Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Midsummer Day

Hello, thank you for dropping in, and thank you for the kind comments some of you left on my last post.  I really do read and appreciate all of them.

The year has turned. Sunday 21st June was the day of the solstice - summer here in the northern hemisphere, winter if you are south of the equator.  The days are now shortening here, each sunrise coming a little later than yesterday's.

And today, 24th June, is Midsummer Day.  It feels a little odd that 21st June is the first day of summer, astronomically speaking, and we celebrate the middle of summer only three days later!  Our summers are not really six days long.  But it does seem that summer is really here now: we have had sunshine and warm (but not hot) days and the garden is blooming; the end of the school term is looming; The Mathematician has returned from university (and is wondering how to fit everything she has brought back with her into her bedroom).  Here is the sky two hours after sunrise on this Midsummer morning -

I have often thought before that I would like to celebrate Midsummer Day but it's difficult when it falls on a school day and I really do think that it should be celebrated on the actual day.  This year, however, I decided to do it.  I know that bonfires are the traditional way to celebrate midsummer but it wasn't really practical.  In some European countries floral wreaths are worn, but that didn't seem practical either, and I would rather look at flowers in the garden or in a vase for a week or more than woven into a wreath that wouldn't last longer than a day. However, we need to eat and a special meal seemed the way forward, so I did a bit of research and what I came up with was...strawberries.  Just the thing, I thought, they sing of England in summertime as well as being essential to the celebrations in some other countries. 

Normally I am happy to eat these just as they are, but I wanted something a bit celebratory.  I considered shortbread - my mother makes shortbread and serves it with strawberries and cream during the summer and it is yummy, but I wanted something more cakey.  I considered a Victoria sponge, very English and a match made in heaven, but I didn't have enough butter (and yes, when I make it, I always use butter).  And then the perfect idea formed in my head: midsummer mini pavlova!   I know that Pavlova was invented in New Zealand but meringue, cream and strawberries are the ingredients for Eton Mess which is surely English.  I could make some individual meringues, I thought, whip up some cream and artistically and abundantly strew with strawberries. 
Except that I have never made meringue before.
But with Nigella (Lawson) on my side and the necessary ingredients in the kitchen, I whipped up these beauties.  Well, OK, they do look a bit rustic, but I am DEAD PROUD of myself. 

And the verdict from The Best Beloved and The Mathematician?  "No soggy bottoms, not too's a good bake." A GOOD BAKE!!!!  Get me!  (If you are not familiar with The Great British Bake Off I regret that this will make no sense to you.  Sorry.)
At this point I should like you to know that when The Best Beloved came in from work and found me preparing strawberries with the meringues cooling on the side he said, "Just like a proper wife."  I pointed out to him that I was holding a very sharp knife (and I was aware that he didn't really mean it).  And I should like to point out to you that he comes home from work every evening to a dinner cooked by me.
So, what did my midsummer mini pavlova look like once assembled (for which the credit must go to The Mathematician)?  Are you ready?  Ta-dah -
Served in the best bowls.  See how the tablecloth co-ordinates with the dish?  Do not on any account go thinking that that was accidental!
Now then, in my Midsummer Vision we would be eating this outside in the garden.  Yesterday we ate dinner in the garden and sat there awhile afterwards with mugs of post-dinner Earl Grey, chatting and relaxing, enjoying the balmy evening and the buzzing of the buzzy creatures.  It was the first time we have been able to do that this year and it was an absolute treat.  The sky looked like this -

Today, however, is a different matter.  The sky is cloudy and grey and the dining area in the garden is definitely not beckoning us to "come hither".  We ate indoors because we are sensible.  That midsummer mini pavlova was flippin' delicious.  But later, as I have done every evening this week, I went outside to look at the Midsummer sunset.  Here it is -

I had an idea that I would end this post with a quote from Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream and this one leapt out at me:
My soul is in the sky.
See you soon.
Love, Mrs Tiggywinkle x


  1. Well, that sounds like a perfect way to celebrate midsummer - your mini pavlovas look lovely - just right to sit outside to eat whilst watching the summer skies:)

  2. Sounds delicious, all we need is Wimbledon now, which is just round the corner! :-)

  3. What a wonderful way to celebrate midsummer!!! Your meringues look fabulous!!!! I never would have known that you hadn't made them before. They are delicious aren't they! xx

  4. Enjoying a sunny midsummer vicariously through your blog - ours has been dismal.
    I sympathise with the fitting things back in on return from uni syndrome! They have so many more possessions than we did when we were students.
    No soggy bottom, eh? Perfect!

  5. The meringues and strawberries look delicious. One of our favorite desserts. Beautiful skies at sunrise and sunset.

  6. I really enjoy you're blog posts Mrs Tiggywinkle. They make me smile and feel at home 😊🍰

  7. Ah, here I am mrs T, it lets me comment from my phone but not my tablet! Enjoyed your cloud pics! X