MY NEXT MEMORY.
I mentioned last time that my Nan could get me to eat anything when she babysat me for my parents, who at the time were working for other people. This all changed when they decided to run a Hotel together, moving from Pentre to Treorchy. We are now talking about the Welsh Valleys in the early sixties – not quite so swinging for them!
In fairness when they took on the Hotel it was mainly being run as a pub and was quite run down. They worked hard to redecorate and modernise it. You could swing a cat in the toilets, quite literally! Try to imagine pink cat wallpaper with matching pink work surfaces. Do you miss the 60’s now?
Once the work was completed they worked hard to build up the business, from selling 1 barrel of beer a week to 56. So, when the school holidays came around they had no one who could look after me that was close by. It is only then I went off to spend the school holidays with my mother’s parents at their farm in Sennybridge.
I have lovely memories of my times on the farm. My grandparents had a milking herd and kept sheep, had a prize bull, some pigs, chickens, ducks and geese. They also produced hay and my grandfather used to have his own vegetable plot.
One memory was helping my grandfather in the milking parlour. Once the milking was done, we’d sit down in the kitchen with a glass of quite strong tree top orange squash and a bowl of cornflakes with warm milk just out of the udder!! It was very creamy and a treat for most and as much as I love milk I cannot cope with warm milk especially on cornflakes as it makes them very soggy. It didn’t help that it came in not a bowl but a basin half the size of the kitchen table. A bit of an exaggeration, but you get the point. But as I loved my gran SOOO much and unlike my mother she did not force me to eat – I ate what they thought was cornflakes but a soggy mess just to please her. However, to this day I cannot cope with warm milk, nor soggy cornflakes. Apart from this, my association of food did start to change mainly due to the fact that my nan did a lot of cooking and she let me help her!
One thing that I loved making with my Nan was welsh cakes and they have always stayed a favourite of mine and the rest of the family. My grandparents had 7 children, 6 boys and a girl – my mum. Every penny had to count and for the most part they were very self-sufficient. However, they were getting older and as their children had made their own lives, looking after the farm became harder and they would decide to give up this way of life in the not-too-distant future.
As this was a family favourite. I have included my grans recipe for Welsh cakes below.
Annie May’s Welsh Cakes :
8 ounces (Oz.) of plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
4oz of fat split 2oz lard 2oz butter if possible
Some mixed spice to taste ½ to 1 teaspoonful.
3oz sugar (castor sugar is better but was not around in those days)
2oz of sultanas – this is what my Gran used but you can use currants instead.
1 egg beaten.
Milk – as required.
Pinch of salt
Flat pan or bake stone/griddle. A round cutter about 3 inches – biscuit size. Spatula or a knife for turning the cakes.
Sieve the flour and baking powder, salt, and all spice into a decent size bowl that you can get your hands into. Cut the fat into small chunks as it makes it easier and add to the flour mixture and rub this into the flour. It should look a little like breadcrumbs when you have finished. Add the sultanas and mix in well. Add the egg and start to mix together if the mixture is dry add some milk a little at a time. The dough should be soft and pliable not too dry. You need to flour your work surface and roll the dough out evenly to about ½ an inch or maybe a bit thicker if you wish. Then cut out the cakes and place to one side. Continue the process until you’ve used all of the remaining dough.
Heat up your griddle pan/bake stone slowly until it has a good even heat. When you are happy with the heat of the pan add the Welsh cakes a few at a time and cook until a golden colour. Turn using a spatula takes a few minutes each side. Take them off and you can either leave them as they are or cover them in sugar. Either way is fine all depending how sweet you like things. Hopefully, you will enjoy.
Sometimes the first batch cooks a little darker – these are my favourites and I tend to eat them straight from the pan. Lovely! Some people also spread butter on the Welsh cakes and commercially sometimes they are sold split and filled with jam (these don’t usually have fruit in them). Quite a versatile little cake which I like as they are unadulterated. Simple pleasures and if you do make them I hope you enjoy them. I would love to see some pictures and have some feedback.