Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Great British Bake Off

I love watching cooking programs because I like food. I tend to gravitate toward food travel shows, where people go to different places and eat food I can't get in the middle of nowhere Indiana. I love watching Anthony Bourdain. I love America's Test Kitchen, and I recently fell in love with The Great British Bake Off.

I should also mention that I get obsessive about certain foods. I think a certain food looks good, I decide I want to go try it, make it, whatever, and then I spend hours finding a recipe or researching restaurants I probably won't end up going to. Then I order weird spices or herbs on the internet and make curries or fancy soup. And then I can move on.

If you haven't seen The Great British Bake Off, you should. In the states, it's called The Great British Baking Show, because Americans apparently could not understand that "bake off" means "baking competition" without them dumbing it down. It is brilliant. Basically, two judges, Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood, evaluate the baked goods produced by a number of contestants over a series of weekends in a tent set up in the garden of a lovely estate house. Each weekend, they take on a specific sort of dessert, cakes, pies, biscuits, puddings, name it.

party online great off mirror

One week they made croissants. And I died a little inside when I saw how perfect the flaky layers were. We can't get croissants here. They do make "croissants" at grocery stores, but they aren't made with real butter, which basically means they aren't croissants at all. It's depressing. I dreamed of having proper French pastries, but when I was in France during my college years, it was for a few days right after New Year's and everything was closed. Everything. The only croissants we had came in sealed packages from convenience stores. It was like not being in France at all. I watched each contestant roll out dough and fold in butter and thought, "I could do that."

I was forgetting a few things:
  1. I am not a talented (or even practiced) baker
  2. Baking is hard.
  3. Seriously, though.
I went, as I always do, to America's Test Kitchen. There was a recipe, which I printed off. I'd had lunch and my afternoon was free, so I figured I could bang out a few croissants in a few hours and we'd be set for breakfast the next day. The recipe warned that the process would take 10 hours, but I thought, "No big deal, I can do that."

tv cake great london off
Mary knows the truth.

Except it was, and I couldn't.

Here are the problems with croissants:
  1. The dough is yeasted, so it rises as you're trying to work with it. 
  2. Every recipe assumes you can roll things out in a rectangle.
  3. Butter melts. 
You begin by making your dough, wrapping it, and chilling it. Then you beat a few sticks of butter to make them pliable, but still cold. Then you roll the butter into a square inside some parchment paper. Then you chill that, too. When you pull out the dough, you roll it into a rectangle (hysterical laughter), then slap the butter into it, fold the dough around it and seal it, Then you roll it out again, then fold it up again. Then roll, then fold. Then chill. Then roll and fold, roll and fold, and chill.

You keep doing that for hours. Then you allow it to rise in the fridge a bit. Then you freeze it. Then you roll it out and cut it into shapes. Then you roll the shapes into croissants. Then you let those rise some more. Then you cry in the corner of your kitchen because everything is melting (literally). Then you make an egg wash. Then you think you'll never sleep again because no way will you be done before midnight. Then you bake the croissants. And then you thank God and think, this will never happen again. 

tv cake great london off
The reaction Paul and Mary would have had to my croissants.

Then you have the croissants for breakfast and think, That wasn't so bad. I could do those again some time. Maybe over two days, but still.

Terrible shaping. Just awful. The baker leaving us today is Laura.

Monday, February 1, 2016

This Post Is Brought to You by Chronic Illness Cat (And Whinging)

Last week I woke up and I tried to take the brick off of my face, but there was no brick because it was actually just the normal, eternal sinus pain, massively worsened from the constant headache it normally is. So I went to the doctor at the walk-in clinic because it was the weekend, and I was given the kind of antibiotics they give people who are infected with bio-weapon sorts of diseases. I think every bacteria in my body cringed in fear the second I picked up the prescription.

Every once and a while we try to treat my chronic sinus infection. Mostly we just make it bearable, because there is no way to actually treat it, only to manage the symptoms. I could do sinus surgery, but seriously, why? It would be a temporary fix. I am saving it for my

Here is a normal day of medication for just my sinuses: Morning: Allegra, Sudafed, Mucinex, Ibuprofen, Prevacid (to treat reflux from all the medicine). Midday: More Sudafed and Ibuprofen. Evening: Benadryl. Lots of it. Sudafed. Nasacort. *

Soon I will have no headache! I thought. I will have a blissful week of normal. I can't wait! Because literally I get one week of happy, then my sinuses remember they are really exclusive, so they close up and only hang out with each other.

I picked up my medicine plus more Sudafed.

Then I went home. I took the medicine. I even picked up some homeopathic thing the doctor lady said would make me catch less crap! And I thought, now I will feel better.

Then I woke up the next day and thought WHAT THE ACTUAL [REDACTED].

Because how do antibiotics make you WORSE. I was worse. I drug myself around that day. Then the next day I was even worse. And the next day I felt even WORSE. My lungs were turning themselves inside out. But I did not invite lungs to this party. I did not know lungs could just show up to a sinus infection after a person was taking antibiotics. I felt so horrible that I could not even call the doctor, and my family kept checking to see if I was dead. I think they were looking up burial plots and pricing caskets.

On Tuesday, Mum handed me the phone. It was the nurse at my doctor's office. The nurse said, "We need to see you." I was like, "What is happening?" and she said, "NOW."

I may have asked if I needed to put on real pants.

Then I made Mum drive me because I could not tell if up was still a thing and also could not hear words. And I went in to see the doctor only to find out that through Christmas, New Year's, and well, all month, I've been walking around with pneumonia. This would be why fitness got suddenly harder for some reason. Also why I discovered I needed my emergency inhaler more than usual. Also why I was feeling like death.

See, when I got the antibiotics they use to treat deadly deadly anthrax, they worked so well, they killed the pneumonia no one knew was there. I'd had pneumonia so long, my doctor said, that they couldn't hear it anymore because it had become one with my lungs. I was kind of proud of my lungs for having made pneumonia feel so welcome, because that was hospitable of them as organs, but seriously, lungs. Could you work?

So now I have steroids because I am allergic to being sick, and also I cannot sleep. And also I cannot sit still. And also I cannot stop eating. And also I am very happy because nothing makes me happier than steroids do, they are like the best mood stabilizers on the planet,** and also now I know I am straight-up NOT a wimp, because I was walking around dealing with crap and having pneumonia all at the same time, and I didn't even notice.

We will pretend not noticing had more to do with me being freaking awesome and tough and less to do with this.

* Before you freak out about dosages or NSAIDs, seriously, this is what my doctor says I'm supposed to do. If you can come up with a better way to keep me from being stuck in bed with sinus headache-induced migraines, I'd love to see your peer-reviewed published medical journal article about it.

** This is because when I take steroids, I know what non chronically-ill people feel like when they wake up, which is NOT like they are surprised to still have a pulse. I am always surprised.