Time was when pinnies (aprons) reigned supreme at home. A clean pinny or sleeveless, cotton, wrap-over overall was donned first thing in the morning and only removed minutes before the man of the house returned from his labours of the day. Like wearing a girdle or a corset, it was not the done thing to be seen anywhere without one - the pinny-wearing neighbours would consider it uncouth, uncivilized - shabby, in fact.
A clean pinny, clean underwear, clean house, clean children (if that was possible) were signs of endless optimism and hope in the face of the relentless grim tide of smog and smoke stained rain that left its smudge of dirty thumbprints everywhere.
And just to show who had the uppermost, these pinnies were not at all perfunctory. There was never any question about the point of decorating them with evening hours of bright stitching. They were all made delightful. One of my first tasks before beginning cookery classes was to spend an entire term making and embroidering a pinny. You can see more embroidered items in the on-line collection of the American Textile History Museum in Lowell, Massachussetts by clicking here.
Time to get my pinny on. If I cannot have Schiaparelli Beetroot risotto on a winter's day, then the next best thing is Sunshine in a Bowl, or Three Root Soup. For two people you need four chopped parsnips, a diced small onion, two or three fat cloves of garlic if you like, a good thumb of ginger grated, a teaspoonful of ground turmeric and a salt spoon of salt. Melt all these together in a tablespoon of your favourite cooking oil or knob of butter for about 5 minutes - then add just over half a pint of soya milk. Dairy milk will curdle on account of the ginger - so if you haven't any soya milk in the house, use stock and just before serving swirl in some yoghurt, creme fraiche or cream. Simmer for about half an hour until all the flavours are absorbed and you can squash the parsnips with the back of a spoon. Then blitz. I like this soup so I can stand a spoon up in it, but you may like to slacken it with more soya milk or stock depending on your taste. But there it is on a cold grey day - sunshine in a bowl to warm your heart. But don't get any on your nice clean pinny!