TT: Jane Bakes, Roasts, and…

ALAN: So tell me about the things you like to cook.

JANE: Oh, heavens!  As I said last week, I’ve been cooking since I was a small child.  Listing what sort of things I don’t cook would be easier than what I do.  Let’s see.  I don’t really like sweet entrees.  So if I cook yams, they won’t be doused in marshmallows.  If I make a ham, no pineapple rings and brown sugar glaze.  You get the picture…

Home Baked Apple Cake

ALAN: But, wait.  From other discussions, I’ve gathered you like to make baked goods.  How does that fit in with your distaste for sweets?

JANE: Easily.  Even though I’m not excited by sweet entrees, I do like a well-made cookie, pie, or cake.  The emphasis is on “well-made.”  I can easily pass by most cakes, for example, although if my sister, Ann, is doing the baking, all bets are off.  She is pure magic with cakes.  I’m more likely to make cookies, brownies, or pies.

When I make fruit pies, I incline toward slightly tart fillings.  I bought some quinces when Jim and I visited Silver City some weeks ago and combined them with Granny Smith apples for the best apple pie I’ve ever made.

ALAN: I prefer the tart tastes as well. There’s a pun in there somewhere since the word tart has at least three quite different meanings, one of which is slightly rude. But let’s not go there…

JANE: Hmm…  The tart tasted a tart tart?  Sounds like a piece of flash fiction.  But lest I tangent from our tangent…

Encouraging my liking for baking is that I seem to get into relationships with men who like sweets.  Roger was known to order more than one dessert – and this after having a milkshake with his meal.  Jim definitely has a sweet tooth, but over the years he has moderated his consumption.  Therefore, if I’m in the mood to bake, I usually do so when we’re expecting guests.

Oh!  And when I have a local book signing, if the venue will permit me to do so, I’ll often bring home-baked cookies or brownies.

ALAN: A friend of mine has a very sweet tooth. Once, as a special treat for his birthday, his wife took him to a restaurant where she bought him sticky chocolate pudding for starters, then he had a normal main course followed by sticky chocolate pudding again for dessert. He remembers that birthday very fondly, but he’s never been allowed to repeat the experience.

I must confess that I quite fail to understand why he enjoyed it so much – I seldom order desserts in restaurants. So because I’m really not very interested in eating the end result, I don’t do baking. It all seems a little pointless to me.

JANE: That’s a pity, really, because your kitchen chemistry would get a workout when baking.  When my mom taught us to bake, she cautioned us to be very careful with measuring the leavening agent (baking soda or baking powder or sometimes both) because that had to be precise in relation to the other ingredients.  To this day, when I alter a recipe that involves leavening, I’m very careful to keep that in mind.

Is there anything else you don’t make?

ALAN: Well, because of my egg intolerance I have absolutely no idea how to boil, poach, fry or scramble an egg. And I’ve never made an omelet in my life.

JANE: Well, that still leaves a lot.  What’s your favorite type of dish to build a menu around?

ALAN: My meals generally consist of stews of one sort or another – or at least, dishes that depend on gravies or sauces of some kind. I also use a lot of herbs and spices to vary the flavours.

My chronic hay fever has almost destroyed my sense of smell and as a result of that my sense of taste is now much duller than it used to be. Foods which I remember as having an overwhelming taste in my childhood now barely register at all on my taste buds. Celery is a particularly good example. I simply couldn’t eat it when I was young because the taste was so powerful, but now I find the taste quite mild…

So I tend to cook a lot of curries.

JANE: What sort of curries?  Green?  Yellow?  Red?  Chinese style?  Thai?  Indian?

ALAN: Oh, Indian, of course. In my opinion, other types of curry are just a pale imitation of the real thing. After all, Indian curries are the British national dish. The recipe for Chicken Tikka Masala was developed in Glasgow, and many people claim that the Balti style of cooking curries was actually invented in Birmingham! The movie Victoria & Abdul suggests that Queen Victoria’s friendship with the young Indian Abdul Karim was what made curry fashionable in the first place…

JANE: What’s a Balti style curry?

ALAN: Most Indian curries are rather stew-like, and the long, slow simmering contributes greatly to the flavour. Balti curries are cooked quickly, rather like a stir fry, with the minimum of simmering, just enough to ensure that the meat (generally chicken) is cooked all the way through.

JANE:  Both sound great.  Are the curries you cook anything like the ones described in Terry Pratchett’s Jingo?

Let’s see, they’re described as “Containing yellow curry powder, big lumps of swede, green peas, and soggy sultanas the… size of eggs.”

I believe a sultana is what we’d call a golden raisin, but what’s a swede?

ALAN: That’s two questions – the question about the identity of a swede is quite easy to answer. A swede, believe it or not, is the bastard offspring of a turnip and a cabbage. It’s rather yellow (unlike turnips which are white). Some people call a swede a neep, others call it a rutabaga.

JANE: Urrgh…

ALAN: But the question about the curries in Jingo is far too complex to answer without going off on a tangent, so I think we should talk about it next time. For the moment, let’s just say that my curries are nothing at all like those described in Jingo.

JANE: Whew!  That really didn’t sound very appetizing.

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4 Responses to “TT: Jane Bakes, Roasts, and…”

  1. futurespastsite Says:

    All this makes me hungry.

  2. Katie Says:

    Our favorite local Indian restaurant had a fire over the summer, but it’s supposed to reopen soon. This tangent has made me all the more impatient for it! Curries are the ultimate comfort food, in my book.

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