By Rose MorningMist
I look at the interior of the kitchen in the new PEF HQ. It’s a pretty decent size; with enchanted frozen shelves to keep things cold, an oven with a stovetop, a worktable and a cupboard filled with cooking things.
We’ve only been here a day, and we decided we should takes turns cooking meals. Tonight, I’m in charge of cooking tea. There’s a cookbook everyone’s been using sitting on the table. I pick it up and begin to flip through it, trying to find inspiration. Last night, Ruby made a delicious stew – she’s good at cooking, says it’s like brewing potions, except less likely to explode. Today for lunch, Autumn made tomato soup, and Victoria made acorn pancakes this morning for breakfast. I flick through a few more pages until I find something that catches my eye – something called damper dip.
Apparently, it’s something the clumsies came up with – you hollow out a special type of bread, fill it with a dip or sauce, and bake it in the oven. It says you can bake the hollowed out bread too, so it goes all toasted and crunchy.
I have an old recipe for a spinach dip – my mother used to make it – I could put that inside. That’s dinner settled – I just need dessert. I turn to the ‘sweets’ section and spot a recipe for biscuits.
That should do nicely, I think to myself. And it’ll definitely be enough to feed all four of us. Perfect!
I put the cookbook down on the table, and get out all the ingredients for the biscuits. If I make them and put them on before I leave to buy a cob loaf and some spinach, they’ll be done by the time I get home.
I sift the flour, and add sugar, butter and milk. The book says to put a tablespoon of bicarbonate soda for every cup of flour, so I put two tablespoons of that in too. Then I mix it all together, knead the dough and use a cookie cutter to make flower shapes, in honour of spring. I can’t believe the season’s almost over – so much has happened, yet it went so fast.
I place the shapes on a tray and put them in the oven. I’ll have to make sure I’m not too long – I don’t want them to burn.
I buy a freshly baked cob loaf from the Tearoom, and some fresh spinach from Brook’s gardening shop. Its late spring, so Brook has plenty of it.
I return to HQ, just in time to take the batch of biscuits out. They smell really good. I dust them all with icing sugar, because you can never have too much of that stuff.
I set to work, following the instructions for the damper dip from the book. I make the spinach dip from memory. Finally, I place it in the oven and set the timer on the bench for ten minutes.
A few minutes later, a wonderful smell starts to fill the HQ. I rush downstairs and set the table. I’m finishing just as Autumn walks in, basket in hand.
“What is that amazing smell?” She asks, breathing in heavily.
“Dinner,” I tell her. “And there’s biscuits too.”
Autumn’s face lights up. “Can I try one?”
I nod, and she runs up the stairs to the kitchen with me following behind her. She chooses one from the cooling rack, and takes a big bite.
“Wow.” She says, taking another bite, “These are really good!” She pauses, chewing, then frowns. “There’s a bit of an aftertaste. Wow, ok, take that back – there’s a lot of an aftertaste.”
She runs over to the sink and spits bits of chewed up cookie out of her mouth.
“They can’t be that bad,” I say nervously, picking one up and taking a bite. The biscuit starts of sweet, but after a few chews starts to taste sour. I gag and run to the sink. “I don’t understand. I made sure I did everything right!”
Autumn picks up the cookbook, reading the recipe. “Did you add sugar?” She asks.
“Yes,” I say.
“The bicarbonate soda?”
“Yes! I added all those things! I even made sure that the tablespoon measurements were exact!”
“Wait – did you say tablespoon?”
“Yes – the recipe said a tablespoon to every cup of flour,” I tell her.
“Rose, the recipe says a teaspoon of bicarbonate soda to every cup of flour.”
“Teaspoon?!” I cry.
“Yeah.” She says.
The timer goes off, and I take the damper dip out of the oven. Autumn takes a spoon and tries some of the dip.
“Well, dinner came out alright. I like the sauce!”
“It’s a spinach damper dip,” I say.
“Well, it’s delicious.” She elbows me playfully. “Cheer up Rose, it’s not that bad.”
I sigh. “I thought I was going so well,” I say.
Autumn laughs. “Don’t worry. I get teaspoon and tablespoon messed up all the time. I suppose it’s a good thing I got these on the way home.” She pulls the cloth off her basket to reveal a batch of Dulcie’s famous raspberry cupcakes – she only makes them in spring, claiming she needs a fresh secret ingredient to make them (she told me once, it’s a four leaf cover – don’t tell!).
“Autumn,” I tell her, “You’re a life saver.”
Autumn laughs. “It’s only dinner,” She says. I shrug.
“Come on. Help me get this onto the table.”
The girls love my damper dip, and the raspberry cupcakes are splashtastic – Ruby goes back for seconds of everything, and Victoria helps me clear up.
Later, Ruby’s voice floats down from the kitchen. “Hey, what are these biscuits doing here?”
My eyes widen in horror as I look up at Autumn.
“No!” We both scream, racing up the stairs.
We reach the room just in time to see Ruby spitting bits of cookie into the sink.
“What,” She splutters, “In Neverland was that?!”
Autumn and I don’t stop laughing for a long time.