While casually standing there at my black Formica work-top, holding an infant in one arm and peeling a carrot with the other (much easier than you’d think), it suddenly dawned on me that my days of cooking are numbered. It is only a matter of time, maybe two years, maybe four, until we start to eat regularly every night as a family. And that means family food.
I always enjoyed my family meals as a kid, my mother’s cheese & onion pies and lasagnes; slicing mouthfuls of cold apple crumble for breakfast on a Monday morning and, my favourite, a rich-cheddar cauliflower cheese, two fat salty sausages and a spoonful of baked beans. But how much of any of it was any fun for her to make? I can only imagine that having to cook day-in day-out for three hungry mouths by a roughly reasonable hour would wear thin. She did well, rotating the favourites at just the right rate for each to hold its appeal. I, on the other hand, am facing the very real prospect of being told on a daily basis that my food is shit and nowhere near as good as so-and-so’s dad’s [the fucking pervert]. I wish I could be more like Hugh, finding the time to bake pies and pastries with his red-cheeked and healthy young children in his flour-dusted and stone-floored kitchen some, oh, mid-week afternoon when not in the, err, office.
I don’t want to dwell on that thought for now, though. We have just finished the rest of my bean stew – this time more soup-like thanks to my throwing in of almost all of the rest (minus a wee punnet for the freezer) of the cooking water into the casserole with the remains last night -- with a carrot and parsley salad (not so great really) and some soft three-seed bread smeared thickly with cool and salty butter.
But it was my apple tart, which I neglected to mention, which stole the show. Yesterday we enjoyed a good 80 degrees or so each of the warm pie with a dollop of sugared whipped cream. The pastry was so sweet and crumbly that it almost melted on the tongue, the coxes super-sweet but providing a refreshing tartness and the now-roasted whole-almond studs rounding it all off with butter and spice. It was a winner, although next time I would add another layer or two of apples to get the pastry balance a it better. And some home-made vanilla ice-cream wouldn’t be too offensive next door either. A simple classic etc.
We were then left with the other half of the Swiss pie. It would have been even tastier tomorrow -- the pasty having soaked up enough apple and sugar to turn slightly chewy, and the apple having had time to decompose every so little. But none of this was to be, at least not for me. In fact, I have already had the very last piece of this pie that I will ever take. It would appear, however, that the remaining semicircle went to a very good home – a home lived in by a friend of the Wife’s and recently vacated by said friend’s husband. So she took it round when she went over for the chat and they reheated it and felt much better, leaving a wedge for the Friend to enjoy later in front of the telly. It was a lovely pie.