Monday, 5 September 2011

The Colours of Autumn

BROWN, brown scrummy brown. Brown cacoa, coffee, chocolate, worms, soil, compost, autumn leaves but most of all lovely shiny conkers!! I love each shiny jewel when it has just dropped from the horse chesnut tree and split out of it's spiky shell. I can't help but collect them and I love to feel their smoothness in my hands.

Conkers, conkers on the ground 

(twinkle, twinkle little star)

Conkers conkers on the ground
Shiny conkers brown and round
Falling conkers from the tree
Some for you and some for me
Conkers conkers on the ground
Shiny conkers brown and round

Here is my favourite colour GREEN. Green is just fantastic as it appears in every season. During the Autumn topic we have related it to green apples, as apples are ripe for harvesting at this time of the year. The majority of green apples we grow in this country are cooking apples, epecially the good old 'Bramley'. We believe the 'Bramley' apple makes the best apple pie + crumble ever!

 Bramley Apple Pie

Preparation Time
Preparation time:
Cooking Time
Cooking time:
Serves: 4-6
For the filling
675g Bramley apples
75-100g soft brown sugar
grated rind and juice of 1 orange
1 teaspoon of mixed spice
1tbsp plain white flour
25g butter

For the crust
175g prepared shortcrust pastry
1-2 tsp caster sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C, 400°F, Gas Mark 6, 15 minutes before baking the pie.
  2. Peel and core the apples and then cut into thick slices and reserve.  Mix together the sugar, grated orange rind, mixed spice and flour.
  3. Place a third of the apple slices in the base of a 1.2 litre deep pie dish and sprinkle with half the sugar mixture.  Cover with half the remaining apples and sugar then arrange the rest of the apples on top.  Pour the orange juice over.
  4. Cut the butter into small pieces and dot over the apples.
  5. Roll the pasty out to an oblong on a lightly floured surface about 4cm larger than the pie dish.  Cut out a 1.25cm strip.  Dampen edges of pie dish with a little water then place the thin strip on the pie dish edge.  Dampen the pastry edge then place the pastry lid in position.  Press edges firmly together and using the back of a knife flake the edges together.  If liked, any pastry trimming can be used to decorate the top.
  6. Brush pastry with a little water and sprinkle with the caster sugar.  Bake in a preheated oven for 15 minutes then reduce oven temperature to 180°C, 350oF, Gas Mark 4 and continue to cook for 30 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown.  If liked the pie can be sprinkled with a little more sugar after baking.
  7. Serve warm with cream, custard or ice cream.
  1. Replace the grated orange rind with 2tsp of ground cinnamon, add to the soft brown sugar and flour.
  2. Add about 2-3 whole cloves to each layer of apples in the pie dish.
  3. Add 75g cut mixed peel to the apple layer.
"To the best of my knowledge, the recipe for traditional Bramley Apple Pie filling has not changed: Bramley apples, sugar, cornflour and a preservative, such as lemon juice and water. Nor should it - let's keep it this way! The Bramley is rightly recognised as being the best apple for cooking. Indigenous to Britain, the apple's unique qualities, such as higher acid and lower sugar levels, produce a strong apple flavour even when cooked, and a superb texture once cooked.
From the time when in 1809 the first Bramley tree grew from pips planted by a young girl, Mary Ann Brailsford, in her garden in Southwell, Nottinghamshire, to 2010 with Bramleys being used innovatively in savoury stir fries by top of their game international chefs - it's always been a winner in my eyes."
Antony Worrall Thompson MOGB
April 2010

YELLOW is the colour we will focus on next, for the children Under 5 years. Yellow relates to harvest time and corn dollies come to mind. Corn dollies are wonderful plaits of golden wheat, barley, corn or rye. They are then traditionally tied with a coloured ribbon.

Salt dough corn dollies

"In Britain a corn dolly is created by plaiting the wheat stalks to create a straw figure. The corn dolly is kept until the spring. This was done as people believed that the corn spirit lived in the wheat and as the wheat was harvested, the spirit fled to the wheat which remained. By creating the dolly the spirit is kept alive for the next year and for the new crop. Sometimes these dollies are hung up in the barn or sometimes in the farmhouse or even in the church. In spring the dolly would be ploughed back into the soil. There are many types of corn dolly."

The yorkshire corn dolly

How to make a Corn Dolly: 

Any coloured ribbons used to bind the dollies had meanings attached to the colours: 
yellow - sun, red - sacrifice, blue - love, green - wisdom, white - strength.
Equipment:   5 - 8 inch hollow straws
                   4 - 4 inch hollow straws
Tie the 8" straws together in the middle. 
Fold in half and tie near the top of the fold making a head.  
Using the 4" straws, tie the ends leaving a small portion beyond the ties to make "hands".  
Slide the 4" straws into the "body" of the 8" straws forming arms.  
Separate the lower section of the 8" straws into two and tie forming legs and feet.  Decorate as desired.
Afterwards hang in the kitchen until spring when it may be buried in the garden.

Corn dollies
(Lavender’s Blue)

Corn dollies yellow,
Corn dollies neat
Help us to harvest
The food that we eat

The farmer cuts the crops

(The farmers in his den)

The farmer cuts the corn,
The farmer cuts the corn
Harvest time is here again.
The farmer cuts the corn

The farmer cuts the wheat,
The farmer cuts the wheat.
Lots of lovely bread to eat.
The farmer cuts the wheat.

The next Autumn colour we will focus on with the Under 5's is RED. Some leaves are already starting to turn beautiful shades of burnt reds. We think Autumn leaves are amazing natural colours and their colour range is so dramatic.

Leaf rubbings

Red leaves falling

Red leaves falling, red leaves falling.
On the ground, on the ground.
Autumn time is coming, 
Autumn time is coming.
All around, all around.

The first colour we will look at with the Under 5 years this week is PURPLE.
Wonderful blackberries and elderberries make fantastic paint. The Under 5's just love this messy fun and they can eat the blackberries too!

Blackberry + elderberry painting

Get outside and find hedgrows full of purple gems. Blackberry picking is one of my all time favourite past times.

Blackberry picking
 by - Seamus Heaney 

Late August, given heavy rain and sun
For a full week, the blackberries would ripen.
At first, just one, a glossy purple clot
Among others, red, green, hard as a knot.
You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet
Like thickened wine: summer's blood was in it
Leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for
Picking. Then red ones inked up and that hunger
Sent us out with milk cans, pea tins, jam-pots
Where briars scratched and wet grass bleached our boots.
Round hayfields, cornfields and potato-drills
We trekked and picked until the cans were full,
Until the tinkling bottom had been covered
With green ones, and on top big dark blobs burned
Like a plate of eyes. Our hands were peppered
With thorn pricks, our palms sticky as Bluebeard's.

We hoarded the fresh berries in the byre.
But when the bath was filled we found a fur,
A rat-grey fungus, glutting on our cache.
The juice was stinking too. Once off the bush
The fruit fermented, the sweet flesh would turn sour.
I always felt like crying. It wasn't fair
That all the lovely canfuls smelt of rot.
Each year I hoped they'd keep, knew they would not.

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