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Florence Knight’s perfect Christmas lunch: the best roast turkey recipe

DEBBY LEWIS-HARRISON. FOOD STYLING: EMILY JONZEN. PROP STYLING: TONIA SHUTTLEWORTH
The Sunday Times, 

Simple food is made easier by careful choice of ingredients and preparation, so that as little as possible needs to be done at the last minute: exactly as Christmas should be. It’s a good opportunity to stock up on carefully sourced vinegar, chutney and cheese — indulgences that might be overlooked at another time of year.

Cotechino, a rich pork sausage found in Italian delis, is the perfect antidote to a potentially dry turkey. Brining the bird, either dry or wet, needs no specialist equipment and keeps meat tender and flavourful (but isn’t essential if you’re short of time).

For roast potatoes, try getting hold of golden wonder or yukon gold. A few russet apples or a handful of fresh rosemary will make a welcome addition before they go into the oven. A glug of port gives depth to spiced red cabbage, though I always seem to manage to find the only whole clove left in the bowl — a pungent version of the traditional sixpence.

Get ahead: December 24

Dry-brine your turkey and make the turkey-stock base from the giblets.

2 Prepare and cook the red cabbage.

3 Prepare and cook the lentil stuffing (without the apples and fresh herbs).

4 Peel and parboil the potatoes and place evenly over a cake rack in the fridge overnight.

5 Cook and prepare the cotechino.

Let’s go! December 25

10.30am Clean and halve any larger sprouts. Clean the carrots, leaving 1cm green tops.

11.20am Heat the oven to 150C (170C non-fan). Take the turkey, cabbage, potatoes and stuffing out of the fridge.

11.50am Stuff and baste the turkey, then place in the oven.

1.45pm Caramelise the apples and chop the dill and parsley.

2pm Turn the oven up to 200C (220C non-fan). Heat the oil on trays in the oven.

2.10pm Place the potatoes in the oil and roast for 15 minutes. Turn and cook for a further 15 minutes.

2.30pm Remove the turkey and wrap it loosely with foil.

2.35pm Blanch the carrots for 5 minutes and cut larger ones in half. Reduce the oven to 190C (210C non-fan) and cook for 15 minutes.

2.40pm Remove the potatoes and place them in a warm oven.

2.45pm Put the sprouts in the oven at 220C (240C non-fan) for 10-15 minutes. Make the tray gravy and finish with the premade stock.

2.50pm Add the butter, treacle and walnuts to the carrots and cook for further 5 minutes. Heat the red cabbage and lentil stuffing on the hob. Stir the apples and fresh herbs through the stuffing. Once hot, cover and set aside.

3pm Add the butter, lemon zest and juice to the sprouts. Bring everything to the table and carve the turkey.

The best roast turkey

Norfolk bronze or black are some of the best-flavoured birds and are worth seeking out as a festive centrepiece. It’s very important the turkey is at room temperature before you start cooking it; a meat probe will give you peace of mind. As a general guide, allow 40 minutes’ cooking time per kg. If you can’t find cotechino, use any fresh Italian seasoned sausage with a high fat content.

Serves 6 people

INGREDIENTS

  • 20g baking powder
  • 60g fine sea salt
  • 1 x 4kg turkey, at room temperature
  • 1kg cotechino (in bags)
  • 3 white onions, peeled and halved
  • 1 bulb of garlic, halved horizontally

01 Mix the baking powder and salt and rub the mixture all over the turkey skin. Leave in the fridge, uncovered, overnight or for up to 24 hours.

02 Heat the oven to 150C (170C non-fan). Lower the cotechino in its bags into a large pan and cover with cold water. Set over a medium heat and bring to the boil, simmering for 30 minutes. Remove the cotechino and set aside to cool in a bowl.

03 Open the bags and slit down the length of each sausage, removing and discarding the skins. Mash the sausage meat and, if preparing in advance, leave in the fridge overnight.

04 Remove the turkey from the fridge and, starting at the neck, loosen the skin with your hand. Spread the fat (it will have separated) of the cotechino beneath and over the skin, covering it well. Stuff the cotechino meat into the neck cavity, then the body cavity, leaving room for some air to circulate.

05 Place the onions and garlic into a roasting tin and sit a rack over them. Place the turkey on the rack, then into the oven for 2 hours.

06 Turn the oven up to 200C (220C non-fan) and roast for a further 30-40 minutes. The meat probe should read 75C. The juices should run clear when the thickest part of the thigh is pierced.

07 Take the turkey out of the oven, cover with foil and leave to rest for 30 minutes before carving.

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The mystery of the Octavius: An 18th-century ghost ship was discovered with the captain’s body found frozen at his desk, still holding his pen

Maritime lore abounds with stories of ghost ships, those ships that sail the world’s oceans manned by a ghostly crew and destined never to make port. The most well known of these tales is that of the Mary Celeste. But one of the eeriest stories has to be the mystery of the Octavius.

The story opens in 1761 with the Octavius docked in the port of London to take on a cargo destined for China. This majestic sailing ship left port with a full crew, the skipper, and his wife and son. They arrived safely in China and unloaded their cargo. They headed back to sea once she was loaded with goods destined for British shores, but as the weather was unusually warm, the captain decided to sail home via the Northwest Passage, a voyage that at the time had not been accomplished. This was the last that anyone heard of the vessel, her crew, or her cargo. Octavius was declared lost.

“Rising full moon.” From the series “Ghost Ship.”

On October 11, 1775, the whaling ship Herald was working the frigid waters off Greenland when it spotted a sailing ship. On nearing the ship, the crew saw that the ship was weather beaten–the sails were tattered and torn and hanging limply on the masts.

The captain of the Herald ordered a boarding party to search the vessel, which they had determined was the Octavius. The boarding party arrived on deck to find it deserted. They broke open the ship’s hatch and scrambled down the ladder into the semi-darkness below, where a terrifying sight met their eyes. They found the entire 28-man crew frozen to death in their quarters. In the captain’s cabin, they found the captain seated at his desk, pen in hand, with the ship’s logbook open on the desk in front of him. The inkwell and other everyday items were still in their place on the desk. Turning around, they saw a woman wrapped in a blanket on the bunk, frozen to death, along with the body of a young boy.

The boarding party was terrified; grabbing the ship’s log, they fled from the Octavius. In their mad flight, they lost the middle pages of the logbook that were frozen solid and came loose from the bookbinding. They arrived back on the Herald with just the first and last pages of the logbook, which were enough for the master of the Herald to determine at least a part of the story of the voyage. The captain of the Octavius had tried to navigate the Northwest Passage, but his ship had become imprisoned in the ice of the Arctic, and the entire crew had perished. The ship’s last recorded position was 75N 160W, which placed the Octavius 250 miles north of Barrow, Alaska.

As the Octavius had been found off the coast of Greenland, it must have broken loose from the ice at some stage and completed its voyage through the passage to come out on the other side, where it met the Herald.  The crew of the Herald were frightened of the Octavius and feared that it was cursed, so they simply left it adrift. To this day, it has never been sighted again.

Author: Hannes Grobe/AWI.CC by 3.0

Author David Meyer has tried to track down the story of the Octavius. In his blog, he considers the idea that the Octavius could be the same ship as the Gloriana, which was boarded in 1775 by the captain of the Try Again, John Warrens. He recorded that he found a frozen crew that had been dead for 13 years and the date of the discovery was spookily similar–November 11, 1762. Are these tales of the same vessel? In the Gloriana story, there is no mention of the Northwest Passage, which remains even today a place of mystery and magic but that adds just that little bit of spice to the tale ofOctavius.

This makes an excellent ghost story for around the campfire. Did the Octavius eventually run aground and sink, or does she still sail the high seas with a crew of skeletons at the wheel?

By Ian Harvey

Seventeenth-Century Shopping List Discovered Under Floorboards of Historic English Home

400 year old shopping listAmong other necessary items, the list includes “greenfish,” a “fireshovel” and two dozen pewter spoons.(Image courtesy of the National Trust)

 

Pewter spoons, a frying pan and “greenfish”—these must-have items were scribbled on a shopping list 400 years ago. The scrap of paper was recently discovered under the floorboards of Knole, a historic country home in Kent, England.

As Oliver Porritt reports for Kent Live, Jim Parker, a volunteer working with the archaeology team at Knole, discovered the 1633 note during a multi-million dollar project to restore the house. The team also found two other 17th century letters nearby. One, like the shopping list, was located under the attic floorboards; another was stuffed into a ceiling void.

The shopping list was penned by Robert Draper and addressed to one Mr. Bilby. According to the UK’s National Trust, the note was “beautifully written,” suggesting that Draper was a high-ranking servant. In addition to the aforementioned kitchenware and greenfish (unsalted cod), Draper asks Mr. Bilby to send a “fireshovel” and “lights” to Copt Hall (also known as Copped Hall), an estate in Essex. The full text reads:

Mr Bilby, I pray p[ro]vide to be sent too morrow in ye Cart some Greenfish, The Lights from my Lady Cranfeild[es] Cham[ber] 2 dozen of Pewter spoon[es]: one greate fireshovell for ye nursery; and ye o[t]hers which were sent to be exchanged for some of a better fashion, a new frying pan together with a note of ye prises of such Commoditie for ye rest.

Your loving friend

Robert Draper

Octobre 1633

Copthall

Discovering the letterJim Parker, a volunteer working with the archaeology team at Knole, discovered the 1633 note during a multi-million dollar project to restore the house. (Image courtesy of the National Trust)

How did this rather mundane domestic letter come to be stashed in an attic at Knole, which is some 36 miles away from Copt Hall?  As the National Trust explains, Copt Hall and Knole merged when Frances Cranfield married Richard Sackville in 1637. Cranfield was the daughter of the Earl of Middlesex, who owned Copt Hall; Sackville, the 5th Earl of Dorset, had inherited Knole, his family’s home.

Household records indicate that large trunks filled with domestic items—including various papers—were moved from Copt Hall to Knole at the time of the marriage, and subsequently stored in the attic. Draper’s note may have slipped under the floorboards.

The marriage of Cranfield and Sackville was important for Knole, according to the National Trust Collections, because Cranfield inherited a trove of expensive paintings and furniture from her father. Draper’s letter certainly was not among the more prized items that Cranfield brought to the marriage, but for modern-day historians, it is exceptionally valuable.

“It’s extremely rare to uncover letters dating back to the 17th century, let alone those that give us an insight into the management of the households of the wealthy, and the movement of items from one place to another,” Nathalie Cohen, regional archaeologist for the National Trust, tells Porritt. She added that the good condition of both the list and the two other letters found at Knole “makes this a particularly exciting discovery.”

By Brigit Katz

 

Pattie Boyd was the real-life “Layla,” who married George Harrison and became the romantic obsession of his close friend, Eric Clapton

Beatles guitarist and singer George Harrison with his wife, Patti Boyd. (Photo by © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

During the golden era of rock and roll, there was a muse who captivated two of the most eminent music icons in history.

One of them sang to her “Something in the way she moves/Attracts me like no other lover,” while the other sang, “Layla, you’ve got me on my knees/Layla, I’m begging darling please,” longing for her love.

How does one choose between George Harrison, the unforgettable Beatle, and Eric Clapton, the fierce guitar legend? Well, Pattie Boyd was the woman who was forced to make up her mind between these two.

Patricia Anne “Pattie” Boyd was born on March 17, 1944, in Somerset, England. During the 1960s, her family moved to London, and she soon began a modeling career. First, Boyd worked as a shampoo girl in Elizabeth Arden’s salon, but when a client from the fashion industry spotted her beauty, she was launched into the world of modeling. She worked in London, New York, and Paris, side by side with the world’s top models. Boyd appeared in the UK and Italian editions of Voguemagazine, as well as in several commercials.Pattie Boyd wearing a Ossie Clark dress back in 1973.

Her turning point came in 1964 when she was cast in a very small part in the Beatles’ film A Hard Day’s Night, where she met George Harrison. Pattie was immediately attracted to him, and she explains that he was incredibly good-looking but rather shy.

Harrison was also swept off his feet by the gorgeous Boyd, but there was an obstacle in the way. At the time, Boyd was still dating the photographer Eric Swayne, and thus, she refused Harrison’s proposal. According to her, he said, “Will you marry me? Well, if you won’t marry me, will you have dinner with me tonight?”

Several days later, she broke up with Swayne and went out with Harrison. On Jan. 21, 1966, Boyd and Harrison sealed their intense romance with a wedding, with Paul McCartney as their best man. Harrison’s young love for Boyd inspired him to write “Something,” one of the Beatles’ best songs.

However, a few years later, their marriage began to disintegrate, due to alcohol and drug overuse as well as numerous affairs. During this period, Harrison became a close friend of Eric Clapton, writing music and performing with him.

One day, Boyd received a letter in which someone, who signed just as “E,” declared his love for her. Boyd assumed that she just had a secret admirer, until one evening at a party in Clapton’s manager’s house, when Eric, whom she thought of as a friend, showed up and asked her if she had received his letter.

Boyd was shocked but at the same time flattered. She could not hide the unfolding melodrama from Harrison, who saw what was happening at the party. She was asked to decide who she was going to go home with that night and she decided upon Harrison. She says about that night, “I held marriage very dearly but felt torn at that moment.”

In 1974, Boyd decided to separate from Harrison due to his endless infidelities, including with Ringo Starr’s wife. She described the last year of her marriage with Harrison as “fueled by alcohol and intolerable.”

Clapton was madly in love with Boyd. She was the muse who inspired him to create the legendary songs “Wonderful Tonight,” “Layla,” and “Bell Bottom Blues.”

Before she made the decision to leave Harrison, Boyd had refused Clapton’s advances, and the fragile musician descended into heroin addiction and deep depression.

In 1979, though, Boyd decided to move in with Clapton and married him. Тhe period of love’s delusion and sweet delight was soon over, though, when the couple faced marriage struggles.

Regular drug and alcohol abuse, as well as Clapton’s many affairs, provoked Boyd to leave him in 1987 and later divorce him in 1989. In a recent interview, when Boyd was asked to answer who her greatest love was, she said, “That is so difficult, but I would say [Harrison]. He will always stay with me.”

In 2007, Boyd published her autobiography Wonderful Tonight: George Harrison, Eric Clapton and Me.  After the intensity and turmoil of Boyd’s relationship with both Clapton and Harrison, she had decided to stay with neither of them, marrying for the third time in 2015 a property developer named Rod Weston she’d known for a long time. It’s almost our silver anniversary, so we thought we had better get on with it,” her husband declared jokingly.

By Brad Smithfield

The sandwich was named after an 18th century earl who didn’t want to take a break from gambling to eat

Born on Nov. 13, 1718, John Montagu was a British diplomat who received his education at Eton and at Trinity College, Cambridge. Before that, in 1729, as a 10-year-old boy, he succeeded his grandfather, Edward Montagu, as the Earl of Sandwich.

The title was created in 1660 in recognition of the achievements of Admiral Sir Edward Montagu, who later became Baron Montagu. His great-grandson John served as First Lord of the Admiralty and as Secretary of State for the Northern Department throughout his life and came to be remembered as the man who sponsored Captain James Cook’s exploration voyages, who in exchange named the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii) in honor of him. Apparently, he is also the man the famously convenient food is named after.

John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich.

“Sandwich” has referred to meat (or anything of personal preference really) arranged in between slices of bread since the 18th century in Europe.

The practice of placing bread below or around food, or simply using it for scooping something up, has been found in countless cultures predating the 18th century.

John Hamilton Mortimer (1740-1779) – Oil on canvas (from left: Dr. Daniel Solander, Sir Joseph Banks, Captain James Cook, Dr. John Hawkesworth, and John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich)

Digging deep, the first written usage of the English word can be found in Edward Gibbon’s journal, who referred to “bits of cold meat” as a “Sandwich,” yet using it to describe the sandwich we all love today is found in the satirical travel book A Tour to London; Or New Observations on England and its Inhabitants, penned by the French travel writer and observer Pierre-Jean Grosley.

Edward Gibbon was an English historian and writer celebrated for writing The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, published in six volumes.

In this satire, Grosley wrote about John Montagu’s bad gambling habits, among his many other vices, describing him as a relentless gambler. If Montagu was on a streak, he would not leave the table for hours, eating only food brought on request in order to stay alive.

Oftentimes when hungry, he would order his valet to bring slices of meat tucked between two pieces of bread to his table, allowing him to continue playing cards and fill his stomach at the same time, without the need to use a fork. By doing so, he was keeping the cards clean, and not greasy as they inevitably would be if he was to eat the meat with his bare hands.

This habit came to be well known among his gambling friends, so very soon others began to order “the same as Sandwich,” thus giving birth to the “sandwich” much appreciated today.

Salmon Cream Cheese Sandwiches. Author Katrin Morenz from Aachen, Deutschland – CC BY-SA 2.0

 

Eight men, evidently Government contractors, sit around a table smoking and drinking. Author Library of Congress

This story is a bit debatable, considering that Grosley was taking a satirical stance on things when writing his memoirs. There is another story, though, found in the writings of Nicholas A. M. Rodger, Sandwich’s biographer. He states that the commitments Sandwich had to the Navy as First Lord of the Admiralty, serving as the Secretary of State for the Northern Department in the government of George Grenville, meant that the most often than not, he had to eat at his working desk.

In his views, the first “sandwich” and countless after it were probably eaten by the Earl at his work desk due to his lack of time to eat proper aristocratic meals. This theory is a more praise-worthy approach to things.

By Stefan A

Author Thomas Michael Bond dies at 91: Creator of Paddington Bear was inspired by memories of child evacuees in wartime Britain

 

A great many children have adored a certain brown bear dressed in a blue duffel coat with toggle fastenings, floppy felt hat, and red Wellington boots, better known as Paddington Bear. This remarkable fictional character was created by British writer Michael Bond, who died on June 27, 2017, aged 91, in his London home after a short illness.

Thomas Michael Bond was born in Newbury, Berkshire,  on January 13, 1926. Bond attended Presentation College, a Roman Catholic school in Reading, but dropped out at 14. During World War II, he served in both the Royal Air Force and the British Army.

In 1965, on Christmas Eve, Bond was heading back home from his work as a TV camera operator at the BBC when, reportedly, he stopped by Selfridges Department Store and saw a toy bear left on a shelf that looked rather forlorn. He bought the toy as a Christmas present for his wife, took it home, and soon after began writing a story about it. Only 10 days later he had a novel, one bought by William Collins & Sons.

Paddington Bear at Paddington Station. Author: Lonpicman. CC BY-SA 3.0

The books were such a success that they have been translated into over 40 languages and have sold more than 35 million copies worldwide.

Bond has said he was surprised by all the translations because he thought that Paddington was essentially an English character. After all, his favorite food is marmalade sandwiches, and he often participates in cricket matches and riding competitions, he visits the London theater, and he goes shopping on Portobello Road.

Michael Bond, Saint Mary’s Square, Paddington author-loz-pycock-cc-by-sa-2-0.j

The story of Paddington Bear begins on a railway platform at the Paddington Station. The characters Mr. and Mrs. Brown spot the small brown bear at the station, seated on an old leather suitcase, learning that the bear has emigrated from “darkest Peru” because his aunt had gone to a retiring home for old bears in Lima. The bear wears a tag that reads, “Please look after this bear. Thank you.” The Browns take the bear home, giving him a new life with the rest of their family, neighbors, and friends around them.

paddington-bear. Author: Sarah_Ackerman CC by 2.0

Bond said that Paddington Bear was partly inspired by his childhood memories of seeing child evacuees passing through Reading from London. “They all had a label around their neck with their name and address on and a little case or package containing all their treasured possessions,” he told The Guardian in 2014. “So Paddington, in a sense, was a refugee, and I do think that there’s no sadder sight than refugees.

Bond worked for a long period for the BBC after the war, even after A Bear Called Paddington was published, but in 1965 he quit his job after the Paddington novels were so popular that he could become a full-time writer. Paddington’s fame expanded in the 1970s after the production of the first stuffed animal version, and the first television series became a hit on the BBC in Britain and on various other networks, including HBO and Nickelodeon. This merchandising of Bond’s character brought him wealth but also a lot of pressure,  caused by the constant demands of the audience.

Paddington-logo

 

A black cloud hung over me for about two years,” he told The Daily Mail in 1998. “I became overtired and started taking sleeping pills at night and a lot of whiskey to wake me up. I thought about suicide.” It was his own creation that pulled him through. “There is something so upright about him, I wouldn’t want to let him down.

Over the years, many adult fans wrote to Bond, confessing that Paddington was a very real source of emotional support for them and the bear creator couldn’t have agreed more, declaring,“If I bumped into Paddington one day, I wouldn’t be at all surprised. He feels very real to me, you see.

Paddington Bear at Paddington Station. Author: Stefan Oemisch. CC BY-SA 3.0

 

In 1997, Bond was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire and later, in 2015, a commander for services to children’s literature. Although the book series seemed to end in 1979, in 2008,  Bond revived the Paddington story, when he wrote Paddington Here and Now in which the famous hero’s immigration status is being questioned.  Bond’s latest novel is called Paddington’s Finest Hour and was published in 2017.

Bond is survived by his wife, two children, and four grandchildren.

By Magda Origjanska