Thursday, 18 April 2013

Baking bad

It was the second week of April and it was party time!
People were cheering all over Scotland, there were parties in George Square and jubilant headlines adorned the newspapers. Surprisingly enough it was nothing to do with Ka and my own birthdays coming around again. Seemingly it was all to do with some old bint that used to be Prime Minister kicking the bucket.
On Monday morning Graeme strode into the studio room with a humpf, mumbling about having to put another twelve pages on to tomorrow’s Record. A supplement had to be added at the last minute. Margaret Thatcher had died, but this was nothing to do with the reason I was in a happier mood than usual on a Monday morning.
The next day was Ka’s birthday and I had taken the day off, and Friday was my own and I had been able to get that day off too, giving me a long weekend to look forward to, so it was going to be a short week for me.
The second week of April is always birthday week in the Reid household as Ka celebrates her birth date on the 9th and I usually follow on the 12th, although when you get to this kind of age you really should make less of a big deal about it, and maybe even attempt to forget about it. After the headache I had all the weekend following the red wine consumed on the Friday night I sort of wish I had.
Mum, Dad and Lynsey Ann came round to join us for dinner on my birthday during which we enjoyed Ka’s famous spaghetti and meatballs with more than a few glasses of red wine. Well, Mum and I did. Dad watched patiently, being the driver for the night, whilst Lynsey Ann joined Ka in drinking the bubbly rose wine she had found somewhere in the back of the drink’s cupboard.
Not that we have a drinks cupboard. We have one of those annoying gaps between kitchen units in which nothing will fit with the exception of perhaps either oven trays, bread boards or bottles. It’s only recently that we’ve registered the existence of it again, hidden away in the dark recesses of one corner of the kitchen. Sophie has kept us more than occupied for the past five and a half months to even consider any form of glass bottle beverage and even before she did, I rarely partook in the alcoholic beverages whilst Ka remained sober. At the moment I think there is a bottle of vodka, probably bought around 2011, with approximately four measures left in it, a bottle of Morgan’s Spiced Rum, possibly bought around the beginning of 2012, with around three measures left, half a bottle of Midori, bought through Kenny’s place of work over two years ago, a bottle of champagne, a gift upon the birth of Sophie, and three quarters of a bottle of Harvey’s Bristol Cream Port, bought well over three years ago as an ingredient to a tart. Altogether not your most opulent of alcoholic stock.
So as we drank the red wine bought that afternoon, Ka worked hard in the kitchen keeping us Reids well fed, finishing the meal with the Sainsbury’s Chocolate caterpillar Cake complete with candles and the usual chorus of the ‘Happy Birthday’ song.
Yes, I am 35 now, but no matter how old you are it apparently still gets sung. Not sure why but tradition demands it.
35. Officially in the mid thirties now. Well, now in my thirty sixth year. Creeping closer and closer to the 40 mark. Very scary stuff. But not scary enough. By 35 you should know what’s coming shouldn’t you. You should be prepared. You should have accepted your fate. The twenties are long gone. Youth is now a quickly diminishing memory. Pains will now last longer. Bellies will now properly begin to form. Hair will fall.
Well, in my case, even more hair.
Middle age is here, whether you like it or not. But still the song persists and cake must be eaten, even if you are developing a belly.
If I succeed in one thing as I get older it is to maintain a sensible waist line… although after birthday week I’m going to have to work slightly harder.
That morning Ka had held the candlelit caterpillar up in her right hand and held a rather startled, wide eyed Sophie in her left arm, our daughter looking around wild eyed as if the whole room was alight.
The caterpillar was only a small part of the dietary wrong doings of birthday week.
I had performed a similar ceremony on the Tuesday morning for Ka although, I have to point out, her cake was a little more original.
A handmade chocolate sponge covered in chocolate cream sauce, a recipe hastily downloaded on the Monday night at work, just before I rushed from the office leaving Graeme and the rest of the back shift to the joys of Margaret Thatcher’s 12 page supplement.
Ka’s birthday cake was a task I had took upon myself to try and gift my wife with something extra special. When considering birthday cakes Ka always reminds me that she’s not a ‘big sponge person’. No matter how many times she reminds me of this fact the idea of a big sponge Ka seems to pop into my head rather easily whenever she does say it.
Anyway, determined to make a sponge that Ka would appreciate, a proper big chocolate cake, I set to work in the kitchen, armed with what seemed like an army of ingredients picked up in Sainsbury’s on the way home.
In fact, it wasn’t the only thing I was accused of picking up.
Whilst in the bakery aisle in the local mega store, (which has grown a couple of miles and aisles wider in recent months), my Dad accused me of chatting up fellow bakery shoppers on two separate occasions. He had been getting a lift home, as he had been working in a solicitors’ office in Glasgow that week, and came back from a wander to find me talking to a blonde women, asking her what baking powder was. He then left to make a phonecall to Lynsey Ann and came back to find me chatting away to another blonde female baker who was kindly helping me find bicarbonate of soda. Of course, as soon as Dad accused me of not making a cake at all and just using the excuse to chat up women, this second girl suddenly looked very uncomfortable and quickly finished talking to me, pushing her trolley deliberately away, further up the aisle.
“Thanks very much Dad, I was just getting somewhere there!” I thought, impatiently. “I was just about to find out where the bicarbonate of soda was!”
After around an hour and a half in the kitchen following dinner, just before Broadchurch’s repeat at 10, the cake was in the oven.
That’s another worrying sign of middle age. Some movements and activities now circle around television times.
It’s easy to see why so many people turn into couch potatoes as soon as they have kids. After a day of either work, or chasing around after children, or both, all you tend to do is collapse somewhere, and that somewhere tends to be in front of the telly. Something else I’m going to have to keep an eye on… although I did get season 4 of Breaking Bad for my birthday so that kind of scuppers that idea already.
Surprisingly enough the cake came out the oven looking rather solid and at approximately eleven o’clock I iced it all up with 500g of melted chocolate and 250g of Double Cream (it’s okay though, I made sure the Double cream was of the ‘Light’ variety, so we’ve probably saved a few pounds there).
On Tuesday morning I greeted Ka and Sophie as they entered the living room with the fully formed chocolate cake, adorned with a 36 made up of Fruit Pastilles, a favourite chew of Ka’s, a large bouquet of flowers and a couple of pressies and punctual cards. After opening her cards, the wife was then treated to a plateful of scrambled eggs and toast and a mug of coffee before we headed over to Uddingston to see Dougie, Grace, Morgan and Joshua who were busy preparing a large birthday lunch. The chocolate cake was a hit with everyone and I bet even Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood themselves wouldn’t have had much bad to say about it.
Upon coming home Mum, Dad and Lynsey Ann popped round and more cake was served up to which Lynsey and Mum gave quiet approval… a little too quiet. I suspect they may feel threatened by my baking abilities (as long as they don’t get the Mexicans involved I reckon I’ll be okay). They need not worry anyway, I won’t be baking another chocolate cake for a while. Cakes have a tendency to develop bellies especially with the amount of sugar and butter that goes into one (I couldn’t believe the amount of sugar I piled into that mixute?).
Saying that, I do have an abundance of flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda in the cupboard now. One thing’s for sure and that is I won’t be making any visits to the Sainsbury’s baking aisle for a long time yet.
I would recommend it to all single guys though… it’s got to be cheaper than anyway.

No comments: