Week 6: An undomestic goddess
On week 6 I had planned to try a new sport. The open day for beginners for the said new sport was to be held on the last day of the week in which I could do my weekly challenge. I never thought about timing. Rookie mistake! I woke up at 530am to a deluge of rain. Damn. No new sport for me. And double damn, I now needed to come up with a challenge that I could complete that day.
Drinking my morning coffee and searching for inspiration, I came across a discarded ‘Better Homes and Gardens’ magazine. It wasn’t mine I hazard to point out. I have been known to buy a celebrity magazine or two, but anything to do with home, gardens or craft…no thank you. Not that there is anything wrong with such magazines. It’s just that I am, as some may say, quite the undomestic goddess. Ok, well they might leave out the goddess part but you get the drift.
I guessed I would be able to find many a new thing in the magazine with which to challenge myself. After ruling out all things gardening (too hot, not my garden), and all things involving building furniture (no tools, no need for new furniture, not enough time), I decided upon a cooking challenge. A two-course meal to be exact – chorizo and pumpkin risotto followed by watermelon ice-cream; things I had never attempted to cook / make in my life. Some might argue that this sounds like an easy challenge. I refer all nay-sayers back to my previous comment on undomesticity. My dinner staples consist of cereal, toast, salad and chicken – things that ensure I am in and out of the kitchen in 10 minutes or less. I just don’t enjoy cooking. I enjoy eating immensely, but cooking has never been for me. Not my bag. No sir. No thank you. So this really was going to be a challenge. And just to make it a tad more challenging I decided to invite the family over for the meal, so it had to be edible. And they were going to score me in the tradition of “Come Dine with Me”; no pressure then.
After a quick grocery shop I headed home to start on the ice-cream as the preparation time stated in the recipe was 3 and half hours. 3 and a half hours – help me Rhonda! At this point in the story I should point out that I didn’t actually make the ice-cream. The recipe noted I could use shop-bought vanilla ice-cream. The key wasn’t to make the ice-cream itself; it was to create ice-cream to look like a slice of watermelon. So it was more ice-cream sculpture; ice-cream art if you will.
First step was to create the outside green layer of the watermelon by adding colour and flavour, shaping it in a bowl, then placing another bowl inside to keep the shape and putting it back in the freezer to set. That was pretty easy. Maybe this was going to be a walk in the park after all. After an hour I got out the newly set ice-cream and stumbled across problem number one. How to get the inside bowl out as it had frozen to the ice-cream. The recipe said try some hot water in the inside bowl and then gently remove. Disaster. The ice-cream started caving in as soon as I removed the inside bowl. Instead of a shell of a watermelon I had a sea of green goo. Back to step one – re-freezing – and another hour wait. My second attempt went much better so I could move onto step two – adding a thin layer of vanilla ice-cream over the top of the green without mixing the two, then placing the bowl back inside to set followed by another hour wait. I then had to do the same for the red layer. I get bored just retelling the story – why do people find this fun and relaxing?!
By this time it was getting close to dinner o’clock, so I thought I better set the risotto in motion. I poured myself a wine and cranked up the iPod, got out the ingredients and started slicing and dicing. For the onions I decided to try to channel Jamie Oliver and his fancy pants dicing technique. This was working quite well and I was feeling pretty proud of my finely diced onions and then it happened – I sliced my finger. “Argggghhhhhh” went my cry. “What happened?” came the response. “Finger, blood, not good” I believe was my reply. And it wasn’t good. You see, I don’t deal well with blood. Or cuts. I get quite woozy. Luckily for me Florence Nightingale was nearby in the shape of my 10-year-old niece. “I’ll fix it Aunty Bec” she said as I started to turn a ghostly white. “Come with me”. Bless her little socks. I sat on the bathroom floor while she tended to my wound. The damage was not too substantial – no stitches required. A rinse and a few plasters and I was good to go.
Finger tended to I got back to work on the risotto, albeit now with a throbbing finger (I am such a hero). The rest of the story would make for quite a boring read (as boring as it was to stand in the kitchen stirring the risotto) so to make a long story short, I managed to finish the risotto with a minimum of fuss. Challenge complete.
Final scores for the evening:
– 7 out of 10 for the risotto
– 9 out of 10 for the ice-cream sculpture
– 7 out of 10 for ambience
(I think the finger cutting drama may have lowered my score somewhat for ambience!)
So what did I learn this week?
- I learnt it is always helpful to have a back-up plan
- I learnt the importance of learning to walk before you run (aka don’t try and be smart when using sharp objects)
- I learnt that all set-backs can be overcome with determination and a little patience
- I learnt that cooking risotto isn’t actually as hard as it first seems (but you won’t find me in the kitchen cooking it again any time soon)
- I confirmed that, despite my success, I still find cooking boring, and no amount of wine while cooking seems to help
Most importantly of all, this week I learnt that you can always find new things to do; you just have to look. Big or small, difficult or easy, expensive or free, wherever you may find yourself in the world, there are always new things to see and do (even in small towns – who knew?!). You just have to be willing, open your eyes, and look.
Until next time
Do what you can, with what you have, where you are” – Theodore Roosevelt