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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Monday, February 27, 2006
Miserable Place
Hooray for me, I've won an award in Paper Chef #15, in the Super Saver category; that's me... cheap!

Check out all the other results at slurp & burp's medal ceremony.

Do you remember the first thing you really cooked?

When very young, about four or five, I can recall embarking on culinary adventures. Mum's cooking ingredients were all accessible to this curious youngster, and many happy hours were spent mixing various things together in a misguided attempt at emulating mum's great cakes. What I mixed together, I have no idea, and no one ever ate anything that I made. Which was probably pretty fortunate.

The first cooking skill I ever learned was whisking eggs in a shallow bowl with a fork; the way the fork picked up the mass of eggs and turned them over and over without jumping out of the bowl seemed like magic. Did I mention I was very impressionable?

Ah, but the first thing I ever really cooked was a pudding.

After my father died, when my brother and sisters were still very young, we had a housekeeper to help mum out. We had a couple actually, but we sorted them pretty quickly, maybe that's why I like 'Sound of Music' so much. Anyway, mum found an Englishwomen to help, and we all quickly discovered that P. was pretty tough, in a tough love sort of way.

The things that run through the mind of an eight year old. I don't remember where I found it, but when I discovered a recipe for spotted dick, well, it just had to be cooked. With much snickering and smirking, I approached the housekeeper.

"P. can we cook this?"

"Sure darl."

Not realizing, the connection between her and this most English of puddings, had defeated my youthful attempt at gutter humour. We set to, organizing the ingredients, weighing everything, mixing, setting up a pot for steaming, tying the tea towel over the pudding basin, and then steaming. After all this P. looked around the kitchen.

"You need to clean up now."

"What, me? You have to be joking, I cooked."

Pouting, stamping my feet, pointing out that my family were going to enjoy the fruits of my labour, so they should clean up, nothing worked. Thus began my introduction to mis-en-place, which to this eight year old made the kitchen a mis-er-able place.

The only compensation was the pudding. It was magnificent.

Spotted Dick

8 oz (200 g) self raising flour
pinch of salt
4 oz (100 g) butter
4 tablespoons caster sugar
6 oz (150 g) currants
2 eggs
extra milk

Sift the flour with the salt into a basin, rub in the butter and then stir in the sugar and currants. Whisk the eggs, add to the mixture and stir until smooth. If necessary add extra milk to obtain dropping consistency.

Pour into a well greased pudding bowl, cover with pleated tea towel (to allow rising) and tie. Steam for 11/2 -2 hours.
  posted at 11:27 am

At 5:48 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The first thing I ever cooked was rocks in an old beat-up aluminium pot over the gully trap filled with wood off-cuts (for the 'fire') in the back yard.

At 10:39 pm, Blogger Ed said...

don't forget the custard.

At 1:04 am, Blogger Helen (AugustusGloop) said...

You're giving me cravings for toad in the hole now...

At 3:25 pm, Blogger neil said...

Hi Kitchen Hand, yeah it was great to be a kid.

Hi Ed, you are absolutely right!

Hi Helen, we love that too, but not until winter and with plenty of onion sauce.

At 12:45 pm, Blogger WhiteTrashBBQ said...

Congrats on your win!

At 2:11 pm, Blogger neil said...

Thanks robert, you could say I cleaned up!

At 10:05 pm, Anonymous Chia said...

I have been so happy that MY 8 year-old has become so passionate about food that for the past three nights I have allowed her to cook the dinners without having to clean up afterwards, aside from putting the chopping boards/bowls/knives etc in the sink after completing a certain process. I just want her to associate cooking with the same joy it gives me, and not with dreary tasks. But yes. I am probably digging myself a very deep hole...

At 10:29 pm, Blogger neil said...

It's a fine line, isn't it?

Let me say though, it didn't hurt me to learn what was expected at an early age, as much as I hated it. I'm really pleased for you that your daughter is showing an interest in cooking...it's a life long skill.


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