stories

My nan cuts up jam tart with scissors

left: original artwork, right: the tea towel itself (creased, stained and used)
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My Nan doesn't enjoy slicing food with a knife; she prefers to use a blunted pair of scissors. For a woman of 80+ running on quite a lot of coffee, with 4 children, 9 grandchildren and countless friends who visit regularly, she'll find a quicker way of doing simple things to make room for more conversation. She's a woman of many endearing eccentricities, but this is one cannot go unnoticed by anyone who's ever stepped into her kitchen. I asked her to send me an email with '5 things you'd use the kitchen scissors for'. Her reply:

"Scissors are the best invention for cutting everything - pizza, green bean ends, cooked cabbage and beans, crusts off sandwiches and making dainty ritz type little ones, quiches, cutting toast in half, every form of tart, cucumber, perfect, apple pie, toad in the hole, perfect again, even boiled eggs scissored up before mashing. You can always find something that is easier cut up with scissors!"

She used to make a jam tart on puff pastry for the kids' pudding after a Sunday roast, using scissors to cut into equal pieces for each child. The tart would have come straight from the oven, so she'd hold the burning hot crust lightly with her fingers, dropping it quickly onto our plates after cutting to avoid touching the molten jam. The recipe for this simple, post-roast sweetness is below, in my Nan's words:

"I make rough puff  pastry and always shop bought , not the best, strawberry jam. Usually it was made out of left over pastry, especially for you children. Method? Roll out thinly, line sandwich tin, prick, put loads of jam in it, then if you have any scraps, roll into thin strips and crisscross. Cook in oven 180, until the pastry looks cooked. Make a custard with watered down evaporated milk and birds custard powder. Leave to cool down, and serve kids. Xxxxx"

My Nan loves to feed her family; she's shown me how to enjoy sweet food and how to feel so joyfully full up on the food I love that my stomach feels painfully stretched. My family remedy this full belly after a Cooper Sunday roast with a walk around the block, then coffee, biscuits and card games when we return home.

We teamed up with illustrator, Lucy Noakes, to bring Molly's short essay about her nan's kitchen etiquette to life. Lucy is drawn to real-life stories, so this vignette of one of Molly's larger-than-life nan felt like the perfect pairing for Lucy's style.

Find Lucy's illustrations of jam tarts and scissors here.