Saturday, May 23

Move complete

For the record, I have now completey moved over to wordpress. There won't be any recipes this month, because I'm still getting things straightened out coding wise, and I never did think of a theme anyway!

In a month or so, I will be deleting this blog. Everything on it is now on wordpress anyway, but I thought I'd give people a little time to notice the shift.

Tuesday, May 12

If you're wondering why there's not even been an apology for lack of Foody Fridays, it's because I'm trying to set up on wordpress. It's going okay, but I can't make it import the posts from here. Any advice?

...Oh, and I never did think of a theme for this month's foody fridays!

Saturday, April 25

Foody Friday: Egg Pies

I dreamt Riptide had accepted Exoticism, except they'd changed their name and used a completely different story of mine. One I wrote when I was about thirteen (if I could remember which, I'd dig it out again). Also, I was on a train that stopped at a wet adn grey seaside town, and there was some kind of mystery. Then I dreamt I missed my dentist appointment and he was very angry.

Mostly, though, I was disappointed that I only dreamt about the Riptide acceptance, and that it's going to be some weeks yet before I can even think about hearing back from them.

Anyway, this week I've got two recipes for Egg Pie from Court Cookery. It's a nice example of how period cookey books group recipes. Sometimes you'll get several near-identical versions of the same recipe, sometimes you'll get some completely different recipes under the same name. This is an example of the latter.

First, a basic Shortcrust Pastry Recipe

This isn't period accurate. Shortcrust is really quite recent. Medieval pies were made with a liquid lard dough that wasn't usually eaten; in fact, you often reused them. Georgian and later liked to use puff pastry, but I can't make that! So, it's a nice solid, edible, and quite delicious shortcrust instead. Leftovers can be used to make cheese straws!


100g plain white flour
50g butter
(or any variation, as long as you have twice as much flour as fat)
Cold water




Sieve your flour into the bowl

Cut your butter into small pieces

Get your fingers in there and rub the flour and butter into the consistency of breadcrumbs. Try lifting it high above the bowl and letting it fall as you rub; this gets more air into the pastry.

Add the cold water gradually, using a knife to bind the mixture together.

Use your fingers to roll the pastry into a ball. When you're done, you can roll it around the bowl without leaving any crumbs or smears stuck to the side.

Stick it in the fridge to cool which you make the pie contents.

An Egg Pie


5 eggs
250g of bone marrow or beef suet (failing both, you can probably get away with finely minced beef, but I've not tried it)
Mace, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Sugar, Salt, Lemon peel, Citron to season
More Citron and Biscuit Crumbs to top
Your Pastry


Pie Dish
Pastry Brush


I've quartered the original ingredients here, so instead of hard boiling 20 eggs, you only have to hard boil 5.

Allow to cool (or stick into a bowl of cold water) and peel the shells off. Mash with a fork. Add the marrow or suet.

Season with your many spices. From the lemon and citron, just use the zest.

Roll out your pastry Cut a circle a little too big for the base of the pie and line your pie dish. Prick some holes in the bottom and put into the oven.

Cook on a low heat until the base is crisp and beginning to turn golden (about ten minutes). If you see bubbles forming, poke them with your fork. It should shrink as it cooks (which is why you want it too big to start with)

Take out of the oven and add your filling. Roll our a top for the pie. Use the brush to spread milk around the edge of the pie crust before laying the top on. Press down on the edges with the fork to bind the top to the base. Cover it with milk, and prick or cut it to let the steam out.

Cook on a medium heat until golden. About half an hour, I find.

An Egg Pie another Way


5 egg yolks
1/2 pint Custard (I already did pastry, so you can work our custard for yourself!)
Mace, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Sugar, Salt, Lemon, Citron to season
Your Pastry (less than the previous pie)


Pie Dish
Pastry Brush


I've quartered the original ingredients here, so instead of hard boiling 20 eggs, you only have to hard boil 5.

Allow to cool (or stick into a bowl of cold water) and peel the shells off. Cut open and remove the yolks.

Mash or grate the yolks. Season with your many spices. From the lemon and citron, just use the zest.

Empty the water from the saucepan you used to boil them, and bung everything into the pan, along with the custard.

While this is cooking, roll out your pastry. Cut a circle a little too big for the base of the pie and line your pie dish. Prick some holes in the bottom and put into the oven.

Cook on a low heat until the base is crisp and beginning to turn golden (about ten minutes). If you see bubbles forming, poke them with your fork. It should shrink as it cooks (which is why you want it too big to start with)

Take out of the oven and add your filling. Bake in the oven for about thrity minutes, until it's golden brown and firm.

Take out, and sprinkle with citron zest, and add biscuit crumbs.

Court cookery: or, The compleat English cook
By Robert Smith
Edition: 2
Published 1725
Original from Oxford University
Digitized May 1, 2007

BTW, if you're in the UK, watch the Budget Report on BBC iPlayer. 27:03 minutes in. There was a competition...

Sunday, April 19

Foody Friday: Poached Eggs

Again, not a Friday. This week's excuse is that I was in Birmingham, watching P!nk to her funhouse show. It was actual my first ever concert (I saw Sandi Thom live before she was big, in an arts centre theatre; there were little round tables and glass of wine and candles and it was all incredibly civilised). Brilliant. She is unexpectedly small to contain such a large voice, and very acrobatic. Raygun opened, who were very good, and whose frontman apparently wants to be Mick Jagger when he grows up.

Next week, I'm going to see Chicago, so it'll be a late post, and the week after that it's The History Boys. I seem to have developed not so much a social life as a culture life.

Anyway, back to eggs.

My favourite way to do eggs is poached. Like many foods, this is partly because I didn't have poached eggs until quite late on - I think I was 16. This isn't true - I had poached eggs before then, I know, because my mother has an egg poacher - but it's the first time I remember, and I associate them with deep indulgence. As a final family holiday, we'd managed to get cheap tickets on a cruise, and Eggs Benedict was one of the breakfast options. Addicted. Yum.

Poaching eggs is a bit of an art, especially if you don't own an egg poacher. I've had to experiment a lot, and I still don't get them perfect each time.

Eggs Benedict

1 Egg
1 English Muffin (or, if you're english like me, just a plain muffin!)
2 Rashes of bacon or slices of good ham (not processed yuk)
Hollandaise Sauce (1 yolk, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, 5 teaspoons clarified butter)

2 Saucepans
1 glass or pyrex bowl
1 Toaster or grill
slotted spoon


This is a multitasking madness recipe. Honestly, I tend to buy hollandaise sauce, which makes life so much easier, but no cheating here.

Start with the hollandaise. Beat your egg yolk with a little seasoning.

Beat the lemon juice into the yolk, making sure it's incorporated really well.

Clarify some butter! Put in in a saucepan, melt it, and skim off hte white stuff that appears on top.

Fill the other saucepan with hot water and keep it simmering. Float the bowl in it. This'll make it warm, but not over heat it.

At this point, stick your bacon on the grill. If you're grilling your muffin, stick that on too, otherwise hold off a little.

Add the clarified butter a little at a time. Stir constantly. Once it starts to thicken you can add it more quickly. Keep going until it's completely smooth.

If you're toasting your muffin, stick it in the toaster now.

Take your hollandaise out of the saucepan. Add a little vinegar to the water and stir vigorously.

You can break your egg for poaching into a ramekin or dish, or straight into the water. The trick is to get the water swirling as fast as you can. Break the egg (or pour it from the ramekin) low over the water. You may need three hands.

Your muffin should be done, and your bacon as well. While you're waiting for the egg stick the muffin on a plate and the bacon on top.

As soon as the white of the egg turns solid fish it out with a slotted spoon. you can rest it on a bit of kitchen roll, or just shake the excess water off.

Rest it on top of the bacon. Pour the hollandaise on top.


For a veggie version, use spinach instead of bacon.

Beeton, Isabella; Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management;; 2007

And Wikipedia!

Monday, April 13

Amazon Rank

Amazon Rank

Adding to the Google Bomb. For those who don't know, Amazon has delisted (nearly)* all GLBT books, fictional and non-fictional, from its ranks because it's declared them Adult.

I read the blogs of several agents and publishers, many of whom have already picked this up. I think that's going to be what makes the difference, really; authors whose books have disappeared. Books have been disappearing since February, but there seems to have been a mass pull recently. I'm thinking Amazon has been pulling books in response to complaints for a while, and have decided it'd be quicker to just pull everything tagged Erotica and GLBT, which means they've overlooked things like Playboy books and homophobic manuals that wouldn't use the term GLBT while accidentally picking up kids non-fiction and fairly tame romance novels.

If you're looking for an alternative online bookstore, can I point you towards Better World Books, which sells new and secondhand books, supports literacy charities in the third world, and is even carbon neutral. There's a postage charge outside of the US, but otherwise is does everything bookwise that Amazon does.

*Heather Has Two Mommies has gone, but not A Parent's Guide To Preventing Homosexuality. Hmm...

Saturday, April 11

Foody Friday: Eggs

I think being late is something of a permanent pattern. Oh well.

This month's theme is Eggs. Very appropriate right now. Today, you get two recipes inspired by from Mrs Beeton, because I can't stand recipes that only use either whites or yolks and give you no suggestion what to do with what's left.

Chocolate Pots

We're not following Mrs Beeton cosely at all here, since I don't have much truck with isinglass or gelatin, and I don't own a fire to cook over.

3oz Dark Chocolate
1/4 lb Sugar
1 1/2 Pints Cream
6 Egg Yolks

Glass Bowl
Wooden Spoon
Sauce Pan
Small Pots (ramekins, tea cups, glasses, or similar)


Separate the Yolks and Whites of the eggs. Put the whites aside, and beat the yolks well.

Warm half the cream. Beat the other half until your arm hurts.

Melt the chocolate. My Housemate does this in the microwave, which I don't trust, so I'd use a bain marie (glass bowl floating in a suacepan of hot water).

Add the yolks, sugar, and the warm cream to the chocolate. Keep it in the bain marie (if you can stop it over balancing) to stay nice and warm.

Add any alcohol or liquer (brandy, rum, cointreau, and baileys are all nice) and stir until thick and smooth.

Fold in the whipped cream. It should be incredibly thick now.

Dollop into pots, and stick in the fridge to set. No one can eat too much of this, no matter how much they think they can.

If you want to be Eastery, stick some chocolate eggs in the top of each desert. Same goes for the next one, actually - meringue nests are always a good place to put eggs. As such, I've made the recipe chocolately, though obviously the original isn't.

And Meringues!

6 Egg Whites
1/2 lb Icing Sugar
1/4 lb cocoa or hot chocolate powder (for the original, just add this amount of icing sugar)

Glass Bowl
Baking Tray
Silicon paper or Baking Parchment (not greaseproof paper - so sayeth the voice of experience)


Beat the whites until your arm hurts. Beat them some more. Shake the pain out of your arms and go back to beating. Beat in time to music. Beat while staring desperately at the clock. Get someone else to beat the whites. Beat until the muscles in your arm are shaking.

Or use an electric whisk. Wimp.

Anyway, beat until they are stiff and fluff and stand up in peaks.

Sieve the suggar and hot chocolate powder (better than cocoa for this because it's sweet too) and fold into the whites.

Line your bakring tray with paper and dollop the mixture onto it. If it spreads, you didn't beat it enough, or you left it too long. Oops.

Cook on a low heat for about an hour. They should be crisp on the outside and sound hollow when you tap them (and shouldn't break beneath your fingers). You can pick them up off the baking tray without sticking and check the bottom, too.

If you want them crisp all the way through, turn the oven off and leave them there until it's cold. If you want them a little squidgy (I do!) take them out.

To make nests, use a spoon to make a hollow in the dollops on the tray, and one baked use a little whipped cream to make a secure seating for the eggs. Or, do it Eton Mess way and break up your meringues, mix them with cream, and make a nice big bowlful.

(Eton Mess, for those who don't know, is plain merinques, whipped cream, and strawberries. In a mess. Very good summery desert, and a lot of fun to do.)

Friday, April 3

Foody Friday. Um

So, I've missed two in a row. Slapped wrist. The first was my mother's birthday. We went to see The Lion King at the Lyceum. The second Friday, I was watching Dinner Ladies at the local theatre. I'm going to see The History Boys and Chicago, and possibly some Pinter, later this month.

Yes, I fall into that nice category of Under 26 that means I can get free entry to some theatres in this country for the next two years.

So far that hasn't applied at all. I can't believe how much I've spent!

Technically, this month's theme is eggs (Easter, see?), but since I missed two offals in a row, I thought I'd throw you my very own made-up bolgnaise recipe. cook this about once a month and freeze it in multiple portions for when I can't be arsed to cook. Currently in the freezer is mince + stewing beef + pig kidney.

Massive Bolognaise-type Thing

This either feeds 8, or one person for 8 days.


400g mince
200g ox heart
200g calves' liver or pig kidneys
1 tin chopped tomatoes
6 fresh tomatoes
2 onions
2 red peppers
Tomato Puree
1 glass red wine (and another 1 for you!)
Seasoning to taste

(for a veggie version, ditched the mince and offal and use about a kilo of mixed dried beans. Soak them over night)


Chopping Board
Sharp Knife
Huge pot
Stirring spoon


Chop your onions roughly. Put a bit of oil in the bottom of the pot, let it warm up, and add the onions. Cook on a low heat, prodding occasionally.

Dice your heart and liver/kidneys. You can have both liver and kidneys, but I run out of space in my pot if I do that. If I haven't got offal, I like to do this with mixed beans - kidney beans, butter beans and chick peas are good, or just packed of dried mixed beans.

Add mince and offal to the pot. Turn up the heat a bit and allow to brown, prodding occasionally.

Chop your peppers and tomatoes. Add to the pot.

Add the tinned tomatoes, red wine, a squeeze of tomato puree and other seasonings. I like mixed herbs, pinch of salt, pinch of white pepper and worcestershire sauce.

If the meat is sticking out, rinse the tomato tins and pour the tomatoey water in.

Leave to cook, prodding occasionally, until the liquid has cooked right down into a thicksauce. This means the meat will be meltingly tender. Takes about three hours, depending how wet it is to start with.

Eat with pasta, rice, or baked potatoes.

I may throw in a eggy recipe later this week, to catch up. Poached eggs, mousse, and meringues are all definite for this month!

Friday, March 13

Foody Friday: Heart

The first time I had heart, it was £2 of ox heart and fed four people easily. Economy cooking at its finest! Heart is often overlooked for being tough and gristley, but it really depends how you cook it. I've had more good heart than I've had good steak, but that's probably as much testiment to my inability to cook steak. Heart's good, though, and incredibly cheap. It's a great way to bulk out lasagnes, cottage pies, normal pies, and bolgnaise sauces.

My favourite way to do heart for heart's sake is in a slow cooker. Cut it into reasonable sized chunks (you need a large knife and a lot of clout), add a little water, red wine and seasoning, and put on to cook at breakfast time. By dinner, it's soft and tender and juicy and good, and there's a really nice gravy too.

Mrs Beeton didn't have a slow cooker, alas. Not that a Victorian oven or aga couldn't be persuaded to act like one, but her only recipe for ox heart is to have it stuffed.

Beeton's Bullock's Heart


1 ox heart. The younger than animal, the more tender, but the bigger the more economical!
2 oz bacon
1/4lb suet
1/2 a lemon rind
6 oz breadcrumbs
2 eggs
1 teaspoon parsely
1 teaspoon mixed herbs
salt, cayenne and mace to taste (about 1 teaspoon in total)
Warm water


Sharp Knife
Chopping Board
Large bowl
Larding Needle and twine (or string and a spare pair of hands)
Baking tray
Lots of time.


Put the heart in warm water to soak for two hours.

Chop finely the bacon, suet, herbs and lemon peel together. Or run them all through a mincer.

Add seasoning and blend with breadcrumbs.

Wet to make it a little sticky.

Beat the eggs and add them to the mix. Make it very sticky.

Wipe the heart with a cloth. Use your sharp knife to cut away the lobes and gristley bits.

Stuff with the mix, and sew it up (or tie it tightly).

Wrap in foil and put in a hot oven. Depending on the size of the heart, this could take another couple of hours.

Baste it regularly with stock or fat. before serving, baste it again and leave it to sit a couple of minutes. Good with gravy or redcurrant sauce. It'll probably feed about 8 people, so have some mates over!

Beeton, Isabella; Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management;; 2007

Monday, March 9

Foody Friday: Offal

Another late foody friday. This month's theme is offal!

Okay, so a lot of people don't eat offal (or sweetbreads). I do. I didn't until I went to university, but there I (a) met a lot of people far more adventurous than I and (b) didn't have much money. Also, it was going to be eggs this month, but Easter's not 'til April, so you get offal now.

So, cheap food is good in a recession, and using up all of an animal is more environmentally friendly and ethical and only eating bits and wasting the rest. Also, if it's done right (usually in a slow cooker) things like liver and heart can be absolutely delicious. No really.

I discovered (by which I mean 'I enjoyed for the first time', since it wasn't the first time I'd eaten it) liver in a pub a couple of summers ago. Liver, bacon, and mustard mash.

Searching the historical cookbooks, calf's liver and bacon has been a popular combination for centuries, and rightly so. My personal, poorly informed opinion, is that when it comes to liver the larger and younger the animal, the better it tastes. So calf is my favourite, then lamb, and then pork. I haven't tried much poultry liver outside of pates (and I really ought to do a duck liver and orange pate, because, it's delicious!).

This recipe is largely my own devising, from several attempts at this recipe. I've included the two historical recipes (John Nott and Robert Smith) as well. This makes a large meal for one, or two small meals.

Calf's Liver and Bacon with Mustard Mash


1/2 a calf's liver
2 rashers of bacon
1/2 an onion
1 large potato
1 teaspoon english mustard (not french, ick!)
1 teaspoon butter
Hot water
stock/gravy browning


1 saucepan
1 frying pan
1 chopping board
1 sharp knife
1 fork (for mashing!)


Cut your potato into tiny little bits and boil until easily mashed.

Chop your onion finely and fry until soft.

Add the bacon and liver to the onion. Be careful not to over-fry, or the liver goes rubbery.

While frying, mash the potato with butter and mustard.

Put the mash on the plate and lay the bacon and liver on top.

Add a small amount of hot water to the bacon, and your stock or gravy browning. Basically, make onion gravy. I'm bad at gravy.

Pour onions and gravy over the top of mash and meat.


The Cook and Confectioners Dictionary, Or, The Accomplish'd Housewifes Companion - To Roast a Calf's Liver

Lard your Liver well with large Slices of Bacon, fasten it on the Spit, roast it at a gentle Fire, and serve it with a good Gravy, or a Poivrade.

Court cookery: or, The compleat English Cooke - To Roast a Calf's Liver

Lard your Liver with fat Bacon roll'd in savory Spice, pretty thick, and fasten it on the Spit; baste it with Cream, and serve it up with good Gravy.

Nott, John; The Cook's and Confectioner's Dictionary, Or, The Accomplish'd Housewife's Companion; Bible and Crown; 1723; Googlebooks scan from Original at Harvard University, digitized Jul 9, 2007

Smith, Robert; Court Cookery, or The Compleat Englishe Cook; Three-Daggers; London; 1725; Googlebooks scan digitized May 1, 2007

I still completely owe you a writeup of Fishguard. Work has been a little mad, but hopefully it'll settle down soon.

Sunday, March 1

Foody Friday Chocolate Cream

I have been completely owing a post since I got back from Fishguard, but going on holiday left me very tired! Plus, selkie had to be in to Samhain by today, I have an interview tomorrow, and technology is ceasing to exist around me.

Anyway, selkie has gone. It gained lost the first two parts and gained 5000 words, and went through some other fairly dramatic structural changes. I think I've learnt the pacing difference between a novel and novella.

I have about five minutes before my laptop battery runs out, so this is a bit of a fly-by Foody Friday.

Chocolate Creams

Robert Smith - chocolate cream

1 pint Cream
tablespoonful Cocoa
2 Egg yolks

Large Pan
Chocolate Cup (rammikin or small dish)

Boil the cream and cocoa together
Add the egg yolk and stir over the heat until it thickens
Put in your cups and leave to cool in the fridge.

Smith, Robert; Court Cookery, or The Compleat Englishe Cook; Three-Daggers; London; 1725; Googlebooks scan digitized May 1, 2007

Monday, February 16

Website Update

Quick note to say I've updated the website with links to Trapped and Wolf Spider in the appropriate sections.

I've been reading through the rest of the Feb issue of 3CP, and I was thrilled to see that Kiriko Moth is the featured artist. I love her work, and have prints of Clockwork Wings and Rebuilding above my bed. She also sent me three postcards with the order, which was great!

(If you're interested, I also have a pushmepullyou print that's no longer available on their site, a couple of Vettriano box prints and a picture of a man at a bar for whom I've completely forgotten the artist. And tons of post cards, photos, drawings and posters from a wide variety of sources!)

Saturday, February 14

I really ought to be updating the website, but this is easier. Link to WolfSpider

Friday, February 13

Foody Friday: Wine Chocolate

I keep forgetting it's Friday. It feels like a Saturday. I'm having a party on Sunday, and I keep having to remind myself that (a) I shouldn't start the prep yet and (b) I need food for myself tomorrow night. Despite the fact that everything's banging on about it being Friday the thirteenth, it keeps passing me by.

Anyway, it is, so here's a recipe. I made this last week, and it's knee-weakeningly good. You couldn't drink much, since not only is it very alcoholic but also very rich, but everyone you know will love you for making it. Brilliant on these cold evenings.

Wine Chocolate

Wine Chocolate


1 pint sherry OR 1 1/2 pint Red Port
4 1/2 oz Cocoa
6 oz Sugar
1/2 oz Flour
Pinch of Salt


Large Pan


Sieve the powedery ingredients into the sherry and mix until they've dissolved.

Simmer, but don't bring to the boil unless you want to waste all that lovely fortified wine.

Share and drink!

To make a single portion, take a small wine glass (175ml), a teaspoon of cocoa, a teaspoon and a half of sugar, a pinch of flour and a pinch of a pinch of salt.

Nott, John; The Cook's and Confectioner's Dictionary, Or, The Accomplish'd Housewife's Companion; Bible and Crown; 1723; Googlebooks scan from Original at Harvard University, digitized Jul 9, 2007

There may not be a post next week; I'm on a train from 9:00 til 16:30, and I don't know what my net connection will be like. On the other hand, you get a post about the Writing Holiday when I get back!

Wednesday, February 11

WolfSpider - Accepted!

Three Crows Press accepted Wolf Spider! ^_____________^ It was getting so close to Valentine's Day that I was beginning to assume they weren't bothering to send out rejections, but poking their livejournal this morning suggested I'd hear today or tomorrow. $0.01 a word! Awesome eZine! Can't get the victory rhumba out of my head!

On the back of that, I've sent Pluvial to All Hallows. It seems more in their stride than Ruin, and I've got slightly stronger credits than before!

Friday, February 6

Foody Friday: Chocolate

First up, received a response from GlimmerTrain, and no luck. Considering the competition, I'm not really surprised, but it was worth a shot.

Unexpected day off work (they didn't need me), that I accepted because I don't get another til the 14th. So, the first chcolate post is nice and early, instead of at eleven o'clock in front of the TV desperately ekeing out the last ounces of power in my laptop battery.

Last week, I went on a work trip to one of the Leeds University Libraries. Alas, I don't remember which, but it was stunning. I'm very jealous; York's Uni library lacks marble columns, a minstrel's gallery, and beautiful woodwork. We went to have a look at various historical cookbooks, which was great. It's easy to forget that celeb chefs aren't just a recent thing.

Even better for me, really. I took notes of a few names, and I've been seeing how many of these long-out-of-copyright books have made it online. Google books offers up The Compleat English Cook by Robert May, The House-keeper's Pocket Book by Sarah Harrison, The Cooks and Confectioners Dictionary by John Nott and The Art of Cookery Made Easy by Hannah Glasse; I also have bookmarked Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management, of course. I can now claim to have seen early (often first) editions of all of these apart from Sarah Harrison's.

So, on to chocolate! First, a bit of general info; rather than the history, I thought I'd tell you a bit about some of the best chocolate companies still around today.

Those wonderful people who supply it

Started life in York in 1725 as Mary Tuke's Grocery Shop, making Genuine Rock Cocoa. The Cocoa aspect was bought up by Henry Isaac Rowntree in 1862. He was a Quaker, as many chocolate producers are. Now owned by Nestle, their most famous chocolate product these days is probably the Kit-Kat.

Began life as Berry and Bayldon's Sweets in York in 1767. Bought up by Joseph Terry the apothecary in 1828. Their most famous product is the Chocolate Orange, which actually started out as a Chocolate Apple! Now owned by Kraft Foods.

Founded in 1890 in Halifax (just down the road from York...). Main emphasis was on toffee, and they started producing the famous Quality Street selection tins in 1936. Also owned by Nestle now.

Founded in 1911 in Sheffield (also in Yorkshire - are you seeing a theme yet?), Thorntons are best known for their boxes of chocolates. They appear to still be in charge of themselves, which is great!

Moving out of Yorkshire now, Cadbury's was founded in Birmingham in 1824. It's now Cadbury's Schweppes, and also owns Green&Black's, who make some of them best organic, fairtrade chocolate available. Cadbury's are most famous for their Dairy Milk bar.

All the way down in Slough, Forrest Mars, son of the Chicago chocolate magnate, broke away in 1932. Truly, he has the name of a Steampunk hero. Obviously, they're most famour for the Mars Bar. Weirdly, they also own a lot of pet food companies.

So, Cocoa took off in the 1700s, eating chocolate in the 1800s, and the North of England was the place to make it.

Rock Cocoa is a mix of cocoa powder and granulated sugar. It would be sold in lumps and grated to make hot chocolate. Most recipes prior to the mid 1800s use Chocolate to refer to Rock Cocoa. It often included cinnamon, hazlenut, vanilla and other flavourings, so the expensive variations you see in coffee shops today are nothing new!

To Make Hot Chocolate

These are two of John Nott's recipes (we'll be using another of his, Wine Chocolate, next week) for delicious hot chocolate. Naturally, it's all in Imperial.

Hot Chocolate with Water

2 Pints of Water (4 Cups)
1/4 lb Cocoa
1/4 lb Sugar
1/4 lb Brandy
1/8 oz Flour
Pinch of Salt

Large Pan

Assuming you haven't actually got hold of Rock Cocoa, which you need to grate, first sieve your powdery ingredients together

Boil The water in a large pan

Add the powdery ingredients and stir until they dissolve

Boil for 10-12 minutes

Add the brandy, leave to cool to drinking temperature


Hot Chocolate with Milk

2 Pints of Milk (4 Cups)
4 oz Cocoa
4 oz Sugar
1/8 oz Flour
Pinch of Salt

Large Pan


Same as above, basically. Try to avoid scorching the milk!

Nott, John; The Cooks and Confectioners Dictionary, Or, The Accomplish'd Housewifes Companion; Bible and Crown; 1723; Googlebooks scan from Original from Harvard University, digitized Jul 9, 2007

Monday, February 2

Foody (Monday) Friday: Early Grey Tea Creams

Belated Food Friday, I'm afraid. Even worse, I've not actually tried this one myself, since I've been lactose intolerant for a couple of weeks (it comes and goes). Still, it sounds delivious.

Earl Grey Cream Teas

Yolks of 9 eggs
7 tspns Earl Grey
80g Caster Sugar
260ml (one cup) Full Fat Milk
260ml (one cup) Double Cream
Hot water

6 Shallow Tea Cups
Glass Bowl
Large pan
Deep roasting tin

Preheat oven to 150C/300F/Gas 2. Put in the roasting tin, with the cups inside it, to warm up.

Whisk together the egg yolks and half the sugar.

Put the milk, cream, tea and the other half of the sugar in the pan. Bring slowly to the boil, stirring occasionally. Don't leave it too long, or the tea will be too strong.

When boiling, strain into the sugary eggs.

Whisk some more!

Strain again into the jug, and skim to remove any foamy bubbles.

Pour into the cups. Since we're not doing the milk foam (well, not unless you have some N20 cartridges and a whipped cream dispenser to hand), just fill until they're all even.

Fill the roasting tin with hot water to halfway up the sides of the cups.

Cook for 30 minutes so that the cream is just set, slightly wobbly.

Remove the cups from the water, allow to cool, and refridgerate over night.

The original recipe is from the Great British Menu. If my laptop wasn't running out of battery, I'd give you the book publication details too.

Next week (well, this week): chocolate!

Friday, January 23

Foody Friday: Chicken Tea Supreme

This one kinda proved why people might look at me askance for posting recipes. You can learn from my mistakes, okay?

This is a bit of a quick one because I'm going out. I've made qite a few changes to the original recipe, because 2 oz of tea is a lot, it didn't taste great, and no one needs that much sauce for only two chicken breasts.

Chicken Tea Supreme


2 Chicken Breasts
3 tbsps Stock
500 ml Water
0.5 oz Earl Grey
250 ml Coconut milk
1 tbsp Butter
2 tbsp Plain Flour


2 saucepans
Overproof dish


Put chicken into stock and put in oven on 200 degrees.

Boil water. Add stock and tea. Simmer for four minutes.

Strain into second saucepan. Give first saucepan a quick wipe.

Add coconut milk to tea/stock mix. Bring to boil and simmer for a few minutes.

Make a roux with butter and flour in other saucepan (melt butter and add flour bit by bit until you have a smooth thick paste).

Gradually add the mix to the roux to make a thick sauce.

Taste a few times. Don't add sugar. No, really. Add more stock, if you don't like it.

Wipe now empty saucepan and boil your veg in it.

Drain chicken.

Put everything on a plate. Or, as the original instructions suggested:

slice chicken finely, and arrange in a fan shape with baby veg and a garnish of parsley


Perrier-Robert, Annie; The Book of Tea (in France Le Te); Hachete Illustrated; 1999

In unrelated news, Trapped has appeared on Flashes in the Dark. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 18


Wolf-Spider has gone to Three Crows Press. I haven't done much more work on selkie (though I've significantly rewritten the first third - the second third has a chunk in the middle that requires it to be rewritten, and hopefully the third third is alright). After posting on the SYL forum at AbsoluteWrite (which keeps crashing at the moment) I've found a new approach to Asylum. Which also requires it to be completely rewritten.

I have drunk about half of Friday's tea-punch (about three quarters of a litre).

Not just now; since friday. It's delicious. It's absolutely delicious.

The SYL forums conform with most of my previous experience with online crit groups (not all - the_literatzzi actually works). You have to really thoroughly prod people to get constructive criticism - to be fair to the person I prodded, she responded quickly and relatively thoroughly - beyond "work it some". One crit forum seems to be entirely full of people being lovely to each other with almost no suggestions at all. Once prodded, they come up with a list of things, which is what's most annoying.= - if you saw those things before, why not mention them?

On the other end of the scale, the feedback on Asylum was... condescending. It was correct (I hadn't got the aim of the piece across, which is my own fault, hence why I'm trying a new approach) but the phrase "I'm not even going to bother going on" got my goat up a little. His own acknowedglement that his tone might put me off taking his advice shows he knew he was being rude. Comments like that (and it's not just one individual, but something you see across the internet) suggest the poster is providing crit of pieces not to help a person but because they feel better about themselves when putting down pieces inferior to their own. I deliberately stopped myself from checking out any of my critter's work - I didn't need another reason not to take good advice.

It really didn't help me swallow my pride that his post was riddled with spelling and grammar errors, either, but I'm learning to accept that even people in the industry don't apply the same standard to their internet posts as they do to their professional work (a terrible advertisement for themselves, but that's their call). It baffles me a little, especially when it's editors and agents. What they do reflects on their business; would you buy from a publication if you weren't confident in their ability to maintain professional editting standards? If not, why would you submit to them? This is true for writer's as well, but since so few authors are picked up from what they post online compared with what they submit, it's more of a concern after publication than before. Not that it doesn't raise my eyebrows every time I see a published author who sees no reason to use punctuation or capital letters.

There is a word I am thinking of, but the closest my mind can call up for me is "profriterole". Um.

Maybe some tea punch will help!

Friday, January 16

Foody Friday: Tea Punch

It's friday again, so it's recipe time. Staying on the subject of tea, and even on the subject of liquid, this week I present a favourite Victorian recipe: tea punch.

In fact, I have four recipes for tea punch. I'll start with the one I've actually made (the one that doesn't take over a week to make...), and include the others for general interest. You know, since distilling your own alcohol is illegal in this country.

I was going to do a spiel on how tea is produced, but with four recipes it doesn't seem relevant. Next week is Earl Grey Chicken Supreme, so that can come then.

Tea Punch (and variations thereof)

Modern Recipe


700 ml Water
300 ml Brandy
300g Sugar
2 tsp Loose Leaf Tea
1 Lemon


1 lt Bottle


Zest your lemon, and slice up the flesh, avoiding pith and pips.

Put into your bowl, along with the sugar and tea.

Boil your water and add to boil.

Leave for 20 minutes.

Add brandy.

Strain, and bottle.

Can be drunk warm or cold, though tastes sweeter when warm (and be careful not to overheat, or all that brandy will disappear). This is the least alcoholic of the recipes.

Victorian recipe

Only slightly less convenient than the modern, it has to be said, though you will end up with loads. Also, considerably more alcoholic.


10g Green Tea
1 kg Sugar
1 lt Water
4 Lemons
3 Oranges
2 lt Dark Rum


Large saucepan
3 lt Bottle


Zest your lemons and slive up the flesh of your oranges.

Bung into pan along with water, sugar and tea.

Bring to the boil, simmer for a few seconds, and strain.

Allow to cool, and add the Dark Rum.

Opposite water:alcohol ratio, so a lot stronger, hence the need for more sugar and fruit. They only get stronger from here on in...

Tea Brandy

We've reached the distilled punches now. Check whether this is legal where you are before you make it!


5.5 lt Brandy
2.7 lt River water (I thought that was weirdly specific, and also rather dangerous considering when this recipe came into being, but the alcohol will kill the nasties!)
30 g Green Tea
2 kg Sugar


Large container (over 8 lt)
Bain Marie
Large filter
3 lt bottle


Infuse the tea in the brandy and water for eight days (you can see why I never even contemplated this one).

Distill in a Bain Marie until you only hve 3 lts of liquid.

Dissolve sugar in the warm liquid.

Filter and bottle.

Again, very strong, especially with the distillation (you're making it stronger than the brandy was originally). When it says Tea Brandy, it means Tea Brandy - it makes no further pretense.

Tea Liquer


125 g Green Tea
5 lt Water
8 lt 'diluted' Brandy/Sherry
2 1/2 kg Sugar


Large container (over 8 lt)
Huge saucepan
Bain Marie
Large filter
9 lt bottle ( or 3 x 3 lt bottles!)


Infuse 1/2 lt of water with your tea. Allow to cool until luke warm.

Add to your diluted brandy/sherry. Unfortunately, there's no way of knowing how diluted your alcohol ought to be.

Leave to "macerate" (sit in a corner) for eight days.

Distill until you have 4 1/2 lt of liquid.

Melt your sugar in the other 4 1/2 lt of water.

Combine, filter and bottle.

I'm not sure why you'd need 9 lt of this stuff, but you could have one hell of a party.

The punch I made is deceptively nice, though I wouldn't say it tastes particularly strongly of tea. Of course, in the late 18th / early 19th Century sugar consumption was a sign of wealth. It wasn't uncommon to take up to 10 sugars in your tea. To a Victorian at a party, these probably tasted more similar to the tea they drank than it does to ours (or Orwell's). Many of the recipes originally come for a French book from this period: Les Secrets du Liquoriste et du Confiseur. Unfortunately, I can't find anything more about it.


Perrier-Robert, Annie; The Book of Tea (in France Le Te); Hachete Illustrated; 1999

(Oh, and if you're wondering what happened to Wednesday - well, I went to see Slumdog Millionaire at the cinema. It was brilliant.)

Friday, January 9

Foody Friday: Tea

You might be wondering why I've decided to post recipes here - my family certainly would be, considering my reputation in the kitchen! Partly, it's to make this blog a little more interesting than a list of submissions, but mostly it's a way of sharing my love of my job. Well, one of my jobs.

I work part time at a museum of social history. One element on this is working in our Kitchen Studio, an interactive area focussed on cooking and the home. Mostly cooking. It tends to be historical recipes, though sometimes we go for foods with an interesting history.

I have a real soft spot for unusual foods. I love game and offal, and I like to play around with recipes I find online (like tomato soup cake, which is delicious). I'm not going to regurgitate my training packs from work; I'm going to explore foods and themes that interest me. Hopefully, some of these recipes will be useful in writing, especially historic or fantasy pieces. And hopefully they'll give you something good to eat!

Since I'm British, all measurements will be in metric (unless I'm sharing an American recipe...). There's a lot of websites dedicated to conversion.

Anyway, on to the show. The first month's theme is Tea! It's hot, wet, and British, and it's just what you want at this time of year. Let's start with the basics: making the perfect cuppa

How to Make the Perfect Cuppa

Loose leaf tea
Boiling Water

Tea strainer


I'm taking advice from that veteran tea-drinking author: George Orwell. He offers an eleven point plan for the preperation of tea - it doesn't take an hour, like the Japense ceremonies can, but there's definitely an element of ritual in it all.

Step One - Choose your tea.

You can use either loose leaf or tea bags, but loose leaf gives a better flavour. Tea bags commonly use what used to be known as 'Tea Dust', the crumbled, dusty parts of leaves that would go straight through a strainer. This produces a stronger, more astringent tea. Fine for a wake-me-up breakfast tea, but it's a waste if you're drinking something like Darjeeling (trust me, bagged darjeeling is rarely as nice as the loose stuff).

So, choosing your tea. Breakfast teas are strong and tannic, e.g. Ceylon. Afternoon teas are delicate and complex, e.g. Darjeeling. Some teas are flavoured, such as Earl Grey (Bergamot oil), Lapsang Souchong (smoked), Jagertee (Rum), Genmaicha (Roasted rice) and Chai (heavily spiced).

Personally, I love Lapsang Souchong, as did William Churchill and James Bond! Though I've been told it smells of kippers...

Orwell says:
One should use Indian or Celylonese tea. China tea has virtues virtues which are not to be despised... but there is not much stimulation in it. One does not feel wise, braver or more optimistic after drinking it.

Basically, if you fear a dystopian future, you want a black tea, not green.

Step Two - Boil The Kettle

Water Must Be Boiling. No Ifs, Ands or Buts. Electric kettle or traditional will do, or even a saucepan at a pinch, but a microwave shouldn't even cross your mind. That noise you didn't just hear? That wasn't the sound of the entirity of Britain gasping, because you didn't consider a microwave.

A coffeepot won't work either.

Water should be fresh from the tap, and shouldn't be boiled more than once.

Orwell Says:
The water should be actually boiling at the moment of impact, which means that one should keep [the kettle] on the flame while one pours.

It is fun using a traditional kettle, because it whistles: a sound traditionally associated with the end of work, like a factory whistle.

Step Three - A Watched Pot Never Boils

While your water is coming to the boil, how 'bout a quick history of tea (from a very British perspective)?

Tea has been cultivated in China for about 4000 years. It was first drunk in Britain about 400 years ago, for comparison. The Dutch and Portugeuse had more trade with the east than we did, so it didn't really take off until Charless II married Catherine of Braganza (Portuguese), and the court took to drinking it.

At the beginning of the 1700s we barely touched the stuff, by 1800 we were importing 11000 tons a year (not including the vast amounts of smuggled tea and adulterated tea) and it was 1/20th the price it had been. Tea drove the British Empire quite literally: it led to the acquisition of Hong Kong and conquest of India.

Hong Kong is quite interesting, actually. Being the bastards we were, we tried to pay China for tea with opium, in the hope they'd get addicted and have to sell us more and more tea. China objected to this business model, and the opium wars began. They ended in our favour, with the acquisition of Hong Kong as a trading post, but during the war we'd also managed something sneaky: we'd stolen some cuttings from China and started growing tea in India, which we'd acquired from the Dutch East India Company a little while before.

Tea actually grow natively in India, in the Assam region, but we didn't find that out until the 1820s. Assam quickly became known as Bitter Tea due to the appalling conditions for the works; a third of them died on site. Definitely a situation of "They're not slaves, we're just not paying them. And flogging them if they try to leave." Did I mention we were bastards? Regulations protecting workers didn't come in until the 1930s.

So, we have lots of tea. While under the East India Company's control, taxes of over 100% were levelled on it at times, but in 1784 the tax was forceably reduced to 17%. Let them Drink Tea!

Speaking of which...

Step Four - Warming The Pot

Your kettle should be near boiling by now. Before it reaches the boil, pour a little hot water into your tea pot. Swill it around until the pot is warm and pour it out.

Orwell says:
This is done better by placing it on the hob than by the usual method of swilling it out with hot water.

This rather depends on your teapot and your kettle. Brace yourself for a cracked pot or burnt hand if you try it.

Step Five - Adding Water to Tea

If you're using loose lea tea, you want one spoon for each person, and one for the pot. If you're using teabags, you can follow the same rule, though after four tea bags in total you're unlikely to need more in an average pot. If you make too large a pot of tea, the final cups will be stewed to tar before you drink them.

Orwell says:
For a pot holding a quart... six heaped teaspoons would be about right... I maintain that one strong cup of tea is better than twenty weak ones. All true tea lovers not only like their tea stronger, but like it a little stronger with each year that passes - a fact which is recognised in the extra ration issued to old-age pensioners.

Ah, rationing.

Add your boiling water to the tea.

Step Six - Leave to Brew

Black tea wants five minutes to brew, green tea three. Overbrewed green tea is one of the foulest drinks imaginable.

Since we've got a few minutes, how about a few tea facts?

96% of all cups of tea drunk daily in the UK are brewed from teabags. Tea bags were invented by accident in 1908 by Thomas Sullivan, a New York importer who was sending out sample bags. His customers let him know what they thought of them! Tea bags didn't reach the UK until the 1950s, and even then took some time to catch on.

Afternoon Tea was invented by Anna Russell, seventh Duchess of Bedford (1783 - 1857). Legend has it she got "that sinking feeling" midafternoon thanks to the rather unbalanced British meals, and requested tea and sandwiches in her room to boost her flagging metabolism. A friend came to visit one day and was invited to partake. Afternoon Tea blossomed into a fashionable meal.

High Tea is different; the main evening meal. It's sometimes known as dinner, but then so's lunch. You can cram a lot of meals into a day if you put your mind to it.

Tea cups didn't have handles until the late 1700s. Like the Chinese, we drank from bowls (which were often shipped to Britain as ballast in tea-bearing ships). In the 1600s we were drinking green tea, but due to the tendency to adulterate it with other leafy material (bits of hedge, sawdust, sheep's dung) and then dye it green again with poisonous chemicals we switched to black. No less pure, but the additions rarely required dyeing, so it was a bit safer to drink. Since black tea was more bitter than green, we started adding milk and sugar, as we were accustomed to in coffee.

Step Seven - Pour Your Tea

If you're drinking green tea, afternoon tea, or one of the more unusual types, I recommend taking in black, at least the first time. Otherwise, let us confront the dreaded tea-milk conundrum!

Tea first or milk first?

If you add the milk first, you prevent it from scorching. This is apparently a good thing, though I have to admit the resulting tea is significantly more creamy than tea-first tea, which I don't consider a plus. If you do, then milk-first it is!

I side with Orwell, who makes the salient point:
by putting the tea in first and stirring as one pours, one can exactly regulate the amount of milk whereas one is liable to put in too much milk if one does it the other way around.

Other additives make more significant changes to the flavour of the tea. Lemon is quite a nice addition to Earl Grey, but it would smother the flavour of Darjeeling. Honey is best saved for green teas. Jam should be taken on the side (that's a Russian thing).

On, and sugar?

How can you call yourself a true tea lover if you destroy the flavour of your tea by putting sugar in it? It would be equally reasonable to put in pepper and salt.

Apparently in Nepal, they do. So there we go, Mr Orwell.

Orwell, George; 'A Nice Cup of Tea', Evening Standard; 21/1/46
Standage, Tom; A History of the World in Six Glasses; Atlanta Books; 2007

Wednesday, January 7

Writing Wednesday: Writing sex

I've decided that, to make sure I update regularly, I'm going to declare Wednesdays days for blogging about writing (in general), and Fridays for Food (because I can). Website updates and submissions and so on will appear whenever relevant.

So, first Writing Wednesday post is on the subject of sex! Namely, vocabulary in sex scenes.

It's easy to feel silly writing sex. You don't want to sound too clinical, but you don't want to get too euphemistic, either. You need to bear in mind the view point character's speech patterns, but you don't want to get bogged down in slang.

So, these are my personal Nos for a sex scene. Unless you're deliberately trying to make me giggle.

Also, I'm experimenting with cutting posts - click here to see, and click again to hide!

Words too Clinical for Sex Scenes - does it appear in a biology text book?

Uterus (which shouldn't really appear in a sex scene at all unless you're being really detailed about conception)
Cervix (see Uterus)

Words too Euphemistic for Sex Scenes - Has it appeared in the purple prose parody contest?

Love Tool
Manhood/Manroot/Manmeat (if it begins with man, drop it!)

Words too Casual for Sex Scenes - Did Rowan Atkinson use it in that Not The Nine O'Clock News sketch?

Willy (Will-eeee!)
Titties (oddly, I think you can get away with both Boobs and Tits. It's the diminuation that's the passion killer)
Front Bottom/vajayay/hoo-hah/we're not five year's old why are you doing this to us?
Gash (also the unfortunate name of an underwear chain)

Bad Verbs

Anyone else got words they'd like to add to those lists?

Friday, January 2

Brief little update. Glimmer Train now has 'Another Summer Day' and 'Unsent Letters' (it's not only a paying market, but offers $700 for straight submissions, and more for competitions, but those have entrance fees).

I've also picked up multiple woman's mag fiction editions. None of them have submission guidelines in, annoying, but I have discovered a womag blog that has them, so I might try writing something for them. Also pretty high paying markets. Plus, when I'm done with the magazines, I can leave them at the doctors so people have something more interesting than Top Ten Lipstick Tips to read!

I'm currently making bread, and while I'm waiting for it to rise I discovered wordle:

Wordle: sigkinks

Makes it nice and obvious what my favourite words are!

Thursday, January 1

Happy New Year!

New Years also demand new resolutions, but like most people, I tend to recycle the old ones. They're perfectly servicable, after all:

1 - Keep Writing
2 - Keep Revising
3 - Keep Submitting

However, I've been struggling to find a work to describe where I want to go with my writing. Too vague to be goals, too specific to be ambitions. 'Resolutions' fits perfectly. So, here are my long term resolutions:

1 - Write approx 3 Erotic novellas, and several short stories
(Selkie, Bliss, another, and WolfSpider and other short stories)

2 - Write at least 2 pulpy adventure stories
(The Dark, that moon-out-of-sync idea...)

3 - Complete at least one Greenhelm trilogy
(fairly striaghtforward, that one)

4 - Write 3 children's/young adult stories
(House with Too Many Doors, Tower in the Wood, Deliberate Changeling)

5 - Write approx 20 ghost stories. Get at least 10 published, then consider anthologies
(though evidence suggests I might need to get all 20 published before thinking of anthologies...)

One day, I'd like to come back and strikeout the ones I've achieved, like I did with yesterday's cleaning list!

A good way to start a new year: with a submission! I discovered Flashes in the Dark about, oh, ten minutes ago, and I've sent Trapped to them. Ruin came back from All Hallows yesterday, and I'm going to send Pluvial to them soon.

I also edited an chapter of Greenhelm and a chapter of The Dark. Greenhelm has been much neglected of late, and I've been putting off The Dark because I've made a decision to change the setting, which of course requires a lot of minor changes. I was never comfortable setting it in Lesotho, so I've moved it to a fictional island in the South Pacific.

I spent most of today making enough chicken soup to last me the month. Also, a huge pan of beef and bean chilli. No more cooking for me in January!

ETA: And Trapped has been accepted! That's insanely prompt ^_^ It will appear on the site on the 23rd of January!

Edit again: I've updated the site to reflect this. I've also instigated the most recent rejig (I really have to learn to leave the layout alone!) which splits the writing up by pseudonym. I've also included Winter08's site-specific story, which was originally written thanks to prompts at the_literatzzi.