About a week ago I handed over the word to mum as I was curious as to what made her fall in love with food, she was so thrilled with everyone’s comments and lovely words and I’d like to thank you all for making her feel so special. Here’s the follow up to her first part, put the kettle on and enjoy a good read!
I was married at 21 and was thrilled to have my own kitchen where I could be in charge. Although my mum was a worthy teacher there was never much opportunity for me to cook before so I was now in my element surrounded by my recipe collection and a new husband to impress. I remember an occasion when I made apple dumplings for a dessert, I was so proud of them but dropped them en route from oven to table!
In 1968 I started collecting the Cordon Bleu Cookery Course. The first magazine cost less than 50p and I was hooked, I collected all 72 issues. I read them cover to cover and during the 70’s when dinner parties were ‘de rigueur’ many of my menus were from these and the results were more often than not successful. I still have the collection and have referred to them many times for ideas and methods.
At the end of the 70’s I found myself in the unenviable position of being divorced with 3 children but, despite this heartache, food was to play an important role in my life as I met and befriended a girl who was to become my business partner in an outside catering business.
We called ourselves ‘Heavenly Manna’ and over a 6 year period we built a very successful business. With Cathy’s knowledge as a Home Economist and my passion for food we were a formidable team and we had some great times together. Most of the food was prepared in my kitchen at the weekend and, with the children at school, I was free to do lunches. Some of our most memorable meals were from the Cordon Bleu Course or The Dairy Cookbook and two of the most popular that spring to mind were Coronation Chicken and Syllabub Trifle. I think my children benefitted during these years as they were fed many a delicious dish. [- Yes we did :) editors note]
At 40 I ventured into the restaurant business. A move from Kent to north Essex into an impressive old town house which became a successful restaurant in the mid 80’s was a life changing experience. Among the favourites on the menu were a lamb dish from the Cordon Bleu – Epigrams of lamb (coming soon here on Mari’s World!) and a Meringue Roulade. The work was hard but rewarding and after 6 years I sold up to move to France.
Living in France was a revelation and the fresh produce available was phenomenal. At this time my daughter was living in Italy so Mediterranean food became a highlight during these years abroad. During my stay in France I met a lady who was to become a business colleague upon my return to the UK as she invited me to become Catering Manager in her blue chip outside catering company in London.
These were some of the most informative years of my life and I thoroughly enjoyed the buzz and adrenalin flow of these exciting times.
However, I do remember one dreadful disaster during this period when I had to make 6 meringue roulades for an important event. When one of the Event Managers came into the kitchen to sample one of them it was discovered that instead of sugar I had used salt!! Fortunately, due to the simplicity of the recipe I was able to remake them but I often think what the consequences would have been if this mistake hadn’t been detected early.
I have always had a weight problem so when I retired 9 years ago I joined Weightwatchers and successfully lost 2 stone to get to goal. I am now still as passionate about cooking but am focussed on eating fresh and healthy food. I still love experimenting with ingredients but with an accent on low calorie. I never buy convenience food and rarely have in the past. On the few occasions I have weakened I have been disappointed or left hungry.
I feel I have come full circle now and just like my mum I can look in the fridge and create a banquet from a few simple ingredients. My dinner last night was a delicious sausage and lentil casserole followed by passion fruit cheesecake and strawberry coulis (all for just 6 points on the weightwatchers diet!).
Five quick questions mum
1. Who is your favourite chef?
Delia Smith was and still is my favourite chef
2. Which cookery book is the staple of your collection and you would recommend to all cooks out there?
I would recommend The Reader’s Digest Cookery Year as an excellent reference book
3. What is your favourite kitchen gadget that you would recommend?
My favourite kitchen utensil is my potato peeler which has to be the Rolls Royce of potato peelers and I use it every day without fail.
4. What is your all time favourite recipe?
My favourite recipes of all time are Banoffee Pie and my mum’s fruit crumblie cake (delicious)
5. Anything else?
The one ingredient I could not live without is the humble onion!