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01 September 2011

Cherry Cake and Ginger Beer

 

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I set myself a low bar when it comes to mothering.  If the Minx grows up to have good manners, to love books and to be able to cook then I figure she’ll probably always have friends, be passably well-educated and never go hungry. And that way it seems to me happiness lies.

Certainly I can think of few greater pleasures in life than devouring a good book or some good food. So you can imagine how much I enjoyed reading Cherry Cake and Ginger Beer by Yarnstorm’s Jane Brocket, which discusses all the delectable foods found in classic children’s literature, accompanied by scrummy-looking recipes and pen and ink illustrations from the works in question.

The Minx and I are currently on a bit of an Enid Blyton jag at present and revelling in descriptions of fabulous picnics with boiled eggs and sticky buns, Aunt Fanny’s cakes and of course lashings of ginger beer (which according to Brocket, Enid Blyton never actually says in her books).

 

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I am amused to note that, while the plot intricacies of many of these books have completely receded into the mists of time, I can remember almost verbatim many of the food descriptions, such as this one from What Katy Did.

“.. and there – oh, delightful surprise – were seven little pies – molasses pies, baked in saucers – each with a a brown top and crisp, candified edge, which tasted like toffee and lemon-peel, and all sorts of good things mixed up together. There was a a general shout… a tumult of joy… in an incredibly short time every vestige of pie had disappeared, and a blissful stickiness pervaded the party.”

Oh how I wanted to taste one of these pies – ‘molasses’ sounded so delicious and exotic to this little British girl – and now I can, because I have a recipe.

Unfortunately the book is already out of print and quite difficult to get hold of – I suspect the market for it was rather too esoteric. American readers might be particularly frustrated as it focuses primarily on British children’s classics and old-fashioned British baking, though Little Women, Little House on the Prairie and What Katy Did all make an appearance.

But buy this book if you, as I did, grew up with the likes of The Famous Five, My Naughty Little Sister, Pippi Longstocking, Milly Molly Mandy, Paddington Bear, Anne of Green Gables, The Secret Garden, and Malory Towers. Get it doubly fast if you are re-reading these books with your kids and enjoy baking with them.

What do enjoy cooking and reading with your kids?  The Minx and I are sorely in need of recommendations in both categories.

Oh and speaking of the Minx, she went back to school yesterday, oh frabjous day! So now I’m back blogging properly.

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Comments

I read My Naughty Little Sister with my Mum: I always wanted to make Christmas pudding on Guy Fawkes night, but we were always late in the game and made it at the start of December.

And the food descriptions in Enid Blyton: Buttered scones are what I remember best. And sandwiches. From the Famous Five. And tuck boxes from the St. Clair's books.

Ginger beer sounded very exotic to me in Greece.

Reading with my Mum and cooking with her are memories that shaped my childhood and they're very precious to me. And yes, they've left me with a lifelong love of cooking and reading - a very good pattern of child rearing I would say!

what an excellent book, such a shame it's out of print. i still want to go to mallory towers and have a tuck box.

Charlotte, it's still reasonably easy to get on Amazon, particularly if you don't mind a used copy and it has a whole CHAPTER on tuck boxes...

Susan, ginger beer sounded very exotic to me as a child, and I grew up in the UK! But my parents would never buy it. We use it nowadays to make the world's best Pimms...

Heh, hubby always says "lashings of ginger beer" when he tells me about the Enid Blyton stories. That book sounds wonderful, although you're right, I'd probably like one about American stories better. I always remember the dried abalone from Island of the Blue Dolphins, and maple candy from one Little House book or another. Reading a lot of Paddington with my son right now, so he's very aware of marmalade.

Going back a few posts to the paintings of British food, LOOK: http://www.allthingsoriginal.com/shop/knitwear_and_textiles/?view=all
Play British food made out of felt.

My son loves Redwall. He also loves creating the recipes from the book. He's made some really wonderful soups, cheddar potato muffin things, and stuffed mushrooms. Since in Redwall they only talk about the food, his recipes are his own creation, but that's part of the fun! :)

My son loves Redwall. He also loves creating the recipes from the book. He's made some really wonderful soups, cheddar potato muffin things, and stuffed mushrooms. Since in Redwall they only talk about the food, his recipes are his own creation, but that's part of the fun! :)

Hmmm. Even with B and T - who were big readers, unlike Herself (who has never picked up a book for fun in her LIFE, and always looked appalled/bored/mildly embarassed when I attempted to read to her) - I could never get them to read the stories I'd liked as a child; perversely, T devoured CS Lewis, whom I'd hated. I suppose at least they can cook, to subsistence levels, but that's only because I frequently forget to feed them. In fact, in your trilogy of low-bar motherhood, I think I only succeeded in the 'instilling nice manners' front.... xx

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