Growing Up

I’m feeling much better today – amazing what a good night’s rest can do for your health!  The sun is shining again in NYC and I am about to embark on a mega ironing session.  I used to hate ironing, but realised when we moved here (and I simply couldn’t justify paying someone to do something I had plenty of time to do) that as with many things, having the correct tools makes a world of difference.  I have a super dooper iron and it whizzes through Dad’s shirts like there’s no tomorrow.  I wouldn’t say that I now like ironing, but I certainly don’t hate it as before.

From this, I started thinking about those foods that one hated as a child and then tasted again as an adult and realised that they were really rather lovely.  I suppose that since you are all adults I can now confess that I was way worse about vegetables than any of you were, and, at the age of 12, it was a summer in Scotland without Grandma and Papa with both grandmothers asking me to try things that I started eating a wider variety of foods.  This added gravy, onions, and other things too numerous to mention to my dining.  The second seminal eating event was leaving home when I had to cook for myself and simply couldn’t afford to be as choosy.  This was the only time in my life where I regularly bought tinned soup and I started to eat pretty much all vegetables as a result.  The final event was meeting Dad.  In our first conversation, I told him that I didn’t like meat and he told me he didn’t eat fish – we were both lying.  I preferred not to eat meat, and indeed hadn’t eaten meat for a while, but I did and still do like it.  Faced with a new boyfriend and new foods, I couldn’t say that I didn’t like things and so olives, mayonnaise and other goodies were now eaten.  There are things that I would rather not eat – still not a huge fan of pickles or frozen peas – but really the only things I totally yuck now are tinned baked beans, raw tomatoes, tea and coffee.

Moving to the States introduced us to new foods, many of which I’ve mentioned before, but the range of chillis, mushrooms, squashes, seafood and variety of cabbages and kale, together with all the different uses of maize, beans, avocados, plus the influences of Mexican, South American, Caribbean foods make food shopping here very interesting.

I know that George was baking yesterday, but maybe he’ll bake this recipe for you next? There is heaps of rosemary in the garden (on the right as you go down the wee steps) and plums are in season.  I made this cake a few times, and it was well received.  The recipe came from a magazine and I tore it out and stuck it into my book – that is the best I can do with regard to its source, I’m afraid!  Today’s recipe is Rosemary Plum Cake – take the butter out of the fridge at least an hour beforehand and it’ll be very quick to make!

Rosemary Plum Cake – Ingredients

  • 175 g / 6 oz + 50 g / 2 oz butter
  • 175 g / 6 oz + 50 g / 2 oz golden castor sugar
  • 2 large eggs beaten
  • 1 tsp finely chopped rosemary
  • 2 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 200 g / 7 oz + 75 g / 3 oz sifted self-raising flour
  • 2 x 50 g / 2 oz ground almonds
  • 1-2 tbsp milk
  • 450-500 g / 1-1 1/4 lb small ripe plums
  • 3 tbsp demerara sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon


Butter a 25 x 20 x 5 cm baking tin.  Pre-heat oven to 180 C / 350 F / Gas Mark 4.

Beat together 175 g of butter and 175 g of golden castor sugar until light and creamy.  Then carefully beat in the two eggs and the chopped rosemary and 1 tsp of lemon zest.

Fold in 200 g of self-raising flour and 50 g ground almonds.  Add 1-2 tbsp of milk to make a dropping consistency, and put into the tin.  Level.

Halve and stone the plums and mix with the demerara sugar and the other tsp of lemon zest.  Arrange plums over cake mixture.

Rub the 50 g of butter into the 75 g of flour and stir in the cinnamon, 50 g of golden castor sugar and 50 g of ground almonds.  Scatter this over the plums.

Bake for 50-60 mins until risen, firm to a light touch and bubbling.  If it is browning to much, protect with foil.

Cool in the tin before cutting into squares to serve.  The recipe says it should be cut into 8 squares.


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