Thanks Colin for today’s inspiration.
Helping out in the kitchen as a youngster was putting away the clean dishes, then progressing to washing up and finally drying up.
Cooking was Mum’s job, though my Dad made some pretty good dough boys for stew and some crunchy suet based ‘balls’ we had sometimes instead of yorkshire pudding or stuffing with the Sunday roast. His Bread Pudding was also scrumptious, being dark and shiny when you cut it.
My first effort was boiled eggs, which I proudly took up to Mum and Dad on a tray one morning. We’d moved out of the council house into the one that Dad had built, so I would have been about 9, maybe 10.
With visions of the above, I burst into tears when they took the top off the egg which was still raw.
Dad put his arms round me and asked how long I’d cooked them for.
I told him I’d timed it carefully to three minutes, so he asked if I’d let the water come to the boil first. That bit hadn’t registered before so we laughed as he dried my tears and poured out the tea.
That was cold because I’d found it in the teapot, but they drank it anyway.
Mum let me help in the kitchen after that, mixing the yorkshire pudding batter, making the gravy with the meat juices, water from the veg, flour and gravy browning, and when she was baking, I was there to roll the pastry and cut out the discs, or beat the cake mix and test the finished product before taking it out of the oven.
At Christmas, everyone had a stir of the solid mass of currants, sultanas, cherries, brown sugar, black treacle, and other ingredients to make our traditional cake, and to make a wish. Eventually, Mum would marzipan it, and Dad would make the proper royal icing and spike it over the top. That cake was very much a family joint effort.
My pastry was never as good as Mum’s, but it was passable, and when it came to fried bread and fried eggs, well, I was your gal!
After my disastrous cookery class and being reprimanded in front of everyone for testing a sponge cake with a knife, things have improved and I’ve picked up several tips from friends, bank customers and even fellow shoppers on how to make crisp roast potatoes, get huge top hat yorkshire puds, and the secret of the perfect sponge (if you are not using real butter) is to add a teaspoon of cream of tartar and baking powder, regardless if you’re using self raising flour.
In my adult life, I encouraged kids in my care to help out in the kitchen.
As with Mum, it was being involved in the aftermath of washing up first, then we progressed to making things (funny, boiled eggs never came into it) like toast, beans on toast and cups of tea or coffee.
The two boys, then 4 and 6, were content to stir the yorkshire pudding batter or dough boy mix (half each), and they loved getting their hands sticky ‘rubbing in’ the flour and fat for rock cake or scones.
Then later one foster boy wanted to be a chef so I let him loose in the kitchen though I was close at hand should he need me, and a foster girl wrote off two of my saucepans which burnt dry as she forgot them watching TV. We had take out that night.
I did something similar boiling eggs for sandwiches, and got engrossed with trying on a variety of clothes that had arrived by mail order.
One of the lads knocked on my door to inform me that eggs were blowing up all over the kitchen ceiling and were they meant to do that?
Thus, boiled eggs and I have never seen eye to eye.
I guess you could say the ‘yolk’s on me’ (sorry couldn’t resist).