birthdays, and why you shouldn’t bother following instructions.

These last four weeks while I have been at home a lot I have turned myself into the epitome of the perfect 1950s housewife.

Okay, that’s not exactly true. I have cooked and cleaned every day, and I certainly do feel like I have spent four weeks doing nothing but washing dishes, but I’m afraid I can’t boast a perfectly put-together ensemble complete with set hair and makeup.

No, instead most times poor P was greeted at the door by someone who resembled his wife. Someone who was certainly wearing her stained track pants and slippers, but appeared not to have brushed her hair for days, and had a crazed look in her eye after spending a large portion of the day sitting in front of the computer searching for jobs, biting her nails and blowing her nose. Okay, I’ll admit.  that was me. Not my finest hour, but it’s hard to be pretty when your head is threatening to explode with the slow build up of mucus.

Yesterday was P’s birthday and I wanted to make it up to him for being confronted by an unkept, snotty, nervous wreck whenever he came home from work. So I asked him what he would like for his birthday dinner, and the answer, as always was emphatically “pavlova!”. One day, years from now if I am still writing this blog I will be able to make a montage of P’s birthday pavlovas, as I know that I have posted about at least one already.

Once again, I relied on my Woman’s Weekly Cookbook recipe which has seen me through many successful pavs.

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by this stage I was feeling pretty smug about the whole process, having always created beautiful, towering mounds of pavlova successfully. So I whisked it into the oven for a lazy one and half hours. By the time my beautiful pavlova was finished cooking I had to run out the door for a personal training session, so I did the unthinkable….I followed the recipe. I have never taken the advice of leaving the pavlova in the turned-off oven to cool down before, but because I was rushing off I decided to leave it there, as the recipe suggests.

Upon returning home, triumphant over the fact that clearly I am super- woman after not falling over while doing lunges AND having a magnificent dessert waiting for my husbands birthday, I took the pavlova out of the oven only to discover that it was

a .  complete.   and.   utter.   flop.

As I stood and stared at the flat mess of meringue before me I stoically shook myself and decided that it wasn’t a complete disaster, that once I put the whipped cream, passionfruit and lychees onto it, it wouldn’t be so bad…after all, don’t they do that on masterchef, and call it a ‘smashed pav’ or something?!

Unfortunately, along with learning that my pavlova making expertise was not infallible, I also discovered that lite thickened cream does not whip.

So alas, my vision of P’s birthday pav was sadly replaced by a flatish looking mound, covered in runny cream and passionfruit pulp, and some lychees (which by this point I was so frustrated I may have just stood back and thrown at the thing).  I haven’t got a photo of this phase because I couldn’t bring myself to take one, feeling that it would be more in the spirit of forensic photography.

I guess P and the other men-folk present saw that I was more than a little disgruntled over the whole affair, and bravely forged ahead, stating loudly that although it may not look great, they were sure it would taste sensational.

I’m guessing that in the end, it passed the taste test of the discerning 20 something year old group of males, because in the morning all I found was this…

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