I’m often tempted to jump through the TV screen armed with a pair of scissors when I see cooks or chefs with their long hair flowing freely while they prepare food! Their hair should be tied up and away from their face, and from the food being prepared for human consumption! Often I’m tempted to tear my hair out when I can’t decipher notes I’ve written to myself. One good thing about my indecipherable notes is, I guess, if I can’t read my own writing, no one else would be able to do so.
Conquering the art of keeping a straight face when someone is talking absolute dribble is a talent that takes years to successfully cultivate. The temptation, in many instances, not to verbally respond to the dribbler can be very difficult to achieve.
When I was about 11 years old the temptation to take flight from our family doctor’s waiting room was overwhelming. The reason for my being there was I had a mouthful of very painful ulcers. For one reason or another, I wasn’t accompanied by my mother or grandmother. To make matters worse, when surrounded by adults unknown to me, resembling the MGM lion, my stomach began to roar. It grumbled and growled as loudly as humanly possible. I was a shy kid as it was without an out of control, noisy stomach. On a scale of 1 to 100, my embarrassment was at the level of 200. Breaking all records! With held breath, although the temptation to flee was powerful, somehow, by the seat of my pants, I remained glued to the seat.
One morning while motoring back from the mainland to Newry Island in my island boat, the 21ft De Havilland Trojan, a clown fisherman decided he wanted to race me. Acting like a brainless idiot, back and forth, around and around my boat he went churning up the waters, trying to egg me on…trying to tempt me into joining him in his childish, dangerous game. Gritting my teeth, I ignored his idiotic behavior. However, things were vastly different when I arrived safely on the island. Looking smug, he approached the resort bar where some of my guests were mingling. In front of everyone I didn’t resist the temptation to let the fool know exactly what I felt about his reckless actions. In no uncertain terms I told the fellow what I thought of him. He swiftly left, red-faced with his tail between his legs. I never did see him again.
The temptation to respond is strong when someone makes assumptions about you. Oddly, it’s mostly those who don’t know you well who do the assuming. They think they know you better than you know your own self. In most cases, it’s probably best to bite your tongue and walk away. My tongue bears many scars. It’s a wonder I’ve not bitten it in half. I’m sure I’ve been close to doing so many times. After all the biting, I’m amazed I still have a tongue.
When my late brother, Graham and I were kids good table manners were instilled in us. Gluttony at the table was not allowed, whether in our own home, or elsewhere. Reaching across the table to grab an enticing, delicious-looking cupcake, rather than take the closest one was frowned upon. We ate what was put in front of us. We waited until everyone was seated before beginning to eat.
Previously I’ve mentioned my first job was as a legal secretary at a firm of Gympie solicitors, a position I held for five years. It was a tradition on each of our birthdays for the staff to supply, for morning tea, a raspberry jelly and cream layered sponge cake, purchased from a local shop. Our boss’s wife, who also worked in the office, on her birthday, always supplied a delicious Pavlova she’d made. The temptation to dive in for a second slice of her scrumptious pavlovas was great, but those home-taught table manners won out in the end!
Mango-Cointreau Pavlova: Preheat oven 150C. Using a 20cm cake pan, draw circle on baking paper. Flip paper so outline is on underside; place onto greased baking tray. Place 6 room temp egg whites and pinch of salt in mixer fitted with whisk attachment; whisk to just before stiff peaks. With motor running, add 330g caster sugar, 1tbs at a time, whisking until sugar is dissolved (about 10-15mins) and mixture is thick and glossy. Add 1tsp white vinegar, 3tsp cornflour and 2tsp vanilla extract; whisk until combined. Spoon into centre of circle. Using a small palette knife, spread evenly to diameter of circle, leaving a swirl finish on meringue. Place in oven; reduce temp to 100C. Bake 1 hr45 mins-2hrs or until outside is crisp and dry. Turn off oven; leave meringue inside to cool for at least 3hrs. Once cooled, remove from oven. Cointreau Syrup: place 220g caster sugar and ¼ cup (60ml) water in saucepan over med- heat; stir until sugar dissolves. Bring to simmer; cook 6-7mins until dark golden caramel. Remove from heat; carefully tipping pan away from you, gradually pour in 180ml Cointreau. Return to low heat; simmer 2mins, or until combined and syrup forms. Transfer to a bowl; cool to room temp (add a little water if caramel is too thick). Place cut cheeks of 3 mangoes, flat-side up, on wire rack sitting on large heatproof tray. Scatter mango with an even layer of caster sugar. Working gently with 1 mango cheek at a time, brown under grill (or with kitchen blowtorch) until caramelised and golden. Place 400g thickened cream, 250g sour cream, 1/2c icing sugar and 2 tsp vanilla in mixer bowl; whisk to soft peaks. Place pavlova on serving plate, spoon over cream and top with bruleed mango. Drizzle with Cointreau syrup.