Friday, September 30, 2011

My Day on a Plate

Every weekend in The Age Sunday Life magazine, I read the ‘My Day on a Plate’ section. I read it first, and I make self-conscious scoffing noises every week. Apparently, every human being on the planet follows this daily routine:

  1. We start the day with lemon juice in hot water. (I look forward to future columns about our dentist bills)
  2. We adore untoasted muesli with natural yoghurt and ($8 a punnet) blueberries. Go you antioxidants go
  3. Occasionally (we should capitalise that, really) OCCASIONALLY we indulge in a skim-milk latte mid-morning.
  4. Somehow we have lunch prepared for us by a professional chef because it’s always lightly seared tuna steak with quinoa, raw grated beetroot and and light dusting of fear. Dressing on the side.
  5. Whereas most people I know have four dim sims from downstairs and three chocolate coated teddy bear biscuits and fifteen tomato salsa rice crackers and some of that slice from Emma’s going-away-afternoon-tea last week and a bottle of Diet Coke.
  6. Sorry about that. Ignore point 5. We’re back on track for afternoon tea, where we have a cup of sencha tea and a handful of raw almonds. No more than ten almonds. Usually five or six. No more than ten. Definitely not the whole bag. Because raw almonds aren’t very nice so why would we eat the whole bag anyway? Unless we were a bit bored.
  7. Right. So, at 7pm, when we were supposed to finish work at 6, we catch a train and get home by 8 and instantly prepare a perky combination of grilled chicken, more fucking quinoa, and some kind of colourful combo of vegetables (steamed) and a delightful squeeze of lemon if we’re feeling crazy. After all, it’ll be in our morning teeth-eroding drink so we may as well kick on.
  8. In no way after this virtuous day will we crack open the block of Fruit ‘n’ Nut our in-laws left behind and nip down to the bottle-o for another bottle-o.


So I wrote the above based on what I think normal people might be like. I don’t eat like ‘My day on a plate’, but I don’t eat like the above version either. I eat like a person who has an eating disorder. And I wanted to write a version of it based on me, at my worst, though I suspect it’s at the blacker end of black.

But what the fuck. My day on a plate has just as much right to be out in the world as green tea and quinoa.

First, a disclaimer: I do eat at relatively sustaining levels at the moment. However, this was my average day back in January.

4am: I wake up early because I’m pretty hungry; I haven’t eaten for 24 hours. I set my tea to brew and take off all my clothes (including my watch, rings and glasses), go to the toilet and then weigh myself naked. I note the number, but also note that I haven’t taken a dump yet today, so I am probably 200-300 grams heavier that I would be otherwise. Having an eating disorder means you know the weight of everything, including your average shit.

6am: I inhale a litre of tea while reading. My child wakes up and demands Rice Bubbles followed by Vegemite toast. Afterwards I stare at his buttery crusts and milky cereal. I place a single piece of bread in the toaster, look at it for a bit, and then abandon it to have a shower.

7am-12pm: 1.5 litres of water. I do a lot of shelving and counter work. I try to be as active as I can in the morning, because I’m less likely to pass out at that time of day, and it stimulates my metabolism.

12pm: I’ve been at work since 8:30am and when I stand up things are starting to swirl a bit. I chuck back four Tic-Tacs to attempt to kick up my blood sugar levels while I get the pickled cucumbers out of the work fridge. Pickled cucumbers contain 15kj per 30 gram serve. A piece of bread (also 30 grams) by comparison contains 305kj. If there was an anorexic supermarket it would have entire aisles devoted to pickled cucumbers, mustard and salt. Somewhere between the laxative aisle and the toothbrush aisle.

12:30pm: I’ve finished my allotted amount of pickled cucumbers. I usually have to sit down as much as I can for the rest of the day.

1pm-5pm: 1.5 litres of water. Everything gets a bit blurry. I won’t remember if you come to see me at the library or if I see that cat that looks like the cat I sort of adopted when we lived in Carlton that you hated because he woke you up at night howling outside your window and annoyed you and I didn’t know. Oh right, sorry, you’re not my old housemate, you just want to borrow a book.

5:30pm: End of the day. I’m tired and dizzy and I have to double-check before I cross roads. I take the train home, plough up the hills toward home. At some point I lurch sideways into a fence and it’s just another bruise.

7:30pm: My child is asleep. I don’t want dinner. I never want dinner. I have four glasses of wine (because alcohol doesn’t count as calories) and I type words onto a screen until my fingers hit all the wrong places and all the songs I listen to are too meaningful.

11pm: I fall asleep on the couch, wake around 2am and drag myself to bed.


I’ve struggled about how to end this. Flippant, caustic, matter of fact?

Matter of fact wins.

4am: I wake up. My limbs feel like they’re filled with sand. My heart is beating like a hammer inside my chest. I have to sit up slowly, stand up even slower. I hold onto the door frame. And the whole day, the same as every single day, begins again. I feel like I’ve been alive forever.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

You have to be able to handle a lot of pressure.

There’s a large, plush Winnie-the-Pooh in the tree outside my bedroom window. I close the venetian blinds and open them again. It’s still there, propped in the fork of the tree. It’s got the NQR proportions of a skill-tester prize but enlarged x 30 (which, interestingly, increases the weirdyness by a factor of 1000).

And it’s looking at me. I pretend I haven’t seen all the Chucky movies.

While I’m still standing there debating whether to A) see if its eyes follow me around the room or B) put my pants on because I’m standing half naked in full view of the communal backyard, the decision is made for me by C)elia, my elderly neighbour. She shuffles into view in her bright yellow dressing gown and I snap the venetians shut again to rectify the pants situation. When I slowly draw the blinds open again, Celia has removed the toy from the tree and is scolding it in no uncertain terms. There’s finger-pointing, and eventually a bottom-smack. (Just to be clear, Celia smacks the toy, not the other way around.)

I’ve only lived in this flat for a month but it’s already become clear that Celia is a bit of an Interesting Person. She follows my cat around the yard and brings him back up to the house if she feels he’s getting too close to the road. (He’s been an outside cat for 6 years so he’s pretty much sorted out not to go near cars by now but whatevs.) She told me I should take him outside on a lead, and I informed her that if I had the time to be walking my cat he would be a dog. Once she turned up at our front door with him in her arms:

“He’s just done a poo on my bed, but it’s okay,” she said. That wasn’t entirely what I was expecting.

I took my cat from her. Her story seemed pretty unlikely as Tolly doesn’t even have a litter-tray inside my flat, he lets you know in no uncertain terms if he needs to go outside to take a dump (to the point of running across your head, claws out, if you’re asleep at the time). You’d actually have to shut him in and ignore him for a long time. But my initial question was: “Uh, why was he on your bed?”

“Oh, he likes to come in sometimes,” she said, “and play with my cat.”

This also seemed unlikely. A territorial male ‘plays’ with another male cat, on his home turf? But I apologised uneasily for the possibly non-existant poo, and suggested that she not let him into her house any more, ‘in case of more accidents’. Mainly I suggested this because I was starting to wonder if he might come back shaved or tie-dyed after his next visit.

The next morning I go down to check the mail and am startled to find NQR-the-Pooh nestled into the front hedge. I glace around, but there’s no sign of Celia. I wonder briefly if the toy escapes on his own each night and that’s why she was scolding him. I eye Houdini-the-Pooh for a minute. He looks back at me, as if to say ‘I’m a stuffed toy, for Christ’s sake, stop ascribing human powers to me like movement and speech.’ I tell him he’s probably right, but he doesn’t reply.

Celia ups the ante for a few weeks after that. She starts to make little window displays on her lounge sill, pulling up the venetians so everyone can see. They usually involve some combination of stuffed toys, her cat, and pictures cut from the Herald Sun. One time there’s a packet of Tim Tams and a carrot involved. Cousteau-the-Pooh continues to roam the garden, and I begin to think he might be related to that garden gnome in Amelie. Sometimes a large white teddy is sat out in the sun in a doll’s pram, which is gently tied to the wrought-iron balustrade with a blue ribbon. And Celia herself, shuffles about the gardens in her yellow dressing gown.

One morning I hear a funny metallic banging noise. I’m on my way to work so I’ve already waddled back into the house three times (umbrella, pre-natal vitamins, brain). As I approach the mail boxes, I see Celia, dressing-gowned as usual, gently lifting the iron flap of each of the 24 mail boxes one at a time and letting them fall back down with a clang. I try to scuttle past but I’m well into my non-scuttling trimester and she spots me.

“You have to be able to handle a lot of pressure,” she says. I excel at this sort of small talk. Throw me a curveball like “How are you?” and I’m stumped, but mailbox xylophone plus ‘you have to be able to handle a lot of pressure’ and I’m on fire.

“Um, yeah,” I say.

That’s the last time I see Celia.

Our communal backyard sports no less than eight Hills Hoists. It’s like someone was only allowed to pick one iconic Australian symbol for the development, but they could have as many of that one thing as they wanted. When the wind blows and they all creak around at night, it’s equal parts unsettling and soothing, like someone chanting ‘Bhagavad Gita’ over and over but in a Roots Manuva voice and every now and then replacing it with the word ‘Ryvita’. So you’re quite relaxed but you keep letting out nervous giggles.

A few days after I witness Celia Suggs performing Lady of Spain on her mailbox-phone, I open the venetians (this time with pants on because I am a fast learner. Also I’m really quite pregnant and if I can’t see my legs, no one else should have to). I gaze out the window.

There is a toaster tied to one of the Hills Hoists by its cord.

It swings in the light wind, secured by a simple under-over knot at the plug end.

I stand quite still and watch the gently revolving heater of bread. I wonder if you wash toasters on the normal or delicate cycle, and if you chuck in a scoop of breadcrumbs in place of detergent. By the time I get home from work that day the toaster is gone. A week goes by before I realise that unlike the toaster, Winnie-the-Pooh hasn’t popped up for a while. And Celia’s venetians are shut, which is also strange. Usually the cat gets a sunning and there’s at least some form of vegetable-and-tabloid-based window display. I start to worry that maybe she’s keeled over indoors and is being gradually devoured by her cat. I figure that cat would have some issues by now and might not be averse to some ex-Celia if it was attractively plated up on a yellow dressing gown.

I start to sidle up to her lounge room window, realise I’m wider in profile these days, and change my gait to frontle. One of the venetian blind blades has a broken piece, and I carefully put my face to it, half-expecting to find Celia’s bloodshot eyeball peering back at me. Or Winnie-the-Pooh. Or a cat’s bloody maw.

The flat is empty. All the furniture is gone, and the carpets are striped like freshly-steam-cleaned tigers. I remember a removalist van was around a little while ago, though I never saw anyone going in and out of Celia’s front door.

I step back from the window. I wonder about the toaster, and what she meant by it. I wonder if the toaster needed to be able to handle a lot of pressure too.

A week later, a young Filipino couple move in. The woman’s belly is almost as big with baby as mine, and in January we will come out of our flats holding the same orange government folder we got at the hospital.

We will smile, she will ask “How are you?” and I won’t know what to say.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Curled and cat and calm

“I want MAAAAAAA!”

It must be 6am already. My tiny blonde alarm clock has gone off in the next room and I’ve got approximately 56 seconds to have a quick piss and then get to him before he reaches critical mass.

I execute a well-trained bladder manouvre and open his bedroom door. He’s been in that room since he was 7 months old but we still call it ‘the study’.

“Hey buddy.”
“Hey Ma. I want to wake up.”
“Okay. Should I turn on the light so we can get you out of your sleeping bag?”
“Are you ready for the bright?”

I switch on the light and he is standing at the end of his cot, head bowed in a gold rush of curls against the not-very-bright bulb.
“Shall we get you ready for Rainbow, and wake up your Da?”

Ten minutes later I have sloughed my child into an orange-and-red-and-pink outfit worthy of a ‘dressing in the dark’ scouting badge, and his father is standing at the door, dressed but possibly not awake.

“Bye!” my two year old yells. “See you soon! Good luck!”

The front door closes and I have just enough time for a mashup of two of the following:

Pack my lunch
Clean my teeth

I go with options B and D because A I am vain, and B I talk to people all day and no one wants a waft of that pizza from twelve hours ago.

I slam the front door, then check that I have my keys. This is not the ideal order of proceedings, but I do have my keys, today. I trot down the hill and up the hill to the train, avoiding the fresh brown dog poo, the rehydrated grey dog poo and the poo that looks suspiciously familiar but definitely isn’t mine because I had an early night on Saturday.

I make the train with heart-pounding seconds to spare. I flop down on a seat and remove ten thousand layers of clothing. I pull out my headphones and clap them over my ears, fighting the usual battle with my hair. The early morning sunlight changes colour as music floods through my ears and I have a small moment of glory as bass guitar and a blistering female vocal assaults my joy.

Music transforms public transport. The carriage of suits sways in time to the beats in my ears, at least twenty people bob their heads as Bingethinkers blare “Can I get an answer/can I get a yes – YES”

The train plunges though Westgarth and then slows, waiting for another train to pass. In the pause, I curve my head to look out the window. Directly opposite my window is a high brown fence, tagged and faded. I recognise a few of the common Melbourne tags.

Suddenly, a pair of disembodied hands appear above the fenceline, holding a perfectly white cat. The cat is curled into a sitting position, his bottom resting comfortably in one of the hands while the other supports his chest.

The cat gazes along our train carriages, his furry triangle head swerving slowly. I am reminded of The Exorcist and relieved when his neck only stretches along 180 degrees.

I twitch my head around my own carriage, desperately looking for a pair of eyes that have seen this periscope feline trainspotter. Everyone is looking at their iPhones or books or asleep although there’s that guy who’s fondling himself but I’m happy not to meet his gaze.

My train jerks into life, and I look back to the fence. The cat is still there, curled and calm in those mysterious hands. He tilts his head and gives one front paw a cursory lick.

As the train moves off, the hands gradually lower and the cat disappears. I jerk my head around the carriage, searching for a pair of eyes that have seen, suddenly desperate – someone must have seen?

All eyes are down or closed.

The train sways off towards Clifton Hill.

Friday, September 9, 2011

“I’m looking for a book. It’s got half a woman’s face on it.”

Something stirs in my gut, and it’s not the dry Weetbix with butter and vegemite, the block of Golden Rough and the bottle of red that I had for dinner last night. (Although incidentally, that particular meal will produce an almost identical sensation five hours from now.)

This is something quite different. It’s an affliction that hits me in bookshops, particularly the big, who-gives-a-fuck-what-you’re-looking-for kind of book-supermarket that would rather you BYO dowsing stick than pay their staff enough to make them to actually want to help you.

Sorry, did I say that out loud?

Anyway, this particular affliction is commonly known as EBSNU. Before you say ‘Gesundheit!’, I should advise that EBSNU stands for Ex-Book-Seller Ninja Urge.

Ladies and gentlemen, I was not always the mild-mannered librarian you see before you. My name is Anna Ryan-Punch and I used to be a bookseller. I pulled all the moves. I told you your order would arrive in 7-10 days (which means I have no idea when your book will arrive but I really hope it’s not me who serves you when you come back to ask about it). I suggested a novel for your birthday present to your 9-year-old son who ‘hates reading’, when what I really wanted to suggest was that you get him something he’d actually like. I knew that you meant Rushdie’s Satanic Verses when you asked if we had the Satanic Bible, though I was always tempted to ring up a copy of the latter. I found you books for your daughter at university who you didn’t understand any more, books for your 80-year-old aunt who hates swearing and sex, books for your baffling 16-year-old son who knocks off two novels a day, and most importantly, I found you the books that you couldn’t remember the title or author of, but you definitely know there is a part where someone has sex with a bear.

I’m standing in Borders at the Jam Factory (this blog post brought to you by the wonder of memory combined with first person present tense). I’ve got The Subtle Knife in one hand and Guns, Germs & Steel in the other. The books, I mean. I may be an EBSN but I don’t actually carry throwing stars.

“I’m looking for a book. It’s got half a woman’s face on it.”

My EBSN aerial extends from my head and locks into place with an audible click. (This is a lie. I am not, in fact a cyborg. But I did imagine an aerial extending from my head, and I may or may not have made a little clicking noise with my tongue as I imagined it locking into place).

The book she’s looking for is Tully. It’s obviously Tully. The shop assistant (I can see at once he is not a true book-seller) hums a bit and asks the standard non-ESBN questions.

“Can you remember anything about the author or the title?”

The woman shakes her head impatiently. “You’d know it,” she says. “It’s got half a woman’s face on it.” I run out of willpower at this point; I relapse. I place my weapon-related books gently down on the bench and sidestep out of sight behind a wall of Frank McCourt. Then I scurry, head-down, to the fiction section and locate the Paullina Simons wing. Five seconds later I’m back at the info desk. The woman is still there, and by the look on the shop assistant’s face I can tell she’s now said “It’s got half a woman’s face on it” upwards of twenty times.

“Sorry,” I interrupt, “Are you looking for Tully?”

The woman turns towards me and for a minute I don’t know if she’s going to hug me or stick me with a nearby copy of The Subtle Knife. I hold the Simons out in front of me and she almost snatches it from my hands. “That’s IT!” She points angrily at the shop assistant. “He didn’t know what it was, and he works here.” I smile beatifically and melt into the night. By which I mean I pick up my two books and ask the shop assistant if they have an EFTPOS minimum.

EBSNU is a relatively common phenomenon. It’s about two-thirds as common as ex-booksellers, but half as common as remaining a bookseller for more than five years. I did first year stats at uni, just go with me on this.

And like any addiction, there’s the rush, the high, and then you need more. But hanging around in bookshops eavesdropping on customer service is as acceptable as drinking light beer at a B&S Ball. Or, should you prefer your references more high-brow, it’s as acceptable as ordering a Becks at Beer Deluxe.

It’s best to stay calm and let the EBSNU moments come to you. My personal crowning moment comes 10 years later, when the EBSN in me has been soothed by years of Dewey shelving and non-retail-related book dealings. I probably couldn’t recommend a book I hate if my life depended on it.

Let me preface my moment of glory by providing a piece of information: my mother collects books by relatively obscure and mostly out of print author Beverley Nichols, who wrote everything from children’s books to books about flower-arranging.

Fascinating, isn’t it? "Your parents collect pipes? That's really interesting!"*

Anyway, I am lurking in Readings Carlton, that haven for booksters and desperate parents whose toddlers love the train-set table. (Why are you all looking at me?) The Readings staff are most definitely book-sellers, and I suspect there may even be a few BSNs among them. I am hovering in the poetry section because I know I won’t have to move my bag out of anyone’s way.

“It’s by a man with a woman’s name, and it’s about people who live in a tree.”

I freeze. Did anyone hear a small ‘click’? I know what the book is, and I know it’s out of print. And this, dear reader, is where EBSNU goes meta.

“A man writing under a female pseudonym?” asks the book-seller.

“No,” says the woman. “He’s just got a name that sounds like a woman’s name. Like Evelyn, but not Evelyn. I think it’s a kid’s book.”

“Is it a new title?” asks the book-seller.

“I don’t know,” says the woman.

By this point I have fished out my iPhone, typed in the Abebooks web address with trembling fingers, found a second hand bookshop in Bendigo that has a copy of The Tree That Sat Down in stock and written the details down on a post-it note. (I always carry post-it notes. Librarian status: alpha.)

I glide up to the info desk, leaving my bag safely in the poetry section.

“I couldn’t help overhearing,” I say, because I am secretly Jessica Fletcher. “But I think the book you’re looking for is The Tree That Sat Down by Beverley Nichols.” Here I pause and wait for the ‘That’s IT!’

“THAT’S it!” exclaims the woman. Different emphasis, but pretty standard.

The book-seller looks it up. “I’m afraid it’s out of print,” she says. The woman looks crestfallen.

“It is,” I say, “but if you phone or email this secondhand store - ” here I proffer my post-it, “they have it in stock, and the others in the series too.”

The woman takes the post-it note from me with the degree of reverence reserved for dealing with people you suspect are a bit mental. “Thankyou,” she says uneasily.

I turn, and without another word glide out of the shop on a wave of adrenalin. Then I turn around, go back and retrieve my bag from the poetry section and slink out another way.

This is the life of the EBSN. We are not high mages or good fairies, do not worship us for our mystical skills. We are simple junkies looking for a fix. We are everywhere, dear reader.

And we’re listening.


*obligatory obscure reference. See here at about the 2 min mark.

Friday, September 2, 2011

How not to make coconut chocolate tarts

If you wish to make coconut chocolate tarts from scratch, you must first invent the universe.*

More specifically, you must invent the part of the universe that evolved into the part of the human psyche labeled “patience with recipes”.

I am usually a very patient cook. I can layer and oil hundreds of filo pastry single sheets with tai-chi smoothness. I can roll out pastry, loop it over the rolling pin and unfurl it into a pie dish like a happy labrador’s tongue. I have even been known (because I don’t own a set of beaters) to whip meringues by hand. I always read the whole recipe first, to check if it says ‘meanwhile’ anywhere. ‘Meanwhile’ is recipe-book-speak for ‘you should have done this bit earlier and now your dough needs an hour to prove but the filling is already congealing and you really should read the whole recipe first, you douche’.

I am making coconut chocolate tarts from a recipe by [redacted famous chef who often appears in weekend newspaper magazines]. The recipe book is called something in the vein of ‘Fast and Fresh’, or ‘Quick and Comforting’, or ‘You Really Should Read The Whole Recipe First, You Douche’.

‘Place the egg whites, sugar and coconut in a bowl and mix to combine them. With wetted hands or a spoon, press the coconut mixture into eight deep muffin tins, covering the base and sides to make a shell.’

I am all over this. I press the mixture firmly into my muffin tray, and pop it in the oven. And because I have read the whole recipe first, I know that later on it tells me to ‘make the filling while the bases are cooling’. I’ve got your number, [redacted famous chef].

‘Place the cream in a saucepan over medium heat and heat until almost boiling. Remove the cream from heat. Add the chopped chocolate and stir through until the chocolate has melted and the filling is smooth.’

It doesn’t explicitly state in the recipe that I need to eat massive spoonfuls of this mixture while it’s warming, but I’m well-trained in reading between the lines in these sorts of recipes. Sorry if I’m mumbling, I’ve got a mouthful.

After the prescribed 8-10 minutes, I have a look at my tart shells, while making several brilliant jokes in my head about ‘tart shells’. They are supposed to be ‘golden brown’. They are, in fact, ‘golden brown’ on the edges but still ‘very white’ on the base. I am calm. Perhaps it’s like making biscuits where they seem squidgy and undercooked straight out of the oven, but harden up as they cool. I make several more brilliant jokes in my head about ‘tart shells hardening up’, and look back at the recipe.

‘Cool the shells for 1 minute then gently remove them from the tin.’

I rest those coconutty little whipper-snappers and then gently slide a knife down the side of one shell to detach it. The ‘golden brown’ sides slide up neatly, leaving a perfect ‘very white’ circle of tart shell still glued to the base of the tin. I have more of a ‘tart ring’ on my hands now. Resisting the urge to make yet more brilliant jokes in my head, I calmly pop the muffin tray back in the oven to give them a bit longer. The filling is starting to develop a skin (which my interpretation of the recipe requires me to eat), so I warm it on low.

Ten minutes, a modicum of swearing, and a few more ‘tart ring’ events later, the bases of the shells have finally turned the prescribed shade of brown. I personally have turned an unanticipated shade of pink, as the edges of tart shells are now of a colour somewhere between ‘chocolate brown’ and ‘charred remnants of sanity’.

The filling is starting to develop its second skin of the day, so I get the tray out of the oven and gently slide a knife down the side of one of the eight remaining shells.

When I say ‘gently slide a knife’, what I actually mean is ‘attempt to wedge a knife between tin and shell and discover the more well-cooked parts have welded them to the tray like dried Farex to a baby bowl’.

It won’t dislodge. I shove the knife a bit harder and an entire shell shatters. I make a carefully crafted comment about [redacted famous chef] and her mother’s possible dealings with members of the animal kingdom. I turn the tray upside down and twist it, hoping to crack them out like ice-cubes. Nothing.

And this, dear reader, is where I fail to invent the universe.

More specifically, it is where I fail to invent the part of the universe that evolved into the part of human psyche labeled “patience with recipes”.

I slam the muffin tray down onto the bench and stab at the remaining shells with the knife; eruptions of failed burnt sugar chips spray across the kitchen. I throw the recipe book at the sink and shatter an unsuspecting cereal bowl. It’s the bathroom scene in Punch-Drunk Love all over again, but with less toilets and more coconut.

I heave in a great, ugly breath, take a quick look to make sure the cat isn’t around, and finally hurl the knife at the floor as hard as I can. By some miracle it sticks in the floorboards point down with a humorous BOINNNNNNG, and quivers gently.

I snort. ‘Cool,’ I say aloud. ‘I should join the circus.’

‘Pour the chocolate filling into the coconut tart shells and place in the freezer for 10 minutes or until the chocolate filling is set. Serve with coffee or berries as a dessert.’

Or, if you will,

‘Pour yourself a glass of wine and eat the remaining chocolate filling and shards of coconut tart shells with a spoon while standing up at the stovetop. Spend 15 minutes trying to pull the knife out of the floor. Add "buy new muffin tray" to shopping list. Return to lounge room and continue reading Carl Sagan’s Cosmos.’

Now, would anyone like the recipe?

This is what my tarts did not look like.

The unfortunate muffin tray.


* Apologies to Carl Sagan