Winter wooly Samsara bird, meringue nests and the dimensions of failure

That ‘Christmas in July’ thing has started

I know we’ve had a bit of a mixed bag of weather this summer with some very chilly days and nights but I’m starting to get those e-mails from crafting sites reminding me about Christmas. Or, more accurately, trying to encourage me to embrace (buy into – literally) Christmas and start shifting some of the Christmas stock they’ve ordered in and want gone before the end of December.

I usually delete them without even looking. The end of September is plenty advance notice for me, thank you.

Samsara winter woolie bird

Having said that, I had the urge to make another Samsara bird and use some winter wooly tweed. Here she is looking cute with her pom poms on. They came off a scarf I got from Vincent’s for €1. Brand new with its Penney’s tag on. Well, I couldn’t buy the trim for that AND there were 3 metres of it.

The rest of the materials were full price… Anyhoo, this one’s for me. Stuffed full of dried lavender and smelling gorgeous and now I am floating on a cloud of serenity despite the sufferings and dimensions of failure I have endured recently.

The dimensions of failure – meringue nests and the Bincident

First I made a batch of meringue nests. I’ve made them hundreds of times. No bothers. What I forgot was that I’d tipped a full box of fruit sugar (fructose) into the sugar tub and so measured out 6oz of ‘sugar’ unwittingly using a sugar whose natural sweetness is much greater than that of caster and should have been a third less….

I thought the mixture seemed runny when I started beating in the sugar…

While they were in the oven I made a fruit crumble – Bramley apples, blueberries and pears. What could go wrong? I used the same effing (‘f’ for fructose, obviously) sugar, didn’t I?! And made it to the same proportion of caster sugar to flour and butter. It was  S.W.E.E.E.E.E.T.

Now, this was before it was cooked. I always taste mixtures when raw (except egg white – eew) and decided to add more butter and flour just willy-nilly. There was plenty of time, you see, as the meringues were still cooking away.

And they were still sitting there in the oven over an hour and a half later, (oven turned down a bit) giving me more opportunity to mess with the crumble mix. I kept adding a bit more flour… a bit more butter… taste… uuh… It ended up a bit bleh (A LOT BLEH).

Finally, after 2 hours – plus, I got fed up waiting for the meringues. They were not drying out. Their physical properties were now defying  Newtonian physics. They were like squidgy life forms from Star Trek. I thought and thought (yes, I had to sit and think about this) and finally decided they had been a failure. A total Fructose failure. Two tray loads of them. So, pulled out the first tray and what happens? The sheet of baking parchment they were on just slid off the tray and the whole load just fell face down on the hot oven door. Steaming heaps of slurry covering the glass front. I just made a whole heap of hot garbage.

I took a bit more care with the second tray. They were like sticky toffee while hot. Like a packet of Murray mints left in the sun. Still, I transferred them to a cooling rack. Maybe they’d dry out and improve for it. What was I on??? Another dimension of failure.  I tried to throw them out to the birds but they wouldn’t leave the cooling rack. Stuck down like industrial strength epoxy resin. I had to prise them off using almost Nexus 6 replicant finger strength, coating my hands with quick drying splints (Yes, now they dry out) of what could easily have been Plaster of Paris. Or concrete.

And so to the fruit crumble

Anyway, I should have realised something was very wrong. Anyone in their right mind would have realised something was wrong. Anyone with half a mind would have realised something was wrong. But I didn’t. My critical faculties had totally deserted me. So I put it in the oven and cooked it.

Maybe it would improve by cooking. This course of action just defied logic. It was like checking out room 237 of the Overlook Hotel and seeing only the ‘lovely-lady’ even when the mirror showed her looking like a compost heap covered in cabbages.  I have no excuses. I was as thick as a whale sandwich.

Anyhoo, back to the crumble. Did it improve? Of course it bloody didn’t. It went in tasting like old plasterboard and came out like mouse-mat motorway surfacing.

But, like Gloria Gaynor, I will survive. Did you think I’d crumble?

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