ENTRY NO.4 – BEDSPREADS AND BATHROOMS.
So when I wasn’t on the farm I was at home in the Hotel. At the time there were very few places that people who were visiting the Rhondda could stay so my mum and dad converted some of the rooms upstairs in the pub to use as the name denotes as a hotel. I think in total we could accommodate 8 people. I remember in order to do this I was moved out of my bedroom at the front of the hotel to a bedroom that was made for me by the main bathroom. I hated it as I lost my window so at night when I wanted to go to sleep I had all my furry toys with me so I felt safe.
In those days there were no ensuite rooms so everyone shared a bathroom. How expectations have changed! I would play a guessing game to see if I could identify which guest was passing my room (this is in no way sinister as we had regular guests who were absolutely fabulous, that’s to be discussed in another post). Needless to say mornings when everyone was getting ready to go out or go to work were interesting. l also remember my mother had a penchant for Candlewick bedspreads.
Anyone remember these?? – She had a ton of these in every conceivable colour. They were all the rage don’t you know.
I also remember helping with the daily bed changes and the old twin tub washing machine – them were the days. In fact when we first moved into the Hotel there was a twin tub in the back lounge, an old mangle and a washing board. I loved that mangle, I had hours of fun playing with it. Health and Safety would have a field day now a days.
These items however were soon moved to make way for a lovely modern bar and lounge area. This coupled with our very chic dinning room was the epitome of 60s fashion. Nightly meals included those sixties favourites – scampi and chips, chicken and chips in a basket, fish and chips and steak and chips. Are you starting to see a trend! The basket meals meant that we could serve more people as they could eat in the lounge. It also made the men feel less guilty dragging their partners to the pub as they could have a meal out, what a treat for the weekend!
We also had a function room for any occasion and it was not unheard of us to be hosting dog shows, darts tournaments, engagement parties and wedding receptions. Food for such occasions could range from the good old ploughman’s for the darts team to soak up large amounts of alcohol which I remember being served in large stainless steel logo-ed drinks trays with big hunks of bread.
For weddings the height of sophistication was cold meats and salads. We used to buy tinned meat as was mainly the case then and we had a proper meat slicer that you get in a butchers! Meat of choice at the time was usually a slice of tongue (I kid you not) and a slice of ham served with mash and some salads. I used to always be on salad duty. Each plate used to have individual salads which used to be served in individual waxed paper dishes. There would also be other salad dishes like Russian salad and coleslaw which were very popular at the time.
Thinking back this was quite ‘green’ but I doubt they were recycled. They would be made in the shape of flowers and look very pretty.
When we were catering for large numbers it was all hands on deck and everyone and anyone who worked in the hotel was roped in to clean and decorate the room and lay the tables as well as prep the food. Getting the food to the room was a task in itself because it was upstairs and the opposite side of the hotel to the kitchen so it took a lot of planning and in the beginning it took a lot longer to get sorted but after a while it just became second nature as it was something we got used to.
As I mentioned above I was usually on salad duty when we first moved to the hotel. One of the other things I was able to help with and loved to do which were always part of the running buffets if they didn’t want a formal sit down meal were the hedgehogs. Have I confused you? I have added a picture below again these were a bit like the savoury equivalent of the Ferrero Rocher of the time – other brands are available.
Why you ask would I get excited about the hedgehogs. Well we used to make 2 types one was cheese and pineapple and the other one was cheese with small silver skinned cocktail pickles. The definition of HEAVEN!!
I think I ate more than went onto the hedgehog. Thinking about it as I didn’t really like eating maybe that was my mothers ploy to get me to have some food. Clever mummy. So what recipe would be the equivalent of those decadent dishes. I think I will have to combine my salad experiences with the ‘ green’ aspect and go with one of my favourites. I have used this recipe for years, its a Ken Hom recipe and as we have just started the Chinese New Year I thought why not.
Chicken lettuce wraps.
2 skinned chicken breasts about 8oz (I have also used chicken mince, turkey mine and pork mince which work equally well)
Tablespoon of vegetable oil
2.5 cm (1 inch) piece of root ginger peeled and finely chopped
2 spring onions finely chopped
½ cucumber finely diced
5cm (2inch) piece of canned bamboo shoots which are finely diced. I usually buy a small tin of bamboo shots and put these in or the water chestnuts all finely diced. Basically whatever I have got. Some shops sell small tins with a mixture of both.
25g(1oz) thawed frozen peas
50g (2oz) dried Chinese mushrooms – again I tend to make life easier and use finally chopped fresh mushrooms
100g(4oz) of water chestnuts finely chopped ( see notes above)
Pinch of salt sugar and white pepper to taste
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon of chinese rice wine or sherry
100mls (31/2 floz) chicken stock
25 g (1oz). Corn Flour
½ teaspoon sesame oil 50g (2oz) rice noodles these will need to be deep fried
Lettuce leaves, separated washed and dried. Little gem and iceberg are a good choice.
Chop the chicken breasts finely, or save time and buy it minced. Heat the oil in a wok or deep pan add the ginger and spring onion and stir fry for 30 seconds, then add the chicken and stir fry until dry.
Add the cucumber, bamboo shoot, frozen peas, mushrooms and water chestnuts and stir fry together don’t allow them to colour. Add the salt, sugar, pepper, dark soy and wine/ sherry together then add into the pan. Blend the chicken stock with the cornflour until it forms a sauce – this should be enough to moisten the meat and vegetables. Once heated thickened and mix through and take it off the heat. If you want to have rice noodles as a base, deep fry them until they puff up. Drain and put onto the base of a dish then place the chicken mixture on top. To serve add some of the mixture to the lettuce leaves and eat using your fingers.
I hope you all enjoy this recipe.