I am thrilled to welcome my first ever guest poster, the lovely Vanessa from Slow Heart Sing. Vanessa and I have become firm bloggy 'friends' over the past year. Our kids are the same age and we share a love of good food. She's a mad keen gardener and a real proper published food writer, you know? I'm sure if we were neighbours we'd constantly be in one or other of our kitchens drinking tea and passing the time of day. Now I just have to get her to take up knitting...
I remember cake being a very different entity when I was a child. Cake was cake. Sugar was sugar (and we didn't worry about it). Flour was flour and eggs were eggs. Buying butter and flour in Cairo in those days was an event. Mum would join a long queue once every six months and buy sacks of flour and huge blocks of butter to freeze. When you ran out, you borrowed from other people or you had to wait for the next co-op.
Of course I love the age we live in now, but perhaps there's something to be said about the simplicity of cooking when we were children. There weren't hundreds of contradicting sources of information for a start. Mum didn't have the choices of spelt and fancy nut flours; she didn't have to choose between different sweeteners, and your choice of butter was one slab or two? Organic, free-range, pastured, stoneground and raw? Come again?
Plain old eggs were cracked into a bowl of no-frills flour and sugar and whisked with one-and-only full-fat milk to make a creamy batter for the waffle maker. We'd have them warm and fill the squares with the whitest of icing sugar. As we took mouthfuls, puffy clouds of powdery sugar rose up our nostrils. Leftover waffles were kept in the fridge very briefly until my sister, my brother and I leapt out of bed the next morning knowing we would be snacking on cold waffles for morning tea.
It was a rare treat but one that made us giddy every time Mum declared a waffle night.
Years later as we moved across the Mediterranean and the English Channel to the UK, my favourite sweet treat for morning tea became the jam doughnut. In a tiny seaside town in Kent, my grandad would bring us back a brown paper bag full of the best jam doughnuts in England. Sugary, jammy and just the right amount of stodge. There was nothing like it.
Did I care they were deep-fried in vegetable oil? Did I care these balls were all fat and sugar? I didn't know and it didn't matter. We had them once in a blue moon and it's something I look back fondly on. Those waffles and those jam doughnuts are the stuff of memories.
I don't have a waffle maker and I haven't had a jam doughnut in years. If you offered me either one now, I'd snatch it off you and find a quiet corner somewhere.
I don't know what my children will say as adults when they get asked to write something about morning tea. Oat and raisin muffins? Spelt pancakes with maple syrup?
Sometimes I ought to spend less time worrying what's in their food and more time making sure we have more family food traditions. I ought to find something that sends them crazy, regardless of what's in it, and make a habit of it – if only once a month or so.
I already know what it is.
Thank you so much to Vanessa for being my special morning tea guest today. You can connect with Vanessa at her beautiful blog Slow Heart Sing, or on Facebook here.
I'll be back later today with some seriously good cake and a recipe to share.