Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail


I was recently looking through my relatively large collection of DVDs and books, sorting which ones to sell and which ones to keep to make some extra space. Some of them flew out of my hand into the bin bag, ready for the charity shop, ‘A Very Long and Tedious History of Pebbles” included…I may have paraphrased. Whereas others were practically magnetised to my floor, too stubborn to leave, and were determined to clog up my room. If anybody asks that’s totally what happened, my books came to life. This included a 1970’s book of fairy tales, my entire Roald Dahl collection, all of my Tolkien and this beautiful pale blue Beatrix Potter book, with all the Peter Rabbit stories. Now I know it’s not exactly a niche to me, it sold millions of copies, but I have very fond memories of this book growing up. And this morning, my heart actually sped up. It did I swear, at the result my search engine gave me. There’s a cook book. There is! I found it this morning, and somebody is selling it for 1p, no lie. Peter Rabbit’s Cookery Book. Needless to say I clicked ‘add to basket’ faster than a fast thing and I’m now eagerly waiting it’s arrival. 
 
I wish I could live my life like this, in a wood, with a little basket.
 
I did a little research on this book’s existence whilst waiting and found a few names that have made me even more excited. Samuel Whiskers’ Roly Poly Pancakes, how amazing. Doesn’t the name just make you smile? Oh Samuel Whiskers and your wile ways, whatever will you get up to next? Whilst thinking about this, my mind couldn’t help but wonder to other possibilities, other pairings of recipes, and then the irony passed over me of whether or not they would include recipes for rabbit stew or pie in this book. Would that be too mean? Or would the connection of where meat comes from and the lovable characters not register in the minds of the young ‘uns. Happily skipping home from the library – in the 80’s may I add, nobody goes to libraries anymore – looking forward to making pancakes, not yet aware of the impending doom of Peter Rabbit and Squirrel Nutkins. Peter Rabbit and the Butcher Slab. Squirrel Nutkins and the Pie Dish, they think they’re going to have a silly mishap, Mr McGregor covers Nutkins in pastry, realises just before he puts him the oven and sets him free. What actually happens is that he really does puts him in the oven and everybody gets some pie and mash. Poor kids, never saw it coming. Now they’re traumatised for life.
 
This anthropomorphic drama is kind of relevant I promise. Apart from the inevitable influence my childhood has upon my everyday life as an adult (or thereabouts); fairy tales, fantasy and history are all apparent in the way I cook, from the use of old recipes to the mindset in which I bake. It’s all kind of there. This book is 30 years old, so it does have a lot of old school recipes and cooking methods, and though Pigling and Pigwig didn’t actually make a ‘Hot Rice Breakfast Treat’ for me and Alderman Ptolemy Tortoise didn’t rustle me up a good spinach salad, it’s nice to have that sense of innocence and fun with food. Why always so serious? It doesn’t matter that it’s loosely based around the fantastical characters to appeal to children. I love it already, and it’s not even been posted yet!
 
One of the most poignant pictures of my childhood, mainly because I wanted to live in a little rabbit hole and have my little pot of tea over the fire like Mother rabbit!The wise, if not a little heartless, words of Mrs Rabbit:” ‘Now, my dears,’ said old Mrs. Rabbit one morning, ‘you may go into the fields or down the lane, but don’t go into Mr. McGregor’s garden: your Father had an accident there; he was put in a pie by Mrs. McGregor”
 
I am somewhat transported back to my trips to Germany, as a child, when me, my sister and my dad would go walking in the country. I would stand, innocent as ever with a handful of raisins in my hand, my dad too nice to tell me I was holding a massive handful of rabbit poo. He said that if we caught a rabbit while we were out we could take it home as a pet, oh the teasing cruelty, I know what he was thinking, if we ever did catch one it’d be straight in the pot for dinner, free food!
 
However, in the spirit of this lovely fantasy fuelled cookery book session, i’d like to mention another series of children’s books that has it’s own cook book, the wonderous, the spectacular, Moomins. Now I’ve been a fan of Tove Jansson for years and years, especially Moomins, and I was overjoyed when my best friend bought me the cookbook for my birthday last year. I won’t go too into the Moomins because I honestly could chatter on for hours and I want to dedicate another post purely to them very soon, so very simply, here is another recipe for National Baking Week. A tip before beginning though, take heed of my warning from my A Little Slice of the Black Country post, buy ground cardamom, it won’t be quite so potent as the freshly ground, but it will make your life so much easier. So, here’s to something a little different from Scones and Biscuits.

Moominmamma’s Lingonberry and Cardamom Cake

Enough for 8 big or 12 small pieces
2 tsp baking soda
250g wheat flour
250g brown sugar
2 tsp dried ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp cardamom
80g pureed lingonberries (or lingonberry jam)
2 eggs
200ml cream
90g melted butter
 
NB – You might not find lingonberries in your local supermarket, but if you ever take a trip to Ikea (if you’re from the UK!), I know they sell both lingonberry and cloudberry jam there. You can choose either as they’re both amazing!– Preheat the oven to 175C and grease and breadcrumb a ceramic pie dish or a quiche dish.
– Mix the baking soda into the flour, then mix with the sugar and all of the spices.
– Add the lingonberries (or cloudberries), eggs, cream and the cooled butter. Quickly mix them all together thoroughly.
– Pour into the prepared dish and bake for about 60 – 70 minutes.
– Leave overnight to let all the flavours mingle.
Enjoy!I hope you do decide to make this wonderful recipe, it is lovely and warmly spiced and perfect for this time of year, well I think so at least. But that’s it for now, until another day my nostalgic friends.
Watch yourself Squirrel Nutkins, you never know who may be round the corner.Peace.
JR

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