Fiona Kidman, beside the Dark Pool

Fiona Kidman's two volumes of memoirs have had a powerful effect on me. I wrote a more detailed response recently but it is too personal for a public blog.

Particularly powerful lines for me in beside the Dark Pool:
"The 1970s had seen seismic shifts in the way women lived. Many of us couldn't recognise ourselves in our mothers' lives at all." p.57

This has prompted much reflection for me. When I was a teenager and a young adult, I assumed the world of paid work would be my place. I was off to conquer the world, to experience the things my mother and aunts told me were not mine to experience. It was much later that it came to feel an act of rebellion not to work outside the home full time and sometimes not at all after I had my children.

And this line, in which Kidman writes of the process of returning home with her mother before her mother went into the Home of Compassion,
We went through boxes of photographs, mementoes of her past life, recipe books, and reminisced." p.236

My throat caught a little on the recipe books. I made a cake for Mum last weekend. Just like when I was a child, the day before I had attempted to help her in the kitchen (preparing for Dad's 70th birthday party, a sizeable event which she was catering singlehandedly). It had not gone well. The next day, with some deep breathing, I offered to help again. This time I convinced Mum to pass the cake making over to me and to go out and do her other tasks. With the kitchen to myself, I made a good cake and Mum was delighted. When the cake was duly admired later in the day, she told everyone that Sandra made it. It was carrot cake, a recipe attributed to one of my aunts, typed up in a folder.

But when I read those little lines in Kidman's books, I thought of the handwritten books which Mum kept before she had a computer. There was one covered with a white background and a blue print. I hope she hasn't thrown it out, because that is what I want one day. That cannot be bought in a shop. As often, I think also of my maternal Grandma, still alive but no longer baking cakes. I hope her handwritten recipe books will be cherished by someone, even if it turns out not to be me.

Today was the second of the crackers experiments. I used yesterday's recipe as a base to branch out from. Today's recipe:
1 C wholemeal flour
1/2 C plain white flour
1/2 C sourdough starter (mine is quite wet, and is rye or wholewheat, depending on whatever is to the front of the cupboard or my fancy, I think the secret is the freshness of the flour rather than any other technique)
1/2 t sea salt
2 1/2 T soft butter

Whizzed it all up in my Kenwood mixer (which Mum gave me - the gift of kitchen whizziness which she spent years looking for so my sister and I could have one each of the particular older model she thinks best) until it looked like breadcrumbs and then added 1/4 C milk (maybe less). Leave in the hot water cupboard for a couple of hours. Could do longer, but my day dictated a certain speed. Then I followed the original recipe for rolling (do it on the baking tray and no greasing needed) the crackers and sprinkled sea salt on top.

I am very pleased with them. Fionn says they are both good but that yesterday's second batch (I threw the first batch out as they were undercooked and unappetising) was the best. Certainly they are disappearing fast enough. Very good with hummous. I don't know why it has taken me so long to try cracker making. All psychological, as making cakes is much more challenging than making crackers.

Speaking of which, with a week of school lunches ahead of me (not special, just like 39 other weeks), I made a chocolate cake. Which the children ignored in favour of the crackers. Could it be that I am doing something right with this parenting project? What a jinxsy sentence to write.

I offered our neighbours some eggs this morning. Happy to pass them on. But oh the present which came back over the fence: whitebait. It was frozen so I am saving it in the freezer for next weekend. It won't be tarnished by a flake of flour - egg and a pinch of salt is all that is needed for the perfect whitebait patty.My yellow banksia rose against the red fence which Favourite Handyman painted for me on Christmas Day. Last year it had a piffly show but this year is a definite improvement. I didn't rain it or prune it or anything ordered, hence some pleasing rambling.
The little rose that could. I raised this from a cutting in a plastic bag, following a set of instructions I found online. It is a pink rose which runs a bit wild round here, so a good one to start with. Only this one was in the wrong place and then I left it in a bucket of water for weeks, probably months, until I noticed it was still alive and planted it in the ground, out the front, just a piece of green shelter cloth between it and the gusty sea breezes.

Today I noticed it was doing well, but with spreading buttercup, convulvulus, plantain and a grass weed (possibly twitch) in competition for space, sun, nutrients. I got out the kitchen scissors and gave it some room from the intruders after I took this photograph and then arranged aged donkey poo around its base.

Irises outside my bedroom window.


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