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Rosemary and Thyme: Cagney And Lacey Meets Gardener’s World

 

Many of the posts here on Nostalgia Pie are mainly focused on popular culture from the 1970s-1990s – what I consider to be my era.  But today’s post is all about Rosemary and Thyme, a murder mystery series that began in 2003 and lasted for three series, which starred Felicity Kendal and Pam Ferris – two very familiar faces from my childhood.

A series about two gardeners turned amateur sleuths sounded like something that was right up my street. After all I did grow up on a diet Murder, She Wrote, Hart to Hart, and Miss Marple! So I couldn’t wait for this new ITV drama series to begin. And I did find it very enjoyable; maybe a little slow paced but then when the show is about two female landscape gardeners heading towards the autumn years of their life, it was never going to be Starsky and Hutch!

The series centres around Rosemary Boxer, a never-married landscape gardener and lecturer, and Laura Thyme, a former policeman and mother of two whose marriage ended upon discovering her husband’s affair with a much younger colleague. Laura is very close to her son Tom, but we later discover that her relationship with her daughter is rather strained although the two do eventually make up.

Rosemary and Laura meet and become friends  in the first episode and discover that they both have a love of gardening, which culminates in them working together on various horticultural projects through the series. It just so happens that many of these projects that they undertake also involve someone being murdered; a crime which is always solved by Rosemary and Thyme!

As much as I’m getting stuck into my new life in the States I won’t lie, I am very homesick and have a yearning for all things English, which is what brought me  to Rosemary and Thyme because the countryside, greenery, flower beds, stately homes and cottages… You can’t get more English than that! And despite being a city girl, the show does very much remind me of the place I still call home.

I’m disappointed that only three series were ever made but I am enjoying watching them again. Lounging around on the couch with a box of choccies while watching Rosemary and Thyme while the snow’s pelting down outside is definitely my idea of bliss.

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2017 in This, That and the Other!

 

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Goodbye Gran: Edna Doré Passes Away At 92

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She may have been ninety two years old but it was still a shock to hear about the sad passing of actress Edna Doré  who died peacefully in her sleep just before Easter. Those who knew the Kent-born actress have revealed that she was as tough and as fun as the characters she was known for playing, and to her audience, she gave the impression who would live forever. And through her vast amount of acting work on stage, screen and radio, she will.

In Open All Hours

In Open All Hours

Born Edna Lillian Gorring,  Doré entered the world of showbiz as a dancer in the 1940s. After a long and successful career in theatre, she then turned to television acting in 1960 while still continuing to act in theatre. Over the years the actress had roles in many well known TV shows such as The Liver Birds, Tenko, Terry and June, Open All Hours, The Bill, Casualty, A Year In Provence, Love Hurts, Eyes Down, and Gavin and Stacey. And that’s not even a fraction of the talented actress’s work!

In Eastenders with Pat Coombs

In Eastenders with Pat Coombs

 

However for many, Doré  will always be best known for her role in Eastenders as Mo Butcher, Frank Butcher’s battle-axe mother who really knew how to put the fear of God into her family. This was the first time I’d seen Doré on screen and she played Mo from 1988 until 1990 and funnily enough, she’d trained to be an actress along with the late Anna Wing, who played the legendary Lou Beale. A harsh, bad tempered, old lady with an intense hatred for her daughter-in-law, Pat, not to mention a dislike for her grandson Ricky’s Asian girlfriend, Shireen, Mo was initially not a likeable character.

Even though I was only a little girl at the time, I knew that Mo was not a nice lady, and she was often horrid to Pat – I remember Mo once giving Pat a whack across her face. However, after a while, Mo started to soften a little; she was less sharp although she never lost her toughness. She was later diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and went to live with her daughter, thus marking Doré’s departure  from the show. The character eventually died off-screen in 1992. It was a storyline for which Doré received acclaim and prior to this, she had also played another character suffering from Alzheimer’s, Mrs. Bender in Mike Leigh’s 1988 film, High Hopes.

As Eastenders' Mo Butcher

As Eastenders’ Mo Butcher

 

Doré went on to star in other films including Nil By Mouth, Tube Tales, Weak At Denise and All Or Nothing and also acted in radio, performing in a number of plays, one of which, Bringing Eddie Home by John Peacock featured ex-EastEnders actors Bill Treacher, Tilly Vosburgh, Todd Carty and Joe Absolom. It seems as though there wasn’t anything that this talented lady couldn’t do.

 

One of her roles which I don’t think is spoken of enough, is her role as Gran in the 1980s BBC comedy series Streets Apart, written by Adrienne Conway. Once again Doré played a tough-talking, no-nonsense lady who did as she pleased but was definitely more likeable than Mo Butcher. Gran raised her granddaughter Sylvia from the time she was a little girl, and even though Sylvia went on to become a huge success as a literary agent and moved a world away from her East End roots, the two characters have a very special bond, despite the differences, which is lovely to see. In fact, it is these very differences between Gran and Sylvia which created a lot of the humour in the show: Gran is very feisty and direct with absolutely no heirs and graces and her antics often annoy or embarrass Sylvia. To most people, Edna Doré will always be Mo Butcher, But to me, she will also always be Gran from Streets Apart. And if ever I’m fortunate to be a gran, I know exactly what kind of gran I’d like to be – a very mischievous one with a great sense of fun!

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Her personal life seemed to be as successful as her professional life. Doré married  the actor, stage director and writer Alexander Doré in 1946 and they remained married until Alexander’s death in 2002 – a feat virtually unheard of in today’s showbiz world. The marriage produced a son, Michael and Edna later became a grandmother of four.

A young Edna Dore

A young Edna Dore

Edna Doré’s agent, Belinda Wright paid tribute to the actress, saying, “I’d known her for more than 30 years and she was a wonderful actress and great fun.”

Paul O’Grady, her co-star in BBC sit-com Eyes Down, also paid tribute, describing Doré as “a remarkable lady” and “a bundle of fun.”

“We got sent home from rehearsals one day for laughing,” began Paul, “I won’t tell you why but Edna said: ‘In my 70 years in the business, I’ve never been sent out of rehearsals’.

“She had a remarkable career. She might be gone but she’s not forgotten by me. I had a ball with Edna, what a laugh she was.”

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Those of us who were not fortunate to have met her can believe that because her sense of fun came through in many of the roles she played. What a lovely way in which to remember her.

Rest in peace, Edna.

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Posted by on April 27, 2014 in Gone Too Soon

 

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Comfort Food #10: Bread and Butter Pudding

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Hubby and I were watching a recent episode of our guilty pleasure, Celebrity Masterchef, and we were amazed to see that the lovely Les Dennis totally messed up when it came to making a simple bread and butter pudding. Now I may never qualify as a contestant in any future series’ of Masterchef but I do know how to make a decent bread and butter pudding and have been doing so since I was twelve!

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Not to be confused with bread pudding, bread and butter pudding is real comfort stodge at it’s best; a delicious combination of sliced, white, buttered bread, raisins and baked egg custard. Crispy on the outside while soft and creamy on the inside, it sounds incredibly basic but it tastes delicious and is one of my father’s favourite puddings. Not only is it inexpensive and easy to prepare but as in bread pudding, it’s a great way of using up leftover bread. It’s a traditional British classic and is usually served with custard, double cream or evaporated or condensed milk. it goes down a treat on a cold winter’s evening!

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The origins of this great British dessert are believed to date back to around the early seventeenth century, although John Nott wrote down one of the earliest recipes for a bread and butter pudding  in 1723. The poor – not wanting to throw out any leftover bread – would steam it with fruit or even meat. An early form of this pudding was known as a whitepot and could be made using bone marrow (yum!) and sometimes substituted the bread for rice thus initiating the process of another nursery dessert, the rice pudding. However, with the introduction of new foods from abroad, people became more inventive and started adding spices and various types of fruit. Milk, eggs and sugar soon became more accessible and affordable for most people and the pudding as we know it today was beginning to take shape.

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The basic recipe remained the same until the latter part of the twentieth century when the popularity of this dessert was beginning to fade. However, many celebrity chefs who have a real love for British cuisine have revamped the humble bread and butter pudding, adding their own spin on a classic showing that many variations of this traditional pudding are possible.

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Bread and butter pudding is still fairly popular today, although I have yet to see a classic version of this dessert in a restaurant menu. I have come across the brioche version which I suppose is a little more sophisticated and updated. Here’s a recipe for a delicious, classic, bread and butter pudding by Elaine Lemm. It’s so easy and tastes soooo good!

breadbutterpud500

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Serves 4
Heat the oven 355°F/180°C/Gas 4.

Ingredients:

  • 50g / 2 oz soft butter
  • 10 slices soft white bread, cut diagonally across or any of the other breads mentioned above
  • 50g / 2 oz golden raisins/sultanas
  • ¼ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • 350 ml / 12 fl oz milk
  • 50 ml / 2 fl oz double / heavy cream
  • 2 large free range eggs
  • 25g / 1 oz white sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract or paste (see note below)

Preparation:

  • Grease a 2 pint/1 litre pie dish with a little of the butter. Spread each of the bread triangles with butter.

  • Cover the base of the pie dish with overlapping triangles of bread, butter side up. Sprinkle half the golden raisins/sultanas evenly over the bread, then lightly sprinkle with a little nutmeg and cinnamon. Repeat this layer one more time or until the dish is filled, finishing with the raisins on top.
  • In a saucepan gently heat the milk and cream – DO NOT BOIL.
  • In a large baking bowl beat the eggs with 3/4 sugar and the vanilla extract until light and airy and pale in color. Pour the warm milk over the eggs and continue beating until all the milk is added.
  • Pour the egg mixture slowly and evenly over the bread until all the liquid is added. Gently press the surface with your hand to push the bread into the liquid. Sprinkle the remaining sugar over the surface then leave to one side for 30 mins.
  • Bake the pudding in the hot oven for 40 – 45 mins, until the surface is golden brown and the pudding well risen and the egg is set. Serve hot.

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VARIATIONS
Another great thing about this pudding is that you can vary the recipe in countless ways so you can have a different version bread and butter every day of the year and never get bored!

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Try:

  • soaking the dried fruit in brandy or rum overnight.
  • using alternatives to sultanas or raisins. Dried cranberries and prunes work very well. My favourite are dried apricots.
  • substitute the dried fruit for chocolate chips; layer some fresh orange segments between the bread, and add some orange zest to the custard for a yummy chocolate and orange bread and butter pudding.
  • fresh fruit  instead of dried.
  • adding a splash of Baily’s to the custard.
  • adding some cocoa to the custard mix to give your pudding a chocolate flavour.
  • cinnamon-infused milk, vanilla extract or paste or ground nutmeg work well in adding flavour.

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Who said you can only use sliced, white bread? And why shouldn’t you throw in some kind of fruit conserve or spread for added flavour? The following are examples of great flavour combinations:

  • Brioche and apricot jam.
  • Pannetone and orange marmalade.
  • Granary bread and black cherry jam.
  • Wholemeal bread with peanut butter, chocolate spread and sliced bananas (the Elvis bread and butter pudding!)
  • Croissant and lemon curd.

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Finally, you can use stale or fresh bread to make this dessert but I find that bread that is slightly stale gives a more pleasant texture.

Happy eating!

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