Simple Food

ratatouille1The poor allotment has not been getting the attention it deserves.  The weather has been so changeable.  The latter part of August was unseasonably wet and so instead of hard-baked clay which can take a quick scrape of the hoe to remove the tops of weeds the ground is soft and the paths are starting to look like lawn.  With further rain threatening almost every hour it’s hard to find the motivation to stay there and do the required work.

This week I made a ratatouille.  The garlic, onions, courgette and tarragon and basil were all home grown.  The tomatoes were from a neighbour, so I only had to purchase the aubergine and bell pepper.

BlackBerryAndAppleMy friend A brought cooking apples from the tree in her garden last week so on my way back from the allotment I picked some blackberries to go with those and made blackberry and apple crumble.  The crumble topping is something that my mum has always made, but I’ve never seen it done by anyone else.  I imagine it’s a war-time thing using up bread and with suet rather than butter.  I love it so here is the recipe.


Quantities are all approximate and can be varied quite a bit.  As you can tell it’s an old recipe as the quantities are all in imperial:
5 oz breadcrumbs, can be white, brown or a mix
3 oz demerara sugar, but you can get away with white or soft brown
3 oz suet (use vegetable suet to keep it vegetarian)
1 lb prepared fruit


Put the fruit in a dish with however much sugar it needs.  If it’s a hard fruit cook it a little first, which is what I did with the apples and then added in the blackberries.

Rub the bread into breadcrumbs and then mix in the other ingredients.  Spread this over the fruit in a thick layer.  It will compact down quite a bit in cooking.  Sprinkle the top with a little more sugar.

Bake in a pre-heated oven for 30 minutes or a little more if the fruit was firm and not pre-cooked.  I set my oven for 180ºC The above quantities make a generous 4/5 servings.  Serve with custard or cream.

The breadcrumbs came from home made sourdough bread, the fruit was all free.  So I was feeling very thrifty having spent so little on dinner and there was both ratatouille and crumble left over for another day.

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5 Responses to Simple Food

  1. That’s an interesting crumble variation. I go with the butter, flour sugar combination and sometimes add some ground oats.

    • Mike Evans says:

      Yes, I like that version too. It’s what I think of as the ‘classic’ crumble. The reason I suspect that the one above is a wartime recipe is that butter and flour might have been at too much of a premium (on ration) to waste on a pudding. Using up some old bread and a bit of suet was just good housekeeping. These days a lot of the supermarket bread just won’t make breadcrumbs, fortunately for me my own bread works fine.

  2. bakermom says:

    I love this idea! I am always fascinated with how past generations used their resources more wisely than we tend to do now. I am not sure I could find suet around here. Is it the same as lard?

    • Mike Evans says:

      Suet is pelleted beef fat. Lard is pork fat, usually sold in blocks. ‘Atora’ brand suet is widely available here in he UK and I don’t think they’ve changed the packet design since my mum was a little girl. They sure raise enough beef your side of the Atlantic bakermom – surely someone makes suet from it?

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