With leisure time becoming an important part of family life, Hartford House has relaxed its no-children-under-12 policy. We always ensure families with young children have their own private dining space so that parents, youngsters and guests looking for romance and tranquillity all find what they expect - and more. It pleases me to see the many children who pop into the kitchen and then want their picture taken with me. Long may their interest in food last! MasterChef has been greatly instrumental in rekindling culinary enthusiasm in the young - and the young at heart too. This interest inspired me to create aprons for the young 'uns remembering full well how much mess they can make. So, I have my existing women's chef range and now a range for aspiring chefs. I have been promising to launch my male range, and as soon as time is on my side I shall fulfil that undertaking.
This month's article is dedicated to children so I invited a few local Midlands youngsters to model my 'Jackie Cameron aprons' and to bring along their favourite recipes. The children were charming and their contributions promise to tickle your taste buds.
Philippa Farley, who delivers farm-fresh ingredients from whole quails and quail eggs to birthday macaroons, has become one of my friends and her daughter, I'm told, is my "biggest smallest fan". Zoë is two and a half - don't forget the half! She started off shyly as she presented her beautifully-made macaroni and cheese topped with a thick layer of bacon, chopped tomatoes and feta but eased up when I 'oh-ed' and 'ah-ed' over her contribution. Besides baking, Zoë, a true little farm girl, spends most of her days playing with her puppies, dogs and horses.
Many of the Hartford Hotel team's children have spent time with me over the years. They all seem to enjoy being in my company - but, if I'm truly honest, it is probably the cookies and chocolates that keep them coming back! Happy Anatoria Dube works in the housekeeping department. She loves to help us bake so her daughter Ntando invariably gets stuck in too. Her freshly-baked hot amagwinyas go down as a treat with all of us. Most of the women eat them plain - not me. I take half with layer thick lashings of butter and marmalade jam on it. I am tempted to eat the other half - but resist. With her apron on, Ntando was ready to strike a pose for the camera.
Agricultural manager at Summerhill Stud, Mark Jonsson, and his wife Jodie, brought their three little girls to see what was going on. Paige (6) was a somewhat apprehensive about having her photograph taken but warmed up to Karen Edwards, the photographer, and gave us some lovely shots. Paige seems to have an adrenalin-junkie streak in her because I see her riding her bicycle or motorbike at speed - and she has the motoX shirt to go with it. However, stepping into her mother's kitchen and helping make banana cake or muffins is always considered a treat. The twins, Georgina and Annabelle (3), were not one bit interested in having their photographs taken no matter what the dangling carrot was. After much persuasion we finally got them stepping up to the table and each character shone through the lens of the camera. Their crumpets were mouth watering.
Merrick van der Bank (3) arrived with a fractured arm. He was the only boy and he charmed us all. How we envied his stunning blue eyes and long, enticing eye lashes. Apart from his interest in riding and swimming he has creative flair in the kitchen. I believe my apron will get some good wear in that home. He brought the most deliciously-simply baked-bacon and baby-marrow frittata with him. People often complicate things. A frittata, with available ingredients, is an ideal light meal when time is tight.
Megan James arrived with her daughter Phoebe and a large tin filled with the tastiest chunky chocolate cookies. This little lass is truly mischievous - an authentic farm 'meisie' who loves baking and getting her hands full of a butter-flour mixture. Besides food, she loves animals and is often found carrying her chickens around with her.
Here's hoping many more children get into the kitchen with their parents. Learning how to cook from a young age produces confidence for later years. I hope my little aprons (R80 each, ordered through my website - or contact me directly on firstname.lastname@example.org) are an inspiration to all. Happy cooking!
Please take these recipes and try them :
Send comments and food-related questions to email@example.com. I always look forward to hearing from you.
Visit www.jackiecameron.co.za to find out more about my women's chef range, JACKIE CAMERON COOKS AT HOME and all my foodie adventures. I always look forward to hearing from you. Jackie Cameron (Head Chef: Hartford House - 033 263 2713). For the latest on local foodie news add me as a friend on FACEBOOK. Find me on Twitter - @jackie_cameron.