gillpolack (gillpolack) wrote,
gillpolack
gillpolack

Secret rituals exposed

I have undertaken the strange annual ritual of delving into the dark heart of my larder and I have drawn forth the unwanted. I didn't do any baking this year, so the unwanted includes nearly 4 kg of flour. These will become biscuits and cupcakes for just as long as the other ingredients last, or until Passover, whichever comes first.

Let me predict that if you see me at all in the next few days, you may find yourself the unwilling recipient of baked goods. This is a family tradition and it would be really rude of you to resist. What you should do (if you look at them and think what an appalling cook I am, or wonder why I put those particular ingredients together) is hand them on to the next person you see. Develop a reputation as an eccentric deliverer of baked goods (not baked gods - the ancient family ways don't extend to baked gods any more, though I have heard stories...).

The recipes will all be ancient and traditional. They go something like this.

"Flour - yes. Lots. Good.
What goes with flour?
Eggs? Yes, have eggs.
Sugar. Where did all this sugar come from? Why didn't the ants get at it? Why do I have sugar at all? What about honey? Both. Why do I have both? Now I have to decide between them. {don't look at the treacle and molasses and corn syrup - they do not exist - my eyes are blind to them]
Almonds? Oh yes.
Oil or milk - got both - need to think
Vanilla essence - oh yes, but isn't it dull. Arak essence maybe, or pandan, or coffee, or apricot brandy or... I grab three at random and the problem is solved. Except that one is eucalyptus oil, so I switch that for something less extravagantly Australian. I'm not feeding my biscuits to koalas, after all. Although if they asked politely, they could have some.
And spices. Medieval, Ancient Roman or Other? Which goes with almonds? With chocolate? With nori? No, nori cake won't work. Nor will quinoa and galingale biscuits, though that one might be fun to try.
What have I forgotten? Let me check those dark recesses again to remind myself."

You can see the ancient process at work. I work through what I have and what I feel like making. A varied array of goods eventuates, but it always includes chocolate ginger biscuits, for these are my personal favourites, sometimes studded with almond shards. At the end of the day most of the ingredients will be finished, my larder will be saved from use by dates, weevils and chametz, and many many innocents will have suffered.

Recipes? I have them. The real family thing, written down in my handwritten memories of other peoples' cooking. Sometimes I remember to check them after I'm finished, just to wonder why I didn't think of them earlier.

PS I mostly cook this way when I'm not doing food history or discovering amazing new recipes. It's very wrong of me and I will reform. Except I will lose the joy of not knowing, if I reform. And what would I do with leftover verjuice and poppyseed and lemon myrtle?
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  • (no subject)

    Blogging has had to fade into the background recently. First I didn't have time to read blog posts and then I didn't have time to write them. Now you…

  • (no subject)

    Right now, I spend between 30 minutes and 180 minute a day, every day, answering questions, listening, chatting about subjects of concern. Mostly…

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