Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Promise: This blog is full of treats!

By Moira Butterfield (greedy from a very young age, as you will see)
A blog should be a little treat to read in one’s day, I feel. Picture books are like that, too. They are a special pleasurable treat in a quiet shared space somewhere in a toddler’s day.
Perhaps that’s why picture books are themselves often peppered with treats – I’m thinking of the yummy kind (this greedy blogger’s favourite kind, in fact). Winnie the Pooh has his honey, of course, and Judith Kerr’s tiger who comes to tea hoovers up a deliciously interesting retro-looking spread..,.Mmm, so would I. When I was small, storybook teddy bears invariably had picnics and toys more often than not ended up having scrumptious birthday parties involving cake.
The best and most exciting food treat for me as a small child would be to go a café, like the little girl in ‘The Tiger Who Came to Tea’ – and she got to go at nighttime, too! What luck for her that the tiger turned up and ate everything in the house. A trip to a café was a rare and exciting adventure for small me. I recall the feeling even now - A menu naming more dishes than I could imagine (what could ‘Welsh rarebit’ possibly be?). Sugar in tiny paper bags. Tomato sauce in a giant squashy plastic tomato. Oh joy!
What do today’s small children think of as treats, I wonder? Much the same things as I did, probably, albeit with a modern spin. A longed-for new toy, perhaps. Some small and beautiful natural object found on a walk and hidden in one’s pocket. An out-of-the-ordinary trip or a new delicious kind of food, eaten on holiday. Being tucked up in a warm freshly-made bed.
These are simple but powerful pleasures, and they still resonate with me.
Of course there are lots of great action-packed picture books with rollocking galloping stories, but the ones I love best are the ones deeply rooted in a small child’s world – a world where anything is possible (a tiger at the door perhaps) but there are also one or two of those wonderful treats that every child will recognise. In ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ Maurice Sendak put it perfectly with his classic ending:
“…his supper was waiting for him…and it was still hot.”
PS: Here is a treat just for you, and that's a promise. Cook this particularly pleasing flapjack, and eat it while it is still warm, preferably in some spot where you suspect teddies might very well have picnics when you are not looking.
200g (8oz) butter
150g (6oz) Golden Syrup – This is 6 tablespoons. Use a tablespoon warmed with hot water to make pouring easier.
150g (6oz) soft brown sugar
400g (16oz) rolled oats
A roughly 24cm (9.5”) square baking tray, greased – a swiss roll tin is ideal.
1.     Put the butter, syrup and sugar in a saucepan and stand over a low heat until melted.
2.     Stir in the oats, mixing well.
3.     Spread into the tin and bake in a moderate oven (180°C, 350°F, Gas Mark 4) for 25-30 minutes (keep an eye on it after after 20 mins so it doesn’t burn – my new fan oven seems to knock 5 minutes off the cooking time).
4.     Leave it in the tin to cool for 5 minutes. Then use a sharp knife to gently mark it into pieces.
5.     If you are feeling sensible, remove it from the tin when cool. If you impatiently remove it while it’s still warm, it will crumble…but it will be extra delicious! So I say treat yourself, and so does my picnicking teddy.

Tuck in, teddy, while they're still warm. 


Saviour Pirotta said...

What a delicious post. Thank you, Moira.

Moira Butterfield said...

Big hug, Saviour. You've just given me a little treat!

Jon Burgess Design said...

flapjack. . . mmmmm. . . ;-) I was always jealous of the sweets and cakes in William books.

Moira Butterfield said...

I used to spend a long time staring at the giant iced gem in one of my Noddy books. It was so huge it was being carried on a stretcher. My eyes were probably huge, too, looking at it! Relive your childhood and give yourself a treat today, Jonathan. I insist.

Abie Longstaff said...

I used to love the midnight feasts in Mallory Towers. Other food books I've loved are 'Like water for chocolate' and Elizabeth Luard's 'Family Life'. Mmm really fancying flapjacks now...

Moira Butterfield said...

I remember going on a school trip away, when we tried to have our own midnight feast, Mallory Towers style. We saved sandwiches from our packed lunch, but unfortunately it turned out to be harder than we thought and my friend sat on my egg sandwich in the bed. Make sure you give yourself a comforting treat today, Abie. I reckon authors and illustrators, because of how we think (akin to a child, I guess) get extra pleasure from small treats. We're lucky that way. Go on...you know you want to.

Pippa Goodhart said...

So we can scoff flapjacks and count it as work, right? I'm signing-up to that!

Moira Butterfield said...

I definitely think so, Pippa. They should be tax-deductable! Going back to the treats in picture books theme, I think big comfy beds are a classic picture book treat as well as food. I like the one at the end of 'We're Going on a Bear Hunt'. It has a massive puffy squashy eiderdown.

Anonymous said...

As always such a treat to scoff your flap jacks....as indeed your words...infact any cake you have missus...best eaten on top of the Tor though for full enjoyment!
P.S. I agree with puffy squashy beds as a must....like huge lifeboats!--Rachael

Anonymous said...

I wholeheartedly agree with the delectable notion that blog posts and picture books should be treats. I'm also keen to sample your delicious sounding read-with-a-book treat, but I've never heard of Golden Syrup. I'm wondering if I can find it over here on the far side of the pond. If not, would honey work? (It's golden too.)

Moira Butterfield said...

Aha! Hello Laura! No, honey won't do it. If you can track down Lyle's Golden Syrup you'll love it - apparently sometimes sold in brewing stores over with you. But you can substitute it with two parts light corn syrup and one part molasses or maple syrup. Or equal parts Karo light and dark syrup - All this is from the internet so please let me know how you get on! OR I'd love to hear your suggestion for a yummy picture book treat States style.

Moira Butterfield said...

Laura, one site says this - So if you add molasses to corn syrup make sure it's 'light'

'Light molasses is considered an American version of light treacle, and therefore of Golden Syrup, because it is made in the same way as golden syrup--by boiling down sugar cane'

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Moira. I'm going to see if I can hunt down some authentic Lyle's Golden Syrup because my daughter and I really want to make an authentic British picture book treat to nibble while we sip our Scottish tea with milk. As for an authentic States-style treat, I'd suggest chocolate chip oatmeal cookies, still warm from the oven, with a nice cup of cold milk. I'll let you know if we succeed in our golden syrup hunt (if you'd like the update =) ).

Moira Butterfield said...

I would! If you do find a tin, you'll see a very odd picture on the front, of a lion sitting down with what looks like flies around it. I think they might be bees. I wonder what that lion is doing there...Anyone have any ideas?

Jane Clarke said...

Love the post and the flapjack recipe, Moira. I've always found that picture on the golden syrup tin disturbing. Wikipedia explains it

Moira Butterfield said...

I never knew! It's a dead lion! That is...er...unusual, isn't it. And I'm amazing that they haven't rebranded it over the years.

Anonymous said...

No way, a dead lion?! I'm off to the kitchen to check him out… I wonder what Americans use in Rocky Road. I use lashings of golden syrup in mine.

Love your blog Moira! Very timely, too, as I'm writing a teddy story right now.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory filled all my sweet-treat needs. And those famous five picnics. Also loved the idea of toasting cheese over an open fire like Heidi. Yes, definitely the books I remember most vividly featured some sort of tasty snackage.

Thanks for the recipe - a perfect project for the boys.