Thursday, February 07, 2008

Wise words from Ethelind....

A neighbour posted a small green pocket book through the letterbox with a post-it note stuck to one page. The book was Ethelind Fearon’s ‘Hot and Cold Sweets’, written in 1956. You don’t mess with Ethelind. “I shall expect some slight co-operation from the reader,” she warns. No gentle hand-holding here. Unlike modern day celebrity chefs, Ethelind does not appear in her book. So I can only imagine what she looks like. In my mind's eye I can see a starched apron and sensible shoes. I may be wrong. Anyhow whilst I was daydreaming, Ethelind took me by the scruff of my dirty apron, poked me with her wooden spoon and barked at me to get on with cooking rhubarb fingers. This recipe was sandwiched between ‘Puffs, Jugoslavian’ and ‘Rice Caramel.’ As I dusted the counter with flour, rolled out my rough puff pastry and dipped my rhubarb sticks in melted butter, a wave of 1950’s nostalgia passed over me. Freddie came down and started to play marbles on the kitchen floor. Alex came into the kitchen and joined in. For a split second (if I ignored the i-pod plugged into her ears) we looked like an illustration from a Ladybird book. You know the sort of thing. Jane and Peter are playing in the kitchen whilst Mummy cooks and Daddy is cleaning the car. Then I stepped on a marble, flipping a sugar-coated, butter-dripping rhubarb stick across the room. Mummy never swore in Ladybird books. Ethelind tutted disapprovingly and I pulled myself together, wrapped my rhubarb sticks in their puff pastry blankets and placed them in the oven. When they emerged, some had split. These looked the most appetising, revealing a flash of pink rhubarb. Freddie and Alex had no problem consuming a handful of rhubarb fingers and gave them 8 out of 10. I hope that Ethelind would have looked on approvingly. As she says, “you should be capable of devising your own variations on this delectable theme and have no need of advice from anyone at all.” Don't let on, but I am still in need of advice from all of you out there!
Posted by Picasa


  1. Charlotte, those rhubarb fingers look interesting. I will try to remember them when my newly planted Rhubarb is ready to eat. Don't you just love looking at old cookbooks!!!

  2. I love this post, Charlotte and like Pat said, the rhubarb fingers are very interesting, they look pretty too/.

  3. I love the name Ethelind - not one you find hanging about casually these days. I had hoped to make a rhubarb and almond cake this weekend but no rhubarb to be found at the market yet. Hope to find some soon...

  4. They're a hand pie version of pigs in a blanket. They look hugely appealing (unlike almost every meat incarnation of pigs in a blanket). I wish I had great suggestions for rhubarb, but... no. Not really.

  5. I googled Ethelind to see if I could find a picture ... no luck, but her name means "intelligent". I guess a starched apron is probably a good guess. Cute story. Freddie is cute as ever.

  6. I've just read this blog from the pea tantrum onwards. I don't know when I've ever been so hungry.

    When you get to 'S', sweet potato is fantastic sliced roughly (skin still on) and baked drizzled generously with sunflower oil, allspice and dried sage. It's very hard to overcook it done this way; it wants to be completely mushy so the potatoes are as sweet as possible.

    I have no rhubarby suggestions. Will be of any use to you?

    BTW, I am in Bolton. Not as exciting as Canada or Bhutan.

  7. Supermouse.
    Who said Bolton isn't exciting?
    Thank you for the suggestion - it looks really useful. And we will try your Sweet potato recipe...Thank you so much for reading the blog - and I am glad it made you hungry. Keep visiting.
    Meg woolf - I know Ethelind is a mystery. I think she must have a starched apron and I never knew that her name meant intelligent.
    Anne Marie - I have jsut started finding rhubarb in Tescos, Waitrose and it appears to be british - so I am hoping its from the Triangle!
    Pat - I love old cookery books. They are far less detailed and allow you to experiment more. And they are often funny. #
    Cynthia - Glad you enjoyed it. Do you grow rhurbarb where you live?

  8. Just found your website - brilliant! Am avidly reading and looking forward to trying out some of the ideas on my two boys (6 and 4). Will be a frequent visitor and have bookmarked the site!

  9. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  10. We recently did a couple of posts on Ethelind Fearon. Thought you might like them.

    Best, Lucinda

  11. Charlotte7:18 PM

    Thank you very much - loved reading your posts about Ethelind!


We always love to read your comments - thank you