influencing cooks today.
Like in politics, we are supposed to learn from our history. So whenever I am cooking a dish I research it to find out how it was prepared by the Elizabethans, Victorians, Edwardians and learn about how tastes changed and some things just stayed the same.

I am eternally grateful to Florence White who wrote the book 'Good things in England'. Born in 1863 she was the first ever freelance journalist specializing in food and English cooking in particular.
For the creation of the book she went out looking for traditional British recipes that were handed down in families for generations. Some of the regional recipes that she found or had been sent by her readers, dated back as far as the 14th century.
In 1931 she founded the 'English Folk Cookery Association' and later she set up a cookery and domestic training school in Fareham.

Another interesting read about English traditional cooking are the books from Jane Grigson, some of the recipes in her books are from or inspired by Isabella Beeton, the author of the book 'Mrs Beetons's Book of Household Management' in 1861.
Both White and Beeton's books influenced the work of Elizabeth David and so do we go on to keep British food heritage alive.

This pie is inspired by Jane Grigson's Blaeberry pie from the 70s.
These days puff pastry is more popular for fruit pies but in the old days Shortcrust pastry would have been used.
I am not a big fan of puff pastry and when I read about Flaky Shortcrust pastry in Beeton's book I thought I would give it a try. The recipe was very similar to my recipe for savoury pie pastry.
The pie worked best with the Flaky Shortcrust pastry, I added a pinch of sugar to the dough and used sparkling water instead of still water.

Blaeberries are known in England by various of local names, these include Bilberries, Wimberries and myrtle blueberries. In Ireland they are known as Fraughan and are traditionally picked on Fraughan sunday on the last sunday of july.
Bilberries were gathered by the Gaelic on the feast of Lughnasadh which is celebrated on the first of August. The Bilberries were gathered to bake pies and make wine.
Lughnasadh is a harvest celebration, a time when food is plenty and has to be preserved for the more lean days ahead in the year.
I am fascinated by these feasts which all celebrate food, fertility and life. Things were so simple and so straight forward. People were looking forward to the first berries and now we can buy them all year long. We are losing our connection with the seasons...

By chance while I write this, it's the last sunday of July. So this pie is for the harvest and the start of a whole new chapter in my life... but more on that at a later date.

Jamie's Great Britain - Giveaway -

Picture (c) Regula Ysewijn - Cover of the book (c) David Loftus

Book store The Works -who now also have an online store- have kindly offered me a book to give away to one of my lovely readers.
If you have been reading my blog you know by now that I have a thing for British food so this book is one I am very happy to offer to one of you!
I've had my copy for some time now and am really pleased with it, as always with Jamie's books the recipes are very easy to follow and the pictures mouth watering.

Strawberry and Pimm's granita - summer has arrived

Has summer finally found its way to my garden?
It surely looked that way the last two days. This might have been the wettest and most gloomy june in years. I started my two weeks at home sitting by the window, watching the rain pour down and reading my new cook book.
At times it almost felt like christmas break, when temperatures dropped and I tucked myself in a blanket to keep warm, drinking my Earl grey... warming my hands on the teacup.

In the kitchen, I craved for succulent roast beef, rich chocolate cake and full bodied red wine.

Then summer came on wednesday...
The menu in the kitchen changed again, the blanket became the cats territory and my Oxford Uni jumper gave way to summer dresses.

All I needed was a drink to enjoy in my garden... which looks a lot more like a meadow as I haven't mowed the lawn in months.
As Pimm's is my favourite cocktail as a true Britain lover, my choice was made!

As I write this, I am on my way to sunny Tuscany. I will be enjoying beautiful food and views with foodie friends. I can not wait. But what I most enjoy is having time... to live, create and grow.

Time is precious.
Enjoy every minute...
why not enjoy it with this Stawberry and Pimm's Granita in your hand!

Happy summer darlings!

'Osso Bucco' and why we should eat Rosé veal

We should all eat veal
If we don't, a lot of bull calves in the intensive dairy industry will be shot at birth.
Veal is a byproduct of the dairy industry, so if you eat a lot of cheese and dairy… eat veal. Even to the vegetarians out there who do eat dairy, please eat veal.

Bull calves are of no use to the dairy industry if there is no demand for veal and therefore the little animals need to go. Numbers reached 260 000 male dairy calves in 2007. 

To feed our milk and cheese habit, dairy cows are kept constantly pregnant but while female cows can grow up to become dairy cows like their mothers, there is no room for their brothers. Male dairy calves are not always suitable for producing beef therefore (Rose) veal can offer a good alternative.

TV farmer Jimmy Doherty, is trying to persuade people to try veal.
"Dairy calves are being shot at 24 to 48 hours old and if we drink milk we all have to share in this instead of leaving the burden of it to the farmers. Eating rose veal is utilising those calves and solving a problem," said Jimmy Doherty, who is raising veal calves on his own farm.

Britannia sandwich cake - Best of British

As the reign of Elizabeth I is referred to as 'The Golden age', I wonder what they will call the reign of her namesake Elizabeth II.
Elisabeth, born in 1533 was known as the 'Virgin queen'. She never married as she never wanted to be ruled by a man. She might be the first feminist in history. As the previous two queens in English history both failed and her reign was of such epic importance, the role of women changed quite a bit. It started with noble men who started to educate their daughters so they wouldn't look ignorant in the presence of the highly educated queen. But in general, independent women were still being called spinsters, witches or prostitutes.
When her sister 'Bloody Mary' died, she inherited a bankrupt nation scattered into pieces due to religious conflict. She had to breathe new life into Britain.
With her came the flourishing of British drama, she was a great supporter of Shakespeare and Marlowe. How would the world have looked like without Macbeth, Hamlet and King Lear? 
We wouldn't suddenly shout "Romeo oh Romeo" when we found ourselves on a balcony, we would just look at the view. The English language wouldn't be what it is today without Shakespeare as he invented nearly 1700 words for his plays, sonnets and poems. Words you wouldn't expect like 'frugal', 'gloomy' and 'monumental' were all invented by the man himself.
It is fair to say Elizabeth I reshaped Britain, made it "British", gave her name to an era and reigned supreme.

This weekend we are celebrating the current queen Elizabeth.
The Diamond jubilee is inspiring people to celebrate Brit style with street parties, cake contests and an explosion of Union Jack bunting everywhere.
If only Britain could look like this every day.
Shop windows competing for celebrating Britishness the best, biggest and most typical.
As an Anglophile, these are good times for me. I can buy Union Jack pajamas, purses and… shoes!
I finally have an excuse to decorate my cake with it, get out the bunting and watch the boats on the Thames while reading a British classic.
I celebrate, not my love for a monarch but for a land, its culture and its pride.

So this cake is for you, Britannia.
May the tea flow plenty in flowery teacups, the cakes be decorated with joy and the discussion scone-cream-jam versus scone-jam-cream go on until eternity.

'Union Jack' Britannia Sandwich cake.

I've tried a few Victoria sandwich recipes before I came to this one after testing.
This cake is slightly more solid than your average sponge cake.

What do you need

for the cake:
200g softened unsalted butter (I made butter recently, it's so easy. Go to the tutorial >)
200 g golden caster sugar
200 g self raising flour
4 medium eggs
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 teaspoon of milk.

for the filling:

500 g double cream
if you can't get hold of double cream, you can use mascarpone
0,5 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Strawberry or raspberry jam

strawberries, tips for the top and slices for the filling
go traditional with a icing sugar finish

Preheat your oven to 180°
Line the bottom of two 20 cm cake tins with baking paper.

Put the butter and sugar into a bowl and whisk until creamy.
Add the eggs one by one, whisk well so the egg is completely mixed in before you add the next one.
Add the milk and vanilla.
Add the flour and fold it in gently.

Divide the dough over the two prepared tins and spread out well with a spatula.
If you only have 1 tin, bake one first and then the other.

*If you have smaller tins, you can make some little cakes too!

Put in the oven for 25 minutes, whatever you do do open the oven or the cake will collapse.

For the cream

Whisk the double cream with a hand mixer until you get a stiff mixture.
Add the vanilla

Decorating the cake
Put the cakes with their good side down on a tray.
Spread the jam on the cake for the bottom side, then add the strawberry slices
Spread half of the cream on the other side and then sandwich this side on top of the other, the cream side down.
Press down so they stick together.
Spread the rest of the cream on top of the cake.
Use the tips of the strawberries to create the St George's cross and then next the other red cross for Northern Ireland.
Now fill up the gaps with the blueberries to create Scotland.

All done!

Now make a cup of tea!

Please feel free to leave a comment, I love reading them!

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