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||Evening, Nicey, I seem to be becoming a regular correspondent, which is a refelction on a brilliant website that gets down to life's real issues.|
Don't wish to hog this section, but I had to reply to Alison Debenham to reassure her she is not alone in the marmalade making industry. My wife Sheila and I took over our family marmalade manufacturing concession about ten years ago, when my mother, then aged 80, decided she'd had enough (of slicing up oranges, that is). We are about to go in search of Seville oranges, a quest not so easy in Finchley now as there is only one greengrocer left - last year I ended up paying half as much again for them in Waitrose. We usually make three batches, each using three pounds of fruit - there is always a demand from family & friends as the finished product is so superior to the commercial one. My favourite is Three Fruit, made from a combination of Sevilles, pink grapefruit and lemons, although I can't resist spiking a few jars of Seville with Bell's whiskey (for personal consumption). I have also found a recipe for rum and raisin marmalade, which we may give a try. I think that once you are used to the home made stuff, anything else is just not up to standard. We are also masochistic enough to make our own jams, wine, chutneys, and pickles. So no, Alison, you are not alone, you are not sad, you are helping to preserve a bit of old England, and long may you continue to do so.
Incidentally, a great and simple pudding can be made by making a sandwich of a McVities Jamaica Ginger Cake (that has preferably been left to mature for six months, they improve with age) - filling it with a liberal helping of marmalade of choice, wrap in foil and bake in a moderate oven for 20 minutes. Serve with lashings of (Bird's) custard.
And on the subject of custard, Nicey, you are raising an issue which seriously needs addressing. Sales are slumping - the British are not taking their custard seriously enough, and I don't understand why. Do you ever meet anyone who says "I don't like custard"? Proof enough, surely.
||I just read your news item about model cities out of biscuits. I know of an artist who uses biscuits in her sculptures and thought you might be interested to see|
|Nicey replies: Hi Tim,
I'm feeling ever more vindicated about the Hanzel and Grettle section in our book now.
|Thank you for your review on that marvelously bland biscuit we all love so much! I'm an ex-pat South African, living in the USA now, and let me tell you, the food I miss the most is ... You guessed it MARIE BISCUITS. :D Pathetic isn't it? But I really do.|
We used to make sandwiches out of them with butter and marmite, or just dunked them in our tea (as a kid I could eat half a packet easily!). Sometimes we drenched them with Illovo syrup, and they always tasted good crumbled up in custard and jelly! I loved nibbling off the frilly edges first before delivering the death-blow bite to the center. When I got pregnant with my son, the only thing that helped with the nausea was this innocent little biscuit and our native Rooibos tea.
Maybe it was nothing but a placebo effect, but hey, it worked! :)
I am writing to ask you, as a nationally renowned expert on the matter, your views on a certain teatime consumable. Is the 'Penguin' bar a chocolate bar, a biscuit bar, or a biscuit? Of course,I initially assumed it would fall in to the category of chocolate bar, however I than realised that the biscuit/chocolate ratio is actually higher than one imagines (due to the chocolate flavoured biscuit), and that the penguin has a tremendous biscuit heritage as something to be found in the biscuit tin, in among other biscuits, and certainly not a conventional chocolate bar (despite obvious resemblance). I know you are are very busy, but any help on this matter would be greatly appreciated.
|Nicey replies: George,
I will indeed take some time out of my hectic Sunday morning schedule to help you out on this one. This is precisely the sort of trouble one can get into if you think overly hard about the classification of biscuits. The simple answer is that the Penguin is of course a biscuit, technically a member of the chocolate covered count line. So called because when they were first introduced biscuits were sold loose by weight, and these new premium biscuits were sold by number or count.
A few other factors for you to consider, they are mostly made from biscuit, by United Biscuits who call them biscuits and they are sold in the biscuit aisle with all the other biscuits, plus they are very good with a cuppa.
Iced Gems Review
|Dear Nicey and Wifey,|
I stumbled across your website the other week while searching for a piccie of an iced gem. This search was in order to try to prove to a twenty something colleague of mine that such an object did indeed exist and I wasn't making it up (we'd previously had a similar episode with non belief in the existence of Noggin the Nog, but that's another matter). Quite how somebody can reach their mid-twenties without ever having been exposed to an iced gem is something I find quite strange, but clearly some people have had very deprived childhoods.
I found your website to be a welcome relief from the horrors of a day providing computer support to the sort of people you shouldn't even trust with a pair of round nosed scissors, and I am now a regular visitor. I was also prompted to buy the cuddly paperback version of your book. I'm very glad I made the book purchase because it helped sustain me on a recent trip to Barcelona, where there was nothing resembling a nice cup of tea or a reasonable biscuit to be had. Even the coffee left a lot to be desired, and I always thought the continentals were supposed to know how to make that!
Anyhoo, the combination of website and book has prompted me to abandon my workplace reliance on coffee and switch to drinking a lot more tea. I've also bought some biscuits, nice ones mind you, and am currently working my way through a Crawford's Teatime Varieties selection pack. It's quite a nice selection, one that I feel can be forgiven the presence of a slightly inferior digestive due to the complete absence of the abhorrent pink wafer as a filler.
So as I sat here at my desk having a nice cup of tea and a well dunked custard cream, I felt moved to write to you and offer my thanks for re-introducing me to the simple pleasure to be had from taking the time to enjoy a nice cup of tea and a sit down with a quality biscuit or three.
Kind regards and thanks,
|Nicey replies: Mike,
Glad to hear you are back on the tea, and have survived a run in with Spanish biscuits.
That puts me in mind of those programs is on telly about people who have moved to Spain and are trying to repurpose a pile of rubble on a hillside into a luxury villa. They always end up building internal walls out strange square plant pot things, and nobody ever says what are those things? If I was the interviewer I'd say yes we know you owe £50,000 and you've done irreparable damage to your marriage and you haven't slept for a week, but what are those things you are building that wall out of, and who told you to use them? Plus lets face it most Spanish biscuits would make a perfectly good building material.
Due to age I just missed out on Noggin the Nog first time round, so am more of a Poggle's Wood man really.