Thursday, February 17, 2011

Please Sir, May I have some Moor

I’ve always been a strange reader – strange in that I never read what most of my peers were reading. I had read the entire Shakespearean Comedy Canon by the time I was in 6th grade, at which point I decided I should challenge myself by reading the Illiad and the Oddessy.

I was never into Sweet Valley High, although I had an unnatural love for anything R.L.Stine or what we called the “Point Books” – some sub-publication which specialized in pre-teen horror, which quickly led to my obsession with nonfiction reports of psychology and serial killers. (It wasn’t until I met Magski that I realized this might be a phase many young girls go through)

And then I got to high school, where all of a sudden, I was reading what everyone else was – even though they were reading it because it was assigned. This was my English Lit phase. Bronte, Austen, Bronte, Hardy, Donne. I much preferred the pastoral setting to the city life portrayed by Dickens and Shelley. I pictured myself out on the moors, my hair flowing behind me in the wind as the tall grass swayed. (This is probably about as romantic as I get)

And then, in 11th grade, I actually got to go! To the moors! And they were fantastic – everything I had dreamed about. Complete with frolicking sheep. Which led to my first real issue – how on earth was I going to enjoy that lamb dinner after I had just watched those sweet guileless sheep make their way along the moors, their sheep hair flowing in the wind as the tall grass swayed. The second issue? That tall grass, is actually a plant known as rape. And how not-poetic does that sound? “Their sheep hair flowing in the wind as the rape swayed.” I guess it still is poetic if you’re some sort of sheep fetishist.

York was my absolute favorite part of England. I loved the moors, and I loved the city so much more than London. I loved the walls, I loved the Viking Museum – complete with authentic smells, I loved the church that allowed you to peer down and see ancient Roman ruins beneath Norman ruins.

And Yorkshire food is exactly what you would expect, hearty and warm. Focusing on rich, flavorful meats that are sure to keep you happy through a long Yorkshire winter. In fact, many of you may be familiar with one of the most famous of Yorkshire dishes – Yorkshire pudding.

In general, pudding in England doesn’t refer to the J-E-L-L-O type of dessert, but any dessert. However, Yorkshire pudding is a doughy lovechild of a pancake and a popover. Traditionally the batter was placed under a roasting lamb, so that the fat from the meat would drip in as the lamb cooked. The airfilled dough was often served as a course on its own.

Yorkshire pudding has a way of working with almost any cut of lamb or beef. It’s light enough to complement the meal without stealing the show, although you may be tempted to forgo the meat entirely after a couple bites. And without worrying about yeast, it’s also one of the easiest starchy sides to make.

Yorkshire Pudding (from the Fannie Farmer Cookbook)

  • 4 Tbsp pan drippings from beef or lamb
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt
1. Turn up oven to 450. Pour the pan drippings into a 9x9 pan. Put the pan in the oven to keep sizzling while you prepare the batter.
2. Combine the eggs, milk, flour, and salt and beat until well blended.
3. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 25-30 minutes.

Standing Rib Roast
1 standing rib roast
3/4 cup red wine
salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 325. Place the meat, fat side up in a shallow pan and allow to come to room temperature while the oven preheats.
2. Roast for 20 minutes per pound. Remove roast from the oven and set on the carving board.
3. Drain off the fat and put the roasting pan on a burner, stovetop over low heat.
4. Add the wine and stir, scraping the meaty pieces off the bottom of the pan. Salt and pepper to taste and cook for about 2 minutes. Spoon this sauce over the carved meat.


  1. Oh, how I loved Bronte. What a trip that must have been. I suspect your meal is better than any to be had in Yorkshire. That pudding sounds wonderful and standing rib is hard to refuse. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

  2. Bronte and Austen are far and above some of my favorite authors! I read them when I was in 8th grade-ish and definitely did NOT understand as much as when I read them again in college! Oh pudding. I'll take it any way I can get it. This is some definite comfort food.