Yesterday I burned a batch of focaccia bread, made chocolate oatmeal mush instead of chocolate oatmeal cookies, and accidentally tipped a whole container of herbs onto the pizza.
It was disaster after disaster, both big and small. I dropped things, broke things, burned things and ended up with a barely edible dinner and nothing for school lunch boxes.
Yesterday was one of those days when I wonder why I bother to cook anything.
I didn’t used to you know… bother to cook that is. I mean really cook.
When we lived in the city and had two incomes, no mortgage and no children, I thought cooking was what you did when you followed the directions on the back of the box. The most adventurous I got back then was browning meat, adding pre-cut veggies and squeezing in a sachet of ‘special sauce’.
Back then I didn’t like cooking and, quite frankly, I sucked at it.
But back then I was able to suck at cooking, because we lived in the inner western suburbs of Melbourne, surrounded by take out places and restaurants. We had every kind of food right there on our door step, and we could afford to take advantage of that. We only had to drag ourselves to a restaurant for dinner, no worrying about high chairs or keeping kids in check, and if we couldn’t be bothered to go out, we just had to make a phone call and food would be delivered… to our door!
These days, things are a little different.
Four kids, a single income, and we live too far from town for anyone to deliver.
Oh how life has changed when you relise it is easier to make a batch of biscuits for school lunches, rather than get all four kids dressed, and in the car so you can drag them around the supermarket.
Oh how life has changed when you realise that two take out meals will pay for a term of dancing for a child, or shoes for all four kids.
Oh how life has changed when you realise that making your family healthy tasty meals from scratch actually makes you feel proud… a little dorky, but still, proud.
I was reminded of all these things as I fed the chocolate oatmeal mush from yesterday’s disaster to the chickens this morning. I still screw things up and have plenty of kitchen disasters, but on the whole, I don’t suck at cooking any more. I really don’t. I manage to feed my family mostly healthy food on a tight budget , and I quite enjoy it.
So with that in mind I decided to make something I couldn’t fail at, something quick and easy, something that would remind me that it’s ok to have bad days, as long as we don’t let them define us.
- 125 gm melted butter
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 cups self raising flour – or 2 cups plain or wholemeal flour and 4 tsp baking soda
- 1 cup of mixed dried fruit
- 2 tbsp orange or lemon juice
- lemon juice and icing sugar for icing.
- Preheat your oven to 180 Celsius and line a rectangular slice tin.
- Place the dried fruit and fruit juice into a small container a mix well, set aside to soak while you prepare the rest of the slice
- Add the sugar, egg and vanilla to the melted butter and mix well.
- Add the flour and mix well.
- Stir through the dried fruit and fruit juice.
- Press the mixture into a slice tin and bake in a moderate oven for 20-25 minutes or until the slice is firm to touch and just beginning to brown on the edges.
- Allow to cool completely before mixing up a basic lemon icing with lemon juice and icing sugar and drizzling it over the top.