Regular followers of It’s not easy being greedy will have seen that my dear mother features quite regularly on these pages. It’s from her that I learnt to cook (and learned not to burn things as regularly as her!) and I think it’s fair to say that I inherited my greediness from her too.
We live in different parts of London now but still see eachother regularly … those evenings certainly involve eating and usually involve cooking – whether that’s baking, or decorating cakes (I love this photo of her looking cheeky after we’d decorated Christmas cakes), or trying out a new recipe.
Mum has actually taught me a lot about the value of going back to basics in the kitchen: especially with the steamed steak and kidney pudding she helped me make, which was a revelation in terms of the simplicity of the ingredients.
A while ago she gave me her old recipe collection, which is an hilarious mixture of the random and the weird. My favourite ‘Mummies recipe’ is the cherry and coconut cake one, which was the first cake I baked on my own. I’d been working part time at a elderly care home in Sussex whilst completing the third year of my degree, and to earn some extra cash I offered to cover a sunday lunch shift … I thought it would be a nice change from my usual care assistant work.
I hadn’t quite appreciated that I was expected to cook a full sunday roast for 40 elderly ladies, plus make a cake for afternoon tea. I phoned my mum in a complete panic, asking her urgently for a recipe for a cake which the oldies would like, which would be simple to make, and one which I would most likely find the ingredients needed in the care home’s larder. She came up trumps with the cherry and coconut cake, and so I quadrupled the portions and put it in the oven to cook whilst I dished up sunday lunch.
The lunch was a resounding success – I like to think it’s because I was a phenomenal chef but I think it’s more likely to be the fact that I added seasoning to everything (not realising that some of the residents were on low sodium diets). The cake took forever to cook (I hadn’t realised – stupidly – that the quadruple quantity of cake mix would require a longer baking time) and when I eventually turned it out, the inside was undercooked and parts of the outside had stuck to the tin.
I salvaged what I could for afternoon tea, and the care assistants and I demolished the rest like a swarm of locusts eating our way through a field of greenery. It was utterly delicious, although rarely is warm cake not superb … especially if it’s slightly undercooked and gooey in the middle. Or is that just me? Regardless, after a student diet of pasta and baked beans, I thoroughly enjoyed the cake, and was also thrilled that the old ladies at the care home loved their dinner and begged me to be the sunday chef again.
After that I regularly covered the sunday chef role, and also did various supper chef shifts (less challenging dishes of sardines on toast this time), and consequently catering for large numbers of people has never phased me (and I learnt a valuable lesson about increasing cooking times when increasing quantities).
Another recipe in the collection of ‘Mummies recipes’ is no-fat teabread, which was doing the rounds when I was at secondary school. I remember my friend Clare giving me the recipe, and all the mums gave it a go. I love the fact that it is promoted as a no-fat cake, but I remember slathering it in butter before eating slices of it! And whilst it doesn’t have any fat in it, it’s packed full of sugar! I am sure we thought it was brilliantly healthy at the time though, and ate it by the loaf.
The other recipe in the book which I remember mum making is for Baileys cream whisky for Christmas. Its a simple one: beat together condensed milk, eggs, chocolate sauce and whisky for 3-5 minutes and bottle. My favourite part of the instructions are “leave in the fridge for 24 hours before drinking if possible“. No sorry, I could not possibly wait 24 hours before diving in!
One recipe I don’t remember mum making, but which I do want to try, is the ‘throw and chuck curry’. There are no quantities given for the ingredients (probably why mum never tried it) and the instructions include “throw in a tin of toms'” “chuck in raw spuds”, and “it’s best served one day later when you can slop it on to the plates”. Mmmmmm, sounds delicious …
If you want to read about some other times I have been learning from mum in the kitchen, then take a look at the following posts:
- Mum’s fish and chips
- Steamed puddings
- Lemon trifle
- Molten babycakes
- Christmas cake icing
- Cooking with mother
My mum is spending today at her caravan in Sussex, so I posted her present to her so she’d be able to open it today. It won’t surprise you to hear it’s edible – in fact it’s the ‘Mother’s day slab’ from Cocoa Loco (maker of the world’s best Easter egg!). I hope she enjoys it, and when she does come to visit next, I’ll make her a slap up meal to celebrate … maybe the throw and chuck curry!
Happy Mother’s Day to my lovely mum, and to all of my readers who are mums, have mums, or care for something or someone like a mum should! Have a lovely day.