I was a Brownie and then one day I flew up to Girl Guides. I quite liked Guides and when we moved from Port Alberni to the big city of New Westminster, I joined a local company. Our Captain was a lovely, lively lady who was very enthusiastic that her Guides should achieve badges. First she set us up for Campers Badge testing. Our tester was an old-school Baden Powell Guider and she failed us all for various inadequacies around tent setting up and latrine building and so on. We were all a bit dejected but not Captain. She gamely set us up for some training in Home Nursing, Fire Brigade and First Aid and we passed those badges. With a lot of years of babysitting under my belt, I easily passed my Child Care test.
“Kristin, I have set you up for your Cook’s Badge test.” I was a bit worried. The idea was to devise a menu for a supper, go to the tester’s house, cook the meal and serve it, eat the meal with the family and do the dishes afterward. Because Captain was so enthusiastic, I went along with it, but I was really shy about the whole idea.
I got Mom to help me figure out a menu that I could do with a minimum of fuss.
Gingerbread with home-made applesauce
I made the applesauce and gingerbread at home, and called the lady tester with the ingredients for my main course—fish cakes and coleslaw.
At the appointed time, I went to the lady’s house and cooked the meal and served it to the lady and her husband. Before eating, I was asked to say grace, which I did. And then I did the dishes with the lady helping.
I passed my Cook’s Badge. I am sure the meal tasted and looked like something a 13 year-old made, which is what it was. I marvel at how our Captain could get us to do such unlikely things as this.
There were so many adults in my young life who nudged me out of my comfort zone.
I still make fish cakes to this day and my husband and I love them. They taste good, and they can be made with stuff from the cupboard and fridge. I am always reminded when I make them of Mom, who showed me how to make them and many other easy nutritious foods, the Captain who coaxed me into such a confidence-building experience, and the nice tester and her husband, who gave me a chance to cook for them.
RECIPE FOR FISH CAKES
Potatoes-cooked and mashed
Salmon, canned or cooked fresh, flaked
Any of the following—chopped onion of any kind, chopped parsley or parsley flakes or your favourite herbs, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper
Mix the above ingredients with an egg or 2 to bind the mixture
Form into patties; dip into flour or in flour, egg and panko
Fry in a pan over medium heat until golden
Serve with ketchup, tartar sauce or your favourite salsa.