I am so glad to have Rebecca visit my kitchen y’all. Of all my neighbours, I worry about her the most. Why you ask? Well, lean closer and I will tell you a secret about her. She doesn’t even know who she is most of the time. She’ll tell you that she is not sure herself some days. With that family of hers, why there are days I can’t blame her for not knowing who she is. Listen to this inventory: 1 husband, 2 girls (aged nearly 5 and 7), 3 chickens and about 17 fish.
Rebecca’s youngest daughter, Little Miss Sunshine aspires to a dog and the rest of them including her eldest, Little Miss Star, aspire to a bigger house and garden. They currently reside in a small village in deepest, darkest Hampshire but would love to disappear to deeper, darker countryside and live the good life aka River Cottage style. This however is a pipe dream and unless Rebecca or her husband wins that elusive lottery…Well y’all know how that is going to work out.
Now I am quite certain that there was a time when Rebecca was in her right mind. I am also certain that one day her life will return to normal and the world will be none the wiser about any little mishaps that she is going through today.
So, before she slips back into her own world I hope you enjoy the conversation.
1. What is the earliest memory of your Mothers or Grandmothers kitchen?
Oh my – now that takes me back. I have a very early memory of my Grandmothers kitchen when they lived in a big, big house. The kitchen seemed huge and I remember an enormous cream coloured range (an Aga as they are called in little ol’ England) with an equally huge table. It was always warm and cosy and the white cat liked to sit on the top of the range. There was also a big wooden dresser filled with crockery and table linen. I don’t remember much about the food but I was only 3 years old when they moved to a much smaller house.
My earliest food memories are probably of Christmas – the enormous turkey, all the trimmings, the flaming Christmas pudding, the ever so slightly soggy sprouts – or it could be just that it’s that time of year and I have Christmas food on my mind!
2. Do you like to cook?
Mmmm – tricky question – shouldn’t be should it really? I used to like to cook. I bought cookery books by the dozen, loved to experiment with new ingredients and tastes – and then I had kids. After boiling and pureeing up every food known to man when they were little (quite possibly one of the most tedious things you can do in a kitchen) I kind of went off cooking and now I simply don’t have the time and energy. When my other half goes shopping he has the habit of looking through the bargain trolley and bringing home all sorts of bizarre ingredients that I then feel obliged to cook. A challenge I don’t necessarily relish anymore!
3. If not why not?
In a word – children – maybe this will change when they are older!
4. What recipe of your mother or grandmother do you make that sends you back in time watching (whichever one) in the kitchen?
It has to be a classic roast dinner. I remember so well both my ma and my Grandma cooking a roast every Sunday. There were always guests and it was a social occasion. These days it is more of a family affair but I try to copy their methods in part – especially making the gravy – no bisto in this house thank you! Some things have improved though – oil rather than lard for the potatoes – all a bit healthier – mind you it did my grandparents no harm – they lived to a ripe old age despite eating artery-clogging food on a daily basis.
On a more seasonal note making the Christmas Pud always reminds me of being in the kitchen at home – the cinnamon, the dried fruit, the citrus peel and cherries – probably because it was something I was allowed to help with right from a wee toddler.
5. What is your favourite herb or spice or both?
Another tricky question! I love herbs and spices. When I was a child I used to love to go out in the garden and pick the thyme, rosemary and mint for my mother’s cooking and I remember all those Christmassy sweet spices of cinnamon and ginger. Considering my ma’s cooking was pretty traditionally English it was pretty tasty but she never cooked those hot spicy dishes from places like India, Morocco and Thailand that I love now. I adore coriander in salads and sprinkled over curries – it’s so fresh and I also love chilli and I’m happy to have dishes really hot and spicy.
6. If you could be a ghost in that kitchen and watch yourself as a small child, what would you tell that child today?
Watch and learn – don’t just gab away to your mum . Actually, watch what she is doing, learn and remember and then you won’t have to call her every five minutes in the middle of cooking to ask her what the hell you’re supposed to do next.
7. Outside of your own country/county, which country’s cuisine do you like or prefer?
I love Thai and Indian food but I think my absolute favourite has to be Moroccan cuisine. It is spicy but so delicious and tasty and has that warming food that we need in our cold climate – nothing better than a slow cooked tagine – mmm – my mouth is watering at the thought – and for afters the nutty sweet delights of baklava – yum!
8. What is your families favourite dish?
Having said all that about foreign food I think our favourite dish as a family is a good old meat stew (or casserole if you prefer but that sounds far too fancy – stew is more down to earth) – it could be beef or lamb or chicken with different ingredients depending on the time of year and what you have to hand but slow cooked and seasoned right it can be the tastiest dish ever. It also has the advantage that it can be spiced up or down (my attempts at introducing chilli to the children has been mixed – although I have just about avoided setting their mouths on fire) and you can hide all sorts of veggies in there (the kids don’t know it but they’re eating more veg than meat – mwahahaha!) Perfect for families.
9. Of all the kitchen gadgets invented OLD and NEW which OLD and NEW are you favourite. (One old and one new)
Ooh kitchen gadgets – I love a gadget but what to choose for the best? The best new gadget has to be my smoothie maker. I luuurve my smoothie maker. Bung some fruit, milk and yoghurt and maybe some honey in it – give it a whizz and open the tap for a scrumptious, healthy smoothie. The kids love it and so do I! An old gadget – that’s a bit harder – what counts as a gadget? I’m sure years ago a potato peeler was thought of as a gadget – not sure we’d think of it as one now though, and how old is old? I think in my kitchen it would have to be a pestle and mortar – a gadget that has been used in various forms for hundreds if not thousands of years and even now cannot be beaten for bashing up spices and herbs or even nuts – all those essential ingredients to make meals really tasty.
10. If you could teach cooking to the high school level students today… what would be the most important and the least important thing to teach them?
Cripes – I can’t imagine teaching high-school kids anything but if I had to do it – mmmm. I think the most important thing would be to teach them that cooking from scratch is a lot cheaper and healthier than buying ready meals and that it doesn’t have to take a long time – starting with the real basics like how to boil, scramble and poach eggs. The least important thing to teach them – probably how to cook fancy food – nobody needs to know how to cook a soufflé – it’s nice but not necessary!
11. I have a old fashion pantry, larder to you brits… Do you recommend people start one and what would be the most important thing in that larder?
Absolutely, I would recommend that everyone should have a pantry or larder. When I was little we lived in a big old house that had an old fashioned walk in larder and it was great – nearly all the food was stored in there (so less messy cupboards in the kitchen) It was always cool and food like cheese and fruit like tomatoes were so much better kept in there than in the fridge where they just get toooo cold. These days that’s not always practical but even now I have one of those pull out larder cupboards that takes loads of store-cupboard necessities like rice, pasta, tinned tomatoes, beans and fruit, flour, sugar and all those store-cupboard necessities you need for cooking. Unfortunately it’s not super cool like my moms was so the cheese has to stay in the fridge though!
12. Would you mind sharing with my readers and quick and easy recipe that you make for your lil princesses?
Why of course I don’t mind sharing a recipe I make for my little ones. How about one of our favourite after school snacks. They’re always so hungry after a long day at school but I don’t like spoiling them with too many candies or cookies so we often have flapjacks which are (reasonably) healthy, cheap and best of all are super quick and easy to make.
After school Flapjacks:
200g butter (2/3 cup to 1 cup approx.)
330g porridge oats (1 cup +1/4 cup approx.)
6 tablespoons golden syrup
Optional- handful raisins or a grated apple or a handful of chopped dried apricots – or various other dried or chopped fruits to add a bit of healthiness
Turn the oven to 180C. (350 degrees F)
Grease a shallow baking tin (or for even more time saving use a silicone one- no need to grease!)
In a big saucepan melt the butter with the golden syrup over a lowish heat – once melted stir in the oats – making sure they are all covered and add in the fruit if you are using it.
Squish the mixture firmly into the baking tin –put in the oven for about 25-30 minutes until a lovely golden brown.
Let them cool before cutting into squares. Easy peasy! (weight and measurement conversions are approximate)
13. Having agreed to this interview are you afraid that the men and women of your family members might look at you a little different?
Are my friends and family going to look at me differently after this interview? No why would they it’s just little ol’ me talking – they’re used to it!
You can follow Rebecca on her blogs below.