My family is replete with strong women, they weren’t born that way, but fate and necessity forged them into matriarchs. Winifred John was born the 2nd Eldest of 14 children and older sister to my Grandfather. She married Bill and had five sons. Bill sadly died long before I was born and left Winnie a single mother at a time that despite being a widow, probably raised a few eyebrows of condemnation. Living in Penclawdd (pronounced Pen- Clow-th), a village in Gower famous for the women who scoured the mud flats for the local delicacy of cockles (small molluscs), Winnie raised her 5 boys, who all grew into good examples of men. Things were never easy for her, but staunch determination made her well known in her community. She lived until the ripe age of 96 and in her latter years she bought herself a laptop and learned how to use the Internet (Todays Cyberbullies wouldn’t have stood a chance) and using her influence in her community pushed through a playground for local children.
But of all the things Winnie achieved (including dragging an English Comedian Frankie Howard into her house when he stopped her for directions. He ended up with some Bara Birth and a cup of tea) the thing I remember and miss the most from Sunday afternoon visits is her cooking. I will regale you with a few of her recipes I remember or had written down, but some will be my approximations of these. However, I do have this recipe which is a crowd pleaser. Simmering the apple and rhubarb filling in Lemonade and adding cheddar cheese to the pastry not only gives it a zing but the cheese contrasts this in the pastry. I recommend this to anyone. Not only are you getting a literal slice of pie but a snapshot of my family history.
3 Large Bramley Apples
3 Large Storks of Rhubarb
1 Litre of Lemonade (preferably sugar free)
75g of finely grated cheese
50g butter (cut into small cubes)
3 Tablespoons of cold water
A decent pinch of Salt
A splash of milk
- Peel and core the apples cutting them into chunky segments.
- Get the Rhubarb and run a sharp knife along the length of it (away from you for Health & Safety reasons), remove the skin and chop up.
- Place Apple and Rhubarb segments in a decent sized saucepan.
- Firmly roll the lemon on a hard surface to make it easier to juice, cut in half, juice and add the juice of a lemon and the Lemonade. I use sugar free Lemon & Lime for a zing, but the choice is yours.
- Simmer on a low heat for about 20 -25 minutes. In this time, it will soften and create a sauce with to go with it.
- Get a large mixing bowl. Add your flour, soft cubed butter, finely grated cheddar and water. (If you want flakier pastry substitute the water for vodka. The alcohol evaporates quickly leaving your pastry flaky bordering on crispy. Being a Welsh Tea Total Baptist, Aunty Winnie would not approve of this though.)
- Mix with your hands until you get a huge ball of dough and allow to rest for five minutes.
- There should be enough for a nice hearty crust.
- Line your dish with either butter or Butter Fry Light.
- Place the pastry on the dish slightly over lapping.
- Scoop the filling into the pastry.
- Optional: Sprinkle some cinnamon over the pie filling to taste
- Crack an egg into a cup and add a small splash of milk.
- Use this as a sealant by painting it on the outside area of the pie.
- Apply the top layer and either crimple or to save time, simply free down with a fork.
- Create a few air vents with a knife and brush the surface of the pie with the egg wash.
- Place in the oven 170oC for 20-25 minutes or until the pastry is a golden brown.
- Allow to stand for about 10 minutes
- Serve on its own or with custard (food of the gods) or Vanilla Ice Cream.