Sunday, December 12, 2010

Mr Life learns to cook

I don't know about you, but sometimes I get a bit ... downcast... by blogs that say,

"I'm married to my wonderful husband, have six fantastic children, all home-schooled and so clever, and live in my dream house in the best country in the world. Our garden has views over mountains, lake and beach and I grow all our own organic vegetables, which is why we all look so slender and healthy. We've just been on a fabulous holiday to Utopia and I'm now putting the finishing touches to my sixth book on how to have a beautiful life like mine..."

So, to balance things out a bit (and as an excuse for a moan) yesterday was – frankly - a bit rubbish. All right – no famine, flood, bereavement, burglary … but not a good day.

I went up town to start my Christmas shopping, armed with a small list and very few other ideas. Quite soon, I went to Waterstone’s book shop in Princes Street to try to get some of the – admittedly somewhat esoteric – titles requested by Daughter 1. I work in the suburbs and am not often in town, so I was looking forward to a nice browse among the books.

What a disappointment! Waterstone’s has moved everything about and turned itself into a shop full of cards, book-related presents and bestsellers. I couldn’t find anything I wanted, couldn’t find my way around and was generally frustrated and unimpressed.

Normally I’m quite a cheerful person but yesterday – well, I was “on a shooglie peg” (shooglie = Scots for shaky) - in other words, only just hanging in there. Sometimes I miss the children so much that it doesn’t take much to knock me off this peg and … anyway, I just had to come home, feeling feeble and wobbly. Having moaned to Mr Life, however, I pulled myself together a bit. I’ll finish the Christmas cards, I thought: achieve at least something. And then I couldn’t find the stamps for the foreign cards. I knew I’d bought them and could remember tucking them away somewhere really safe while I was in the Post Office. I searched everywhere in vain.

Later I decided to make Swiss Appelrara for lunch the next day. (Highly recommended.) I started to cream the first ingredients in my (37-year-old) Kenwood Chef. It started beating very slowly and then went s-l-o-w-e-r and s—l---o….. and died.

Never mind, I thought, stiffening my resolve. I’ll use my hand-held electric beater – hardly used, inherited from my mother-in-law, who died in 1991. At this point, Mr Life, who has known me long enough to notice signs of stress, started rallying round. He assembled the beater and – and this is a first for him, bloggy friends – continued the creaming of the butter and sugar, followed by the almonds and egg yolks. Then he whisked the egg whites.

Mr Life’s first ever cooking experience! Maybe this is the start of a new hobby for him? We can only hope…

Then copious white smoke smelling strongly of burning plastic started to pour from this beater. True to my feeble persona that day, I could only squeak in distress and point – and he unplugged it and threw it outside into the garden.

But I did later find the stamps - in the little pocket of my purse where I’d put them for safety.

And tomorrow was another day – well, it was today – and the pudding tasted good. I think Mr Life should cook more often, though I do need to sort out the mixer problem before too much time elapses.


  1. Yes, like you, I get twitchy about all those 'life is so wonderful' blogs. You might enjoy my take on the subject at

  2. Oh dear oh dear - it felt wrong to laugh at this, but I couldn't help it!

    I do hope you've rallied and recovered your -whatever it was that isn't a squeaky-shiny-perfect outlook on life. Treat Mr Life to a nice mixer for Christmas, and a couple of straightforward cookbooks, and see what he can achieve!

    And treat yourself to something too - preferably on a sofa with your feet up. I suspect you're very tired......

  3. Ah - my Kenwood is 35 years old. Wonderful machine. My son fixed it last year when it died, but is not quite sure how he fixed it or what was wrong, so that is of course, absolutely no use to you at all. My commiserations, my friend. I have days like that too. But wow! Mr Life has dicovered cooking! What a sweetie to leap into the gap for you!
    And I never believe those blogs, but I know what you mean. At book club, I am guaranteed not to read any book which is a bestseller, written by a 30 something stunning blonde, with a PhD in Biomedical science and 6 perfect kids. With a radio talk show and a holiday home in St Lucia. You get the idea. There are so many of these over achievers out there. I pretend they do not exist. Then I feel so much better.
    Maybe Father Christmas can bring you a new mixer? Early, if he wants a cookie left on Christmas Eve.

  4. Isabelle. Just don't ask for a mixer for christmas!

    You described 'one of those days' perfectly. I hope all is well now.

    Mr Life I send you a gold star!

  5. PS. Can we have the recipe for Appelrara?

  6. Oh, Isabelle, I have shocked myself by how shooglie my peg is just at the moment. My children are grown up and married. I don't live in their pockets nor they in mine. So why is it so awful that DD is going to be living in the States? There are planes, there are phones, there is Skype - I'll probably talk to her more than I do now. But being brave and grown-up is taking all the strength I have just at the moment - bookshops and beaters would have thrown me way over the edge. Thank goodness you found the stamps - and hurrah for Mr Life!

  7. That really does sound like "One of those days....", but if you have gained a cooking OH from it then some good has materialised from the slough of despond!

    I know just what you mean about Waterstones and the lack of Real Books. We lost a very good Borders bookshop in Bournemouth when the chain went bust with the recession. They did have a popular section at the front of the shop, but there were shelves and shelves of wonderful books behind that, and tables and chairs where you could sit and browse/ read/ dream. They had a good children`s section too, plus a good coffee shop, sigh.....

  8. It was a 'wobbly' day...we all get them, and they are horrible, but we are made of stern stuff and move on don't we? Feel better and give Mr Life a hug....

  9. Oh yes - those Round Robin letters full of joy and achievement are thudding through the letter-box as I write!

  10. I think it was a weekend for wobbly. I'm usually a glass full sort of person, but I got three Christmas cards with those 'Isn't life just wonderful' sort of letters everyone's had a wonderful month in the carribean and bought a small second home in somewhere wonderful. Been offered the job of their dreams for which they aren't remotely qualified - though you know at least 20 people who are and, Oh, we're writing a book on knitting though we couldn't knit a stitch till you taught us last year and it been accepted for publishing - well, you get the idea.
    As all these people are well aware that we can't go out for a day, let alone take a holiday, our finances are strictly limited (and you know they're rubbish at knitting) just for once I lost my cool!
    Husband looked on in dismay as I ranted on, and conselled I didn't write a spoof reply - though I'm still inclined..

  11. You're so funny. Good for Mr. Life. Men cooking can be really fun. Mind you, TheManoftheHouse rarely does so, but there are rare occasions. I'm particularly impressed with his technique of throwing the mixer out into the garden. I'm thinking by spring, you'll have little mixers popping up all over!

  12. 'on a shooglie peg' is just wonderful! On the other hand sorry to hear you were, and all these mechanical misfortunes. You've had your three now, right, so things are going to get better now...

  13. Ah, a dead Kenwood Chef. Would you like me to put my husband in touch with your husband? You too could have a born again Kenwood!

  14. Aaah, poor you. I hate those days but note that they will be much better now that you have provided me with a name for them!! If only I could pronounce it.... Still, if you wouldn't mind going back to good news only blogging please, hearing about your troubles is upsetting my perfect wait.....I'm dreaming again he he he

    Lesley xx

  15. Oh dear, what a dreadful day.
    Mr. Life is worth his weight in gold :)
    Your apple thingamybob sounds delicious!