A tart's tale

When I open the pages of this book, I go back in time to a stainless steel kitchen with a big oven and afternoons spent baking and juggling late lunch orders. The pages are sticky with food and coming apart. Each recipe has notes and amendments. Many with bulk quanties. Some recipes are written in a kind of cook's shorthand, others in precise detail. A few recipes were given to me by people who worked in my kitchen, in the cafe I used to have with my mum and my sister. I don't really think about the cafe much anymore, it's been ten years since we sold and moved on. This recipe though, is special. I use it a lot. It was given to me by a chef I worked with because I couldn't make pastry to save myself and needed an easy base for tarts. These days, I'm sure that given time and practice, I would master pastry making, but back then I needed quick solutions.
I ended up making the largest quantity that would fit in the mixer. Now I have four tarts worth in the freezer for the upcoming festive season. Easy biscuits, ripple cakes, tarts. It's not really as good as proper pastry, it's quite hard and chewy. Or at least the bit I'm eating now is.  Today's effort was lemon tart with the filling from The Cooks Companion. I've been hankering after this for some weeks but G doesn't like tangy lemon flavours, so I've been waiting for an excuse.
Grace wanted to watch and taste, and despite me being worried about having her in the kitchen with the oven on, she was really pretty good. She stood up on the chair, completely immersed in what was going on until she got bored and started strewing bits around the floor. Which she then proceeded to place in her bags and then unpack again. I just sort of gave in to the mess and chaos. Except for the moment I was putting the tart in our awfully low oven, which was a little hairy until I popped her in the high chair and gave her a beater to lick.
We managed to get the tart in the oven, the kitchen cleaned up and Grace down for a nap before Sooz and Amy arrived for an afternoon visit. Needless to say, despite everyone tiptoeing around, Grace woke up shortly after. Indeed, she may never have slept. She often fools us by playing quietly in her cot until she senses something more exciting happening. Like visitors and food.

I'd like to show you a picture of the tart but it didn't come out of the oven until well into the visit and I had to stick it in the freezer before serving it, still warm. It did ooze a little. Besides, sometimes you just have to relax and enjoy the pleasurable experiences life sends you without reaching for the camera. Good things like chatting and children. And checking out the garden. And eating lemon tart. And the best of all, good company.

What's left of the tart is now quite firm.

postscript: The tart is now finished. Polished off for morning tea/late breakfast by Mum & Stepdad, Grace and me. Life is good.


sheree said...

Kids always love to 'help' with the cooking. Unfortunately it usually means 10x the mess and adds 5x the amount of time to the chore. We baked cookies the other day and I *still* haven't gotten all the flour up off the floor (despite many vacuumings and a mopping).

Lazy Cow said...

I like a little 'ooze' in my lemon tart. Not like the synthetic rubbery shop bought stuff. It's raining outside this morning...perfect baking day!

suse said...

Sounds perfectly lovely. All of it.
And is that a jumper knitted out of Opal Sock Wool, that Grace is wearing?!

Janet said...

Suse, I think the jumper is made out of sock wool. Not quite sure which brand as my mum made it. It is the best jumper, surviving machine washing and countless sticky moments.
And LC, I don't mind a bit of ooze either, but if I'd been sensible, I would have used the flat tart tin, not the deep one.

shula said...

You ran a cafe?
No wonder I like you.
I cooked for a cafe for years, from pre-Mym till she was about 4. I still have all the recipes in my head, one of a very small handful of people who do, but to this day, have trouble cooking for less than 10. I freeze everything.

daisies said...

wow, your kitchen is wonderful!!
mmmmm tarts, with all the snow am thinking this weekend will be a good one for baking :)

sooz said...

And it was bloody delicious! What an honour to have a tart baked for you. We had such a lovely time and we even got rhubarb plants and stalks as take home presents. Thanks so much!!