I adore books, I always have. My mother still continues to brag about the early age at which I was devouring chapter books while lying on the bottom of my bunk bed. I dream about one day having a little library in my house, with a bay window with a little seat full of dusty pillows and an old chandelier hanging from the ceiling. The room would be a deep scarlet red and it would have that musty book smell, that comes from small, poorly ventilated libraries, and I would be in heaven. I suppose my dream is eccentric, but that's what dreams are meant to be.
The link between my mother and books has been getting me thinking lately. It was my father who filled my head with the magic of stories when I was younger, of images of little girls with raven colored hair falling into still pools to retrieve feathers than turn you invisible. But it is my mother who makes me feel in between.
My mum bought as a present for my fiance's brother, who was 13 at the time, the books by T.A. Barron, a children's writer from Colorado who writes about Merlin. My lack of reading in English was starting to make me a bit mad. I read in French and Spanish, in fact I read all of the Harry Potter books in French because I first got my hands on them in Paris, which is totally besides the point, but as much as I love reading books in Spanish it is just not the same as reading them in English, especially if they were written that way. Santiago brought back these Merlin books from his parents house to give me something to read now that his brother has finished with them, and I have been slowly perusing them one by one.
The writing is not what I would call gourmet but it keeps me busy, and he shares a love of the same things I do: a supreme admiration for imagination, a love of the out-of-doors, and the belief that people can affect the world in which they live. He also loves to speak about the in between.
The in between is, as you might imagine, the not quite, in the way that mist is not quite air but not quite water. This is where my mother comes in. Being born in Birmingham, England she ingrained us, her offspring with a certain Britishness (I had a British accent until I was five). I feel not quite European and not quite American, which was always a big in between, never quite of here, never quite of there. As a girl who grew up in a small island which was a world of it's own, I feel not quite of mainland and yet somehow attached. Always mature (aka stick in the mud?) yet always younger than those around me. Between the 1st and the 3rd world here in Argentina, between the end of my degree and the start of my career, between a child and a woman, still discovering who I am and what I want to be. T.A. Barron may not be gourmet but I identify.
Now because cooking is an art, and art means an expression of your thoughts, your inner voice, I thought OK, lets make an in between breakfast. Not quiet a cake, not quite what it was meant to be, with something sandwiched in between- and a hint of personality: spicy nutmeg (my grandmother was, how shall we say, in love with this spice), and tea, for my mother, with of course, something sandwiched in between.
Tangy Breakfast Bites
This dish is a breakfasty twist on an old favorite, Victorian Sponge Cake. These little bites have the perfect morning tang to wake you up, and get you going on the weekend. The only catch is, they really must be served with a cup of tea.
2 cups of made tea, still warm (english or irish breakfast)
1/2 cup sultanas (blond raisins that is)
3/4 cup butter at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
4 eggs (separated)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup flour
Put your raisins to soak in the tea, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then add in the egg yolks one at a time, reserving the whites. Add in vanilla and nutmeg and then lightly fold in the flour and baking powder with a spatula. Beat the egg whites until stiff and fold those in as well- stirring as little as possible to create a uniform batter. Drain your raisins, saving the tea, and add them to the batter. Place batter into two large cake dishes and bake.
Check often until a clean knife inserted comes out clean and the top is golden brown. Let cool on a rack.
While your cake is cooling mix 4 tablespoons lemon curd with 4 tablespoons apricot jam (or whatever jams you prefer- I use lemon curd because it gives it an extra kick) and 1 tablespoon left over tea. Once your cakes are cool spread the jam mixture in between to form a sandwich. Cut into 1/2 inch bites, and sprinkle the top with powdered sugar, or shredded coconut, or both!
For all those in between!