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Re: Very old recipes

Postby karadekoolaid » Sat Mar 13, 2021 2:42 am

Apart from an ancient copy of Mrs Beeton, the oldest cookbook I´ve got is called " Farmhouse Fare", pub.1946. There´s a recipe in it called " Huntingdon Fidget Pie": 1 lb cooking apples, 1/2 lb onions, 1/2 lb streaky bacon, and a pie crust. Layer the apples, onions & bacon, put the crust on, into the oven.Bake for 2 hrs. :shock:
I wonder why it was called " Fidget"? Would that be what the kids did while waiting for it to cook? :gonzo

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Re: Very old recipes

Postby Suffs » Sat Mar 13, 2021 8:42 am

My father’s side of the family hail from the Bedfordshire/Cambridgeshire area and can be traced back as farmers to the Norman Conquest ... my grandma would make a Fitchett Pie towards the end of harvest ... I always understood that the name came from a Flitch or side of bacon ... but I’ve not been able to find corroboration for that online ... everyone seems to say that the name is list in the mists of time, but given the ingredients it makes sense to me.

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Re: Very old recipes

Postby Badger's Mate » Sat Mar 13, 2021 12:25 pm

I love fidget pie. We also have rather untraditional variations such as fidget hotpot or fidget calzone. An autumnal treat. :yum

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Re: Very old recipes

Postby Binky » Sat Mar 13, 2021 12:37 pm

I've spent much of the morning trying to get to the bottom of Fitchet Pie. I knew I'd seen it mentioned when trawling through recipes yesterday, but couldn't easily find it this morning.

So, looking at a recipe for Squab Pie (which hails from Devon and consists of layers of apples, onions, mutton, a bit of water and a pastry top) I see that it is like the traditional Fidget or Fitchett Pie of Shropshire. Confusingly, squabs are also young pigeons and these were sometimes used, but it was mutton or beef trimmings mostly.

Badger, what was in your Fidget Pie?

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Re: Very old recipes

Postby scullion » Sat Mar 13, 2021 12:44 pm

The name of the pie is a bit of a mystery. One myth has it that the name derives from the local name for a pole-cat, on account of the awful smell while it was cooking. How ridiculous is that? How could a pie of apples, onions, and bacon smell anything other than fabulous while it is cooking?

Other explanations are that it refers to a "fitched" or five-sided shape. I think it highly unlikely that pies which would have had to be made in large numbers for the consumption of farm-workers, would have been made in such a fancy shape. Finally, I have seen it suggested that "fitchet" was a local name for apples, which does sound more probable than the other two stories.
from http://www.theoldfoodie.com/2013/07/fitchet-pie.html

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Re: Very old recipes

Postby Stokey Sue » Sat Mar 13, 2021 12:59 pm

I too looked it up in various places and got lots of recipes for Shropshire and Huntingdonshire Fidget pies, made variously with bacon, ham or fresh pork; my mother made a variant with sausage meat which was good as the seasoning flavoured the other ingredients. The recipe came from a magazine so might have been a modern take on the dish

Surprisingly Dorothy Hartley doesn’t mention it in her history, Food in England

A fitchet or fitch of course is a polecat ferret, the kind with the dark markings like a bandit mask - no idea what that has to do with pie

And while we are here, the Polish cabbage rolls are golabki little pigeon, so virtual pigeons again

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Re: Very old recipes

Postby Binky » Sat Mar 13, 2021 1:06 pm

Sue, that's where I looked (Dorothy Hartley) and why it took me so long. I find that a fascinating book and got side-tracked by cooking with a cauldron.

My dad was Polish and I was brought up on golabki (pronounced "golumpki" or sometimes "gowumpki" if anyone is interested). Cooked by him they were delicious; he was a much better cook than my mother.

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Re: Very old recipes

Postby PatsyMFagan » Sat Mar 13, 2021 1:09 pm

Binky, I've sent you message ...

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Re: Very old recipes

Postby Binky » Sat Mar 13, 2021 1:13 pm

Got it Patsy and have replied. :thumbsup

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Re: Very old recipes

Postby Badger's Mate » Sat Mar 13, 2021 4:44 pm

Badger, what was in your Fidget Pie?


Bacon, onion, potato & apple. Usually with a hint of sage or thyme. I use shortcrust. Sometimes the same filling is put onto a circle of bread dough and made into little parcels and baked for picnics. Thirdly the bacon onion and apple can be layered with sliced potato as a hotpot.

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Re: Very old recipes

Postby Binky » Mon Mar 22, 2021 3:53 pm

Anyone from the Oldham area and recognise this - Rag Pie?? Taken from another website.

"This is definitely one for the pie connoisseurs. Rag pudding – also known as rag pie – sounds typical enough: it’s a concoction of minced meat, onions, gravy and suet pastry. The unique aspect of this pudding is that it’s cooked in cheesecloth. Yep, it’s baked in that gauze-like fabric used in cheese making. This cooking method has nothing to do with taste and everything to do with traditional. Apparently cheesecloth was abundant in 19th century Oldham where rag pudding originates, so they thought they’d start cooking pies in it. Use whatever materials you have at your disposal, we suppose."

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Re: Very old recipes

Postby Earthmaiden » Mon Mar 22, 2021 4:18 pm

I'm not familiar with Rag Pie but surely all steamed puddings used to be boiled in cheesecloth or muslin?

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Re: Very old recipes

Postby Suffs » Mon Mar 22, 2021 4:56 pm

Earthmaiden wrote:I'm not familiar with Rag Pie but surely all steamed puddings used to be boiled in cheesecloth or muslin?


They were when I was a child ... they still are in this household. :yum

Cheesecloth/muslin was commonplace everywhere ... it was used in grocery and butchery shops everywhere
and soured milk was hung up in it over a bowl to make curd cheese; cheese and butter was wrapped in it, joints of meat were wrapped in it (remember the scene in Oliver! where carcasses wrapped in muslin were being delivered and Oliver was hidden by the other lads by wrapping him in a ‘shroud’ of muslin?

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Re: Very old recipes

Postby Binky » Mon Mar 22, 2021 5:02 pm

Cloth commonplace now but not until the 17th century, previously a special treat according to this

"This pudding acquired the homely name from its cooking vessel. The pudding cloth precedes the basin, and despite the workaday nature of the fabric to our eyes, it was a revolutionary innovation when an anonymous English cook stumbled into the idea sometime during the seventeenth century. Before the brainstorm, boiled puddings required the gut of an animal and so were special treats, but once the cloth entered service all manner of savory and sweet puddings would become an English staple."

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Re: Very old recipes

Postby Earthmaiden » Mon Mar 22, 2021 5:21 pm

That's really interesting Binky and makes perfect sense. Haggis, modern sausages etc. must be a throwback to those times.

I wonder what sort of 'mesh' was used to make cheese. I think I saw something recently where basketwork was used for something similar. I have a feeling we made cheese at the Iron Age cookery day I went to as I remember adding herbs, I must try and think what we did.

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Re: Very old recipes

Postby Busybee » Mon Mar 22, 2021 5:40 pm

Having spent twenty years in the Greater Manchester area I can confirm that rag puddings are still going strong. Not that I ever had one, but sold in chip shops, I’d just call it a steamed meat pie/pudding but locals refer to them as rag puddings/pies.


I suppose the other point to remember is that Oldham was integral to cloth manufacturing, so very much an everyday item.


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Re: Very old recipes

Postby ZeroCook » Mon Mar 22, 2021 7:57 pm

So interesting. Will look around for rag pudding/pie recipes as well as others mentioned - anyone come across any links? Ditto fidget pie - it seems to be more of a method on that link - and any others in the same vein. OH really likes that sort of thing.

I love summer pudding.

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Re: Very old recipes

Postby Pampy » Tue Mar 23, 2021 12:58 am

I'm a Manc. born and bred - rag puddings were nothing out of the ordinary in the areas around where I lived.
When I was young and we had milk delivered, if any started to go off, Mum used to put it in cheesecloth and drain off the whey. I loved the curd with just salt added.

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Re: Very old recipes

Postby Binky » Tue Mar 23, 2021 12:24 pm

As I was lying in bed this morning, thinking about food (as you do) I wondered about the Scots 'clootie dumpling'. I expect that's a type of savoury pudding/pie made in a cloth too.

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Re: Very old recipes

Postby Seatallan » Tue Mar 23, 2021 12:28 pm

Clootie Dumplings are sweet- a bit like Christmas Pudding.

We used to regularly stay in a community in the Highlands around the time of their annual Highland Show and one of the classes was Clootie Dumplings. If I recall correctly, the same local woman won first prize every year. :D
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