Friday 31 March 2017

We are the World ... in Darkness, Be Light ...

Thank you for joining us in the We are the World Blogfest ... 

We are the World … yes part of it … but the important bit is our family and our locality – where we live, where we experience life, and where we wish the best for all …

… yet we are the world … it is us – we need to set the examples, we need to lead … we need to protect nature …

… then let the butterflies of Spring flutter their wings and spread our message …

… open our heart to others – let the light in … be aware others have different viewpoints – we are all entitled to our views … perhaps look to understand more … acknowledge other people and set positive examples …

The creation of Light by Gustav Dore
… close our hearts to darkness, unfairness, cruelty, ignorance …

We are the World ….
        In Darkness,         Be Light ….

As the American Cochran – Payne families whose son, in the recent London terror attack, lost his life, miraculously their daughter lives and is recovering … the families’ comments:

‘this has been a humbling and difficult experience, but we have the love of so many people during these past several days’ …

… ‘it has been a tender experience for our family to be together with Melissa here.’

Kurt Cochran, who died in the attack on Westminster Bridge, has left a legacy of generosity and service that continues to inspire us, we are deeply saddened to lose him but grateful that the world is getting to know him and be inspired by him.

We are the World …

                In Darkness,           Be Light

……… as these brave families have done for their loved ones and as examples for us …. in darkness, they let the light in.

Your lead co-hosts this time are: 

Belinda Witzenhausen, 

From a blogger who blogs positivity ... please join us via this website 

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Tuesday 21 March 2017

Theme Reveal … Aspects of British County Rare Breeds …

Theme Reveal … Aspects of British County Rare Breeds …

At long last I can release my posts drafted for last year's A - Z into the ether ... beyond the boundaries of my scheduled posts ... relief - they're all written (almost!) ... no change to my approach.

None of these will you find in this year's
A-Z of British County Rare Breeds!
(A poster I had block boarded)

I do somehow need to master the new mechanics of the A - Z … I can’t quite see how I find new people if there’s no list – but I’m sure there’s a way.

Also how do we find new ‘contenders’ in the next ten days  … again I’m sure there’s a way …..

I’m only blogging – it is a blogging challenge:  social media and I don’t mix – until (of course) I decide it and I must, then mix and match it will be!

Nor will you find any of these in the A-Z ...
though some genes might be there!
So on to rare breeds and the posts will definitely match the theme!

 I found this rhyme – where … who knows – a year is a long time … actually not so long considering my tender age, but for me the threads of memory search have gone!

The Giant Canada Goose
This English protest rhyme was probably voicing concerns about the Enclosures, the loss of common land to common folk and the gains made by the landed gentry. 

However it still has resonance today …

The Goose and the Common
(Authors unknown … a 17thC protest against English enclosures)

They hang the man and flog the woman,
who steals the goose from off the common,
yet let the greater villain loose,
that steals the common from the goose.

For all the verses see hereThe Goose from Union Songs    The research archive was set up by Mark Gregory – an Australian … not sure if they are rare breeds yet?!?!

By the time we get to April 30th - we
might need some of this ... ?!

If you wish to see a horse’s backside, or a very wide cow … the please visit last year’s theme reveal …

Enjoy the Challenge and the themes - there seem to be some interesting ones - creative bunch we find we are ...  

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Wednesday 15 March 2017

Herbs, Spices and Herbalists – Mint: Part 7 …

Tis coming up to Easter … the time of roast lamb, new potatoes glistening with butter and mint, mint sauce, home-made gravy, baby leeks, and new carrots … a delicious Easter lunch welcoming in the early Spring …

Garden Mint

… garden mint is not that convenient … desperately easy to grow, but incredibly keen to spread – keep it in a pot … however an essential for lamb and/or new potatoes – Jersey Royals perhaps …

Mint Jelly - so so good!

… yet the Lamiaceae (or Labiatae) is a ‘huge’ family of flowering plants commonly known as mint or deadnettle … they include Mentha, the strongly scented herbs, and include Peppermint and Spearmint … as well as many other varieties: apple mint, orange mint, pineapple mint …

Winter Savoury
To my surprise the Mint Family also includes a large number of herbs, lots of small shrubs and a few medium to very large trees … including basil, rosemary, thyme, savoury, lavender, sage, marjoram and others … also the tropical hardwood tree ‘teak’, which I would never have put into the ‘Mint family’ …

Jersey Royals simmered in Mint, tossed in butter,
sprinkled with parsley

We will concentrate on our Garden Mint … which George Orwell proclaimed that new potatoes simmered with mint and tossed in butter were superior to the fried potato dishes traditional in other countries … he has a point …

Jersey - highlighted in the Channel

Keith from Keith’s Ramblings reminded me in my Boxty post that it can’t be long before the Jersey Royals are in the shops – heralding the start of Spring in a foodie way … the first outdoor produce from the warmer Channel Islands – that has led to this ‘Mint’ post …

Freshly made mint sauce

Pliny the Elder (AD 23 – August 25, AD 79) was keen on mint … ‘the smell of Mint doth stir up the minde, and the taste to a greedy desire of meat’, so it looks like mint sauce has been around for 2,000 years + and more I expect …

Mint is known to have originated in Asia and the Mediterranean region … the Greeks used it to clean their food tables, bathed with it … whilst the Romans used it in sauces, as an aid to digestion and as a mouth freshener.

Growing potatoes on Jersey
with Mont Orgueil castle in the back ground

Medieval monks developed further culinary and medicinal uses … as mint symbolised hospitality and was a welcome of friendship to guests.  The Jews strewed the floors of their synagogues with mint so that its clean and aromatic perfume scented the place as they entered to worship.

Shakespeare loved his plants and wove them into his tales … as here “The Winter’s Tale (Act 4, Scene 4):

"Hot lavender, mints savoury, marjoram,
The marigold, that goes to bed wi’ th’ sun
And with him rises weeping.  These are flowers
Of middle summer, and I think they are given
To men of middle age.”

Mint Chocolate Ice Cream

Mint goes with so many things … chopped mint and sugar on pineapple, or grapefruit slices – can I say chocolate – let’s move on … how about finely chopped mint with some sour cream, or cream cheese, served with a baked potato …

Mint leaves added to refreshing lemon water

… while at home as a deterrent for the ever present clothes-moth, or ants and the cabbage white caterpillar in the garden … then our bathrooms, our mouths … we would not be same without the tingle of our toothpaste cleansers …

Twinings Mint Tea

So here’s to Mint – enjoy a cup of mint tea, a cool glass of minted lemonade, or mint water … peppermint is a native to these shores … and is good for indigestion … I will not make an obvious link to Brexit …

Rack of Lamb with Mint Sauce

… but I am looking forward to British Spring Lamb, with new potatoes, mint sauce and freshly dug vegetables … simple foods that nature provides from the earth …

Melon Salad - so refreshing in summer
with the sprinkling of chopped mint

One final idea – a recipe I came upon as I was starting out in life which inspired my love of herby bread – that’s a standard when I cook – how about a melon salad … melon, cucumber, tomato pieces … with a vinaigrette of choice, fresh chopped parsley, chives and mint to sprinkle over … served with the herby bread – oh so good!!

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Tuesday 7 March 2017

Bran Tub # 10: Controlled Commodities - "The Two Cheeses” ...

In World War 2 many items were unavailable, or rationed and only available with coupons … but I had not realised quite what this meant.

Princess Elizabeth on
her wedding day 1947

Food was one thing … and fuel … and clothing – borne out by Princess Elizabeth having to use coupons for her wedding dress … a lot of donations ensued, I’d guess.

But … furniture, soap, paper, razor blades, baby bottles, pots and pans … well these were controlled too – hence the phrase “Controlled Commodities”. 

Living Room Furniture

New furniture was rationed and issued under the “Domestic Furniture (Control and Manufacture and Supply (No 2)) Order 1942” to newly-weds and anyone whose home had been bombed out.

Utility Furniture Design
(1943) continued after the War
- this was made by Heal and
Son in 1947
Life and times were frugal … all items were kept to be re-used, all food was used up (or composted), there were no extras … with the government encouraging food production, making everything for ourselves … toys would be made …

The aspects I most remember, as I was born after the War and rationing, other than sweets, has evaporated from my mists of memory time, are the ones that have come to prominence in later years relating to the Queen’s wedding in 1947 …

I used to live near here ... so this
orange box had to go in!

The two royal kneelers, used during the wedding, were covered in rose pink silk, made from orange boxes, due to war time austerity, but controlled commodity date stamped 1946.

The utility clothing symbol

Now where did the enticing title of “The Two Cheeses” come in … the same logo was used for Utility Furniture as had been developed for the Utility Clothing Scheme: two capital letter Cs with a two digit year date – referring to “Controlled Commodity 1941” … rapidly becoming known as “The Two Cheeses” …

It's easy to see here ... how it
got its name ...

However - ‘The utility symbol … also became recognised as a guarantee of high quality materials and workmanship …’  … even spawning the run of Utility Furniture Catalogues from 1943 – 1952.

There are some wonderful stories that came out during the war tales of British spirit and determination to get by … sadly tales of woe – but that is war.

Utility bedroom furniture

Austerity and pulling our belts in is never easy … but the Controlled Commodity symbol did its bit for Britain … including reminding us, through its symbol, that ‘there was food ahead’

I guess I had one of these,
but never saw it

… with the winding down of rationing after the War, the increasing availability of materials such as aluminium, plywood, various timbers and fabrics … the British public were starting to demand choices other than ‘utility’ – so “The Two Cheeses” disappeared into historical records.

Thank goodness for the range of items and foods we have today – we should remember to count our blessings and be glad we’re not living in the era of “The Two Cheeses”!

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories