A Day In The A Blue Mountains.

Thanks for visiting my blog. I welcome you to take your time and browse , visiting my bush garden and discovering the wonders of my city within a national park; Blue Mountains National Park. Via my blog you will travel with me through the successes, trials and tribulations of gardening on a bush block. I share with you my patchwork & quilting, knitting, paper crafts, cooking and life in general.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Day 82/366

Sometimes, you just have to cook.

Cooking is not my forte. 
As a child, my mother didn’t teach me to cook.  Not really.
My mother’s forte wasn't cooking either.
I'm not saying we didn't eat well.
She cooked hearty meals, like grilled lamb chops with steamed (read boiled) vegetables and potato mash, lamb stew, minestrone or baked macaroni.
Lamb was cheap when I was growing up because it wasn't really lamb...more often than not it was hogget.
Fridays was ALWAYS fish with a salad.
Later in life Mummy became a bit more adventurous. She made pizza using ready made puff pastry sheets for the base. And fried rice.
Cakes and desserts were rarely cooked.
More often than not, if we were allowed dessert it was a bowl of vanilla ice cream, or sometimes Neapolitan ice cream, with canned fruit or Aeroplane jelly.
I loathe jelly!
My Mum’s favourite dessert recipe was to become trifle which was made from chopped up supermarket-bought sponge cake, chopped jelly (made from jelly crystals), custard (made from custard powder), and a hearty sprinkling of sweet sherry.
I hated the texture of the soppy sponge cake and rarely partook of this dish.
To this day, I cannot eat trifle, and unfortunately I lumped  tiramisu with trifle.
I helped cook - and cooked - many of the family meals when I was growing up as the eldest of seven children.  
Yet, I believe all I did was prepare food and then cook it. No recipes where used or needed. There was never anything creative about our meals nor did anyone go to any trouble to make them look appealing.
Then, in my third year of high school I left the Catholic all-girls college I was attending to go to a co-educational state school because my parents could no longer afford the fees.
When choosing my subjects at my new school I had no hesitation in choosing Home Economics as an elective subject. 
In fact I jumped at it.
I'd have to admit that it wasn't my creative side that encouraged me though.
I realise now that it was my scientific approach to life which steered me towards what was just another 'science' subject.
As a young child and teenager I was very analytical and what intrigued me about these classes was the chemical reactions that took place when preparing dishes.

How dry powdery substances transformed goo into edible blobs, or airy sweets, smooth gravies, and fluffy cakes intrigued me.
I performed well even though I had never made boiled Christmas cake, blancmange, toffee, sponge cake, or gravy-from-scratch.
I remember clearly when, in my higher school certificate exam I knew exactly which answer to choose to the multiple choice question which asked me to choose which substance looses its thickening qualities if burned, even though our teacher had never told us.  I simply imagined what happened to toast when it burned.
I learned how to make pikelets, Yorkshire puddings, sweet poached eggs, scrambled eggs on toast and choux pastry.
I threw blancmange balls to my friends when the teacher wasn’t looking; I forgot to put the one or two tablespoons of water into my perfectly airy sponge - the water that our teacher had insisted was necessary to make a perfect sponge. 
(I got top marks for my sponge but I never told my teacher I’d forgotten to add the water.)
In my final two years of high school, I dropped Home Economics because they were not qualifying as matriculation subjects and I took up Economics instead.
I did well in that subject too but Home Economics has stood me in good stead.
As a new mother living in what I now consider to have been a remote area of Sydney, with three children aged three and under I spent many of the long lonely hours cooking.
I bottled fruit, made jams, cooked cakes, and had welcoming meals ready for my Mr Honey Pie to come home to.
My three children joined me in the kitchen many a morning and there was flour dusted from one end of the kitchen bench to the other as well as from head to toe on each child.
I think, during those days, the most utilized kitchen utensil in our home was the flour sifter…a Nally’s brand which I still have in my cupboard today but which has been superseded by a boring plastic sieve.
Over the years I made chocolate eggs at Easter, fruit cakes at Christmas, decorated cakes for birthdays, taught myself how to cook Pavlova and chutneys and made all my pastry from scratch.
Scones were turned out with ease for morning and afternoon teas; apple tea cakes, cinnamon tea cakes, pineapple upside down cakes, all were the norm for my children’s after-school afternoon teas.
Anzac biscuits, cookies, chocolates, shortbread, coconut ice and jams were made as gifts when finances were short.
Last Easter, for the first time, I tried my hand at Figolli.  They were a huge hit.
But I still don’t like cooking.
My kids say to me: Mum you should go on Master Chef.
My reply: No way, I couldn’t think of anything worse!
The truth is I’d rather be creating something out of paper, or doing patchwork, or writing.
Last weekend I made a Pavlova for my brother in law's fifty first birthday.

What I hate most about cooking this dessert is the leftover egg yolks.
My normal practise is to decant said egg yolks into a bowl, cover, store in fridge and forget.
Around the two-weeks-later-mark, I throw said egg yolks into compost bin.
This time I was determined not to follow this usual routine; maybe because I didn't want to waste fresh produce obtained from this month's Crop & Swap.
Instead I googled recipes for using up egg yolks.
The one that appealed to me the most was for making Crumb Cake.
Looks yummy...I'm yet to taste test.
Find the recipe here.  I substituted gluten free flour for the wheat flour and added half teaspoon xanthan gum.  I used raw sugar instead of white sugar and for the filling: frozen berries and canned apricot halves...because this was all I had.

In my eagerness to use up as many of the yolks as I possibly could, I made a little too much custard.
So I decided to make a Crème Broulee.  
To the excess cream and egg yolk mix I stirred in two teaspoons of sugar and quarter teaspoon vanilla bean paste, strained and poured into a ramekin. 
I stood the ramekin in a dish of water and baked it in the oven with the Crumb Cake.
I might like to add, I have NEVER made Crème Broulee before - only eaten it! Nor have I ever looked at a recipe for Crème Broulee.

The result; AMAZING. I WILL be making this again - every time I make Pavlova!
My burnt toffee topping wasn't perfect, I'll have to admit, but then using raw sugar probably didn't help!
Now, I'm too scared to look at a recipe for Crème Broulee to see how it's properly done...I might be disappointed.

1 comment:

  1. Wow I love your story!!!! And the coffee cake & cream broulee pictures are fabulous, NOM!!


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