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Abbey Crunch Review
|3 years ago, as we were forced to bid a tearful farewell to the Abbey Crunch, I was lucky enough to strike upon a Spar which had about 20 packets still in stock and racing towards their "best before date". Of course I bought them all; it was after all going to be my last chance to munch on my favourite snack of all snacks. I wolfed 16 packs within a matter of weeks (struggling to prolong them as long as I could and put in an admirable effort, if I do say so myself). The remaining 4 packets, however, overcame me with the temptation to try and preserve them... to hoard them forever with a Gollum-like obsession so that I may once again experience the perfect biscuit. That way, as I lay on my death bed, it may be the last thing that I may taste. This was all very good in theory - I kept the original foil wrappers intact, wrapped them in cling film, then generously in bubble wrap and again in foil. There they have lain, cushioned on a bed of cardboard away from any hint of light, warmth, or moisture.|
It wasn't until this New Year passed that curiosity got the better of me and I decided to celebrate with friends who I care enough about to honour in such a way... we opened one packet of Abbey Crunch (best before March 2004). You can't imagine the pain... They were distinctly... stale tasting... not even in a tolerable way. If there was any trace of that original glorious flavour there then it had now been overcome... trampled to death... by this awful aftertaste and sandy texture. I don't understand what could have happened given my quasi-cryogenic preserving method.
So what now? I would really value your opinion on this. Do I pop another packet in hope that they will be OK, only to risk shattering the dream completely and amplifying my anguish if they're not? Do I donate them to someone braver or with a less acute sense of taste than I? Or.. do I... give up completely and... well... don't make me type it.
P.S. forgot to mention that I'm moving to Beijing on Tuesday so it really is crunch time on this issue, so to speak.
|Nicey replies: Daz,
Its simple, both they and you have gone off by now.
||Good morning Nicey and Wifey and YMS|
It's not just red telephone boxes and real bottles of milk that are disappearing. I feel like I'm the only person who still does the old traditional things such as knitting, making my own Christmas cakes, puddings, mincemeat and mince pies, and making my own marmalade - which is what I've spent this morning doing. There's nothing more comforting on a cold winter's morning than filling the kitchen with citrus steam, and the satisfaction when the golden liquid is decanted into jars....and no, I'm not an Old Person, I'm actually well under 50. Am I alone or is there anyone else out there who does these things? Or am I just a sad old woman (apparently I am, according to my two late teenage offspring).
Yours stickily (from the marmalade!)
|Nicey replies: Alison,
An extremely hearty New Year Hoorah for you and your Marmalade construction. One of our younger members of staff loves Marmalade and strangely enough we live very near to a marmalade factory. In fact an old next door neighbour of ours worked there and used to bung us the odd jar now and again, which in a circular way accounts for the former.
As for home made Christmas cake, Wifey built her first one this year, using her mothers recipe. For good measure she made her write it down in long hand rejecting the perfectly good photocopy. This was part of a larger set of aims here at NCOTAASD HQ to bake more cakes.
After 2005 being year of Jam at NCOTAASD I am seriously considering 2006 as being NCOTAASD Year of Custard as there seems to be an alarming decline in proper custard.
The teenage offspring will change their tune in a few years time once you kick them out, and they've had a few years living on beans on toast and takeaways.
I was reading David Blaxill's comments on 'flask tea' and it bought back memories of the boot of my Grandparent's Morris Minor in the 70s/80s. It was used to house tea-making equipment which was carried at all times. They had a camping gaz 'bluet' stove, kettle, 'unbreakable' cups (how we laughed on the numerous occasions when my dad managed to break one) teabags, sugar and 'Five Pints' powdered milk. Also biscuits, which usually included gingernuts, gypsy creams and bourbons (these last were exclusively for consumption by the dog).
The whole caboodle was referred to as 'The Makings' and no day out was complete without a stop in a layby where my Nan would brew up, seemingly unaware of the thunder of lorries whizzing past, while me and my sister sought shelter in the back of the car and keenly anticipated licking the filling out of the gypsy creams. Happy days....
Claire (who has just finished a Soreen 'Go' Bar, and wonders where it would sit on the Venn diagram of biscuits.
|Nicey replies: How I love an excuse to get out the flask icon. My Dad used to make tea at work (the Royal Mint at Llantristant) using Five Pints dried milk. I remember it came in a plastic bottle that looked like a proper glass milk bottle.
Actually Wifey and I were out for a nice healthy bike ride earlier and not only did we see a couple of Red phone boxes but I also spied two genuine bottles of milk at the end of somebody's drive and had to pull over to admire them.
As for Soreen Go bars I've not had one but hope they are related to Soreen Malt loaf in some way. Hoorah for malt loaf especially with butter on it.
Fruit Shortcake Review
|Dear Nicey |
I was most alarmed to read your reply in the Wife's column on the subject of red telephone boxes; not because this is blatant control freakery (you did it when she was out, you fiend), but the admission that, after a nice walk, the two of you drank tea from a... flask!
I have to ask the question - why? Even after being in a flask only a few moments, the divine beverage takes on a most unpleasant taste, and certainly loses at least ninety per cent of its niceness. You will probably say that any tea after a nice walk is better than no tea, and I think if you held a poll on this subject, the majority of people would agree. As a purist, however, I would reccommend a trip to a camping equipment store, where, for a reasonable expenditure, you can purchase a small gas stove and camping kettle. Very portable, and ideal for those nice country moments when only a fresh brew will hit the spot. I've got one of these in my allotment shed, it's great.
I am sure there are those who will disagree with my loathing of flask tea (probably people who take lots of sugars). I was put off flasks as a child in the fifties, after watching my father brew up on a parrafin and meths primus when we went for nice picnics. He was a flask tea hater too. His tea making kit (tea bags were a thing of the future) took up half the car boot - he was a man of strong principles. I think we still had an empire in those days.
PS I recently reacquainted myself with the fruit shortcake - McVities, to be precise, and jolly nice they were too. McVits didn't make a fruit shortcake in the late sixties when I worked for them, it was the preserve of UB stablemate Crawfords. I am sure they were twice the circumference of the ones you get now. But the small ones taste just as good, and calorie counters can polish off half a dozen with a clear conscience, safe in the knowledge they are only really eating three biscuits.
|Nicey replies: Remain calm David.
We open the lid of our flask of piping-hot water, then pop in two tea bags. Wait a while, then use it just like a tea pot. Our milk is carried in a small glass Perrier bottle, liberated from the French this summer, which does the job very well.
|Nancy Bea Miller
||Dear Nicey and Wifey;|
Just found out myself that it is National Hot Tea Month here in the U.S., according to the American Food
and Drink Holidays people (whoever they are.) Saw it announced on a very nice site called Morning Coffee
and Afternoon Tea.
Just thought you might like to know. Off to celebrate!
(of Genre Cookshop)
|Nicey replies: Hello Nancy,
Indeed it appears to be. Mind you January is also National Egg, Meat, Soup, Bread, Bread Machine Baking, Candy and Prune Breakfast month. This some what steals Hot Tea's thunder. It's also troubling that the word 'Hot' has to be included to distinguish it from the barbarous business of iced tea.
The full calendar makes very funny and disturbing reading in equal measure. Obviously with Independence day July is a busy month and apart from National Scotch, Tequila, Grand Marnier, Daiquiri and Pina Colada day it also hosts National Fried Chicken, French Fries, Hot Dog, Ice Cream, Ice Cream Soda, Vanilla Ice day and for good measure National Junk Food day.