I first met Andy’s maternal grandmother seven years ago. Andy and I had been dating almost a year and I was visiting him in Farnborough during the summer holidays. I had met his mum, dad and brother, but had yet to meet the grandparents when they invited us for a Sunday Roast. I was still in my “I only eat fish and fowl” phase. Of course Nanny made lamb. And by God, I ate it. I wouldn’t dream of being the strange American girl dating her grandson who didn’t eat lamb! Seven years later, it’s my favorite meat.
Bonded in lamb, Nanny and I have been close ever since. After Andy and I got married we moved to Woking, a twenty-minute drive from his hometown of Farnborough. We’d see Nanny and Grandad once every few weeks for a roast dinner, or if it was a weeknight meal, fish and chips.
A couple years later Andy and I moved to Farnborough, less than a mile from his grandparents’ house and our visits became more frequent. I would often visit for a cup of tea or lunch. Nanny taught me how to knit and shared some of her recipes with me in the kitchen. At a time when I was family-less, Nanny and Grandad took me in as one of their own.
Nanny and I are kindred spirits. She is headstrong (like me), opinionated (like me), knows what she wants (yup) and she loves a good chin wag over a cup of tea (me again). I have always held her in high regard. She raised four lovely daughters, kept a beautiful home and garden, cooked three meals a day, and worked for many years. But the thing I love the most about Nanny is her cooking. She is a traditional English cook: no frills, bells or whistles. Nanny’s food is good and hearty, reflecting both British climate and temperament. It bespeaks bygone days and British sensibility: food that nurtures, warms, heals.
When we moved to Malawi and then ultimately back to America, I knew it would be Nanny I would miss the most. Last week Andy and I went back to England for the first time in a year and half. It was a joyous reunion. Nanny cooked her classics, English breakfasts and roast dinners. But she whipped up a surprise, something she had never made for us: Bread Pudding. This version is more like a bar, brownie shape and texture. One more of Nanny’s recipes that I will always cherish.
Amber | Bluebonnets & Brownies says
I wish I’d had a chance to meet Andy’s Nan before you moved back. Hopefully I will some day. She sounds wonderful, and not unlike my own nan. I already love her. (P.S. she’s the reason I put marmite in my gravy, and that’s a fantastic thing!)
Valerie @ Life 4 me by me says
I wish I had an English nanny. She sounds amazing. Looking forward to trying the bread pudding. Thanks you for sharing.
A wonderful post! Thanks for sharing… about Nanny and the bread pudding. Family recipes are the best…
Julie Potter says
Maggy…share this with Andy, I still have this joyous vision of remembrance; Nanny entering and later exiting the church on your beautiful wedding day. She had such “a grace” about her…her demeanor…the way she carried herself…her radiant face…chin held high as the congregation sang Jerusalem, my happy home. A remembrance of an event now passed and never to be forgotten!Glad you were able to visit Andy’s homeland recently!
The snow and ice here in Darien remind me of creamy meringue that is frozen by the cold air!
What a winter we are experiencing! Love, JULIE ~
Julie Potter says
I muststand corrected on hymn sung during the wedding ceremony…’twas William Blake’s Jerusalem…of course! “England’s geeen & pleasant land.” Julie ~ xox
“She is a traditional English cook: no frills, bells or whistles. Nanny’s food is good and hearty, reflecting both British climate and temperament. It bespeaks bygone days and British sensibility: food that nurtures, warms, heals.”
The older I get, the more I appreciate this kind of food and cooking.
What a lovely lady! I’m with Valerie — I wish I had a nanny to make bread pudding for me! will definitely try this one.
barbara cissell says
That Pastitsio was out of this world.It was even better than “you know what.”
Becca Rothaug says
Thanks for sharing your cherished bread pudding recipe! Nanny sure sounds like a spirited, lovely woman to have in your lives. With the bread’s soak in water and no milk or cream in the ingredients, this is unlike any bread pudding recipe I’ve ever seen. I’m very intrigued!
Barbara C. mentioned a pastitsio thats sounds amazing. I searched for the recipe on the site, but no luck. Any chance it’s here and I missed it? Funny, I was just looking for this recipe last week but never decided on any I saw online.
I love, love, love your blog, and how you are writing it together as a family. It’s truly inspired and I learn something every time I stop by. Thank you!
At some point soon we’ll run the pastitsio recipe on our site, but for now, just head to USA Weekend. Here’s the link:
Heartwarming! What we won’t do for love, family, and just trying to do the right thing in a “situation” on behalf of others. And now you enjoy lamb too. A Win – Win!
My friend found your blog, knew immediately that I would love it and sent me the link. She was right. 🙂 I love this post so much and could reach through the screen and give your Nanny a good, tight hug. 🙂 What a fantastic woman to love and care for you so beautifully when you were far from home. 🙂
Your post brought back such delightful memories for me. I had the wonderful opportunity to work and live in Odiham (a hop, skip and jump NW of Farnham) for 3 months in 2002. We visited Farnham on one of my rare days off, taking in an antique’s bazaar and visiting various shops. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I enjoyed the food (don’t know why pub food has such a bad rep), enjoyed the people, enjoyed the countryside. Was sad to leave when we moved our operation to London for the next phase. Would love to visit again. Thanks for sharing about your English granny…it made my day!