Sunday, April 13, 2014

Beatrix Potter Easter Week: The Wrap-Up

I've loved all the Novel Bakers' projects, but for some reason, Beatrix Potter Easter Week was my favorite. Beatrix's early, sheltered years helped shape her art, preparing her for grand adventures that would not arrive until she was middle-aged. She took up gardening late in life, and, in reading her letters, it's clear that she drew inspiration and comfort from the land.
In her final years, when her eyesight was failing, she painted less and less, but she did not define herself as an author in absolute terms: writing was her profession, something she did every day, not an all-encompassing description. She loved the creative process and was successful beyond all imagining, but she drew a line between vocation and avocation. When artists fail to do this, they may plunge down a rabbit hole, losing the best part of themselves.
As I read about Miss Potter and her life, it seemed clear that she did not allow herself to be changed by fame and fortune--fleeting things that have the power to diminish, rather than to fill one's cup.
Deep in her heart, Beatrix was a wife, farmer, gardener, cook. She removed herself from the rat race--and wrote about rats! She protected her privacy as much as possible and chose her friends wisely. When all was said and done, Beatrix knew how to recognize the lasting value of simple pleasures. 
This applies to every profession: medicine, the law, teaching, writing, blogging.
Do what you love because you love it and for no other reason.
As I prepared for Beatrix Potter Week, I felt like a girl again, humming to myself as I cooked. I couldn't wait to visit Jain and Mary each day; I always came home inspired and joyful. Even Bandwidth got into the spirit and cooked a few dishes.

 Many of you shared Beatrix-related memories and pointed me in the direction of additional reading material, along with the charming film, Miss Potter, which I hadn't seen
Thanks so much for your stories and tidbits.

Here is one final recipe from Beatrix Potter's Country Cooking. It was prepared by
Bandy, and he made a few adjustments.

Cornish Buttered And Creamed Lobster
(Bandwidth's Easy Version)
"The Potter family used to leave London for two or three weeks in April to stay in seaside hotels in Lyme Regis, Minehead, Illfracombe, Tiegnmouth, Sidmouth, or Falmouth. In 1892, they spent their Easter holiday in Falmouth and Beatrix wrote at length in her journal about Cornwall."
-- from Beatrix Potter's Country Cooking
'The Cornish natives} are naive and unspoiled to an amusing degree. Very friendly, kindly, cheerful, healthy--long lived and the numerous old people very merry, which speaks well for a race.'
-- from Beatrix Potter's letters

The recipe called for the lobster to be presented in scrubbed, baked shells), but Bandwidth decided to make little lobster tarts.

What You Need:
3 cooked lobsters (1 1/4 to 1 1/2 lb each) or equivalent fresh lobster meat
fresh lemon juice
3/4 c butter
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 teaspoon prepared English mustard
1/2 cup crème fraîche
Salt and pepper
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Lemon slices (garnish)
Sprigs of fresh dill or fennel (garnish)
Frozen pastry shells

Cook pastry shells according to the instructions on the box.
Prepare lobster meat and sprinkle with lemon juice; and set aside. Into a saucepan, add 1/4 c butter and melt. Add breadcrumbs and cook until brown. Remove from stove and set aside.
Melt the rest of the butter in a large pot. Add mustard and lobster. Heat the brandy in a metal ladle; ignite and pour (it will be flaming) onto the lobster meat. After the flames extinguish, remove pan from heat and set aside.
In yet another pan, add cream, salt, and peppers. Over a medium flame, reduce liquid. Aim for a thick sauce.

Remove the brandied lobster (a large slotted spoon will work best) and place equal amounts in the pastry shells. Spoon cream mixture over the lobster. Top with browned breadcrumbs. Bake in a 375 degree oven until breadcrumbs are nicely browned. Garnish with herbs and lemon slices, if desired.
(When I was transferring the tarts to a tray, I dropped most of are the survivors.)

The Novel Bakers' Beatrix Potter Easter Week has come to an end. I hope you have found a recipe or two along the way. Before you go, be sure to see the goodies that  Jain (...a quiet life) and  Mary (Home Is Where the Boat Is) have cooked and created this week. Take a visit to Mary's lakeside potting shed...Jain's English greenhouse ... and you'll also find recipes galore. 
Links to our recipes can be found on the Beatrix Potter Week board at Pinterest.

Thanks for sharing your time with us this week. Hope to see you on the next Novel Baker adventure.

I'm sharing this post at these linky parties:
Seasonal Sundays
Metamorphosis Monday
Wow Us Wednesdays  

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  1. Oh my...Bandy's lobster tarts look like a wonderful combination of flavors and I love the convenience of frozen shells! What fun and what a delicious week, this was my favorite NB week too! I love your idea of having a part 2 next spring, with all the bunny inspiration. We got back in town late last night, I'm anxious to have some time to revisit and have a taste of what I missed. I had some time waiting at the airport last night and saw scrolling through my phone that Bandy shared some lettuce wraps that look like something my hubby would enjoy! Thanks again for the fun, I love playing along with you & Jain ♥

  2. I am always so sad when the Novel Bakers weeks come to an end, however these lobster tarts have cheered me right up! It has been a magical week, lots of memories as well as new experiences in Mr. McGregor's garden and in Beatrix's botanical world. Thank you for sharing your extraordinary photos, talent and imagination~

  3. Oh so much to love in this post. I definitley think I need to try the lobster tarts, that sounds so good and of course I love anything Beatrix Potter.

  4. I love your thoughts on writing. Yes, I found every decade in life has a story. I love blogging, but I'm not 50 years old anymore. Commercial blogging is very time consuming and I love to work in my garden and read wonderful books, like the books you write...Thank you for your beautiful photography and great recipes. Life is so much FUN!
    Betty @ My Cozy Corner

    1. Thank you so much, Betty, for your kind words. I hear you about not being mother is always telling me to enjoy my 60s (her voice filled with warning), and I've taken her advice. Your words are so true about our decades and their unique stories.

  5. Beautiful post, ML, so much to admire! Mr. McGregor always frightened me! :)
    Those tarts look wonderful. I can get free clams and oysters and mussels if I dig them down the block, , but lobster, nope!
    You and Mary do a beautiful job on these extravaganzas. The amount of work is amazing.

  6. removed herself from the rat race, girl you are a crack up!

    so nice to see bandy came through one more time... i wanted to make the little crab dish i saw, but i must say this looks 10 times better! i would so love one, or three, oh hell, make it 10 of these little lovelies with a cocktail this very minute. perfect to sit back and sip in all the magic we shared this week...

    with such sorrow we say farewell today... it was loads of fun this week, we had so much to draw from the fun really never had to end, i can see we 3 share the love of books, food, gardens, dishes and dish towels! thank you so much for playing so hard this week, it is great fun to feel like a kid again and share our little visual stories... who am i talking to, the famous author that you are!

    i just read the accidental bestseller, i thought of you as i read it, getting the inside scoops here and there. i loved all the chapter quotes, i am sure you would get a kick out of them. i know you have a love of words, you are a god given story teller, your books enthrall us, but your prose combined with food and photos makes you UNSTOPPABLE!

    1. Hey, I'm just an old dame with a spatula! It was the funnest week ever with you and Mary Mc.

    2. PS I was hoping someone would like the rats. xxoo

  7. What beautiful food and the inspiration is heartfelt. I love the simple ideas and the work of the soul, such as in Beatrix Potter's sweet drawings! Great post!

  8. I hate to see this week come to an end. It's been the best yet! The mosaics above, represent just a taste of the color and fun you girls offered. Wonderful, wonderful! Thanks for taking the time and effort I know all this takes.

  9. Oh, what a wonderful post to read about Beatrix Potter and always doing what she loved. Yes, you are right, the heart and love is gotta be in all we do, no matter how simple it is! I do love blogging and meeting lovely people as you. I love the mosaics, such wonderful food and potos, wow! Thank you for sharing this yummy récipe and for your wonderful made my day!
    Have a happy week, dear Michael.

  10. What an inspiration Beatrix Potter was and still is, Michael Lee, as are YOU! Thanks for all you do and Happy Easter week to you and your family. xo

  11. Michael Lee, I enjoyed the week so much. I eagerly visited all the Novel Bakers each day and it was great.

    Love your mosaics today. Have a wonderful Easter.

  12. This week of " all things" Beatrix Potter has been wonderful. I think she had a bitter sweet life, in the movie Miss Potter her mother was very controlling and high society. Snobby really~~ I sure hope she was not in real life like she was portrayed. Love the novel bakers and can't wait to see what's next.

    Blessings for a Happy Easter. HE AROSE!!

  13. The pictures are wonderful, I have no doubt the recipes must be too. I wish I had a little lobster tart for dinner! I also didn't know there was a movie, I will check that out. Happy Easter!

  14. I'm sorry to see this week conclude as well. I am a fan of you three Novel Bakers. Hopefully having a lobster tart will make me feel better. ;-)