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Sunday, 3 January 2016

Evidence that Fran's willpower goes only so far ....

I've eaten only two mince pies over the Christmas season. This is a miracle. Normally, I emerge from the festive period from beneath a pile of shortcrust pastry crumbs, more mince pie than woman, and with a heartburn so bad it's as though someone's having a barbecue in my thoracic cavity.

But I was determined. I can resist Christmas pudding, and brandy butter, and salted peanuts, but once I see a pile of mince pies, I'm am to that pile what a wrecking ball is to a block of condemned flats. BOOM! All gone, but for the dust.

Having lost a little weight before Christmas, I didn't want to put it all back on. And I knew the mince pies would do that. So, that's a 'Good girl' sticker for me.

My kind of mince pie, with pastry so thick it's a medical emergency


Today, however, I found a pork pie in the fridge I had forgotten was there. And, damn, or maybe it was 'Hurrah!' it was still in date.

As we all know, pork pie pastry isn't merely pastry. It's a heart attack and a six-month recovery period wrapped around a giant lump of processed pork and glazed with egg white. Still, one pork pie doth not equal seventy-three mince pies, so all is not lost. Yet.

I have a friend who doesn't eat pastry. As I said to her, 'How are you even STILL ALIVE? Pastry is basically BREATHING.'

Pastry talks to me in a kind of Clooney-esque low-toned come-hither voice and it was SO hard over Christmas, ignoring the invitations from mince pies as I passed them at the school Christmas lunch or at family get-togethers.

It's all Mrs Gough's fault. My relationship with pastry goes way back to the days of Mrs Gough and O'level Domestic Science. This teacher and I weren't the best of friends. She never forgave me for swapping my loaf of baking bread with another girl's when hers was rising and mine wasn't, not that this got me anywhere, because the rising loaf rose no further, deflating like a burst balloon once I'd slammed the oven door on it before I was spotted. I know now if you're going to slam an oven door on a loaf of bread, you might as well get the bread out and bounce up and down on it. I was a rookie cook then. As well as an idiot of a teenager.

I revelled in those lessons, though, in which I learned to make shortcrust pastry for pies, puff pastry for puffier pies, flaky pastry for pies and cream slices, and then choux pastry for eclairs.  We pummelled and we shaped and we rolled and we folded and we lathered layers with butter ...  Looking back, I don't know why Mrs Gough wasn't hauled in by the Health & Safety Inspectorate and prosecuted for endangering the lives of her vulnerable fifteen-year-old students.  Mrs Gough is probably costing the NHS about £37m per year, right now.

With a basket chock-full with eclairs or fruit pies or a mis-shapen but aromatic beef pasty, I would leave the Domestic Science room and get on the bus home. 'Make sure your family gets some of these, girls,' Mrs Gough would warn us as we left. But on those days the other kids on the bus got promoted to Family as we all gorged ourselves on the products of the lesson, pastry everywhere like confetti cholesterol, the bus driver yelling, 'Oi! If I'd wanted to cover the floor of the bus, I'd have got myself some bloody carpet!'

'What do you mean, they cancelled Domestic Science?'


I'm guessing I don't need to tell you what one of my New Year resolutions ISN'T.





20 comments:

  1. Haha! I can just imagine you sharing those pies around on the bus :) A generous pastry lover is better than a mean one. I think you've earned your pastry munches over the years. What a great post! Made me want to fling open the kitchen door, get out the butter and an egg, and grab the flour and get on with it. You should write recipe books! A good hearty to post ot begin the year. Just lovely...

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    1. You won't be surprised to learn that I have a whole host of food-related anecdotes. Maybe after I've written my Trivial Travel book I can write Banal Baking.

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    1. Thanks, Toni! Happy New Year, and thanks for reading.

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  3. In Canada we call small pies like that "tarts." I'm mentioning this so that you don't take what I'm about to say the wrong way. I ate 12 mince tarts over the holidays but never more than 2 at a time. That's MY definition of self-control.

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    1. That's a great definition. I love it!

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  4. Lucky you! We didn't learn enough about pastry to be making eclairs. We did learn shortcrust pastry, but made it with iced water and mine looked more like a lump of glue. The recipe I use now is far better, but I still haven't mastered puff or flaky pastry. So I use short crust for everything and nobody seems to mind.
    I ate my fair share of home made mince pies, plus a few extra, decided that since I'd only lost a half a kilo before Christmas, putting it back on wasn't going to bother me.

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    1. I got on the scales this morning and I'd only put back on half the weight I'd lost. I call that a triumph, over Christmas!

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  5. Our Domestic Science lessons were far more adventurous than today's equivalent. My daughter was in awe the first time she saw me making flaky pastry - she thought you bought it ready made from the freezer!
    Well done for resisting the mince pies.

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    1. That reminds me of when we had some little 7 year old boys round to help celebrate our son's birthday. They didn't believe me when I said that chips were made from potatoes. I had to slice one up and fry it there and then to demonstrate.

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  6. Needless to say that following this Christmas period; Paul's chocolate tiffin has become to me, what mince pies are to you!

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    1. He makes it all the time. I'll let you know next time there's a batch and we'll meet up for tea so I can give you some of it! Deal?

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  7. My school domestic science and needlework teachers were dinosaurs and I hated both subjects... Luckily within a year the school changed and girls could take woodwork and metalwork which I did ! have had my fair share of shop bought mince pies at Christmas as customers kept bringing them into the shop plus the ones we had at home !

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    1. I got put into the Design Technology class when I got thrown out of Physics. It wasn't a great success. As for mince pies, one of the ones I ate at Christmas was from Greggs. It was surprisingly good. But then maybe I was just dying for a mince pie!

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  8. Pastry I can take or leave. Chocolate, however...

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  9. There nothing more seductive than the smell of mince pies baking ... unless it's beef roasting or cheese being grilled or bacon crisping or coffee brewing or ...
    Oh dear !

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    1. Ha ha! You were on a roll, then (maybe a bacon roll ...)

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  10. I do like "more mince pie than woman". Hee hee.

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    1. I'm surprised I don't get chased down the street by hungry dogs.

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