Granny Robertson Meets Granny Smith

The Granny Smith apple was discovered in Australia in the 1860’s. A chance seedling on a compost heap in the orchard of Maria Ann Smith led to the first apple to be introduced into the United Kingdom in the 30’s.

Their flesh is bright white and crisp in texture with a tart, acidic, yet subtly sweet flavour. They are often used in cooking because of their high acidity and ability to hold their shape when cooked.

They can be baked into sweet or savoury pies and tarts, added to savoury bread stuffing, risotto or potato pancakes.

Their sweet-tart flavour is a great addition to soups, smoothies and sauces.

The Granny Smith Cultivar originated in Eastwood, New South Wales, Australia (now a suburb of Sydney) in 1868. Its discoverer, Maria Ann Smith, had emigrated to the district from Beckley, East Sussex in 1839 with her husband Thomas.

They purchased a small orchard in the area in 1855-1856 and began cultivating fruit, for which the area was well known, in colonial Australia. Smith had eight children and was a prominent figure in the district, earning the nickname “Granny” in her later years.

The first description of the origin of the Granny Smith apple, published in 1924 in Farmer and Settler was the account of a local historian who had interviewed two men who had known Smith. One of those recalled that in 1868, he and his father had been invited to Smith’s farm to inspect a chance seedling that had sprung near a creek.

The story recounted that Smith had been testing French crab-apples for cooking, and, throwing the apple cores out her window as she worked, had found that the new seedling had sprung up underneath her kitchen windowsill.

Granny Smith took it upon herself to propagate the new apple. Finding the fruits to have ‘all the appearances of a cooking apple’ but were ‘sweet and crisp to eat’ she took a stall at Sydney’s George Street market, where the apples became ‘exceptionally popular’ and once a week sold her produce there.

Granny Smith died a few short years after her discovery but her work had been noticed by other local planters. Edward Gallard was one such planter, who extensively planted Granny Smith trees on his property and bought the Smith farm when Thomas died in 1876.

Gallard was successful in marketing the apple locally and in 1890 it was exhibited as ‘Smith’s Seedling’ at the Castle Hill Agricultural and Horticultural Show.

The following year it won the prize for cooking apples under the name “Granny Smith’s Seedling. In 1895, the New South Wales Department of Agriculture recognised the cultivar and had begun growing the trees at the Government Experimental Station in Bathurst, New South Wales.

Its worldwide fame as a late-picking cooking apple with a good potential for export grew from the fact that it could be picked from March and stored till November led to the government actively promoting it, leading to its widespread adoption. They became one of the first varieties of apple to be widely available in supermarkets and their excellent storing qualities made them suitable for export. With their bright green skin, often speckled with pale white spots they are medium to large in size and suitably round in shape.

Today Granny Smith apples grow in Australia, Europe, New Zealand, South America and the United States. They tend to ripen best in warmer climates where they get a significant amount of sunshine.

According to the United States Apple Association website it is one of the fifteen most popular apple cultivars in the United States.

So much so that in 1968 The Beatles used an image of a Granny Smith apple as the logo for their corporation, Apple Corps Limited and for their record label, Apple Records.

One side of vinyl albums featured the exterior of the fruit whilst the other side of the recording featured a cross-section of the apple.

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Further Grim Warnings

As a follow up to the previous post of ‘cautionary tales’ taken from Bunty, a story book from the seventies aimed at teenage girls, and with this post I conclude the round half dozen.

But once again the consequences are severe, the messages perfectly clear. And, as before the material is subversive and against all the protocols of political correctness!

Once again teenage girls of a certain age are targeted, but one of the storylines in particular is a bit close to the bone in light of more modern understanding!

The final three are the Untidiness story, the Toothy story and lastly the Slimming story.

The nifty drawing and delightfully composed verses continue with the rich seam of rather black humour of the previous tales, adding, if anything an even darker edge!


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Beyond Sarajevo – The Home Front

Following the outbreak of war in 1914, Germany instituted a campaign of unrestricted submarine warfare with the intention of exposing France, Italy, Britain and all other  countries heavily reliant on food imports, to a long term food crisis.

These countries viewed the submarine campaign as a deadly threat. They attempted to increase their own food production and on 8 August 1914 the Defence of the Realm Act was passed ‘for the securing of public safety’. This gave the act a very wide interpretation and regulated virtually every aspect of the British home front and was expanded as the war went on.

There are a number of more surprising measures introduced by DORA, some of which still affect life in Britain today and include:

Whistling for London taxis which was banned in case it should be mistaken for an air raid warning.

A prohibition was implemented on loitering near bridges and tunnels or lighting bonfires.

British Summer Time was instituted in May 1916 in order to maximise working hours in the day, particularly for agriculture.

Claims that war production was being hampered by drunkenness led to pub opening times and alcohol strength being reduced.

The ‘No Treating Order’ also made it an offence to buy drinks for others. (A restriction I adhere to, to this very day!)

The possession and supply of cocaine or opium by other than authorised professionals such as doctors, dentists and anaethetists became a criminal offence.

The blackout was introduced in towns and cities throughout the country as part of the new Air Raid Regulations.

Both press and private censorship was introduced, severely limiting the reporting of war news whilst many publications were also banned and Military censors examined 300,000 pieces of private correspondence, mainly telegrams, in 1916 alone.

Fines were issued for making white flour instead of whole-wheat and for allowing rats to invade wheat stores. Further restrictions on food production eventually led to the introduction of rationing in 1918.

The war took men and horses away from farm work, imports of nitrate fertilizers were disrupted and a reduced agricultural output forced up prices and encouraged hoarding. Governments responded by putting price controls on all staple foodstuffs which resulted in food queues (below) formed of women and children becoming a common sight not only in Britain but in many cities across Europe.

Hunger stalked the civilian populations of all the combatant nations. Agriculture and food distribution suffered from strains imposed by the war and naval blockades reduced food imports. Some countries met this threat more successfully than others.

Britain introduced rationing in early 1918 throughout the nation and the British public defied German expectations by accepting such a massive intrusion into their daily lives. Ration cards were issued and everyone had to register with a local butcher and grocer.

The first item to be rationed was sugar in January 1918, but by the end of April meat, butter, cheese and margarine were added to the list.

The need to queue was lessened when rationing was introduced but it also ensured an equality of food distribution.

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The Raisins The Sun-Maid

Where would this blog be without a massive infusion of dried fruits? From sun-soaked South Africa to the mediteranean climes of California dried fruits have been sent out to the entire world. Without them where would be the the Plum Pudding, the Birthday Cake the Christmas Cake and the Mince Pie? These pages come from a pamphlet issued by the California Raisin Advisory Board around the late seventies, early eighties.

In 1873, Francis T. Eisen planted an experimental vineyard of Muscat grapes on 25 acres along Fancher Creek, just east of Fresno, California.

Once raisins were established as a marketable crop which grew and dried well under the Californian sun, raisin grape-growing areas expanded rapidly in the late 19th century.

Packing houses quickly became a vital link between the grower and the consumer, employing hundreds of people. These facilities received the sun-dried raisins from growers, and stored, processed, packaged, and shipped throughout the United States.

When the transcontinental railroad was completed in 1869, farmers and growers were able to quickly transport products from the West to new markets and the earliest successful efforts to form a cooperative business by raisin growers began in 1898.

By 1903 a privately owned cooperative of raisin growers had become the largest raisin and dried fruit processor in the world, producing 120 million lbs of raisins a year and was established in 1912 as the California Associated Raisin Company. In 1915, the brand name Sun-Maid, coined by advertising executive E.A. Berg and was adopted by the organization in 1922 and re-branded as the Sun-Maid Growers of California to identify more closely with its nationally recognized brand. The Sun-Maid cooperative comprised some 850 family farmers growing raisins within a 100 mile radius of the processing plant.

Packaged in a red box featuring the iconic ‘Sun-Maid Girl’ wearing a red sunbonnet, the raisins are picked at harvest time, usually late August to early September having beem dried naturally in the sun, either by hand-picking and laying them out or by allowing them to dry-on-the-vine for mechanical harvesting, after some fourteen days, they are processed, packaged and shipped to customers around the world.

Today Sun-Maid produces more than 200 million lbs of natural raisins along with line of dried fruit, such as figs, dates, cranberries, apples, prunes, apricots and tropical fruits. Sun-Maid also packs yogurt-covered raisins, such as those dipped in dark chocolate, vanilla, orange cream, strawberry-Greek and cherry-chocolate flavoured yogurt.

In 1964, further modernization and growth led to the construction of, and move to, a new facility in Kingsburg. The 640,000-square-foot facility sits on more than 100 acres some 20 miles south of Fresno. To this day, the Kingsburg plant serves as the headquarters of the Sun-Maid Growers of California.

The original “Sun-Maid Girl” was a real person named Lorraine Collett. The Sun-Maid girls promoted the raisin industry at the 1915 Panama–Pacific International Exposition by handing out raisin samples to visitors while wearing white blouses with blue piping and blue sunbonnets.

In May 1916, company executives agreed Collett would become the personification of the company.

Her image with sunbonnet and tray of grapes was updated in 1956 and again in 1970, using drawings made a decade earlier of company employee Delia von Meyer although Collett continued to make special appearances as the original Sun-Maid Girl until her death at 90.



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The Origins Of Vegetarianism

The images illustrating this article are from Womans Own magazine of the forties and early fifties when vegetarianism was still somewhat of a new fangled fad to the average family. The health benefits were being widely promoted but the old ideal that a meal was incomplete without meat still prevailed and was going to take some time to modify. Oddly enough wartime rationing in Europe as a whole had inadvertantly aided the cause.

The deliberate avoidance of flesh eating has appeared sporadically throughout the ages either as a temporary purification or as qualification for a ritual priestly function. Around the middle of the 1st millennium BC it crept more or less simultaneously into India and the eastern Mediterranean.

In the Mediterranean the avoidance of flesh is first recorded as a teaching of Pythagoras of Samos (530 BC) and his followers. The Pythagoreans also rejected beans and mallows, possibly influenced by Egyptian priestly customs in the Fertile Crescent. The Pythagoreans claimed that the sphere of all animal existence was a basis for human benevolence toward other creatures,  and that as such they should not be killed for food.

Many of the pagan philosophers, from Plato and Epicurus to Plutarch recommended a fleshless diet since the idea carried with it a condemnation of bloody sacrifices in worship and was often associated with a belief in the reincarnation of souls, with a search for principles of cosmic harmony by which human beings could live.

In India the Buddhists and Jains refused to kill animals for food, on ethical and ascetic grounds, claiming that human being should not inflict harm on any sentient creature. The idea was soon taken up in Brahman circles and was applied especially to the cow. The idea carried with it condemnation of bloody sacrifices and was often associated with a feeling for cosmic harmonies.

In India, though Buddhism was gradually declining, the ideal of harmlessness spread steadily in the 1st millennium AD until many of the upper castes and even some of the lower, had adopted it. Beyond India it was carried widely northward and eastward, as far as China and Japan. In some countries, fish were included in an otherwise fleshless diet.

The monotheistic traditions that grew up and came to power in the West were less favorable to vegetarianism. In the Hebrew Bible it is recorded that in Paradise the earliest human beings had not eaten flesh and that it was permitted only after Noah’s flood though the blood in it, being the very life of it, was not to be consumed.

Jewish groups and some early Christian leaders disapproved of flesh eating as a luxury, gluttonous, cruel, and expensive while some Christian monastic orders ruled out flesh eating, and its avoidance has been a penance even for lay persons. Many Muslims have been hostile to vegetarianism though some Muslim Sufi mystics, the chief guides of Muslim spiritual life, recommended a meatless diet for spiritual seekers until Akbar, the 16th-century Muslim emperor in India, recommended a fleshless diet as a Sufi custom.

With the transformation of Western and then world life in modern times, vegetarianism also entered a new phase as part of the humanitarianism of the 17th and 18th centuries in Europe sensitivity to animal suffering was revived and with it the Pythagorean disapproval of flesh eating. Certain Protestant groups came to the fleshless diet by way of their perfectionistic reading of the Bible, while Voltaire, Shelley and Thoreau offered diverse philosophic views that advocated vegetarianism.

Vegetarians of the early 19th century usually condemned the use of alcohol as well as flesh and appealed as much to the nutritional advantages of light fare, in contrast with the rich, meat heavy diet of the day. As always, vegetarianism tended to be combined with other efforts toward a humane and a cosmically harmonious way of life.

During the 19th century the movement began to produce results even among non-vegetarians and by the early 20th century it was contributing substantially to the drive to vary and lighten the non-vegetarian’s diet. Foods such as peanut butter and cornflakes were invented by vegetarians in the United States while in other places a vegetarian diet was regarded simply as one of many disciplines recommended for specific disorders.

In Germany, the fleshless diet was regarded as only one element in vegetarianism, which was expected to be a comprehensive reform of life habits, the term being derived not from ‘vegetable food’ but directly from the Latin vegetus, meaning ‘active, vigorous’.

The movement as a whole was always carried forward by ethically inclined individuals, such as Leo Tolstoy and George Bernard Shaw as well as by certain religious sects, while some Biblical Christian sects in both England and the United States took the lead in establishing national vegetarian societies, with the first such being formed in England in 1847.

On the back of a growing number of vegetarian societies throughout the world the International Vegetarian Union was created in 1908. In the West a special industry to process high-protein vegetable foods to simulate various meats in form and flavour has grown up to ease the transition from flesh eating to health food. Stores offer products conforming to vegetarian tastes while vegetarian societies publish recipes that centre on the tasty use of legumes, nuts, cheeses, and eggs while the International Vegetarian Union works toward developing foods and medicines more in line with vegetarian ethical standards.

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A Series Of Grim Warnings

GW ScruffyAh, how times have changed.

In these days of self empowerment and political correctness even to suggest that a person of a certain age (generally under sixteen and, gasp, female!) should have any kind of minor defect would be a personal affront that would demand immediate repudiation and or significant retail therapy!

But not so in these quaint little ‘cautionary tales’ taken from Bunty, a story book from the seventies aimed at teenage girls.

Alongside the usual pony stories and pretty-boy pop group pin-ups I found these amusing treats.

There are six in all and I begin with the Scruffy Story, the Hair Care story and lastly the Nail story.

GW HaircareWhat teenager these days in anything even approaching  their right mind (if such a mythical beast actually exists) would care to be insulted by the suggestion of such ‘anti-social’ traits.

Suggestive of possible fatal consequences, as in the ‘Scruffy Story‘ I think it would be difficult to publish such subversive material today.

I shall add the the final three cautionary tales concerning the dentist, untidiness and slimming, later.

But in all honesty alongside the nifty drawing and nicely composed verse there is a rich seam of rather black humour!

GW Nails

I rest my case! And on that note I fade away myself.

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Belisha And The Zebra Crossing

belisha-advertsBelisha is a card game first published by Castell Brothers Ltd (Pepys Games) in 1937 that utilises the rules of Rummy with the traffic signs in the United Kingdom making up the theme.

Instead of the standard suits and numbers in a 52-card deck, Belisha’s cards can be grouped into numbers, colours, and types of traffic signs using period illustrations highlighting safety in motoring situations.

Belisha 1002Based on a car journey from London to Oban, Belisha was produced to make a helpful contribution to the national “Safety First” 001campaign that followed the introduction of ‘Belisha’ beacons, (named after Leslie Hore-Belisha, the minister for transport)

The round yellow flashing lights on black and white striped poles at zebra crossings were designed to reduce road casualties, particularly among children.

By 1951 the black and white stripes, with Belisha beacons on either side of the road, were approved as ‘Zebra’ crossings.

Rummy 1

As with Rummy, the players are dealt a hand of cards. Each player then takes turns in drawing a card from the deck or the first card of the discard pile with the aim of disposing of all the cards in their hand by playing them in sets or straight sequences.

They can also play their cards to extend sets or sequences laid out by their opponents.

The turn ends when a card is discarded. The game, or the current round, stops when a player has played or discarded his last card.

Players then calculate the value of the remaining cards in their hands and take that as their score for the round and begin the next by reshuffling the deck and dealing new hands.

The game ends when a player has accumulated a pre-arranged score (usually 250) at which point the player with the lowest accumulated score is the winner.

Belisha 3


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