...possibly overly so. Today we have lots of very ripe bananas that need using up, but I don't think it was that... We also have some dulce de leche to be used up. Such a sorry state of affairs I know. I was searching the internet for cakes or puddings and then I remembered Nan's Banana & Honey Tea Bread. I wondered if the honey could be replaced with toffee sauce. So whilst I write this post for Apples and Thyme my new version of this gorgeous tea bread is in the oven. Of course I know it wont be a patch on the original recipe but you work with what you've got, right.
Apples and Thyme is a great event, celebrating time in the kitchen with mothers and grandmothers. Started by the lovely Inge of Vanielje Kitchen and Jeni of The Passionate Palate. Both blogs well worth checking out. I visit Vanielje Kitchen often, for the fabulous crockery and the images portrayed of an Africa where I'd love to be on this cold January day in England. That of course and the writing, sometimes funny, sometimes bittersweet, always worth a read though.
On Friday I went for physio and acupuncture at the hospital in our nearby town. It's not big, more of a cottage hospital and doesn't have an A & E deparment. It does however have a very good physio department, and a re-habilitation ward. I was stupidly excited to be going and not because the thought of being pulled around or having needles stuck in me was thrilling. It was because the evening before Nan had been moved there to the re-hab ward. I hadn't seen her since before Christmas when she'd been stuck in a large bug infested hospital miles away.
It wasn't visiting hours but after my treatment I went to the ward and asked if I would be permitted to see her. I could see her while I asked and if they'd said no I think I'd have cried. They said yes and as I walked up to her looking like a cowboy pigeon my heart felt heavy and light all at the same time. I can't tell you how good it was to see her. We chatted for a while, no talk of blue mice and though she's lost weight and seems weak, she's Nan, same old Nan and I just hope that she will soon be able to return to her own home and kitty cat. On a funnier note - her hair was shocking! I've since spoken to her hairdresser and asked if someone can visit her in hospital to try and sort it out. Nan's hairdresser is lovely, she's also very fond of my Nan, as are a lot of people.
As a child I found my Nan embarrassing sometimes. She always had an opinion, still does and doesn't often think to stop before expressing her opinions! Now of course I like that, wishing I could do the same without feeling guitly every time I do. She carried on working into her Seventies and still talks of the old people, often when they're younger than her. She's done some cool things in her time, from jobs that include: social work, being the warden of a home for 'naughty' children (not sure what the politically correct term would be now) to various other things. She even campaigned a few years ago for a skateboard park for the youngsters as she didn't feel there was enough for them to do to keep them off the streets.
At a time when she was nearing (official) retirement age and should have been thinking about herself and taking it easy, she took on her son, with an alcohol problem and his daughter, me. I was 8 years old at the time. Lots of personal reasons for this that don't need to be aired right now. It was an incredibly selfless thing to do. I never once felt different to my peers, this is all thanks to Nan. Don't get me wrong and let me depict her as a Saint here, we've had our moments. She can be bossy, nosey, interfere when she shouldn't and can be so overly opinionated you could scream (I know, I've done it!) but none of that matters because when you need her the most she's there, whether you're family, or a friend, or a stranger on the street.
Now then.. in the kitchen, she was an old fashioned cook. Boiled the veg until it tasted of nothing and didn't have a vitamin or nutrient left in it. The water that it was boiled in however... She did though allow me to experiment. I was given the freedom in the kitchen to gain confidence and here, she didn't interfere at all. I used to make all sorts of concoctions, earning me the name of Chemist in the Kitchen.
She could bake though and her Banana and Honey Tea Bread which I wrote about is seriously good. Having read through that post again I realise why I'm feeling so sentimental, it's because my Nan is now old, and she'd been in hospital more than once in the last 12 months. It's because I can see the end, almost touch it, and that makes me sad but I also thank my lucky stars that she found it within her to nurture me and help me grow into the adult I am now.
Sorry, I didn't mean to get so carried away. Anybody know any good jokes? Laughter, has always been very important to me and if you can just conjure up an old lady, sitting, poker straight back, no teeth in, very thin fine hair that's poker straight too and sticking out at all angles. This isn't a sad image. It's the image of a lady who has lived a very full life. She's the lady who'll give you the eyeball with a smile hiding on her face when you've been naughty or done something wrong. She's the lady who makes a damn fine trifle to be served on New Years Day who doesn't pulverise the grandaughter who returns in the early hours of the morning on New Years Eve with her best friend (both slightly the worse for a drink or two) to tuck into the delicious trifle. What did she do? We got the eyeball, a slight telling off, putting it mildly, and she made another one. Resourceful...
For the recipe for Banana and Toffee (dulce de leche) Bread, follow as per the Banana & Honey Tea Bread, replacing the honey with dulce de leche or other soft toffee sauce. It's still cooking but we'll let you know how it turns out.
Edit: The banana and toffee bread (pictured above, we always try to make in a heart shape) is absolutely gorgeous. So much so we've eaten half of it already, it was still warm while we 'tried' it. The taste of banana is really strong and you probably wouldn't be able to detect the extra taste as toffee but it gives it a wonderfully warm flavour. Really good!