Monday, November 23, 2009

Grandma- my cooking heritage

My Grandma- Dorothy Noel Finlayson- cooked until the day she died.
She cooked until she could no longer taste or see what she was cooking and had little appetite.
She cooked because she loved it. She cooked because it made her happy.
She cooked because food keeps family close.

When her sight began to fail her, Vision Australia marked her tins so she could find what she needed- though 2 marks for sugar and 3 for salt was not always a fail safe.

A large number of her accidents were the result of midnight forays into baking. And one broken nose was the result of her frail arms no longer being able to lift the glass flour jar down from the shelf. It was then that she switched to lighter plastic containers- ain't nothing gonna hold Granny back.

She'd try anything once- twice of she liked it, and then one more time again to perfect it if we liked it too.
You had no more to mention an interest in haggis or a hankering for pavlova and ten tonnes of the stuff would appear in her fridge along with the words 'you take it home dear, it's only me here and I couldn't possibly eat it.'

Cooking was Gran's way of loving, living and (as previously mentioned) entertaining herself in the wee hours of her insomnia.
When we stayed over, she served us porridge like mum suggested- but she added cream. Her meat loaf was moist and rich and her kitchen often smelled of freshly fried chops (she just loved their fatty little tails). There were always new cakes and biscuits on offer and every Christmas she contributed a much anticipated ice-cream plumb pudding to the spread of turkey, ham and seafood.

She is the only woman I know who got smaller as her cooking skills grew.
She is also the only person I know who would think nothing of whipping up a batch of meringues.
She wasn't any good at the light touch for scones... but the delicate meringues never failed her. Almond, vanilla or coffee.
My Gran used to cook with us in the holidays. My Gran always smelled of baking. She was an excellent cook and an excellent teacher. And that is my cooking heritage.

I'm lucky because she shared her cooking secrets, and the time we spent together in the kitchen was about passing skills on. We have the luxury of her hand written recipes- all gathered together in one place. I'm holding on to them and I plan to hand them down to my own children, along with the skills she taught me.

Some people are not so lucky.
Some people never get the chance to ask Gran for that recipe, that secret ingredient.

Thank you Gran.
For the sustenance, the love and -most of all- for the cake.

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