Cooking with children

My son has a Fairy Gothmother (FGM), he also has a Not Quite Godfather (the NQG) and a VIP (very important person in life aka KT Cupcake). People who know this about me and about Spider are therefore quite surprised to discover that I have a goddaughter.

Yes, I am a godmother, possibly not a very good one because as KT Cupcake sometimes likes to recall at the time of my goddaughter’s (Cookie) christening I was actually on the other side of the world and 18 metres under water – actually because of the time difference I was probably tucked up in a hotel room somewhere snoring my head off, but that’s not quite so good a story. The idea behind me being a godmother was that Cookie’s parents wanted her to have an adult influence in her life of someone with a different attitude towards life than her parents.

Her mother is a talented artistic person. I am not. I like making cakes to make people smile, KT Cupcake spreads happiness in other ways. Anyway, for Cookie’s  last birthday I gave her a voucher for a mornings cooking together and since her 7th birthday is now approaching at speed, we thought it was probably about time that she cashed it in.

Now, since I am feeling guilty about the fact that I have been a bit of an absentee godmother since Spider was born, I was planning on making it a special occasion, perhaps buying in some fancy cooking bits from the Pink Fairy Cake website, but as usual in my life things were very last minute “are you free tomorrow ?” “why ?” “Cookie’s ballet has been cancelled, can she come and cook with you saturday morning ?”

So had to make do with a container of 4 different sprinkles from Budgens, food colouring and some gold and silver foil cake cases dug out from the back of the cupboard (dating from when I got married I think)…I also managed to find a little whisk shaped like a chick in an egg which I bought as something for Cookie to take away with her as memento.

The house was also a mess and needed an early start saturday morning to ensure that the house could receive visitors and the kitchen declared fit enough to cook in and no longer a health hazzard.

The jury is out on whether I have provided her with a different approach to life after one morning together but I have at least introduced her to a few new things. She had never cracked an egg before and thought that you needed a bread maker to make pizza…

We made:

Since Saturday I have been in and out of bed with a stress related problem…I don’t think it was related to cooking with Cookie, who it would appear had a fantastic time and wants to do it again – soon. We had fun, but I don’t think teaching cooking to children is going to be my route out of debt, not unless I want to spend all my spare time chipping icing off the sink… I actually had fun too and am planning to make more of an effort to cook with Spider and to live up to my godmotherly duties…currently trying to overcome my make and do phobia and make a little scrapbook for Cookie of our morning together plus the recipes.

Photos to follow – I have technical gremlins at the moment

 

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In season now: Pears, believe it or not but only just

I’ve mentioned before that I am am trying to firstly eat seasonally and if possibly eat locally. Eating locally currently is restricted to this country  rather than this county, partly because I’m not yet organised enough,but mainly ‘cos I’ve delegated the shopping to Husband for budgetary reasons (he’s better at getting bargains).

[When we had more money I did try an organic box via River Nene which was good from a seasonal and localish point, but  bad as you didn’t get much choice in the contents of the box (think they may have changed the system now) and since my guys are picky about their vegetables I ended up eating a lot of weird soups to use the veg up…there was also the period when I got Kale 3 boxes in a row – not good !]

Anyway I was floating around the net this morning and came across the Pink Fairy cake blog (their actual website is a good resource for cooking with children). I  discovered that Pears are in season now.  Having grown up in Worcestershire the home of apples and pears I was very surprised to learn this as I’d always assumed they were ready the same time as the Apples (Sept-Dec) but no, on checking the BBC website (you can tell I’m British, I always head for the BBC for the low down !) it would seem that they are in season January.

I love pears. They are not something, pre Spider I bought very often (except perhaps in tins) as usually when you buy them they are rock hard, take so long to get ripe and by the time they are ripe they go over and get mushy so quickly – and don’t ever ever consider putting a ripe pear in your lunchbox ! But when it came to weaning Spider they were one of the first things I gave him (apparently they are gentle on small people’s tummies) and it was then I discovered that cold pear puree is probably one of the closest things to “food from heaven” you can get !

I am also very fond of pear juice and have happy memories of hot days travelling round europe by train with lunches of bread and cheese and glass bottles of pear juice…don’t ever try putting a ripe pear through a juice extractor – as Nigel Slater points out in Thirst, all you get is a few pathetic dribbles of juice !

So I am on the look out for some pears to kick start my interest in cooking – I suffer quite badly from lack of motivation in the winter months and all I want to do is hide under the duvet, as you may have gathered from the lack of activity here recently (that’s also partly due to lack of cash)…if nothing else there is a tin of pears in the cupboard !

Pandoro Birthday Cake

Spider's "volcano cake"

Spider

This is our (Me and Spider) version of Tessa Kiros’ PBC. This is our birthday present to one of our neighbours, I’ve been dying to makes this for the 18 months that I’ve owned this book, but its only at Christmas that I can find Pandoro’s at a reasonable price.

Spider calls this his “volcano” cake as it is vaguely cone shaped and the orange icing does look a bit like lava… Spider doesn’t like following directions which means that if we had actually made and then decorated a cake together we probably wouldn’t be talking to each other as I would be feeling so frazzled by the end of it, this way of doing things means that we remain friends and have fun…whilst we were waiting for the icing to set he entertained me with his virtuoso drumming with wooden spoons on the saucepans – wok lids make great cymbals.

Now that its past bed time I am off to deliver the cake…only I’m sure there more sweets on it earlier today…that may explain why Spider was hyper by bed time.