Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Bringing the Past to Life

Bringing the Past to life.

Being a descendant from Yorkshire parents, my books are mostly set in Yorkshire, England.
Some of the places in Yorkshire that I have set my books are York, Gargrave, Hebden Bridge and Leeds, in West Yorkshire.
Leeds is only 9 miles from Wakefield where my family come from.
There is belief that tribes roamed the area in Roman times and become more populated in the Anglo-Saxon period when it was called Loidis.
During the middle ages it started to become a famous wool making centre. By 1600 the population of Leeds was 4,000 and by 1661 its first Mayor was appointed. With the substantial River Aire flowing through it and trade links to the sea via River Humber, Leeds continued to grow and the cloth trade grew with it.
In 1724 Daniel Defoe visited Leeds and described the town's cloth market as 'a prodigy of its kind unequalled in the world'. In 1730 Leeds was described as one of the 'largest and most flourishing towns in the country'. Its expansion continued into the Victorian age.
Progress brought the building of industries such a weaving mills, sugar refineries, brick making and potteries. With the building and opening of the canals which linked Leeds to other major towns such as Liverpool, another sea port, the town grew rapidly. By 1841 the population of Leeds was eighty-eight thousand.

Today, Leeds is noted for its shopping and old Victorian buildings. The town was the starting point for merchandiser Marks & Spencer and Thornton’s chocolates. Four notable historic houses that can be found in the Leeds area are Harewood House, Temple Newsam, Bramham Park and Lotherton Hall.

Traditional Yorkshire Pudding recipe.
(we had Yorkshire puddings every Sunday when I was growing up.
It accompanied a full roast lamb dinner.)
Equipment and preparation: You will need a solid roasting tin measuring 28x23cm/11x9in.
Preparation method
1.    Pre-heat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7.
2.    Begin by placing a sieve over a large mixing bowl, then sift the flour in, holding the sieve up high to give the flour a good airing as it goes down into the bowl. Now, with the back of a tablespoon, make a well in the centre of the flour and break the eggs into it. Add the salt and pepper.
3.    Now measure the milk and water into a measuring jug. Then begin to whisk the eggs wth an electric whisk and as you beat them the flour around the edges will be slowly incorporated. When the mixture becomes stiff simply add the milk and water mixture gradually, keeping the whisk going. Stop and scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula so that any lumps can be pushed down into the batter, then whisk again till all is smooth. Now the batter is ready for use and although it's been rumoured that batter left to stand is better, I have found no foundation for this - so just make it whenever is convenient.
4.    To cook the Yorkshire pudding, remove the meat from the oven (or if it's not ready place it on a lower shelf) and turn the oven up to the above temperature. Spoon two tablespoons of beef fat into the roasting tin and allow it to pre-heat in the oven. When the oven is up to temperature remove the tin, using an oven glove, and place it over direct heat (turned to medium). Then, when the fat begins to shimmer and smoke a little, pour in the batter. Tip it evenly all round and then place the tin on a high shelf in the oven and cook the Yorkshire pudding for 40 minutes or until golden brown and crisp. Serve it cut into squares presto pronto.

 Try it and see if you like it.
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