In our house every meal is cooked from scratch bar maybe 3 or 4 times a year when we might have ready made curry. Some things have an aura around them before you’ve made them and realised they are really easy. I made crème brûlée for the first time last month and it was very simple except for trying to get it into the aga. I had overfilled the tray of water it was sitting in a little and when my father and I were lifting it in we spilt some of the water into the aga which created a black puff of smoke. This then settled on the crème brûlée and we had to take it out again so I could carefully skim off the black speckled coating. It is a standing joke in our house that I cannot make anything without a disaster but it always tastes amazing at the end. There are, of course, a few exceptions, I once was making fantails, which are a sort of bread you cook in a muffin tray and they look like the tail of a fantail, and I substituted dried yeast directly for fresh yeast which tasted interesting. I will never do it again though and I think that you have to make errors sometimes to work stuff out. Possibly I haven’t needed to burn quite as many batches of biscuits than I have but they always seem to get eaten anyway. I always have a good excuse, usually to do with clarinet practice…

I, and now my sister, have been the curtain lifters of many exotic recipes. When I was eleven I made marshmallows for the first time which my mother was convinced wasn’t going to work. My sister has championed croissants which take 24 from start to finish but, other than remembering this, are very easy.

Over the years we have invented lots of biscuit recipes, the most infamous being checkadelicious (check-a-de-li-ci-ous). These were invented during a baking session with some of our oldest family friends by my sister and their younger daughter. Both our mothers went out and left us to it which resulted in a plate of butterfly cakes from their eldest daughter and I, lots of shortbread from my brother and their son and ridiculous quantities of checkadelicious. They kept adding too much flour and then too much milk which gradually massed into a vat of dough. The name stemmed from the fact that they squashed them on the tray (in true New Zealand fashion) with a fork, twice, at right angles, to make checks. Presumably the delicious part was how they were supposed to taste but they were so eager to get them out of the oven that they might just as well not have bothered cooking them. According to the cooks they lived up to the name but I think that most of them still ended up in the bin.

DSCF3640Guess which is which.

My father is currently in the middle of making ghee to roast the potatoes in for supper so I will go and watch.

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