Saturday, 11 October 2008

Hexing House-Keeping

In my wildest dreams, I want to be a Retro-Housewife. It is my ardent desire for my darling husband and two beautiful daughters return from their respective places of work and school to a perfectly coiffured wife/mother, sporting a 1950s frock, nipped in at all the right places and lipstick applied without a single smudge. The house will be gleaming like an advert for Glint, it will NOT smell of my Lambert & Butler smokes (1950s housewives only smoke in the evenings alongside their Martinis, replete with green olives) and the healthy, but sumptuous, dinner will be ready to dish up as I twirl around the kitchen, my dirndl skirt flaring out provocatively, yet efficiently.

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.


Ian T - Parsnip no longer... said...

P.S. You forgot to mention that I was doing the ironing!! I am useful!

Also, you forgot the bit where you stared at the washing up, stared at your cigarettes, then muttered "sod it", grabbed the cigs and went off to pen this post.

You do make me laugh though. Even though it was painful to see the disappointment on your face. I'm sorry darling!


Mars said...

so how was the cheesecake?

Annie T AKA Agnes Mildew said...

Ian: Sorry. Yes, you were being extremely helpful in ironing. Write your own blog if you want to bang on about how good you are around the house. This was my rant!!

Mars: It is reminiscent of a cow pat. But from a poorly cow. However, #2 said it was yummy. I shall watch how it disappears over the week with avid interest. I could probably throw some over to you from here as it is fairly discus-shaped...

Karen ^..^ said...

Awww, you poor girl!

I remember when I first started learning how to make eggs. Yes. Eggs. I was 21, in my first apartment, living with the ex, and trying like hell to perfect a fried egg.

I did not use a non stick pan. I thought I could make do with butter. We lived in a second floor apartment.

Many, many pans of ruined eggs landed in the neighbor's yard. They were a kindly old black Christian couple whose ears were surely seared with the profanity that came out of my mouth.

I'd sheepishly go down there, ask for access to thier yard for my pan, and they would smile knowingly at me, saying, "Ah, Miss Karen is makin' eggs again."

I only, ONLY use nonstick pans now. Twenty years later, I have finally perfected every style of egg you can hope for.

I cannot imagine a bigger mess than raw cheesecake dripping all over. I'm sorry. If I had been there, we would have laughed our butts off at the looks on our faces, gave up, let it sit there, had a drink, and cleaned it up when we calmed down.

Then we would have made a new one. And it would have been even better than the first.

Things are always easier to deal with when you have a friend over, you ever notice that?

Keli said...

I am so impressed with your housewifely abilities!
I have visions of a home where everything is put away in its proper place and nothing is stacked underneath, between or on top of my bed and the closets are neat and orderly, but I realize that even if I lived alone, it's not going to happen as I am the one doing the stacking.
As for cake baking, I'm with you. I too always have some homemade baked good on hand (currently apple pie), and yes, Husband has cracked a tooth on a stray walnut shell, thanks to me. I even cracked my own tooth (not being one to discriminate) on croutons of my own creation.

Poetikat said...

You are far too ambitious! I love to bake, but if need be, will take the easy way out. I have been buying organic cake mixes and recently made the most delectable brownies with organic eggs and organic walnuts. I think I'll nip to the kitchen and have one right now!
For Thanksgiving, I made a bundt cake with an organic chocolate mix, added some canned pumpkin and organic spices (and more walnuts), frosted it with organic orange-juice and icing sugar and Oh my God, it is sooo good!

I'm sure whatever efforts you are making are thankfully received. Your Ian sounds wonderful - ironing? I donated that board a couple of years ago!


P.S. Annie, would you put me on your blogroll? Oh, and check out my latest post at as well.

Anonymous said...

i hate to cook, have never attempted baking -- in fact, i dislike all things domestic, other than sorting thru pretty clothes. this makes my boyfriend really unhappy. he keeps trying to convince me that cooking is fun, cleaning is important and house projects are the best. no, no, no.

ms. hex my hex: why do you like to bake?

Annie T AKA Agnes Mildew said...

Karen: Eggs. Hmmm. They have also been the bane of my life. I had a bit of a phobia about 'other people's' eggs for many a year, enhanced when I watched a fellow course member, who had teeth like tombstones, 'slurping' scrambled eggs up through the dental gaps. I am somewhat squeamish around them now.

Nonstick pans have saved my life - apart from when idiots like my mother have used bloody metal utensils on them and removed the Teflon which continues to flake away with each wash. That grates!

And yes, disasters with friends are always the most hilarious. It's always good to fall about laughing at your mishaps with another - wish you were my neighbour!

Keli: I have read some of your posts in the past and KNOW you are a dab-hand in the kitchen! I've read of your pies and meringues! We have an apple tree in our garden and it NEVER STOPS!!! We have more apples than a cider farm. I only wish daughters #1 and #2 would eat pies or crumbles...only Mr P will one point, we had a decorator in and he got fed apple puffs every hour, on the hour, AND was given about 40lbs of them to take away...

Glad to hear someone else has suffered dental mishaps. I thought it was me!

Kat: I am too much of a snob to use mixes to be honest, although I bet they work out cheaper and taste just as good. I'm a bit of a traditionalist, and to be honest, there's nothing better than shutting the kitchen door, turning the music on LOUD and bashing away with the ingredients and squawking at the top of my voice with blue language when things go wrong. It's a form of catharsis...but I will never make quiche again...that's for sure...

Anonymous: Why do I love baking? Because nobody comes near me when I am doing it! The kitchen is entirely mine. I am left alone, to my own devices, with my own trashy music up, loud; make unholy messes...and then present a dish worthy of a dog...which they all eat because they have to!

Seriously, though, I don't know why I enjoy it - I like to see raw things come together and form something great. It's chemistry!

MedStudentWife said...

Ian is a sweetie !!!!

And my secret is *shhh*.. I too want to be a retro housewife. Dont tell Fidel, but I think he is starting to suspect....

Annie T said...

MedStudentWife: Yes, Ian is a sweetie for doing the ironing. It is a task I despise. But he gets to watch his zombie movies while he is doing it and I skulk away, so everyone's happy!

You need to tell Fidel. Ian would never have known had I not moaned about it every day of our marriage...

Linda and her Twaddle said...

My cake and biscuit baking is quite good, however the other night I cracked an egg directly into the cake mix (normally I would put it in a separate bowl) and as watched the egg fall into the mix I wondered why it was pale green. The egg was rotten and the moment it hit the beaters the stink was vomit inducing. I ran out of the room, hand over mouth, and my husband had to turn of the machine.

After tipping mix down the sink plug hole I had to start all over again - 9.00pm at night.

Also, these days you can only be a Retro Housewife if you have a rich husband. You may have to just look the part - so wear an apron.

MedStudentWife said...

Annie - Fidel & I will have a conflict... who gets to iron while watching a Zombie movie *lol*

Actually I'll iron if he cleans the toilet & tub

Ian - have you read "World War Z" ?

Or check this out.. I live to far to participate

(sorry Annie.. I just love my Zombies.. Fidel does a good "Brains" imitation that will creep me out on a bad day.. and its close to Hallowe'en :D )

Ian T - Parsnip no longer... said...

Hi Med, and thanks for the link.

Back in 2006, I made it to the Zombiefest in the UK. (

The US is a bit far for me to travel though.