Monday, 5 November 2012

Remember Remember

The fifth of November

I love bonfire night and am so pleased that Spennymoor, my home town, is one of the few places to hold its annual firework display on 5th November, no matter which day of the week it falls.

The bonfire used to be held in Jubilee Park. My aunt would have baked potatoes in the coal oven and we’d all set off for the celebrations with pockets stuffed full of the hot potatoes which both warmed cold hands and were a delight to eat while firework-watching. Once the excitement of the display was over we’d hurry home to a feast of hot dogs and home-made toffee apples. Those were the days...

This year, however, the supper will be pumpkin soup made from a pumpkin grown on the allotment.

Cinderella for the use of ...

Spiced Pumpkin Soup

Serves 4

600g (1lb 5oz) pumpkin flesh, roughly chopped
2 celery sticks chopped
1 garlic clove ditto
1tsp each of ground cumin and coriander
800ml (1 pint 7fl oz) vegetable stock
200ml (7fl oz) coconut milk

Put pumpkin flesh into a food processor and whiz for 30 seconds until almost smooth.
Add celery, garlic and spices and whiz for another 30 seconds.
Empty into a large pan.
Add the stock and coconut milk, bring to the boil, cover and simmer for c15 minutes.
Remove from the heat and blend until smooth.
Check the seasoning and ladle into warmed soup bowls.
Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds and freshly ground black pepper.
Serve with crusty bread

We always used to burn our garden rubbish on 5th November and it was amazing how many times neighbours took the opportunity to volunteer extra items to add to the conflagration! The ash contains potash and is excellent for sprinkling around fruit trees. These days bonfires aren’t encouraged any more. Although still allowed at the allotment, strict rules are enforced so very few allotmenteers burn rubbish, preferring to compost as much as possible.

Beechwood fires burn bright and clear
If the logs are kept a year:
Chestnuts only good they say
If for years ‘tis stored away:
Birch and firwood burn too fast,
Blaze too bright and do not last.
But ashwood green and ashwood brown,
Are fit for a Queen with a golden crown.

Oaken logs, if dry and old
Keep away the winter’s cold:
Poplar gives a bitter smoke,
Fills your eyes and makes you choke:
Elmwood burns like churchyard mould,
Even the very flames are cold:
Applewood will scent the room:
Pearwood smells like flowers in bloom:
But ashwood wet and ashwood dry,
A King may warm his slippers by.

Tree man seen at The Floriade

Bearing in mind the latest threat to Britain’s ash trees, we may all be very warm this winter!

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