Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Daughter's Dream

When she was a little girl she loved to decorate her sandcastles at the beach with the shells she had collected at the water's edge, painstakingly laying them out in an intricate pattern as she pressed them into the wet sand, knowing that later in the day, the sea would come in and wash all her hard work away.

Today she still pays attention to the detail as she decorates her cakes knowing that before the day is through, all her hard work will be consumed by members of her appreciative family.
This chocolate cake was made for an ordinary weeknight dessert. It is a favourite recipe and has a rich velvety, moist texture and of course it tastes good! When this cake came out of the oven and was sitting on the bench top cooling, her big brother was taking a study break. Funny how he always seems to be on a study break when cakes have just come out of the oven!

Soon the pleading begins. 'Oh, good, chocolate cake, freshly baked, just the way I like it.' Sister responds 'Keep your paws off my cake, I have to decorate it'. Big brother says 'Oh come on, you don't need to pretty it up, it is going to be eaten and I am hungry now!' Sister replies 'You tell that to Matt Moran!' (well known Aussie chef) Brother retaliates 'But I'm not Matt Moran, this is not a restaurant and I would really like a piece of that cake!'

As you can see from the picture her big brother lost that argument, the piping bag came out and the cake remained intact until shortly after the main course at dinner on that day. Her brother should be grateful that his sister loves to bake and at the moment with Masterchef back for its second season the mixing bowls in this house are in daily use as she whips up her experimental desserts - more pictures to follow at the end of this post.

Baking was always her first love. As soon as she could stand up on a chair at the counter she was stirring cake mixture. Before she could read a recipe she was making biscuits and muffins on her own. I even made her a special recipe book with symbols drawn on the pages so she knew how many eggs or cups of flour were needed.

There were other interests of course - the cakes stopped appearing for a time when this guy came into her life!

Horses, ponies and riding became a girlhood passion. She had a few riding lessons and was incredibly blessed when our neighbour allowed her to care for and ride an old pony. She brought this pony down from her other property and placed him in the paddock adjoining our property. But our daughter's love affair with riding was brief, the pony was getting old and stubborn. He didn't want to be ridden and preferred to go and join the thoroughbreds on the other side of the fence! Nevertheless for a couple of years she spent her afternoons with the pony or on rainy days would be reading all her books on riding and care of horses. Her homeschool projects were about horses - anatomy, breeds and care. 'Saddle Club' books lined the shelves of our home library. The recipe books were still in use but mainly on special occasions such as birthdays.

Then she caught the gardening bug and planted and cared for her own vegetable garden.

She faithfully tended her little garden, weeding and watering daily but her favourite task was harvesting. She kept a garden diary and labeled pictures of heirloom tomatoes but after a season or two her interest waned. It was quite obvious that gardening was not going to be a passion.

Ice skating came into the life of our family six years ago and every Saturday mornings during term time you will find us at the ice rink for several hours. This has become a passion for my daughter, she loves to skate and has worked hard to progress through the different levels from novice up to advanced and beyond - edges, jumps, ballet and spins. She loves to read up on the subject too - skating is a very low profile sport in this country but the Internet has given her access to a wealth of information about the sport and its stars.

As we do not have the opportunity to pursue competitive skating in our region this will be likely to remain a weekend pursuit. She has recently added in a contemporary dance class during the week but when she is at home what does this daughter love to do?

Yes, you guessed it, she has returned to her first love - baking! A day rarely goes by when we do not have dessert on the table and over the past few weeks we just have to ask what the dessert of the day is going to be. Take a few moments to savour these shots. All these desserts were invented by my daughter, they are amalgamations of recipes as she puts together unusual variations. Last night for example, we sampled plum meringue - not lemon meringue but lightly stewed plums on a biscuit oatmeal crumb base topped with a layer of chewy meringue. It was different and delicious!

This recent dessert was my personal favourite. A peach custard tart, slices of peach are encased in a creamy egg custard with a caramelized topping. Melt in the mouth creaminess with a smooth fruity surprise!

This caused a sensation. A deep and delectable chocolate mousse layer cake for Easter. There was enough left over to serve to our guests on Easter Sunday. Most of our friends now know to ask my daughter whether it is one of her creations rather than compliment me! I can take no credit. I didn't even suggest it but I am enjoying these experimental desserts! Remember she has to use freshly milled wholemeal flour, there is no superfine white flour in my pantry, no white stuff at all but somehow she is able to incorporate these healthier ingredients into her desserts. Icing sugar is the exception to the no white sugar rule but we do not use artificial essences to colour the icing. I might allow her to buy some caster sugar to make a pavlova to rival Donna Hay's which was the first elimination challenge on Masterchef last evening, though fellow kiwis will be appalled to know they claimed it as an 'Aussie classic'! We don't have a food mixer to whip the egg whites so it looks like dad's drill will relocate from the shed to the kitchen. It is amazing what you can make with a Bosch drill with the right attachments!

Her gorgeous Kath Kidston recipe folder

I have deliberately allowed my daughter to pursue this passion for baking. A lot of time has been invested into this delight directed learning. It becomes more apparent each day that this is what she would love to do to not just for her own family but as a means of earning money in the future. She is already a productive daughter in the home. She loves to bake for other people too - our neighbours, our guests, her friends. The compliments flow. We are encouraging her to start thinking about the future and where this talent could take her. We would love to see her work out of home, setting up her own business and therefore we are making suggestions such as attending day or evening classes - a food handling certificate will be both necessary and useful. A cake decorating course perhaps. Learning book keeping skills. Investing in high quality appliances. Looking into leasing time in a commercial kitchen. Researching the options for a business based around desserts.

I never imagined when this photo was taken that she would one day end up working in a dairy shed alongside her older brother - yes this is the guy who eats all her cakes! I often say to him that he will have to marry someone who bakes like his sister. He says if he gets desperate he will go and visit her but I remind him that by that time she may be baking cakes for her husband rather than her brother! If she marries a farmer that guy will be so blessed - a girl who can spot mastitis in a cow at thirty paces, chase heifers on a quad bike and bake amazing cakes! The dairy farm employment has been such a blessing, it fits into her weekly schedule and provides her with an income to invest in her dreams.

What dreams do your children have? Do you encourage them to pursue their dream? If you are homeschooling do you give them enough time to practice their art whatever that may be, incorporating subjects that will be beneficial in that area of special interest? Are you brave enough to let go of certain subjects that you think they need to know but in the end will reap no real harvest. Homeschooling has given us so much freedom and the opportunity to tailor make an education for each child to pursue their God given dream has been one of the best aspects.
I do not know yet where this daughter's dream will lead her but what a joy it has been to see her talent unfold, to experience her creativity unleashed in the kitchen - we have been her grateful test subjects! And as she starts to map out her future and takes further steps along the road to Godly womanhood I am there encouraging, advising, praising and cheering her on.

With Love and Joy,


A Bite of Country Cupcakes said...

What a great Kid to be proud of!
And what a great and delicious talent to have!

Teresa @ Grammy Girlfriend said...

What a great post...I have not had enough blog time lately...So glad that I stopped by tonight..Be sure and stop by main blog
and witness a miracle.

SF said...

What a beautiful post, Ann, and a wonderful reminder. :) She's a precious and very clever young lady!

Camille said...

How beautiful Ann! She is fortunate to have been given all these wonderful opportunities!! Oh I would have SO enjoyed a horse at her age...what a blessing she was allowed to care for one! AND...those desserts!! YUMMY!! But where are the recipes?? ;-) Only if you have time, but would you mind sharing the mousse and the chocolate cake (at the top of the post) recipes?? ONLY if it works for you!! NO pressure at all! :)

Have a lovely week!

Anonymous said...

Lovely to hear about your daughter's creativity in the kitchen and her various interests.The desserts look wonderful, I'm sure taste even better.Your daughter has a real talent there. It's great to see kids happy in pursuing their interests. Hope your feeling alot better too. I've been praying for you.Blessings, Angela

Renata said...

What a lovely & creative daughter you have there! Those desserts sounds absolutely divine!! YUM!!!
I always enjoy your challenges/hints/tips about homeschooling - I have so much to learn.
Hope you're keeping well - sorry it's been a while since I've caught up here
Renata :)

Suzanne said...

Ann, I loved reading about your daughter. She is such a blessing to your family! With homeschooling ours have been able to pursue their passions too. Three of my four girls have loved baking--the other one loves to find interesting barbecue recipes...LOL!

Unknown said...

How wonderful to have someone in the family who enjoys cooking and trying out recipes..and I am glad she can pursue her passion...I love MasterChef and wish I had more time to bring out the mixing bowls! My girls are grown up now and sometimes I miss them being at home as kids...


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