My Nanna was a true home cook, I measure this by her finally tuned senses in the kitchen.
She certainly had recipe books that was true, some handwritten, some from Be-ro (a UK flour brand) and some from the Ministry of Food from the war years.
However, this was no match for the wealth of knowledge and food recipes she had in the library of her head. No doubt collected over many years of cooking the same items to ultimate perfection and ease.
My Nanna was from a generation of cooks who threw in a pinch of that, and handful of the other. Cooking was by feel, by instinct and by knowing.
This is what confidence looks like in the kitchen. Never afraid to roll up your sleeves, get stuck in and trust your instincts.
Like most people back then, days were allocated to certain activities. Convenience food and all the many kitchen gadgets we have today were simply not around back then. Cooking and domestic work were hands on physical activities that had to be allocated a day for each to complete tasks.
When I was growing up, Tuesdays were baking days. This meant a whole day in the kitchen cooking up food for a small army, or in other words to last my family the week.
All manner of things were made that day, from pastries, pies to bread, cakes and scones, and there was always a treat for Teatime (this is what you may know as Dinner, although Dinner in Yorkshire is actually Lunch – yes we do things differently up here).
Sometimes I would help my Mother, she would talk me through step by step what she was doing and why. Then she would let me have a go at a part of the recipe. Like my Nanna, it was pretty much all in my Mothers head.
The lessons learnt on baking days were invaluable, there was no such thing as failure, making a mess was all part of it and if the results were a little odd looking, as long as it tasted good, then it was good enough to eat and part of the charm of real home cooking.
What I love reflecting back on this now, some 30 years on, is that everything was made from scratch. My Mother knew exactly what went into each item she cooked. She did not need a list of ingredients on a packet to tell her what was in the food, and neither did she need to be a scientist to tell you what the ingredients were.
Everything my Mother and Nanna used to cook was simple, wholesome ingredients that had not been processed in a factory, and that could very easy be identified from the natural world.
I know that I have inherited this very important requirement to trust the ingredients you cook with, to know their origin and know they will do you good.
I’d like to see this knowledge returned before its too late, and that we go back to ‘real’ food.
Of course we are all so madly busy and in a rush today, that baking days seem well and truly a thing of the past.
Through this journal, I’ll share some of the things I learnt from my family with you. I believe we can still have baking days, but rather from necessity we can bake more for pleasure. I personally find cooking and baking a great stress reliever. Who would have thought we would reach the point that baking became therapeutic?
That’s the luxury we have today, we can say goodbye to the drudgery thank goodness, and hello to the pleasure of it all.
So get in the kitchen and try out some of my recipes, its so much fun.
A tip from my Nanna, do not be afraid of failure, but enjoy the trying, the having a go, you may well surprise yourself and discover some new talents and new dishes along the way.
We’d love to hear your childhood baking stories, and if you remember your Mother or Grandmothers kitchen.