When M was little and I used to collect her from Preschool at lunchtimes, I could only ever find out how she’d spent her morning by a process of elimination.
Me: Did you have a good morning?
Me: What did you do?
M: I didn’t do the cylinders (she went to a Montessori Preschool)
Me: So … what did you do?
M: I didn’t do any painting.
Me: And instead you did …?
M: I didn’t polish the mirror.
And in that way, I’d eventually discover that she had had a thoroughly enjoyable morning absorbed in weeding the garden, climbing the apple tree and pegging out woollen socks to dry on the clothes line.
L has a similar habit. As part of her recent science project for school, she decided to label a picture of a capybara to show “their adaptations to an aquatic lifestyle” (a phrase that featured often in the course of working on this project). After highlighting their webbed feet, highly-placed eyes, ears and nostrils, and water-resistant fur, she took great pleasure in adding a label to show ‘no tail’. I’m not convinced this lack has anything to do with an aquatic lifestyle, but she found the idea of labelling something that wasn’t there particularly amusing.
I think there are similarities here somewhere to Lacan’s theory that la femme n’existe pas, but it would be a bit of a conversation killer if I go any further along that line of thinking …
Anyway, if you ask M what she’ll be wearing to school next term, she’ll probably tell you, “Not a yellow jumper.” Which will be true. It’s the end of term and the end of key stage 1 for M. In September, she will be growed up enough to wear blue instead of yellow – only you’ll have to find that bit out by a process of elimination.
It being the end of term, I baked a couple of trays of raspberry crumb bars for my children to take into school for their teachers. There very nearly weren’t any of these left after L and I ‘sampled’ them last night. It was just to make sure we weren’t going to poison the staff – honest! Scientific measures of quality control.
At least, that’s the line we’re sticking to. We didn’t eat three slices each straight from the oven, we didn’t burn our tongues on hot, gooey jam and Captain Blackadder definitely did not shoot the delicious plump breasted pigeon, sir.
Raspberry Crumb Bars (adapted from a recipe by Joanne Chang)
12 oz unsalted butter
3 1/2 oz caster sugar
3 tbsp icing sugar
2 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 oz plain flour
6 1/4 oz cake flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 jar of raspberry jam (with seeds)
Cream the butter with the sugars until the mixture is light and fluffy.
Beat in the egg yolks and vanilla.
Whisk the dry ingredients together, then add gradually on low speed to the buttery sugary eggy mixture. Stir just until the flour is incorporated and evenly mixed.
Remove 8 oz of the dough, wrap it in clingfilm and put it in the freezer.
Press the remaining dough into a flattish disc shape, wrap it in clingfilm and chill it in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
Roll out the fridge dough to a 9″x13″ rectangle between two lightly-floured sheets of baking parchment. Leaving the dough on the lower sheet of parchment, transfer the dough to a 9″x13″ baking tray. Neaten the edges and trim any excess overhanging parchment.
Bake for 20 minutes until golden.
Let the shortbread base cool for 10 minutes and then spread the jam evenly over the top. Use a large-holed grater to grate the frozen piece of dough over the top of the jam.
Bake for a further 20 minutes until the top is bubbly and golden.
Leave to cool completely in the tray on a wire rack before removing and cutting into bars.