To the Boys at the APCC: CHEERS!

In any marriage, there are things that you might “borrow” which rightfully belong to your spouse.  Sometimes it’s a well worn shirt.  Or a jacket.  Or a hat.  Or perhaps, sometimes it’s not.  Sometimes, you might just want to steal their relatives instead.

I grew up with a few cousins, mostly older, a few younger.  We moved, they moved. In the “pre-facebook” days of the 60s and 70s, I never felt like I really knew those cousins.  Some I haven’t seen or spoken to since I was a kid.

Grumpy grew up without any first cousins.  None at all.  His father was an only child, his mother’s only sibling died young.  Really small family.  His grandmother (mother’s mother), however, came from a big family.  She left them behind in Newcastle, England.  She, and then her daughter (my mother in law), were good about keeping in touch.  Mary (my MIL) went over for a visit, and met some of her cousins and their children.  This is how Grumpy and I came to know his (2cd…3rd???) cousins in the UK.  And I stole them.

I didn’t set out to steal them.  It started out with a visit from Hylton and his (new) bride Yve. They were great- the kind of people you have fun with right off.  Then we stayed in touch through FB.  This is where I met Allen.  Allen and Hylton are brothers; and also very competitive, in a friendly way (ahem- right?).

Somehow or other, we started having intercontinental challenges.Kelly's yorky pudd I’m not sure who started it, or even what the first one was.  It might have been the Yorkshire pudding challenge.  This one was the entry from Kelly, Allen’s daughter who lives down in Australia.  My own entry was not so pretty.  There was also the “Toad in the Hole” contest.  This is basically a nice yorky pudd with sausages in the middle. toad in hole

This here is the Toad in the Hole that I made.  The toads (sausages) were burnt nearly to a crisp!  It’s a sad thing compared to Kelly’s- all high here/ flat there, but  it does pull off a neat height of 5 inches on the high corners(that’s more than 10cm there Kell!).

marrsy's mud pieThen, there was the Mud Pie.  We used a recipe from the Hairy Biker’s.  Know of them?  Those guys can really cook! This is Allen’s entry.  

Here is a link to the official recipe for Mississippi Mud Pie from the Hairy Bikers Mississippi Adventure.  It’s not like the ice cream one.  It’s a decadent, rich, chocolaty treat.mud pie 5

My own entry into the contest is pictured here, but I’m clearly not going to win the award for best photo!  Not sure what the problem was that day- must have been the camera, surely!

Somewhere along the way I really started looking forward to these food challenges.  In between those times we found plenty to communicate about, getting to know each other as well as sharing jokes.  I think Allen shares my fondness for jokes.  I love a good laugh- life is just to precious to take seriously! Allen is a regular attendee at “Church on Sunday“.   Click on the link there to read about it in his own words at Wibbleblog.com.  On Sunday’s the guys get together at the Annfield Plain Cricket Club to watch the games.  There’s probably a great deal of cricket (or football) cheering going on, but there is a bit of pint pulling in the club on a Sunday as well.    The boys at the club have been bringing in a variety of foods (at one time Thursday was “cheese night”), following the goings on with the Hairy Bikers and the international foodie competitions among the cousins as well.  I’m not sure they are all on Allen’s side, either! ;-)

Recently I was made an honorary member of the Annfield Plain Cricket Club.  Me.  Not Grumpy.DSCF2070  And I couldn’t be happier.  In fact, just today I received a gift from Allen: a memorial cup from the APCC centennial.    I’m absolutely tickled pink!  I’d like nothing more than to hop a plane out there and join them on a Sunday.  I know less than nothing about cricket, but I’ll cheer for Newcastle United, or Sunderland (If they’re ever the underdogs) and I’ll bring my cup. I know it’s meant for tea- but it’s an official cup lads! It won’t hold a pint all at once, but it seems to have a promise of 2000 refills stated in the handle.  It may take me a while to get through soDSCF2073 DSCF2077 DSCF2081many, but I’ll have a great time coming to know you all in person while I’m getting there!  Thanks so much Allen and you fellas, for making me a part of the club and a fine gift of the cup.  I’m aware it’s a limited edition (and commemorative of the championship) and I’ll treasure it.  Thank you for the cup, and the honor.

Cheers Boys! XXX

Barm Brack: American Style

Barm Brack is an Irish bread with dried fruits, soaked in tea, inside the batter.  I was challenged to bake this  (see here) in Barm Brack…Challenge Accepted, by my cousin (via Grumpy) Allen of Durham, England.

The recipe he used was this one Here, from Allrecipes.co.UK .  Here is his offering:

Look! Allen has a dalek cookie jar in the background!

Look! Allen has a dalek cookie jar in the background!

It looks terrific, but I like to use what I have on hand, and chopped candied citron was not in the pantry! DSCF1746 I made a nice big mug of really great tea (Yes, Allen, we do have really great tea here! This is Constant Comment by Bigelow.  It’s the perfect tea for this operation-or so  I think ;-) ).  The dried fruit options included raisins (sultanas), applis, strawberries, bananas and cherries.  I just couldn’t picture strawberries and bananas in this recipe, so raisins, apples and cherries it was.   They soaked for 2 hours (a lot less than the “overnight” called for) in the recipe.  I hope it will be okay…..

So the original recipe calls for 8oz light brown sugar.  From what I could find that would be just a bit over a cup (7oz= 1 cup).  I used about 2 tablespoons of low sugar marmalade, and decided to try with about 3/4 cup brown sugar (this was just perfect).  After draining off most of the tea, I added the brown sugar and marmalade, then stirred it all together.

The recipe also called for 5oz of self rising flour.  The 5oz is about a cup in US measure.DSCF1750  I didn’t have self rising flour, so substituted one cup flour and 1 tsp baking soda. After stirring all that together, I had a nice thick batter.  It was rich, sweet and tasted of tea. Not bad!  I baked it at 325f for an hour and came up with… (tadaaa!)…

This is delicious! DSCF1755 Very moist, thick with plumped up fruits and a hint of tea.  Grumpy says it’s more than “a hint”, but he really loves tea so this was a good flavor for him.

I’m not sure how this version shapes up against our UK cousins, but we’re happy with the Bram Brack and will definitely be making it again.   What do you say Allen dear??? (XX ).DSCF1756

Barm Brack…Challenge Accepted!

When you marry, for better or for worse, you get a whole new family.  I knew that my Grumpy had 3 sisters.  All three went on to marry and through them I inherited additional brothers/sister-in-law.  The surprise gift was the family overseas.  He has “distant” cousins living in Durham, England and thereabouts.  Mainly I’ve come to know two brothers: Hylton and Allen.  They are roughly my own age (give or take).  Hylton is a great guy.  Loves his Yve, dogs, travel, and a good Stella.  Great fella to travel with; he’s been everywhere.  I don’t suspect he’s the primary cook in the house, but he and Allen have a brotherly love of competition.  That’s where Allen comes in. Allen is forever coming up with cooking “challenges” in which we can all compete.  Hylton, usually unable to refuse a challenge, works his tail off in these trials.  Allen is a rascal.  He’s tamed a bit over the years, I suspect.  He and his bride Susan have raised 3 girls who dote on them and share their love for good, old fashioned rock music (the stuff we grew up with). Allen isn’t a professional cook.  He’s actually an officer for Her Majesty’s Prison Service.   He’s also all about cricket.   And Dr Who (we have this in common).  He probably has dozens of other hobbies, but these are big.  He writes once in a while about life at his blog (www.wibbleblog.com).  One of my favorite posts is Church on Sunday , where he writes about Sundays with his “boys” at the local Cricket Club.  These men, all cricketers, drink and talk about all manner of things, including food.  Sometimes the boys of the Cricket Club get involved in these challenges.  We’ve had some memorable ones over the past couple of years.  One was a yorkshire pudding challenge.

Not a bad offering!

Not a bad offering!

Then, there was the “Toad in the Hole”

The sausages were overdone, but good marks for height!

The sausages were overdone, but good marks for height!

Here is the

Here is the “Hairy Bikers” rendition of Mud Pie

It’s been a lot of fun.  He’s challenged me to learn knew things, and we have other cousins, family and friends participating in 3 continents no less!

So now Allen has challenged me to bake a Barm Brack.  Stand aside Clyde, this girl is stepping up to the challenge!

I’ll let you know how it goes….after I find out what Barm Brack is! ;-)