Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Apple In and Out .... and gone

My mother-in-law, Dorothy, has been living with us for almost two years. She will be 94  at the end of November and is physically quite well, if not very mobile but her memory is poor. At first it was just her short-term memory and we have learned to live with the fact that she does not retain information for more than a minute. Her long-term memory, though, was pretty sharp until a few months ago. She loved to talk about her childhood in Devon, her experiences in the second world war and her years in Zimbabwe (then called Rhodesia) with her young family.

The memories began to be muddled, so I made albums of her photographs, letters and newspaper clippings with clear labels of the names of people and places but I saw recently that she has crossed out some of my labels and written new, incorrect ones.  I find it rather sad to think that such a long life can be fading into an inaccurate blur but she seems to be quite happy with her misremembered stories.

Dorothy was never a good cook but she had a passion for traditional Devonshire food as made by her grandmother and great aunt. She learned how to make Devonshire clotted cream so that she could have a regular supply in Africa with her other culinary success, Devonshire Apple In and Out.  She would never give anyone the recipe for this and now she has forgotten it but I found it in a book of traditional Devonshire recipes and decided to make some to stir her fading memories.

It is a very simple pudding, originally made with suet and steamed for an hour or more but I adapted it to bake as a sponge pudding and it worked very well.

Devonshire Apple In and Out
6oz flour
4oz fat
4oz sugar
1 egg
1lb apples

Rub the fat into the flour then add the sugar and beat in the egg. Peel  the apples and slice them directly into the mixture in a buttered pudding dish.
Bake at 350F/180C for about 30 minutes.
 (If using suet, steam in a greased basin for 1hr 15mins.)

I used butter and brown sugar in mine and this is how it turned out:

My husband prepared his mother for an exciting surprise and I brought in a portion of the pudding, served with vanilla ice-cream. Dorothy's reaction? "Oh, how lovely. Ice-cream!"

In, out, gone.


  1. What a shame.

    But, that recipe reminds me of my Grandma's recipe books. Grandma was a cook in stately homes between the wars, and then a farmer's wife. She could cook anything and everything and kept hand written recipes for them all.

  2. M - there you are, right in the middle of a set of circumstances that I suppose would now be described as 'challenging', and you still manage to give us a yummy recipe. Although - sadly - Dorothy is unable to appreciate your culinary efforts, we can, on her behalf. I'm off to make a vegan version of this as am in need of a bit of comfort food right now.

  3. Maureen- I'm sure Dorothy appreciated the Apple In and Out as the vehicle to get the ice cream into her mouth! I will have to give this a try. It's finally becoming fall here, with cool mornings, warm afternoons and chilly nights. Perfect for a dessert like this. Thanks for sharing. :)

  4. My Mum (87) has been diagnosed with Vascular Dementia ...rude words
    So unfortunately I understand ..love and hugs to you and yours

    Btw the pudding looks super yummy for a snowy day

    I remember reading that Joyce Grenfell's Father explained that a sense of humour was a sense of proportion ... I think I agree

    It's definitely a necessary safety valve!

    My sister and I were having the sort of conversation along the lines of "if we start to go batty what'll we do?" and I suggested " a lovely one way sail out to sea" but we decided the catch being would we remember to go !

  5. Al
    Some of the old recipes are delicious and I bet your Grandma's handwritten recipes could be converted into a bestselling cook book. Just an idea for you to think of between novels!

  6. D
    It is really good comfort food - just the thing for you right now. I have made it successfully with rapeseed oil but I don't know what you would use as a substitute for the egg. Let me know.

  7. Val
    Thanks for your encouraging comment - you have to be in it to understand, don't you? Now you know why I haven't had the timme or inclination to blog this year. However, there is always something positive going on in the family with the newest generation to cheer us.

    I had a pact with a friend to do a Thelma and Louise when the battiness sets in but you are right - we'd probably lose the car keys! And yes, we have to keep the humour going, even if it is a bit black at times. So, love and hugs to all of you, too and do try the pudding, it is so easy and satisfying.

  8. Karin
    It is beginning to feel wintry here as the clocks have gone back to GMT and the evenings are getting dark. We need hot puddings to cheer us up but this one is nice cold as well so it would suit your warmer clime.

  9. My 90 year old mother died of vascular dementia five year ago. It was horrible. The worst part was the violence. I had no idea that would be part of the mix.

    m. you are very cruel to post gorgeous pictures of food and not send us all a taste! :-)

  10. Now that looks like a lovely simple pudding and perfect for chilly evenings.

    Hope you are recovering from your cold.

  11. e, I'm sorry to hear about your mother's illness. It is a very sad and difficult condition for all concerned. I don't think my mother-in-law has the same condition - she just seemed to give up on everything several years ago and forgets things and gets confused. Or perhaps these are early symptoms?

  12. Colleen

    It's a great way to use up all those apples and I might try it with pears, although the Devonshire folks would probably find some very traditional punishment for me!

    I feel fine, thank you, I just can't speak yet so my husband is quite happy.

  13. Such a poignant posting Maureen. It makes me sad on so many levels; for her of course, but mostly for you. It just breaks my heart about the labeling and the recipe. And as much as our minds say the person can't help it, the actions and words still hurt. Wish I lived closer.

  14. Nan, such kind thoughts but I just have to accept that she is quite happy and I should stop trying to put things right that can't actually be put right. One thing I've learned from the time Dorothy has been living with us is that old age is fine if you have your health (physical and mental) and companionship. I ha.ve no ambition to be 90 or 100

  15. Thank you for the recipe, I will copy it immediately, it looks just like my kind of thing.
    At least your mother-in-law still seems to be happy and able to enjoy things, not confrontational or fearful of everybody.

  16. Bruessel
    Indeed she is happy. Enjoy the pudding.

  17. Hi Maureen
    I am off to bake this right now. Lovely that you are sharing memories of the real Dorothy with us in this way.

  18. Thinking of you. We are enabling my mother-in-law to stay in her own house by running it for her. My nephew and my 3 teenage daughters all help. In our case there is no violence or anger, just contentment and a slight puzzlement about life! She is a delightful lady who has always been loving and supportive to me: it is a pleasure to help her now, but that is not to say it is not exhausting teaching as well. Pud delicious - thanks.

  19. Ali
    I hope you enjoyed the pudding.

  20. Adele

    We managed to keep Dorothy in a warden-supervised flat for 11 years by going in every day to do her cooking, cleaning and laundry but it got to the stage where she wouldn't even make herself a hot drink. Bringing her to live with us was a huge decision that was made too hastily when we thought it would be just for a few weeks. A good nursing home would have been the better choice for everyone concerned, especially for Dorothy, so do think of that if the time comes for you to consider change.


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