This week has seen me in slight panic mode as I scrabble to get myself organised for a family party at the barn this weekend while keeping to the schedule I set myself in order to keep both work and home ticking along. I also started early morning yoga classes yesterday which I so enjoyed, but having been awake since 5am awaiting my 5.45 alarm I confess to feeling more than a bit sleepy at about 4.30 yesterday afternoon, which did result in a few minutes on the sofa contemplating a snooze. I’m not actually very good at napping, so shook myself off and had a cup of tea and a left over brownie instead – the sleep would probably have been better for me!
Next week will be an exciting week for me at the barn. In addition to celebrating 16/18/50th birthdays in the family at the weekend Oak Tree Barn will be hosting a production team who are coming to film some clips of creative food gifts for an upcoming TV series (not sure if I’m allowed to mention exactly what!). I have been asked to come up with some recipes that I enjoy making and giving, which has given me the opportunity to look through the collection of recipes I have gathered over the years. Many are ripped or copied from magazines, or in more recent times printed from websites, but many more have been given to me by friends in various locations around the world. It has been really lovely to reminisce as I sift through those recipes and also made me consider how the sharing of recipes creates a bond between people that lack of communication can’t break. These recipes instantly conjure up the donor in my mind and the circumstances of when they so kindly shared with me. For example, the barely legible recipe for Ginger Biscuits below was written on a notepad produced by the pharmaceutical company my elder sister worked for and was given to me in the ‘playroom’ of our family home while I was recuperating from knee surgery. On the back is a little note from Granny wishing me a swift recovery – brings tears to my eyes actually.
When I went off to join my then boyfriend in Australia more than 20 years ago my parents bought us a fax machine so that we could keep in touch without suffering the enormous phone bills that I had managed to incur in the six months that my boyfriend and I were apart. In those days, before the advent of email for the masses, faxes were a wonderful way of communicating and many nights I would wake gleefully to hear the beeping and whirring and go back to sleep in the happy knowledge that a missive from my mum would await me in the morning. Of all the many, many faxes we exchanged the ones I still have are the recipes she sent me. From The Queen Mother’s favourite cake to her best advice on how I might go about cooking a turkey on a bbq, how to make pastry and Bavarian ‘piggy pot’ (a family favourite), these faxes are safely tucked in my recipe collection.
A couple of years ago my mother generously asked if I would like to have my Grandmother, and Great Grandmother’s recipe books. She knows I love these curious objects and indeed I will treasure them for the rest of my life. The writing is so difficult to interpret, and I must find out how to store them safely so that they don’t deteriorate, but I do love flipping through their pages and wondering about the kitchens the recipes were cooked in and for whom. I never met my Great Grandmother, but love having her handwriting in my kitchen and am determined to cook her rissoles one day!
Only once have I ever encountered somebody who refused outright to share a recipe and I was shocked. It had never occurred to me that anyone would feel proprietorial about a recipe; I suppose I had always assumed that being asked for a recipe is a genuine form of flattery and appreciation. If you follow me on social media you’re sure to have seen evidence of my Lemon Curd pursuits over the last week, and I’m just about to explore a new area of my website and endeavour to share the recipes I am happy with there. I’d love to know how you feel about sharing recipes though – try commenting below and I can see if my new app alerts me!