Monday, June 14, 2010

Baking *with apologies to opera lovers

We still have a few biscuits left (cookies if you're reading over here).  There was an operatic quality to their making.  With Max on holiday for the summer he has been pestering me to do some 'big boy' cooking. The way he went on, you'd think we never set foot in the kitchen together. The truth is we've baked several loaves of bread and dozens of cupcakes not to mention jelly and ice pops. In addition, don't I cook supper every evening? I'm not usually averse to help from small hands.
This latest burst of interest may have been prompted by our chalking out a hob on the deck and by me giving the boys an old, scratched non-stick frying pan that had been singled out for a yard sale. For a day or two, he and Oli were happy mushing up the quota of rice and lentils I had given them, and picking apart a bulb of garlic. Then I lost a good portion of cocoa powder to the project when I wasn't looking and I was none too happy.
The clamouring racket for big boy cooking became louder still.  I've only seen a few operas in my time, and, thug that I am, I can't say they are really my thing. But there was something in the rising libretto from my children, that reminded me of some sonorous operatic recitative.
We decided on an oat and chocolate recipe and set about.  The bashing of the chocolate squares into chips briefly dispelled the rising tension. The dough was mixed, first in a bowl. 'Can I lick the spoon' became the predictably cacophonous chorus.  After much effort I realised the electric mixer might do a better job than we were doing at breaking up hard butter. Dough covered wooden spoons were dispensed. Silence. Followed by the applause of the blender. Act 1 was over.
We transferred the dough back to the mixing bowl to fold in our broken chocolate.  Oli reached a stunning alto in his demands for more licking - spatulas, spoons, bowls, anything would do, no doubt mixing blades if he could have got his hands on them.  Luckily my normally ill-equipped kitchen was able to provide 2 spatulas. Silence again and the end of the second act.
For the final drama, the suspense was building over the licking rights of the large beige mixing bowl. Another 2 wooden spoons would be needed to keep things fair. Unsullied tablespoons of mixture did, incredibly, make it to the baking tray.  Was the oven door licked? I have a feeling Oli might have seen his mirror image in it, dough smeared, and wondered if he could lick it off his reflection.
Golden, the cookies emerge 20 minutes later. The opera is over but the players do not return for the final bow; satiated on uncooked sugar, butter, oats and chocolate (with evidence of this smeared across their clothes) they are seeking new excitement from trucks in the flower beds. It actually gives the cookies, and the chef, a moment to cool. Exit left.

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