Opinion

Mama’s place is not in the kitchen

By Ivy Jensen

IF I LOST my job due to the coronavirus pandemic, there wouldn’t be too many other career options I could turn to.

Chef and baker being two of them.

I blame my mother. Not because she was a terrible cook. Quite the opposite really.

But she always drilled into me that I could do better than become a housewife; pregnant and barefoot in the kitchen.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that of course. But I have been career-driven from the time I could speak.

Anyhoo, I guess I took my mother’s words rather literally. And focused more on academic outcomes than life skills.

I don’t think I ironed a shirt until I was 25. But that’s another story.

Ironically, I have discovered, the older I get and the longer in spend in isolation, the more I want to cook.

And being the mother to two children doing their schooling from home, I have no choice than to partake in cooking.

Otherwise it would be a painful observation of my nine-year-old trying to work out how to ignite the gas stove and empty an entire container of flour and carton of eggs into a bowl.

Best just to “help” if you know what I mean.

As a grade 4 student, Maya is doing the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden program so they are given a recipe to make at home each week.

The first was an apple crumble and she didn’t disappoint. It had me and Maya going back for seconds and maybe even thirds.

But the second recipe may have come with a bit too much pressure. Anzac slice.

Sounds simple enough, but after two goes at it, we still haven’t quite mastered the commemorative delicacy.

Our first attempt almost burnt down the kitchen. My fault, not my child’s.

When we put the wet ingredients into the dry mixture, it just wouldn’t stick together.

As much as we tried to make the mixture stick, including adding more melted butter and syrup, it remained dry and crumbly.

So we decided just to whack it in the tray and cross our fingers.

After the set time limit, it still hadn’t turned “golden brown” like Maya’s teacher explained.
In fact, it didn’t look cooked at all.

So we set the alarm for another five minutes. And then another. And another.

But by then, the golden brown had turned into very dark brown and the chewy slice had turned to rock.

After that baking fail, I thought I’d try it again, with Ayla this time. And rather than Anzac slice, we had a crack at Anzac biscuits.

We used less dry ingredients this time, assuming that was the key. But alas, it was not to be.

The mixture was still super dry and crumbly and just fell apart when we tried to roll and shape it.

Determined, we soldiered on, abandoning the biscuits for slice instead.

This time we pulled it out when the recipe told us to.

Not quite golden brown, but I wasn’t taking any risks.

They tasted quite nice when they were warm. But once they had cooled, you could chip a tooth chowing down on them.

We figured the best way eat them was to smash the cr*p out of them.

And so, the silver lining to that story is we have created a new meal - Anzac muesli.