As my Dad was in the Army when I was growing up, a family decision was made for me to attend boarding school in North Wales, close to my Mom’s family.
Of course, I didn’t attend the school when this photo was taken however, I must admit that it wasn’t much different when I came through the gates of the South Entrance on my first day some 17 years ago! It certainly was a beautiful place with views of the North Wales coast and it is heartbreaking that the school has since been knocked down and is now a modern housing estate as it contained so many happy memories for many girls that attended the school.
Penrhos College was a very traditional all girls’ school when I started as a boarder and, in some senses, hadn’t moved with the times….the food hadn’t moved on much either, with an emphasis on three meals a day with a lot of overcooked vegetables and unappealing mush! I don’t remember enjoying the food very much at all and eating a fair bit of Spam…something I now will not touch with a bargepole!
I distinctly remember filling up at ‘tea’ which was when we could go into the dining room during the mid afternoon and help ourselves to bread and spreads, along with the occasional cake from the home economics department, which mainly consisted of egg-shell and uncooked cake batter!! I certainly did not develop my love of food during my years at Penrhos College however, its reputation for academic performance can not be disputed. My three years at the school taught me many valuable lessons but cooking skills was certainly not one of them. In fact, I detested home economics and shook like a leaf every time I had to take something out of the oven which resulted in burnt hands and arms on more than one occasion!! I think my cooking teacher rather despaired of me and it was certainly one of my weakest subjects (you now know who was responsible for all of those awful cakes served up at tea time!!).
One thing I do remember eating during my time at school was ‘dead dog’. ‘Dead dog’ is basically a delicious, biscuity traybake that was quite often featured in pack lunches at the school and was a rare treat. Apparently, a competition was held to pick the name of the traybake, hence the rather disturbing ‘dead dog’ but, please do not let that put you off as the taste and ease of the recipe certainly makes up for the name! I was thrilled when I recently came across the recipe posted on facebook and could not resist recreating it.
2 oz caster sugar
2 tbsp golden syrup
2 tbsp drinking chocolate
1 tbsp cocoa powder
8 oz digestive biscuits, crushed
2 oz glace cherries, roughly chopped
2 oz raisins
4 oz milk chocolate
1. Line a brownie tin with baking parchment.
2. Heat the margarine, sugar and syrup in a small pan until dissolved.
3. Pour the mixture into a large bowl, adding the cocoa powder, drinking chocolate and half of the crushed digestive biscuits. Mix well.
4. Add the remaining biscuits, cherries and raisins. Stir well ensuring that everything is incorporated.
5. Press the biscuit mixture into the tin ensuring that it is spread evenly. Chill for an hour in the fridge.
6. Melt the milk chocolate in a heatproof bowl over simmering water. Once smooth, pour over the biscuit mixture and return to the fridge.
7. Allow to chill overnight before cutting into squares.
Simply delicious and so very easy and quick to make! As you can see from the above photo, I made the addition of melting some white chocolate to drizzle over the top. Salted caramel sauce (or a combination of that and white chocolate) also goes well if you have some to hand. This recipe is very handy as it includes ingredients that you are more than likely to already have in the cupboard rather than making any special purchases. It is also very adaptable, I have used chocolate digestive biscuits instead of plain, and other dried fruit such as apricots or mixed peel would work if you don’t have anything else to hand.