Shrove Tuesday: penitence, absolution, and… pancakes!

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Pancake races are apparently a “thing” in the UK, for Shrove Tuesday  – the day before Ash Wednesday, and the start of Lent – and have been for centuries. Even clergy and choristers get into it, on occasion! Not to mention some really cute kids…

The town of Olney takes credit for their origin, as recorded on the town website:

“According to tradition it was in Olney, back in 1445, that pancake racing started. On Shrove Tuesday the church bell rang out to signal the start of the church service.

“A local housewife who was busy cooking pancakes before the start of Lent, ran to the church. She was still carrying her frying pan and wearing her apron and headscarf, and tossed the pancake to prevent it from burning.

“Local people who saw this were amused, and later started to organise pancake races. Pancake races still take place in Olney each Shrove Tuesday.”

Several of these pics are from Olney itself (a town which presumably gave its name to a town in Maryland, near where I grew up), both modern and historical; others are from elsewhere around the web… and the UK!

But of course, Shrove Tuesday (Pancake Day, Doughnut Day, Fastnacht, Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, etc.) is not just an excuse to eat yummy pancakes or doughnuts. It is about preparing for a holy Lent by being shriven (past participle of “shrove”) – forgiven, pardoned – for one’s duly repented sins, in preparation for the great season of self-examination, repentance, and preparation that is Lent.

 

What Princess Charlotte’s Portrait Teaches Us About Raising Adults | Intellectual Takeout

What Princess Charlotte’s Portrait Teaches Us About Raising Adults

Is it possible that in treating children like children – both in the way we dress them and the activities we allow them to pursue – we will better prepare them for a natural, responsible transition to adulthood some day in the future?

Source: What Princess Charlotte’s Portrait Teaches Us About Raising Adults | Intellectual Takeout

Annie Holmquist, Editor of Intellectual Takeout, often has good things to say, and this is no exception. This essay is a few years old, but that does not make it any less apropos. She notes a Spanish clothing designer – Spain being one country where traditional clothing for children is much more common than it is here in the US, or apparently in the UK – as commenting,

“The style is much more classic for children, with Peter Pan collar shirts, soft colours, floral prints. We keep the essence of timeless clothing for children and enjoy seeing our children look like children.”

(See also this earlier essay on the subject.)

The Anglophilic Anglican is a hopeless traditionalist – and darned proud of it! – so needless to say, I agree. But it may be more than merely an aesthetic preference. As Holmquist continues,

“I can’t help but wonder if the Royals have caught onto an idea that’s been completely overlooked by all of us commoners across the pond… after reading the ideas behind the Spanish approach to children’s dressing which the Royals follow, I had to ask myself if the American habit of dressing children as mini-mes has helped to fuel the rise of immature and incapable adults.”

Well worth a read!

The Poetry of England | The Imaginative Conservative

No photo description available.

Source: The Poetry of England ~ The Imaginative Conservative

“The real tragedy of England’s passing… is not that the England we love is a figment of the imagination, but that it is real, in the sense that Platonic forms are real. This real England is present in Old English and Middle English; in Chaucer and Chesterton; in Shakespeare, Austen, and Dickens. The England to be found in these places is more real than it is in present-day Birmingham or Leicester, which are only English in a superficial and fading sense. Nor does the England to be found in these places depend on our ability to see it.

“If England continues to sink into the primeval soup of ‘post-Christian’ barbarism, it is possible that nobody will read Shakespeare a century from now. They will not want to read it and will probably be unable to read it even if they wanted to. Yet the goodness, truth, and beauty to be found in Shakespeare, Chaucer, et al will not be in the least diminished by the inability of future generations to see it. A tree does not cease to exist because a blind man cannot see it. England will not cease to exist because the ‘post-English’ barbarians residing in England fail to understand that which is beyond their ken.”

True indeed! Yet what a loss it would be to the world, if the real England, the true England, the “Olde England,” were to retreat utterly and forever into the Mists of Avalon, into the realm of Platonic forms, into the Mind of God, and into the memory of poets and mystics and musers like me, to exist no more in the world of men…

Classic Recipes from the British Isles: Rumbledethumps, Colcannon, and Bubble-and-Squeak; Yorkshire Pudding, Toad-in-the-Hole, and Onion Gravy

Scottish Rumbledethumps

Traditional Scottish Rumbledethumps

Image result for robert burns
Robert “Rabbie” Burns, the Bard of Scotland

With tonight being Burns Night, I thought I’d start with the wonderfully-named Rumbledethumps: a traditional dish of the Scots Borders, from whence he hailed – and from which a good chunk of my father’s family likewise hailed! Indeed, we shared a town – Selkirk – with the Ploughman Poet, and had our own subtly distinct version of the well-known “Selkirk Grace”:

Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some have nae that want it;
But we hae meat, and we can eat,
Sae let the Lord be thankit!

Now for two close cousins of Rumbledethumps: Irish Colcannon, and English Bubble-and-Squeak:

Colcannon recipe

Traditional Irish Colcannon

“Colcannon is a favorite Irish recipe, especially on St Patrick‘s Day. Seriously, what is not to like? Creamy mashed potatoes, fresh, crunchy curly kale, a bit of spring onions, and pats of butter.”

Delicious, and not just for St. Padraig’s! The spring onions and kale give it both a fresh flavor and a health boost. I don’t pulse or chop them mechanically, just give the kale a thin chiffonade, and slice the green onion into 1/8 to 1/4″ rounds. Be sure to include the green tops!

Bubble and Squeak

Traditional Bubble and Squeak

The first specifically British dish I ever made, many years ago (many, many years, now…), Bubble and Squeak is the lovely, quirky, evocative name for what is mostly fried leftover vegetables, usually from Sunday’s roast dinner (sometimes leftover meat, or bacon, is incorporated). The name comes from the sound it makes as it’s frying! It can be breakfast, brunch, lunch, or supper, as circumstances may dictate.

Yorkshire Pudding

Traditional Yorkshire Pudding

In Yorkshire itself, these puffy pastries, baked in oil (yes, you heard that right…), are often served as a starter; in rest of Britain, they’re the classic accompaniment to a Sunday roast (see here for more on the Sunday roast or “Sunday lunch”). In either case, plenty of gravy is an essential accompaniment – see below!

Toad in the Hole

Family-sized Toad in the Hole

Another evocatively-named dish, Toad-in-the-Hole combines “bangers” (sausages) with a Yorkshire-pudding-like pastry batter (in fact, the Yorkshire pudding recipe could be used for this dish, although the one given here is a wee bit different). A classic supper dish, but could also be the centerpiece for a (slightly less traditional) Sunday lunch. The bangers are rather jumbled in the illustration; I like mine arranged a bit more neatly!

Onion Gravy

Rich Onion Gravy

Several – arguably all! – of the above could deliciously benefit from being served with onion gravy, and Yorkshire pudding and Toad-in-the-Hole practically demand it. As the linked recipe notes,

“The ultimate in comfort food must be any meat dish, or meat and creamy mashed potatoes, smothered in a rich onion gravy. The bringing together of sweet onions and a dark rich sauce—which is both sweet and savory—is a classic of both the British and Irish kitchens.”

And darned tasty on this side of “the Pond,” I must say.

Enjoy!

 

How to lay a hedge | Gardens Illustrated

Learn how to lay a hedge using traditional craftsmanship and hedge laying skills.

“Interested in the centuries-old skill of hedge laying? Follow our guide on how to lay a hedge and learn about the traditional ways to lay a hedge.”

Source: How to lay a hedge – Gardens Illustrated

“Hedge laying is a seasonal job carried out between October and March when trees and shrubs are dormant, and birds have finished nesting in the hedges…”

Ever wondered how to “lay a hedge” in classic English style (or even what that term meant)? Here’s an excellent starting point! No reason it couldn’t be done here in the U.S., for those with the land and resources to do so! I’ve often wished I could have a place where I could recreate an English cottage garden, including / incorporating a traditional hedge.

 

Tributes paid to ‘unusually rich legacy’ of philosopher Sir Roger Scruton | Ludlow Advertiser

Investitures at Buckingham Palace

Tributes have been paid to the “unusually rich legacy” of philosopher Sir Roger Scruton, lauded as “the greatest conservative of our age,” who died at age 75 after a six-month battle with cancer.

Source: Tributes paid to ‘unusually rich legacy’ of philosopher Sir Roger Scruton | Ludlow Advertiser

A small selection, from among many:

The journalist and author Peter Hitchens wrote on social media,

“RIP Sir Roger Scruton, a man of immense courage, intellect and fortitude, whose loss we can ill afford in these narrow, conformist times.”

Tory MEP Daniel Hannan said on Twitter,

“Professor Sir Roger Scruton, the greatest conservative of our age, has died. The country has lost a towering intellect. I have lost a wonderful friend.

“There was no subject he could not light up with his effulgent prose: architecture, theology, music, fox-hunting, painting, wine, philosophy. I honestly can’t think of a wiser or more complete contemporary writer.”

And this – from author and historian Anne Applebaum,

“In the 1980s, Roger Scruton organised money and books for dissidents in Eastern Europe.

“I was one of the student couriers who helped smuggle them ‘across the iron curtain.’ I am still grateful for what Roger did for them, and for me.”

I encourage you to read this compilation of heartfelt and heart-warming tributes, memories, and reflections on the life and legacy of a truly great man!

 

How Prince Harry Turned Into Lena Dunham | The Federalist

How Prince Harry Turned Into Lena Dunham

“As Prince Harry’s recent behavior proves, composure and class, stoic fortitude, and a sense of duty are not due to bloodline or money.”

Source: How Prince Harry Turned Into Lena Dunham | The Federalist

The above statement is all too sadly true, although traditionally those belong to the Royal bloodline were expected to display all of the above (composure, class, stoic fortitude, and a sense of duty).

The greatest living exemplar of this is Her Majesty herself, Queen Elizabeth II, forged in the crucible of World War Two, who – while still Princess Elizabeth, on the occasion of her 21st birthday, in 1947 – promised,

I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service, and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong,”

and who has spent the rest of her life living up to that promise.

Alas, as the linked article by Sumantra Maitra points out,

“Unfortunately, Harry has too much of Princess Diana in him, from compulsively breaking orthodoxy and tradition, to extreme and fatalistic narcissism. As Emma Freire recently wrote, with him it is all noblesse, with zero oblige. Meghan can be forgiven, as she’s American, and not used to royal protocols. But Harry was born and brought up in that discipline. There’s no excuse.”

Don’t get me wrong, I have great respect for Prince Harry’s physical courage, as demonstrated by his military service, which by all accounts was exemplary. Fighting in Afghanistan, he earned the respect of the U.S. Marines, which is no small accomplishment for anyone.

But that does not make this article’s assessment any less accurate. Courage under fire does not always or necessarily translate to wisdom in civilian life. To quote Maitra again,

“The reason for Harry and Meghan’s departure is pure liberal-individualist narcissism. And both are equally responsible for that. Due to its symbolic and apolitical nature, British aristocracy are not supposed to publicly espouse political opinions, much less actively lecture people about mental health, toxic masculinity, or climate change. They are supposed to go to war, open hospitals, and silently take part in charitable causes. Duty, stoicism, propriety, and patriotism are supposed to be the four cornerstones of nobility.”

However, this has not occurred where the Sussexes are concerned. As noted above, Meghan is an American actress, and can be afforded a certain amount of slack. Prince Harry should know better. Prince Harry does know better; he just chooses not to act accordingly:

“You can either be a Hollywood hypocrite, or an aloof, true-blue aristocrat above daily politics. You cannot simultaneously enjoy the perks of both… Aristocratic life brings its own burden, of class, polish, fortitude, and propriety. Not every Tom, Dick, or Harry can chin up, keep calm, and carry on. If you behave like a petulant celebrity, you’ll be treated with as much respect as a petulant celebrity deserves.”

To quote in full the line with which this opened,

“this incident reinforces that composure and class, stoic fortitude, and a sense of duty and propriety are not due to either bloodline or money. Some people possess them, and most do not.”

Sadly, it seems that HRH Harry, Duke of Sussex, does not. And The Anglophilic Anglican is more than a little disappointed – not shocked, not even really surprised, as the signs were there, but disappointed – to see this made so publicly and dramatically clear.