We’ve all experienced something or someone triggering a memory from deep within us.
It might be a song playing as we enter a store or a scent we pass that catches our nose.
We bite into a slice of apple pie, and it takes us back to our childhood visits to Grandma’s house. A track will come on the radio and we’re transported to our school disco, dancing with our childhood friends.
These triggers return us in our minds back to a moment in time where we experienced something, be it pleasurable, traumatic, or simply significant. Briefly, we relive that memory—our senses awaken, and we feel, smell, hear, and virtually see that moment replayed.
I welcome these experiences when they happen. The pleasurable memories offer joy, warmth, and love, whilst the difficult memories act as an opportunity to reconsider my emotions toward what happened and work through anything that feels unresolved. They all give me an appreciation of the past, and even those that bring discomfort are ultimately good for the soul.
Recently, I decided to make my friend Jo’s famous flapjack recipe, and as soon as I added the cassia to the oats and smelled the sugar and butter caramelising, I was instantly sat back in the large hall, seated in a circle of mothers with their breastfed infants, at a La Leche League (LLL) support meeting. I had my baby on my lap, a toddler at my feet, and I cried as I asked for advice.
Just the smell of the flapjack ingredients on my stovetop had sent a wave of emotions through my body—the sadness of a minor struggle with a newborn, the appreciation of the caring and supportive reaction from those other mothers, and the overwhelming admiration for the women who ran the group.
As well as offering various wonderful suggestions for how I could meet my baby and toddler’s needs, they met my own needs too. They listened, supported, made me a cup of tea, and gave me a piece of Jo’s delicious flapjack.
When I refer to this as famous, I am not exaggerating. Jo has made this flapjack hundreds, if not thousands, of times to take to group meetings for LLL and as gifts for new mothers, friends, and family. In the past 11 years, that means many thousands have been nourished by it.
Whilst I have adapted it slightly for my family, I always try to make it with the same love and care as Jo does, and I share it out with friends, family, and anyone who might need a heartwarming treat.
With her permission, this is Johanna Rhys-Davies’ fabulous flapjack recipe:
>> 12oz Oats
>> A handful of sultanas (optional)
>> A generous shake of cinnamon or cassia
>> 9oz unsalted butter
>> 4oz brown or coconut sugar
>> 3oz (approx. 3 tablespoons) of golden syrup
1. Heat the oven to 160 degrees electric, fan assisted.
2. Grease a small lasagne-type tin and line it with parchment/baking paper.
3. In a large bowl, mix the oats, sultanas if desired, and the cinnamon or cassia.
4. In a small pan, melt the butter, sugar, and golden syrup on a medium or low heat. Stir constantly to prevent the sugar burning.
5. Once the syrup mixture is combined, frothing, and bubbling, pour it into the bowl with the oats.
6. Mix everything together well, then pour it into the prepared tin and pat it down gently.
7. Bake for approximately 22 minutes. If it smells delicious and looks golden, it’s done.
8. Put the tin somewhere safe for it to cool for 45 minutes. After this, while it’s in the tin, cut the flapjack into pieces. Leave the tray to cool for at least another hour, two if possible.
9. Gently lift the flapjack out using the baking parchment and place it onto a cooling rack. Leave it for another hour. The flapjack will keep solidifying this whole time and will be well worth the wait!