Monday, 22 August 2011


I often wonder if I was the cause of my parents’ divorce.  I was six at the time and can remember not knowing whom I “belonged” to.  It was in the middle of the Rhodesian war that they decided to part ways.  Both my parents were in the army.  My Mother an army medic and my Father in the “office side” of the army... as neither of them are here any more... I can’t be sure of the correct regiment.  None the less it was most probably difficult circumstances and the pressure of being at war that drove them apart.

I should write now that it was a hard and difficult time for me and that I was fraught with anguish.  But whilst they were deciding who I belonged to - I belonged to my grandparents and I was blissful and deliriously happy and of course very well fed.  Mama was ever so grand.  She came from the era of grace, poise and gentility. She never went a day without makeup or a change of jewellery. Even when in the kitchen, slaving over a batch of marmalade she was as grand as Rita Hayworth – apart from wearing furs of course.

Every meal was a ritual.  She would tut tut at me for serving my family a bowl of cereal or eating off your lap in front of “who wants’ to be a millionaire”.  Nope, the table was always set properly. Breakfast saw the table decked with gingham and polished silver butter knives.  Lunch was served on the patio overlooking the rose garden and dinner was served on a starched white table cloth with napkins in silver napkin rings...cloth napkins of course not the paper kind I use these days. I loved it all.  I have long suffered illusions of grandeur and this fuelled my romantic pre-pubescent fantasy of glamour and upper class poshness. 

Before I continue... I have to tell you something. Please understand that this time of my life was in slap bang in the height of British colonialism... so yes we had servants *shock/horror*.  Kelly was our cook.  Mama took him on from a young age, about 13 I think.  He used to be a goat herder.  She trained him and sent him to cooking classes and bought him a posh white uniform and a red fez which he wore when serving us dinner.  I will tell you more about Kelly in future blogs... but it’s out now... in the age of political correctness... YES WE HAD SERVANTS. Whew, with that out in the open let me continue.

Butter was one of Mama’s most favourite ingredients... and so is it mine.  Julia Child once said you can never have enough butter! I think she must have known my Mama. During breakfast, Mama would finish of her meal with a slice of buttered toast which she would cut into small pieces and proceed with the ritual of “one for me one for you” as she shared them with the fat family dogs.  This toast did not have a quick scraping of butter on it though.  It had to have enough cold butter on the toast (with crusts cut off) so that you could see her teeth marks in the butter. Delicious farm butter...golden yellow and bursting with flavour!

So today I share with you one of our favourite dishes Mama would serve for breakfast, with a good helping of butter for good measure!

Stewed tomatoes

What you need:
  • 10 ripe plump red tomatoes, topped and tailed and cut in half (horizontally)
  • 1 t-spoon of butter per half of tomato (I warned you)
  • Good sprinkle of salt and pepper
  • 2 t-spoons sugar
  • A sprinkle of dried parsley (these days I use the fresh kind) 

How to make:
  • Place the tomato halves in a baking tray and dot each one with their t-spoon of butter.  Sprinkle over the sugar and the spices and place in a hot oven (200 degrees) for 30 minutes.
  • Serve... on buttered toast wink wink

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