Now that my kitchen is ready for using, and pleasant to be in I spend a few moments pondering on how mealtimes play such an important part in family life. A warm kitchen full of the smells of baking is a soul-enriching place to be, and never more so than for a child, enveloped in that comforting aura of homeliness and wellbeing. I could digress here and talk about my own childrens’ attitudes to food, but today I am writing as a mother who has to raise her hat to her own mother with her astounding feat of producing a home-made pudding on the table every night throughout my childhood and on into these latter years. Without fail.
I don’t know how she did it, but I know that I relished these deserts; Queen’s pudding to home-made ice cream (before the era of ice cream makers), chocolate mousse to apple pies and crumbles; and then that little monster Bread and Butter pudding! She didn’t work and probably had some time on her hands to play with when she wasn’t gardening or tending the vegetable garden (or us for that matter), but it isn’t just available time that makes this task do-able. To be able to achieve this feat, and not just pop a pot of bought yoghurt on the table takes energy, immagination and determination. There are too many times in my life when I have to fight my own self to energise, beat my inertia and get the ingredients out of the cupboard, even though I know that some puddings are remarkably quick to make. There are times when I scream within for inspiration, or for one of my children to call out:
” I would really like hot chocolate fudge pudding tonight mum!”
I remember the day I swam for my first mile distance award badge, and came home proudly clutching it – and in desperate need for sustinance. Lo and behold, on the counter lay a freshly baked Apple Pie. If I remember rightly I polished off most of it. It was the most delicious pie ever tasted, especially after all that swimming, and I remember rushing upstairs to make Apple Pie equivalent of my swimming distance award for her. My skills were not up to completing the task!
There was one pudding that my mother never actually got me to eat – That monster of a Bread and Butter pudding. I was always gutted that my mother could lower her standards so drastically to make bread the subject matter of the dish. I refused even the tiniest taste. For ever…..
Until in my late teens anyway when I took a job at a Partisserie in Queens Arcade in Leeds where the chef had been in the final of Masterchef, and who’s mother ran the shop with all the determination and force of a very proud mother! Every time the tray of Bread and Butter pudding came up from the kitchen she would pinch a slice for herself and eventually, not able to bear my refusals any longer she ceremoniously FORCED me to eat some. Well……
Mum – You should have called it brioche and cream pudding – I missed out on a lot of years of munching (gorging even), and how ironic that it is in fact my absolute best winter warmer comfort food favorite in the world!
So this is an ode to my mother for her commitment to home cooking and to her puddings in particular and for instilling in me the appreciation for all things home baked. I was and always will be a ready recipient!
I hope my children will take it on board!
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