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Oily Rag: Riots, Stiff Upper Lips and Yorkshire Puddings

Oily Rag column - week beginning 15 August 2011

Riots, stiff upper lips and Yorkshire puddings

By Frank and Muriel Newman

The streets of the mother country are rioting so we thought we would create a riot of our own by suggesting some traditional oily rag meals from England. As it happens a local member of the oily rag club happens to come from the shire of York so we did not have to go far to get some frugally fantastic food tips that are undoubtedly English.

The Duke's bubble & squeak - All you need for this English leftover tradition is equal amounts of cold meat, cooked potato, and cooked cabbage, along with some butter and pepper and salt. Chop potatoes into large chunks. Heat a little butter in a frypan. Fry potatoes and cabbage lightly in the butter, add salt and pepper to taste. Fry slices of meat, enough to heat through. Put meat into a hot dish with alternate layers of vegetables. Serves 6 to 8 hearty and hungry lads and fair maidens.

The stiff upper lip English breakfast - This is the sort of thing you would expect from a traditional English sea-side hotel (the ones in need of restoration!). You will need a couple of eggs, a few rashers of bacon, a few small breakfast sausages, a couple of tomatoes, a few sliced mushrooms, and toast. Cook the sausages and bacon. Remove from pan and keep in a warm oven. Cut tomatoes in half and place in frypan with the mushrooms and cook for a couple of minutes, turn and cook for another two minutes. Remove from the pan add place in a warming oven. Throw eggs into the frying pan, pop the bread in the toaster and when they are done serve with a hot cup of English Breakfast tea. Eh bah gum... there ain't nothin' like it lad!

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Lill's Yorkshire puddings - You can't get anything more English than this. To make the batter, place 1 cup of flour into a bowl, add 3 teaspoon of salt, and break in 2 eggs. Mix with water to form what the English call a stodgy mix (stodgy is an English cooking term meaning heavy and indigestible!). Add milk to make it into a batter mixture (that is, make it not stodgy!) to the consistency of thick pouring cream. Pour fat or oil into your baking pan - enough oil to cover the base with a thin coating of oil to cover the base of a pan. Use leftover fat from roast (to add taste), or canola or grape seed oil. If you want individual Yorkshires, use a deep muffin baking tin with a teaspoon of fat in each recess. Turn the oven on to hot, about 200C and place in the baking dish. Remove from the oven when the fat is very hot and quickly pour in your batter mix, and watch it sizzle. Place the baking dish back into the oven and bake until crisp and puffy - which will take about 30 minutes if using a baking pan or about 15 minutes if using muffin tins. Keep a constant eye on the baking as the cooking time will vary depending on the flour used, the oven heat and the heat of the oil. Lillian says there is a bit of judgement involved and results vary from batch to batch (but we reckon every batch comes out well!). They freeze well, but tend to all get eaten before making it to the freezer!

Rumour has it that the English used to eat their Yorkshires with gravy or golden syrup or sugar before the main meal because they are filling and they would not need to eat as much meat! I guess that's what you would expect from Yorkshire persons who really know how to turn a penny's worth of cost into a pound's worth of value!

If you have a favourite recipe from another country, share it with others by visiting the Oily Rag website or write to Living off the Smell of an Oily Rag, PO Box 984, Whangarei. The book Living off the Smell of an Oily Rag by Frank & Muriel Newman is available from all good bookstores or online at

* Frank and Muriel Newman are the authors of Living Off the Smell of an Oily Rag in NZ. Readers can submit their oily rag tips on-line at The book is available from bookstores and online at

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