It’s been almost a decade since I last lived on my own, in a poky little flat above a veterinary clinic in North-West London. It was furnished with mismatched, tired looking pieces, and in the kitchen was a washing machine which I initially thought was cactus. One day, a couple of kicks and a few expletives later, it miraculously came back to life and worked surprisingly well from then onwards.
The flat shared an entry with the clinic’s waiting room, and so I would often find myself sidling past curious wet noses who would sniff eagerly at my bags of groceries on the way in or garbage on the way out. The bathroom was adorned in lustrous, cracked maroon tiles with gold accents that may have had its’ glory days in the 1970’s. Entertainment was provided intermittently by the patrons of the Irish pub next door and by another neighbour who would regularly and loudly assure the entire neighbourhood that ‘Jesus would save them!’ at convenient times such as four o’clock in the morning. The apartment was what the kinder of us would call ‘full of character’, an apt introduction to the colourful place that is London.
At the time, I bought myself a book called Live Alone and Like it by Marjorie Hillis, whose cover declared it to be ‘A 1935 Bestseller’. The quirk in me couldn’t resist as not only was it on the ‘3 for 2’ table at Borders, but it boasted chapters titled A Lady and Her Liquor, Pleasures of a Single Bed and the intriguing You’d Better Skip This One.
Ms Hillis’ advice, although many decades old, is strangely still relevant. She advises against self-pity at being alone, warning that “Not only will you soon actually be all alone; you will also be the outstanding example of the super-bore”. She doles out practical advice on the merits of saving money, for example, and cautions that “…..eventually, if no husband has turned up and no obliging relative has died, there comes a horrid conviction that putting aside a little something for a rainy day is not such a bad idea.” In a chapter delightfully headed When A Lady Needs a Friend, Marge gets straight to the point with “….the truth is that if you’re interesting, you’ll have plenty of friends and if you’re not, you won’t- unless you’re very, very rich”. Truest of all are her words on furnishing and decor, “This is your house, and it’s probably the only place in the world where you can have things exactly as you please.”
And the discovery that I could do just what I wanted in my space was a delightfully liberating one. Bake cookies at midnight! Paint the wall bright blue! Accumulate framed art that I never hang! Walk around without pants on! (Close the blinds first!!)
Oh…..and chocolate cake for dinner!
I want to equip you with this recipe, for those times when nothing but chocolate cake will do. This is a recipe for chocolate cake for one, made in the Tefal Cook4Me electric pressure cooker (which I have gushed about previously in my last post), so that it’s nice and moist. If you are interesting enough to have a friend or a chocolate-loving date over, then just double the recipe and divide it into two ramekins. It is gluten free, can be easily made vegan, and is (gasp!) even nourishing, with its healthy fats and proteins. Most importantly, it is quick to make and fuss free.
Oh! Oh! Oh!! I also have some gorgeous Tefal 17cm Santoku knives to give away to you, my dear readers! To enter, drop me a comment here. What I want to know is, what do you enjoy doing when you have the house to yourself? Please keep it clean, obviously! I will pick a couple of my favourite revelations to send these gorgeous, soft-handled knives to. I can only send to Australian addresses, and you can enter as many times as you want with separate comments.
So tell me, what is your favourite home-alone activity or indulgence?
*Cook4Me and Santoku knives were kindly provided by Tefal, however all opinions are my own.
Pressure Cooker Chocolate Cake for One
1/3 cup almond meal
1 tbsp buckwheat flour
½ tsp baking powder
2 tbsp cocoa powder or raw cocoa
2-3 tsp brown sugar
¼ tsp vanilla paste or powder
Tiny pinch salt
2 tsp milk (use non-dairy milk for vegan option)
1 tsp coconut oil, melted
1 tsp full-fat youghurt or aquafaba (for vegan option)
1 1/2 cups water
Place all the ingredients apart from the water in a small mixing bowl and mix until just combined. Place in a ramekin.
Remove the steamer basket from the Tefal Cook4Me. Pour 1 1/2 cups of water in the bottom of the main pot. Place the ramekin in the main pot. The water should come up to about halfway up the outside of the ramekin.
Close and lock the lid of the Tefal Cook4Me. Choose recipes, then choose the ‘Chocolate Sponge Pudding’ setting. Press enter through all the steps and then accept the cooking time.
When cooked, carefully remove the hot ramekin from the cooker and eat the cake straight out of the ramekin with a dollop of cream, ice-cream or Greek yoghurt. Feel free to enjoy for dinner without judgement or disapproving eyes.
Aquafaba is the liquid from a can of chick peas or beans, or the cooking liquid from the same. It is full of protein and a great vegan egg replacer.