My Dad has a wealth of stories about his rather eccentric childhood. I say eccentric - to me, blessed with both parents, living what seemed like a very ordinary childhood, his seemed incredibly eccentric. With both his own parents dead before he hit his teens, he and his brother and sisters seemed to live a charmed life, free from the strictures that adults seemed to be encasing my own life with. Social services (in whatever form they existed in Scotland in the '50s) seemed completely unaware of the situation, and my perception is that they were pretty much left to their own devices. I am sure the reality was very far from the images I conjured up - less Enid Blyton. more Lemony Snicket - but there we go.
One of his stories involved the divvying up of household chores, including the cooking. Whether by accident or design, he managed to exonerate himself from kitchen duties by producing blue macaroni cheese. The story goes that despite the fact that it tasted delicious, no one else would eat it, because it was blue. Take heed, all ye for whom cooking is a chore to be avoided at all cost.
There must, of course, be a point to me relating this to you, and there is.
This afternoon, I finally yielded to Pink's request that we make another gourmet confection from the Roald Dahl Revolting Recipes book that she got for Christmas. Stickjaw for Talkative Parents (immortalised by Mr Wonka) captured her imagination from the moment she opened the book, and after another of her succesful campaigns of attrition, I finally gave in.
Why the reluctance? Well, it's basically toffee encased in meringue. I like toffee, I like meringue, but the 2 together?? Not only that, but I've been feeling a little sensitive about teeth generally having lost a great chunk of my tooth completely without warning a few days ago. I had to have a filling drilled right out - a filling I should say that had been happily in my mouth for a good 25 years or so - and the whole thing refilled and shaped into a 'tooth'. There's something really horrible about lying in a dentist's chair, listening to the drill, feeling that you are being drilled, and fearing every second that there will be a pain so terrible that you will actually hit the ceiling. It didn't come, but the anticipation is bad enough. The thought of consuming something (which of course I knew I woud have to consume) designed to cause teeth issues was not a welcoming one.
But where was I? Oh yes. Not in the dentist's chair, but making meringue with my daughter. Ever observant, she pointed out that the recipe gave the option to add colouring to the meringue.
She decided on the blue gel colour from my modest collection, so I got out a cocktail stick and started to add.
"More, Mummy. Let's make it REALLY blue."
I started to offer the suggestion that people might not want to eat them if they were blue, then I decided that no one (apart from her) was particularly going to want to eat them anyway, so I discarded the cocktail stick, got a dessert spoon, shoved the end in to the pot of gel colour, and dolloped a good amount in.
More metallic grey than actual blue, Pink was delighted.
She did a great job of piping the meringues, too.
After the requisite time in the oven, it appeared that you need to more conscientious about covering the entire toffee with the meringue - we had an issue with leakage - but Pink was well pleased with the results (not least because although no one was actually rendered 'stickjawed', everyone who tried one ended up with delightfully blue teeth.
You'll be pleased to know that I've consented to her request to take some in for her teachers. I'm not sure they will thank me, though.