October 23, 2012
In My Mother’s Kitchen …
I am in my kitchen, making pastry. I add rice flour to the mixer. I cut butter into cubes and slide them into the mixer. The mixer whirrs.
I am trying to recreate a taste, a memory from my childhood.
I am in my mother’s kitchen painting a dollhouse. They were watercolour paints and I was covering every surface with paint. Why was I painting a doll house? I don’t remember. Probably my mother was cooking and needed me to be busy, just as I try and keep my sons busy while I cook.
My mum would make tarts. Fruit tarts with morello cherries or greengage plums in a creme anglaise.
She made her own pastry.
She would measure the ingredients for the recipe and for all her cooking in ounces with an old-fashioned imperial balance scale. My sister and I used to fight about who would use the scale when we helped her cook. She continued to use those scales long after recipes were written in metric measurements – especially for pastry.
After she rolled out the pastry base for the tart, we would use the left over pastry to make jam tarts. And then, try and eat them straight out of the oven, although we knew we would burn our mouths.
My parents used to have garden parties at our house for co-workers and business associates of my father. The tarts were for the party and were not to be touched. My sister and I would only get a piece if there were leftovers at the end of the day.
Those tarts still seem to me the greatest treat in the world. A reminder of my mother. A reminder of a mother I admire.