Tuesday, November 10, 2009
My Granny Mushroom lived to the splendid age of 92. Her secret to a long and happy life? Full fat, sugar loaded lovingly prepared memories. I have a mental treasure chest full of childhood memories; some not happy, but the majority dripping with sticky sweetness; a chocolate box of wonderful family moments.
Remember Easter Bunnies and Easter egg hunts? You gorged on shiny, aromatic chocolate until you nearly were, or were, sick. Bunny hop to today- Easter egg hunts are gone-no one can be bothered. Chocolate replaced by cash- a healthier option!
Remember, Remember the Fifth of November- The bonfire and Guy so lovingly constructed. Hero worshipping your Dad as he set off fireworks in the back garden. Thawing out numb, mitten clad hands with charred potatoes from the embers. Standing too close to the fire to melt marshmallows.Flash forward to now-Firework displays are military style, organized events. Burning Guy Fawkes dummies not politically correct. Bonfires considered a hazard.
On the First day of Christmas…. (This, by the way was in December not October!) All your senses bombarded -twinkling lights and gaudy decorations; the heady scent of pine needles and oranges; carol singing; writing to Father Christmas; excitement and worry (had you been good ALL year?) My Mums Christmas Dinner- a full fat, taste bud extravaganza-hours in the making; minutes in the devouring. After lunch games; charades and Monopoly. Dad always cheating
Hitch a sleigh ride to the Twenty First Century- By the time Christmas arrives we are sick of it (we’ve been celebrating it for eight weeks already). The plastic tree is looking dusty. No more going carol singing- that sweet old lady answering the door could be a mass murderer or, sue you for disturbing the peace. An e- mail is sent to Santas website instead of posting the hand written version to “Santa at Greenland”; but actually who cares, children early on now stop believing in him. Plastic covers are pierced, and, perfectly formed veggies are popped in the microwave. After the tasteless, odorless meal; TV on and Nintendo’s fired up.
Life is full of tests and challenges. Make your own choices and face up to the consequences. If you want something-get out there and grab it. Work for it, suffer for it. Use your imagination and intuition to make it happen. Realizing you have made mistakes is a bitter pill to swallow; and I have made a medicine cabinet full of them; but they have helped me be who I am today. Mine, thank goodness, was a childhood of gnawing on chicken wings, not nibbling on processed, chicken nuggets.
Childhood was full of challenges .Competitive sports; being top of the class; surviving bullies in the playground; entertaining yourself all summer holiday, with just your bike and Barbie Doll. Working for pocket money; newspaper rounds and washing cars. Walking to school-whatever the weather. Chicken pox parties. No skiving off school unless you were at deaths door. Surviving obligatory, family Sunday expeditions – without special walking boots or picnic basket. Caravan holidays; four living in the space the size of a toilet. We wrote letters to pen pals. We played I Spy and sang Ten Green Bottles on car journeys. A treat- Saturday afternoon at the cinema; without parents!
Now fast forward to the scene today. They exit the womb into a cotton wool wrapped, sterilized, vaccinated world. Everything dished out on a nice, clean, plate- no fat or gristle to chew on. Football is too dangerous to be played in the school yard; in fact competition on the playing field or in the classroom is frowned upon. Playgrounds are perilous, areas rife with broken bones and perverts. Summer holidays; a whirlwind of outings and over stimulation. Pocket money given without worth- heavy newspaper bags can hurt backs and car washing, chap hands. Buses or cars replace those extensions of the bodies called, legs. Chicken pox? They stay off school with a wobbly tooth or one of the many allergies they all seem to have (were there that many allergies when I was young?) Package holidays; pre-packed, dainty picnics; communication through messenger and secret code text messages. Saturday cinema? Who needs it, it will be out on DVD soon.
Our children lack E numbers- Emotion, Excitement, Exceptional moments, Energy. Come on, we are the parents- we have control over this, don’t we? We must prepare the next generation for the reality of life. They need to suck on the fat, chew on the bones, gag on the gristle and rip that turkey apart Henry the Eighth style.
Finally- The Recipes!
The following are perfect for warming up after your 20 seconds of super expensive and somewhat disappointing fireworks (unless you have been very silly and are actually on your way to casualty with a nasty burn!) But you don’t need to wait until Bonfire Night to enjoy the recipes below (yes, I have just realized I’ve missed November 5th!!!) and you don’t need to have children to enjoy children’s’ food. All of us have a secret desire to eat kid’s style food. We are constantly bombarded with haute cuisine, nouvelle cuisine, lean cuisine etc.etc. Just for a treat push aside those miniscule, picturesque meals and tuck into the following
Bonfire Night Potatoes.
I have happy memories of the potatoes wrapped in charred tin foil being scraped out of the embers of the bonfire, but in reality most of the time they were inedible! Try this in your oven at home:-
Par boil 1 large baking potato per person (plus two extra for the greedy folk) until almost cooked. Drain the potatoes and wrap in streaky bacon and then in foil. Pop these precious parcels in a hot oven (200 degrees C) and bake for 40 minutes. If like me you like crispy potato skins and crispy bacon, open up the foil for the last 10 minutes. Delicious as they are but even yummier with a bit of butter inside!
Bonfire Beans and Bangers.(feeds 4-6)
Easy to throw together and easy to reheat (just incase you have had to make that trip to Emergencies!)
In a large pan brown 12 chunky sausages - whichever are your favourite. Add a large tin of chopped tomatoes and 2 tins of baked beans. Season well with lots of pepper and add 2 bay leaves. Simmer, with the lid on, for about 30 minutes-until sausages are cooked through. Perfect with the Bonfire Night Potatoes!