When the majority of teenage girls get bored they will revert to the popular passtime of photographing themselves hundred times pouting. Not me, instead of this, I cook! My role in the kitchen has dramatically changed over the years. The first photo was taken in our first house in Scotland. Then I was all too happy to join dad in the morning toast and marmalade, from there I developed a deep love of my mum’s cooking. This grew to the point where she would make a batch of cookies every day after doing the school run so that my sister and I would have a fresh batch when we arrived home and to take in for play-lunch the following day. One day a friend’s mother asked my mum "What on earth are in those biscuits you give Claire everyday? Iona just loves them and won't stop talking about how good they are, can you give me the recipe?".
I have a deep admiration for my mum and her persistence with food in our family. I had baby food only when we travelled, mum always poached or steamed fruit and vegetables and blitzed them rather than feed us something Mr. Safeway made. Then there were the times when my sister would only eat 'bread shapes' (bread cut with cookie cutters), bread and bread sandwiches (a traditional sandwich only the filling was - you guessed it bread!). We both loved ‘mummy chips’ (baked, thiny sliced potatoes which were then quickly fried in oil to crisp them), and then there was dad, who simply ate whatever mum was cooking for herself. He’s probably the reason for mum’s sanity. I think he has always marvelled and still marvels to this day at the emphasis mum and now I put on food.
From a young age I have wanted to be part of the cooking process and I have always felt the kitchen a place of warmth, security and possibly most importantly, creativity! As dad has been labelled the family garbage can the consequences of experiments that have gone wrong are never too severe as he’s unable to tell the difference between fish and chicken - as he recently demonstrated whilst investigating what had been brought in from a shopping trip. For the record it was Snapper.
Here’s a short timeline of my time in the kitchen:
- Starting as refusing to let dad feed me apple puree, this resulted in a very messy high-chair and an even messier 2 and a half year old Claire.
- Followed by a slightly more sophisticated start to the day with - as previously stated - toast and marmalade.
- When I was 3 I was given a plastic food set at Christmas. One morning I woke up early and began to play with them when I decided they should be warmed up so Barbie could have a nice breakfast. I placed them in the oven and forgot about them. Later on in the day mum preheated the oven and 15 minutes later she opened it to find dripping plastic - lunch with a difference.
- Next it was time for the biscuit baking to begin from about age 4.
- Then of course there was the festive food, ranging from Easter eggs, Halloween pumpkin carving, dunking for apples and trick-or-treating. Guy Fawkes Night involved roasting pumpkin, potatoes, swedes and chestnuts in foil on the dying embers of the garden bonfire. Then there was Christmas. The cake that was usually made two weeks before the dead-line, pudding that was always set on fire and the turkey (this was the one time a year I would have turkey and hugely looked forward to it). There are the traditions of Christmas that made the time so enjoyable, the cake was something that the whole family would look forward to all year, and when making the pudding everyone had to close their eyes, stir and make a wish.
Sometimes people don’t realize the extent of my love of food. I put this down two reasons. Firstly it is somewhat unusual for someone my age to take such an interest in food and therefore think that this enjoyment is a phase. For instance I haven’t eaten McDonald’s in over 7 years, I have never had Hungry Jacks, nor Subway or any other fast food. The closest I have come to such food is Grill’d’s rosemary chips. Secondly, I don’t eat beef or lamb - not because I’m a vegetarian or because I’m against killing animals for food. It is simply because I do not like the taste, I find it too rich and heavy. That said I will try anything once - and I mean anything.
Last year I travelled to Vietnam. I enjoyed my time most when in the bustling markets and during a cooking lesson conducted by a chef in a traditional restaurant. I was dared to eat snails which to my surprise were rather chewy, snake vodka (one of the teachers who took us offered it to me and asked me to keep it a secret from another, rather pedantic teacher) and tiny whole crabs - shell and all. Not to mention I was one of the few who would try some durian, which is a fruit with a repugnant smell which has lead to its banishment from hotels, but tastes beautiful.
In my blog most of what I show will be desserts as I find these incredibly interesting and challenging to prepare compared to savory dishes, plus the reaction from others is always interesting to watch.
My other passion in life other than cooking is sport. Competitively I have swum, run x-country, skiied, played badminton, trampolined, rowed and played hockey. Recreationally I’ve played tennis, athletics (high jump, long jump and sprints), cycling, gymnastics, sailing, climbing and snowboarding. I know it’s a long list.
That’s me in just over 1100 words, oh also I moved to Australia when I was 12 which was challenging and upsetting at times but ultimately an enriching experience as it has awakened a love of travel in me.