As you will all I'm sure know, today is Shrove Tuesday and time to make pancakes! Pancake Day is celebrated a lot where we live. In Olney (our nearest market town, with lots of lovely shops and a potential tea room that I have been looking at closely!), a pancake race has been held on Shrove Tuesday since 1445. There are many stories about how the competition started; a woman hearing the church bell and being late, ran to church without realising that she was still holding her pancake pan or the pancakes being made as a gift for the bell ringer that he might ring the bell earlier, starting of the days holiday. Either way, the tradition is still strong today and at 11.55am this morning the women of Olney (who must be over 18, have lived in the town for 3 months and wearing traditional "housewife" costume) will race 415 yards tossing their pancakes in a pan. The winner receives a kiss from the vicar!
Whilst not quite as exciting as the Olney pancake race, in the village of Toddington where I grew up, our class would go to visit Conger Hill (pictured) on Shrove Tuesday arriving just before midday. We would put our ears to the hill and when the clock struck 12, you could apparently hear the witch inside frying her pancakes. I wonder whether they still have this as a school outing today - perhaps witches frying pancakes are not on the curriculum in this age of political correctness! We would then return to school and have pancakes for lunch!
My favourite type of pancake were those made by our dear Great Aunty Meg in Wales - sadly no longer with us - but I will never forget her apple pancakes. For the apple filling, peel, core and finely chop 3 large cooking apples and simmer in a pan with 200ml of water, 2 tbsp of brown sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon and a handful of raisins, until the apples have cooked down completely and are soft. Fill each pancake with the apple filling and serve with whipped cream. A nice alternative to lemon and sugar!
Reaching the final of Masterchef 2007 was a rollercoaster of emotion, with huge highs and lows, but I loved every minute and learnt a huge amount. I owe a great deal to John and Gregg who had faith in my ability when I did not believe in myself. Since competing on the programme my life has changed considerably. I now write cookery columns for two magazines, give cookery demonstrations and am just working on my 13th cook book - unlucky number for some but not for me!!! I love all forms of country cooking, using seasonal and locally sourced produce. This blog is to enable me to share with you a few of my recipes and baking ideas. Enjoy Hannah xxxx