It’s been an interesting week with me heading up to The Scottish Borders to visit Cringlettie House. A very nice hotel stay with the finest Celtic welcome was much appreciated, but I also found myself wandering through the secluded walled garden before taking a seat in the Victorian greenhouse for a spot of dinner. As the aroma of freshly grilling food wafted around the greenhouse I sat and enjoyed the peaceful tranquillity of the garden in full bloom. Each Friday night is BBQ in the Garden night at Cringlettie House and I must say that I think it is a brilliant idea and a great way of enjoying a relaxed meal in an environment that has the beauty of the outdoors with the warmth and comforts of indoors.
I enjoyed my BBQ , but ultimately Molly Dog enjoyed hers even more and she showed no embarrassment when devouring all the left overs. No doubt Molly was reflective when sitting in the grounds of Cringlettie, after all this was the hotel where she got married to Monty the sausage dog, just twelve months ago. Sadly Molly and Monty did not rekindle their love during this visit, Molly found Monty’s inability to share cake intolerable to live with and frankly he had little man syndrome. Yes, a dog wedding was possibly one of the maddest things I have ever been involved in, but alas it was good fun and I’m sure that there will be even madder things to take place in the future.
As I gleaned a few tips and tricks from the chef on how to create a succulent skewer, I had great plans on penning the last few chapters of my new book, ‘The Trouble with Husbands’, but alas I got carried away with jotting down ideas for my Tudor Cooking demonstration at the weekend.
With the sound of my little ones serenading me with the delightful song, ‘are we there yet’, I pulled off the drive of Cringlettie and headed back home to West Wales. Once home it was a quick sort out of the suitcase and some swift re-packing of the car as I headed to Ampthill for the Aragon Festival. With a Tudor style marchpane sculpture of a bird and ingredients for a Catherine of Aragon salad in tow I headed to the idyllic, small Bedforshire town where I spent a delightful day demonstrating various Tudor dishes. In no time at all it was time to pack the car again and head back to the delights of West Wales and enjoy that wonderful chorus of ‘’are we there yet’’ and the song of ‘’we want the toilet’’ that is only ever sung when I am on the motorway with no clue of where the services are.
I am now recovering from a hectic week and am happily reacquainted with my laptop as I finish those last few chapters of my book and reflect on whether anyone will ever invent a self-cleaning house.
Well until next time I bid you a fond farewell from my corner of 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