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|John E Noir
I think this may be what Dave Peregrine was referring to, we had one for many years until mum finally succumbed to the allure of tea bags. The last time I visited my auntie Kath I believe she was still using one, but as far as I know I don't think they can still be bought today.
I found one on e-bay
but a) it is already sold.
and b) it is in Australia.
Next time I see my Aunti Kath I will ask her if she is open to offers for her rare antique!
John E Noir
|Nicey replies: Excellent picture thanks John.|
|Hello Nicey and Wifey,|
I just stumbled upon your web-site and I don't know if you or any of your fellow enthusiasts can help me out?
Does anyone remember the plastic loose-leaf tea dispenser that used to be stuck on the side of the kitchen cupboard above the teapot in virtually every kitchen in the country? They were a sort of inverted cone with a horizontal, spring loaded plunger affair on the front near the bottom. When pressed this would deliver a set amount of tea into the pot, (it was something like one press per person and one for the pot). They came in various colour combinations, with opaque bottoms and lids and a tinted clear-ish plastic centre, so you could see how much tea you had left. I'm beginning to suspect a global conspiracy - I can distinctly remember being a small child and being allowed to push the button, but my parents, grandparents, uncles, aunties and various 'old' people I may have known are all denying they ever owned such a thing!
Can they still be bought? I've been trying this new internet thingy but it seems as clueless as everyone else I've asked.
Any help or advice gratefully received.
ps Lincoln biscuits are the best - good tea-absorbtion but compact & sturdy enough not to collapse en-route to your mouth. I called them 'bubble-biscuits' when I were a lad.
|Nicey replies: I did see one of those in my youth but I can't quite remember where. I have a feeling that a course of regressive hypnotherapy would soon have it out of me, but would this be a appropriate use of such a thing?
A big hoorah for Lincoln biscuits they are much misunderstood.
||Those Custard Days|
While my parents might share the 'crisp' & 'fresh' memories (& meolodies) of their 'Salad Days', many of my fondest memories hark back to hearty, honest, one-shilling-per-day school dinners. Before catching even the slightest whiff of custard, I would have already dodged, ducked and dived to earn the privilege of being near the end of the dinner queue (or dinner 'line' as we liked to say) - to be one of those lucky few to enjoy 'leftover heaven' at the end of the sitting. Like Winnie the Pooh & his honey pots, I'd be joined by a few loyal, fervent custardologists, all armed with spoons, blissfully surrounded by not-quite-empty custard pots - surrendering their last few spoonfulls of sweet, smooth sauce (and denying the same for all the pigs we were told would finish our dinner if we didn't). School custard came in a wide variety of comforting flavour variations, not to mention other variable physical characteristics, such as viscosity, temperature, chromaticity and hue (it would be a serious digression to even mention 'pink' custard, or 'chocolate' custard, but surely such misnomers only serve to emphasise the central 'cementing' role that custard enjoys in our proud culinary heritage). Of course there would always be plenty of skin (or 'coat') left for all the custard-chewy-bit enthusiasts amongst us. This was quite unlike the home sitatuation - you could cut the tension with a knife as, during the latter part of the dinner course, a nice thick, dark, chewy coat develops at the top of the wide, amply-filled custard pot. Anxious to avoid 'skin submergence', 'coat sticking to spoon' and and other coat or skin calamaties, Mum became a deft custard coat cutter, eager to please the coat-lovers amongst us - herself included (she still calls it 'yellow peril'). And the story doesn't end at school or home - oh no. Those 'custard days' also included the many times our family's little old lady friend who used to sit me down with a nice shallow bowl of sugary, runny, hot custard (I can still hear the clanking of her custard spoon against the side of her beaten up little saucepan over the gas cooker). And then of course there's my Great Aunty Mary. She didn't have a canary, but she always had a nice dish of hot custard waiting for me.
And finally, I'd like to add that Wifey's apple pie and custard has just become my wallpaper - nice to see someone else still going to the trouble of pastry leaves - and making sure that at least one slice comes with a whole leaf. If she's ever in the mood for a rhubarb pie & custard, I'd happily add that to my wallpaper too.
Living in America as I do (& alas my wifey doesn't care for custard), I thank you for bringing such pleasures from seeming so far away.
|Nicey replies: Very good, but it was me me who made the pie, and the custard for that matter. I always do pastry leaves as the younger members of staff like them especially when its sweet pastry. Very pleased to hear that at least one person has the custard picture as their wall paper, as I took that too. And yes I think it was me who ate that bit of pie, so it wasn't an entirely altruistic project.
Jacob's Mikado Review
I am half way through your book, and haven't enjoyed a read like this in ages.
I have stopped drinking coffee in favour of tea while I read this book, as I feel this is more fitting.
I regularly laugh out loud in bed, much to the annoyance of my wife. When i explain that I am reading the pro's & con's of building a full biscuit house I get a strange look which indicates she is making mental notes to add to a list for grounds for Divorce.
Anyway, thought i would mention the Mikado, which brought back memories of childhood parties. I always presumed that the reason the biscuit was always soft (sometimes bordering on moist, but maybe that is my memory over-exagerating the past), was either:
A) They were stale
B) The marshmallow had passed some of it's moisture into the biscuit, making it soft.
After much thought, this wouldn't make sense as the Original Teacake never had this problem so the biscuit was always crumbly despite the marshmallow sitting on top of it for some time prior to consumption.
So, this would mean that the Mikado was designed to be soft biscuit, which wouldn't make sense as surely it would be nicer with a little crunch.
What are your thoughts on this?
Finally, i fully agree with you on the pink wafer. A poor affair, although must have a big following to be still going strong after all these years.
All the best and good luck for the future with the website/ future publications etc
P.S. You are directly to blame for my increase in biscuit consumption although being on a diet- I am going to treat the office to some party rings on my lunch hour (my personal old-school favourite)
|Nicey replies: Hello James,
Glad to hear you are enjoying the book. I received reciprocal strange looks from Wifey after I wrote the bit about Hansel and Gretle, and she hasn't started any proceedings yet so I expect you're relatively safe.
Anyhow Mikados, yes they are meant to be that way. Although I already knew that it was an epiphanic moment on tea tour in Ireland two summers ago when an advert for the revered trinity (Kimberly, Mikado and Coconut Cream) came on the telly. Not only was it comforting to see a biscuit advert, but it positively promoted their 'soft' biscuits, talking up the advantages none of which I can recall as I was too excited. I think they even played the jingle at the end too. It was quite an special moment a bit like seeing a rare creature in its native habitat, not that they are rare.
My wife Rachel and I are Londoners in exile in Tignes, a ski resort high in the French Alps. The French Alps, in common with much of mainland Europe, is not the kind of place where one can easily get one's sticky paws on one's favourite mass produced biscuits. A decent cuppa is pretty much out of the question as well, and we've taken to importing tea bags rather than put up with Lipton day in, day out.
The biscuit issue was more of a problem, but my wife's entrepreneurial streak encouraged her to bake brownies. This in turn led to a 'Tignes brownie off', resulting in said brownies becoming available in a local cafe, Le Lavachet Lounge. Walnut brownies are a favourite, but 'orange and white chocolate chip' have been spotted, as have 'cherry and kirsch', and the flavour changes every week.
I occasionally report on the brownies in my blog and a recent post was entitled "Nice cup of tea and a sit down" after your good selves. A reader posted a link to your site and commented that if Rachel's brownies were ever to get a mention there, she'd know they'd truly hit the big time.
It's my wife's birthday in April (the 12th) and I'm sure it would make her day for her baking to be recognised in such an internationally renowned place.
Obviously I'm biased, but I'm sure I could find vaguely independent verification of aforementioned brownie quality.
Great site - keep up the good work.
|Nicey replies: As I too have endured many a cup of Liptons tea a mere mountain away from you I have some empathy for your wretched plight. Mind you living in the middle of Espace Killy and looking like the season could make it through to the start of May this year tempers my anguish somewhat.
Still well done to Mrs Cowbells for her resourceful baking. I have to say I do like the whole high altitude baking thing in ski resorts even if much of it is enforced on chalet maids.