Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Silver Balls

My grandmother was quite a good cook, especially of cakes and biscuits but oh the mess she would make. The kitchen would be covered in flour and anyone who ventured into the kitchen would probably get covered too. Batters would fly, spattering walls, bits of dough would fall to the floor and icing would dribbling down the fronts of cupboards. Pot and pans, spoons and spatulas, cake tins and beaters, dry goods and wet goods would be all spread over any horizontal surface. Not one item of plastic equipment was without a melt mark where it had been put on a not cooled down hotplate.

Half the problem were that she had worn the same spectacles for a couple of decades and she never liked to have the light on during the day.

'Mum, for goodness sake, turn the light on,' Mother would protest.
'No need to waste the electric,' came back the reply.
Now I rather wish Mother had picked up a few tips on economical living.

Her cupboards were a trove of unusual to us ingredients. In one cupboard was a jar of tiny silver balls, used for cake decorating. I don't think she ever used them as the amount always stayed the same. My brother and I used to get them out and play with them. Played what, I don't recall, but no doubt childhood imagination worked out something.

I saw some of those balls in the supermarket last week and to my astonishment, they have a name other than cake decorating balls. They are called cachous. I don't know how to pronounce the word and it is unlikely I will ever need to know but I would guess it is rather like the nut variety, cashew. It is not their only name though. They are also called, dragées.

17 comments:

  1. To borrow a comment you made on my blog recently, I thought we were going to learn something really personal about you when I saw the post title.

    Perhaps your grandmother was saving the balls for your wedding cake?

    My mother saved a very expensive bottle of wine for my wedding for many years. Don't know what happened to it.

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    1. They are gold Victor, all gold.

      Probably when you turned forty, one evening your parents sat down and one said to other,
      "It's not going to happen, is it dear. Let's drink the wine."

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  2. Replies
    1. A bit small Windsmoke.

      Yep FC. I had to call on the memory cells for that one.

      Delete
  3. Colin9:42 am

    Hi Andrew
    Well I am in Young. And although this comment has no reference to your "Marbles", I have found out that the Young Abbatoirs are supposedly re-opening for slaughtering cattle
    and sheep for frozen trade to the Muslim countries. So far it has NOT been re-opened.
    The quicker this re-opens the better for the export trade.
    Cheers
    Colin

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    Replies
    1. Colin, good to hear from an reporter on the ground. From Diane's blog, it sounded like you had a fine old time.

      Delete
  4. My nana was a fantastic cook too, especially of sweet treats, but I think she was a little neater than your grandmother. I have some of her mixing bowls and think of her every time I use them.

    We had cachous in the cupboard at home, but I don't recall my mother using them to decorate anything. They stayed there a long time too.

    I pronounce the name the same as cashew. And dragees! If you look closely at a packet of Mentos, it describes them as "chewy dragees", which I find amusingly odd since it's not a word commonly used here (not sure about the US though).

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    Replies
    1. Jayne, those heavy old china bowls? How odd about Mentos.

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  5. 'Dragees' here in Swiss France are for chocolate coated nuts.

    I remember loving those silvery cachous too and always begging Mum to stick them on her fairy cakes. Bloody hard little pellets to eat though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kath, did you not know what would happen with a sentence like that. I just love chocolate nuts. I could slurp away on them all day.

      You have reminded me now. I think we used to eat them, and yes they were hard.

      Delete
  6. I remember these... we were a pretty simple country family and to add stuff like this to birthday cakes was something really special...your gran reminds me of my eldest sister and her cooking

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    1. MC, silver balls sound very posh for country folk.

      It can actually be fun when you make a terrible mess in the kitchen.

      Delete
  7. OMG Jayne, I noticed that too and I never ever knew what a freakin dragee was. Hmmmmm.

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    Replies
    1. I better buy some Mentos then Fen.

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  8. Oh I know these so well Andrew, Aimee (my daughter) is an avid baker, mega messy too!!

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    Replies
    1. Grace, I should think it is a dangerous thing to have a offspring who makes great cakes.

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Whenever I wish I was young again, I am sobered by memories of algebra.