Monthly Archives: July 2011

Kitchen memory of something lemony

 

My dear friend Mrs A has, over the years that I have known her, mentioned her Mother’s Lemon Butter recipe on several occasions.  In my world it is called Lemon Curd but who cares what it is called when it tastes this good.  A long time ago, I fell in love with lemon curd, served on hot buttered toast, probably made by my Mummy.  The toast, not the curd, Mummy was far too busy bringing up three children ( I include my father in this category) and having a very successful full time career to make lemon curd.  She pretty much made everything else from scratch so we’ll let her off on this one…

Anyway, this is not my story, nor my mother’s story.  It is Mrs A’s mothers story.  I’m not going to pretend to know a lot about her but I know that her daughter loved/loves her dearly and misses her terribly and that every year she makes her Mum’s lemon butter recipe and enters it into the local country show and I’m pretty sure that it wins every time.  And now I have tasted it, I can see why.  It truly is the recipe I have been searching for, after making a crappy lemon curd last week where I had just grabbed a recipe from the internet, I was feeling disenchanted and slightly lost.  Lemon curd has a dizzying effect on me…  After procuring some lemons grown on a friends farm and some eggs laid by some friends chooks, I was ready.  I had asked Mrs A for the recipe and being the ‘just do it’ kind of lady that she is, I arrived home that night to find an email from her which was a scanned copy of her mother’s recipe, complete with elegant handwriting from yesteryear, splotches from leaving the recipe too near the stove and measurements in pounds and ounces.  It was like opening somebody elses mail, I felt like I was intruding somehow.  But a message from Mrs A reassured me, ‘cook it with love, she said’ and when I thanked her for giving me the recipe she said ‘special recipes for special people’. 

I enjoy the process of standing at my stove and stirring and stirring, I turn up the music (normally something heartfelt that I can sing loudly to) put a glass of wine within easy reach and stir and stir contentedly.  The first taste of the silky, buttery smooth yellow curd was lovely, just the right balance of sharp and sweet.  It seemed rude not to make an event of it so I baked two little sponges and made a version of Victoria Sponge but the filling was lemon buttercream and lemon curd.  However, the curd splurged out all over the place when I put the top of the cake on, which was my fault as I was rushing to get to the pub with Mr T.  I think next time I will make little butterfly cakes and pipe the curd in them… 

This recipe is a keeper, it went straight into my own, handwritten recipe book and I know I will make it many, many times.  For me, it represents everything that cooking is, it is about knowledge learnt from loved ones, knowledge learnt from wiser ones and using good, honest ingredients.  I don’t care how much butter and sugar it has in it, I know where the eggs came from, I know where the lemons came from and I know where the recipe came from.  From a mother.  And there’s not much, more honest thing in the world than maternal love. 

 

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Little chef goes national

I’m back!  To those that have missed me; I am sorry.  To those who haven’t; expletive, expletive!

Well, there’s been a wee bit happening in Little Chef central recently.  I don’t think  I mentioned that I entered another chef competition, otherwise known as Apprentice of the year.  Every time I enter another competition, I wonder why I put myself through it and Mr T also wonders why I put myself through it.  The stress, the preparation, the training, the practicing, the planning, the stress, did I say stress already?  Yes, it’s hard, yes, I don’t sleep for weeks, yes, it’s scary but it is also, worth it, as our old friends at Loreal used to say. 

And it is even more worthwhile, when something good happens.  Amazingly, I can report that something good did happen and that something good came in the shape of a gold medal.  I was nervous as I sat in the audience at the presentation ceremony, Mr T told me to stop jigging my leg obsessively, I hadn’t even noticed I was doing it.  About 4 hours sleep and no food since 6 am (it was now 3pm) makes me jittery at the best of times, let alone when I’m anxiously waiting for the results of a competition where I thought I had delivered a pretty poor performance.  Apparently, not quite as poor as I had imagined. 

Just before the ceremony commenced, a judge walked up to me and asked me where I worked.  This made Mr T slightly suspicious…’why would he ask that if you haven’t got a medal’?  At this point, I thought I might have scraped a bronze…again.  So, the bronze medal was called and it wasn’t my name they called, and then the silver and it wasn’t my name they called and I turned to Mr T and said, ‘It’s obviously not my year’ and he said ‘Maybe you’ve got gold’ and I said something along the lines of ‘don’t be so bloody stupid’.  And then, it happened.  They called my name.  And I sat there.  And I sat there.  And then Mr T told me to get up and then there were teeny tiny tears rolling down my cheeks that I prayed no-one could see and my heart was beating a million miles an hour.  Photo’s were taken, medals were received and I sat back down next to Mr T and asked ‘Did I just get a gold medal?’  To which, he replied simply, Yes. 

Now I get to compete in Darwin in ‘The Nationals’.  If you’re keen for more details of what I cooked in the comp, what went wrong, who burned who with a hot spatula ( just jokes ) then post a comment and I will write another blog with foodie details… And here’s a little bit of media http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/regional/southwest/a/-/youth/9808509/masters-from-apprentices/

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