Cooking has always been a big part of my life. Perhaps because my mother couldn’t cook, we had to learn fast. In fact my mother couldn’t even make a pot of tea. If visitors came to our house she would offer to make them tea. They might accept on their first visit, but never on their second. She never drank tea or coffee herself and was so heavy handed with tea leaves that the tea would spew from the spout as a thick tar coloured stream.
Being born during the war years, second that is for all the wits out there, sugar, sweets and chocolate were dietary rarities. Even into the 1950s, ration books were the order of the day. I remember being on the lorry which was organised by the local Baptist Church who ran the Sunday school in the village. Those good people were taking us a few miles from home on what would be our only holiday or excursion of the year. We were to camp on the floor of a local primary school in Roslin. There was a role call and round up of ration books before the lorry driver was permitted to take off and I, and some others, were sent racing home to pick up the forgotten ration books as the organisers wouldn’t take us without the precious food coupons on board.
Perhaps it was the lack of sugar and sweet things when I was growing up that made me yearn for sweet things and to make them myself. My mother used to call me, cakey Carol – amongst other things.
These days I have the pleasure of looking after my youngest grandson, now six, one afternoon a week. We always bake and he has become an expert at making pancakes since he was around three years old. These days we have progressed to scones, shortbread, gingerbread men, Victoria sponges, lemon layer cakes, chocolate cakes and his favourite, rocky road. We are working our way through the Good Housekeeping Cookery Book and he looks up a picture of a cake he fancies making and we check whether I have all the ingredients in the cupboard and set forth if I have.
Yesterday was a rocky road day and he duly smashed the Crunchie Bars in their wrappers, smashed the digestive biscuits until they were crumbs, added the melted chocolate and stirred the mixture before adding the tiny pink and white marshmallows.
I tipped the mixture into the prepared tray, smoothed it out and put it in the fridge to set. Meanwhile he licked the bowls, spoons and spatulas before taking his chair up to the sink so he could wash up. He only used half a bottle of washing up liquid, announcing, ‘See Nan, I have left you some.’ There have been times when he has used a whole bottle and the soapy suds have flowed all over the sink, counter tops and the floor.
He had to change his teeshirt which was soaked through, but had brought spares with him in his clothes bag, and insisted the chocolate stained wet one was washed in the machine before his mother collected him.
The only other drama yesterday was him accidentally locking my bedroom. Thankfully he was in the hall and not in the bedroom. He used to lock the bedroom doors and the bathroom door regularly when he was around 3 or 4 and at times locked himself in the bathroom. One time when he locked the bathroom door from the outside and was running around with the keys hanging out of his back pocket, I asked him how the gardener would get into the toilet. ‘It’s okay Nan. He just has to ask me and I will open the door for him!’ was the response as he patted the bunch of keys in his pocket.
So I removed the keys and hid them safely away a few years ago.
Still he managed to lock my bedroom door yesterday without the keys. ‘It’s okay Nan, you can sleep in the bedroom next door if you can’t find the keys.’ was his helpful advice yesterday. Neither a knife, screwdriver or any of the variety of spare keys in the kitchen drawer would work yesterday. Eventually I discovered the hiding place of two years ago and found the original keys so was able to unlock the door.
Whether I will be able to leave the keys in the room locks is another matter as I now have a granddaughter, his little sister, who is eighteen months and has a perverse interest in following in her big brother’s footsteps.