Go on, have a knees up

Get the beef and car­rots at the ready to make a tra­di­tional mouth­wa­ter­ing and eco­nom­i­cal meal

Canal Boat - - Cooking : Back K Cabin - Vicky Blick

I’ m read­ing a thor­oughly good book at the mo­ment: Roger Os­borne’s Iron, Steam and Money – The mak­ing of the In­dus­trial Revo­lu­tion. It has some very in­ter­est­ing in­for­ma­tion within the pages about the era of ‘ Canal Ma­nia’ and es­pe­cially in­ter­est­ing when, like us, you are walk­ing and cruis­ing in the shad­ows of a boating pop­u­la­tion that helped put the ‘ great’ in Great Bri­tain.

The canals to­day are the same watery highways that en­abled the trans­port of goods, noth­ing much has

‘ Cer­tainly boaters would have cooked boiled beef and car­rots in by­gone times, maybe us­ing a rab­bit rather than beef’

changed to the clay lined ditch and the lock tech­nol­ogy. But sadly, apart from in just a few places, a lot of the ware­houses, load­ing bays, wharves, cranes and sid­ings have of­ten gone.

We were in Shard­low a while back on the Trent & Mersey. Once the wharves there bus­tled with busi­ness, ware­houses load­ing and un­load­ing goods from the gra­naries, cranes creak­ing and groan­ing un­der loads, ev­ery­where a bus­tle of ac­tiv­ity. Ev­ery street still boasts a grand man­sion but now the un- needed canal port is slowly slip­ping into dere­lic­tion.

The lock­side ware­house boasts the most or­nate win­dows but this fine build­ing is now a pic­ture of to­tal ne­glect. The road signs welcome care­ful driv­ers to Shard­low ‘ A In­land Port’. It was cer­tainly that once but now it is noth­ing more than a col­lec­tion of once beau­ti­ful build­ings that echo our pi­o­neer­ing past but that within the next few decades could sadly be gone.

But enough doom and gloom. More re­cently we were in another canal port – Stour­port where the old basins and build­ings have been found new lives.

This month’s recipe is boiled beef and car­rots, a tra­di­tional mouth­wa­ter­ing meal which harks back to the era of my book and is im­mor­talised in the cheery Cock­ney ‘ knees up’ song. Cer­tainly boaters would have cooked it in by­gone times, maybe us­ing a fresh rab­bit rather than beef.

It used to use the cheap­est, tough­est cuts of beef – hence the slow cook­ing – and was the dish most com­monly eaten by poorer fam­i­lies. To­day most beef joints are sold for roast­ing but any joint will be fine as long as it’s around one kilo in weight. If it’s big­ger, no prob­lem; the mid­dle will have a pink­ish glow to em­bel­lish each slice.

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