in the kitchen: an English moment

Note: My apologies about disappearing (again!) for a short time. My mom’s ongoing health struggles have meant I’ve been spending a lot more time helping her and offering my assistance, than having time for blogging. Posting is probably going to be spotty for the remainder of this year because of this. Thanks for understanding!

in the kitchen: an English moment

Do you ever have one of those days that you wake up and realize that you need to bake? Somehow it must be fit into the busy day because there is a recipe calling your name or maybe you’re craving something? Having recently bought several jars of various jams and preserves at Trader Joe’s, I decided I needed a good batch of (what we call on this side of the Atlantic) English muffins (click for the recipe I used). I was getting bored of toast and jam every morning for breakfast (along with my usual cup of Irish Breakfast tea), and wanted to try my hand at baking my own since I heard they weren’t too difficult at all.

This actually took two tries; the first didn’t turn out as expected. But a second batch did beautifully. The only thing I plan on doing differently next time is using half whole wheat flour (instead of all white), just to make them a bit more healthy. I also plan on cooking them on the griddle (I used a counter top griddle) over lower heat for longer; I found they weren’t as “done” in the center as I’d have liked. (Though I toast them, so it really doesn’t matter!) Very, very yummy though! I don’t think I can ever go back to the packaged kind; these are so much more satisfying and don’t have any funny aftertaste that manufactured bread products sometimes have (or maybe my taste buds are just weird).

in the kitchen: an English moment

I was nontraditional and topped mine with peanut butter! (Good protein for the pregnant lady…)

Slightly off topic (but not too much so since they make muffins in the breakfast episode–which is what started this baking frenzy), but I’ve been watching a delightful series called The Victorian Kitchen on YouTube lately. It’s a BBC production from the 1980s, and one I find utterly fascinating, having spent a good deal of reading time last year engrossed in domestic history (as well as Downton Abbey). There is a bit of gardening, lots of pretty shots of Victorian kitchen ware (how I want some of those big, earthenware bowls!), and concoctions that sometimes make me scratch my head. (Or in the case of the muffins, whet my appetite.) I highly recommend it if you find these sort of documentaries fascinating. (The videos can all be viewed here.)

October 17, 2012 · 34 lovely thoughts
posted in in the kitchen ·

Raquel October 17, 2012 at 11:06

I do get those moments when I just have to bake. The other day I made a Pumpkin Cheesecake just because! I definitely have to try baking English muffins. I bet they are even better homemade.

Thank you so much for the tip on the Victorian Kitchen on YouTube! Will definitely check it out.

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Emma October 17, 2012 at 11:28

Ohh how interesting. I used to love a few shows (I think it was the BBC who did them) where they would put regular families into a certain time period and they had to do everything in accordance with how a family would have lived back then. One of my favorites was 1900 House, they have it on YouTube I believe, it was really so fun and interesting. I’ll have to check this out.

xo,
Em

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AnnieBee October 17, 2012 at 12:21

Ruth Mott from the BBC’s ‘The Victorian Kitchen’ also did another show called ‘The Wartime Kitchen and Garden’ in the very early 90′s (I remember watching this at the time – Gosh I’m getting old!). You can probably find those on youtube too. She was the technical cooking adviser for ‘Gosford Park’ and somewhere out there are second hand copies of her cookbook. She passed away a couple of months ago aged 95 having been ‘in service’ from the age of 14.

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Annabelle October 17, 2012 at 12:21

I am sorry to hear that your mom isn’t doing so well. It is so difficult to watch your parents go through health struggles, kinda tips your world upside down. I will be praying for her.

Autumn Joy

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Eva Girl October 17, 2012 at 12:23

This show looks great! I’ve read Mrs. Beeton’s Book and loved it : ) Thanks for the link!

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Tammy October 17, 2012 at 12:24

I hope that your mom will get well soon! <3
"The Victorian Kitchen" looks so intriguing; it kind of reminds me of a show that PBS had about ten years ago, in which a family lived as though they were in Edwardian England. I think it was called "This Old House."

I get moments where I'd just want to bake, too! It's such a great stress reliever.

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Tammy October 17, 2012 at 12:26

Ooops, it was actually “The 1900 House.” ;-)

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Ashley October 17, 2012 at 13:05

Oh, I send your mom happy wishes! What a good daughter you are to look after her like that.
By the way, what were you reading about domestic history? I’m always looking for books on that subject.

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Rachel October 17, 2012 at 13:38

oh my goodness, YUM. I have a recipe for english muffins but I REALLY want to make crumpets. I like them even better. I don’t think they’re very difficult either but I have never gotten around to it.

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Rachel October 17, 2012 at 13:39

oh, and also, those videos look great! I will definitely be checking them out when I have some down time.

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Murielle October 17, 2012 at 13:48

Good wishes for your mom. I know that having you in her corner will make a world of difference for her.

I’m going to add that recipe to my long, long list of things I want/need to try and I’m going to check out the BBC cooking show you mentioned and the one about wartime cooking. My grandmother nursed through the first world war, my mother through the second, so I was raised on stories about those times and struggles.

No worries about when you post, your blog is always a joy to read.

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Charlotte October 17, 2012 at 13:58

Oh they look so good! Now you made me want muffins and peanut butter!

xx Charlotte
Tuppence Ha’penny Vintage

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Jessica October 17, 2012 at 16:08

Oh absolutely, I know just what you mean about waking up and feeling the siren’s call of the kitchen and the deeply rooted desire to bake. I think that feeling happens most often around this time of the year, as the mercury drops once more and suddenly comfort food becomes an almost daily must.

Sending healing wishes to your mother and tons of hugs to you, dear Casey,
♥ Jessica

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Gillian October 17, 2012 at 16:33

I get those moments, too! Hmmm….never thought about making English Muffins! Sounds fun.
Please share a big ‘Get Well Soon’ to your mother from me. :)
Luv,~Gillian.

youngyankeelady.blogspot.com

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Sarah S. October 17, 2012 at 17:32

I chuckled when you said you went “nontraditional” and put peanut butter on your muffins….that is my all time favorite way to have English muffins, although I just have to add a drizzle of honey on top of the peanut butter. This is equally delicious on toast as well! Try it if you never have! :) I’ve been wanting to make my own English muffis, as well, so I’ll copy down your recipe and campare it to the others I”ve already collected. It’s just a little method I have…..can’t leave a recipe alone and try it “as is”. :) I learned this from my mother, a terrific cook, who has produced some spectacular recipes doing this! And speaking of mothers, my thoughts are with you and your mom. I hope she feels better soon! She needs to be in good health to enjoy being a GRANDMA!!!!!!!!!! ;) ;) ;)

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jessica October 17, 2012 at 17:55

wishing your mom health and strength.

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Lorna October 17, 2012 at 18:40

Those earthenware bowls you (we) admire are still made here in the UK by Mason Cash, the same people who have been making them forever.

The biggest one (35cm) seems to be about 45 quid. So, all you need to do is hop on a plane to somewhere in the UK and ask a cabbie to take you to a good kitchenware shop. Sorted!

They make great pudding basins too.

(I hope your Mum feels better soon, I feel like we know her through her comments here on your blog)

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alli October 17, 2012 at 21:01

Those muffins look yum!
Hope your Mum is going well….stay strong. Am thinking of you all and send your Mum heaps of love and hugs from me. And heaps of love and hugs for you too Casey ;)
Xxoo
<3 Alli

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Laura Kish October 17, 2012 at 22:10

Best wishes to your mom!
I started watching those shows–they are so addictive and inspiring and excellent! I wish I had a lovely tiled kitchen like that, with all those beautiful copper pots. English muffins are going on the list of things I need to make.

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Jenny-Rose October 17, 2012 at 22:46

Oh those look good! You can try using a “white whole wheat flour” too. King Arthur has a good one. It’s more finely milled than regular whole wheat flour so it tends to make a better substitute for the all purpose…

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gwenstella October 17, 2012 at 22:56

You have to stop apologising for not posting regularly! I’m just glad that you and your baby are well and that you are still writing blog posts (regardless of the regularity of posts). :)

Take care, xx g

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Jizreelita Paiva October 17, 2012 at 23:46

Hi, Casey!

Poor things Victorian girls …
I do not believe … all this work just to make soup?
I prefer the bean soup my mommy … delicious!

Kisses from Brazil!

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Sarah (aka OldeSarah) October 18, 2012 at 03:00

Oooh, I remember these BBC series!
(Seriously, I am so glad we get BBC in the Netherlands!)
I used to watch these with my mom. There are several of these series. One of my favorite is ‘The Wartime Kitchen and Garden’. I have actually been looking for that one, please let me/us know if you find it! (I found episodes 1 & 2 here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6EeIQcWex5w Episode 8 is floating around there too, but I can’t seem to find the rest..!)
The BBC also just aired a new, different series, a great one as well! I am sure you’ll love it! (maybe you’ve already seen it)
Here is the Youtube link to the 1940′s farm (http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL2b_h7vuZf0b_BciMFt3FibtOaUR3UrMh&feature=plcp), but the same people made other series in other era’s as well! (I’m just a little 1940′s fan, but I love all their series).

I hope your mother feels better soon!
Health issues can be scary, and quite exhausting..

Sarah
(aka OldeSarah)

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Carlee McTavish October 18, 2012 at 08:12

Nest wishes for you and your mom.

If you have a chance, check out Tales From the Green Valley (you can get it on topdocumentaryfilms.com), also from the BBC. It is more recent and it doesn’t focus solely on the kitchen from the past but the whole way of life from the Tudor, Victoria, and Edwardian eras. It’s pretty awesome!

C

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Charlotte Boyer October 18, 2012 at 10:11

We made English muffins once, and cooked them in a countertop griddle too! Homemade stuff is always better than store bought!! We’re actually trying our own home remedies right now for a cold we’ve been suffering from. The two main ones we use are honey and cinnamon mixed together, and annise tea; both of which are good for soar throats.
So happy you posted again! Hope all is well with you and your pregnancy!
<3 Charlotte

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Valerie October 18, 2012 at 14:20

I’m so sorry to hear about your mom’s health issues; I will be praying for her.

Yes, the *need* to bake hits me with regularity! At least once or twice a week. It is very relaxing I find and there’s something delicious to be rewarded with, plus I love wearing my vintage aprons (whether I need to wear them or not)! I will be trying out the English muffin recipe for sure.

Oh, I watched this on PBS about 10 years ago; my has it been that long! Thanks for the reminder on the neat show, I will have to check it out on Youtube.

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Alicia C. October 18, 2012 at 23:53

My thoughts are with you and your mother. My own mother has had a lot of health issues in the past few years and it’s never easy. Hopefully you’ll get to enjoy spending the extra time with her even if socializing isn’t the primary reason for your visits! We’ll miss your regular posting but you and your family should come first!

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Laura October 19, 2012 at 10:51

Oh my, the Victorian Kitchen. That’s a blast from the past. I remember watching that as a kid and feeling sympathy for the assistant because she looked as bored as I was (it took me a while to get into food and cooking!)

I think my mother still has the companion books somewhere. I’ll send her the youtube links, she’ll love that she can watch it again!

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maddie October 19, 2012 at 12:57

the amount of english muffins I eat is ridiculous… actually, pretty disgusting if you think about it. I’ve always eaten Thomas’ English Muffins but maybe I’ll give this a try?

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sophie October 23, 2012 at 03:57

Best wishes for your mum! Thanks for a lovely blog:)

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Margot October 25, 2012 at 19:05

Casey,
Thank you for sharing the recipe. I will make some of these for my husband.

I hope your mom’s health improves quickly.

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Jacqui October 29, 2012 at 21:04

I love those shows that show cooking and housekeeping in different eras. I have seen the Victorian Kitchen before but it’s been a while and these are the kinds of things that I can watch over and over again. Thanks for the reminder. YouTube and I will be spending some time together!!

I’ve never made English Muffins before, and with you saying that they’re not difficult, well I may just try them. I’d love to know what books you read on domestic history.

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Ava November 5, 2012 at 19:30

Casey, thank you SO much for sharing The Victorian Kitchen. It’s absolutely wonderful, as is The Victorian Kitchen Garden. I’m actually taking a course on the history of food this semester, and writing my term paper on Victorian dinner parties, so I’ll actually be making a case to my professor to treat Ruth’s narrative as an oral history, a primary source I can use in my paper. Such wonderful material, and I had no idea it existed before you shared it. Thank you so much!

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carol November 19, 2012 at 17:07

If you like these types of documentaries, also see that BBC Series ‘The Supersizers Go…” – they even have a Victorian episode. They test out how people ate in different times in history. It’s also humorous. I believe all the episodes are on Youtube I love that show! Congrats on being pregnant btw

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