After three weeks in the 30-odd degree sunshine of Guatemala and Belize, I have returned to an England which might not be unfamiliar to the Bronte sisters. Its late May, but there has been snow in some parts of the country. In London its 9 degrees Celsius and its raining; its been this way – more or less – over the last fortnight.
The good news about the cold, rainy weather – the only good news about the cold, rainy weather – is that I have an excuse to wear my new wellies A LOT and I get to eat porridge for breakfast every morning. (By now I would normally have switched to a bircher muesli for the summer) The café in my building makes excellent porridge. I know, I could make it myself at home for pennies – but for £2.50 I get a pot of porridge, a skinny cappuccino and a chat with Alvin, fellow foodie and café manager.
I had been desperately hoping to host a BBQ this coming long weekend. In anticipation of that, I had a builder come round last Saturday to construct a wooden deck in the back garden and I employed my husband to put together the John Lewis BBQ we were given as a wedding present last autumn. The rattan outdoor sofa set with matching coffee table has been artfully arranged on the deck and I’ve attempted to give the place that smack of Pottery Barn style with conch shells, pillar candles in glass hurricane vases and throw cushions…none of which have any business being outside in cold, wet English gloom. And as its now looking less and less like BBQ weather, I may be trading in prawn kebabs and sunscreen for central heating and comfort food. In fact, I might make some gingerbread.
This is old fashioned Nova Scotian gingerbread. I’m fairly sure it came off the back of a packet of something or other sometime back in the 1950’s because my best friend Sarah’s grandmother’s recipe is exactly the same as my own grandmother’s recipe.
Hot Water Gingerbread
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup Crosby’s fancy molasses (Brits – you’ll need to use dark treacle here)
1/2 cup hot water (near boiling)
6-8 Tablespoons melted shortening (Not butter. Shortening.)
1. Mix dry ingredients.
2. Beat egg and add molasses, sugar and hot water.
3. Combine the dry and wet ingredients.
4. Add shortening
5. Pour in 8 by 8 inch square cake tin.
6. Bake 350 for 45 minutes.
Sarah’s Mom says that this recipe doubles really well (their family is much bigger than mine). Also the old, dark metal tin which used to belong to Sarah’s Nana has gone missing, so if you see it, please send it back to her.
Last week I went to a wedding breakfast. Literally. The ceremony was a short registry office affair which Mr Harris and I witnessed at Chelsea Old Town Hall at 9.15 and by 9.45 we were seated in Chelsea Quarter Café, perusing the menu.
I thought of saying to my husband, “see, we could have done it like that!” but then thought better of it. When Mr Harris first proposed to me, I had suggested a registry office affair, followed by lunch with a few nearest and dearest. I envisioned myself in a chic Italian Jackie O-style ivory cocktail dress ensemble with ¾ length jacket and a birdcage veil. But that suggestion (the registry office ceremony, not the dress) went down like a cup of cold sick. And so, we did it all. The long ivory dress & morning suit. The Church of England ceremony. The silver Daimler. The John Lewis gift list. The ridiculously expensive floral arrangements. The champagne reception with live jazz pianist. The three course Livery Hall dinner, complete with speeches, specifically designed to induce stress to the bride and groom and halt digestion of the large meal just consumed. We had day guests. We had evening guests. And we all danced the night away to the band before my husband whisked me away to a chic Clerkenwell hotel.
But back to the wedding breakfast. The happy groom suggested ordering a bottle of champagne (perfectly reasonable, I thought) until his equally happy, but 5 months’ pregnant new wife gave him an incredulous glance and we all opted for freshly pressed juices instead. Probably for the best, as Mr Harris was on a tight schedule – he had to get to Corrigan’s of Mayfair for a client’s retirement lunch by 12.45pm. (A broker’s life is a difficult one, you see.)
The groom & I both ordered eggs Florentine, served with the thickest and yellowiest hollandaise I’ve ever seen in my life. But not thick or yellow in a horrible, fake way. It was delicious. Mr Harris, ever the traditionalist, went for eggs Benedict. And the bride went for a sausage & egg butty. It was all excellent. I downed the last of my ginger, apple and carrot juice as the groom took care of the bill, and by 11.30 we had all wended our way to Sloane Square tube station and said our goodbyes.
As I made my way home on the tube, I thought about how relaxed and pleasant the whole affair had been. I wondered why more weddings weren’t like this. I thought of the newlyweds, and I silently cheered “well done you two”.
Dear readers… I wrote this post nearly two weeks ago, but my laptop died somewhere along the way. I hope you enjoy the memories of the London snow & the recipe for pastitsio (regular, vegetarian & gluten-free versions)….
London has been blanketed in a rare covering of snow these last few days and from what I can see, its only us owners of large dogs who dare to don our arctic gear and bravely head out into the 2 inches of snow. It gives me a chance to show off my new down coat from UniQlo – a Christmas present from my mother. Despite the fact that I am constantly cold in the general London state of damp, I feel oddly warm when out in the snow; so after this morning’s excursion through Peckham Rye Park, Gwenny (the dog) and I elected to spend some time in the front garden brushing clear the walkway of snow, just enjoying the quiet as the snow continued to fall.
Cold weather requires some serious carbs and in anticipation of today’s serious snowfall, I spent yesterday morning dragging Mr Harris through Waitrose to get the ingredients for a pastitsio – something I had never made before. Having spent the last 25 years as a pescatarian, I also had no idea how it was meant to taste either. I normally turn to Vefa’s Kitchen whenever I decide to try a new Greek recipe, but on this occasion I decided to try Rick Stein’s version.
Here’s Rick making his recipe:
First of all, let me say that to anyone who describes this pastitsio as a ‘Greek lasagne’ – you are doing pastitsio a severe injustice. Its actually nothing like a Greek lasagne, except that both involve ragu and pasta in a sort of layering system. Ok, so I can see why you would describe it as a Greek lasagne, but I can’t tell you how much infinitely better pastitsio is. Sorry to any Italian readers, but its true.
I went to great pains to make two versions – mine was made with gluten-free corn penne and Quorn mince. Mr Harris’ version was made with tortiglioni and mince from some of Prince Charles’ horribly expensive aberdeen angus cows. I knew that all the extra work & additional expense in making two versions was totally worth it when my husband tried a mouthful of each and announced “yeah…actually, you can’t really tell the difference”. I suspect the reason for that is because of the incredibly pungent and yet extremely counterintuitive combination of Greek flavours: oregano, cinnamon & tomato. It gives that…what’s the Greek for ‘je ne sais quois’? (According to my Babylon translator that’s Δεν ξέρω τι.) Ok, so it gives that Δεν ξέρω τι to a lot of Greek dishes. It feels wrong, but as soon as the oregano liberates its fragrant oil and the cinnamon sticks start to soften and unfurl and release their flavours slowly into the sauce, the smell is distinct and the flavour does not disappoint. It tastes exactly as its meant to and all the oregano in the world alone cannot achieve it without the accompanying cinnamon.
A few pointers along the way. I will say that when making the white sauce, this is not the time for skimmed milk. I used a combination of whole milk and 2% milk. It needs to be rich, creamy, calorific and very nutmeggy. Also, tomato paste. It comes in metal tubes and they last for ages when kept in the fridge. Why buy a jar which will be half used and covered in a field of fuzzy mould next week? Unless you actually cook with it everyday, just stock up on tubes of proper Italian or Greek tomato paste and keep them in the fridge after they’ve been opened. I have included my notes on how to make vegetarian & gluten free adaptations of the recipe at the bottom.
For the meat sauce
4 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 kg lean minced beef
200 ml red wine
500 ml passata
4 tbsp tomato paste
2 x 10 cm cinnamon sticks
¼ tsp ground cloves
2 tbsp dried oregano, Greek if possible
2 tbsp fresh chopped oregano
3 fresh bay leaves
For the pasta
500 g tubularpasta, such as rigatoni, tubetti or tortiglioni
2 eggs, lightly beaten
50 g Greek kefalotiri cheese or parmesan, finely grated
2 tbsp butter, melted, for greasing
10 g fresh white breadcrumbs
For the white sauce
115 g butter
115 g plain flour
1.2 litres whole milk, plus a little extra
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1. For the meat sauce: heat the olive oil in a medium-sized pan. Add the onion & garlic and fry until just beginning to brown. Add the minced beef and fry over a high heat for 3-4 minutes, breaking up any lumps with the wooden spoon. (If you’re making the vegetarian version, don’t add the Quorn here – just cook the sauce down on its own and add the Quorn at the very end)
2. Add the red wine, tomatoes, tomato paste, cinnamon stick, ground cloves, dried and fresh oregano, bay leaves, 100ml water, 1½ teaspoons salt and some black pepper. Simmer for 30-40 minutes, stirring now and then, until the sauce has thickened but is still nicely moist. Discard the cinnamon stick and bay leaves.
3. For the pasta: bring 4.5 litres water to the boil in a large saucepan with 8 teaspoons salt. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, taking care not to overcook as the pasta will cook a little further in the oven. Drain well, transfer to a large bowl and leave to cool slightly.
4. For the white sauce: melt the butter in a medium-sized non-stick saucepan. Add the flour and cook, stirring, over a medium heat for 1 minute. Gradually beat in the milk, then bring to the boil, stirring. Lower the heat and leave to simmer for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with the nutmeg and some salt and pepper to taste.
5. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4. Stir 250ml (about one-fifth) of the white sauce into the warm pasta with the beaten eggs and half the grated cheese. Keep the remaining sauce warm over a low heat, stirring now and then and adding more milk if it begins to get a little thick.
6. Use the melted butter to grease a large, shallow ovenproof dish that measures about 23cm x 33cm x 7cm. Spread one-third of the pasta over the base of the dish and cover with half the meat sauce. Add another third of the pasta, then the rest of the meat sauce, then a final layer of pasta.
7. Spoon over the remaining white sauce. Mix the last of the grated cheese with the breadcrumbs and sprinkle over the top. Bake for 40 minutes, or until bubbling hot and golden brown. This recipe makes 10-12 portions.
Vegetarian version: If you’re making a vegetarian version, exchange the meat for two boxes of Quorn mince, but don’t let it stew in the tomato sauce as you would with the meat. Just add it to the tomato sauce at the very end, just before you start the layering process. Be sure to use a vegetarian parmesan if you’re not using the Greek cheese.
Gluten-free version: I made my version gluten-free by using gluten-free flour in the white sauce, gluten free Dove’s Farm corn penne and gluten free breadcrumbs. I keep an inexpensive stockpile of gluten-free breadcrumbs by whizzing leftover slices of Sainsbury’s disgusting Free From gluten free white bread in the food processor, letting it dry out on a baking tray, and storing it in a large tupperware container, for future use.
January is like pushing the reset button on all the bad habits accumulated throughout the year.
For the average Londoner, bad habits start somewhere around June or July, with long Sunday afternoons spent in a beer garden or alongside the Thames, eating fried or roasted meaty things with chips on the side and drinking bottles of wine or pints of lager. Autumn comes, and we start replacing fresh salads with ‘warm’ salads – healthy but calorific and carborific (sure, that can be a word). Festivities continue in the lead up to Christmas and by mid December, there’s a reason to celebrate with a meal or a glass of something sparkly nearly every day. You can hardly fight off all the greasy little canapés washed back with sickly sweet Bucks Fizz, wodges of stilton chased by lashings of port, and seemingly endless tins of nasty Quality Street at every turn. And of course Christmas is simply one massive glut, culminating in the traditional New Years Eve champagne & fois gras. Which is rather appropriate – I suspect our own livers probably don’t look dissimilar by that stage.
But then 1 January comes and a new year.
The reset button is pressed, and we’re all eating superfoods, drinking wheatgrass shots and joining gyms we’ll only be using for the sauna & towel service by April.
Our bowels don’t know WHAT has happened.
Fibre. Liquid Fasts. Detoxes. And those beautiful, highly pigmented superfoods, which we read about from time to time in the Observer and immediately proceed to Waitrose to empty the shelves of red quinoa, sweet potato, spinach or whatever the trendy superfood of the week happens to be. The naturally occurring chemical compounds responsible for all those jewel tones and the other sensual qualities in superfoods, such as colour and smell, are caused by phytochemicals. They’re what give turmeric its fabulous colour and garlic its love-it-or-hate-it smell. Preliminary investigations into phytochemicals indicate there are potential effects on diseases such as cancer, arthritis, diabetes and other illnesses. This, of course, is not really any surprise to anyone who subscribes to naturopathy or a variety of other traditional medicinal beliefs from around the world. I’ll admit – I do love a good evidence base, and look forward to seeing research findings in the coming years. In the meantime, when did good nutrition ever hurt anybody?
So when my Nana asked me to come up with a good recipe using barley, my mind instantly turned to her favoured spice of choice: turmeric. Risotto (or orzotto, as its called when you use barley) is excellent because you can use practically any sturdy grain and flavour it with pretty much anything you like. My recipe below is enough for two generous main courses.
250 g dehulled or pearl barley
2 tsp olive oil
Handful of dried mushrooms soaked in 2 cups boiled water
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
250 ml white wine (optional)
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed or diced
1 Tbs turmeric (optional)
1 tsp dried oregano
Parmesan to taste – I used 3 heaped Tbs for the whole serving (optional)
Fleur de sel & pepper to taste
- In a medium-large saucepan, heat 1 tsp of the olive oil and lightly soften, without browning, the diced onion & garlic. Turn up the heat to med-high and toss in the barley. Give it a quick stir around for 45 seconds or so, until it has absorbed all the oil. If you have any wine sitting about, you can throw it in now (it will burn off all the alcohol, you detox nuts!) and there should be a satisfying sizzle noise as the grains of barley suck up all the liquid. This will happen fairly quickly. Stir with a wooden spoon.
- Add the dried mushrooms and their soaking liquid. You can turn the heat down to a medium or medium-low now, but keep stirring with the wooden spoon. Don’t stop stirring. (Now is a good time for a phone call. Chat while you stir.) As each portion of liquid is absorbed and the starches start to leak out into the liquid, add more liquid. You can add the balsamic vinegar at this stage, as well as the dried oregano and the turmeric. If you’re feeling particularly decadent, a strand or two of saffron wouldn’t go astray here either.
- After about 25-35 minutes of stirring, you should have plumped up grains of barley in a thick liquid. You don’t want the orzotto to get too dry or to resemble a soup, either. You want it to be…for lack of a better description…risotto-like!
- If you’re not trying to get turmeric into your diet, then feel free to leave it out. If there are other spices you’re trying to integrate into your diet for health reasons, add them now – there’s nowhere to hide spices like a risotto or orzotto. But, if you’re not on a January diet, then, heck, now is the time to toss in some crispy pancetta pieces, small wedges of blue cheese and oven-roasted cubes of butternut squash.
- Season with salt & pepper and immediately before serving, quickly stir in a handful of parmesan. Obviously, if you’re vegan or off dairy, leave this bit out – just add a bit more salt.
They say you should start the year as you mean to go on.
I don’t know about that; that sounds like a challenge for tomorrow morning. But if how you end it says anything, I should worry.
My shoulders are permanently knotted from work stress and they make a range of snap, crackle, pop and clickity noises whenever I move my head, neck, arms or shoulders.
My memory is so bad, I have a near total dependence on the Google function of my iPhone to recall the most basic of facts. (“That actor who was in that movie…he was also in that…other movie. With the other guy. I can’t remember his name either. Hang on, let me Google this…”)
Yesterday I spent 10 minutes – 10 solid minutes – nattering on to my husband about various train/tube/overground routes and the lack of consistency in Oyster charging policy across the Greater London TFL network yesterday. (At this rate, I fully anticipate by the end of 2013 I’ll be standing at the end of Platform 1 at London Bridge station with my pencil and notebook in hand, engaging in heated debates with my new – and by then only – friends, the other trainspotters: “Clapham Junction; its just not a junction!”)
And finally, this morning I appear to have left the house dressed, well…really not that dissimilarly to Mr Tumnus (tweed jacket, cashmere turtleneck jumper, long scarf and carrying a cane umbrella). Possibly a side effect of watching too much Narnia on Channel 4 this Christmas.
One good thing, however, is that I started the day with a slice of my excellent upside down breakfast cake. And unlike the name of that actor who was in that movie with the other actor, I actually have this recipe committed to memory.
3 oz butter
3 oz low fat crème fraiche
6 oz caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 oz flour
½ tsp salt
2 ½ tsp baking powder
A quantity of cut fruit, a few small extra knobs of butter & 3 tbs dark brown sugar
Step One: Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing thoroughly between each addition, followed by the crème fraiche and vanilla extract.
Step Two: Sift the flour and baking powder and add the salt. Fold the liquid with the dry ingredients and mix only until the ingredients are moistened and there are no flour lumps left.
Step Three: Prepare two small loaf tins by greasing the sides. (I also line mine with a long strip of parchment, the width of the loaf tin, to help the cake avoid sticking to the sides when turning the loaves out.)
Step Four: If the fruit you are using is a small berry, such as a blueberry, use it whole, but larger fruit, such as apples or pears will need to be cut into small manageable chunks. Place the fruit in the base of both tins, around an inch thick, and then evenly scatter a few small knobs of butter and 1.5 tbs of dark brown sugar on top of that, so it can create its own caramel as its baking. Pour the batter on top of each loaf tin.
Step Five: Bake the loaves, undisturbed, in an oven at 190C for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let sit for no less than 5 but no more than 10 minutes before inverting onto a baking rack or serving plate. Let cool before slicing into thick slices – a perfect accompaniment to a cup of strong black coffee.
I make an excellent trifle…though I do say so myself…
Four years ago I bought a beautiful LSA crystal trifle bowl at the John Lewis on Oxford Street. The first reaction of my then boyfriend, was that I would never use the trifle bowl and it was a waste of £40 and precious storage space. At that time, we lived in a one bedroom flat in Bermondsey; a beautifully designed home that by all rights should have been the perfect pied a terre for city professionals with a large country home in Norfolk or Wiltshire. Just like us…minus the large country home in Norfolk or Wiltshire. With the absence of any storage whatsoever, it was absolutely essential that each item we owned had to serve a purpose, if not several purposes.
So in order that I would always have the moral upper ground, as least as far as my frivolous purchase was concerned, my trifle bowl spent much of the year, serving as an urn for displaying leafy Spanish mandarins, bright knobbly Sicilian lemons, shiny and jewel-toned pink pomegranates or really whatever happened to be in season. And once a year, at the great family gathering in Sussex on Christmas or Boxing Day, my trifle bowl would display its true splendour and serve its intended use.
As, I have discovered, trifles are surprisingly sturdy. I have preassembled and carried them across the home counties on trains, in the boot of my car (bumping wildly over country lanes), and I have jostled them along London streets, wedged into a hemp Whole Foods carrier bag. It always survives and always looks a masterpiece when displayed on the table or the sideboard.
Eventually the time came to prepare to sell our flat and my boyfriend took great pleasure in placing my beloved trifle bowl in storage. In fact, last Christmas I never even had an opportunity to use it, as it was locked away over the holiday period. (While I describe him like a pantomime villain, he really is very nice, and I did in fact eventually marry him, despite his general disrespect for my trifle-related paraphernalia.)
So this year, when friends invited us to their home for Boxing Day dinner…their large country home in Wiltshire, I might add…I didn’t hesitate to shamelessly offer to bring the trifle. Through politeness, or perhaps a lack of opportunity to refuse, our hosts appeared grateful and accepted.
After feasting on gravadlax on rye toasts, spatchcocked poussin and creamy dauphinoise, my trifle made its appearance. No one usually holds very high hopes for trifle. (I’ve seen many a layered Jell-O, pineapple and Cool Whip creation lurking on British supermarket shelves, claiming trifle status. I can appreciate the general cool attitude towards it.) I was offered by my host to be mother, and I took the opportunity, assertively spooning equal proportions of the deep layers into each of the dessert bowls.
“Oh, Kelly” my host gasped, in what I think was genuine surprise, “from now on, you are in charge of all things sugar.” And I blushed with much false modesty.
So, with some hesitation, I share my precious, yet simple, trifle recipe with you:
12 trifle sponges (around 300 g)
1 medium (100 g) sponge flan base (optional)
1 litre of custard (homeade or store bought)
1 litre of whipping cream, whipped to soft peaks
1 x 400 g bag frozen raspberries
200 g fresh blueberries, raspberries or blackberries
1 small jar (around 300 g) raspberry conserve
A quantity of Amontillado sherry, to taste
Fresh raspberries or red currants, to decorate
Step One: Cut all the sponge fingers in half and make small jam sandwiches with them. Arrange these in the base of the trifle bowl and drizzle liberally with a good glug of Amontillado sherry – around 4-5 tablespoons. (You don’t want the sponge fingers to become too wet, though, as the raspberry juices will need to be soaked up later.) You can do this step the night before, should you wish.
Step Two: Create an even layer of frozen raspberries on top of the sherried sponges. This is where I pause if I am taking this dish to someone else’s house. Placing the raspberries on the sponges around lunchtime will mean that the raspberries will have thawed by dessert, later that evening, and the juices will have soaked into the sponge.
Step Three: If you have a medium sponge flan case, place it on top of the now thawed raspberries, and fill it with the remainder of the jar of raspberry conserve and the 200 g of fresh berries. It should help contain the custard and create a layer of sponge which isn’t as soggy as the bottom layer.
Step Four: I wouldn’t do this step until probably an hour or two before serving. Pour the custard over the sponge flan & berries and spread the softly (unsweetened) whipped cream in an even layer atop the custard. I usually finish mine with a small crown of fresh raspberries, cape gooseberries or red currants (as shown).
For those of you who haven’t read the Telegraph this morning…
Apparently “Foodscape photographer Carl Warner uses fresh fruit, vegetables and meat to bring his imagination to life. His latest book, A World of Food, includes this picture, entitled ‘Candy Cottage’. He compares his work to Willy Wonka’s creations in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”
The images are all a bit on the overly processed side for my taste, but nonetheless, a lot of work went into them, its fun to figure out how they’re made and they’re enjoyable to flip through as you’re having a cup of coffee this morning…I’m sure I’ve validated Carl’s career with that sentence alone.
Tuesday 30 October: This is great! My first day of work in Euston. North London is very cool. I guess that makes me cool. And trendy. I am going to be cool and trendy and work in North London.
Wednesday 31 October: There sure doesn’t seem to be many places around here to eat. Maybe I’ll just go back to the Pret a Manger in the station and have another falafel & halloumi wrap today. Tomorrow I’ll go to Camden, Marylebone or Islington to pick up some lunch from somewhere cool & trendy, like North Londoners do.
Thursday 1 November: Wow. North London is big. Maybe I’ll just get another one of those falafel & halloumi wraps…
Friday 2 November: Thank God I’m not in North London today.
Monday 5 November: I can’t face Pret a Manger again. I just can’t. I’ll just try something else. Harry Ramsden’s Euston Express…why am I standing in this que at Harry Ramsden’s Euston Express? Move. Just leave the que. You’re next; hurry. Run…nope, too late. “I’ll have the fish goujons & chips please, with diet coke”.
Why did I just do that? Why am I buying fish & chips?
For lunch. On a Monday.
I am neither a builder nor a pensioner.
What do I do with them now? I can’t take them back to the office. Here, I’ll just sit in the Harry Ramsden’s section of the station cafeteria on the pleather chairs, betwixt the aspidistras and brass railings, and pretend I’m waiting for my train to Birmingham or Warrington or something.
I really hope no one from the office sees me.
This is a new low…
Tuesday 6 November: Never again will the Harry Ramsden’s debacle ever happen. I have brought a cheese sandwich today.
Wednesday 7 November: Cheese sandwich again. And an apple. A memento from happier days shopping at Borough Market…where they have food.
Thursday 8 November: This is
great not fun anymore. My first seventh day of work in Euston and apparently they don’t eat sushi or salads that don’t involve pasta & a 50% mayonnaise content here. North London is very cool, but not where I am. Wow, I guess that makes me cool a bit silly. And trendy…not so much. I am going to be cool a bit silly and not so trendy and work in North London.
And I’m tired of cheese sandwiches.
I’m sorry it has to end this way – before its even started really – but I just don’t think this is going to work. I know there was that weekend away at our mutual friends’ country place in Wiltshire where I flirted with you a bit and brought you back to my place in London. I got swept up in your cinnamony, appley, moist, cakey goodness, I guess, but this really can’t be a long term thing.
Its me, not you.
I think it stems from the late ’80′s when Mum brought home that jar of Friendship Muffin starter. They were great at first – big plumpy, fruit-filled muffins. But then, the muffins never ended. Ever. Friendship Muffin starter took over and soon there were large wooden bowls of the stuff, lounging about under teatowels and bubbling away happily in its own sour pong in every warm corner of the house. I can’t remember who eventually moved out first – us or him?
I guess I was emotionally scarred by that experience and although I’ll always wonder what you and I could have achieved in our baking partnership, I guess I just can’t commit.
Also, I’ve read about you online. Like any modern girl, I Googled you after the first encounter and I found out what you were called. I know all about you now. Back in the ’70′s you were really popular and women passed you from kitchen to kitchen, where they fed you and cared for you. But you can’t fool me – nowadays you’re not cool anymore and the only place you’re talked about is in naff places like Mumsnet.com and The Daily Mail. They say that before you’re baked, you smell of old socks and that you take days to get ready. Ten days in fact. I just don’t have the time for you; I have a life to get on with and frankly, I don’t think my friends would like you. You smell.
Someone explained you to a five year old recently. She just frowned and shrugged, and then declared “That’s silly. Why don’t we just make a proper cake? Then we can eat it today.”
So goodbye, Herman the German Friendship Cake. I hope that you may continue to happily gurgle and bubble across the world for decades to come. Really, I wish you well. Just not in my kitchen.
With kindest regards