Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Kitchen Memories

This weeks gallery prompt is Vintage. Each week there are wonderful photos and posts related to a theme. So go over to the Tara's gallery at Sticky Fingers, have a browse, make a comment and be inspired to join in as well.

We have a few various vintage items around our house, but I realised there were some that held special memories over and above the rest.

She gave me the most dreadful haircut I ever had and made me religiously say my prayers before bedtime. She limped from having one leg noticeably shorter than the other, made the most delicious vegetable soup and baked incredible meringues, that were the perfect combination of melt-in-the-mouth chewiness. She was the only person who ever made me coddled eggs.

My Nan inspired my love of food and cooking. My earliest memory of being in her kitchen is leaning over a big saucepan of stock and skimming off the froth from the top of the bubbling liquid. In her chest freezer was a supply of frozen portions of stock, so she could whip up a veg soup in 15 mins. Sweat a few bits of celery and carrot in butter and then simmer them in stock. Instant shiny soup.

She taught me that a well made stock is the key to a good soup. Never does a carcass get thrown away in our house with out it first being simmered for hours with some roughly chopped veg and pepper corns. I have tried many variations of soup, but my favourite is still a simple vegetable soup using whatever is in season. I love it when the smell of stock spreads through the house on a Sunday afternoon. So comforting.

I was one of only two boys in my year group that opted for Home Economics, instead of woodwork. That's thanks to my Nan. I'm just glad that I didn't follow the advise of the Home Ec teacher, Sister Mary, who seemed to add bran to everything she cooked. Probably something to do with flushing out sin.

Nan also had other classics, that us Grandchildren still reminisce about. Plain Scones topped with butter and homemade jam, Irish Stew (she was born in Derry), and an endless supply of cheese straws, have I mentioned the meringues to die for, also a Dougal from Magic Roundabout chocolate cake, that She made for my 4th birthday.

At her wake, my Dad and Aunt asked me and MrsMck if there was anything we would like to take from her house. We were setting up a new home, they thought we might need a few things. We went round to her house the next day. So quiet, no smells coming from the kitchen. It wasn't furniture, a TV or washing machine that I wanted. What I realised I would treasure most would be the everyday things she used in the kitchen.

So I chose the classic Salter balance scales that she probably would have used on a daily basis. The Tala measurer, a wonderful invention that can measure anything from groats to sago. Egg coddlers that were kept high on the side board and most likely only used when a precocious Grandson came to stay. A vintage cake tin that has a classic 50s design on it. And finally the stool that I used to sit and kneel on as a boy, whenever I helped make or eat the delights that were created in her kitchen. I could have taken so many other things and was gutted when I couldn't find the water powered potato peeler that gave me hours of childhood fun.

These vintage items we still use in our kitchen today, not as much as she did, but I feel I am honouring her memory by using them still. Thanks again Nan, for inspiring me and for making the best shiny soup I ever tasted.