I have wonderful memories of being in the kitchen cooking and baking with my Nan and Mum, those smells of sweet sticky goodness coming from the oven, heavenly! At that age, as always, the best part was always licking the beater.
I remember vividly on many occasions when Nan and Poppa were babysitting us, busying myself in the kitchen making pots of tea and “baking” supper ready for when Mum and Dad got home from dancing. On the times that I managed to stay awake, my efforts were greeted with huge smiles of appreciation and encouragement.
I baked often with Mum and Nan, both being whizzes in the kitchen. Nan would make beautiful scones (date on Sunday’s were my favourite), fudges and chocolate treats. Mum, yummy cakes and slices, Pav was her specialty. As I grew older, neighbourhood friends and I would bake in the kitchen, Chocolate Peppermint Crunch, pikelets, chocolate crackles – we were allowed to experiment with what we liked.
Nan used to make beautiful moist cakes and decorate them with her icing set. At the tender age of 10, I wasn’t strong enough to squeeze the icing syringe. Nan would stand behind me, and enveloped in her arms, together we would decorate the cake, her guiding my hands and squeezing the syringe as we went. She taught me all her tricks for different kinds of icing, how to make them, when the should be used etc …. All old-school, but some still valid for today. I now have her icing set and love the memories it evokes every time I use it.
I wonder where my passions would lay now if I hadn’t have been encouraged to cook and bake so much as a kid? I was given the room to explore and experiment, to fail and succeed, and to learn in a loving environment. The kitchen was the heart of our house, as it is in our home now too. As a typical kiwi growing up in the 80’s/90’s we did Home Economics at school and this just fired my passion even further.
That is what I want for my kids too. I love baking with them, even though they are still tiny dots. As a kid it’s all about process not product. It’s amazing to watch them learn and experiment themselves. I want my kids to be equipped with the tools to be able to cook for themselves as adults and to enjoy it as I do.
I look at most of my foodie friends and they have come from families where meals were something to be treasured, and food is treated with respect. Everyone in the family can cook and are passionate about food, and cooking for other people.
So it seems simple to me, I think in the respect of food, in most occasions we are products of our environment. Those that have been taught and encouraged at an early age, have developed a passion for cooking and a good understanding of food and how it works together. In my instance I don’t remember knowing any different and I have a constant thirst to learn more.
Food for thought…..