Good Home Cooking

20 Jan 2008

I have had a few comments lately about people being impressed with the fact that it is summertime and I still do baking. I heard the same again yesterday when my sister in law was astonished that I would be baking foccaccia for lunch rather than going to the shop to buy something. So I thought I would explain.

I have a family to feed so I cook.
Hungry teenagers can be scary.

Secondly, although we have been having some stinking hot days lately Tasmania isn't usually super hot in the summer, the mid twenties ( so around 80 F) is our normal temperature. If we have a run of higher temperatures with warm nights the house heats up but otherwise it is quite comfortable.

Our house was built in 1930 and the kitchen was purposely situated so that it didn't get the sun through the day, a little bit of sunshine comes through to the work area in the early morning but that's it. The reason for this is that the original stove was a woodburning stove and they sensibly didn't want the kitchen to get any hotter than it needed to. It is quite a light kitchen just well placed to avoid the sun.

I try not to buy baked goods from the shops especially the supermarket because I think they taste funny and the ones that taste good are very expensive. I have on occasion bought a supermarket sponge cake and dressed it up with lashings of strawberry cream, that is, whipped cream and strawberry jam mixed together, really nice on fresh bread too. So if we need cakes or biscuits I make them myself, it's not a sacrifice because they taste yummy.

When it's hot I try to avoid lots of cooking that involves the oven but stove top is OK. If I need to do baking I choose the early morning or more usually the late afternoon or evening when it is cooler and the kitchen windows are open. I don't have a microwave, by choice, but I know that is a hot weather option too.

Women over the decades have managed to bake for their families without dying of heat exhaustion by using common sense. They have managed to create yummy treats for their families without having to run to the supermarket first by being prepared: that is having a well stocked pantry and being prepared to use it. And when their pantry failed them they knew how to improvise and substitute ingredients.

Yesterday was cool here and we actually had RAIN (the first time in weeks) and nobody would have wanted to go to the shop to buy bread. For all my good planning we were out of bread and bread flour so I decided to make a simple foccaccia to be eaten hot with whatever we chose. It was no big deal really and certainly not a domestic disaster or any hardship for me. Just as it came out of the oven Stephen and Louis arrived home from tennis with boxes full of fruit and potatoes plus a few salad bits and pieces.
All that plus our apricots, some cheese, home grown tomatoes and lettuce and the fresh foccaccia we had a feast. We rounded off the meal with some coffee and the gingernuts I made the other day. Yum.

I do most of my cooking from scratch, I didn't really know there was another way apart from packaged meals. It's just part of my day as I'm sure it is yours. We occasionally have take away, usually fish and chips from the local shop. Apart from that we muddle through on our own.

It is a domestic freedom to be able to create your own food; to cook, to bake, to grow some of your food. The less that big business has to do with what I eat the better. I'm grateful for easy access to safe food but I don't want some faceless factory making my meals. I buy the ingredients for cooking in their simplest form and put them together the way it suits my family.

10 Responses to “Good Home Cooking”

  1. Jenny,

    It makes sense to have a kitchen suited so that it wouldn't get the most of the sun. And yes it would be true that Tasmania wouldn't be nearly as hot as say Darwin is during the summer months.

    I suppose I am just surprised that you cook is that here in Canada where I am from it can get in the high 20Cs sometimes even into the 30C and with the humidity can feel even warmer. The mere thought of turning the oven on while my apartment is a sauna is nauseating.

    However, like you mention you work around the heat. You bake in the early morning or late afternoon. If I know that we are going to have a cool few days then on those days I will whip up casseroles, cookies etc.. so that I do have some eats on hand. Other than that, it's cold sandwiches and ice cream. Lots of ice cream.

  2. Hi Jenny,

    I was interested to read your post this morning as we celebrated our son's 21st birthday yesterday. All the food for the 50 friends was homemade - we baked all day!
    I wouldn't feel comfortable serving up 'convenience' foods because firstly we don't eat that way ourselves and secondly homemade food is generally much nicer (and healthier).

    I received constant compliments from his friends about the food - they loved it and commented it was something distinctly different about his party. I did over-cater but was pleased to bundle up many of the left-overs to send home with them.

    I currently have a pavlova baking in the oven to take to a kitchen tea this afternoon - and this in in the midst of jam making and bottling - as it is that time of year.

    Like you, I do enjoy providing healthy, homemade food for family and friends. I find it is an important part of love and sharing as a family.

    Enjoy the cooler temperatures - it is currently raining ... hooray!


  3. Hi Jenny,

    I too work with the weather and bake from scratch both from choice and partly necessity (my son reacts to all the "numbers" in the supermarket products). Homemade tastes so much better and all my children's friends are forever raiding their lunch boxes for my homemade treats.
    On hot days I try not to use the oven, or like you I do it early morning or late afternoon.
    Haven't ever tried making foccaccia. Would you care to share your recipe source?
    Oh and the chocolate brownie torte looks devine, might have to whip it up for the next birthday. Thank you to Jewels and you for sharing the recipe :)

  4. I liked this post! I can't eat supermarket baked goods or good baked from mixes-all I can taste are the chemicals. I definitely bake more in the winter than the summer. We're expecting -8F (-23C) tonight with a high of only 12F (-11C) tomorrow. I am planning on baking all day tomorrow!

  5. Jenny, I so hear you about good baked goods being expensive and bad baked good, well cheap but who wants to eat it. Good for you feeding your family, yummy, homemade, healthy food. Clarice

  6. It makes perfect sense to bake and cook from scratch. One quick scan of the ingredients of most prepared foods, is enough for me.

    You kitchen sounds very nicely situated. I cook from scratch year round. While I do not usually bake in the hottest temperatures in the summer, cooler summer days allow time for baked goods. We do not have a microwave out of choice, either. We do not regret it.

    You are providing the best choices for your family. How could it get better than that?

  7. Jenny, I live in Israel and I still bake during the summer. People are surprised when they hear this, but it's not that horrible really!

  8. Hear hear!

    I bake all summer, too. Our new place has windows in the kitchen facing east and south, so I imagine it will get very hot this summer, but we're planning on putting a summer kitchen in the yard. Just a cement pad with metal roof for shade and shelter from the rain, situated between the kitchen door and the vegetable garden. We plan on putting in a cookstove and a brick oven (for pizza!) A summer kitchen is another good old-time strategy for cooking, baking and canning through the hot weather. Canning especially!


  9. Jenny,

    There is nothing more welcoming to a family than the smell of homebaked bread! Cheers to you for being a provider of healthful food for your family. I baked all the bread at home when the children were young. Once my son opened up his lunch bag at school and thought he had the wrong lunch because the bread was not homemade! I had regressed in an emergency situation and had forgotten to warn the poor child.

  10. Yes, it's early baking or late baking in these parts. Sometimes, though, I'm not organised enough. Our meals are a bit light on then. A lovely post.


Thanks so much for taking the time to chat. I don't always have time to reply but I do read every message you leave.