By John Andrews.

‘To plead fashion, is like following a multitude to do evil’, so said the words on the pages of Winnie Black’s new ideal for living, The Female Emigrants Guide – Hints on Canadian Housekeeping by Catharine Parr Traill, the famous authoress of Backwoods of Canada. Winnie lived by every page and had done so since arriving as a settler’s wife in this the new world of the Canadian colony in the year 1860.

Donaldson’s Tailoring Shop stood on the main street of the town so young it was yet to be named and it was here that she was bound to collect the suit for her Ernest so that he might look smart in church. The money in her pocket, just over a dollar, was all they had left and rather than spend some of it on seeds that seemed bound to fail she had taken the decision to put it all on a suit so that her husband would look good before God. He could take care of the rest, ‘unless the Lord build the house, their labour is but lost that build it, unless the Lord keep the city the watchmen maketh but in vain…’

Donaldson himself handed over the parcel, ‘It’s an old suit Mrs. Black but I’ve adjusted the trowsers and the jacket will fit a thin man. Mr. Black is thin is he not?’ Winnie let go of her last dollar and waited for change. Ernest was thin alright. He’d gone from an ox to a goat in less than a year. Grape jelly did no good. Whiskey did worse. Donaldson pushed the dollar back over the counter. ‘There’s no charge Mrs. Black. The suit came from the man found drowned last month up in One Fish Pool’. Winnie swallowed. Then she remembered that as a settler’s wife she was of ‘good temper’ and was not ‘peevish’ and would not be ‘discontented’. No, she would not let Mrs. Traill down. She would accept Donaldson’s charity. She thanked him as he held her smile for longer than he might, grasped the parcel in both hands, and left the shop.

It was not until she had walked home, a walk out of town of so many miles she lost count, and had hung the suit ready to air that Winnie noticed a peculiarity in the jacket. When the sun shone through the dirty window it spelt something out across the inside of the lining. She stared at it, not for the first time since her arrival here thinking she had lost her mind, and then started tearing at the seams. On the inside back there was a double lining into which were some words cross-stitched in the colour black,

‘The Last Will and Testament of Edward Cooper’

‘Under one of the trees you passed on the way to find me you will discover a small box, within which is a ‘Canadian’, a nugget of gold I once stole in desperation. Good luck to you, I hope I was not too heavy to lift from the water. I will be God’s now and a murderous thief no more. One Fish Pool seems as good a place as any to start again.’

www.andrewsofarcadia.com


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by TOAST ( 04.10.13 )

The sixth of twelve people, men and women, all of whom in their various ways work with food and all of whom are passionate about what they do. It’s a truism to say there has been a revolution in food – but these twelve have all taken fresh approaches: all have a sense of rootedness and authenticity. It was a great pleasure meeting all of them: from the lovely Jeremy Lee working in a down-to-earth way at his grand and history-imbued Quo Vadis to the three artisan producers at Spa Terminus: extraordinary people working enormously hard at what they love. Our great thanks to them all.

Since 2011, the Little Bread Pedlar has been making and delivering artisan croissants, breads and pastries to cafés, delis and shops across London. Ex-St. John Bread & Wine chef Nichola Gensler founded the bakery with her partner Martin Hardiman. Nichola bakes and Martin bikes the produce across London with his team early every morning. The Little Bread Pedlar is based at Spa Terminus in Bermondsey, where they sell their wares directly to the public on Saturday mornings. They also run a café and bicycle repair shop nearby.

Nichola and Martin are extraordinary and dedicated: seven days a week working from early until late. The reward is our’s – in the really outstanding quality of what they produce.

www.lbpedlar.com 

 



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Orlando Gough

A few years ago we went with our friends the Seatons on a deeply compromised holiday to a lovely part of south-west Ireland, the Beara Peninsula. The Guinness was good, the countryside luscious, the fiddle-playing frisky – Ireland is, after all, Ireland; but there were drawbacks. Swimming was out of the question as the sea was teeming with jellyfish; we pottered about in a knackered old rowing boat, anxious about the admittedly remote possibility of capsizing. Going for walks was a nightmare, as we were attacked by tics; pulling them out afterwards was companionable but intensely painful, the potential consequences of missing just one of the little beasts alarming. Sitting outside in the evenings was out of the question, since, despite having the use of an ingenious anti-mosquito machine, we were bitten black and blue by the damn things. The natural world was not going to take our holiday-making lying down. We wouldn’t have been particularly surprised if it had rained frogs. 

The jellyfish were, of course, spectacularly beautiful. In a world where most objects are opaque, there is something fascinating about a partially transparent object – a soap bubble, a birdcage, an aquarium, a crane, the London Eye. The structure is on display, and one can appreciate the complexity of it. At the same time, the world behind looks almost to be an intrinsic part of the object, so there is a certain mystery. Staring at one of these gorgeous, disturbing creatures beneath our boat, it was impossible not to wonder: does it have a brain? does it have control of its motion? what’s it for??…


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by TOAST ( 01.10.13 )

The fifth of twelve people, men and women, all of whom in their various ways work with food and all of whom are passionate about what they do. It’s a truism to say there has been a revolution in food – but these twelve have all taken fresh approaches: all have a sense of rootedness and authenticity. It was a great pleasure meeting all of them: from the lovely Jeremy Lee working in a down-to-earth way at his grand and history-imbued Quo Vadis to the three artisan producers at Spa Terminus: extraordinary people working enormously hard at what they love. Our great thanks to them all.

Jane Scotter farms Fern Verrow, a 16 acre biodynamic holding in the foothills of the Black Mountains, producing seasonal vegetables, fruit, flowers, herbs and meat. Every Friday Jane hand picks the best of what she has, packs it with great care in her van and drives through the early dawn to Spa Terminus. In the early morning she lays out her stall – with an attention bordering on love. It looks beautiful, entirely fresh, wholly good. As soon as she opens, those in the know come flocking to procure their week’s worth. Her produce is wonderful, flavour beyond what one imagines possible from what we mistakenly think as everyday English vegetables…


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by TOAST ( 24.09.13 )

James Seaton, Toast’s co-founder and Creative Director has written words to photographs taken by Nicholas James Seaton on our autumn/winter 2013 shoot in Canada.

Over the vast terrain’s undulations, the roads run utterly straight. Thus a flash of sunlight on chrome glimpsed at the horizon will only manifest itself as a roaring 60mph truck some ten minutes later. If you had the time – and there’s plenty of that out here – you could watch its progress as the road dips in and out of sight: its silent progress, the only sound coming from the lazy wind across the wheat stubble. Like watching a meteor or a satellite coursing the heavens. Only in the last few dozen seconds of its approach will its noise, its mass become apparent. It’s a surprise. And then, in a flurry of dust it has passed, the noise quickly fading to silence – and once more there is just the wind, the land and oneself.

In all this vastness of land and sky, one finds oneself quickly thinking – I hope someone comes to fetch me before long. You could get thirsty out here. Hungry. You could be forgotten.


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by TOAST ( 23.09.13 )

The third in a series of pieces written to photographs taken by Nicholas James Seaton on our autumn/winter 2013 shoot in Canada. Each focuses on an element, albeit a new kind of element.

By Evie Wyld.

By the time you reach the cabin, you’ve been on the move for a month, sleeping in bivouacs or, if the weather holds, in the open, nestled in your sleeping bag, the drawstring tight. Your nostrils are raw inside.

Sleeping under a roof, with the air still over your skin, and with the night locked outside – the idea of it fills you with something like warmth – like finding your brother’s stash of easter chocolate when you were a kid – a blissful wrongness. You sit on the steps to unlace your boots- it does not feel right to bring the outside in.

Inside, the air has been kept still a long time. It smells like someone has hidden a small pool of stagnant water somewhere. It is warm though. You pause a moment, weighing up the best thing to do, but then you prop open the door with your boots, and new air rushes in, takes up the dust, licks the walls and throws out the dead air with its warmth.

When you close the door, the cabin is small. You light the fire – left ready to burn by the last guest. People have been here before you, have considered the dead air.  In the morning you will collect firewood to replace what you’ve burned. The first time you have thought of another person in weeks.

The sun has started down and with your boots off you don’t fancy a ramble in the woods this evening. Instead you stare at the fire, listen to the splinter of dry wood. Rather than lighting the lamp, you unhook the board from the window to see the last of the light, but behind the wood is only empty space – no glass, and the wind shoulders in again, snuffing the warmth from the fire. You rehook the window board – you are either inside or outside – no room here for in between.

In the cupboard, the excellent fire builder has left a bottle. You will not be able to replace it, but maybe an offering of sardines or rice – a gesture of good-will if nothing else.The drink coats your throat and makes you for a moment miss company. You wonder about the morality of having more than one glass, and then take the bottle and a chair out onto the dry grass outside. The cabin is for sleeping and until that time comes you choose the trees, the air, the drink and the fading light.

Evie Wyld’s After the Fire, A Still Small Voice and All the Birds, Singing are published by Random House.

www.eviewyld.com


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by TOAST ( 20.09.13 )

The fourth of twelve people, men and women, all of whom in their various ways work with food and all of whom are passionate about what they do. It’s a truism to say there has been a revolution in food – but these twelve have all taken fresh approaches: all have a sense of rootedness and authenticity. It was a great pleasure meeting all of them: from the lovely Jeremy Lee working in a down-to-earth way at his grand and history-imbued Quo Vadis to the three artisan producers at Spa Terminus: extraordinary people working enormously hard at what they love. Our great thanks to them all.

Hidden away in what appears to be a small garage on a quiet residential street in furthest west London are two beautiful copper stills. From this small and discreet headquarters Sipsmith produce their delicious gin, vodka, supper cup et al. The master distiller behind these spirits is Jared Brown, an erudite east coast American, a historian of drink who combines expansive literary knowledge, practical application and great gustatory enthusiasm. He loves his work – as witnessed by the bookshelves in the distillery, where a thousand dusty bottles of obscure and wonderful aperitifs and digestifs are punctured with 18th century recipe books…


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by TOAST ( 20.09.13 )

A recipe for Rowan Jelly by Alys Fowler

Summer is letting go. Her final sigh is long; it bleaches out colour and fades past glories. There is a longing around now that always catches me unaware. Next time we meet, we will both be different.

But as you bid one lover farewell, another forgotten friend appears around the corner. Autumn gets to work where summer left off. The moulds and rots, the sweet dank earth rich with fruit sugars. I can smell the apples ripening at the end of the garden as acutely as I can smell the compost.

I am made for autumn. Summer and I have a fickle relationship, but everything about autumn is perfect to me. Wooly jumpers, Wellington boot, scarves, thin first, then thick, socks. The low slanting light, the crisp mornings, the chill in my fingers, those last warm sunny days before the rain and the wind. Her moody hues and subdued palate punctuated every now and again by a brilliant orange, scarlet or copper goodbye. She is my true love.

Nothing captures all of this in a jar better than rowan jelly made from orange-red berries of the rowan or mountain ash, Sorbus aucuparia. This beautiful orange glow of a preserve is our native version of cranberry sauce. Perfect for cutting through rich game and lamb, spooned onto roasting vegetables to cover them in sweet, tart glaze or into a reduced red wine sauce. If supper is not your thing then use it to bind together oats, nuts and roast low and slow for homemade granola and I’ve even been known to slather it on peanut butter jelly sandwiches.

The rowan is easy to spot. It has ash-like, airy, foliage and a graceful shape; it is crowned from late summer onwards with heavy orange-red berries in thick clusters.  It has a distinct grey bark and the leaves are up to 30cm long, pinnate with  up to 12 pairs of opposite, lance-shaped leaflets, each sharply toothed.

We have long loved this native tree, planting it by our houses to ward off witches. Its wood is said to have protective powers and the boughs of the tree were hung over stables and lintels. There is a lingering taboo in parts of the country about cutting down a rowan tree particularly if it is close to a house. This long association with witchery and magical powers has left many believing these bright, brilliant berries are poisonous. I have eaten my body weight in them and I am not (yet) a witch.

As the berries persist for sometime on the tree, rarely falling, it takes practice to gage when they are perfectly ripe for picking. Too early in the season and the jelly will taste too much of tannins, too late and it will taste fermented. It’s best to watch the blackbirds and thrushes, they know exactly when to start. I never leave home with out copious plastic bags at this time of year, for the minute the first berries start to go you have to claim your share. The birds will strip a tree in a matter of days.

The berries, although sharp, do not contain enough pectin to set the jelly. For that to happen you need a few crabapples. Where a rowan grows happy it is never very far before you find a crab.

It is tempting to squeeze and press the cooked berries through a sieve, but this results in cloudy jelly and a good jar should look like stained glass and be clear enough to read a love letter through.

 

Ingredients

Rowanberries, no stalks

A handful of crab apples, halved

Granulated sugar

 

Method

Put the berries and apples into a pan with barely enough water to cover them, simmer gently until tender and allow to cool. Then with a potato masher or blender pulp the fruit.

Strain the juice overnight. This is best done with a jelly bag or an old pillowcase, iron on the hottest setting to sterilise it.

Do not squeeze the bag, however tempting.

The following morning for every 600ml of liquid add 450g of sugar (pound to pint rule) and return to heat to gently dissolve the sugar. Bring to a rapid boil until setting point (usually 10 minutes or so). Bottle in clean jars.

 

Recipe taken from Alys’s book The Thrifty ForagerPurchase a copy here.  Alys is one of twelve people who we photographed for our Nourishment catalogue this Autumn/Winter.


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by TOAST ( 13.09.13 )

The third of twelve people, men and women, all of whom in their various ways work with food and all of whom are passionate about what they do. It’s a truism to say there has been a revolution in food – but these twelve have all taken fresh approaches: all have a sense of rootedness and authenticity. It was a great pleasure meeting all of them: from the lovely Jeremy Lee working in a down-to-earth way at his grand and history-imbued Quo Vadis to the three artisan producers at Spa Terminus: extraordinary people working enormously hard at what they love. Our great thanks to them all.

Alys Fowler discovered a love of gardening at her mother’s knee, went on to study at the Royal Horticultural Society, at Kew and, having been awarded a Smithsonian Scholarship, at the New York Botanical Gardens. Raised in the English countryside, she now lives in the city where she has become a great proponent of the bringing of abundant and productive greenhouses to the grey. She grows lots of vegetables mixed in with plenty of flowers in an allotment and an urban back garden…


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by TOAST ( 12.09.13 )

James Seaton, Toast’s co-founder and Creative Director has written words to photographs taken by Nicholas James Seaton on our autumn/winter 2013 shoot in Canada.

on the bluff above the river,
five yards off:
a mountain lion

who was more surprised?

it was away, into the scrub,
forty seconds later crossing the river
three hundred yards away
unseen between here and there

http://toast.co/october2013


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by TOAST ( 06.09.13 )
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