The sentence to complete this time around is one I shall thoroughly enjoy:
“I tried to cook…”
I adore cooking. I love trying new recipes but most of all I love the day-to-day cooking which I can do with my eyes closed. Usually I can create a savoury recipe from scratch, from brain, without needing to resort to books or internet ideas. However, my block arrives when I try to concoct something sweet.
For whatever reason, sweet stuff is the thing I struggle with. Pretty much the only failsafe I have is sweet scones. I can make perfectly passable fairy cakes (when I remember to take them out of the oven), I can even make a fancier type-cake if I try really hard and use a recipe, but the time when it will inevitably all go wrong is when my Mother in-Law is due for a visit.
She’s a wonderful lady (truly) and we get on very well (no word of a lie), but because I’m married to the eldest apple of her eye, I like to make a bit of an effort so that she is reassured that I’m not a complete klutz in the kitchen and can keep him in easy enjoyment of all treats. Bless him, Husby rarely gets a home-cooked sweet treat from me.
So the time in question, which I believe was one of the first times she came to visit after we got married, was near Christmas, and I thought I’d try making stollen (which I love, and which my Dad made deliciously and very successfully on a few, treasured occasions in my childhood). For those who don’t know, it’s a sweet German bread thing with mixed fruit through it and a centre of delicious marzipan in a long roll, so that each slice has some. It’s then drenched with icing sugar and is destined to have you licking your fingers and hoping desperately for more. It’s a beautiful thing.
|This beautiful thing isn’t my one, but it does look light and delicious.|
Unless you try too hard, or try to make the recipe for the first time when someone important’s coming, or leave it in the oven too long. Or something.
The smell of it cooking was incredible, and I’d been so happy making it; even to the point where every one of the 600 kneads I gave it in its 5 minute kneading time (by hand) was a pleasure. The marzipan rolled in the middle was thick and generous and I was really psyched. I took it out of the oven and…
…Hard. As. A. Rock.
I could’ve cried. I sat in silence with tears streaming down my inner face, trying to lightly accept the compliments about the great flavour whilst I could hear their teeth cracking on the crust of it and see the slight (but definite) winces as they powered through the solid dough.
The upside was, my teeth are strong, no-one wanted seconds (ever) so I got a great-tasting stollen all to myself.
I think there’s a double-edged sword to being a favourite Aunty. I’d had a wonderful time with Neff (who’s 5) and was halfway through returning him to his Mother when I mentioned that my Mum would be there, too.
His little face immediately turned thunderous and he growled “I don’t like seeing Grandma after seeing you.”
When we arrived back, my dear Mum was there, helping and chatting to my Sis, and Neff saw her, put on his most grouchy of all cantankerous faces, hunched his shoulders and stormed past her, ignoring her welcomes, threw his coat on the floor and slouched away.
My poor Mum! I do feel bad because she does so much with him and my niece and they have such a wonderful time (and, I might add, such great, warm relationships – Grandma was Neff’s favourite person in the world for a long time) and I seem to swan in with a bit of a novelty factor and ruin it all (fleetingly) for her.
I guess the trick will be to spend more and more time with Neff until he’s bored of me, then he’ll be happy with whomever of us he gets.
From today ‘til about a week before the end of March, Husby and I will be mostly concerned with moving house. We’re very excited about getting an extra room to
clutter up expand neatly into and use the extra space to support a hitherto unknown level of organisation. The great thing is our new landlady is a-may-ZING and will let us move in gradually alongside some remedial work being done, so we can drop bits and bobs over here and there, hopefully allowing us to deep-clean our current place gradually and have a reasonably cool, calm and collected final moving day in a few weeks time.
The less frantic and stressful, the better.
A coupla days ago was the designated day to ‘Spread the word to end the word‘ and I posted (what I thought) was a rather splendid, well constructed argument as to why everyone who read the item should sign the pledge and how it could (and should) impact their life. The response I got was absolutely minimal (though positive, for all that). That’s me taken down a peg or six!
It’s not too late, though, so if you’ve a further minute to spare, pop over and find out why I think it’s important to get rid of the hurtful, insulting word ‘retard’ from general lexicon.
I’m beginning to think about what to do once I finish my college course in June, and took a look at a job search engine for vacancies in my city and was gratified to find that amongst the first 650 jobs (of something ridiculous like 37,000) there were rather a lot I thought I’d either really enjoy, would be qualified for or would like to have a crack at, including
- 3 year training position with the ministry of defense working with munitions and guns
- Cake baker (sadly, I’d need experience, but WHAT a great job)
- Home help for a local guy who’s wheelchair bound; doing shopping, cleaning, washing and going out places socialising with him. He specified the need for a good sense of humour, so if he’s a fun guy, I could quite imagine becoming friends and just having a blast. Who knows.
- Laboratory technician for a small company doing *something* mysterious and science-y
- Product tester (though they didn’t say what products, but imagine the possibilities!)
I’m quietly confident that with this many (and more) jobs I’d be keen to apply for, come June, I should have no problem finding something suitable.
I sometimes get sense/visualisation crossovers. Usually this happens with flavours (specifically, two brands of Teapigs tea I have) but sometimes with songs (play me the opening few bars of Bach’s Tonet ihr Pauken and I’m immediately transported in front of the Christmas tree. In fact, just imagining it I can already smell pine and see fairy lights) and this week I got the absolute treat of a new song/visualisation.
I don’t know if you ever saw the movie ‘Cool Runnings‘ but it was one of my favourites in the latter part of childhood, and the opening scene where Derice runs through Jamaica has always been one of my favourites, only there was never quite enough beautiful beach with that gorgeous copper-sulphate sea which happens on little reef islands and the bleached-white sand, palm trees and the scent of sun-oil and coconuts.
I now have my visualisation complete in this song (which, ok, I posted yesterday too, but that’s how much I love it at the moment) – thanks Christine for introducing me to it.
So here you are – a moment inside my brain:
You’re walking along a small, friendly road by the beach, with that sea glinting sparkles everywhere. People dressed in bright colours are all around, smiles are warm and friendly and the sea-birds are cruising through a sky speckled with tiny white clouds. The sun is blazing down and it would be far too hot if, at any given moment, you couldn’t just jump in the sea. Picnics are happening, children are laughing, someone has music playing and the trees are waving gently in a tiny breeze. You’ve got that lightness of spirit which only comes when you’re on holiday for at least a fortnight, and the happiness is sinking into your soul as surely as the sun is sinking into your skin and warming it with a tropical spice and splendour only found on tiny islands, which appear like jewels in the middle of the sea.