Cooking or Baking? Which do you prefer? Or do you even make a distinction?
If I’m honest, I’m a more of a ‘GBBO’ girl than a ‘Masterchef’ fan, but neither are watchable without a generous side helping of snacks to accompany. Heaven help me if they ever bring out ‘smelly-vision’… that will really be the death of my finely-tuned, svelte, hourglass figure…*cough* , who am I kidding?
Back in my childhood 1970’s, baking or cooking in the parental household followed a predictable weekly pattern. You could definitely tell what day it was by the following menu:
Sundays: a roast of some kind. Mostly lamb or beef, with all the trimmings. Followed by a fruit crumble or pie (all home made) and custard. Always for lunch, so that we could have a proper sunday ‘tea’ at 5pm – sandwiches, jam tarts, sliced luncheon meat.
Mondays: Cold cuts (leftovers from the Sunday roast) and salad (the most dreaded meal of the week from the thrifty WW2 mentality of the parents)
Tuesdays: usually something ‘exotic’ like spaghetti bolognese (This was about as ‘foreign’ as food got in the 1970’s, other than the occasional tin of Sainsbury’s chicken curry Dad had a penchant for)
Wednesdays: Perhaps a shepherd’s pie made with ‘proper’ mince sourced from the local butcher.
Thursdays: for some reason I’m drawing a blank here….
Fridays: Fish, of course! if we were lucky, deep fried with chips from the ‘chippy’, or some kind of grilled flat fish like plaice (I loved the red spots on the skin) or if things were tight on the money front, tinned sardines (double triple yuk)
Saturdays were usually lamb or pork chops (aka soles of shoes with gritty fat rind) with mash, gravy and veg.
Dessert … or desert?
If you’re looking for the dessert options (or pudding as it was called in our house) this would usually be some kind of fruit cocktail from a tin with evaporated milk, or maybe a packet of Angel’s Delight. If really lucky, an apple ‘snow’ which was basically pureed apple mixed with whisked egg whites and topped with a little cream (or the ‘top of the milk’).
Quite often though, puddings only made an appearance on Sundays, and this didn’t really seem to matter to me, unlike my own kids who demand to know what’s for pudding most days before they’ve even lifted their cutlery to the main course, presumably to determine whether it would be worth their while eating the whole plateful or not (no pudding without eating all your main, that’s the rule in our house and one which is non-negotiable).
Mum was the central figure I remember in terms of the bulk of the home cooking. I can picture her very clearly in her flowery brown pinny, baking some kind of Victoria sponge or perhaps a pavlova on a Sunday morning before the compulsory 11am church service. It was in the warm kitchen, mostly on Sundays and sometimes after school, that I could be found as a small child, standing on the rickety old painted chair, eagerly lapping up every ounce (and it was ounces, not grams!) of wisdom and culinary trickery I could.
make it from scratch
Mum was a fantastic cook, and an even better baker (reference my first question in this post), and it was by listening and watching closely that I picked up the skills and tips needed to master a decent sponge, meringue, or even a good, from scratch- not- a -packet, gravy and have never really had to rely on a recipe to come up with some great meal options.
One of the first recipes I absorbed for many later uses was the mantra of the 3 eggs, 6 ounces of flour, sugar, butter, then 20 mins at 180 deg C needed for a Vic sponge. I still cannot work in grams because mum taught me in ounces and that’s what makes sense to me. Much like feet and inches, not centimeters, or pounds not kilos.
I hope I’ve managed to pass some of these skills on to my own kids, as we still as a family (as a 95% of the time rule), cook from scratch, not from packets or ready meals, and the open plan kitchen diner is definitely a godsend in this respect. Every action and consequence is very visible to the gathered audience. And if the consequences are really spectacularly dire, then there’s always a 4- legged friend to eagerly lap up any misdemeanors!
Mini budding chefs!
My youngest is a brilliant budding chef. Most mornings before school he makes himself bacon and eggs (he’s 10), has made his own packed lunch for years, and will very happily create amazing flavour combinations which just seem to be pure inspiration. He has a natural talent and a great palate. To be encouraged since most 10 year olds I know don’t even make their own toast, never mind a full meal. I view this not only as a fantastic skill for him, but also one more tick in the ‘getting them to independence’ list which I have in my mental store.
I really hope he’s picked at least some of this up from me, and by definition therefore his Nanna whom he sadly never had the chance to meet, but has definitely made her influence felt in a number of ways.
I really believe in cooking from scratch wherever possible. Not only is it more cost-effective than ready meals, especially for a family of 5, but the taste and health benefits (hidden sugar in ready meals anyone?) speak for themselves. I’ve even got the whole shopping thing down to a fine art by scanning a recipe book, writing down the ingredients needed for the 7 meals I’ll be planning, and whizzing as fast as humanly possible through Lidl or Aldi to source said ingredients.
planning the week
The ‘menu’ (literally) goes up for public viewing on a Sunday (attached by penguin fridge magnet) so that everyone has the chance to view (and complain to deaf ears) about the forthcoming choices for the week, and we all know where we are with things. Did I mention myself and the husband are Virgos? It’s all in the planning folks!
Going back to my original question of Baking vs Cooking, if I thought I could reasonably get through life just eating cake, of course that’s what I’d prefer (and who wouldn’t?), but in the interests of not getting scurvy or a call from social services about malnourished kids, a balance has to be struck, so these days I’m really glad that mum taught me all about both.
Originally posted 2016-12-30 21:01:28.