Sunday, May 25, 2008

food and history - a delicious meal

haven't been posting much, but am probably going to make up for it now, because this proves to be a long one.

started by breakfast at the store today with JC and Jess the Elder. Was too tired to really enjoy myself, as some bright spark decided to put the movie Troy on last night, starting at 10.30 which meant that it was almost 1.00am by the time it finished.

I loooove Troy. and as a history nerd, i have other history nerd friends who have issues with this. and i should warn you, if you ever get the chance, never see an 'historical' ancient film with me - don't. i spend the whole movie saying things like 'thessalonians didn't wear torques', or 'sparta's not on the coast', or 'they wouldn't have had those types of columns in troy'.

i can be very tiresome most of the time.

but it's a stonking, rip snorter of a film. only the thinnest thread of relation to the homeric story (i note in the movie patrokolas is brad pitt's cousin, not is lover) but i think brad pitt makes a fantastic achilles, and eric banna a brilliant hector and the movement and the colour and even the sounds are just how i've always imagined this time in history - something i'm sure a lot of you have not given any thought to at all.

but the whole point of this very rambling film critique is to emphasise that i was tired.

after a very large plate of bacon and eggs and a second coffee please, i rode to my mothers to make pasties.

i've always known that i have scottish/viking heritage on my father's side, and welsh and german on my mothers. but it turns out that my great-grandfather (my mother's paternal grandfather) was part cornish and a great pasty maker.

originally pasties were made for cornish miners, and the big bit of crust was used as a 'handle' so that they could eat them after coming up from the pit, and sometimes they would be savoury one end and sweet the other. they're still popular in australia, particularly in south australia where there is a big cornish population.

so today we tried out my family's pasty recipe:

¾ lb steak (0.34kg)

1 lb peeled potatoes (0.45 kg)

1 onion

1 swede

1 tspn salt

¼ tspn pepper

1 tplsn finely chopped parsley

4 tblspn water


1 ½ lbs plain flour (0.68 kg)

1 pinch salt

Squeeze lemon juice

¾ lb lard or dripping (0.34 kg)

2 ½ - 3 gills (1/¼ - 1½ cups) water (2 gills = 1 cup)

Cut meat into small pieces. Add vegetables chopped fine and seasoning. Just before putting on pasty add water.

Sift together flour and salt. Rub in shortening with fingertips and make well in centre. Add lemon juice and cold water and mix to a stiff paste using a knife. Do not make too damp or pastry will be hard. Form into a ball and knead lightly on a lightly floured board, rest in cool place for 30 minutes then roll to required shape

cut out circles from the pastry using a side plate as a template. add a good quantity of filling, moisted the edges before folding into a half circle, and crimping the edges to seal. brush with egg or milk to glaze.

you should get 10-12 pasties out of this

bake at 220 degrees for about 30-40 minutes, or until the pastry is a rich golden colour and the filling hot.

we had a bit of pastry left over, so we filled it with apples, sultanas, apricot jam and little brown sugar to make a tart for afters. because obviously we hadn't had enough fat in our day to that point.

now, the health fanatics amongst you are going ooooooowwwwwwwhhhh... dripping. well, yah boo sucks to you, because it made a lovely pastry, and to be honest a lot of the fat cooked out and into the pan in the oven. they were truly lovely. i can not recommend them highly enough.

you will also notice that the pictures in this post are much better than the ones you usually get from me. this would be down to the fact that as i have the darkest kitchen in the world, my mother does not and there's a lot more natural light to work with.


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