My mother’s family came from the border country of Lancashire and Yorkshire (the Pendle witch country) and the women were formidable. According to Grandmother Brown (my great grandmother) if domestic work wasn’t finished by lunchtime then you were an idle housekeeper. My heavens, she’d be turning in the grave to see my standard of housekeeping! Sundays were for the Lord and woe betide my mother if she wore a dress without sleeves or picked up anything other than the “good book” on the Lord’s Day of Rest!
And then there was my Aunty Etty (Hetty a dimunitive of Henrietta), one of an overwhelming number of elderly great aunts we routinely met on visits to the UK Aunty Etty enjoyed the reputation of being the best cook in the family and she was, as you can probably imagine, a round, sweet natured old lady.On the last occasion I saw her I had reached the grand old age of twenty one. She looked me up and down and the following conversation ensued.
“How old art thou?”
“Err, twenty one, Aunty Etty.”
“Twenty one! Twenty one and not married! Aren’t there any decent boys in Australia?”
This this year I would like to share “Aunty Etty’s mince pies” (which were legendary!). No one quite made them like Aunty Etty, even my Mum! I have to confess to tweaking the recipe slightly, so along with Grandmother Brown, poor Aunty Etty is now probably spinning in her grave at my sacrilege! ENJOY...
8 oz (250gr) plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
4 oz (125gr) sugar
4 oz (125gr) butter
I beaten egg
¼ tsp mixed spice
1 tsp lemon rind
• Sieve flour and add sugar
• Rub in butter until mixture resembles bread crumbs
• Make into dough with egg
• Wrap in cling film and rest in fridge ½ hr and then turn on to floured board and proceed as for ordinary pastry.
• Makes about 12 pies using one jar of fruit mince (of course, Aunty Etty made her own fruit mince!)
My grandfather, Frank, is standing to the left of his eldest brother Bateman (in uniform) who was killed in Mesopotamia during WW1. When another boy was born after Bateman's death, he was given his elder brother's name.
February 1816: Fabien, Comte de Mont Clair, once a highly decorated officer of the exiled Napoleon, cuts a dashing swathe through a London society ball, his eyes only for the glittering ladies of the ‘ton’. His heart jolts at the sight of a woman sitting in a shadowed corner. Not just any woman, but one he would have once given the world for.
For Hannah, Lady Trevan, catering to the spoiled darlings of the ton as a humble chaperone is nothing compared to the pain she suffered at the hands of her late husband. Alone and impoverished, she is a person of no consequence but once, a long time ago, she sacrificed her world for the dashing Comte de Mont Clair. Now all she can do is hope that he may glance her way…