God! Reality bites hard, doesn't it?!
For health reasons, I have not been at work for some time and have thus had Mr Muscle, Flash, Zoflora, Cif and Domestos at my disposal on a daily basis. The house has shone but due to aforementioned health reasons (let's call them HR, because we all know a bastard in HR) I have not been quite as diligent as usual. The place is clean, but the lustre is not there. It's tidy, but it's not immaculate. This annoys me immensely, but for the time being, it will just have to do.
However, baking and cooking still must be done.
I am too much of a cheapskate to pay for mass-produced cakes and biscuits and will therefore make my own on a regular basis. It is rare for us not to have at least one flavour of home-made cake in a plastic bag on the kitchen worktop. Indeed, at the moment, we have coffee and walnut, and lemon and coconut, which I smear with raspberry jam. I tend to get free-range eggs via a contact at work, but as I am not in touch with him at the moment, eggs come from Eddie the Grocer, round the back, who leers at me whenever I walk into his shop. He looked a bit glum the other day, so I brought him round samples of my cakes (in the hope that he'd offer to sell them for me). He just looked furtive, slipped them into the stock room, mumbled something about it being a good job he was married and then ducked as his Mrs stomped around the cleaning products aisle.
Despite my best intentions, something ALWAYS goes wrong with my baking. The last two times I have made triple chocolate brownies, they have ended up like breeze blocks and thus landed in the bin. My quiches burst through the ceramic beads which I ladle on to prevent the pasty rising during blind-baking and look like the surface of the moon, and I can regularly undercook the veg. Last time I made fresh bread, instead of using Bread Flour, I reached for the regular Plain. And then one of Mr Parsnip's teeth cracked as he took a bite with his tomato and basil soup (home-made!). That cost quite a lot of money in dentistry a few days later...
Today, as #1 is off to Normandy at 4.30am tomorrow, I decided to make a lovely 'Ta-ta, See You, Hello Peace & Quiet Dinner' to see her off with which involves chicken casserole and something I have been threatening for a while: a baked chocolate and mint cheesecake.
Now, normally, my cheesecakes turn out spectacularly. Even #2, who is averse to anything not wrapped in plastic, enjoys them. I have turned out Baileys, Tia Maria and fresh lemon ones to date. So, off I toddled to the Co-op and spent about £8.00 on the ingredients. Philadelphia Cheese (low-fat); Fair-Trade black chocolate (so I am not exploiting the workers); free-range eggs (so those poor chickens' bums get a break); 'Light' sugar (for obvious reasons); and 50% extra free McVities' Digestive biscuits...cause I am a cheapskate and always look for a bargain. Despite not wearing the 1950s frock, having contemporary music on very loud and being caught boogying dramatically by Mr P wherein he made me jump out of my skin and blush somewhat at the movements I was then making with my hips, I did twirl around, got the dirty dishes done as I whisked the mix, melted the chocolate and made the base...
I had a spring-form tin ready for it all. It was looking fantastic. I even got adventurous and 'marbled' the mix with the melted chocolate, forming a cobweb of patterns. My smile of pride stretched from ear to ear!
Then I picked the tin up to place into the pre-heated oven (160degC) and the f*cking bottom fell out of the tin. I had got the wrong 'bottom'.
The squawking out of me was both blue and desperate. Thank God #1 walked in at that point and offered to assist as I was covered in raw chocolate/mint cheesecake mix. Mr P, with the doors thus being wide open, heard my expostulations, came in, saw the mess and set to to help me clear up.
#1 told me it was OK to cry. And I almost did. Purely for the former beauty of the thing.
However, it's OK to cry over spilt milk, but not over spilt cheesecake mix.
It was salvaged, turned into a gloop and baked. So we now have chocolate/mint 'crunch' for pud tonight.
During the mop-up operation, #2 came in to snitch on her sister who had used some rather nasty profanities on her while my back was turned. And for once, I simply couldn't be fagged intervening. White mess dripped from the worktop, down the cupboard doors and onto the floor which I had scrubbed twice yesterday (twice because the bloody kitten decided to pee on the lino in the evening). I snapped at her to sort it out herself and she stared at the mess.
'Has it gone wrong, then?' she asked.
'No, it's bloody marvellous, isn't it?' I retorted, somewhat obviously sarcastically.
Mr P was on his hands and knees at this point, mopping up the gloop. With reassuring 'shush-shush' noises and an explanation to #2 of how sarcastic angry women can be, she vanished with a bit of a flounce of indignation.
So, the proof of this pudding is certainly going to be in the eating. It looks like a nasty brownish/grey mess and I am still heart-broken at the loss of my cobweb. Mr P is going to have bacon butties at early dawn tomorrow since we have to get up at Stupid O'Clock. I'll probably bloody burn those, too.
One of these days, I will produce a meal fit for a Queen. I just hope it isn't Queen Anne I.