On our day trip to Lake District we’ve been to Wray Castle and the lovely Townend, a farmhouse.
It was quite late when we arrived at the house, but is a small house and we were able to visit it in a little oven one hour.
The property is part of National Trust, so my expectations were high. The house looked amazing, I love old cottages. The fascinating part were stories behind the furniture and the books on display and the food, it was real food.
Every Thursday afternoon there are live cookery demonstrations. They use Elizabeth Brownes’ hand-written 17th century recipe book. I hope they will still have these demonstrations next year, as I would love to attend.
In the Hall there were different pies and desserts on the table and the volunteer told us about the recipes. In her book the recipes are the special ones used for celebrations. The day-to-day recipes aren’t in the book as they were made so often it wasn’t necessary to write them down.
In the centre it was a salted crust pie with venison. In a time when hunting or even accidentally killing a deer could be punishable by death, getting the meat into a pie was crucial.
The meat was cooked very fast, as there was no refrigeration and it was encased in the salted pastry. This could easily be transported or kept for up to a month. The pastry was very salty and hard, it had to be cut with a chisel to get the meat out.
On the right there are mince pies. The original recipe was with meat and raisins, dried fruits and the same spices we use today. The recipe we know and love today is a Victorian adaptation of the old one, by leaving the meat out.
The volunteer told us these are apricots straws. I think it looks more like apricot leather, but I’m not sure how old this concept is. Fruit leather is a method of preserving them by making a puree and leave it dry, then cut into strands.
The rest of the house was beautiful. The furniture was made by one of the owners who had a passion for wood carving. There is a very special book, the only one in the world. But I don’t want to say more about it, not to spoil the surprise if you want to visit the property.