When I was a kid, we used to spend Saturday afternoons watching the wrestling on TV. Not the kind of wrestling that’s on now – in those days it was English wrestling with the likes of Giant Haystacks and Big Daddy. And, I have to say, we watched it on a black and white television. My parents didn’t really like us watching television, so it was only while they were out and we were being looked after by one of our parents’ more indulgent friends that we could manage to sneak the TV on.
It was all faked, you know. The wrestling, that is. But we used to love it. I’m sure we should have done something more constructive, but, somehow, sitting down on the floor with a bag of sweets and watching staged fighting was great fun. I suppose we knew, even then that it wasn’t real, which is why it didn’t frighten us all. Kids are OK with play acting.
Actually, now I think of it, I’m sure we couldn’t have watched wrestling every weekend. For one thing, I can’t believe that our parents would have been out every single Saturday. Funny how things like that stick in your memory.
It would be nice if I could be part of a child’s memories of growing up though…….
Last week my friend came round with her daughters and we made pasta and we had such good fun that we decided to spend this Saturday afternoon cooking something else. We needed to choose something that the children could make easily at home and it would be good to make sure that the something was something that would taste good enough, while being healthy, and might just replace chocolate biscuits.
This time, one of their brothers came with them. We decided to make Bear Bars, but as I was trying out recipes to see what they were like gluten-free, we thought we would adapt our usual recipe and make sure that everything we used would be safe for coeliacs.
I got my little helpers to carry the jars of nuts, seeds and fruit from the larder. Because I want them to learn that so much of cooking is just good judgement (well apart from fancy sugarwork or pastry, say) we got out a big bowl and a scoop. I wanted them to see that cooking could be relaxed and fun.
We had pistachios, goji berries, green sultanas, dessicated coconut, raw flaked coconut, chopped mixed nuts, golden granulated sugar, ground almonds, dried cranberries, raisins, two small jars of Bramley Apple Sauce (thank you, Tesco!) two eggs and, because we were making this for coeliacs or gluten intolerant people
instead of using my normal wholewhat self raising flour, I bought gluten free flour and (and this is a rarity, according to my coeliac friend, A) porridge oats that are guaranteed to be gluten free.
It’s not the oats that cause a problem…. it’s the fact that they are usually processed in a factory that processes other grains so the oats are liable to pick up some trace of contamination. For a coeliac this can cause (even in minute amounts) severe problems. If you are using oats make sure that they, like these, are made in a controlled environment and are certified as being gluten free.
We started off with two scoops of gluten free porridge oats
A scoop of gluten free self raising flour
And then we set about, taking turns, adding a scoop from every jar. The one who scooped, couldn’t stir… the one who stirred could scoop the next time.
We loved looking at all of the different colours.
All of the dried ingredients have to be mixed together with a scoop of sugar and a pinch of salt added.
With a bit of help, two eggs were cracked into a jug and enthusiastically whisked with a fork and that, along with the contents of two small jars of Bramley Apple Sauce into the big bowl and stirred round.
This was probably the hardest bit of the job – partly because they both insisted on mixing the egg and apple in together.
One of the good things about having lots of ingredients was that it makes lots of Bear Bar mix. That means the two of them could have a flapjack tin each to spread out the mix
I’d lined the tins with silicone sheets so the bars would be easier to get out once they were baked and the two of them decided to race each other to see who could get the smoothest mix….
The oven was lit , heated to 160 degrees and the tins went in for half an hour.
Now, good and clever those children are (they knew, for example, the difference between herbivore, carnivore and omnivore) they somehow hadn’t managed to grasp the concept of time….
“Is it half an hour yet? Are you sure? I can smell the Bear Bars… are they ready?”
Eventually they were. The only problem I had then, was keeping them from snaffling some until they were cooled.
The children went home clutching a ready supply of gluten-free Bear Bars, that, I have to say, were no different from normal Bear Bars.
The only question they had was that if they were made for the Bear (our lovely Omnivorous Bear) was that because they had everything in that a Bear would eat? I said yes, of course.
“So where’s the meat, then? A bear would eat wolves and there’s no wolf meat in there”
How very true. We appear to have made gluten-free and wolf-free Bear Bars.