What did you have for breakfast?
Some Postcrossers suggest ideas for what people can write on their postcards (largely to stop folk from being lazy and just writing ‘Happy Postcrossing’ which rather defeats the idea of exchanging snail mail). One of the popular suggestions is ‘What did you have for breakfast?’ Unless it’s obvious they are actually collecting the answer to that question I don’t bother responding as I’m not usually short of things to say. But if I were to answer it would probably be toast and marmalade – without which no English breakfast is truly complete.
The first recipe for marmalade appeared in English cookbooks in the 1500s as an indigestion cure - oranges, from which the marmalade was to be made, being prized as a cure for an upset stomach.
Its arrival on the scene as a breakfast accompaniment occurred in Dundee in the early 18th century. A retired merchant called James Keiller bought up a load of Spanish oranges at the harbour. They were cheap because the ship, from Seville, had been delayed in a storm and they were over-ripe. But they proved to be too bitter to eat. The story goes that his wife, Janet, decided rather than waste them she would make them into jam but instead of crushing the peel into pulp with a pestle and mortar (the usual method) she chopped it into shreds.
In reality it was hardly an accident that Janet made jam since she owned a small sweet shop, specialising in selling jam and ‘boilings’, with fruit picked from the locality. He may well have bought the oranges for her to boil up and she probably just experimented with an old recipe and came up with this version of marmalade.
However it happened, her marmalade sold out instantly. But the famous marmalade firm of Keiller’s was not born overnight as is often suggested. The family continued to be simple sweet shop owners for many years and for decades their marmalade was purely a local produce.
However the production of marmalade developed thereafter we do know that by the 1730s the Irish epicurean travel writer, Bishop Richard Pococke, was describing the English breakfast thus – “They always bring toasted bread, and besides, butter, honey and jelly of preserved orange peel.”
Although marmalade as we know it had quickly become popular, the first commercial brand of marmalade, seems to have been founded in 1797 when the first Keiller’s marmalade factory was opened. By the end of the nineteenth century marmalade was being shipped as far afield as Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India and China. Keller’s was acquired by Crosse & Blackwell in 1920 and subsequently sold on multiple times before ending up with Robertson's.
And lunch - leek and potato soup
Lunch in my case proved to be home-made soup. In the past I’ve shown a few home-made soup recipes that I use on my old cookery blog. But today’ soup was one of the best I’ve made in a long time. Cream of leek and onion. I’d share the recipe but I don’t tend to measure anything so it’s a bit difficult to recall exactly what I put in.
I would guess it went something like –
2 litres water
A large handful (in total) of green lentils, orange lentils, split peas and pearl barley.
A tablespoon of mixed herbs.
Two teaspoons Bouillon
Two lamb stock cubes
Three leeks (finely chopped and microwaved with butter for 6 minutes before being added)
Four medium sized potatoes.
Grated pepper but no salt (the bouillon makes the soup salty enough)
This is left to simmer for an hour and half and then blended. Once blended replace on the hob and reheat to simmering point. Take off the heat and leave for five minutes before adding a quarter of a pint of cream and some roughly chopped parsley, chives and basil leaves.
Have I made you hungry?