Saturday, June 28, 2014

a very pertinent Friday night question...

tonight, V and I did what some parents do when their children have gone to bed.

Tonight, we discussed meteorology; appreciated the merits of bathing between the kitchen timer beeps, we kneaded and rocked; we heard thumps in the night; we contemplated finances and pondered the necessity of inviting an after-hours plumber around.

Our taste in Friday nights runs to fish and chips and salad with boiled egg with the next-door neighbour, Queen Jeanie (no relation).


On some Friday nights, I thaw amazing fish from the bounty provided to me from a chance job with a keen fisherman, create the most excellent batter (and so freaking simple you wouldn't believe it) and dunk bits in and then to the oil-filled wok.  A whole array of anything else that can be batter covered and deep fried also get the dunk and fry treatment, due to the quantity of batter that is always remaining (and the darned Scot in me can't stand the waste of unused batter (while the vast Australian that surrounds me obviously can't stand the waste of used batter)), accompanied by chips from the sushi joint at the Shopping Centre and Queen Jeanie (no relation)'s version of salad.
Several months ago, Queen Jeanie (no relation)'s version of salad, had quartered boiled eggs as part of the salad-construct presented and it BLEW PARIS'S MIND!!!

We often eat salad, but now I have a very avid salad-assistant at the beginning of salad creation - the boiling of eggs - and the end of salad creation - the peeling of eggs (and sneaky attempt at palming some egg for a pre-dinner snack) - but surprisingly not the boring middle bit of salad creation - the actual salad.


On the rare Friday night, we go to a newly found and absolutely wonderful Kountdown Kafe.  For an exceptionally reasonable exchange of money, they will provide you with delicious, filling meals.

I will let you in on a secret.  They even know how to cook pretty awesome chips - and will serve them with every meal.

But not only is there food, there are the people who bring you Kountdown Kafe.  A most beautiful woman who seems to exude joy as she hostesses the room.  And a tall intense man in the kitchen, emerging to visit the pop-up sidewalk salon in the front of the shop, where philosophy, history and music is avidly discussed.

And as the ganache of the whole experience, there is live music with local musicians and always the chance you will be there when the newest material is being tested, the undiscovered will find their feet or the experienced will show you their true talents.

We do not visit often enough, for our enjoyment of life is tempered greatly by the potential grizzles (or tsunamis) of overtired Paris, the enforced disassociation of the teenage 'Salina (and her companion of choice - or ours at the next table (logistics)), V's knees and occasional budget-anxiety.


And most other Friday nights are Salad de Paradis avec l'œufs (that was thrown in to keep my Internationally Renowned Food Blogger status bobbing above the "alleged" line) with Fish and Chips bought at the Seafront Fisho by Queen Jeanie (no relation) over at hers.

Party animals, eh.  So after an exhausted Paris (and seven stuffed toys) is said good-night to, and an aloof adolescent 'Salina gives final orders - "turn off my fan, check the radio, don't disturb before necessary, don't talk about me or post my image on the internet", V and I look expectantly at each other, and collapse at opposite ends of the house to decompress.

My chosen mode of decompression on this Friday night was baking.  You can dovetail baking nicely with bathroom requirements, internet surfing, background football, cups of coffee and the occasional whispered innuendo.  Pretty wild, I know.

Do you know how tempting it is right now to throw in the term "Ironic"?  Just so I could get all the true defenders of the meaning of the word ironic to rattle their pitchforks in my direction.


Yeah.   But I used to go to nightclubs.  Clubbing.  By choice.  Every.  Friday.  Night.

True story.  It would start with drinks at friends or in town and sort of morph into all night dancing, drinking and being delirious with fun.

And youth.


Sigh - but no, bread baking.

In the beginning, it is quite simple.  You measure, you activate, you blood-warmth test and you wait.

Then you mix and you knead and you knead and you knead and you are on guard regarding the amount of flour covering the (sadly inadequate) counters in relation to the moisture in the dough and you can really start to meditate on the world and your place and your circles and the referees background calls and commentators reaction and then the urgency of the floured counter/dough moistness ratio kicks in.

Once the "oh-crap-I-forgot-to-oil-a" bowl is located and oiled, and the dough is covered by a fresh tea-towel and - poof - the troubles of your day disappear.

The timer is set and it is time to MAKE.  A.  DECISION.  Together, as a couple, the most important discussion a couple can have takes place.

Who is going to have first bath.

It is Winter.  There are factors to consider.


V got the long straw.

I got to surf and await the next step in the bread making.  And decompress.

It has been a week.  Aren't they all?

The timer goes off and this beastie goes on.

Isn't she beautiful?

Hello sweetie.

Anyway, ahem.  The downside of such an amazing massive oven is the fact that it takes longer to warm up all that space.

But I can cook five loaves (perhaps even six) at the same time.  Yeah, baby.   Because it is the Food Swap tomorrow and because I am the bread lady.  And we need bread.  And I am decompressing from the day, from the week, from the fish and chips...

And suddenly it is ON.  Baking paper for the trays, oil the pan, knead the dough.  Get a knife - guess complex fractions and divide the mass into approximations.  Knead each loaf.  Cut the loaves for rising.  Attempt to reshape the loaves.  Realise I am not a food blogger.  I am so much such not a food blogger that I didn't photograph any of this!

The timer is set.



I am currently reading a book.  It isn't a bad book.  Its quite a good book.  But there is just one problem - and that is that it is an African book.  And I love African books.  I hate that I just emcompassed the whole continent's literary output with a blanket "African book" - but here is the thing.  The writing is beautiful - evocative.  It builds a world that I have no true understanding of except through the words, and they are words that makes me feel I do have an intimate knowledge of people, culutre, politics and food of a faraway place.  But it is one of those books that - and I warn you now Mum, I am going to use a word that you don't like so scroll down the the next picture.

Yes, it is one of those books that at the opening, everything is fucked.

And then lots of really fucked things happen, getting increasing bleak.

And the ending is generally pretty fucked too.

But all with really beautiful, evocative writing.

It always puts me into a bit of a moral bind.

I know that if I keep reading, I will get carried away by the words but, being open to the beauty of that makes you vulnerable to the sheer dispair of the situation of (insert African nation currently being screwed over by multinational trade and aid politics).

And you wonder if you avoid being vulnerable to such dispair...  yeah, I am in about the middle of the book.


It was a very decompressing bath.

Thankfully, the timer went off.

Towards the end of bread baking, the whole timing intensity amps up.  And when you are not just baking ONE loaf of bread but indeed FIVE of TWO DIFFERENT SIZES, we are talking algebra-requiring calculations for the insertion, turning, swapping and finally inhaling of loaves.  Great for decompression.
So, between kitchen timers and all those verby words above, V and I were finally decompressing together.  Contemplating our next move.  I thought I would check the last turn of the bread before we decided.

As I walked towards the kitchen, and almighty BANG captured my attention.

It was definitely not the melodic beeping of the kitchen timer.

And that hissing sound was not the oven fan.

My mind did an inventory of all the things that could possibly stuff up.

"V" I quivered, as I flung open the back door and peered down towards the laundry.  The laundry was dark.  Darn, I hate it when good organisation means that the bogeyman has a better chance.

"V" I quivered, because although I am a feminist, I am one of the equal rights feminists thinking the bogeyman should get a choice.

There was a funny smell, but it wasn't burning.  There was a haze, but it wasn't smoke.  The hissing noise seemed to intesify.  The stairs were descended and the laundry declared clear.

"Phew" said V (well, not in those words, but they convey the meaning) "its only raining".

It wasn't just raining, it was BUCKETING down.  The hissing sound was accompanied by the roar of a million drops hitting the roof - and the buckets and the washing on the line and the lawn furniture.

When we went back inside, I had a brainwave.

I went to the front door.  I went on the front steps.

It wasn't raining at the front steps.

Back we went to the back stairs, and further investigations were undertaken.

A pipe had burst.

We had a fountain in the back yard.  Well, not really, because the pipe was directly under the upstairs floor - so it was more a water feature.

The smell and haze in the kitchen was mist.


The water mains must be approached with caution.

It is basically a rectangular bucket at the bottom of the slope of the front yard with a lid.

The lid is not very effective at keeping out dirt.  Or water.  Or ants.  So to turn off the water mains, one must first dig through a mudpit of biting insects.  Very Indiana Jones.  With our bare hands because in our haste, we had failed to bring along gardening equipment.

 Once cleared, the tap turned out to be one of those horrible impossible to turn designs.  The only edge that offers purchase does so on such an angle that there is NO SINGLE TOOL in V's kit that will turn that last quarter-turn required.  Luckily I am married to a very smart man, because he knows the secret men's business that involves combining tools.  Colour me duly impressed.


So the question remains - will this be fixed by duct tape, or will the universe require after-hours plumbers to deal with this sudden turn of Friday night events.

How is your Friday night going?


Kelly said...

Oh my...the plumbing problems certainly put a damper on this post! Up until that point, I was thinking how nice it all sounded. I hope the duct tape holds!

Meanwhile...seeing (and hearing about) your bread makes me want to bake. We just ate the last loaf from the freezer a week or two ago, so it's time to bake again.

Also...I'm currently reading a book on Africa, too! (though I don't think it's the same one based on your observations - unless I'm maybe not far enough into it yet...)

Oh, and I occasionally have a bit of hard boiled egg in my salad. ;)

jeanie said...

The book is Tiny Sunbirds Far Away by Christie Watson and is set in Nigeria. I think you would know from my description if it is the same book! Although I have read a review recently that is enticing me to finish it...

We have not yet attempted the duct tape - it was midnight when we turned off the water, and left for a morning job.

Debby said...

Oh, I am grateful to be married to a plumbing genius...

Last book that I read an could not put down was The Kite Runner, which is not a book one should read 2 wks before your daughter heads off to teach in a war zone.

Kelly said...

Ah....mine is A Different Sun: a Novel of Africa by Elaine Neil Orr. I looked up yours and it sounds very intense. Now I understand your description!

Good luck with the plumbing situation!

jeanie said...

Debby -we have The Kite Runner and for some reason I have not quite gotten into it... Plumbing situation is fixed thanks to my own personal plumbing genius.

Kelly - I have now just finished my book and it really redeemed itself and goes to the recommended list from me. I persevered and it came through for me!

Debby said...

OHO!!!! Good job, Jeanie. Now. Can I have a nice slice of bread? Thank you.

(for reasons which I do not understand, I am seeing pictures that did not appear in the first go around)

Paris is losing her 'baby face'. And I love that stove.

e / dig in said...

i loved this post! such a journey from A to Z with all sorts of unexpected turns and corners along the way. bread, chips, books and burst water mains. wonderful!

Anonymous said...

I loved this post! Got many lols from me :-) And yes, I DO read all of them ;-) Nice to see that new oven in all it's glory again too.

I too remember those past Friday nights.... that for me in a certain long-ago lifetime often morphed into Sunday nights all too often. All gone into the mists of time......

Ms Jeanie, we REALLY need to have a phone chat soon!

Kimbah (not really anonymous at all)

jeanie said...

Of course you may, Ms Debby.

Thank you e/dig in.

Kimbah!!! School holidays mean phone catch up opportunities are scattered (much like me). If I remember rightly, there wasn't so much the Fri requirement for some parties. Ah youth.