Sunday, May 08, 2011

Christina Hollis: Families and Food...

Although The wedding happened over a week ago now, thinking about it still brings a smile to my face. Wasn't it wonderful? And not only was it a lovely spectacle, it gave millions of people the chance to spend some time together with their families, if only in front of the TV!  Did you hear that one of the two royal wedding cakes was a chocolate refrigerator cake of the type William had loved since he was a little boy? Just about every family has their own favourite recipe for this-crushed sweet biscuits set in a melted mixture of butter, sugar, golden syrup and cocoa, then given a chocolate topping. Princess Diana always tried to give her boys as normal a childhood as she could in the circumstances, so I wonder if refrigerator cake conjures up happy memories for him of time spent in the kitchen together? I can remember standing on a chair when I was tiny, 'helping' to make this for every family get-together and I'm sure lots of you do, too. a family, we don't spend enough time together, but luckily we managed to have lunch together at The Organic Farm Shop in Cirencester, while DD was at home over Easter. Eating meals around the same table is one of our favourite ways of spending time together, but family life has changed so much over the past few years, for many people it's now a rare treat.  Once upon a time just about everyone in England sat down to a roast dinner at Sunday lunchtime. It would be beef & Yorkshire pudding, or chicken with all the trimmings. Nowadays families are more fragmented, and much less confined by tradition. We're all more likely to grab a sandwich at midday and then maybe enjoy a barbecue later - but only while the sun is shining!

What's your favourite recipe for a happy family get-together?

Christina Hollis writes Modern Romance for Harlequin Mills and Boon, which appear as Harlequin Presents/Extra in the US. You can follow her on Facebook and Tumblr as Christina Hollis, while on Twitter she's @christinabooks. Visit her website at between now and the end of May to enter her latest competition to win signed books and other goodies!


Christina Hollis said...

Good morning, and a Happy Mothers' Day to all of you in the USA. I'm sorry I never included a mention of this in my post, but our big celebration here in the UK is Mothering Sunday, which falls half way between Pancake Day and Easter Sunday. That was a few weeks ago now, so it's just a happy memory for us Brits!

Virginia C said...

Best Wishes to all Moms & "Like a Moms" : )

Hi, Christina! Food is definitely a huge part of family memories, and sometimes the simplest dish offers the most pleasure:

Apple & Cheddar Bake

8 cups unpeeled chopped apples (a mix of tart & sweet, green, yellow & red is wonderful)
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup self-rising flour
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup butter, melted

Preheat over to 350F degrees (177C). Grease a 13x9 inch baking dish. Place apples in the baking dish. In a medium bowl, stir together sugar, flour, nutmeg and cheese. Blend in melted butter. Sprinkle mixture evenly over apples. Bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until golden brown.

Elanor said...

Hi Christina, I love the photo - is that cake made by your own fair hands? My memory is that whenever a 'gateaux' like that was made, my mother would cover the top with Hundreds and Thousands to finish it off. It always looked so pretty, but it was polished off within minutes!

When it comes to family get-togethers, I find one can't go wrong with a casserole of any sort. It may sound 'boring' in an age of high-tech, ultra-sophisticated cuisine, but since all you have to do is pour vegetables, barley and possibly meat into a dish and whack it in the oven for a couple of hours, it leaves so much more time for socialising! There is also the 'bottomless dish' phenomenon, whereby if you're not entertaining many people, then the possibilities for seconds and thirds seems endless...

All the best,

Christina Hollis said...

Hi, Virginia - thanks for commenting, and an extra big thanks for the recipe! I'm going to try it tomorrow night as I bought some really good cheese yesterday. It keeps its character even when cooked. My DD is living in university accommodation that only allows microwaves, not 'real' ovens. I wonder if your Apple and Cheddar Bake would adapt? It sounds ideal student food!

Christina Hollis said...

Hi Elanor
Thanks for you comment. I must confess I didn't make the gateau in the picture - I give mine the melted chocolate and hundreds and thousands treatment, too.
You're right about casseroles being ideal for get-togethers. I love to put sliced veg such as potatoes (Irish and/or sweet), carrots, onions, swede, turnip and celery into a slow cooker or Remoska, then just cover them with good stock (chicken or vegetable) and cook until the vegetables are soft. Serve with cheese scones. It's lovely-although having read your post I think adding pearl barley will make it even better!

Nas Dean said...

Hi Christina,

I love all the recipes in this post! Oh yum! And the picture..ohhhh

For Mother's Day, my hubby and daughter to spare me from cooking ordered sad is that?

Being of a different culture, for get togethers I find making Pilau the easiest and less time consuming. With different types of salads and chutneys to go with it.

Christina Hollis said...

Hi Nas
Sorry I missed your original post: I tried Virginia's recipe and yes, it was very good. Thanks for mentioning pilau - I haven't had that for years, so that's now on the family menu for this week, too!

Jo's Daughter said...

Everybody (well surely most people) love pizza. And so I like to make my own pizza's when we all get together.

My favorite topping is Mozzarella, peach slices, tomato puree on the botom & sage leaves on top. Add a bit of salt & pepper. Pop in the oven as usual and enjoy!

Pat Cochran said...

With eighteen persons in our immediate
family plus two in-laws, there is always a birthday party going! So for us it's
a weekend gathering with most everyone
there, sharing the celebrant's favorite
meal, a birthday cake and lots of gifts!

Pat Cochran

Christina Hollis said...

Hi Jo's daughter - sorry it's taken me so long to get back to you. I love the sound of your pizza - my son loves ham and pineapple, so I'm going to substitute peach slices, and add the sage leaves next time we have it Thanks for the idea!

Christina Hollis said...

Pat, for some reason my answer to your post won't appear. I'll try again - fingers crossed you don't end up seeing it three times!

"It must be lovely having such a big, close knit family, Pat. With 20 people that must be a birthday (and cake) about every three weeks on average :D "