Friday, 9 February 2007

Cherry lattice pie

It doesn't have an auspicious start. The snow is still here. And I can't see down the end of the road thanks to the freezing fog. But today is art and craft. And not just that, but someone coming to the home ed group to talk about bandages and heart attacks. I'm very reluctant to miss that. The girls have been working towards it all week. They've been finding out about medicine in the fourteenth century. I thought that might be an interesting way to show off to the St John's ambulance man. We know all about flagellants and fleas. I can imagine my ladies being such knowledgeable and attentive nurses-to-be about 14th century cures that the St John's ambulance man would be delighted to come back and show them how to bandage each other up.

So when I get out of bed, I hover about every window in the house, peering out at the cold and snow and fog, willing it to clear. I'm peeping out behind the front door, still in my pyjamas, when the postman comes up the path with Squirrel's secret birthday present, all packaged up. I think that's quite lucky. If any of the princesses intercept the parcels, I'm done for. But postee's obviously suspicious. He suspects me of spying on him again. It's not my fault. Dig started that. I've told him that it scares the postees. Jumping out at them, wearing no trousers, claiming to be reading the newspaper behind the door. It would upset anybody.

By 10 o'clock I've hovered enough. I have to make the inevitable decision. With no MOT and a journey across a snow-locked countryside I have to give up my vision of my three little nurses explaining 600-year old medical practices in detail to the St John's ambulance man. With the snow falling again outside, I wonder what we can do.

Shark saves the day. She's been asking to make a cherry lattice pie ever since she saw one at Tesco and I refused to buy it thanks to the lack of cherries, the E-numbers and the two month shelf-life. But now we've got a fridge full of unethical cherries, and I have to get rid of them.

Now just let me say here that I do not buy cherries out of season. Especially cherries laden with air miles, hand picked by the exploited, shrink-wrapped in plastic, and flown half way across the globe, destroying glaciers in their wake. Unless they are 10p a half kilo in Tesco at fruit and veg mark-down time. Then they are a bargain.

In no time at all, Shark's mastered the pitting stick on the garlic press and is squirting cherry stones across the kitchen table at Tiger. Thirty minutes later she's up to her armpits in flour and crashing about with the rolling pin. I'm hovering about again, this time trying to contain the snowfall of flour. Stupidly, I offer to move her pastry for her on the marble board. This sends her into a rage of 'Leave me alone! I know what I'm doing!' I've learned my lesson. It's time to back off. If she ever meets Gordon Ramsay, he'd be wise to do the same.

By the time she's finished, the place looks like a bloodbath. The red juice from the cherries has stained so deep into the kitchen table I think we'll have to look at it forever. Shark's got red stains all up her arms, on her face, and all over her apron. She looks like Sweeny Todd. Pastry bits are sticking to the undersoles on my shoes. Added to the cherry blood I feel I'm standing on some sort of slippery gut which squishes when I walk.

The uncooked pie looks very promising. Apart from Shark's lattice effect, whch has gone a bit wonky. The lattice bits resemble bandages in length and they're piled up over the cherries in a blob where they got tangled up. Shark thinks they're wonderful, and I lie, and say they look very good too. I wrestle the oven door down with my foot, which is extra difficult today thanks to the slippery pastry on the undersoles, and in goes the cherry lattice pie.

After mother's disappointing lunch of stir fried vegetables, red kidney beans and cous cous, out comes Shark's wonderful pie. And it is wonderful. We even make custard to honour it.

So I'm counting today as a great success. Because although we never got to be nurses, explain the plague, or offer to bandage anyone up, we did get to eat cherry lattice pie until our tummies hurt.

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