The New WI Cookbook

Sotonettes Member Liz Coe was generous enough to write us a book review of the latest WI Cookbook! Read on to find out what she thought… If you’ve tried any of the recipes in the book, we’d love to see the results!

WI001In this 100th anniversary of the WI it seems that you can buy all kinds of commemorative items, however I wasn’t interested in the scarves and badges, I decided to buy yet another cookery book to add to an already large collection.   The book is very beautifully put together, with historical introductions to each decade with some wonderfully evocative photographs of the WI and quotes from current members.

In each section are original recipes from the time, updated to grams rather than ounces, and in some instances have slightly different ingredients. For example Spanish omelette with bacon from 1954 is renamed as Spanish Tortilla with chorizo. I wasn’t sure I actually approved of this as it isn’t as if the original ingredients aren’t available. However, both recipes are in the book, so old fashioned types like me can make that choice. The recipes are very varied, for example Rosehip Jelly, economy cake, beef curry, sloe gin and Risotto Milanese.

As I wanted to do a proper review, I’ve made two things from the book – the first item, home-made lemonade, a recipe from 1919, and then to make the very last recipe in the book, the Centenary celebration cake, a recipe that will be made for the 100th AGM this year.

Fresh Lemonade

WI004We make home-made lemonade quite regularly. Our normal recipe entails zesting, juicing, adding hot water and sugar, leave overnight, strain and chill. This recipe started with making a syrup by heating water and dissolving sugar into it, then leaving the lemon rinds in the syrup, then adding the juice and more water, then straining it. It felt slightly more of a faff to me, why dirty a saucepan unless you need to? Perhaps that is the difference between 1919 and now – we expect boiling water to be almost instant rather than waiting for an Aga to boil up the water.

When we tasted it, it was light and refreshing, although not quite as zingy as the lemonade we usually make.

Centenary Celebration Cake

WI005I love baking fruit cakes, so this recipe didn’t seem too much of a strain for me. It is a typical fruit cake recipe – cream butter and sugar, beat in eggs and flour, and then fold in the massive amount of fruit. As I’m a coeliac, I was making this with gluten free flour, so there is always the possibility that the cooking time is slightly different and the texture crumblier.

WI006This recipe was a good example of those in the book, it assumed a certain level of knowledge and confidence in the kitchen. For example, it asked for a ‘wineglass of rum’.   What does that actually mean? Our wineglasses are varying sizes and so I just added a good slug of rum. There is an official measure for a wine glass (20cl), but most people wouldn’t own these!

WI007I was also slightly confused by the way they worded the length of time it took to bake. They even said “Use your common sense” which I wasn’t sure was particularly helpful for new cooks. A handy hint was to use newspaper to wrap around the outside of the tin, which is far greener than using acres of greaseproof paper or brown paper. The cake was crumbly, moist and packed with fruit. Lovely!

There are a lovely selection of recipes in this book which reflect the changing face of cookery in Britain in the past hundred years, as well as how the WI has changed in that time. I hope to try many more recipes soon.



A new Treasurer for the Sotonettes

Sarah Anderson introduces herself as the new Treasurer of the Sotonettes, and reports back on her first committee meeting


As well as hosting an evening of flower arranging at the Slug and Lettuce in Southampton, Tuesday 26 May 2015 is also the Sotonettes’ Annual General Meeting. One implication of this is that our present Treasurer, Cat Cooper, will be standing down after three years’ excellent service in the role, and I will be carrying the baton forward in all things finance-related. I joined the Sotonettes as a member in January 2014 after attending that month’s scrapbooking-themed main meeting. Since then I have had the pleasure of attending so many of the monthly meetings, as well as craft night and the odd book club. The variety of interesting topics covered in the main meetings, the fellow members whom I have met along the way and the anticipation of a great evening out on many a Tuesday led me to put my name forward so that I can play an even more active role in the future. I also work as an accountant at the local hospital by day, so the role of Treasurer might go some way to feeding my spreadsheet addiction.

I attended my first committee meeting on Tuesday 5 May and was warmly welcomed by all attending, with Cat hosting. To my surprise and culinary delight, Cat had prepared a delicious dish of pasta with parmesan, homemade pesto and pine nuts, amongst other ingredients. We spent about an hour discussing what I would need to do in my future role of Treasurer, during which the wonderful aroma of baking cake drifted up the stairs. This turned out to be a banana and nut tea loaf:


Complimentary cake courtesy of Cat

We progressed to the main agenda items: these included plans for future member meetings, our strategy of promoting the Sotonettes over the next few months, and discussion of this year’s NFWI Resolution: Failing to Care. There are some exciting meetings ahead for the Sotonettes and it was great to be a part of this group of ladies for the evening. I was made to feel really welcome and I’m looking forward to the main event on 26 May.

Currently there is room on the committee for others who would like to get involved; I would strongly encourage any member who feels they can commit to a few hours per month towards shaping the direction of the Sotonettes to get in touch at, or speak to a committee member at the next meeting.


Sarah Anderson

Raising money for Naomi House and Jacksplace

Earlier this year, Sotonettes members voted Naomi House and Jacksplace as our nominated charity for 2014. Our aim is to use our combined efforts to raise loads of cash for this very deserving charity.  Funds are vital for the hospice to keep it running as it delivers support to children with life-limiting and life-threatening conditions, and to their families who often require a break from caring, or support after bereavement. The house opened in 1997 and has two specialist units, Naomi House for children up to the age of 16, and Jacksplace for over 16s. They cover the south coast and provide a unique service for the area and are open all year round, 24-7. They rely heavily on funds raised by volunteers, so any contribution we make will be hugely appreciated.

They currently require help with the Caterpillar Appeal, as the hospice needs redevelopment due to the lack of space and resources. You can read more about this here as they outline their plans. They need to raise £4 million to put this into action.

So far, we have two events planned to help raised these much needed funds….

Tuesday 2nd September – Sotonettes Pub Quiz! Come and join us at the beginning of September for a light-hearted quiz and raffle to test your knowledge and raise money for Naomi House and Jacksplace!  All are welcome so ask your friends and bring a team along.  It’s only £2 per person (all money goes to the charities) and first prize is dinner for 4 and a bottle of wine at the Rockstone!  The only rule is no more than 6 people in a team please!  More information on our Facebook event.

Sunday 7th September – The Rainbow Run in Southampton! This is a 3k run around the city, where you will get covered in paint along the way! A few ladies have already pledged to take part in this, as 3k is a totally doable length, perfect for beginners and slow runners! If you’d like to join them or just come along and support the Sotonettes, see the Facebook event for more details. The atmosphere will be fun and lively, it really is worth doing as well as being a great way to raise funds.

Naomi House also have a lot of other events listed on their webpage here so do take a look, and if anything else takes your fancy, let us know and we can look into planning something else. If you’ve always wanted to do a skydive, here’s your chance!!

Our fundraising target is £1000 by next summer so keep your eyes peeled for our events and do get in touch if you have any ideas. We would love to have a member leading on this fundraising effort, so if you would like to be more involved, again please let us know.

We have a JustGiving page so you can easily donate whenever and however much you like! We’d love to plan more fun events to raise as much as we can and get as many people involved as possible, so do let us know your thoughts. If you have any special skills or talents, or know anyone that does and might like to get involved in an event we host.

Alice x

Sotonettes Secretary

Sotonettes go running!

Our new Sotonettes Secretary, Alice, tells us a bit about her running career so far and the Running Group which she recently set up.

I decided to set up the Running Group in February 2014 after yet another attack on a female runner on the Common. It felt unsafe to run there alone as I was planning to do and I thought the Sotonettes would be the perfect way for me to find some running buddies.

I also wrote to the local councillors and MP for the area to complain about the lack of safety on the Common as attacks happens there far too regularly, on both males and females. I can’t say this has been too successful yet, but it is ongoing and we are trying to work on campaigning to Reclaim the Common! If you’d like to know more about this campaign, read our blog posts here and here.

By no means am I a pro runner – from starting out slowly on a treadmill last year, I moved onto doing the Couch to 5K app; this is a NHS initiative to get people moving and is free.  I then branched out into running outside in January of this year around my local area in Shirley.

From those humble beginnings, I am proud to say that I have just completed a 10k race! This was the Bournemouth Bay Run for the British Heart Foundation, for which I raised £240. I’m so proud of this as I don’t find running easy at all – it’s been really challenging but I have enjoyed the buzz afterwards, the ‘runner’s high’, and feeling myself get fitter as I run further each time.

Here’s me just before the run…


The Sotonettes Running Group meets on Sunday mornings at the Cowherds on the Common. So far, we have stuck to the same route which is an easy 3k around the Common. We organise ourselves through a Facebook group – click here to join it and find out when we’re next running!

We’re more of a running buddies group than a proper training club like Lordshill Road Runners or Southampton Running Sisters (both of which I’ve heard great things about). Anyone can turn up and join us, there are no requirements or special equipment needed, just a decent pair of trainers, water if you’d like some, and maybe a hoody or warm top, although as the weather is picking up, hopefully you won’t need one for much longer! (I must admit, I have run in the rain a few times and it can be quite refreshing!)

If the Sunday is no good for you, I’d be interested in going one weeknight too and this could be arranged if there is enough interest.

I’ve also attended the Parkrun 5k on the Common – this is held every Saturday morning (the 9am start is painful though!). I really enjoyed it; there is a really good atmosphere of everyone running together and I wasn’t the slowest, which was a relief! There’s no competitiveness there, it’s all for the fun of it.

If you’d like to join us, please do come along on a Sunday morning, or contact us for any more info!

Alice x 


The official New Forest Show schedule is here!

Last week, three Sotonettes members ventured to the edge of the New Forest to find out the final details about the WI tent at The New Forest Show. If you have no idea what we’re talking about, see our previous blog posts here and here.

We are now able to reveal the final Schedule. A scanned copy will be available shortly but the typed version below has the same information. The parts in italics do not appear in the schedule but come from some very active discussion during the meeting and are extra information for entrants.

If you’re interested in taking part in one or more of the categories, let us know – we’ll be getting a New Forest Show group together in the next few weeks. We have a copy of “On With The Show” (OWTS) which everyone can consult… lots of vital info is in there! Please get in touch if you’d like more information or would like to take part – either send us a message on Facebook or email us at


2014 Women’s Institute Schedule, New Forest Show

Theme: Myths and Legends

1. William Tell’s Apple Jelly. See OWTS p129-132. A small jar of Apple Jelly (no larger than 225g/8oz). Recipe: Use either cooking or crab apples. Allow 1 pint of water to 1lb of fruit. Simmer fruit to a pulp (no need to peel or core the fruit). Put pulp through thick muslin or a jelly bag and hang overnight. Measure juice and allow 1 pint juice to 1 lb sugar and boil rapidly until set. No other ingredients or flavourings allowed. Must use a wax disc and screw top lid or a wax disc and a cellophane cover. No restriction on date of potting.

2. Hallowe’en. 3 cup cakes presented on a circular disposable plate – no larger than 8″ (20cm). Your design should represent this celebration. No decorating of plate/board allowed. Both decorations and cake itself will be judged. 3 different designs, no restrictions on sizes as long as all 3 fit on the plate.

3. Bacchus’ Fruit Syrup. See OWTS p135. 250ml syrup shown in a clear glass bottle with a screw top. Not wine! Preferably no trademark or logo on bottle or bottle top. Label and date of bottling required.

4. Finn McCool (Irish Giant) – Produce Co-operative. 3 small Irish Food tasters. Ready displayed in a rustic box no larger than 12″ x 9″ (30cm x 23cm). Accessories may only be used inside the box. The exhibit will be viewed from the longer side.  At least 3 members to take part. No baskets may be used – must be a box. No restriction on height. No board required – just bring box and contents already laid out within.

5. Guinevere’s Beaded Bracelet. A beaded bracelet suitably presented. Present it on a display stand, velvet card or covered circle of card. No need for the materials or design to be medieval but indications of this period are fine. No restrictions on design or type of beads used.

6. Mythical Beast – A Stuffed Toy. A toy using any craft and can be any size.  No restrictions at all here – the toy can be a replica of a ‘real’ mythical beast, e.g. Loch Ness monster, or one you have dreamt up yourself!

7. Magical Charity Quilt (for the Linus Project). Sizes requested are 20″ square (51cm) OR 30″ x 40″ (76cm x 1m approximately) OR 40″ square (1 m). Any craft, sewn or knitted but no embellishments or lacy patterns please. The quilt can be backed with fleece but does not have to be padded. Indicate on entry form if you are happy for quilt to be donated to Project Linus after the show. Fleece not mandatory but recommended. If knitting, use a close pattern and back with fleece/fabric to keep it together. Should be washable.

8. Aesop’s Fables – Craft Co-operative. Select 3 crafts from the following: Calligraphy, canvas work (this includes cross-stitch on aida), cold porcelain, hand embroidery, hand knitting, lace or macrame to portray your selected fable. The exhibit should be displayed on a board no larger than 30″ wide x 24″ deep (77 x 61cm) to be viewed from the longer side.  Only one fable can be portrayed. No height restriction for back boards or staging.

9. Iris – Goddess of Rainbows (Novice Class). A fresh flower arrangement. The display shown on a 12″ (31cm) square board. The overall width no greater than 18″ (46cm) and the height appropriate to the chosen design. Accessories can be used bu no loose items on the board. The exhibit should arrive at the Showground ready assembled and will be displayed on a tiered and neutral background (provided). The Novice Class is pen to members who have not previously won a 1st prize in the category in the WI Marquee. No need to use only irises!

10. Mythical Setting. A photograph with atmosphere (portrait or landscape style). The entry should be no larger than 7″x5″ (18x13cm) and must be mounted, framed and ready to hang. No clip frames please. The chosen frame should complement the photograph but will not be judged.

11. Mermaids & Neptune. A painting using any medium but nothing sewn or stitched.  This exhibit must be gramed and ready to hang but no clip frames. The overall width no larger than 14″ (35cm) and the height appropriate to the design. Painting can be done on glass but will not be hung with light from behind. Dimensions includes the frame.

12. The Little People – Committee Cup (Public vote). A decorated Garden Gnome or Fairy.  One entry per WI and perhaps a combined effort from a group of members. Make your gnome or fairy yourselves – nothing is provided this year! Think about maybe using recycled materials or buy a shape and then decorate. Make whatever you fancy! No size limits. Item should stand up but can be supported by a stand or on a board.