Archive | January, 2014

The list, task 27, a spider infested whisk and cookies!

28 Jan

Some of you may know that at the start of 2014…I wrote a list.

I found myself New Year’s Eve on a midnight walk around the streets (bopping along to uptown girl, an obvious song choice); watching people in various states of disarray or celebrating indoors, and this led me to reflect back on my own year. 2013 had been ok, but walking around the one thing I really regretted, was that I hadn’t done more.

The problem with New Year’s resolutions is that they can be so vague, for instance last year my resolution was to in essence ‘get a life’ (basically have more of a social life) and to be fair I probably achieved this, as I did have some hilarious and great experiences. However it’s hard to quantify that kind of resolution and similar ones made in the past. So I decided to bypass this whole problem for this year, and make a list. The list.

This is the list that would ensure whatever else happened, as long I achieved 28 specific tasks I would have had a successful, fun and in general rip roaring 2014. Some of the items on the list are things I’ve always wanted to do or try, things that scare me or (in usual Steph Bristow fashion) are just plain nonsense.

I taped my list to the cupboard at work at the start of Jan, and have since found myself desperate to make a start.

The list has caused some interest and raised eyebrows at work; my boss for a start is now blatantly convinced I am completely crackers. If the shrine to Benedict Cumberbatch sprawling across my cabinets (and now his) hadn’t alerted him to the fact, then reading my list to him must have done the trick. The final nail in the coffin may have been when I told him that one of the items on the list was to ‘hug a tree.’ (Who said it was all work and no play at a law firm?)

So the first task on the list conquered was no 27, bake something from scratch which must be edible and yummy.

A genuine challenge for the likes of me.

Now if you have ever lived with me (the uni girls will tell you the horror stories) you will know that cooking is not my natural forte. I have literally left friends speechless as I stick forks into toasters, burn pasta to the bottom of the pot (and later use a knife to scrape it off) and explode the microwave, setting off the fire alarm with my special ‘home made hot chocolate.’

My nan often scoffs at my mum and me for our lack of cooking skill (not that she can talk really). I remember one particular occasion which sent her into hysteria, when we were moving house and found a set of pristine baking trays and cooking books, which mum had insisted on buying new when we had moved in, all shoved at the back of a cupboard along with a very bent and spider infested whisk.

Every attempt I have ever made to try and address this frankly shocking lack of feminine grace in the kitchen has always met with complete disaster, involving some sort of minor explosion, implosion or naked flame (the less said about that incident the better). However, at 23 I thought to myself that I was ready to tackle this issue head on, and so baking made its way firmly as no 27 on the list.

So it was your average Sunday, mum was out and it was just me and the dog hanging around, when suddenly an advert for ‘the taste’ inspired me, what a wonderful surprise if my mum were to return to the smell of something delicious baking in the oven! (The realistic part of me knew it was far more likely that mum would come home to the fire brigade, but I’m one of life’s triers).

Googling easy recipes (god I love Google) I settled on cookies as my choice, simple, hassle free, basic ingredients which I had in the house already and quite frankly I actually just really fancied a cookie.

I need to invest in some serious equipment!

I need to invest in some serious equipment!

I laid my equipment out on the counter and surveyed my work station; just as food tech had taught me all those years ago at school (my god Miss Fowler would be proud). Despite the fact that in the past my involvement in food tech projects had mainly been designated to washing up, (totally important but never fully appreciated task) whilst BG would handle the actual cooking portion of the class on my behalf, I felt somehow that I had been trained for this very moment.

My equipment looked somewhat lacklustre compared to the pretty Google picture, I had only a few burnt containers, the baking trays given away long ago when Nan despaired of ever making a Delia out of me, all that remained was the ever consistent spider infested whisk and a spatula.

Still I was unperturbed; I was convinced that an untested natural such as me didn’t need fancy equipment, every Sunday cooking show I had ever watched had taught me that great food came from the heart and sheer enthusiasm. My past problems had to be down to the fact that my heart simply wasn’t in it.

The real question I had to ask myself, was could one mix ingredients with a spatula? Well people…after a damn good attempt let me tell you, the answer is a resounding no.

So after five minutes attempting to aggressively mix with various utensils and two dropped bowls from a particularly aggressive mixing incident later, I gave in and called time out to disinfect my spider infested whisk (well let’s face it what are the spiders going to need it for).

I decided to become creative with my recipe, after all following instructions was for saps, real chefs broke the rules! I chose to be bold, and improvise with the measurements of my ingredients (basically there was no measuring involved because you know what, after two attempts of measuring mixture with a tape I was getting seriously frustrated).

When it came to the point that my lovely dollops of random mixture were ready for the oven, my mum had returned and after a raised eyebrow and what I must say was a very insulting bout of laughter, she helped me wrestle them in.

I have to admit I was very excited, I sat by the oven door just like our dog does when we’re cooking tea, I couldn’t stop myself from continuously opening the oven to check out my how my happy little guys were getting on in there. I felt like a parent sending their child off for a first day at school (well you know, if parents sent their kids off to get incinerated and then eaten).

Mum warned me that if I kept on my cookies would deflate, this was news to me, I didn’t even know food could deflate…I only have one setting with my cooking and it usually involves splattering.

Yum! (I hope!)

Yum! (I hope!)

So finally after much waiting there was the finished article, they were ugly looking, huge and to be completely honest probably a bit burnt around the edges, but I stood proudly telling my mother with as much condescension as I could muster, that from now on she was the one who couldn’t cook.

Mum abstained from trying a cookie, saying she felt ‘too ill to eat’ and my brother, well I practically chased him up the stairs with one and all I got was a grimace and general look of sheer horror for my trouble. I literally couldn’t give the damn things away; I guess no one in my family appreciates home baked goods!

Brave Drew taking a bite, no he isn't choking on it and nor did I shove it in his mouth...that's just how he eats!

Brave Drew taking a bite, no he isn’t choking on it and nor did I shove it in his mouth…that’s just how he eats!

Still I managed to find some willing victims at work. All joking aside there was a small part of me that was genuinely slightly concerned I would poison my co-workers and take down half the conveyancing department, but by 12pm with no ill effects reported, I gave myself a well-deserved pat on  the back.

So that’s task 27 complete, only another 27 tasks to go! I figure depending on how I get on I would blog about them along the way.

Attempting this task on my list has actually been a great deal of fun and I’m glad I gave it a go, I’ve even got some more experimental recipes in mind to try out for next time…I’m thinking skittle cookies!? (What could go wrong?)

Mind you though I won’t be baking anything again anytime soon, not until I have invested in a new whisk! 🙂

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