Monday, 25 February 2008

Cooking On The Curriculum


SO domestic science (good old D.S.) is to return to schools. My head tells me this is a good thing but my heart starts to thud in memory of my own dire days trying to do battle with flour and butter in a vain bid to produce the perfect Victoria sponge.
It didn’t help that before being allowed within sniffing distance of an oven set on Gas Mark 5 we had to make an apron. Now sewing - as the dearly beloved will tell you - is not exactly my forte. There is a picture of me somewhere, resplendent in my gym kit with other girls of the hockey team. We had to chainstitch our names in big letters on our shirts. While all the other girls have their names in neat uniform stitches in a straight line, mine looks as if it has been sewn by a drunk centenarian wearing boxing gloves.
So, there were all the other girls rustling up a lemon souffle with insouciance while I was sitting in the corner still laboriously tube-stitching the hem of my apron.
Not that matters improved when I was finally - thanks to the help of my friend who surreptitiously finished my apron for me - allowed to cook.
We seemed to spend hours creaming together butter and sugar until our wrists screamed out for mercy or rubbing fat into flour until it resembled “fine breadcrumbs” not, like mine, builder’s mortar.
Our teacher was an extremely large, humourless woman. There was a story doing the rounds that one of the more recalcitrant older girls during a sewing lesson had kept prodding the teacher’s amply padded behind with a pin until, after the fourth or fifth jab had met with no response, she turned round and said calmly: “I felt you the first time, dear.”
My lack of culinary expertise, thankfully, doesn’t run in the family. I have one nephew who, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, is a brilliant cook and the dearly beloved pines for my mother's steak and kidney pie
Another nephew though, back in the days when children actually cooked something rather than design a pizza box on-screen (that really was what my friend’s daughter had to do for ‘food technology’) once made sausage rolls and flapjacks in his morning cookery lesson. They were carefully packed into a cake tin and placed in his duffel bag.
He then proceeded to play football with his friends all through the day’s playtimes while the bag bounced around on his back.
In the evening he proudly opened up a tin full of a jumbled mass of cake, pastry and sausages - crumbs fine enough even to impress my old DS teacher.


P.S.: Sorry for the long delay in posting and thank you so much for the kind comments in my last entry. The break has been for reasons too boring and numerous to mention. Suffice it to say, everything is now ticketyboo and I will, hopefully, be back posting on a near enough weekly basis.

15 comments:

belle said...

I still break out in a cold sweat at the memories of my DS classes ... I got 0/10 for my fairy cakes after they exploded in the oven ... nice to have you back :o)

Gorilla Bananas said...

I bit she secretly enjoyed that pin in her buttocks. Acupuncture releases endorphins into the brain and her arse was probably feeling neglected. Welcome back, Mrs Table.

BetteJo said...

I'm not sure I remember much of those classes at school. Possibly too traumatic?

Primal Sneeze said...

So you took a few weeks off to make another apron then, eh?

Rol Hirst said...

Welcome back! I have quite fond memories of home ec lessons at school... they were less stressful than metalwork anyway.

Jo said...

I always quite liked cookery. I could never ever ever master sponge cakes though - mine always looked like pancakes :(

Akelamalu said...

Oh fabulous you're back!

Have you book brushing up on your cooking skills?

This made me laugh because I did a 55 flash fiction recently on the very same subject!

http://akelamalu.blogspot.com/2008/01/friday-55-flash-fiction-11.html

Sweet Irene said...

It's very good of you to come back and entertain us with you more than humorous stories again. I missed you, but kept checking to see if you would return.

Domestic Science was wasted on me and I hardly learned anything there. I wanted to do the things the boys were doing, as we were still segregated and boys did not do anything domestic. They played football and other fun activities.

I sort of learned how to sew and knit and embroider, but not well enough to really master these crafts, so now I am a little bit good at nothing at all. Luckily, it doesn't matter anymore, because things are more cheaply bought than home made.

Bakeries in the Netherlands are very good and you don't need to take up the frustrating business of home baking. You are considered a bit foolish if you do and don't take advantage of a very good pastry shop. There is one around the corner called "Nobless" and you can't go wrong with a name like that, can you?

Here's to the emancipation of all things domestic, except cleaning ladies, or "char women" as you call them, I think.

Rosie said...

Welcome back! I did DS at school 25 years ago and even then we were making cakes with packet mix. Consequently I can't cook, but then neither can my mother!

Mopsa said...

Family lore has it that my sister-in-law as a young lassie baked perfect bread weekly for the family of six as her contribution to the household chores. At DS they "taught" her how to do it "properly" and she came back with an inedible lump that was chucked out for the birds.

Around My Kitchen Table said...

Belle: Exploding fairy cakes? I'm really envious!

GB:I think I would react a little differently, endorphins or no endorphins!

Bettejo: I wish I could forget my DS lessons! Unfortunately they are indelibly imprinted on my brain!

Sneezy: Oh, very funny - I have a motto, never make anything you can buy!

Rol: Unfortunately in my day the girls weren't allowed to do anything exciting like metalwork or woodwork. I think I would have been better at them than cookery!

Jo: The dearly beloved wouldn't mind - he loves pancakes!

Akelamalu:Loved your "flash fiction"!

Irene: Sounds like my idea of heaven - a bakery next door and my very own cleaning lady!

Rosie: Making cakes from packets in cookery lessons? That's terrible!

Mopsa: All the best cooks cook by instinct. I can remember baking bread rolls at primary school. All the children in the class took turns kneading the dough and we all took home a bread roll. I never actually SAW my mother eating one - she, for some strange reason, always said she'd eat it later!

Teuchter said...

It's great to see you back. Consider yourself hugged.

Your dom sc syllabus sounds similar to mine, north of Scotland early seventies.

Was your cookery apron made of gingham check? Mine was made in the last year of primary school while the boys were doing something more interesting and yes, my name in chain stitch had to be unpicked and redone several times before it met with approval. Just as well I was a four-letter girl and not a Penelope or a Patricia or I'd still be there.
Actually, I find it somewhat ironic that I've spent much of my adult life doing fairly good needlepoint as a hobby of choice.

We were absolutely terrified of the cookery teacher, who inspected our fingernails and hands at the start of every lesson.
Most of the 'proper' techniques we were taught by her had already been learned from our mothers or grandmothers.
I think the biggest thrill for me was being allowed to use a gas cooker; we only had electric at home.

Around My Kitchen Table said...

Teuchter: Yes, green gingham check. Hideous, especially after I'd finished with it. I'm not too bad a cook now. I've had to learn as I love eating!

Tessa said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Ruth

http://muffinsnow.com

River said...

DS at my high school was a disaster; fifteen girls and only 5 ovens, Those of us who had to wait our turn always got the 'pancake' style sponge cakes.