Welsh Witterings: Sugar-Free Preserving and Tips for 1940’s Style Housekeeping
This week has seen me step away from the excitement of filming and travelling and return to the kitchen and a spot of preserving bliss. With the British strawberry season upon us I must confess that I just couldn’t resist reaching for my preserving pan, but this week I didn’t reach for the granulated sugar, but instead tried a few refined sugar-free preserving techniques including adding arrowroot and a recipe using a local honey. The resulting jams were undoubtedly fruiter and not as sweet as a traditional jam, but tasty and healthier. I am currently testing the keeping qualities of my sugar-free recipes and will be sharing them with you in due course.
As my jam set I began penning the last few amendments to my new book which will be launched at The Dig for Victory Show on 13th and 14th June 2015. It’s not surprising that my new book is focused on vintage cooking, but it is not just full of recipes and instead has lots of authentic tips and advice for housewives from yesteryear for everything from keeping your house spick and span to making an eggless sponge cake and dealing with problem husbands. I was delighted to see the cover design in full fruition and am really looking forward to the launch and indeed the show itself where I will be giving lots of wartime cookery demonstrations.
My cookery demonstrations at The Dig for Victory Show this year will be focused on home front ingenuity and will feature lots of ‘mock’ recipes. My victory rolls will be in full force as I cook everything from mock goose to mock apricot tart and carrot fudge. If you fancy popping along to sample any wartime culinary delights you can read about the event at www.digforvictoryshow.com
This week my old fridge will be undergoing a transformation as it gets transformed into a food de-hydrator, so I’ll let you know how that experiment goes next week and until then I bid you a fond farewell from West Wales.
Food has always been of great importance to Seren and despite her being renowned for her historical recipe recreations, her culinary skills were not honed, in the kitchens of top restaurants, but in the home kitchen from the age of being able to hold a wooden spoon.
When Seren was born her mother was taken ill and so she spent her early years being cared for by her grandmother, Minnie. This was to prove instrumental in the development of Seren’s love of cooking, for her grandmother was an accomplished cook, who’s kitchen was always awash with terrine’s, home-made pastry and traditional puddings. Minnie’s love of good food and her zest for life meant Seren’s childhood was filled with days of hedgerow picking, baking, traditional preserving and cooking recipes from the depths of a family copy of, Mrs. Beeton. She learned from an early age how to make Victorian puddings alongside elaborate noble pies and perhaps this explains her love of pastry making and the reason she won an accolade from The Great British Pie Awards this year.
Today Seren has great skill in bringing historical food to life and making it accessible and understandable to the modern cook and diner. Her enthusiasm and love of historical food and British cooking is evident in her presentations and she loves to revive forgotten recipes. She recently took part in ITV1’s Country House Sunday and has given live cookery demonstrations across the country at food festivals, historical houses and castles.
Trained as a herbalist and nutritionist, she has a deep understanding of improving health through food. Her interest in historic remedies and herbal folklore eventually extended to researching British food history, and reignited her early passion for cooking. Fifteen years on and Seren has amassed extensive knowledge and is now renowned for her historical food recreations and interpretations.
Seren’s interest in food history does not just extend to old recipes and cooking techniques, but to ingredients and manufacturers. From the age of fourteen Seren has collected food and drink packaging from early Victorian to the 1960’s. Her collection is now extensive and provides a wonderful snapshot in time that accompanies her vast knowledge of the development of British food and drink companies throughout history. She also has a huge collection of antique kitchenalia and moulds which she uses to replicate historical recipes and portray past eras.
Her training in herbalism and nutrition has not been wasted for despite her merits as a food historian and period cook she also delights in creating British Classic dishes for those with food allergies and intolerances (such as gluten and dairy intolerant). Her botanical knowledge has made her a keen wild food educator and forager that lends unusual as well as historical twists to all her cooking. There are also many points at which food and medicine intertwine throughout history and Seren is able to portray these developments and has also undertaken a lot of research into the British spice trade.
To Seren historical food is not a job, but a way of life.
Visit Seren's blog: Serenity Kitchen