I honestly don’t know why I can’t get it together to post more than a couple of times – if that – a month. Perhaps I am worn out from all the sweating and the drinking of water and the draining of leaking water bottles from my handbags? Whatever, not a huge amount has been going on.
Which is a broken Le Creuset butter dish. The enormity of this will be felt only if you live in a country / island state where Le Creuset costs FOUR TIMES (I kid you not) what it costs in the country / island multi-state you just moved from.
Reflux. Or something equally unpleasant and anti-social. It is, I assume, the latest in the unceasing advance of The War of Middle Age. (I am alone at the front, with only a twig and some loom bands for defence.) So for about two weeks I completely cut out: caffeine; dairy; alcohol; citrus; tomatoes; chocolate; wheat. It made fuck all difference, other than constant near-starvation, so now I’m miserable but replete/ half-cut, both of which take the edge off the misery somewhat.
THE HEAT, people, the heat. One of these days I swear I’m going to shake off my latent Scottish Presbyterianism and turn on the air-conditioning during the day.
Bastards. As in: “Oh Bastards!”, the Girl’s new expletive of choice. (On the plus side, because of her ridiculous semi-American accent – Thank you, Frozen - it comes out as “Oh Busters!”)
Pets. There is no longer any pretence about the status of emotions towards the hamster. The Boy, yesterday: “When Pink Red dies, can I get a guinea pig?” (Me: “Certainly. As long as it’s also dead.”)
A weekend on an island which looked like it was used for the Bounty Ad. In fact, the Man tells me it was used for the Swedish version of Survivor; which is hilarious, because it’s not exactly remote, or particularly wild. I planned to take lots of photos to make you all wildly jealous, but then I’d have to have been honest. So, eg the picture of the view from the restaurant bathroom, while idyllic (turquoise waters; palm trees swaying in the afternoon breeze etc), was also the scene of many rather catastrophic bottom explosions from the Baby, who discovered the hard way the perils of not listening to STOP DRINKING SEA WATER; the picture of the enormous jungle villa, in reality, the large (but not large enough) room where we ALL bunked down every night, sober, at 9pm, and lay listening to the Baby bark and meow and growl, and make whatever other ridiculous noises I presume she makes every night for hours before she finally falls asleep; the beautiful villa bathroom, with its enormous free-standing bath, which was perfect for rinsing the vomit out of all of Baby’s travelling clothes and various stuffed animals etc. (Notwithstanding all of the above, it was still amazing.)
I joined a book club! Which – at the risk of doing them an enormous disservice – doesn’t seem to focus too much on the book, as much as on the Getting Away From The Children And Conversing With Grown Ups While Drinking Cocktails. They are My People.
A woman in the park taking a photo of her dog. Not entirely unusual here (or, I assume, anywhere) except that she was beseeching him – quite seriously – to “smile” and “say cheeeeeeeeeeese!”. In her defence, he did look like he was both smiling and saying cheese, so maybe she knows something I don’t. Or maybe he just had a stupid dog face.
Other Pets! We seem to have acquired geckos. Two. (Which I suppose means that soon we’ll have thirty-two*). They are quite lovely and sweet and make chirping noises while dancing underneath the cocktail cabinet (yes!) when they think no one is watching. Also – and this contributes 100% to their loveliness – they are entirely maintenance-free, which is now the required standard for all incoming animals. (*As of this afternoon, we now have three. Mummy, Daddy, and a gormless, translucent, and very tame, baby. The children are ecstatic. Me, not so much.)
Bread. The bread in Singapore is revolting. Also, quite expensive. (I guess the cost of all those additives literally add up.) So I took my Hugh Fearnley Whittingthingy pizza recipe and
told my maid to turn
turned it into bread rolls.
Easy and delicious and CHEAP. (Also - quite impressive, no?)
Don’t be put off – as I was, for years – by baking with yeast. YEAST IS YOUR FRIEND. A nice, unobtrusive friend, who keeps herself busy in the corner while you’re doing other things.
(Mind you, while easy, it takes a while for the dough to rise – twice – so not something you can just knock up and have ready to eat in half an hour. I make the dough in the evening, then leave the uncooked rolls to rise overnight in the fridge – ready for baking in the morning. But that is because I am a domestic goddess. (Nothing whatsoever to do with having a maid.))
- 250g plain flour
- 250g strong bread flour
- 1 teaspoon dried yeast
- 1 (bare) tablespoon salt
- 325ml warm water
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl, make a well, and pour in the water and oil. Mix roughly with a spoon (or whatever), then roll up your sleeves and tuck in. Once it’s all mixed and you have a dough, take it out of the bowl and KNEAD. I know - proper baking! Personally I don’t find it terribly therapeutic, but I’m assured it is. Whatever – push it into the surface and away from you with some force, then fold it over on itself, turn it 90 degrees, then repeat. Over and over and over again, for as close to 10 minutes as you can (all the time resisting the urge to just go to the shops and buy the effing ready-made stuff and all its component crap.) Then roll it into a ball, rub a tiny bit of oil around it, and put back in the bowl, covered, and leave to stand until it’s risen. (An hour if you live in a normal climate, about 27 seconds here.)
Once it’s risen, squish it back to its original size, then cut into 8 / 10 lumps, rolling each out into whatever shape roll you want. Place a couple of inches apart on a baking tray, and leave to rise again – another hour or so. Bake for about 13 minutes in a hot oven – 220c /Gas 7 or so.
And there you have it. Home-made bread, AND a post. I have surpassed myself this week. I think I've earned some air-conditioning.