About Me
I'm a Melbourne boy, hailing from St Kilda with one ex, one current wife and four kids. Love the outdoors and making new discoveries. I cook a lot at home (cheers from wife) and do some preserving, mostly jams, pickles and fruit liqueurs. This is the diary of a cooking journey.

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Friday, March 23, 2007
Nostalgia Event
Wow, sometimes time gets away from you so fast.

It seemed like only yesterday that I read about Ellie from Kitchen Wench's one off Nostalgia event and was thinking why not. When I was noodling around over here, there was a stark reminder that today is the deadline and I hadn't really got around to writing a new post. So Ellie, forgive me for not presenting something new in your honour but please accept an old post of mine that really fits the bill to a tee.

Mum's Scones

Had my mum over for supper a couple of nights ago.

That doesn't sound too strange at all, unless you knew that mum has been dead for a few years. No, Whoopi Goldberg's Oda Mae Brown from the 1990 movie Ghost wasn't there either, channeling her heart out. But mum was in the kitchen with me, helping to make supper.

Mum wasn't the greatest cook going around, she was a meat and potatoes kinda' gal, who was in the habit of overcooking meat of all descriptions. It was from her that I devolped a taste for the fatty end of a loin lamb chop, for whilst the meaty part was dry and chewy, the fat end having had a good part of the fat rendered out, was left crisp on the outside, with wonderful juicy meat inside. She was into molecular gastronomy when Ferran Adria was still in shorts. Not for her something as heavy as a foam, mum preferred the ethereal lightness of smoke, for on more than one occasion, turned a family sized piece of corned beef into nothing more than smoke and a tiny piece of charcoal through her theory of long slow cooking. There was nothing wrong with the theory, but if you forget about the long, slow cooking part before you go to bed....

It was the smoke that did mum in. She loved her fags and had a two pack a day habit. The scent of cigarettes always hung around the house. In winter you could always tell when mum lit up, where ever you were in the house, for we had central heating and the smoke was sucked in to all the ducts. Eventually mum became very sick and lung cancer was diagnosed. She went onto chemo and radiation therapy, lost all her hair but beat the cancer, whilst still smoking. Cancer doesn't always give up so easily and a year or so later, mum was diagnosed with bowel cancer. Despite an operation and further treatment, plus giving up the fags, cancer took her in its final deadly embrace.

On this particular day we had had a late lunch/early dinner and by seven o'clock we were feeling peckish. Obviously a cooked meal was out of the question, but something warm and comforting would be nice. All of a sudden I had a flashback. On Sunday nights when I was a kid, we would have a soup, followed by scones with jam and cream. Despite what I have told you about mum's cooking, she was a really excellent baker, with her sponges as light as a cloud and her scones as tall as skyscrapers. My brother and I plus our two sisters eagerly anticipated the scones, which we slathered over with jam and placed scoops of chantilly cream on top, heavenly.

One thing that I have never been able to do, is to cook someone else's signature dish and serve it back to them. When I shared a house with a married couple, the wife prided herself on spag bol. I felt that my version was pretty good too, but in the whole time I lived there, never did I cook it. It feels like you are saying that mine is better than yours, even if you don't mean to. So it was with scones. Perhaps I was intimidated by mum's perfection, for I have never tried to cook them before and I'm ashamed to say I didn't even have her recipe. The only part I played in their construction was to whip the cream and flavour it.

But on this night, I felt like homemade scones, so searched out a recipe, went to the kitchen and started getting everything needed. It was about this moment that I sort of felt mum in my fingers as I rubbed the fat into the flour. It was like that I knew exactly what the texture should be and it was the same when I added the milk, preternaturally I knew exactly how much was enough and when the dough felt exactly right. However mum hadn't taken over my body completely, for when it came to patting out the dough and cutting the scones, I simply cut them out with a knife, rather than using a special round glass just for the job as mum did. The reason I did this was that mum would have leftover dough that she reshaped and cut again. These scones would always be the runts of the litter, never destined to rise as high as their brothers and sisters because of the extra handling.

I popped my little batch of scones in the oven and fifteen minutes later, mini skyscrapers emerged. Took them out, placed them in a basket wrapped in a tea towel just as mum did and served them with some jam and cream, and we all tucked in. Were they as good as mums? Well it has been some years since those childhood days, I felt that I could taste the baking powder, maybe I could back then too, but what I can say is that I felt mum smiling down on us.

Mum, scones, jam and cream, yeah, it was pretty good.

Labels:

 
  posted at 10:58 am
  6 comments



6 Comments:
At 12:33 pm, Blogger MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Nostalgia can make everything taste better.

 
At 1:15 pm, Anonymous Ellie said...

No need to forgive anything Neil! The main reason for this event is just to get people to share memories, and this is a beautifully written post that perfectly expresses the emotional ties that food can have :) Thank you so much for taking part!

 
At 11:31 pm, Anonymous Stephanie said...

Funny, isn't it, how mother's+food=nostalgia!

 
At 11:00 am, Blogger neil said...

Hi tanna, it sure does, sometimes makes it a bit salty too.

Hi ellie, I still feel bad, you gave me plenty of time to write something new.

Hi stephanie, nice equation!

 
At 1:25 pm, Anonymous Shawnda said...

What a wonderful memory, for sure!

 
At 5:12 pm, Blogger neil said...

Hi shawnda, it's like an old photograph, something to make you smile when you remember the old times.

 

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