We woke up this Sunday to no internet or television connection in our apartment.
Imagine our dismay–a young, married couple–having to communicate–without a laptop propped nearby, or a loud television program distracting us in the background.
This may have been an opportunity, we thought, to follow in the footsteps of our ancestors; perhaps occupy our time with a variety of primitive early-human recreational activities such as “talking to one another” and “going outside to admire the scenery.”
But then we laughed, and called the repair man.
He never showed up. We stared at each other, and then at the blank television screen; even poked our lifeless laptop monitors.
“It no work!”, we said, pointing; banging on the internet modem, shaking it. “Work, magical rock. Work!”
After some time spent in silent contemplation, a light-bulb thought bubble grew over my husband’s head, and he remembered that we owned a pair of badminton rackets–which we had brought over from South Africa with noble, naive intentions to “get exercise”.
On searching the bedroom, we found them, along with the birdie–sitting forgotten and unused in the bedroom closet.
What happened next was our only logical choice.
We called it: “Apartment Badminton”, and began to set up the court. The couch and chairs became the net. Ladies got the side with the AC unit; Gents had to maneuver around the dinner table. I wasn’t one to argue with the rules.
The volley began. There were many misses; many close saves. The birdie bounced back and forth across the couch-net; sometimes bouncing off of it; sometimes hitting a ceiling light and landing on a chair. The tension mounted as we kept score–in the hopes of winning the coveted Five-Liter-Empty-Water- Bottle Trophy and waving it victoriously over our heads in the face of the defeated opponent. The first game I won, 21-7 (or 21-6, or 21-2, or whatever his abysmally low score was); and the second he won, 17-21.
I was insultingly, though correctly accused of cheating. I denied these accusations vehemently.
We decided, while playing, that to mimic the effect of “conversation”, we should play our own version of “Would I Lie To You”, inspired by the BBC game show.
Here, one person had to rack their brain to come up with random stories about themselves which may have been too irrelevant to share over the course of a seven year relationship, and the other person had to ask questions about the story to guess whether it was the truth or a lie. And of course, they had to be asked in the best impression of David Mitchell’s voice as was possible.
We were surprised–and perhaps a little alarmed–at the information we discovered.
Entertaining though it may have been, I must caution any interested couples with a disclaimer: You may think you know your spouse, or long-term partner, but through playing this game, one might discover strange things: like for example, how your husband once knowingly sampled “chocolate-flavored” dog biscuits (a detail that was never mentioned before the wedding)…or that your wife’s first business venture was to pluck a wheat-like weed that commonly grew in everyone’s garden, and travel door-to-door with a friend selling them as “brooms” for five cents each, eventually making a grand total of fifteen cents.
And then, when you truly start to question the secret, shadowy past life that has been kept from you for all these years by the dangerous eccentric you appear to have married, you can end the game and make jam doughnuts.
Recipe adapted from: http://allrecipes.co.uk/recipe/4505/jam-doughnuts.aspx and http://emilycooksvegan.com/2013/12/28/jam-doughnuts/
1 cup milk
5 tbsp water
1 egg, beaten
3 tbsp melted butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp instant yeast
2.5 cups cake wheat flour (and about 1 cup more for kneading)
Oil, for frying
Mix all the ingredients except for flour, in a large bowl with a fork. Slowly add the flour and keep mixing with the fork until you get a sticky dough. Switch to kneading with your hand. Lift up the dough with your hand, spread some extra flour onto the bowl, and continue to knead until it forms some kind of ball shape and doesn’t feel so sticky. (Although it will still be sticky).
Cover with damp cloth and let rise for an hour.
After an hour, roll out the dough (which should have doubled) on a lightly- floured surface, kneading a little, and shape into a log. Cut 8-10 pieces, form them into balls; and place on covered baking tray. The dough should be much less sticky.
Let rise for about another hour.
Create piping bag: Ziploc bag + jam.
Put about 1-2 cups of oil in a deep pan, and heat to 180 degrees C. Roll the doughnuts, which would have expanded again, into a neat ball with some flour on your hands. You can put some mashed bananas (or apples) with sugar in the center before rolling if you like.
Place them carefully into the oil with a spatula. They should brown nicely on each side for 2-5 minutes.
Drain on paper towel, and sprinkle sugar on top, then patiently wait for it to completely cool before piping in jam. EAT THE FIRST FEW AS SOON AS YOU CAN AND JUST SPREAD JAM ON THEM OMG THEY ARE SO DELICIOUS.
If there any are left, stick them with a butter knife and pipe in the jam.
Then, maybe have dinner; if you insist on the formality.
This guy didn’t make it to the “piping jam” phase.
These are delicious. I couldn’t stop eating them, and completely ignored the healthy dinner that was cooking away on the stove top. The dough, at times, is difficult to work with because it is so sticky, but you just have to keep adding more flour to the surface where you’re kneading, until it becomes easy to handle.
My husband, too, said that they were really good. But after what I learned, I might have to take his culinary verdicts with a pinch of salt.