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 them...here 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.
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