Monday, 23 May 2011

Creaming of my favourite climbs

I have blogged before about the relative difficulties of extreme climbing and hard cuisine, but nothing prepared my right arm for the blasting it got tonight.
No, not even my teenage years.
The story begins a few days ago, when, at a charity bookstall in the New Town I acquired a booklet of fine desserts published by Australian Women’s Weekly.
It was full of exotic flavours and enticing photos, and I’m afraid I became a bit obsessed. In my excitement, I could never quite be bothered to follow the recipes to the letter, but the sheer inspiration led to the reawakening in me of a little knowledge I once enjoyed, for professional reasons, on the techniques of making sweets.
Some natural caution deep down made me build up to the tougher dishes gradually: I started with a Nutella cake, simple in conception and physically undemanding. All that was required was to whip some cream, fold in some molten hazelnut spread and cool it over a biscuit base – a doddle.
Then we had a magnificent day’s walking along the Water of Leith, a trail through the middle of Edinburgh that must rank as one of the finest walks I’ve done.
From pebble dashed suburbs this walkway follows a trickle of a stream and offers up surprises at ever turn, from verdant corridors of green to skate parks and industrial archaeology, allotments and cricket matches to modern art by Antony Gormley.
When we got home we were knackered, and made calzone, but just in case these towering immensities of stuffed pizza were not enough (and yes, because I harboured a desperate, unfulfilled, unfulfillable yearning for freshly made sweets) I also made a plum clafouti. That was another easy one physically, just a bit of mixing and then the whipping of cream. My energy was flagging but the radio obliged, I kid you not, with a spot of classic Queen to bring about the final firmness.
I could have done with that calibre of whisking music when I took on the ultimate challenge tonight, which left me cooling my biceps on a bowl of half frozen apricot mix but still leaping onto my pull up holds at regular intervals.
Because there’s nothing like making meringue by hand to bring out the savage masochist in a climber, who is inclined to strip naked and do sets of ten between increasingly desperate attempts to attain the fabled stiff peaks of success.
But meringue by hand, ultimate challenge that it is, was not enough for me. No sir. I decided to make apricot ice cream as well. And yes, that involves beating. Oh, what a beating.
Thing is, I’d promised myself an ice cream maker if I could succeed in making ice cream without one, and the meringue, well that was just a silly idea because I had two egg whites left over and I can’t bear waste.
Did I succeed? No idea, it’s nearly midnight and I’m still beating, baking, pulling and bulling. But who cares, I’ve got enormous arms and I’m as tired as if I’d spent a week climbing, and at some stage I’ll have something to eat.

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