Growing up in the North of England, I was surrounded by home bakers and cooks.
My mum who would and could make delicious things out of nothing (a real art), pies, stews, hotpots, fairy cakes, current slabs and soooo much more! When it was either mine of my brothers’ birthdays, we would always be amazed by her talents of producing a themed cake. I remember a 3D cat with sugar mouses all handmade and even now I wonder how on earth she did it? Knowing that you could not get the secret inside cake supports that you now can? Such natural talent.
My Aunty Shelia and Aunty Loui (Shelia was my mum’s second cousin and Louisa was Shelia’s mum, so to make it easier I called them Aunties, after all, they were my family) where fabulous baker’s, I loved going to their house in Haslingden, because every time without fail, I would be presented with delicious treats and their house always smelt so good. I remember being excited to go as it was a house made of sweet treats. Lancashire Tea Loaf with a thick layer of butter on was to die for. It’s funny, even though you were allowed within reason to eat as many sweet treats as you could they had the smallest teaspoon for the sugar in their sugar pot. I remember my dad putting a few more sugars in his coffee when no one was looking except me, I never missed a trick especially with him.
And then my brother Graham started cooking!
At 9 years old he made his very first Christmas dinner, that’s right he made three courses on his own with little direction from our mum! I was only 4 and remember that Christmas well and the Christmas cake he made with a Father Christmas, a snowman and a Christmas tree on top, I still remember the taste of the fondant figures and the spiky Royal Icing snow, then the marzipan and finally the alcohol-soaked fruit cake that had been maturing for months – truly divine.
After this myself, mum and dad were exposed to what was back then weird and wonderful foods. Although our poor dad was not excited about scallops, again this made a very funny memory that often ended with poor Graham rolling his eyes whilst I always cried with laughter especially now thinking back to dad’s face trying to swallow in his opinion “the worse possible food ever!” I can’t stop laughing out loud as I write this blog….
And then I guess it is not surprising to hear, that my love for sweet things was born. It all started with me having the kitchen on a Sunday. I was given my first job! Making Yorkshire Puddings for the traditional Sunday Roast. But the best part I could make pudding/dessert, my only limit was I had to use what we had in the cupboards which were limited but doable!!!!
My love for baking grew and grew and I was inspired by my brother’s creativity and my adorable dad having a sweet tooth. When I baked, he would smile and swing his leg as he sat waiting in his chair. He was the best dad ever, even when I first made doughnuts that tasted horrible, he still ate them and smiled, goodness knows what he did when I wasn’t looking.
We are a family of food, even though dad didn’t bake he sure did make a mean “Cornbeef Ash”!
These days seem like yesterday, our house was full of celebration and we all commented that we know how to party when we got together, we started to all grow busy as you do over the years but Easter, Christmas and Birthdays where our time together and we certainly made good use of these times.
Nowadays it’s a little different, Graham now lives in Brisbane with his beautiful boy Phillip rising the flag for Single Fathers everywhere. Our mum is still in little Baxenden in our family home whilst I live in the beautiful Mandurah Western Australia with my 5-year-old daughter and my awesome husband who supports me in whatever I choose to do.
My beautiful dad past away in 2004 but my memories of him will stay as current as they were back then when I was growing up in a little a village called Baxenden in Lancashire UK.
You’ll never take the Lancashire out of this lass.