Posts Tagged ‘kitchen’

Truffle. By Taylor Swift.

Do you know what I noticed the other day? You know that song by Taylor Swift which, embarrassingly enough, I loved? It’s called Trouble. Well, I noticed yesterday, that the song is immeasurably improved by simply changing the word Trouble to Truffle, throughout. 

 

Have a listen and follow the lyrics. I have changed some other stuff too, for fun. Don’t expect it to make sense.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNoKguSdy4Y

 

There’s some nonsense adverts at the beginning then some chitchat. Boooooooring. Skip to 2:02.

Once upon a time
A few dinners ago
I was in the kitchen
You got me alone
You found me, you found me, you found me

I guess you didn’t know
That I would get obsessed
And when I fell hard
You took a step in
The saucepan, the saucepan, the saucepa-a-a-a-an.

And he’s baking
When the oven’s on
And I realize the truffle’s on me

Cause I knew you were truffle when you walked in
So shame on me now
Flew me to tastes I had never had
Till you put me down, oh
I knew you were truffle when you walked in
So shame on me now
Flew me to tastes I had never had
Now I’m lying on the cold hard ground
Oh, oh, truffle, truffle, truffle
Oh, oh, truffle, truffle, truffle

No apologies
He’ll never see you eat
Pretend he doesn’t know
That he’s the reason why
You’re eating, the truffles, you’re eating

And I heard you moved on
From truffles on the plate
A new lunch in your day
Is all I’ll ever be
And now I see, now I see, now I see
He was hungry
When he met me
And I realize the truffle’s on me

I knew you were truffle when you walked in
So shame on me now
Flew me to tastes I had never had
Till you put me down, oh
I knew you were truffle when you walked in
So shame on me now
Flew me to tastes I had never had,
Now I’m lying on the cold hard ground
Oh, oh, truffle, truffle, truffle
Oh, oh, truffle, truffle, truffle

And the saddest fear comes creeping in,
That you ate all of,

The truffles,

From the fridge,

And in the kitchen, yeah

I knew you were truffle when you walked in
So shame on me now
Flew me to tastes I had never had
Till you put me down, oh
I knew you were truffle when you walked in
So shame on me now
Flew me to tastes I had never had
Now I’m lying on the cold hard ground
Oh, oh, truffle, truffle, truffle
Oh, oh, truffle, truffle, truffle

I knew you were truffle when you walked in
Truffle, truffle, truffle
I knew you were truffle when you walked in
Truffle, truffle, truffle!

Things I have learned about myself in the kitchen

1. Sometimes, I can spend all day doing things but somehow, when I get to the end of the day, I feel like I haven’t done anything.

2. Every so often, I spend a whole day burning things.

3. When I feel something might not turn out well, I need to trust that feeling, rather than going “I’m sure it’s going to be fine.” Often, it is not going to be fine and I curse myself for not listening to my instincts.

4. I can be grumpy in the kitchen. Boy, can I be grumpy! I’m sure you were all under the impression that I am quite lovely and bright as a daisy and Mother Earth-y. Weren’t you?… Weren’t you? Well, it appears, I’m not. I’m as shocked as you are, readers. I’m as shocked as you are.

5. I can spend hours washing leaves and drying them. Sorrel is probably my least favourite thing to wash because it doesn’t respond well to being spun. If you separate each leaf out and lay them on some paper towel to air dry, they are happier but it takes f o r e v e r.

6. I didn’t know that eggs are classed as ‘raw meat’ in the kitchen. That’s not really something I’ve learned about myself but it’s still an interesting kitchen-related fact.

7. I do not drink enough when I work in a kitchen. I think it’s because I’m spending less time by the coffee machine. Usually, making drinks for other people will prompt me to think of making myself a cup of tea or getting some water. But in the kitchen, I’ve got out of that habit. Sometimes I’ll get to the end of my working and realise I’ve drunk nothing all day.

8. I don’t like a cake to go out untasted. Because that would just be careless. What kind of cake baker would give the public something they hadn’t tasted? And so I eat a lot of cake. Some people might say it’s just greed because, really, if the same batch of cake mix made 6 carrot cakes, does each individual cake need to be tasted? A lot of people would say no. I would say that you can never be sure so it’s best to taste them anyway.

9. If it is quiet, my Fast Mode doesn’t quite kick in. I can hear a voice in the back of my head telling me to start cleaning and get a head start on it all so I don’t have as much to do at closing time. So I look around and see bits of lemon icing splatted on the surfaces and scone mix all over the Hobart mixer and scraps of stuff on the floor and I’ll be like, “Hmm, what needs doing? Nope, nothing. It looks fine in here.” Then I get to the end of the day and I’m like “Omygoodness there’s sooooo much to do.”

10. The little paper hats you have to wear in the kitchen always make me feel a little sailorish. Or Thunderbirdsish. Let’s go with Thunderbirds. And it is a known fact of life that everything is more exciting if you pretend you are in Thunderbirds.

To the flyer dropper…

Dear Mr. Flyer Dropper,

There is something very serious I must discuss with you. I keep meaning to open the door as soon as I hear a flyer being pushed through and talk to you properly about it. But I’m usually too comfy on the sofa. And a little bit too lazy. I shall say it here, therefore, because I do not have to move from the sofa.

Mr. Flyer Dropper, are you stupid? Is that what this is about? You genuinely have no comprehension of what you are doing? You are stupid, in the academic sense of the word? You drop flyers because it is the only thing you can be trusted to do without breaking it?

For if you are not stupid, maybe you are one of those extremely clever people who has no connection to real life? A savant, perhaps? For a savant cannot be expected to take notice of such trivial matters.

Or maybe you don’t care? Maybe you don’t care because you are dropping flyers for a living and this is not what you intended for your life and so, as a fist-shake to the world, you do your job half-heartedly, to show everyone that you are too good for it.

Well, it doesn’t tell me that. You want to know what it tells me? It tells me that if you can’t carry out the most basic of tasks – dropping a flyer through a letterbox – you probably won’t go far in life. And you’re pissing me right off while you’re at it.

Why, Mr. Flyer Dropper? Why do you do this?
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I mean, it’s more out than in. I’m surprised it didn’t fall back out of it’s own accord.

Let’s get a close up.
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Ridiculous!

And from the front.
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Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Now, I don’t expect you to know anything about my house but I shall just tell you anyway, as an FYI for next time.

My house is little and old. It is beautiful and compact and I love it very much. Due to its oldness, it doesn’t have any central heating. It also has huge single-glazed sash windows. And no carpets downstairs, just floorboards. And the only heat source in the house is a gas fire in the front room. This means that when the weather is cold, my little house is freezing.

Cold drafts blow up from in between the floorboards and the outside toilet is abandoned for the winter, in favour of the slightly less cold upstairs toilet. Any trip away from the front room fire and into the frozen wilderness beyond is made with great haste.

Therefore, Mr. Flyer Dropper, when you decide, every single day, to pop by my front door, push the corner of some silly leaflet about a pizza delivery place near by (what an insult to my kitchen, pizza delivery?!) which then wedges the letterbox open, you have allowed a significant cold breeze to enter my little already-cold home. I have felt this letterbox breeze as far down the hallway as the kitchen.

Yes, young man, I kid you not. You have made my house that little bit colder. It’s already very bloody cold! You don’t need to make it colder.

What is wrong with you? Just push the bloody leaflet all the way through the door! It’s not that much effort. You’re already standing at the door and have opened the letterbox, just keep pushing that leaflet, goddamnyou! Don’t be so stupid.

Yours faithfully,
Grumpy Laura

P.S. I’m actually ok with the cold. As mentioned before, I was built like an eskimo, but it’s the principle of the thing, ok?!

Of moats and medieval knights

On Friday, it was Away Day at Ham House. The great thing about working or volunteering with the National Trust is that Away Days are spent at other fabulous National Trust properties (none of them as good as Ham House, of course, but they’re still nice).

This year’s Away Day was to Ightham Mote in Kent (pronounced Item Moat).

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And yes, it is surrounded by a moat. This is the view of it from one of the windows in the house.

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It was built in, are you ready for this, 1325! Isn’t that mind-blowing? Almost 700 years old. It had lots more bits and pieces added over the next five centuries but the original buildings are from 1325.

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This kitchen is from original build, as is the Crypt…

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In one of the upstairs rooms, there is a glass panel in the ceiling so that you can see through to the original oak beam roofing.

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The house has been owned by medieval knights, sheriffs, MPs, generals, businessmen and many others. In one room, the wall on my right was built by Isolde Inge (they think) in 1330, the wall on my left was part of a later addition built by Sir Richard Clement in 1530 and the motifs on the window are someone else’s addition but they don’t know the exact year.

As opposed to the extreme grandeur of Ham House, this house was a place I could imagine myself sitting down in, perhaps reading a book, perhaps lingering by the warm fire in the billiard room. One of the rooms actually, the Oriel Room, has been made back into a sitting room so guests can have a little sit down part way around. (Ham House is still better though, our stuff is sparklier.)

The New Chapel at Ightham Mote is an interesting room, mainly for this fantastic ceiling, painted in situ in the early 16th century.

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Another interesting thing is the way over-the-top Jacobean fireplace in the Drawing Room, which they actually had to lift the ceiling in order to fit in. Anyone else might just make a smaller fireplace. But not the Selbys (whose ownership of the house spanned 300 years). They got hold of the ceiling and pushed it upwards, for the fireplace must be put in and it must be huge.

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We then saw some rooms furnished as its last owner had them. He was an American businessman from Portland, Maine and his ashes are in the Crypt. Interestingly, his relatives traced his ancestry back to medieval knights.

After wandering out of the house, we saw these buildings opposite.

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It turns out they were built in 1457 and are currently being let out as holiday cottages… New cool weekend away destination, maybe?

We then lunched (not after I snuck into the kitchen to chat to the chef for a bit!) and I had the difficult choice between joining a garden tour for my last 45 minutes or raiding the shop for cookery books.

Guess which one I chose?

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Getting spooked in Ham House

A few days ago, I expressed an interest in becoming a tour guide at Ham House. As luck would have it, the very next day there was a training session on how to guide the ghost tours.

I jumped at the chance so the following morning, the training was due to begin at 10am. The house is generally kept quite dark, to avoid light damage to any of the delicate things in the rooms. This makes the whole place a bit spooky. My plan was to go into the house at 9.30am and have a little look around for some ghosts while the place was still quiet and dark.

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I went and stood in the chapel, where the Duke of Lauderdale’s body lay for a week after his death and where a woman dressed in black has been seen kneeling by the altar and where a handprint was found in the dust one morning, at the Duchess’ pew. I stared into the darkness and my heart beat fast and eventually I lit up my phone to scan the room for ghosties but didn’t see one.

Next I went to to the Round Gallery where, in the book I recently talked about, one of the main characters sees some ghosts. While I am not claiming this book is based on anything factual, I still thought I might come across something, given all the portraits on the wall.

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Nothing.

Back downstairs, I went into the Duchess’ bedchamber. This is the room where she spent the last years of her life, ridden with gout and feeling trapped. I can’t remember the exact quote but she writes about feeling imprisoned in her beloved Ham House. There have been ghostly sightings by room guides here, who’ve been so scared by what they saw, that they have been unable to return to the house.

I lingered around, looked in the mirror, looked at the portrait of the Duchess as a young woman and waited.

Nothing.

Undeterred, I went into the White Closet, a beautiful little room that was one of the Duchess’ private closets in which she entertained only her closest friends.

As I stared at a painting of the back of Ham House and the gardens, I remembered someone saying that this painting contains most of the people at Ham House who have been seen/heard as ghosts. So I started looking for them in the painting. And I heard a noise…..

Whirrrrrrrr…..

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Oo! Oo! It’s the ghosts! Through there! Up there! In the next room! I snuck along following the noise, with a beating heart, and found….

One of the staff members hoovering the floor in the Long Gallery.

Ah. Yes. Of course that was it. Silly me. Ghosts don’t whirr, everyone knows that.

I did tell him off, though, for hoovering while I’m looking for ghosts. How can they walk around or say hi to me if he’s busy hoovering them up? It takes them bloody ages to get back out of that hoover so I wouldn’t see them until much later in the day.

By this time, it was 10am and the training was starting so I went upstairs and complained about the lack of ghost sightings. We talked a lot about how a tour should run, then a few of the experienced guides did a sample tour for us around the house.

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I still didn’t see any ghosts on this tour but not for lack of looking.

Anyway, the training finished and I left, clutching my notes and dreaming about being the Best Ghost Tour Guide The World Has Ever Seen, and ran into my manager from the cafe, who told me about a name scratched into the kitchen window in one of the house steward’s flats upstairs in the house.

The story is, briefly, a young man called John McFarlane was at the house. He was in love with one of the kitchen girls but she was in love with the butler. He was super distraught about it and threw himself out of one of the upstairs windows and died. But not before scratching his name into one of the window panes – John McFarlane 1790.

So we went to see this name scratched in. I was really having to restrain my excitement. People have photographed this window before and seen an orb in the photo! I attempted to take a photo of the name but my phone was like, “There is no more space for photographs on your phone.”

Humph.

So I deleted some photos to make space and tried again. Same thing. I deleted some more and eventually I got one but I couldn’t take any more. After walking through the front room into the hallway, we decided to look around upstairs.

As we approached the stairs, Sarah said to me, “There are stories of a little boy ghost on these stairs,” then she turned the light on…

And the light popped and the bulb threw itself out of the socket and it hurtled down the stairs towards us and smashed on the ground, only just missing us. I tried to photograph the smashed glass but the phone was having none of it. Sarah checked the fuse box but nothing had blown….

Make of it what you will, my friends. Make of it what you will.

Things I have recently made at Ham House

The other day I was talking about the lovely fresh fruit and vegetables that the gardeners bring us at the Ham House cafe. Today, I’m going to show you that food in action. This is just a few of the things we have done with the garden produce.

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A fig and greengage tart

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An almond cake with blackcurrants and raspberries

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A gooseberry and apricot tart

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Mixture of dried herbs to flavour soups and risottos and stews

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Edible flowers decorating the cake section. The tart on the bottom left is with blackcurrants from the garden

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One of the table displays that a gardener made for the cafe

Even more cool facts about Ham House

(This is a follow on from two earlier posts about the house.)

A few days ago, after sorting out the harvest from the garden, I went on a Behind The Scenes tour in Ham House. It was fascinating. We squished and squeezed and poked about these little passages, learning about the world that the servants occupied.

We started outside the house, learning about how the West Door, which is the door on the side of the building that the volunteers and staff use, was a later addition. It was part of the refurbishment in which a whole new section was built on the back of the house.

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It reflected the changing attitudes to servants at this time. Previously, the servants had not had their own passages and rooms. They had walked around among the family doing their jobs. When everything French started to become fashionable, there was a move toward copying their system of the servants being out of sight so that the family did not have to witness a slop bucket or drying linen being carried around. It was believed that these things should happen behind the scenes.

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This affected the nature of the servants work. Up until this point, people had slept where their work was. The lady-in-waiting to the Duchess would sleep on a pallet on the floor next to the Duchess’ bed. The kitchen maids slept on a raised wooden plinth underneath the kitchen table.

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And the ladies in charge of the linen cupboard and wardrobe would sleep in a small room built in to the corner of the room in which the linen was kept.

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(It’s an office now but all the office furniture has been built in a non intrusive way so that it could be taken away and the room would still be preserved as it was.)

In the same office is this old fireplace from 1610 when the house was originally built.

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As I was saying, because the servants were starting to be kept out of the way more, there were secret passages built in when the refurbishments were made. There were also servants’ staircases and dorms and bedrooms in the very top floors so that they were hidden and out of the way overnight.

These areas are fascinating to look around. There are two lengths of roof and one side was the mens’ dorms and the other was the girls’ bedrooms.

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The little girl in me was bursting with excitement at being allowed into the forbidden secret parts of the house!

One of the bedrooms on the girls’ side had been made up to look how it probably would have at the time.

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There were a few later time periods also showing their faces. There is the lift that was put in during the time of the 9th Earl of Dysart (early 1900s) and a bell that was installed in 1789.

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(The date is on the top of the bell. You’ll have to zoom in a bit, probably.)

Whilst stumbling around in these fascinating rooms and corridors in the roof….

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…we came across a lot of rooms that are currently being used for storage, as Ham House has no external storage facilities. Back in the main part of the house, rooms that the Duchess’ sisters stayed in are full of beautiful old furniture or bits and pieces that are not currently on display. These rooms were part of the new build which had left windows marooned in the strange places and occasional telltale signs of the old outside wall, now in the middle of a suite of rooms.

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We finished the tour downstairs, in the servants’ dining room where some scenes from Downton Abbey were filmed. Any watchers of Downton may remember the scenes in the Crawley household, when they set up a soup kitchen during the war. Well, this is that very room! (Sorry, the light wasn’t great.)

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So there you go. A sneaky insider’s look at Ham House. Don’t tell anyone I let you in!