Baked sago pudding with apricot jam and a feather light meringue topping… Hmmm. This is the stuff of my childhood – when Sunday lunch on gran’s farm was by far the biggest treat of the week. Out would come the snow-white crocheted tablecloth, big enough for a table that would seat grandma, grandpa, 9 kids and their offspring. She must have spent years making it, we’re talking very fine thread here, not wool. To be sure I’m surprised she had time to pop out nine wee ones. But then again I never saw her without a crochet needle.
Gran considered crocheting the mark of a good woman. Her house showed it, with a chocheted doilie for every ornament in her Royal Doulton shepherdess collection. And then there were the antimacassars; pretty crocheted protection for her stuffed Sanderson sofas – because apparently men used a lot of ‘product’ in their hair, even back then.
Gran tried valiantly to impart her crochet wisdom. It didn’t take and I can’t claim to be sad about that. But fortunately her love of cooking did. I still turn to her recipes for nostalgic comfort food. Things like Ideal-milk ice cream and ‘souskluitjies’ (cinnamon dumpling). And then there’s the baked sago – spiced, milky, starchy deliciousness under a meringue blankie. I do adjust her recipe somewhat because nowadays we’re all a bit more familiar with the concept of heart health. That’s why the butter and the sugar get halved. And the apricot jam, that used to go on before the meringue layer, is left out. It makes an appearance on the side in the form of a tangy apricot-lemon sauce, so everyone can adjust sweetness levels according to their liking. The nostalgic dishes of yesteryear reinvented for now, this is how I love to cook.