Archive for May, 2011

When herbs went out of style.

“A sick man thinks himself effectually tended if he chance to make out that his doses contain Taraxacum, Belladonna, Aconite, Hyoscyamus, or Arneca, or if he be refreshed with Ammonia; but he smiles contemptuously at the herb woman who administers dent de lion, nightshade, wolfsbane, henbane, elecampane, or who burns horn in the sick chamber.”
—Oswald Cockayne, 1864 in Leechdoms, Wortcunning, and Starcraft of Early England.

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Lovely leftovers: pasties!

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My great-great-great grandmother Mary Ann Hawkey was a tin-dresser in the Cornwall mines when she was a child. Her whole family worked in the mines, and as far as I can tell, their ancestors had been tin miners since anyone thought to write these things down.

The Cornish tin miners’ great culinary claim to fame is the pasty (pronounced like “past” as in “past tense”). It’s just a turnover, filled with meat and vegetables, easy to eat down in the mines.

Now, I’ll be branded a heretic for saying so, but you can fill a pasty with anything. Leftovers are perfect. And you can use any kind of dough to make a pasty — leftover bread dough, pie crust, whatever you like.

For these, I used some sourdough I had in the fridge, filled with leftover beef stew (cooked down a bit to reduce the liquid). Perfect lunch!

(Reminds me of another perfect, simple meal a few years ago.)

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