10. My slow cooker
Today has been freezingly cold outdoors, but my home has been warm and cosy. And the slow cooker has been bubbling away all day. The aroma of the beef casserole is wonderful. It smells welcoming, and also as though I had been slaving over the stove all day. Which I clearly have not.
I remember the comforting smell of stews from my childhood, and also from when my own children were little. Many a day throughout winter, a stew was cooking in the huge pot on the stove. A little meat, potatoes, onions, carrots etc, in a thick gravy. Just like Mum used to make. I can see it now.
My Dad loved stew, and especially the gravy. After he had finished his dinner, he often had a thick slice of bread covered in the gravy. He used to say it was the best part of the dinner. And when my children were small and reluctant to eat vegetables, I would liquidise some stew (containing every vegetable under the sun) and tell them it was gravy. They loved it.
So now, I don't need to stand there any more, stirring, to make sure nothing sticks to the pot. I have this wonderful little machine to cook long enough and at a low enough temperature to prevent any of that, and to preserve the goodness in the food too. I am always amazed how the vegetables are not mush. Magic. That is what it is!
Food evokes so many memories. I just have to smell some dishes, and I have flashbacks to a different time and place, and often, those who I have known for a long time, share those same memories. We glance at each other and grin, and you just know what they are thinking.
That is why I bake so much at Christmas time. My family are not great fans of gingerbread, but to me, the smell of gingerbread baking means Christmas is near. My Moregranny (my father's mother) baked gingerbread, and when I grew up, I started baking it for my Dad. And it all connected in my brain. I don't care if my family are not keen. I am. I want that scent in the home. I want to remember.
The baking of particular cookies. The smell of the roast lamb. Homemade stuffing. Bacon. And then we have the scents of the barbecued meat. I am from South Africa, after all! Ah, the memories. Homemade soups too. Apple muffins. They all have their distinct aromas, and they all have individual memories attached.
Nothing is ever simple, is it. There is always more beneath the surface.
That little slow cooker started an avalanche of memories, didn't it? My £10 purchase last year..... a bargain in more ways than one. And now I am off to eat some of that delicious beef.