Thursday, 15 December 2011

December 15th - Words with Mary Berry, and playing with food

Dear Nigel,

I can see i'm going to have to have words with that Mary Berry. I made her wonderful Apple desert cake, which is in her Christmas book - just like last year. And, just like last year, i found the whole thing superglued to the loose-bottomed tin after cooking, and needing a black and decker to remove it from its metal base. I make sure i put a note to add baking parchment next year as i chisel away with a palate knife. I've also added pecan nuts and cinnamon instead of the almonds (as i'm not a fan), but all in all it's a pretty fab desert.

There's been a lot of playing with food in this house today. I should say it started with the daily shouting match - me at my four year old who takes twenty minutes to eat four bites out of a piece of toast and raspberry jam. Other people's children seem to eat; I clock watch and get exasperated, i cajole, i get angry, i throw it in the bin .Then Sophie made two dozen fairy cakes this afternoon. Only, by the time it came to getting the mixture in the cake cases we were down to fourteen. Where had the missing cake mixture gone i wonder? Little suprise that this evening's spag bol was barely touched.

Then it was my turn this evening. A quick recipe for Toffee sauce - also from the sainted Mary - to go on the Sticky Toffee puddings in the freezer. Last year i made lots of jars of this sauce (also in the Christmas book) to give to friends and family. I put labels on them, like the Supermarket, saying,"HIGH in Fat, HIGH in Sugar, HIGH in Calories, NO nutritional content whatsoever". The kids put it on ice cream and pancakes and my teenagers ate it straight out of the jar with a spoon.

Anyway, i got completely absorbed watching the golden syrup trickle off the spoon in the glow of the light from a candle. Like amber or molten glass the colours just moved and flowed - rather like the girl dancing at the start of the Bond film - and then tapering to a jumble of spidery writing in the pan. There is wonder to be had in the seemingly everyday things we never stop to consider. So this was my play moment. Back to the cooking days as a child when the simple act of weighing or mixing was an act of pure magic as the liquid disappeared into the flour or the pastry became a ball.

You're busy making lists for the festive season, and trying to save a few pennies by recycling food in another incarnation the following day. I like your method for cooked Ham, poached in Apple juice with onion, carrot,celery and star anise. I think i might try that recipe for the large Ham i bought the other day in Town. I think it might be time to start making my list, too. I tend to get a bit over-ambitious and inevitably run out of time and get stressed. Less is more, I've decided, and this year it's definately going to be less. I don't want to be running around like a headless chicken the day before Christmas.

So here's to our Christmas lists. May your Christmas be stress-free,


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