Another guest from my Dinner Register.
Although written for children, the books actually explain the hardships of the pioneer life. The politically correct do not look on them so favourably these days. After all, they chronicle the attempts of a white family to colonise the lands where the Native Americans once roamed free. But we can’t change history and, as a slice of history, they provide a story of human struggle for survival against the elements and describe how a father and daughter with a wandering spirit made their way westward, with a thorough degree of respect for the land.
There was also a lovely television series starring Michael Landon with a wonderful portrayal of Laura by Melissa Gilbert. I remember watching an episode each week after a bath and hair-wash.
In 1874 they lived at Plum Creek in Minnesota. On the Banks of Plum Creek, the third of the novels which relate Laura’s travels, tells how the Ingalls had to take up temporary residence in a dugout in the bank of the creek itself, until Pa could earn enough to build them a new house nearer to Walnut Grove (the place most associated with the family because of the TV series).
I was given some plums this week by someone I know who has a tree in her garden. I decided to cook a classic/ modern pudding but invite a guest from history who would be familiar with the taste of fresh plums.
So, pull up a chair, Laura, and tell me what you think.
125ml double cream
2-3 tsp vanilla essence (or a vanilla pod)
4 free range eggs
170g caster sugar
1tbsp plain flour
500g fresh plums
2tbsp brown sugar
30g flaked almonds
Boil the milk, cream and vanilla in a pan for about 5 minutes. Then turn off and allow to cool.
In a bowl, beat the eggs with the caster sugar. When it is fluffy, fold in the flour.
When the milk/ vanilla mixture is cool, add it to the eggs. Whisk well and then set aside.
Heat oven to Gas 6/ 400°F/ 200°C.
Put the butter in an oven-proof dish and heat until it bubbles.
Add the plums to the dish and sprinkle the brown sugar over the top.
Bake for 5 minutes.
Add the batter and scatter the almonds over the top.
Cook for 30- 40 minutes until the batter has risen and the top is golden.