Centenary baton at the Civic Centre

March 19, 2014

To celebrate the WI centenary a special baton is making its way around the Federations and will finish its trip at the Annual Meeting in June 2015 at the Royal Albert Hall. It set off from Anglesey where the first WI meeting was held in the UK in 1915, and is now travelling throughout the 69 federations in England, Wales and the Islands to celebrate the links of friendship and community developed through the WI.

The baton has spent the last week travelling round Northumberland Federation and arrived back in Newcastle today. Debs and I went to a special event at the Civic Centre to see the baton, and hear a message from the Lord Major and Federation Chair Hilary Robson, before the baton made it's way onto the Shields Ferry to be presented to Tyne and Wear South Federation.

It was great gathering together at the Civic Centre and meeting ladies from WIs all over Northumberland. There was the obligatory raffle (!) as well as an opportunity to look round the Civic Centre and see where all the silver is kept! At the end of the event, we all stood in a circle and the baton was passed round while Jerusalem was sung which was a lovely touch.

The baton itself has been specially designed and has a memory stick stored inside onto which each Federation will upload twelve selected photos to represent their members, WIs, and the local area. The photos will be shared on social media to keep everyone in touch and so that members across the country can share in the party.

Federation Chair, Hilary Robson, with the Lord Mayor

The baton and its specially-made cushion with the Northumberland Federation logo

Deb and her mum with the baton!

Passing the baton round while singing Jerusalem


History of Whey Aye WI - Deborah MacLeod

February 3, 2014
Deb continued our fascinating look at WI history with a lively presentation about the history of Whey Aye, which is now 8 years old!


History of the WI - Joanne Patrick

February 3, 2014
Our January meeting gave us the opportunity to learn more about the history of the WI on a national level, Federation level and individual WI level.

Joanne gave a very interesting talk about the national movement and you can see her PowerPoint presentation below:


Adventures with Brisket

January 11, 2014
My starting point for this post is a 1.5kg piece of beef brisket, which I will start off pot roasting and then use the leftovers in various ways. Brisket is a cheap cut of beef, ideal for the post Christmas budget and full of flavour that rewards tender love and care and slow cooking.

Spiced pot roast of brisket


1.25kg (approx) of brisket
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tbsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
50g of soft dark brown sugar
2 tbsp dark rum
3 tbsp olive oil
1 onion - cut into six wedges
100ml balsamic vinegar
600ml beef stock
1 stick of cinnamon
3 bay leaves
400g shallots either round or the elongated echalion variety
500g of Chantenay carrots - peeled and left whole or halved lengthways if large
250g of parsnips - peeled and cut into wedges
500g of butternut squash - peeled, deseeded and cut into wedges
500g of sweet potato - peeled and cut into wedges
2 tbsp cornflour
15g butter
1 tbsp chopped parsley

Mix the allspice, coriander, black pepper and brown sugar together.

Pat dry the beef with kitchen paper.

Rub the sugar and spice mix together and rub in to all exposed surfaces of the brisket, put in a dish large enough to hold it, spoon over 1 tbsp of the rum and then cover with a lid or clingfilm for at least 3 hours and up to 48 hours.

Preheat the oven to 150C, fan 130C or gas 2 or warm up your slow cooker on low. 

Heat the oil in a large flameproof casserole or roasting tray and brown the beef all over; remove and brown the onion wedges all over. Add the stock and balsamic vinegar and stir well to loosen all the caramelised bits on the bottom of the pan (don't be tempted to clean these out of the pan first as there is a lot of flavour in them and they help add colour to the gravy).

Add the beef, bay leaves and cinnamon stick to the stock and put in the oven for 2 hours (turn the joint over after an hour).

Add the vegetables and cook for another hour.

Remove the beef and veg to a warm plate and wrap up well in foil to allow the beef to rest while you turn the gravy into sauce. Add another tbsp dark rum to the sauce if you like and thicken up with the slaked cornflour and stir until just back to the boil and slightly thickened. Finish off by stirring in 15g butter, which will add a nice gloss.

Carve the beef into thin slices and serve with the vegetables and sauce; garnish with the chopped parsley. This is a one pot dish, but you can serve with other potatoes and vegetables if you wish.


Claire's Food Diary

January 11, 2014
Most of you will know that I have six loves in life: food and wine, books, photography, walking, family and my labradors Jack and Henry. A lot of these can be combined so indulging them all is not too consuming and the plus side is that I don't have time to persue the pet hates of fashion and trudging around the Metro Centre and Eldon Square.

I discovered cooking at the age of five and put my first Sunday dinner on the table at six and studied at the Cordon Bleu Cookery School in London for my Diploma between 17 and 18. Whilst becoming disillusioned with the trade for various reasons, I still enjoy my cooking and love the opportunity to spoil family and friends. My favourite dishes are desserts as I have a very sweet tooth.

I have been thinking for a long time that I would like to share some of my recipes with you and so this month I will be adding the recipes for the sweets made or handed around at the November meeting, the recipes I will use to make my contributions to the January meeting and a few others.

If you have any questions or feedback then please email me at claire.wallace.watson@btinternet.com (but please don't send any requiring an immediate answer).
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