Monday, 4 October 2010

Mr Fierce, and a Spratley Cake Recipe

It’s my mother’s birthday today, so Happy Birthday mother! Following my previous post, she would like everyone to know that it is actually she who is responsible for my love of sewing as she used to make my furry toys when I was little. She used to make a long furry sausage with eyes and ears, then she stuffed it with corrugated cardboard (yes really), sewed a bottom on, and that was my toy. I had many of these and my mother says that she and I spent many a happy afternoon rolling corrugated cardboard and stuffing it up the respective bottoms of Snowcomes (Snowcomes was white), Rover, and Mr Fierce. I have tried to get my mother to take photos but she says Rover et al are ‘all in the attic with their stuffing out’. Well, this seems quite an ignominious end, especially for Mr Fierce, but I will try not to be sentimental. Anyway, Happy 32nd Birthday, mother, and I am hoping Dan has a better handle on how old you actually are rather than how old you tell us you are, just in case you are ever kidnapped in Ecuador or something and one of us has to give information to the Foreign Office.

Anyway. Since I did my post about the evils of supermarkets, I have so far managed to reduce the money I spend in them by about £20-£30 a week, although I am definitely still buying some stuff there. The £20-£30 was very little effort, I have got to say, although I can see that reducing it further might take a bit more thinking about. I am certainly glad I am giving Tesco less of my money, because I was in there on Saturday and they were making a great big fuss in the fruit and vegetable aisle about sourcing things locally:
Stop criticising, all you nasty people. All our fruit and veg is British! Or at least a miniscule proportion of it!
Look! Look at their commitment to reducing air miles!:
Before supermarkets screwed up all our agriculture there were hundreds more varieties of apples than there are now. Thanks for the sop, though
And then when I looked where the apples came from:
Integrity. Ur doin it rong
There were some British ones – I think there was about one crate out of about 20. The rest were mostly from Portugal or New Zealand. Honestly, I don’t know how dim Tesco think we are. (Quite dim if you look at the Tesco Values customers supposedly want – I don’t know about you, but I can even manage compound sentences!). Anyway, I won’t go off on a rant, because I wanted to give you a recipe.

One of the things I have been doing recently is cooking much more from scratch, and for some reason I have been drawn to very boring, basic food of the kind that you will never see on Nigella. Why can’t food be boring and basic, though? It still tastes nicer than a ready meal. In fact I often think with these programmes where someone goes and tries to get people to cook proper food instead of living on deep-fried Mars Bars and turkey twizzlers, they should just say, why don’t you just stick a baked potato in the oven, yum (I do see that wouldn’t be very exciting: it’s probably best for all of us that I’m not involved in television).

So in the interests of rediscovering more basics, I bought a book on Derbyshire cookery when I was in London recently (I was brought up in Derbyshire), and I found a recipe in it for Spratley Cake. Well, Spratley Cake is as unglamorous as it sounds. It is essentially a big flat Garibaldi biscuit. But I made some Spratley Cake and it was quite delicious although, it has to be said, not attractive. While I was considering whether the photo I had taken of it was just too ugly to put on the internet, I found myself listening to the Only Album By Any Of The Beatles I Can Stand To Listen To, (and even then I suspect Yoko wrote most of the good bits. Go on! Unfriend me! ;-) ):
O if only I knew someone with a band who would let me cover this song. Hey! Wait!
And I thought, if Yoko can look like this on the album sleeve notes – unairbrushed and in a not very attractive jacket, with that expression of slightly irritated tolerance – I can show you my rough-looking Spratley cake. So here it is:
There were some bits which looked a bit better but we ate them very quickly
And this is the recipe, here. I used slightly more pastry than this – 6oz (made with 4oz flour and 2 oz butter), and honestly, it was lovely, I shall certainly be making it again. It would be fine as well if you don’t have any fresh mint (we have some in the garden – it’s not worth buying any for it, it would just be delicious in a different way without).

There is one huge, huge problem with making things from scratch, though. They are much, much more moreish and delicious than things you buy, so unless you quickly invite everyone you know round to your house the minute you make biscuits, you end up eating more. I fear my rear is expanding, possibly even as I type this. You know that saying about having to choose between your face and your figure when you get to a certain age? Well, I wanted to keep my figure. I didn’t think I’d get to choose explicitly, exactly, but I did think I’d have a bit of a say in it. And after years of stress and looking slightly haggard but fitting into all my carefully-curated vintage, I now I find myself looking bright eyed and healthy, with a muffin top. Bugger. How did that happen? I hope it’s not going to come down to a choice between breaking the stranglehold of the supermarkets and still being able to get into my Vivienne Westwood skirt. Activism. Always has its drawbacks!


Marushka C. said...

Happy birthday a day late to your mother. She has the same birthday as my husband. I also have to say that your mother is older than my mother... mine's been celebrating anniversaries of her 29th birthday for quite some time.