Jake died. You never really know…

Here is Jake. Jake is my work colleague. Sorry, I mean Jake WAS my work colleague. We’ll never see him again. Ever.

Everyone, where I work, will always say this about Jake, he was lovely, he was friendly, he never had a bad word to say about anybody, he smiled even though we knew he was struggling with the loss of his father, we thought he was brave. A brave boy.

Last month I took one of the last photos ever of Jake, the one above. If only I knew he was so fragile, everyone is thinking that now about the last time they talked to Jake. If only we knew, if only we could have reached out….

Out of respect for the family I’ve not shared this for the last couple of weeks, to be honest I’ve been too sad too, but I’ve been assured by colleagues that doing everything possible to help Jakes family is something we must now all do. Jakes Mum lost her husband just months ago and now she has lost her darling boy. Being a mother who loves her children more than anything else on earth, I know her heart must be truly broken.

Mental Health, and not knowing how to deal with your thoughts and feelings, KILLS. There, I’ve said it. We have to be vigilant, make sure we have conversations out loud to anyone who will listen in our workplaces, in the pubs, on birthdays, at Christmas, at funerals. We have to normalize this quiet taker of our children, our friends, our family, in the hope it may save just one precious life so people like Jake’s mum get to hug their child for another day.

The financial burden for this family is now immense. At work we’ve decided to do all we can to at least help financially, pay for the funeral and a bit more, at least we can try.

There are two things I am asking my readers, my friends, my old friends to do right now. Any of them will help. Both of them will help more.

a) Share this post to start a mental health conversation

b) Please, please, please go without your takeaway coffee today and instead donate that money to Jakes family.

CLICK HERE FOR GO FUND ME PAGE

For everyone who donates anything or shares this post, I’ll add your first name to Jakes wall, I think it would be nice to give this to his Mum to show her how many people thought of her son. And for anyone who donates £5 or more I will send you a Christmas postcard, to say thank you for your kindness wherever you are in the world.

This is an effort by all of us at work so please if you donate, drop me a message with your name (and address if you’d like me to send you a postcard in December).

I really didn’t know what I could do to raise money so I hope you don’t mind.

I thank you with all my heart,

C xxxxxx

Cheers Jake

PS: Filling up Jakes wall with the first names of all those who have shared blog or social posts or donated and I’m going to print it off and mount it for his Mum just so she can see how many people were thinking of him. Thank you once again all xxx

The Soldier

Please listen, Lest We Forget. C xxx

The Soldier

If I should die, think only this of me:
That there’s some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England’s, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.
And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.

By Rupert Brooke, 1915

Thank you for your 8 million page views.

It blows my mind but also comforts me that there are many people out there who still remember and hold on strong to some of the values and sensibilities our parents, grandparents and great grandparents possessed. To know there ARE people remembering and in some ways reliving these values through education and re-creation makes me happy.

It is so hard to truly understand the times and conditions families had to endure, the uncertainty, the unknown, tragedy, sadness, joy, elation, the psychological anguish…. no we can’t really understand, not unless we have lived through it ourselves and that applies to our modern day lives too. We NEVER really know how someone else is feeling, how they are coping, how they are managing to get through their day. We need to be kind, we need to look out for our neighbour.

I digress…This hefty, old, creaking blog (much like myself) has enjoyed so many of your stories (9,500 comments), has 818 posts and nearly 200 recipes published, 1.8 million visitors and over 8 million views.

According to some friends, I own Google (well for wartime recipes and WW2 recipe searches). Google has referred people to my blog 1.7 million times from it’s search engine, Facebook 170,000 times and Pinterest 34,000 times. Sounds like I’m boasting ….probably am a bit.

Community means everything to me. I feel privileged to be able to glimpse into so many amazing lives and thoughts through your comments and interactions. Thank you for continuing to visit and for sharing your thoughts and expertise. I always look forward to reading your comments and discussions.

Wishing you all the best, C xxxxxx

Sage Lilleyman recreates a recipe from my blog

It was great to wake up and discover that Sage Lilleyman had given my hefty old blog a lovely shout out to her 147k subscribers. She did a great job on the recipe, I need to recreate and rephotograph it though. I was so broke at the time (10 years ago and newly single with 3 children) that the photos were taken with something that had cost me $5 (I was living in Canada at the time). You can tell but I wouldn’t change it for the world. Struggles shape us…

I digress, Sage is adorable, her aesthetic which is vintage 40s/50s is so interesting and she has chickens and eats 3 portions of cottage pie. You need to check out her complete series of recipes on her YouTube channel here and subscribe!

While you’re at it give me a subscribe too, my videos are terrible in comparison and all over the place (like my brain) but with only 740 subscribers it would be lovely to gain a few more. The 1940s Experiment on YouTube here.

Finally a thank you to Melanie Lester over on YouTube who let me know, I appreciate that and thank you once again to Sage, a huge compliment!

Links:

Sage Lilleyman on Instagram

Sage Lilleyman on YouTube

C xxxxxx

Parsnip Pudding – Recipe No. 196

So when I saw this recipe for a strange wartime pudding made out of parsnips (no fat, no flour) I immediately thought of the fun and games I had creating mock banana sandwiches made out of parsnips. Knowing that I had 4 gnarly parsnips hiding under limp romaine lettuce in my salad drawer of the fridge, there was no doubt in my mind that now was the time to give it a go and of course taste test!

As I write this I’m waiting for the puddings to finish baking so will share my verdict right at the end. My thoughts are it won’t be unpleasant but it will likely be a strange taste and texture. The sort of dish that if you offered to unwitting friends or family members, they might comment “ooo this is unusual, it reminds me of something but I can’t quite put my finger on it”. I would of course reply, “ahh yes that will be because it’s fat free” and they would then add another spoonful to their bowl.

HONEST FINAL VERDICT: It tasted strange, I definitely wouldn’t give this to visitors unless I didn’t want them to come back again. At first a hard hit of parsnip quickly knocked on the head with chocolate and sweetness. It didn’t rise as I expected and with hindsight I put this down to not enough bicarbonate of soda and too much milk. The mixture was too sloppy. You can see from the photos and video what I mean. A spectacular aesthetic fail! Well a field full of cow pats complete and utter fail really! The things I do for Queen and country!

Here is the recipe!

Ingredients

  • 2 medium or 3 large peeled, chopped, well cooked, cold, mashed parsnips
  • 1 or 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder
  • a pinch of bicarbonate of soda
  • up to 1/2 pint of warm milk
  • sugar, sweetener or golden syrup

Method

Peel, chop, steam or boil the parsnips until well cooked and nice and soft.

Drain and run under cold water to hasten the cooling process

Mash the parsnips well then add in the cocoa (to you own taste but be warned it will taste bitter until you add in the sugar or syrup) and pinch of bicarbonate of soda.

Add in the syrup or sugar or sweetener to your own taste (which is when the cocoa no longer tastes too bitter and the parsnip isn’t overwhelming!). Mix well.

Add the warm milk bit by bit and mix well inbetween. Add enough so the mixture is smooth. (I used about 1/3rd of a pint of plant based milk and it was quite runny but from my final results I would say 1/4 of a pint would be better)

Bake in pre-heated oven for 30 minutes at 180C

Serves 4.

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Crunchies – Recipe No. 195

How simple and so very delicious is this authentic wartime recipe. They were so easy and quick to make and would cope with the addition of sultanas or aromatic spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg or black market chocolate chunks.

I haven’t baked biscuits or cakes for quite some time, simply because I have a rather uncontrollable sweet tooth but with porridge oats being one of the main ingredients, I convinced myself that these were “good for me”. Three biscuits later (had to taste test!) I can comfortably say these are wonderfully comforting and one or two won’t do you too much harm!

Crunchies

  • 5 oz plain white flour
  • 4 oz porridge oats (I used regular porridge)
  • 2 oz sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 oz lard
  • 2 oz butter or margarine (I used 4 oz of Flora plant based butter instead of lard and butter)
  • 2 oz golden syrup
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (I didn’t have any and it still tasted great)
  1. Cream the fats, sugar, syrup and vanilla essence together until well mixed.
  2. Add the dry ingredients and mix until a dough forms.
  3. You can then divide mixture into 12 balls and press them onto the lined baking tray until they form round discs about 1 cm thick or you can flour a board, roll out the dough and cut out the biscuits.
  4. Bake at 180 c for about 20 minutes or so until golden brown on the edges.
  5. Remove from oven. Leave to cool on tray for 10 minutes then transfer to wire rack and leave to fully cool.

Makes 12 large biscuits, or 18 smaller ones.

You can listen to this recipe on Spotify: https://anchor.fm/carolyn-ekins

https://anchor.fm/carolyn-ekins

Coping with anxiety through nature and art.

We all try and cope with anxiety in different ways. Mine is eating lots of potatoes, and more recently, finding my love of nature once again.

I don’t have much free time, I grab a free hour in the evening before I go to sleep or at weekends, after all my chores are done, after I’ve visited Mum and Dad and completed all the other things that need doing, a few hours on a Sunday is treasured.

For most of us it is increasingly difficult to not be aware of the negative and worrying news we hear, read or see, each and every day. We may feel strong, like we are coping, but often, our anxieties slowly and sneakily creep up on us and can manifest themselves in many different ways.

In recent months I’ve turned to trying my hand at nature art and studying the beauty of the nature that surrounds us. I’m also starting to create short nature studies using video for relaxation and to also take my thoughts away to observing, creating and feeling wonderment at life’s beauty, not just negativity.

I’m sitting here typing this, drinking a cup of lukewarm tea and about to have a scrub and jump into bed having spent an hour or two working on some more nature art and creating a short video. It is all very therapeutic.

I’d love to hear how you are coping with your anxiety.

Much love, Carolyn xxxx

Potato Peel Pie – Recipe No. 194

Traditional Guernsey Potato Peel Pie

Last month I watched a wonderful film called “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” and absolutely loved it. I loved it even more when 20 minutes into the movie a strange wartime dish called ‘Potato Peel Pie’ made an appearance, a insipid looking creation facilitating the gag reflex of all uninitiated humans who tasted it. That was enough for me to want to re-create it. Surely it couldn’t have been THAT bad?

Traditional Guernsey Potato Peel Pie was made of 3 ingredients, potatoes, beetroot and milk. With little flour or butter available to the islanders during German occupation, the potato peelings were used to create an open pie crust of sorts instead, into which mashed potato and chopped beetroot was added and then baked in the oven. I absolutely love potatoes but even I could see that without a few extras here and there and even with copious amounts of salt and pepper, this dish was going to be bland without some artistic licence!

I simply added some chopped spring onion (although leeks would have been good to use too) and some margarine to facilitate a pleasing taste. The ‘Potato Peel Pie’ was very tasty, I didn’t skimp on the salt and pepper because without these it would have indeed been very bland.

Here is the recipe for the authentic WW2 “Guernsey Potato Peel Pie” with my additions noted.

WW2 Guernsey Potato Peel Pie

Ingredients:

  • 2 large potatoes
  • Dash of milk
  • Beetroot
  • Salt & pepper
  • (I also added spring onion and margarine)

Method:

  1. Wash your two large potatoes and peel the potatoes
  2. Par-boil the potato skins for 3-5 minutes
  3. Drain and set aside
  4. Grease a two person size pie dish
  5. Place the potato peels on the bottom and around the sides
  6. Dot in some margarine
  7. Press the peels down a little to the bottom and sides and sprinkle with salt
  8. Dice up some slices of beetroot (I used some pickled beetroot) and dot around the base
  9. Place pie dish in a pre-heated oven at 220C until the potato peels are properly cooked and the edges are browning
  10. Cut your remaining peeled potatoes into chunks and boil until cooked.
  11. Drain and set aside.
  12. Cut up onions or leeks and fry until cooked in a pan
  13. Add in the cooked potato chunks and mash adding in milk where needed and lots of salt and pepper
  14. Place the mash into the potato peel pie crust
  15. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and continue baking in the oven until the top is lightly crisped.
  16. Remove and let sit for 5 minutes before serving

Serves 2.

PS: Check out my Art Channel here: https://www.youtube.com/CarolynHylandAnimalNatureArt

https://www.youtube.com/CarolynHylandAnimalNatureArt

10 great 1940s ration book recipes to celebrate VE Day

Hi all, just thought I’d re-blog this page I put together last year on the lead up to VE Day. In May last year I wasn’t working so had lots of time on my hands to blog, create, garden, walk, read and essentially more time for self-care.

I hope everyone is well and is beginning to see the light through the trees. I know in the UK we certainly are beginning to feel that way.

I’ve been working from home since end of October but return to my office in 2 weeks time. The last 6 months especially have been a challenge as I’m sure it has been for everyone in many ways.

Please forgive my absence. Have kept in contact via social media now and again but really had to step back and not commit to saying I’ll do things as I’ve been struggling to fulfill my promises so literally have had to focus everything on keeping my job and these days I am exhausted and in bed around 8 pm!! (not asleep but snuggled under the duvet reading or watching tutorials on YouTube)

But despite these sporadic mental health anomolies, I’m happy and starting to go outside again and have a new interest in art which is really helping to relax me.

It’s stormy and beautiful outside this afternoon. Love hearing the wind in the trees.

Much love,

C xxxxx

The 1940's Experiment

With Victory in Europe Day (75th Anniversary) coming up on May 8th, 2020, I noticed that over the past few days I’ve had a lot of searches for ‘VE Day Party Recipes’ visiting my website. I thought maybe it would be helpful to perhaps pick 10 tasty (and occasionally bizarre) recipes that could be fun to make and taste and provide some authentic WW2 ration book recipe treats for those planning celebrations.

There is all sorts of fun below including vinegar cake, carrots in cookies, marmite filling, pink blancmange party cake and not forgetting parsnip sandwiches (OK mock banana), beetroot pudding and mock brains. Fun for all the family and frugal too!

Enjoy the experience! (don’t worry you WILL live!)

C xxxx

1. WW1 Ration Scones:  Let’s start with a sensible one for the adults! The basic recipe dates back from WW1 and you can add all sorts to…

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January 10th, 2021

Since I last typed I’ve returned to work after the Christmas break (working from home) and suddenly realised how all my days are taken up with work and little time to do anything else except prepare food and deal with necessary things before falling into bed. This week I managed to walk for just one early morning before my work day started and by the time the days finish it is dark so I just didn’t go out.

My mental health thrives on being able to get outside in the fresh air multiple times in the day (in a ideal scenario) but when one works full time, especially during winter, it’s a challenge. I love working and having my brain stimulated, I love the job I do but if I’m brutally honest, I NEED to be able to devote more time to my health and well being. Life is so brief, so fleeting, every day is beautiful, it seems a shame to miss these moments behind a desk. It’s finding a happy balance where you can earn enough to pay your bills and save a little while having the time to spend on those things that call you, that make you happy, that are fundamental to your well being. At the moment I need all the money I earn to keep a roof over my head (my daughter and I) and food on the table. I am sure most of us do this, its life. But I’m feeling more tired these days.

I turned 55 a couple of days ago. I had a couple of days off work, took my van in for it’s MOT (it passed!) and spent lots of time taking myself off for walks (we have been advised to take just one form of exercise a day during lockdown but it’s not law). I’ve felt during the last few days, that if I haven’t walked briskly outside twice a day I may have become sad and turned to food so I’ve walked early morning and late afternoon when it’s been very quiet and in places where I hardly see a soul. It’s keeping me sane and away from the kitchen cupboards. I worry so much that being behind a desk all day again will send me into a downward spiral with my addiction to over eating/food.

BUT with starting to walk outside again when I can, it has had a positive affect. I’m eating some very nutritious meals, mostly wholefoods, plant-based and the combination of the well-being felt from the walking, I’ve not over eaten and have dropped 8 lbs in 7 days (a lot of peeing so a lot of water weight!). I’m hoping with perseverance I’ll soon lose the weight gain over the last couple of months and work towards moving out of the obesity category.

I’m still working on the Pandemic Cookbook. When I say working I haven’t done all week because after work and doing chores its mid-evening and I’m falling asleep. I just can’t keep awake. I have next Saturday set aside to put a few more hours in and I’ll just keep moving forward and get there soon! My brain still thinks like I am a 30 year old where I did everything far, far quicker than I do these days!

Finally, everyone is in my thoughts with the spread of the new variant of Covid-19. It is thought around 1 in 30 people in the UK has now got the virus. Some areas less, some areas more. Special thoughts to our American friends too, both our countries have similar percentages on our infected and Covid deaths. I know it must be a difficult time right now, politically too. Lets hope everything gets better for everyone soon.

Best wishes to all,

Stay safe, C xxxxx

PS: Below is some of the food I’ve eaten this week which I’ve been sharing on Instagram.

PPS: I’ve just read my post back. I want to apologize, I really don’t have ANYTHING to complain about in the big scheme of things. I’m lucky, very lucky. Was just letting off a little frustration I guess. Hope everyone stays healthy xxxxxx