Experiments in Cooking, by Elaine Owen

Experiments in Cooking, by Elaine Owen

Well, it’s been almost a year since we entered this pandemic! What a year it has been!!!! With so many of our formerly favorite activities now restricted, what kinds of things have you found to fill the time? Have you developed any new hobbies? Tackled any new projects? Found yourself trying something you never thought you’d attempt before? 

Like so many others, I found myself staying at home a lot more than before the pandemic. Obviously reading and writing could carry on just as before :-). I finished Margaret of Milton and started on my current work in progress, Elizabeth and the Fleur de Lys. But other favorite activities took a hit. For a time we had to take karate via Zoom (can you imagine???) and we still attend church online every week. Movie theaters are out and the mall isn’t much fun. Let’s not even talk about hanging out with friends. 🙁 

But all this time at home has led to the chance to develop a skill I love: cooking!!!! Early in the pandemic I signed up for cooking classes online, and my family has been grateful! Not that I was a bad cook before, but I have finally had the chance to explore new techniques and expand my repertoire. Most of my attempts have been successful, but there have been a few epic fails along the way, too.

Ridiculously easy to make at home!

With that in mind, for this month’s blog entry I decided to tackle a food I’ve heard of often but never investigated: that quintessentially English dish, a food both Darcy and Elizabeth would have eaten,  the Yorkshire pudding.

Fondant Potatoes. Mr. Collins would be impressed!

First of all, some background. Yorkshire pudding isn’t pudding. Apparently in England the word pudding means something rather different from what it means in the U.S. Americans hear “pudding” and think of a cooked dessert involving lots of milk. But on the other side of the pond “pudding” frequently means a pastry that can be either the main meal or a hearty side dish. Yorkshire puddings are sometimes filled with meats and served as the main course or topped with gravy to accompany a roast. 

Secondly, Yorkshire puddings aren’t just eaten in northern England. They are a traditional dish throughout the country and have been on tables since at least the 1700’s. Without a doubt Jane Austen was familiar with them.

The key to Yorkshire pudding is in the cooking, not in the ingredients. To make them you just mix flour, milk and eggs.

But then you heat up a muffin tin with a generous amount of fat in the bottom of each cup. When the oil is smoking hot (literally!), you quickly pour the batter into each cup and then put it back in the oven. And then you hold your breath. This is the critical moment. If you’re lucky, the hot oil will puff the batter up as it cooks and you’ll end up with something like a popover. But if you’re not lucky, you’ll end up with something like this:

“I should have been a great proficient, if I had ever learnt!”


These puffed up just fine in the oven but fell as soon as I took them out. My cousin, who is a professional baker, said that most likely the puddings needed a little more baking time. Honestly I don’t think it made much difference. Yorkshire puddings must be an acquired taste, for to me they were surprisingly salty and not particularly appealing. Perhaps, like Darcy, I just need to practice!

If you want to try making this authentically English dish for yourself, here’s a recipe. Please let me know if your experiment turns out better than mine did! And let me know what hobbies you have taken on over the past year!

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February 27, 2021 4:20 PM

Thanks for this post and the recipe Elaine. my son si looking to cook tosomething and we are going to try this. With the lock down and safety in mind, i did have to resort to some experimenting at home. I did try some healthy salads and I got lucky on the first try… my kids ate the veggies in it 🙂

J. W. Garrett
J. W. Garrett
February 25, 2021 1:26 PM

Translate: Yorkshire pudding means popover. Got it! And… I noticed not just any recipe but Gordon Ramsey’s recipe. Wow! Never tried them but I may have to. 2020 was a year of many changes for our house. Husband went into remission, for which we were extremely grateful but other symptoms popped up and I am now a full-time caregiver. He sleeps a lot and with an open concept [great-room] layout, I have to be quiet. I read and write reviews, do puzzles online [thanks Sheila M] and Sudoku. When I can leave the house [supply run] I hurry back home as quick as I can. I don’t like leaving him alone for very long. He is still alert and can get around on his own but I don’t want to take any chances. Thanks for this informative and delicious [pun intended… so sue me] post. I love them. Blessings, stay safe, and healthy.

Riana Everly
February 25, 2021 11:20 AM

I remember Yorkshire pudding from when I was little. We’d serve it with gravy, so the bland pudding was more of a base than the main taste, if that makes sense.
We’ve also gone all-out with cooking this last year. We are foodies at the best of times, but with all of us home (including my son who is a bit of a chef), I have to say the food here has been pretty good.
My husband has taken to watching historical cooking YouTube videos recently. He’s been fermenting his own mustard and making vegetable preserves, and recently started baking pretzels. So I began to research pretzels. Pretzels are OLD! LOL
If I were to pick my favourite Regency-era foods, I’d have to choose take-out curry and Chelsea buns. I think I feel a baking moment coming on. See you in the kitchen!

Jennifer Redlarczyk
Jennifer Redlarczyk
February 25, 2021 9:46 AM

I sympathize with your cooking endeavors. I looked at the recipe and it reads pretty bland. I would have to add at least cinnamon and vanilla or maybe make it with buttermilk instead of regular milk. But who knows. Fun to try new foods.

Mirta Ines Trupp
February 25, 2021 9:00 AM

I enjoyed your post! I’ve been working as usual throughout this past year. The big difference was changing schedules from five 8-hour days to four 10-hour days. That allowed me to be home on Fridays; and that, allowed me time to make “challah.” I lfinally learned how to bake and braid this traditional bread for the Jewish sabbath (which begins on Friday nights).Spiritually fulfilling and delicious!

cindie snyder
cindie snyder
February 25, 2021 7:48 AM

I like crossword puzzles and reading of course! Yorkshire pudding sounds different but I’m sure if I tried they would probably fall too!lol Cooking is not my strong point but I think there is always room for improvement!lol

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