When the Baudelaire orphans arrive at Uncle Monty’s house, we’re unsure what to think of him. After all, this is A Series of Unfortunate Events, where we are promised that only dreadfully unpleasant things will happen to our heroines and hero. What fate awaits them in Uncle Monty’s Reptile Room?
If you are in any doubt at all if Uncle Monty is a good guy or a bad guy, have a go at making a coconut cream cake, which he proffers, freshly-made, to the orphans when he first meets them. Anyone, anyone who goes to that much fuss and effort to make a cake cannot be a baddie.
EldestGirl is racing through Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events books, so much so that I’m slowing her down by throwing a bit of Harry Potter in the mix (expect a Chocolate Frog recipe any day now).
At six and a half, I would have said that she’s a bit young for the books. The vocabulary is challenging, the humour is black, and the plots are twisty. But she bloody loves them. Some vocab undoubtedly goes over her head, and I think some of the cleverer dramatic irony is missed by her, but she loves the books, adores Violet Baudelaire (is already planning next year’s World Book Day costume) and now wants to be an engineer.
I am fully supportive of her engineering ambitions and have got her lots of books from the library about it. I have not mentioned to her that genetics mean she’s unlikely to achieve this ambition because Mummy can’t even put together an IKEA flatpack.
The reason it’s taken us a couple of months to do a Let’s Cook the Books is frankly I’ve had to psyche myself up to it. From hearing about the coconut cream cake, EldestGirl immediately said, “We can do a Let’s Cook the Books about that!”. So I went online on the hunt for recipes. And my God they are all incredibly complicated.
Coconut cream cake appears to be a Southern USA delicacy, involving either a ready-made cake mix (cheating), freezing the cake in stages (I am way too impatient), coconut cream, which by the way is NOT the same as creamed coconut, and now I have two redundant boxes of creamed coconut sitting in my larder and/or faffing about with condensed milk.
I put it off. Then I put it off a bit longer. Finally, stuck in the house with the children all this weekend by myself, I said we could bake something and I would get out a recipe book for them to choose something. They’re too young to search online for themselves, but are happy enough looking at photos of pretty cakes in a book. My go-to has always been