You will doubtless have heard the old maxim: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try and try again.” To which I would add: “Though not necessarily....” You can tell, can’t you, that
something has happened to prevent me getting in touch with my Inner Robert the Bruce. And / or his industrious spider.
Here begins the saga of my latest culinary
failure, viz the Summer Pudding. This classic summer dessert (not my words, believe me) combines an outer casing of slices of white bread into which gently stewed strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and red currants are spooned. The whole creation is then
topped with another slice of bread, a saucer and something heavy like a tin of baked beans (not to be consumed with the pudding, you understand) and left overnight in the fridge. Easy Peasy did somebody say?
It was Mr B’s idea - but you probably guessed that. Mr B watches a great many cookery programmes on TV and devours (if you’ll excuse the pun) page upon page of recipes which feature in all the magazine supplements.
As a result, he comes up on an almost daily basis with either a fruit, a vegetable, a spice or other ingredient which I need, as a matter of urgency, to buy for our fridge / freezer / larder (delete as appropriate.) Lockdown has rendered it more difficult
to meet his every request as I have to rely on (i) the lovely volunteers who shop for us or (ii) the Ocado man, to deliver to his exacting requirements. I never really feel able to phone or message asking my friends to make a special trip to the supermarket
just to pick up few sticks of rhubarb or some Jersey Royal potatoes. I tell the Demanding One that I will put his latest items of desire in my running shopping list with the caveat that, in these strange times, nothing can be guaranteed. I can tell he
doesn’t believe me...
All this is bad enough, but worse still is when my Loved One finds a new recipe for me to try out. As in, the “Sensational Summer
Pudding” in the recipe section of one of the Sunday supplements. All of a sudden there is nothing, but nothing, that he fancies more than this “traditional British dessert” which apparently contains (Mr B is quick to point out) virtually
no fat. Mr B isn’t the least bit concerned how much fat there is in his food but he knows how to push my dietary buttons.
The thing is, life isn’t
that much fun for poor Mr B - so the least I can do is to try to cook up a treat for him. Besides, I remind myself, didn’t I make a Summer Pudding, once upon a very long time ago? I wonder why I didn’t make it more often?
I listed all the ingredients on my shopping list and Lovely Kay managed to find them all except red currants. I was pretty sure I could manage without these though I am not sure where
my confidence came from. I had also failed to take account of how many slices of bread I would need to line my pudding basin - which meant we would be limited to one slice of toast a day until the next person phoned to ask if we needed anything at the shops.
Removing all the crusts did provide the seagulls with a treat though the consequent Battle of the Bread out on our back lawn was a truly alarming sight.
I was, simmering all the fruit (minus redcurrants) in a large saucepan and trying to decide whether the resultant liquid was a “deep reddish purple.” To be honest, I couldn’t help thinking I would far rather eat the sweet, fresh fruit than
murder it in a saucepan. Nevertheless I persevered, ladling the juice into the bottom of the pudding basin, before transferring all the fruit from saucepan to basin with a slotted spoon. I wasn’t quite sure what a slotted spoon was but I assumed it might
be one with holes in it.
In no time at all, my pudding was topped with a round slice of bread, a saucer and a small tin of baked beans. It is possible that
this was not heavy enough but I tried it with a large tin of beans and I couldn’t fit the resultant tower in the fridge without removing everything stored therein to allow shelves to be moved. There the pudding stayed overnight, as instructed.
Mr B was all eager anticipation as I unmoulded the pudding, pouring spare liquid over the (many) white patches where the fruit hadn’t seeped through the bread casing.
In a trice I remembered exactly why I had only ever made Summer Pudding once before. It was, indeed, a Fruity Travesty. I served it up with ice-cream in a bid to make it slightly more palatable, thereby rendering invalid its claim to only 131 calories per
Mr B, loyally, scoffed the lot...