“Cooking? Gardening? Who are you and what have you done with my daughter?
And before you ask Dad for help just remind him about when he thought our Brussels sprouts were cabbages gone to seed…”
This was a comment left by Mother DinosaurPirate on my Facebook page today, in response to a post I made asking if people could identify the plants in our garden from a photograph, so that I knew which ones should be pulled up and which I should leave. She was shocked enough to learn from this blog that I now eat vegetables and make pancakes, but the news that I obsessively vacuum before people come round to our flat and that yesterday I decided, completely of my own volition, to make cupcakes has perhaps made her wonder if I have been taken away by aliens and replaced with a clone.
Interestingly enough when I was very young I had a sort of invisible friend (actually I had several, but that’s perhaps a whole blog post in its own right…) who was my own identical twin sister. I called her Elizabeth. She came out to play whenever I put on a particular princess dress made for me by my Grandmother; when I put the dress on I became Elizabeth. I am sure most children, when inventing their own identical twin imaginary friend, would cast themselves as the good twin and the pretend one as the bad one. Surely that’s the whole point of an imaginary friend.
“Who drank all the medicine?” evil twin. “Who took all the icing sugar out of the cupboard and poured it into puddles made by an overflowing sink in the kitchen to make ‘sugar pools?” evil twin. “Who convinced family friends’ children to leave the house at 3am and play on a thin ice covered lake?” evil twin. Makes sense. However I was not most children and clearly hadn’t thought this through at that stage as I cast Elizabeth as the good twin, and myself as the bad one.
What sort of ridiculous child invents an imaginary twin sister then makes HERSELF the evil twin? It’s true, I was a chaotic, untidy, wilful and stubborn monster of a child. Nonetheless I’d put the sparkly princess dress on and suddenly became helpful, tidy, polite and eager to please.
“Could you tidy your room RockStarDinosaurPirate?”
“I’m not RockStarDinsosaurPirate. I’m Elizabeth. RockStarDinosaurPirate made all this mess, but I’ll tidy it.”
“Will you help me to make dinner RockStarDinosaurPirate?”
“I’m not RockStarDinsosaurPirate. I’m Elizabeth. RockStarDinosaurPirate is naughty and never helps. I’ll help”.
And so I’ve grown into a somewhat chaotic, untidy, wilful and stubborn adult. (I have started to suspect that one of the reasons I’ve managed to not drink for so long, and possibly one of the reasons I’ve enjoyed it so much is because so many people said it would be impossible, and I am stubborn enough to be determined to prove them wrong.) The floor has been where I keep my clothes, documents are filed in their envelopes all over my desk and I’ve always had a regiment of bottles in the shower where I buy new toiletries without quite finishing the old ones but never get around to throwing them away. You’ve already read about my cooking skills.
Since we moved into our new flat however some hidden switch seems to have been flicked. I can’t bear the sight of washing up not put away, or dishes in the sink for more than a day. I am constantly pulling cushions and throws back into place over the sofa making tutting noises and bemoaning how the carpet seems to pick up fluff and fibres just a day after I vacuum. I put my possessions away in places I’ve decided they belong and leave little passive aggressive piles of Mr RPD’s possessions on his side of the bed. Last weekend I even bought weedkiller and enthusiastically set to the garden with a trowel I found in the shed, digging out all of the moss and grass in between the stones of our little back garden. I have left the borders, as I have no idea whether the plants in there are weeds or real plants, hence my Facebook request for help. I did spend some time in a local Stuffmonger (you know, a shop that sells lots of stuff, mostly cheap, 60% useful. As oppose to a Niknakerist, which sells lots of stuff, mostly overpriced, 99% useless.) staring at packets of seeds before I slunk away, enthusiasm waning, as I realised seeds have instructions on them considerably more complicated than ‘put in earth. keep sort of damp’.
With guests coming round, the flat pleasingly tidy and a new BBQ purchased (yes, it’s only early Spring and we’re not even into clocks forward times; but we’ve persevered with BBQs in late summer in gale force winds and torrential rain so we’re not going to let little things like early sunsets and chilly evenings stop us) and with Mr R D P happily marinading large amounts of meat, flush with my recent Pancake Success, I decided to make cupcakes. Friends offered some easy recipes for a beginner and a Google search found some easy ones on the internet. I decided on a Nigella recipe which was designed to be really straightforward for children. Then I got distracted by the sidebar ‘related Nigella recipes’, which linked to Maple Buttercream Cupcakes with Bacon Sprinkles.
1 – I am vegetarian
2 – I wanted to make dairy free cupcakes
3 – I don’t even know what buttercream is
therefore it was entirely logical that these were the cupcakes I wanted to make. Being an avid fan of the Great British Bake Off I am aware that baking requires precision and demands that the recipe be followed exactly and to the letter, and that you concentrate on getting the bake right. Therefore it was entirely logical that I swap all the dairy ingredients for soy ones, use wholewheat flour and vegetarian bacon bits and that I watch the Men’s Roller Derby World cup while I baked. I discovered after the cupcakes came out of the oven that a muffin tin is a necessity when baking…
I covered the cupcakes in silver glitter frosting spray and THINGS FROM SPACE in the hope that they would distract people from the unconventional shapes, and then accosted our poor dinner guests as they arrived. “HELLO, welcome to my flat. LOOK I made vegetarian bacon cupcakes. They don’t bounce like the ones I made 5 years ago. They look kind of crap. But also ROCKETS AND STARS AND SPACE. Please eat one and tell me what it’s like!”.
Bless my friends, and their tolerance for my whims. Every single guest had one. One guest ate TWO. All guest declared them delicious. After allowing about 45 minutes to observe any ill effects (rashes, vomiting, death etc) I braved one myself and bugger me if they weren’t actually really tasty! The texture was weird because you can’t sieve wholewheat flour properly (or maybe you can but I haven’t the patience) but apart from that they were genuinely pleasant to eat. I am definitely going to try again. Hopefully that won’t put friends off coming round.
Next – to send photos of the plants in my garden to garden-savvy friends (and to my Dad – should be safe enough seeing as I don’t plan to grow sprouts or cabbages) for identification so that I can start making the garden a beautiful place, rather than just a bit of concrete with some weeds.
Perhaps rather than aliens replacing me with a clone, I am finally managing to merge the good and evil twins into one person. I’ll never be truly tidy or organised like Imaginary Good Twin Elizabeth; but I’ll settle for being neat enough and being able to make passable cakes that taste nice. And I do so like being chaotic and wilful.