With masks suddenly and unexpectedly having become the latest fashion accessory my mind darted off into fun childhood games of the distant past.
When we were kids, my brother, Graham and I were always tearing around the place pretending to be one super hero, or another. Bare-footed, free and happy as larks, we soaked up the sun and fresh air, as we allowed our imaginations to run wild.
The Lone Ranger and Tonto featured often in our games. Batman, and his side-kick, Robin had more than their fair run. Somehow, I never got to be Batman. Robin was the role I played.
Although mask-free, Superman, the Man of Steel flew in often, not always wearing his red undies on the outside.
Even Mighty Mouse, as flighty as he was, landed in our yard, interrupting his flight to elsewhere.
The Phantom, of course, paid regular visits disguised as my brother, or was it the other way round?
Who didn’t love The Phantom, the Ghost Who Walks? We certainly did! Who didn’t wear a Skull ring? We did. Who had a Skull Cave? We did. The cave was anywhere we imagined it to be. Many adventurous games we played disguised as The Phantom.
Joining the fun, with his top hat perched on his head, and his cloak flying in the breeze, Mandrake the Magician magically appeared, too. He was full of tricks, with even more up his sleeve.
Davy Crockett didn’t wear a mask, but it was impossible to mask our admiration of Davy. A mask would not have helped disguise him. Davy’s distinctive hat was a dead give-away.
I ‘fess, after we went to the Saturday matinees to watch Fess Parker play the role of Davy Crocket, the King of the Wild Frontier, there wasn’t a kid in town who didn’t create his/her own Davy Crocket hat, or cajole Mum into purchasing one. Ours weren’t made of coonskin, but the nearest simulated pelt made do. That hat did wonders for us and our imagination-filled games as we tore around the yard, sometimes gaining stone bruises along the way.
Our backyard laundry became the Alamo. Using poetic licence, we altered history to suit. We escaped our mortality at the hands of the Mexicans, and lived to play out more exciting, fun days. Wearing a Davy Crockett hat added unmatched bravado-filled adventure to our adventures. We feared nothing...we were invincible.
This should go without saying...when I wasn’t demoted to being Batman’s off-sider, Robin, I grabbed the bullwhip and morphed into the one and only...Catwoman!
Ahhhh! She was my heroine!
Intrepidly, I’d slide down the railings of our high front stairs, sometimes swinging off the side onto the concrete garden path, or onto the fern-filled garden beneath the stairs.
Fortunately, the crushed ferns bounced back before Mum noticed the disarray. Somehow, I managed not to get splinters in my hands, or elsewhere.
Catwoman ruled the world! So what if I all I frightened away were the Wanderer butterflies and little common garden skinks! My imagination was what mattered...an imagination that was wild and audacious!
The weirdest home-made mask I created was a powdered milk face mask.
In 1972 the brain-shattering brainwave came to me. At the time I was living in a townhouse in Toowong, an inner western suburb of Brisbane.
I was plastered...not with alcohol...but with my stiff, set hard, immovable powdered milk face mask.
As I stood at my bathroom sink trying to remove - yank - the stubborn mask off my face, Sasha, my ginger cat decided to assist. He thought it a fun moment to be shared with me!
Leaping onto the sink, without hesitation, Sasha began to enthusiastically eat the cement-like mask from my face. He was extremely annoyed when I shoo-ed him away! Sasha was determined to assist, but I won the battle, both against him and removal of the obstinate facial mask!
Since that particular Saturday - that one and only time - I learned my lesson. Never again have I bothered with facial masks of the powdered milk variety, or any other kind. I allow drinking lots of water to do its trick.
What you see is what you get if or when we cross paths. My apologies if I scare the living daylights out of you, but my face is the real deal...no tucks; no nips...no mask...just me, as is! Sorry!
Powdered Milk Buns: Dissolve 1-1/4tsp active dry yeast in 1/4c warm water in small bowl; let stand until foamy. In large bowl, combine 3/4c warm milk, 1 large egg, 1/4c softened butter, 1/4c sugar and 1tsp salt; stir well; stir in yeast; add 3c plain flour; gradually add a little more flour until dough gathers together into a ball as you stir. Turn dough onto floured surface; knead 6-10mins, until smooth, elastic and stretches thinly. Place in bowl; cover; let rise 1 to 1-1/2hrs, until doubled. Gently deflate dough; use sharp knife to divide into 50-55 portions of about 1-1/2 inches; shape each into a smooth ball; arrange close together on greased 9x13-inch baking pan; cover loosely; let rise, 1hr. Combine 1/2c sugar and 1/2c powdered milk. Brush tops with egg wash. Sprinkle half of milk-sugar mix over risen buns; bake in preheated 175C oven, 17-20mins, or until buns are golden. Cool buns slightly; then sprinkle with remaining powdered milk-sugar mixture.
Powdered Milk Pedas: Heat heavy based pot on med-low heat. Add 3tbs butter or ghee; once melted, pour in 1x397g can condensed milk and 1/4tsp almond extract; stir. Add 2-1/4c powdered milk in two parts. Add half; stir to combine; add 1/8th tsp ground cardamom, and other half milk powder. Stir mixture until it feels slightly stiff; let cool a minute or two before rolling. Rub some oil or melted butter on a plate. When mixture has cooled, rub some melted butter on both palms. Use a small spoon to scoop out about 1tsp mixture; roll into a ball; slightly flatten with palms; place on oiled plate. Continue to roll pedas, buttering hands as you go. Work quickly before mixture cools. Garnish each peda with pistachios or almonds. Let cool a few hours to firm up