(First published in Le News edition 16, 27 February – 5 March 2014)
I love lifestyle blogs. I’ve spent hours poring over the lives of strangers: looking at photos of their furniture, pictures they’ve taken of interesting trees, close-ups of their dinner, served in charmingly mismatched tableware.
In fact, I love these blogs so much that I thought my family should start one. We live in a beautiful place. We love to cook. Our trees are also interesting. Our tableware is mismatched.
So one day, when the freezing rain was blowing in sideways and we were bored, we embarked on our first project: making apple turnovers and hot, spiced cider, and photographing the process.
It was a horrible experience and it went something like this:
Photo 1: Spiced Cider. Lay out a pot, a jug of apple juice, cinnamon sticks, a clove-studded orange and several little bowls of spices. Take photo. Put everything into the pot and simmer.
Photo 2: Ingredients for Apple Turnovers. On a wooden chopping board, assemble a ball of pastry dough, two apples, a pile of raisins and a little bowl of honey.
Photo 3: Adorable, Pudgy Little Child-Hands Chopping Apples. Give children safety knives and instruct them to chop away. Take one photo then send them to wash their hands again (‘This time get all the paint off’) and trim their nails.
Photo 4: Rolling out Pastry. Give some pastry to each child. A noisy fight breaks out over who gets to use the rolling pin first, and one child hits the other on the head with a wooden spoon. Send them to Timeout for five minutes.
Check on the cider. Pour a small taster mug, with a tiny bit of rum.
Bring the children back. Catch the smaller child in the act of eating a fistful of raw pastry. Admonish and threaten.
Photo 5: Spooning Chopped Apple and Raisins onto Pastry Sheets. Go into the kitchen to check on the cider. Come back to find half the apple-raisin mix gone. Interrogate the children, who deny everything through chipmunk-cheeks.
Send both to Timeout for ten minutes. Top up the mug of cider. Add a tot of rum.
Photo 6: Spooning Honey onto Apple-Raisin Mix. Give children two little glass bowls of honey and two teaspoons.
Send everybody to Timeout for fifteen minutes. Wipe down honey-covered table and chairs. Wash honey out of bigger child’s hair. Catch and wash cat.
Photo 7: Folded Apple Turnover, Ready for the Oven. The pastry rips as we fold it over and the mix leaks out.
Pat everything back into shape and patch the rips with extra pastry. The turnovers bear no resemblance to any known bakery product but we’ve come too far to give up now.
Pour another mug of spiced cider, with two tots of rum. Put the damn turnovers in the damn oven.
Photo 8: The End Result. The turnovers come out of the oven. One has exploded.
Arrange mangled pastries on plates and children at the table. Go into the kitchen to pour two mugs of cider. Come back to find small finger holes poked deeply into both pastries.
Take the last photo. The turnovers look horrible, no one is smiling and it’s getting dark. In fact, the end result looks like a depressed version of The Potato Eaters.
Well, that was it. That night, as I drank the last of the rum, I deleted the photos from my camera. Perhaps there are some lifestyles that just should not be blogged about.