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The sun has been shining here in West Wales and it has certainly lifted my mood and spirit. There is nothing like a bit of warm weather to make you feel sunnier on the inside. With the garden freshly mowed and the last of the bluebells merrily dancing I have been tempted to lounge in the garden all day, but with a wedding looming and two little ones running around this were only ever going to be a pipe dream.

 

My big relief this week was to find that despite being four months pregnant my wedding dress still fits without it being a squash and a squeeze. Fingers crossed that this is still the case in three weeks time. I’ve now got to turn my attention to making my bridal bouquet, a craft project that I am looking forward to, but like all of these things I need to make time for. I have opted to shun tradition and not have a bouquet of flowers and instead opt for a bouquet made from vintage brooches. I have scoured car-boot sales, markets and charity shops in search of brooches of different shapes, sizes and colours and I must say that it has been quite a task to gather the forty brooches needed. So with my floristry wires at the ready work on the bouquet will start this evening. Then there is the worry of icing the wedding cake. I must confess that at this particular moment in time, there suddenly seems a lot to do despite months of planning, but I’m loving every moment.

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With plenty of things to be getting on with on the domestic front, wedding list and indeed work wise I have resorted to an old cooking method to lighten the strain of getting a healthy meal ready each evening; that of hay-box cookery. Hay-Box cookery was particularly popular during WWII as it is a way of reducing fuel usage during cooking and also a great way of saving time in the kitchen.

It’s a simple method and all you need is a box and some hay. The idea is to take a box with a tightly fitting lid and fill it with insulating material like hay, although you can use straw, shredded paper or wood shavings. A casserole dish with a lid is the rested on some of the insulation material and more is packed around it, to create a nest effect. This casserole dish is filled with soup or casserole mix that has been heated on the stove for 10 minutes (so it’s hot but not cooked). Once it is hot and put into the hay box you need to leave it alone for 3-4 hours until it is cooked. Once the pot is nestled into its insulation nest you need to pack hay over the top of it and the lid of the box will need securing tightly.

Like with a standard slow cooker, it is possible to start the cooking process for a meal a few hours before it is needed and get on with other things while it is cooking which is useful at anytime of year and especially when you’ve a million things to do. I’ve been using it for soups and things like Boston Bean Bake and the results have been fantastic.

 

Well with my hay-box packed with tonight’s dinner; I shall turn my attention to a few writing deadlines before baking the top tier of my wedding cake and getting on with my brooch bouquet; so until next time I bid you a fond farewell from West Wales.

 

 

 

 

About Seren Charrington-Hollins

ABOUT SEREN-CHARRINGTON-HOLLINS Describing my work through just one job title is difficult; because my professional life sees me wear a few hats: Food Historian, period cook, broadcaster, writer and consultant. I have a great passion for social and food history and in addition to researching food history and trends I have also acted as a consultant on domestic life and changes throughout history for a number of International Companies. In addition to being regularly aired on radio stations; I have made a number of television appearances on everything from Sky News through to ITV’s Country House Sunday, Holiday of a Lifetime with Len Goodman , BBC4’s Castle’s Under Siege, BBC South Ration Book Britain; Pubs that Built Britain with Hairy Bikers and BBC 2’s Inside the Factory. Amongst other publications my work has been featured in Period Living Magazine, Telegraph, Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail and Great British Food Magazine and I write regularly for a variety of print and online publications. I am very fortunate to be able to undertake work that is also my passion and never tire of researching; recreating historical recipes and researching changing domestic patterns. Feel free to visit my blog, www.serenitykitchen.com