Thursday, August 30, 2012

How to have your cake and eat it

What goes around comes around, they say, and nothing with more regularity than the annual Weston Village Flower Show.

It takes place this Saturday, September 1, at 2.30pm at the All Saints Centre, High Street, Weston.
And preparations around the Dixon household have been, shall we say, fervid.

Of course the trouble this year is that we’re just reaching the end of the Summer That Wasn’t, and things horticultural aren’t as far ahead as they might be.

Indeed, reports have reached us from other parts of the country of gardeners resorting to performance-enhancing skullduggery in an attempt as they struggle to bring their veggies up to scratch.

The case comes to mind of the woman from East Anglia whose tomatoes were so unripe on the night before a show that she whipped out the nail varnish and gave them a surreptitious coating of scarlet.

And then there was the Yorkshireman whose pumpkins were so flabby that he took a bicycle pump to them in a misguided attempt to inflate them  to regulation size. He ended up in Casualty, peppered with pips.

Of course there’ll be no such monkey business at Weston this weekend, and even for those who don’t aspire to high honours in the vegetable stakes, a quick glance down the list of classes in the programme offers all sorts of alternative challenges.

What’s this in the Homecraft section? “Class 9: MEN ONLY, a Victoria Sandwich baked in a seven-inch tin.”

Hang on a minute. MEN ONLY? Why isn’t there a WOMEN ONLY section? With classes like unblocking drains, sealing baths, strimming allotments and other tasks which might otherwise be considered the domain of us chaps?

There’s only one response to this reverse sexism: bake that cake.

First, it’s off to the supermarket to top up on self-raising flour, baking powder, eggs and caster sugar. Then it’s back to Dixon Towers for a practice run, only to be subjected to a well-meaning blast of back-seat cooking from Mrs D.

“Read the recipe before you start,” she says. “And warm up the oven while you’re mixing.”

So far, so flipping obvious.

Because this is easy. Weigh it out, mix it up, realise you should have beaten the eggs before you put them in, decide it doesn’t matter, slap the mixture into the tins, re-read the recipe for some light entertainment, realise you’ve forgotten to add the baking powder, decide it does matter, scoop the mixture back into the bowl and stir in the magic dust while Mrs D mutters dark imprecations about “not rising properly” (whatever that means), slap the mixture back in the tins and stick them in the cosy oven.

What emerges, after cooling, sandwiching with jam, sprinkling with sugar and inspecting for leaks, is tested by assembled family and friends and judged to be “All right.”

Which isn’t bad for a first attempt.

So the second attempt will be on display at the All Saints Centre Weston on Saturday afternoon.
Unless of course it’s rolled off the plate and smashed a seven-inch hole in the floor.

In which case we won’t be taking it home with us for tea.

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