Saturday, May 5, 2018

Getting to Know Rosemary Morris

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After hours, during which I write and deal with writerly matters, gardening provides welcome fresh air and exercise.
A keen organic gardener, apart from ornamental flower, trees and shrubs, I grow a wide variety of vegetables. I also grow herbs which I use for medicinal purposes to make tea – hot or cold peppermint is one of my favourites - and to flavour food.
I utilise the front and back gardens to grow vegetables, herbs and fruit in the style of an English cottage garden. This week I replanted my strawberries in the front garden near them are several rhubarb plants.
Rhubarb, my first crop this year, has flourished. Sometimes, I have a bowl of stewed rhubarb and plain organic yoghurt for breakfast, or a rhubarb crumble or pie for dessert. If the crop is bountiful I make rhubarb chutney.
In the back garden there are raspberry canes, black currant, redcurrant and gooseberry bushes and fruit trees – three dessert apples, a cooking apple, two pear trees, a plum, greengage, damson and peach tree. Blueberries grow in large pots of ericaceous compost. In large containers placed against a wall at the back of the house are a kiwi and a grape vine. (Mind you, when I planted the kiwi I didn’t know it would be seven years before it fruited.)
Every year some crops fail and some flourish. Last year I stored apples and ate the last ones in December. This year, in early spring, heavy snow fell then, after which, apart from four days of very high temperatures, it has been cold, wet and windy. Even during breaks in the unseasonable weather, when the sun shines the wind chills me. An onslaught of overnight rain ripped the blossom from the plum tree, which produced approximately fifty pounds of fruit last year.
The greenhouse is full of plants waiting to be transplanted when the soil is warm, and although seeds will be sown later than usual I hope the garden will reward me. By the end of the year there should be home grown vegetables in the freezer and shelves of homemade jams, jellies, chutneys and pickles on shelves in the cupboard.
As well as being a keen gardener, I am a dedicated vegetarian cook. So, is the hard work worthwhile? Yes, the flavour of organic, homegrown food is superb. The taste of a sun warmed strawberry or tomato is superior to those bought in shops.
A family favourite is my homemade ice cream for which the recipe is quick and easy. I have an ice cream maker but provided the mixture doesn’t become too thick to pour out it can be made in a blender.

Ice Cream

8 ounces of soft fruit e.g. strawberries or ripe mango (which does not grow in England).
6 ounces of sugar
3 quarters of a pint of full fat milk.
A quarter pint of double cream.
Blend the ingredients. Either tip the mixture into a container and freeze it or tip it into the ice cream maker and freeze it when it is ready.

The Pot and Pineapple aka Gunters

In 1757, Italian pastry cook, Domenico Negri had set up business. His Italian style ice cream and water ices soon became popular, and so did his ready-made savoury and sweet confections, such as Cedrati and Bergamet Chips, Naples Divolini, biscuits, marshmallows and other treats.
In 1777 James Gunter became Negri’s business partner and by 1799 he was the sole proprietor the owner in the late eighteenth century his pastries, sweets and ice creams became famous.
By the Regency era, Gunters, a famous confectioner’s shop, opened in Mayfair, on the east side of Berkeley Square 
Famed for sweetmeats, pastries and fruit ices, members of the fashionable beau monde ordered desserts from Gunters to be served at their balls and large parties.
To keep up with the demand there was an enormous ice house underneath his premises, so he was able to offer a wide variety of ice cream which included varieties such as elderflower, orange and lemon and parmesan cheese.
Ladies did not go for a drive with gentlemen in closed carriages, but they could go for one open ones. Respectable females neither dined nor partook of refreshments in hotels, pie shops or patisseries. So, resourceful gentlemen parked their vehicles by the railings in Berkeley Square, and crossed the road to ice cream from Gunter’s. On busy days, waiters dodged the traffic to serve the patrons.
Gunters’ popularity continued in the Victorian period, was patronised by royalty, and supplied the wedding cake for Queen Victoria’s daughter, Princess Louise.
The end of an era came after the east side of Berkeley Square was demolished between 1936 and 1937.
Gunters moved to Curzon Street and in 1956 the tea shop closed but the catering business continued until 1976.

Ice Buckets and Iced Puddings

The cream custard for iced pudding or ice cream mixture was poured into a container which was placed in a pewter ice bucket filled with pounded ice and salt. After rotating the bucket with a handle for ten minutes, the frozen mixture around the edge of the container was scraped off with a spatula. The process continued until the pudding or ice cream was smooth and firm enough to be put in a mould and put into the ice bucket. To serve, the mould was dipped in warm water to loosen the pudding which was tipped onto a dish.

Sunday’s Child
Heroine’s Born on Different Days of the Week
Book One – Back  Cover

Georgianne Whitley’s beloved father and brothers died in the war against Napoleon Bonaparte. While she is grieving for them, she must deal with her unpredictable mother’s sorrow, and her younger sisters’ situation caused by it.
Georgianne’s problems increase when the arrogant, wealthy but elderly Earl of Pennington, proposes marriage to her for the sole purpose of being provided with an heir. At first, she is tempted by his proposal, but something is not quite right about him. She rejects him not suspecting it will lead to unwelcome repercussions.
Once, Georgianne had wanted to marry an army officer. Now, she decides never to marry ‘a military man’ for fear he will be killed on the battlefield. However, Georgianne still dreams of a happy marriage before unexpected violence forces her to relinquish the chance to participate in a London Season sponsored by her aunt.
Shocked and in pain, Georgianne goes to the inn where her cousin Sarah’s step-brother, Major Tarrant, is staying, while waiting for the blacksmith to return to the village and shoe his horse. Recently, she has been reacquainted with Tarrant—whom she knew when in the nursery—at the vicarage where Sarah lives with her husband Reverend Stanton.
The war in the Iberian Peninsula is nearly at an end so, after his older brother’s death, Tarrant, who was wounded, returns to England where his father asks him to marry and produce an heir.
To please his father, Tarrant agrees to marry, but due to a personal tragedy he has decided never to father a child.
When Georgianne, arrives at the inn, quixotic Tarrant sympathises with her unhappy situation. Moreover, he is shocked by the unforgivably brutal treatment she has suffered.
Full of admiration for her beauty and courage Tarrant decides to help Georgianne.
At heart I am a historian, so Sunday’s Child is rich in historical detail.

Novels by Rosemary Morris

Early 18th Century novels
Tangled Love, Far Beyond Rubies, The Captain and The Countess

Regency Novels
False Pretences, Sunday’s Child, Monday’s Child, Tuesday’s Child, Wednesday’s Child, Thursday’s Child – to be published in July 2018

Mediaeval Novel
Yvonne Lady of Cassio. The Lovages of Cassio Book One



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