11.7.11

Cricket Tea


I suppose it eventually had to happen, after 14 years of avoidance; this Sunday I served my first cricket tea. Ring out all ye bells! Although, to be fair to myself, there are very good logistical reasons for this, one of them being our midget kitchen. This photo was taken standing in the back door. Note the two ring table top cooker (no heat control on the plates) with bungee hook to hold the knackered door closed. It can only be used with the inside door shut. Cooking in a cell would be more fun. I daresay our landlord could find a space crunching solution and get a normal sized oven in, but he hasn't bothered so far...nor to provide a fire extinguisher. (Mind you, where would he put one?)


As you can see, there isn't a lot of space and most of it is taken up by cupboards/sink/fridge & washing machine crammed into an area the size of a large broom cupboard. Things get placed randomly wherever there is a gap, hence the washing powder in the pile of mixing bowls. Anyhow, I managed to get four cakes baked on Friday. By hand of course, as there is no room for a mixer. The other problems are that we live 15 miles away from the home ground and only have a motorbike to transport everything over. Tea for a minimum of 24 people is a lot of tucker.



However, Andy took the cakes over to the clubhouse on Saturday, as he was playing that day too. I stayed at home, made two trays of flapjacks, began the quiches and then caught two buses over to the village, to deliver the bread. After a frantic rush on Sunday morning to make egg mayonnaise, cook chicken, make buttercream icing and another quiche, we strapped a chiller bag to the bike, got the rest into a rucksack and the topbox and set off. The club kitchen is a luxurious palace compared to ours - look at all that space!



I had about 3 hours to prep, so I put my little radio on and set to work with some nice classical music in the background. Four loaves worth of sandwiches to be made up, four cakes to cut & one to decorate and various crisps, pies, nibbles etc to be plated up. Should have been fine.




As it happened, we had a bit of a batting collapse and a panicking Captain Andy ran in, to see how it was all doing. A frenzy of cutting & plating commenced, and I barely had time to take photos of my beloved cakes - flapjacks, lemon drizzle, fruit cake, cherry & almond loaf & an iced mocha - before they were whisked out to the tables.


Overall it went very well, though the quiches were
superfluous. The chicken stuffing sandwiches were a hit, but I was disappointed that my cakes were barely touched. The oppo team was half made up of (literally) children, and it seems that 21st century kids eschew home baked goods in favour of more nibbly, snacky things. The older chaps dug in well though.


It was all over after 25 minutes and the big clear up began. As I was putting the last mugs away, feeling somewhat frazzled and a bit glum, my lovely friend Debs (she who lent me her house for
my book launch) arrived, to give me a chilled bottle of cider she'd brought down especially. True friendship. And she ate cake - with relish. As the afternoon drew on, the tea remains were dug into by supporters who did appreciate an old-fashioned cake or two (one heroic old chap had 6 platefuls). And I don't know if word had got out about my disappointment at non-cake-eating youth, but some of them came and ate cake after the match and thanked me for tea. Which was nice.


After the match, we repaired, as normal, to the marvellous Queen's Head for customary after match chips and mayonnaise. And a beer. Duty done - for the moment. And a boxful of cake leftovers to keep Andy happy.


26 comments:

Vintage Jane said...

Wow, Wonder Woman ... you must have been wearing your star-spangled knickers!! Two buses and motorbike couriering sounds like true dedication and I hope they were all truly grateful. I would have stuffed my face with your quiche AND delicious looking cakes. Well done you! M x

fabriquefantastique said...

what a lovely, ever so English, post.

Deborah Flint said...

It was a top tea, Gretel Parker and the fact that you made it in such a teensy-tiny space is a testimony not only to your resourcefulness but also your grit and determination.

I thank my lucky stars (and a team of under-age players) for a feast of cake and mountain of sandwiches to fall into when I got there. A bottle of cider was poor payment for such riches, but, hey ho, it seemed to pass as more than adequate, and Gretel sent me packing with not only a round tummy of my own, but also sufficient home-baked cake to furnish my very happy hubby with sufficient cake for a round tummy too :-)

I hope I don't have to wait another 14 years for an afternoon tea like that again, Gretel. You should think about serving them professionally!

Love and recovery wishes as you get over that feat of human endeavor xx

jfidz said...

Is there no end to your talents Gretel? You seem to thrive when up against it. Well done!

frayedattheedge said...

What a magnificent spread!! My Mum used to do the teas sometimes - but all I remember her making is a loaf of egg mayo sandwiches (actually salad cream, I doubt they even sold mayo in Airdrie way back then!!)

rachel said...

Well done, you! Your cake looks wonderful!

Dartford Warbler said...

Your cakes would not have lasted five minutes around here! A real achievement to have made so much lovely food in your little cottage kitchen.

Ionwen Charlesworth... said...

That food just looks might scrummy yummy indeed, well done you twinkle. As for the cakes they'd have vanished as quick as they got put out! MmmMmmmmmmmm. Loves Ionwen X

Trailshome said...

You are amazing, whatever you turn your hand to! What an accomplishment. I'm sure they were all grateful for the wonderful spread. Well done, you! I sure wish I'd have been around, I'd have found a home for some of those goodies, in my stomach. I'm sure glad you got a chance to get some pictures to share with us.

Claire said...

Wow Gretel, I'm exhausted just reading about all that juggling and cooking and no food processor used either. Glad you didn't mix up the flour with the laundry detergent.......

Seems you did the whole thing on your own, were there no other women to help out?

You put on a wonderful afternoon tea, it all looks and sounds delicious. Lemon drizzle cake.....I have a tree groaning under the weight of lemons, hmmm....

You probably don't want to look at another recipe for the next six months.

Claire :}

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Well done! I for one would have headed straight for the cakes!

Frances said...

Wow, Gretel, what a feast you created in that tiny kitchen of yours! My kitchen is also pretty tiny, and I just wonder what I might be able to turn out under pressure. Not what you did, that's for sure.

I am sure that folks who truly appreciate home cooking and baking knew what a treat was laid out before them.

Might I venture to ask...who won the match?

xo

tut-tut said...

just, well, lovely

my Word Veri is brish: just missing the final -ti-

Charlotte said...

You made a fantastic job of that cricket tea. It brought back memories of long ago Sundays. I love the look of your cakes: I will send you my boy and his friend Jack: both fans of old fashioned cake.

acornmoon said...

well done, you did them proud!

Jane said...

Golly, well done. Cakes look fanastic, I'm sure they were well appreciated by those discerning enough to eat them!

babygenie said...

Lovely to come across you today as a fellow guest on BBC Oxford! Look forward to following your blog!

Linda said...

Well done on your heroic efforts, it all looks delicious.

Nancy said...

What a beautiful tea. I was puzzled about what something was however. What are flapjacks? Here in Austin (the liberal part of Texas) flapjacks is another words for pancakes (griddle cakes, We eat them hot for breakfast with butter and sryup (usually maple) although I've had them with butter and sugar. Are flapjacks similar? Still I'd love to have had that tea - it was lovely.

Chrissie said...

I don't know what to say except Good Grief! Such determined dedication to the task!! They're jolly lucky to have you. The cakes look truly scrummy.

rossichka said...

A very interesting reading about a side of life, completely unknown to me! I think you managed perfectly with everything, Gretel! Your cakes look so delicious, that I'm sure those who ate them, were grateful to you...:)

Jane Gray said...

Were the quiches superfluous because 'real men don't eat quiche' do you think? I am shocked that the cakes were barely touched though... they look truly, madly, deeply scrummy!

Rowan said...

You deserve a medal for producing such a wonderful tea in such a tiny space and singlehanded too! What happened to all the other wives, girlfriends, mums etc?

Soozcat said...

Mmmmmmm cake. They were probably struck dumb by the embarrassment of riches before them!

Jeri Landers said...

I think you did a great job in your small space and I would love a piece of that cake, hmm maybe two, please.

BumbleVee said...

I would have loved some home made cakes and tea.....
and Greg would have been happy if I had to take all the cake home for him too....as a matter of fact he would have been making remarks about it hoping nobody would eat it...just so he could have more for himself.