Monday, 25 January 2010

The day takes on a life of its own

Sometimes a day turns out to be quite different from what we intended. Today was such a day. I don't remember exactly what I was proposing to do, but the day unfolded otherwise. I made it up as I went along. Go with the flow.

Yesterday I had occasion to look for various cleaning substances, which are kept in the cupboard underneath the sink. The cleaners had once again slopped dirty water from the bathroom floor onto the pale cream carpet of my bedroom, and thus I had to find the carpet shampoo in order to scrub the carpet. The inside of the cupboard was wet, so I had to take everything out, and clean and dry it. The wetness persisted, and I discovered that the plumbing connection for the new dishwasher was leaking. Oh dear. I set off to the shop to let them know of the leaking plumbing problem, and George rang me this morning, and said he would get the plumber to come this morning. Instead of embarking on whatever I thought I might do, perforce I had to sit around at home and wait. Naturally the plumber did not arrive until after midday.

So to fill in the time I did a January thing, which was to sort out and organise all the recipes which I had cut out of newspapers, magazines and printed from the Internet, over the past umpty something years, and stick them into a recipe folder. If I were technically competent I could have scanned lots of recipes and put them into a data base, but that sounds like sheer torture. A friend does this, and annotates her database with notes on what she served to whom and when, but she has a husband who knows what she is doing and who just loves computers, fiddling around with them, buying more and then transferring this and that from one to the other. I am not like that, and nor is Dr P, who always had staff to do everything for him. (Now he has only me, which shows how you can come down in life.)

So I sat at the table, with all the recipes, the recipe folders (where you can paste your own) with scissors and glue, and set about creating order from chaos. What a calming experience it was. Dr P read the paper, we chatted away together, and I got it all done. It is, I might add, quite difficult to find a good recipe folder, but I found one a couple of weeks ago and my heart brimmed over with contentment of a kind.

Many of the recipes were really old, so old in fact that whatever fascination it was that led me to select them had quite evaporated, and so a satisfying pile of rejects grew. Other recipes sounded nice, but I decided that I was never really going to try pomegranates. But all the lovely Italian biscuit recipes got neatly pasted into the folder. Tuscan ricciarelli biscotti, made with ground almonds, sugar and egg whites, are absolutely delicious, if you like almonds, and my collection of recipes derived from various Italian cookery books and the Internet. There are variations in the quantities of ingredients and the cooking techniques and baking time, and I love to peruse the variations and work out my own preferences.

Going through all those recipes was really a re-visiting of parts of my life, and a recollection of many mostly forgotten things. There were relatively few cookery books when I was first married, and I still have the Australian Women's Weekly Cook Book - and use it for quite a few things. I now have a very large collection of recipe books, some of which I never use, although, you never know, some day I might...

Then I got around to copying some of the recipes which I had got from my mother. These had been copied onto 5 x 3 inch blue cards, and had somehow survived all these years. There were recipes for Anzac biscuits (I have a better recipe now), Melting Moments, Queen Cakes, now known and madly popular as cup cakes, Lemon Delicious Pudding, Boiled Fruit Cake, and Pasty. I found an old set of instructions for feeding a ginger beer plant - but it lacked the formula for the plant itself. I remembered that the sheet of instructions came with a plant, which you fed until such time as you made ginger beer. I made several batches of ginger beer, which were excellent, but then there came a day when my then husband, bare-chested, reached into the cupboard to pull out a bottle, and it exploded, all over him and all over the floor. Somehow I never got around to making any more ginger beer.

Some recipes I evidently knew so well that I did not write down the cooking time nor the oven temperature. The little cards have now gone into the rubbish. The recipe folders sit smugly and demurely on the shelf, the kitchen was tidied up, and finally Steve the plumber arrived.

What had happened to cause the leak was that the hose extension he had to use had to be squeezed through a narrow space, and tiny holes happened. He had to go away and get another hose extension, the same one, as it transpires that it is the only one available (that does not sound right, does it? the material must be very fragile.) To fit it in properly he had to cut a hole in the cupboard with his jigsaw. All seems well. It is necessary to learn a new way of stacking the dishwasher. The new refrigerator is great, and Dr P's inevitable complaints are dwindling.

6 comments:

Molly said...

You organized ALL those recipes in one morning??? How would you like to come to Florida for a [working] holiday, hmmm? Then you could apply your considerable recipe organizational skills to taming MY teetering pile......

VioletSky said...

I can hardly believe you did that. It should inspire me to do the same, but I only feel overwhelmed when I even think about all those bits of cutout recipes I've saved and NEVER looked at again.

I have one of those old recipe boxes with a set of index cards. many of those recipes are very short on instructions - and no pictures! Pictures are what attract me most, therefore all the cookbooks

Stomper Girl said...

I did my recipe book about a year ago and it is a DISASTER again already. *sigh*

Isabelle said...

Ah, melting moments. My son, when he was 4, came out of nursery school having baked some biscuits which, he said, were called "something like waiting melties". That's what they've been ever since.

Ah, the recipe sort-out. One of the many ways in which my house is going to be immaculate once I retire.

Meggie said...

My recipe collections -note, the plural- have all sorts of homes, and really do require a good sort-out such as you have had. Even my original book has recipes I wrote out, which I look at now, & cannot imagine why I thought I would ever make them, & know I never did.

silfert said...

What a wonderfully visual writer you are! If you'd ever like to exchange recipes, I have lots of Irish, Polish, and Russian cookbooks. And baking, lots of baking...