Saturday, 17 October 2015

Mrs Cheswick's Cheesecake for Cheaters

Family Favourite Recipe (shhhhh... there's NO CHEESE!)

It has to be said that one of the more pleasurable perks of caring for elderly people in their own homes is the tasty foody treats I get presented with.  Thankfully not at every house I go to - but definitely more often than the top button of my work pants cares to admit!  

What!  Are you calling me fat?

Seriously though, there's nothing like sitting down at the end of a strenuous home care shift with a grateful client sharing a cup of coffee, a nice chat about life... AND A WHOPPING GREAT SLAB OF FRESHLY BAKED SPONGE CAKE.

Because if there's one thing these dear old girls know - it's how to cook!  

Let's face it, and I know I'm over-generalising a bit, but they have afterall spent a lifetime literally feeding people.  Preparing grand family feasts for every Christmas, birthday and engagement party as required; churning out countless baked goodies for school fetes, charity fundraisers, church picnics and sports club bashes whenever the cause called for it. Nobody told them they had to - that's just the way it was being a woman, wife and mother back in the day. 

And so that’s what they did.

Which is why, when I get offered a yummy something from my beloved client’s cake tin, I know it’s gonna be good!  Then, after you’ve marvelled at how delicious it is and how clever they are, there is a very good chance you’ll be entrusted with the recipe for this tried-and-true family favourite to have as your very own.  

As another angle, and usually just as a conversation starter, I might ask my client for their views on the best way to bake a leg of lamb (without it shrivelling up to nothing), or hints on how to stop spaghetti pasta from clumping together in the pot (happens to me every dam time).  Then... if you are sincere and show that you truly rooly respect these culinary Dames and their clever foody tricks, your elderly client will just about share anything with you!  Ideally though, that would hopefully be her top secret traditional recipes.

And sometimes too, they may even write them out by hand for you – all from memory of course.

By this caring and sharing stage, you can rest assured that you've earned your client’s trust completely (which is HUGE) and pretty much means that your worthiness as their carer is a done deal.  And if that’s not job satisfaction, I don’t know what is?

In fact over the years and seeing that we are such a multi-cultural bunch… I feel like I've travelled the globe thanks to some of the sacred scrummy recipes I've been honoured with.  

For example:
  • Mrs Pettie-Chou's Vanilla Bean Custard made with real custard and real bean ("none of this packet rubbish") 
  • Mrs Maradonna's Mama Mia Meatballs with traditional 'passed-down-from-generations' Spicy Tomato Sauce
  • Mrs Toodlepip's never-fail Date Scones... and they never have, not even when I make them
  • Mrs Waxhead's original Chocolate Chip Cookies…whatever you do, don't spare the butter!
  • Mrs Pompadom's Pumpkin & Chickpea Curry-in-a-Hurry (ha ha her words not mine because guess where you’ll be running afterwards...)
  • Mrs DiDonato's famously rich Osso Bucco...(compliments and heartburn guaranteed!)

Elderly people - good cooks!
REAL cookies mmmm...

Trouble is, these wondrous apron-clad matriarchs one day become worn-out old ladies and the art of cooking regresses into HARD WORK.  Which was the predicament my gorgeous 88 year old client Mrs Madeleine Cheswick found herself in recently.

It is written, that Maddie Cheswick can make a cheesecake better than anyone else in the entire universe.

Her family know it, the neighbours know it, the bowls club know it and now, happily, I can testify to it too.  Melt in your mouth TO DIE FOR kind of cheesecake.  And every fortnight when her extended family all gather for a meal at her place, Maddie gets to wheel out her latest tasty sweety creation and have them all coo with delight at another splendid pud from good ol’ reliable Nan-Nan.

Problem is, and unbeknownst to her loving fam, Maddie can’t cope with long stints in the kitchen any more.  Yes they know Mum has health issues: swollen fluid-retentive ankles, a recently diagnosed heart condition, perilously high blood pressure, osteoarthritis galore and now macular degeneration has consumed her eyesight to a stage where surgery is not an option.  

But rather than make a fuss and risk disrupting this most significant family get-together… Maddie confided in me that she has instead resorted to cheating!  Thanks to a session with the girls at her ‘Stitch n Bitch’ knitting group, Maddie was able to swap her usual legendary cheesecake recipe for another that her friend Wilma had discovered on the "computer web thingamee”

And here 'tis:

Elderly short-cut recipes
But how can it be Cheesecake...

Where once the production of her signature dish meant hours of beavering away for a whole morning, as well as depleting her energy stocks for the rest of the week – it now only took Maddie four minutes! 

(Plus the extra "fiddle-about time")

And so the show can go on!  Her family have been none the wiser; in fact apparently they all squeal how they love the new extra taste her cheesecake seems to have.

“Oh, I’m just trying a few different flavours” Maddie tells them with a glint in her eye.  

And not a dot of cheese to be seen!  Wilma from the knitting club had promised that no one would ever notice because the yoghurt imparted a sneaky cheesy flavour once it had been zapped on high in the microwave.  Turns out, Wilma was right.  

It doesn't sound like much but I'm so pleased to see, even if it may not be forever, how happy and proud Maddie Cheswick is now that she gets to continue the cheesecake tradition for a little longer with her adoring family.  

And I myself, will be able to confirm how easy peasy it is too, after I attempt one for my lot tonight (fingers crossed)

“Make sure you use full fat yoghurt though, Dollie.  And use Nice biscuits or Anzac biscuits for the base.  Melt some butter into them once they’re crushed up – that’ll stop your bottom from going all dry and falling apart.”

Oh, indeed yes… the last thing any of us need is a dried up crumbly bottom.

(Tee hee!)


1 comment:

  1. Brilliant, Dollie - are we sure you haven't been lurking in MY kitchen at some stage?