Because anyone can “bake “, promise

Being somewhat culinary disenchanted of late, the likelihood of a recipe appearing on my blog is about as rare as the lions roaring in Trafalgar Square

When DH and I first got involved more than two decades ago, cooking and baking rated highly on my list of “what every new bride should be doing” list. These days we eat to live as opposed to live to eat. I suspect life poked its sticky beak in creativity – depressing thought. My first port of call, when called upon these days to provide baked goods, is usually our local “Tuis Nywerheid” (translated as Home Industry) where people who are really good and dedicated produce a wealth of home-made deliciousness.

That was until a few weeks ago, when my work-colleague arrived at the office one day clutching a small bit of paper and the first words out of her mouth were “I’ve found it, something you will want to make”. She is a culinary afficionado (much like my friend Cindy) and is frequently astounded by my lack of enthusiasm. Months of nagging eventually won the day and I decided to navigate the over-grown path of the baking aisle at our local grocer and give it a whirl. Armed with  a list for “Fruit Squares” I filled my basket with fresh goodies (the minimal supplies in my pantry having being relegated to the bin suffering from the syndrome known as “severely past the sell-by date”) and strode much later into my kitchen brimming with bravado.

With my hand on my heart, I can happily report that yes they are easy, really delish, last well and on a not so good note will culminate in you having to bake multiple batches ad infinitum (my task for tonight). It goes as such:-

“Rose’s Fruit Squares”

2 cups white flour (plain flour/cake flour – not self raising)

2 cups oats (i used jungle oats – plain, unflavoured)

2 cups coconut (dessicated on the package)

375ml sugar

1 cup seedless raisins (i couldn’t find any so used golden sultannas – so juicily glorious)

3ml salt

250g margarine (i assume you can use unsalted butter but no promises)

30ml syrup

1 egg (extra large – i used free range)

5ml bicarb dissolved in a little milk (i used about 2 tablespoons of milk but I guess whatever)

5ml vanilla essence (not the good stuff ie. vanilla extract, common essence in a bottle is perfect)

– Mix first six ingredients in a bowl and make a well in the middle (i mixed by hand – wooden spoon – no need for the blender)

– Melt marg and syrup (did mine in the microwave – quicker than stovetop) and add to dry ingredients together with beaten egg, bicarb and vanilla essence (while the marg/syrup where doing their blending thing, I beat my egg with a fork in a plastic jug and then added the dissolved bicarb/milk and vanilla essence to the egg.)

– Mix well (again by hand) and place in a greased baking tray (i used “spray and cook” for mine and interpreted “place” to mean spread the mixture evenly over the baking tray with the wooden spoon to about a 1cm thickness).

– Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees c for +/-20 minutes until golden on top. Leave to cool and cut into squares.

I packed the results in plastic containers, layers separated with carlton roll/kitchen paper and they last like a dream – especially suitable for the mid afternoon schlumph.

On a completely old-fashioned and thoroughly non pc note, the best part of the tiresome process ……… seeing DH reach for a fruit square through choice 🙂

A gourmet who thinks of calories is like a tart who looks at her watch.  ~James Beard

“If tomorrow never comes

will she know how much I loved her” (for interest the source is a love song is by Ronan Keating Irish Voices ). After a particularly vexing day at the salt mines, I retired to the couch last night to while away a few precious minutes immersed in a shuffle mix of Bocelli, Bon Jovi, Bryan Adams, B Gees, Beatles and Bette Midler (what a blessing the ipod is, listening pleasure at your fingertips).

In mid crescendo (DH was at a seminar so completely unaffected by my warblings – what a performance he missed), it struck me that in such a fast-paced enviroment – everything electronic and digital from birthday wishes to photographs (and the more the merrier please don’t misunderstand me, I’m a huge technology fan), have we remembered to tell those that matter just how much they mean to us? If today is your last day (yes I know the conspiracy theory is the end of 2012 we’ll all be in the hereafter but it doesn’t quite fit my point) will those whom you love know that you loved them? Do you have regrets about somebody that you’ve lost with a whole lot left unsaid? Obviously relationships are not always pink and fuzzy and there will be days where you are feeling less than kindly disposed towards that other person but in the greater scheme of things is that bond strong?

I suspect this latest emotional fishing trip is as a result of my mum’s recent operation – I’ve been enriched with supportive, caring parents who never fail to end a conversation with “love you”, well mum does anyway – my pops is a little more reserved (funny thing that, men being emotionally reserved) but can hand-write a verse that will have you reaching for the tissues. My best friend has an awful relationship with her folks (think barren wasteland) and I said to her the other day whilst chatting over a decadent piece of carrot cake and a cup of tea at Makaranga – “if your parents die tomorrow, will you have regrets about the state of play – is there anything you would do differently?” She is unequivocably comfortable with her situation and that’s all fine and dandy but regret will consume you from the inside out like some virulent cancer.

The universe is full of folk who have expressed their opinion on love and loving in a far more eloquent fashion than I so, still  firmly ensconsed on my soap box and frantically relating back to the musical starting point for this thought journey, I leave it to Nat King Cole  (in my opinion, one of the greatest Big Band Baritones ever) who said The greatest thing you ever learn is just to love and be loved in return”.

The things you do for love ……..

After a trying work day (think regulatory reports: pages and pages and pages of boring drivel), I had a plan. Baking – yes I know the stuff to cause a weather phenomenon of epic proportions, mainly because I haven’t wielded a whisk in #$%^& months. Creative, homely, inspiring – all that good house wifely type stuff.

Well that was the plan and then my computer beeped – a skype from DH ” It’s such a glorious evening lets go for a walk.” For clarity when DH and I talk walk it should be understood that it’s not a stroll, it’s heart pumping sweat inducing exercise. So *vigorously polishing my halo* I can report that we walked (5km) and it was fabulous. Dry, cool and a sky that would have had the angels singing with its clarity after all the rain.

It did mean that dinner got shifted waayyyy out and there was much muttering over the salad making at 8pm but still “the things you do for love” and the baking, well …. tonight’s the night and I’m trying a “farm style bread”, hold on to your hats and your brollies!