Friday, July 20, 2007

Heg Peg Dump.

Today, July 20th

Today is the special day of St Margaret of Antioch, who is patron saint of childbirth on the very excellent basis of the story that when swallowed by a dragon, the cross she was carrying so irritated the poor thing’s digestive system that she was disgorged unharmed. It has been claimed on and off over the centuries that St Margaret may never have existed, which would have been a terrible tragedy for the folk of the English county of Gloucestershire where she is particularly appreciated. Had she been declared santa non grata (I just made that up; is there such a phrase?) the locals would not have an excuse to eat Heg Peg Dump on her special day.

Heg Peg Dump is one of the almost infinite number of suet puddings made by the English. Suet is ‘the solid fat round the loins and kidneys of certain animals, esp. that of the ox and sheep, which, chopped up, is used in cooking’, and it has probably been responsible for the vast majority of English coronaries over the last thousand years or more. It makes a moist dough suitable for steaming or boiling both savoury and sweet delights such as Spotted Dick and Jam Roly Poly and Steak and Kidney Pudding.

Heg Peg Dump is the Gloucestershire version, and was traditionally made from ‘heg pegs’ or wild plums. It was probably chosen for her day because ‘Peg’ is a diminutive of Margaret, so there was a happy coindence of names (and, lets be pragmatic, wild plums are presumably ripe enough in mid-July). ‘Peg’ can also mean ‘a small piece of dough’, which may or may not be relevant. As for ‘dump’, it no doubt signifies ‘dumpling’, also made from suet, with or without a filling. In other words, Heg Peg Dump is Suet Plum Pudding, essentially no different from this recipe from the late Victorian book Warne’s Every-Day Cookery, by Mary Jewry. Its all in a name.

Damson Pudding.
A pint and a half of damsons, six ounces of moist sugar; suet crust.
Make about three quarters of a pound of suet crust, line a basin with it, reserving a piece for the top; fill the basin with the fruit, add the sugar, and two tablespoonfuls of water; put on the lid, pinch the edges of the crust firmly together; tie over it a floured cloth, put the pudding into a saucepan of boiling water, and boil it from two and a half to three hours. When done, turn it carefully out.
Suet Crust for Puddings.
One pound of flour; six ounces of beef suet; a cupful of cold water.
Strip the skin from the suet, chop it as fine as possible, rub it well into the flour, mix it with a knife, work ti to a very smooth paste with a cupful of water, and roll it out for use.

Monday’s Story …

Clotted Cream

Quotation for the Day …

All plums are under Venus, and are like women - some better and some worse. Edward Bunyard

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