Author Archives: anbit2013

The Spong Mincer part 2

Well it has been some time since my last post. The reason being that I really wanted to continue with my Spong mincer theme but that has been tricky.

It has been difficult finding a recipe where the mincer really is the best tool for the job. Food processors do have the edge in so many ways and as I don’t eat meat the usefulness of the vintage piece of equipment seemed destined to be merely decorative.

Then, of course, Christmas came around again and mincemeat needed to be made. I seem to make mine in a slightly different way each year. I vary the spice blend or tinker with the amount of apple I put in. For the past few years I have dispensed with the idea of adding vegetable suet altogether and I have just added a little melted butter instead.

This year my attention turned to texture and I decided I wanted something a little smoother  than last year. Cue the mincer because I knew that the food processor would be too powerful and smash the mixture to a  pulp. I put about a third of the mincemeat through the mincer. It made light work of the dried fruits and roughly chopped apples. When mixed with the rest of the “unminced” mixture the overall texture was perfect for my liking.

So it seems I have a new Christmas tradition in my kitchen. My Spong mincer will be clamped to the worktop for a mincemeat making session once a year, at least. Which is exactly what my mother and grandmother used it for in the past. Sometimes it is hard to improve on a tried and tested method.






Adding the chopped apples

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Posted by on December 27, 2015 in Food


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The Spong Mincer part 1

DSCF1314I don’t dwell on the passage of time, as a rule, but sometimes you are forced to acknowledge that you are no longer young. I was pulled up short just a few days ago when I saw a photo in a magazine of a so called mystery object.

I was amazed. There was nothing mysterious about it all. It was a mincer. Every kitchen worthy of the name had one not so long ago. My Mum made her mincemeat with one every year. I still recall the smell of the spices, dried fruit, apples and suet as the sticky mixture emerged through the holes as Mum turned the handle of this robust cast iron piece of equipment.

However, it is some years since I saw the mincer and I wondered if it had been thrown away. I was quite excited, then, to see my Dad emerging from the garage with the rather rusty, dusty Spong mincer last time I went to see him.
So now I have a restoration project underway and a quest to find some suitable recipes where I can mince something ( but not meat! ).

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Posted by on February 6, 2014 in Uncategorized


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Boozy Damson Chocolate Cake

Boozy Damson Chocolate Cake

I’ve been making Damson Vodka for the past few years.  Friends with Damson trees have been generous with the fruit in the Autumn and by Christmas the lovely warming, jewel coloured drink is ready to be bottled, given as a gift or drunk by me.

The first time I made Damson vodka I couldn’t think what to do with the fruit.  It had been pickled in the sugar and vodka mixture for two months and smelled delicious in the bottom of the jar. It was far too interesting to throw away,certainly.

Then I had the idea of combining it in a chocolate cake.

The fiddly job is to remove the stones from the damsons and then put the soft fruit in the base of a lined cake tin.

Spread the damsons out to completely cover the base.

Cover with your usual chocolate sponge mixture.

Once baked and cooled tip out the cake so the fruit is now on top.

I like to eat this with a splash of double cream or plain yogurt.

This cake is quickly becoming  a welcome Christmas tradition in my family alongside the vodka itself, of course!


Posted by on January 1, 2014 in Uncategorized


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My Be-Ro Recipe Books


Deciding which recipe to use for my Christmas cake this year caused me to spend a happy time studying my collection of BeRo recipe books. These little gems could easily be overlooked on a crowded bookshelf but that would be a great shame. They have been a fine stalwart of many British cookery book collections since they first appeared in 1923. Costing only a few pounds and a coupon from a bag of BeRo flour they have always been a value for money introduction to the world of baking for many novice bakers.

I am the proud owner of four editions of the little book. The earliest one I have belonged to my mother and dates from the fifties , I think.  Certainly it was the companion to many of my ‘baking with Mummy’ sessions and has the scars to prove it. Several of the pages have buttery stains and the front cover is defaced by my childish circular scribbles. Happy days!

My three other copies are the 39th, 40th and 41st editions.  I find it fascinating to see how domestic and social changes are mirrored in the pages of these small books. In my early copy it is clearly the woman of the house who is responsible the catering. The message given is that providing good food for a family is a source of female pride.

The later editions highlight recipes for the microwave oven and recipes for children to enjoy making. Lard has dropped out of favour and butter gets more of a look in.  Influences from abroad can be seen in the shape of recipes for pizza and American style muffins.  I am delighted that good old fairy cakes are still featured in the most recent edition and the ubiquitous cupcake has not yet encroached. Hooray for that!

So, after a happy trip down memory lane, looking at all four little books, I decided to make the classic BeRo Christmas cake. I have eaten a fair few of them in my time but this is the first year that the task has fallen to me to actually make it. Here goes then…….

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Posted by on December 10, 2013 in Uncategorized


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Bananas on the Barbecue

DSCF1185Apparently this is a staple of Scout camp cookery but I only stumbled upon this delicious dish in adulthood.

Leave the bananas in their skins and slit them along the length.
Push pieces of chocolate into the flesh and leave it to sit on the barbecue while you eat your main course. Chocolate buttons are ideal for this.

Once the skin is blackened the flesh will be beautifully soft and the flavour intensified. I like to serve it in a bowl with a little single cream. So easy and so delicious.

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Posted by on September 5, 2013 in Uncategorized


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Fresh Raspberry Sponge Sandwich Cake

Fresh Raspberry Sponge Sandwich Cake

Fresh Raspberry Sponge Sandwich Cake

I came home the other evening to find we had been given a bowl of beautiful freshly picked raspberries. Now, I may be unusual but I don’t like eating these fruits raw, however, I was in the mood for cake baking. So I thought I would combine the two.

I whipped up a standard sponge mixture and lined two sponge sandwich tins with baking parchment. I dotted the raspberries around the base and spread the sponge mixture on top.

Once the sponges were baked and cooled I spread a thin layer of Scottish raspberry jam (with seeds) on one of the sponges and sandwiched them together. The finishing touch was a sprinkling of vanilla flavoured castor sugar.

I loved the taste. The tartness of the fruit is perfectly balanced with the sweetness of the sponge, the jam and the sugar topping.


Posted by on August 12, 2013 in Uncategorized


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Cherry Feta Bites

Juicy and Sweet

Juicy and Sweet

Cherry Feta Bites

Cherry Feta Bites

Cherry Feta Bites

If life delivers a bowl of cherries to your table then I would suggest that you sink your teeth into their luscious juiciness without the addition of other ingredients.

The other evening, however, I was nibbling a few cherries, an oatcake and some pecorino in a rather absentminded way. Suddenly I realised what a lovely combination cheese and cherries are together.

As I had some Feta cheese in the fridge I decided to experiment with its soft, salty texture and see how it worked with the sweet cherries.

This is what I came up with…….

Stone the cherries and use an apple corer to produce little cylinders of cheese. Cut the cheese cylinders in half and slide them into the centre of the cherry.

Pop into your mouth and enjoy the intense explosion of sweet, salty and creamy flavours.

This is the perfect nibble to have with a glass of something chilled on a warm evening.

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Posted by on July 22, 2013 in Uncategorized


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