Saturday, October 19, 2013

Christina Hollis...My All-Action Hero

My father Ned was an inspiration to many people young and old, so here's a little taster of his life – in more ways than one.

The second of four children, Dad was a star pupil at his local school. He left at fourteen to become apprentice gardener on a private estate, earning just ten shillings (50 pence, or 81 cents) a week. Signing up for World War Two at the age of nineteen, his army career was uneventful until he was involved in protecting the factories of Coventry. On 14th November 1940, a notorious bombardment reduced the city to rubbleIn June 1944, Dad was part of the D-Day landings.  All his life, he was a  real “people person” and his experiences abroad meant he brought back loads of great stories. As he worked his way through occupied territory, he developed a love for the Dutch in particular.  The winter of 1944/45 was foul, and all the locals were starving. Despite that, they went out of their way to make Dad and his mates welcome. 

Dad was nearly 73 by the time his last child flew the nest.  That gave him plenty of time to run errands and do odd jobs for those he called "the old folk". Even into his eighties, he said he still only felt middle aged! Dad always had a huge appetite (yet stayed as slim as a whip, grrr...) so when we left home it meant he soon learned to cook because Mum never did that sort of thingOne of his most successful recipes is just right for this season of mist and rain. Here’s "Ned Beeton's Receipt", exactly as he proudly wrote it down for me.  We added the "Beeton" when we found out what a star he was in the kitchen.

By diekatrin [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
By Diekatrin
You'll need:

1lb braising steak, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
1 tablespoon flour
three-quarters of a pint of beef stock (from a cube is fine)
6 oz small onions or shallots, peeled.
8oz potatoes, peeled and cut into large dice.
4oz carrots, sliced
3 sticks celery, chopped
2 tablespoons malt vinegar
1 big teaspoon made mustard
salt & pepper
chopped parsley

Heat the oven to 180˚C/350˚F

Brown the meat in the oil, then sprinkle the flour over the contents of the pan. Cook, stirring, until everything is light brown.
Gradually stir in the stock. Add all the other ingredients and bring the mixture to the boil, stirring continuously.
Place the stew in a casserole dish, cover it with a lid and cook until the meat is tender, which can be up to two hours.
Garnish with chopped parsley.
By Man vyi
Dad was a mad-keen gardener, and always enjoyed a good laugh. One year, he grew a monster pumpkin. Carving it in secret in his shed, he had the bright idea of trying it out for size. Guess what? Once he put it on his head, he couldn’t get it off again! The eye-holes weren’t in the right place, so he couldn't see a thing. He had to feel his way out of the shed, and back to the house. Extracting him from his vegetable prison took a very long time, because we were all laughing so much! 

Has any member of your family ever done anything outrageous?

For more recipes and to see a complete list of Christina's published books, visit


Mary Preston said...

Thank you for the recipe & the laugh.

Christina Hollis said...

Thanks , Mary - I'm glad you liked it!

Aly said...

This recipe has me salivating!