Shortbread Surprise in Self-Isolation

When you are stuck at home for weeks on end, the stuff and junk around your home can become unbearable.

It does at my place.

Shelves seem crowded, cupboards appear to bulge, clothes hang on available doorknobs, and too many cardboard boxes hold bits and pieces of my memories.

IMG_20200518_154505

During my Covid-inspired clean-up, I unearthed one particular item decades old.

DRUM ROLL PLEASE, MAESTRO…

 

IMG_20200504_105537

McKENZIE’S RICE FLOUR SHORTBREAD RECIPE

225g plain flour
1 pinch salt
115g rice flour
115g castor sugar
225g butter

Sieve flour, rice flour, sugar into basin, rub in butter and knead until smooth paste formed.  Turn on to floured board, make shape or shapes as desired, prick with a fork.  Place on cold greased slide, cook in a slow oven ¾ hour to an hour, until a pale brown.

MY FATHER’S FAVOURITE SHORTBREAD RECIPE

Reproduced in original style from my mother’s PWMU Cookery Book 1976
Printed in Australia by Simpson Halligan Co Pty Ltd
Distributed by Jolly Book Supplies, Brisbane
Twenty-first edition revised and enlarged with over 200,000 copies issued

Mix 227g (1/2 lb) butter and 113g (1/4 lb) fine white sugar or icing sugar; add pinch salt and .45kg (1 lb) plain flour; knead all well together; roll out to the thickness of about half an inch, cut into rounds or finger lengths; prick with fork.  Note 340g (¾ lb) flour and 113g (1/4 lb) rice flour may be substituted for .45g (1 lb) flour.  Bake in slow oven about 40 minutes until fawn colour.

IMG_20200528_150249

Bought new rice flour

Put the kettle on

Time for a cuppa!

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Remnants of Mary

Arm Chair 03
Mary’s Chair

The old lady across the road died alone but at a good age after a good life, well, that’s what the family said as they stripped her house of all its fixtures, fittings and 1960s furniture.  They singled me out from the group of neighbours on the front verandah and asked me if I would like anything from Mary’s junk, er, they cleared their throats, her mementos and stuff.  I raced home to my mother and being politely greedy I raced back with her message that we’d take anything they didn’t want, and also Mary was a lovely old gal.  She was too, she used to worked at the university and was clever, always keeping up with radio bulletins and had newspapers delivered from London and New York.

Mrs Anglesea and her toddler were standing at their front gate, wiping eyes and sniffing about poor Mr Roberto gone, gone forever.  No more bark-bark said the toddler.  Mary’s terrier Mr Roberto had been bundled into a pet carrier and taken to the local vet.  The carrier came back empty.  Even my mother blinked at that.  But to help the family with their clear-out, she gave them a load of flattened cardboard boxes from a high-end removalist company.  My mother didn’t know they cost money so it wasn’t until she saw them in the back of some bloke’s ute did she twig that they’d sold them on.

So, it was with the feeling of recompense that we were offered, and graciously received said my mother, a framed drawing of a grey English village, a chrome-legged brown laminated table and an old armchair.  I was pretty annoyed we hadn’t been given the choice of some of the good things like her TV or bookcase or favourite figurines but I had already spotted a woman trundling them out to her white van.  I knew she sold stuff on eBay and sent them a million miles away.  I wondered if Mary had followed her belongings or left her soul in the house like my mother said she would have . . .

AUTHOR NOTE This story has been temporarily withdrawn  . . .  it was rewritten, submitted, and subsequently awarded Third Place (and won a cash prize) in a short story writing competition with the option for publication.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Old Woman Sitting Reading