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.|