Sunday lunch we'd usually have a roast, such as chicken, beef, pork or lamb. Naturally, if it was beef or pork it might possibly be home-produced. And with the roast, roast potatoes and other vegetables from the garden. My father grew Brussel sprouts on the farm, which were sent off to Smithfield Market, and we had with our meal. A much larger variety than the tiny variety that you'll find in your average supermarket. For pudding, something like sponge pudding and custard (although I don't remember having custard. Probably cream, straight from the cow which was reserved for the house. Something I don't expect would be allowed today, what with the E.U. and all the regulations that go with it. The cattle were tested for T.B. or whatever it was once a year, can't remember what else for, to fit the current regulations. I just know that you wouldn't be able to drink 'raw' untreated milk. I have to say that it tasted a good deal better than pasteurised milk, and the cream was thicker and richer. We also had a lot of fruit from the garden, such as strawberries, raspberries and rhubarb, when in season, and ate it stewed with more cream, or in a sponge pudding of some sort. Also, celery and asparagus, which, looking back, we were very fortunate to have growing in the garden. When you see these things in a supermarket, and the price they charge, I realise more than ever how lucky we were to be able to eat these fruit and vegetables. There was a quite substantial orchard at Malting Farm, with plenty of plum, apple and pear trees in it. Sadly, the last time I went to the farm I saw that it had all been removed and the land used as animal pens. I suppose the cost of maintaining it all was too much and was better being used for the sheep and other farm animals.
My mother was a good baker and we had ample cakes and other delights for tea. I don't think she ever bought a cake, although I seemed to remember her buying the odd treat from a cake shop in Harrowden Road, on the road going into Bedford. Doughnuts, filled with jam, as well as little cakes in fancy paper trays, I think called Viennese Whirls, made, I think of choux pastry and with a dob of bright red jam on top. Not jam probably, more like a thick gooey substance with a sweet over-flavoured taste. She was a dab-hand at making shortbread, I believe being given the recipe from one of my father's Scottish relatives. There is a certain knack to making this Scottish delicacy, made of real butter and it has to be kneaded carefully. Just delicious, cut into triangles and sprinkled with sugar. Also, scones with cream and jam, Victoria sponges, also filled with jam (I'm quite good at making them.) as well as fruit cakes and her piece-de-resistance, cream slices, which had not jam and cream in them, but confectioner's custard, which is quite difficult to make. Tea was at around 4.00 p.m. and you can see why we had so many visitors to the farm, usually 'reps' from the various companies who did business with the farm. They would not only get an order out of my father, but a decent cup of tea, a piece of cake and a chat, before they got back in their cars and drove back to wherever their company was based, such as Biggleswade or Sandy, which are further up the road going towards the A1.
My grandmother, who lived at Mill Farm, made rock cakes, and she covered them with little seeds I think they were caraway seeds. I didn't particularly like them as a child. If you went to tea you weren't expected to pick and choose. You couldn't be finicky. You ate what was put in front of you. So, if you found yourself eating something you didn't like (such as the aforementioned seeded rock cakes) you put up and shut up. I do remember though, one family (who shall remain nameless) coming to tea with their two children who would have been quite young at the time, and my mother had made her usually delicious teas with plenty of cake (although the rule was generally 'bread before cake' in our household.) and there was a plate full of delicious-looking little cakes (probably filled with jam and cream.) One of these children had an eye for the plate of cakes and was determined to get on. So, in order that one, in particular, was taken for him to consume, he licked a finger and then stuck it in one of the cakes and said 'that one's for me!' meaning that, because he'd shoved his finger into it with a licked finger, no one else would possibly want to eat it! Not a particularly pleasant little boy, I must say, and I'm not entirely sure what my mother made of this strategy to get one of her delicious cakes!
As for some other of my favourite foods: I like pancakes, and I'm fairly good at making them myself. As it's Shrove Tuesday this week ('Pancake Day') I shall no doubt be making some myself. The knack is being able to make a good batter and leaving it to stand for well over an hour. Whisking the batter is the secret. Also, making batter for Yorkshire pudding, making sure the oven is hot and the pan you cook it in has hot oil in it before you put in the batter. I like mine crisp and crunch with a most or soggy centre.My grandfather liked his Yorkshire pudding soggy and I remember going to lunch with my grandparents and my grandfather deliberately slammed the oven door when we had Yorkshire pudding with our roast beef to make sure they sunk and wouldn't go crunchy! I also like bread and butter pudding, so simple to make, but easy to make. I'm good at making that also.