Whilst I would happily boast about my culinary abilities to whoever would care to listen - often happily referring to myself as The Little Chef. A moniker that only does my cooking an injustice as I can make more than beans and sausages - I have never ever attempted in my life to make canapes. There is something about the fiddly nature of such tiny morsels and the patience and presence needed that have never lured me into wanting to spend hours making something that will ultimately leave me hungry. Oh, I'll happily eat canapes made by other people, but I prefer to make a big bowl of food that when finished leaves the recipient with drowsy food drunkness. So when I was informed that the party we were going to last night required guests to bring such things, I felt a level of trepidation. Well actually I say that, but up until yesterday afternoon, despite having weeks of notice, neither myself or Nat had even spared a single thought as to what we should make and so a rushed trip to the supermarket later, the trepidation crept in like a creepy man or a ninja that isn't very good, as it dawned on us we probably should have prepared a bit more.
I opted to make these ace courgette rolls that a friend had made some time ago. It seemed simple. You slice the courgettes thinly and then fill them with ricotta and pine nuts, et voila , a tasty and seemingly healthy - bar the cheese - snack. Except when the courgettes you have are too soft, the vegetable peeler isn't sharp enough and your own cutting skills with a knife mean that all the slices are too think to make into rolls without snapping them. Within minutes I was left with a big pile mauled vegetable, as though I had taken a vendetta out on zucchini. In a panicked rage I threw them all in a frying pan, with some ricotta then left it too long, burnt the lot and made my transformation into the Incredible Sulk. Various untrue comments about how I didn't want to go to the party anyway and how I thought all courgettes were idiots. Meanwhile Nat was tackling a pan of bubbling caramalised red onion that was oddly smelling like medicine. It was to go into tiny pastries which, upon getting home, she discovered were not savoury but in fact sweet ones. The fear of creating a mess of goats cheese, medicinal onion and sweet pastries was causing distress.
However, Nat having skills that she doesn't use to pay the bills, pulled it off and made 40 very tasty little canapes whilst all I had were excuses and an aroma of burnt courgette. Carefully placing all 40 on a pretty red Xmas tray, we left for the party. Within minutes of the car pulling away it became obvious that whilst the Xmas tray was nice, a plate with a rim would have saved me from being doused in tiny pastry and onion. Opting to hand the tray to Tom sitting in the front seat, he then balanced them for a whole 3 minutes before sending at least 10 more onto the food graveyard of the car floor. We arrived at the party with a half empty tray of what could be salvaged, a horde of stories about our canape hell, and a bottle of rum. I never want to pretend to be an adult again.
The party was excellent by the way, as a sort of happy ending to this tale of middle class woe. Tom Searle proved that a drink isn't a drink without wine in it, by pouring red wine into my rum and juice and making me drink it. I also had an interesting chat about the future of the NHS which made me feel all clever and sophisticated and then ruined that by trying to persuade someone who's job is predicting trends for interior design that she should predict the next big thing will be to have massive pictures of monkeys on all walls. The hope would be in three or four years time all the trendy types would have monkey filled houses and be the subject of mockery. She left soon after and I carried on drinking my glass of red misery. Winner. Tom and Nat ended up learning for the first time that if I do drink a lot, that they have to look after me like I'm a grumpy child and that hours of fun can be had by letting me try and open the front door when I haven't been informed that its double locked. Again, winner.
Today is a whole world of pain, but my stomach needs to understand that this is going to happen a lot for the next few weeks and needs to man up and stop grumbling.