I don’t know about you, but being a child today seems very different from being a child 40 years ago.
The world of small children seems to operate with them at the centre, their parents and grandparents and all family activities orbit around them. Primarily though all this child-centricity seems a great deal more fun.
I didn’t particularly like school, but weekends were worse. Two days of interminable boredom that were consumed with housework, gardening and generally doing all the stuff that two working parents need to get out of the way to make the working week function. It didn’t help of course that the oil crisis dictated one day per week where the car was not permitted to be driven, by definition that had to be Saturday, as we needed the car for church on Sunday and for work the other days. It also didn’t help that Saturday trading wasn’t introduced to New Zealand till 1980 and Sunday trading not until 1990, which meant all the grocery shopping had to be done after work mid week, all menus planned for accordingly. Order:1, Spontaneity: 0
The beacon of hope in all that tedium was helping my Dad with the cooking on Saturday night, and as I grew more confident in the kitchen providing a “Little Hot Lunch” one weekend day. Like Winnie the Pooh and his “eleven o’clock-ish”ness my father would make vague noises about this “Little Hot Lunch” starting mid-morning and woe and betide if preparations had not been made in order to provide it. That said, sitting down together during daylight hours was really lovely, and I far preferred to cook something savoury than cakes and biscuits; filling the tins for the week being my preserve.
So this last weekend, with Saturday sport finished for the season, all the other extra curricular activities out of the way and only one playdate fairly late in the piece, I suggested to the little one that we might have a “Little Hot Lunch”. I chose something quick and easy that she could, literally, get her hands into, but that constituted actually cooking, rather than simply combining things, as most of the recipes for meals in her children’s cookbook do.
This loaf is kind of damper I suppose, although it always makes me think of cornbread. It provides a useful avenue to use up any leftovers knocking around the fridge, for us this week it was corned beef, just make sure you reserve some cheese for the top, nothing beats a cheesy crust, no matter how old you are!
3 Cups Self-raising flour
½ teaspoon of salt
½ teaspoon mustard
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
1 pinch cayenne pepper
225g grated Gouda or Edam
3 gherkins, cut in round slices
100g ham chopped (or any other preserved meat such as salami, chorizo sticks or even leftover corned beef)
50g butter, room temperature and chopped into small chunks
1 cup of milk
Preheat the oven to 180 Celcius (I use conventional top and bottom heat for this one).
Sift together all the dry ingredients, and rub in the butter. Add the cheese (reserving 50gms for the top), gherkins and ham, or other meat.
Beat the egg well, and add to the milk. Gradually pour into the dry ingredients and stir to combine until you have a soft dough.
Put into a greased 900gm/ 2 lb loaf tin (23 x 13 x 7 cm), and generously sprinkle over the remaining cheese.
Bake for 45-60 minutes until a skewer comes out clean and golden cheesy crust has formed.
Serve thickly sliced with lots of butter melting on the top.