Archive for the ‘Cooking’ Tag

Only Mum’s Bread Pudding Will Do

They used to say you’ll never find anyone who can cook like your mother. With the supermarket shelves groaning under the weight of ready meals and processed foods that saying may no longer be true. However, in my case its very true. My mother was a good cook, nothing fancy, just all the basic British dishes executed with skill time and again. There are a number of things she used to cook that I will never eat again even though I have searched out many alternative recipes and tried different combinations of ingredients.

Her pastry was light, buttery and crisp, her sponge cakes were soft, golden and moist, her bread pudding was dark, spicy and full of fruit. In her teens she cooked for her family after her mother died and at the start of WW II she joined the WAAF to become a cook at RAF Stanmore. She learnt to make the most of the limited resources available although this was generally better than the rations the nation had available for civilians. She occasionally cooked for visiting American airmen who would arrive with their own rations of prime steak, fat chickens and bags of fruit, much to the envy of the English airmen.

My personal favourites were her puddings, particularly when made with suet. Spotted dick, apple dumplings, syrup sponge, treacle tart, lemon pudding, trifles and best of all Christmas pudding. Made in spring and left to mature for nine months, they were almost black, rich, very spicy and full of fruit. She had a silver threepenny piece that we would ceremoniously drop into the mixture as an added enticement. One year when the coin could not be found we added several small metal trinkets previously found in Christmas crackers. During the following Christmas meal we searched our dishes looking for the little silver prizes. None were found, we can only assume my father ate them.

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Salt Of The Ego

Researchers in the US have said salt acts as an anti-depressant and the resultant feel good factor could be why we are addicted to a substance that, in excess, is linked to heart disease. The body needs about two grams of salt a day but the recommended daily intake is double that, and most people in Britain consume ten grams a day. The biggest contributor to this high level of intake being processed and snack foods. Even the TV chefs add copious amounts to their cooking claiming ‘it helps bring out the flavour’.

High salt intake is known to increase blood pressure, is considered as a risk factor for osteoporosis and is thought to be linked to stomach cancer. The taste buds can become accustom to high levels of salt, making food taste bland and starting a vicious circle of a continuing increasing salt intake. I firmly believe adding salt to food is unnecessary. In the vast majority of cases all it dose is make food taste salty. If you stop using salt completely you quickly regain the ability to taste food in its natural state.

I rarely add salt when cooking, and when I do its purpose is to balance the taste of an over sweet sauce. Until this winter there was a carton of sea salt in the larder that had probably been bought more than ten years ago, it was sprinkled on the front path to clear the ice. People who come for dinner never complain about the lack of seasoning and I never put the cruet on the dinning table. I want everyone to taste and comment on the food as I have created it, not adulterate it with salt and pepper.