31 October: Samhain

A poem and a recipe for Samhain.


This is the faery time

when old men and old dogs

seek a warm hearth.

The shifting seasons

dislocate space

and time in its endless spool

halts and thins.

Voices from the future

and the past

call like foxes

under an icy moon.

Round the Samhain fire

silhouetted against smoke

and needled by frost

we step through the gate of the year

into the dark time.

Yet in that dim deep silence

where leaves rot and summer

wastes away,

the seed stirs in man

in beast and in the earth

and in that death is life

and from decay springs birth.


Penzance Apple Cake

8oz plain flour

4oz butter

8oz currants

1tsp ginger

2oz mixed peel

1tsp cinnamon

2 eggs

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda dissolved in half a cup of milk

2 peeled and thinly sliced dessert apples

Grease an 8 inch cake tin thoroughly. Blits the flour and butter until it is like breadcrumbs then put into a mixing bowl and add the rest of the dry ingredients. Beat the eggs and add them to the mixture and now add the milk and bicarb.

Put half the mixture into the tin and lay on the sliced apple, then add the rest of the mixture. Bake at 150c for about an hour and a half.

I sprinkled the top with fair trade muscovado sugar because I’m pretty sure is an early Victorian Methodist recipe – there is no sugar in it and the Methodists eschewed sugar as a protest against the slave trade.

St Simon and St Jude on you I intrude

By this paring I hold to discover

Without any delay to tell me this day

The first letter of my own true lover.

Trad Rhyme for the Feast of St Simon and St Jude which is the 28th October


A Trifle Rushed said...

The cake sounds wonderful, no sugar! And I must learn the prayer, St Jude is my favourite saint.

Grazing Kate said...

I'm a bit concerned about the lack of sugar....

Gerry Snape said...

I grew up going to St.Judes C. of I. in Belfast and only a lot later found out that he was the saint of lost causes...I like that!

Liz said...

Don't worry Kate about the lack of sugar - the dried fruit makes up for it. I took the cake to a meeting and they wolfed the lot! I have a soft spot for St Jude too - I think it's to do with the Beatles.

Choclette said...

What fun, Penzance has its very own apple cake.

Liz if you care to play, I've tagged you on a Food Bloggers Unplugged post, but don't worry if you'd rather not.


Jennifer said...

I cannot tell you how I came across your blog-- I suspect it was Betty Turpin's Hotpot that led to your Lancashire Hotpot and then to the rest of your delightful writing and recipes. I am really taken with your words and choices of illustration, not to mention the food! I was tickled to see that you are a recovering lawyer--that was about the only thing we did not have in common (i am also female, aquarian, and cook for fun but also because it is a grounding event that brings emotional and familial stability with it). Sadly, I still practise law and so cannot count as recovered;-)

I just wanted to say a heartfelt, well done and thank you for this beautiful compendium of feasts and festivals. I am making the hotpot for Sunday dinner--flexible here in Canada as to supper or dinner for evening meal but, in my family, Sunday dinner, never supper, is served late afternoon rather than evening. I see the vestige of some of the distinctions you discussed lingering though the concious cultural memory has faded.

Liz said...

Welcome to the blog jennifer and thank you for the kind words. I've been a bit neglectful of it in the last few weeks because I have to deliver the manuscript of 'Cornish Feasts and Festivals' to the publisher by the 31 December. Still hopefully there'll be lots of new F and Fs in 2012..so I hope you will keep coming back. I agree with you totally about cooking being a grounding thing, I actually find it really relaxing, me my kitchen stuff and the radio and I'm a happy little bee...

Helen Hoyle said...

Just discovered your Samhain poem -absolutely beautiful and so apt for this time of the year. Easy to get bogged down by the gloom of these dark days ... and to forget the promise of spring which follows. Thank you!