Monday, 23 June 2014


Myself and my little girl Mya were Home Alone tonight. A friend called over earlier and asked what were we going to do for the evening together.  He suggested that we do a 'spot of baking'.  Mya's eyes lit up.  She said, 'yes Mam, let's make something for the School Sale tomorrow'.  I couldn't say no to her little face.  Besides, the Sale is to raise money for charity.  Also, I'm particularly pliable these days, being all emotional at the thought of my two babies leaving Senior Infants in a few days - Imagine !!

The School Sale is an annual event, organised by the outgoing sixth class pupils.  Pupils also bring in old toys to sell in the toy sale.  I was delighted with that last year - having a right good clear out of unwanted toys.  Little did I know that they would arrive home from the Sale, with another bag of junk to replace the toys that they had donated.

Based on my lovely bonding opportunity this evening, I would offer some words of caution to emotionally charged parents setting out on such endeavours .....

1.  Don't drink two huge glasses of wine before you start baking.
I did tonight ...  Oh dear ...  The last time I felt this hot/dehydrated was on a Good Friday in Dublin many years ago, with my friend Marie.  We went for pizza and were delighted with ourselves getting wine in the restaurant.  I don't care what anyone says about drinking on Good Friday - it is without a doubt, THE most delicious drink you will ever have.  Myself and Marie had booked sun beds after the meal (It was a LONG time ago, okay ?).  Just as the cover went down on the sunbed, I noticed the warning sign ''Do not use a sunbed if you have consumed alcohol''.  Too late now, methinks ...

It is impossible to rush a six year old in the throes of making pastry.  If there is a God up/down there, maybe she is punishing me now for my (many) Good Friday sins.

2. Check your ingredients.
I didn't.  Well, I checked that we had butter and flour to make pastry.  I just didn't check that we had 'jam' for the jam tarts.  Having already consumed above mentioned glasses of vino, I couldn't drive to get any more.  So we used the remnants of three jars of jam - apple, blackcurrant and strawberry, some homemade and a little runny.  The baked tarts looked a bit miserable.  I had a (rare) brainwave.  I rooted out some icing sugar and snipped the corner off a plastic page.  I felt like a genius.  Mya had a ball decorating the lean looking tarts with icing.  They actually started to look edible.

3. Check the weather forecast.  
If it is roasting outside, it's going to be damn hot in the kitchen.  And it gets hotter.  Pastry is not a good
baking option in this heat, especially when it is being man handled by a 6 year old with sweaty paws.  I remembered my Home Economics teacher in secondary school when we made Rough Puff Pastry.  We chilled all of the utensils, the margarine and the water.  Mrs Mc Cabe would not have been impressed with the slithery mess today.   She told us to be 'lightfingered' with the pastry.  Mya's handling was more akin to two wrestlers in a headlock.

4. Everything looks better on a cake stand.  
I'm not sure if anyone will but the jam tarts tomorrow.  We made 22 of them - two got burned and we had to eat four, for quality assurance purposes.  If we are lucky,  they might make e5 for charity.  But more importantly, I will have saved face with the other mammies, who will think that because our tarts are on a cake stand, that my daughter and I are, in fact,  culinary masters.  The Great Irish Bake Off will seek us out.

5. If you are going to take photos of your kitchen, take the bloody tea towels off the radiator and otherwise, give the appearance of a tidy kitchen/being a Domestic Goddess.  You never know who is looking.  Last year, I posted a photo of the kids in a paddling pool in the garden on Facebook.  Two people contacted me later to ask where I got the paint for my garden furniture.  Who'd have thought !!

6.  Don't start baking at 8.30pm.  
Obviously .....

7. Keep enough icing to decorate your face later with a moustache

No explanation required ...

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