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Countrystride #115: A CUMBRIAN CHRISTMAS FEAST - With Helen Rebanks and Ivan Day

...in which we are joined by Farmer's Wife author Helen Rebanks and food historian Ivan Day for a feast of Cumbrian Christmas fare. In Ivan's historic Westmorland farm kitchen we learn about the dishes that marked a traditional Christmas – 'hackin', powdered goose and sweet pie – before Helen and Ivan serve up three very different gingerbreads. Discussing her debut book, Helen speaks about food on the family farm, about memories of marmalade and about why food matters. Ivan, meanwhile, tackles a few local food queries: was ginger really a Whitehaven import?; was the Cumberland sausage introduced by German miners?; and which of Cartmel or Sharrow Bay can claim to be the true home of sticky toffee pudding? Finally, as we tuck into an early seasonal dinner, we learn about a Lowther christmas pie with ingredients that included 15 sparrows, 46 yellow hammers, 12 patridges... and a curlew.






Ivan's traditional Westmorland farm range, with vertical clockwork spit turning in front of it.

Our guests for the day: Helen Rebanks and Ivan Day.

A Cumbrian Christmas feast... Helen's gingerbread comes out of the range oven.

Food from top: Ivan's gingerbreads; Helen's gingerbread; the sweet pie and a multi-meat Christmas pie.

The two oldest Cumbrian gingerbread recipes, wooden moulds below.

The Lowther-inspired meat pie.

...and its recipe, including 46 yellow hammers.

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