There are some recipes that are incredibly simple and after a half dozen tries, come out perfect every time. I would say, for me, that would be bread, lemon cake, chocolate muffins and Madeira cake. Every idea stems from these basic mixes whether it be flatbread, chocolate cake or a nice fruit loaf so then those things become easy.
Buying the occasional tin, a few extra ingredients now and then, you begin to find yourself with a well stocked larder for all things cakey. What could be better? The kids say they feel like cake; 30 minutes later, there is one on the table. A visitor calls to say they'd like to drop by for coffee...no problem, get the muffin tin out. Not only do you know what is going in to the cakes, you also get to limit sugar if you are so inclined, it saves you so much money and you always have the capacity for a laden table at any time.
Do I sound like Nigella without the double entendres and the finger lickin' eyeballing? Do I? You'd think by the sounds of it, I float about in a gingham apron, red lipstick on, making sure home and hearth are always welcoming. Well, I don't. I'd like it to be like that not the lipstick or gingham part and on the whole, these days it is pretty great but not all the time and in fact, there was a time when it hardly ever was like that for me.
Having three kids within 18 months of each other, working and studying, there were times when baked beans seemed a rare delicacy or toast and jam could make me weep. I remember curling my lip at the tidy, aproned hostess who said "oh, you don't bake?" with a barely contained sneer as if I'd said I didn't brush my teeth or clean my sink. "Lady" I'd think, "I can bake and would love to bake but some mornings, I forget to put underwear on. I've not slept in three weeks, my friends have deserted me because I'm always busy and the last thing my stomach needs is yet another half pound of lard cake".
I only thought such things of course, being a mannerly gal but bad karma would sail through my veins, wishing her a burnt sponge cake and a broken nail alongside split ends and rats in the pantry. Karma has a way of turning such thoughts right back atcha though.
I love to bake and I love to cook; I am in a position these days where I have a certain amount of time to allow myself these luxuries. Not everyone has the time, the patience or even the inclination; you invite me round, believe me when I tell you I'm happy with a co-op sponge and a ham sandwich, nothing could please me more...I'm happy to just be invited and to be in the company of friends. If you want to give it a try, brilliant, you want a hand and advice, even better but if you don't, it doesn't matter...you can always come round to my house and I'll do it for you. It would be a pleasure.
Whatever path you choose, the only way to get the best out of life is to be optimistic, have faith in others, always have hope and treat everyone with kindness except that girl who talks about you behind your back or her that sneers at you with her red lipstick on at all times...nah, be kind to them too, they need it more than most. Combine that with a lack of judging and a good listening ear and you can't go wrong. That, my friends, is the secret to a good life.
And now for something completely different..........
We watched Hugh Fearnley Wuthering Heights on the tv the other day. He was trying to get some folk to eat free range or organic chicken and I warned the kids that they were about to see a chicken be killed, bled, feathered and dismembered. They wanted to watch and I let them. I have a theory that kids need to know where food comes from, how it is created and that animals die so they can eat meat.
Fraser wasn't very happy, Kelly was fascinated and Lucy looked on with indifference and the occasional "eeuch". The next day, Fraser said he wasn't entirely comfortable with seeing it and Kelly decided she might like to go vegetarian. I told her she could decide when she is 11 but for now, she was too young. She doesn't eat a lot of meat anyway but I'd love some input on this; when should kids get to have a say in what they eat? What say you? Should they abide by the laws of their parents dinner table since we work and pay for the food that goes on it or should they have an equal say as we brought them into this world to think and act in an independent manner?
I made loaves and lemon cake with my new wee tins that I brought back from Canada so the first batch was Canadian/Scottish bread, hence the flags. I have no photos of the wee lemon cakes of which I made two; one to say sorry and one to say thank you. They were whisked away, still hot to the recipients who told me they were lovely.
For my Canadian/Scottish friends and all my others too...