On Thursday night Kelley tweeted that she wanted some guest posters, and I was all like, “ooh, ooh, I’ll do it, pick me, Miss!”
I didn’t really take into account my already-hectic agenda, including (but not limited to) the need to mow the lawn and do the washing and attend a cake decorating class and catch up with a friend and cook dinner and make a relatively spectacular 30th birthday cake for my friend’s birthday lunch on Sunday (the brief for that was “I WANT PINK CAKE!!!” so it’s white chocolate cake dyed in four shades of pink, with white chocolate and raspberry ganache between the layers, covered in pink fondant. Thank God I thought to bake the cakes last weekend!). So that’s why it’s now Sunday morning and I still haven’t written anything. Sorry, Kel!
Frankly, I’m shitting myself about the cake because it’s my first ever fondant-covered cake which is in itself quite problematic (okay, second, but the first was Christmas cake so it doesn’t count as a work of art), and I’m presenting it to a bunch of high-flying lawyers and investment bankers at lunchtime today and I have this stupid pre-conception that they’ll have been exposed to way more awesome cakes and will think mine is crap… but then I stop myself and think, hang on, these are the people that one of my best friends has chosen to share her birthday with, so they must be nice people. My insecurities really are ridiculous sometimes.
This, by the way, is what fondant looks like when it leaves my hands:
But it really is true that you can distract people from that sort of thing if you rotate the cake in the right direction and have something else to draw their eye from the flaws - like daisies! This tier actually looks kind of okay.
I was still making those frills at 9:30pm last night, having planned to have them done by about seven. Things snowballed in a spectacular fashion (and I suspect they’re going to do the same today!) and took longer they should have and blah blah blah gotdistractedbyabritishtvshowwithcowsandbadgerswithtuberculosis blah blah blah
Which brings me to my point – why the humble choko is now the symbol of my overcommitment. Behold, the humble choko:
Somewhere along the line I decided to embark upon one of those “101 Things in 1001 Days” lists. Mine can be found here, and what better time to have a whirl at #11, learn to cook chokos, than in the midst of mowing the lawn and catching up with friends and washing and packing for my (working) week away and thinking about packing for my big upcoming holiday and making sure the house doesn’t fall down around my mum’s ears and making birthday cakes!
Well. The moral of that story is that I didn’t technically learn to cook choko because I still don’t know if I did it right. Mum kept saying “it’s a gourd, kind of like marrow” but it didn’t behave like marrow at all. I had decided to make a chicken and vegetable pasta sauce, and had the choko, some eggplant, capsicum and onion cooked in a tin of tomatoes and tomato paste with a little water and white wine added.
(The wine in itself is a bit of a miracle, because I have never, ever, ever in my thirty years had a drink alone. And I don’t count on aeroplanes or in the Qantas club or at a party where you don’t know anyone because for some reason that’s different. No, I come from good, solid, alcoholic stock on both sides of the family and made myself a rule at quite an early age never to drink alone after scraping more than one family member off the floor and/or driving them to rehab. Last night I decided that if I’d made it to thirty without my genes turning me into an alcoholic, especially given how horrific the last year has been for me, then it was probably never going to happen; and besides which, why should I wait until there is someone there to share some nice wine with?? I have three-year-old white wine to drink before it turns to vinegar! So the bottle was opened and wine added to the pasta sauce and a glass poured for me. And it was glorious – Bird in Hand Clare Valley Honeysuckle Riesling. Mmm.)
The pasta sauce boiled.
And it boiled.
And it boiled.
And then I tested the choko and it was still tough.
So I boiled it some more.
And finally, when the stove-top was spattered with pasta sauce, I declared the choko just-soft-enough-to-tolerate, and we ate it. There are no photos because we all know what a tomato-based pasta sauce looks like, and, whilst I briefly considered presenting a photo of the stovetop, taking that photo would put me close enough to the stovetop to have the moral obligation to clean said stovetop, and I’m busy blogging right now!
I choose the choko as a knobbly symbol of my over-commitment, because it’s just one more thing that I didn’t really need to expect of myself on an already busy weekend. And something that took far longer than I thought it would.
And as for the choko, well it give you that fresh, vegetably sensation that, say, cucumber does. It’s pretty well flavourless (but not in a bad way), and I heard a rumour that is can be used as a pie filler where you don’t have enough fruit, because it bulks things out and absorbs flavour fairly well. In fact, I heard another rumour that McDonald’s were using choko in their apple pie mix until quite recently, and had to stop because it was deemed to be false advertising. Which, harden the eff up, guys! It’s not like you’re expecting to obtain any sort of nutrition at all from McDonald’s, and chokos are actually more expensive than apples at present (which weirds me out because I seem to recall that, when I was little, it was quite difficult to walk down a suburban street without spying a choko vine. Guess they’re not in vogue anymore), so if it tastes like apple to you and you’re actually being exposed to more nutrients and fibre (presuming they haven’t all been boiled out of it), then just shut up and eat your damned pie.
So, Kelley’s readers, what’s your choko?
Vanessalillian blogs at theteensytinyinsignificantdetails and is obsessed with food - baking, decorating, cooking… and eating! *pats food baby* Every now and then she gets a bit emo and has a whinge about her dodgy heart, but she mostly focuses on the good stuff. Like hiking. And travel (none overseas for a while, but she’s about to get her sombrero on in Mexico!). Andcupcakes. One day she’ll get off her bum and re-design her blog but for now she’d rather be baking!