Rob, my father-in-law, is still with us and probably will be for the foreseeable future. We love having him here as he’s cheerful, clever and funny – even though he’s 92 and nearly crippled with arthritis in every joint.
He is a retired physics lecturer and when discussing history is happy to tell you that something happened before the electron was discovered. Ask a question and he goes right into teacher mode, even if you only wanted a quick answer.
When he was in his 50s he was invited and went on a sabbatical to Paris to study holograms. Teachers don’t earn a lot of money but he was determined to go and lived in one-star accomodation.
Hearing him tell of his good friend Velodia from Russia, another researcher at the university in Paris, and how Velodia (staying in 3-star accomodation) would get vodka and other treats from the Russian embassy and the two of them would occasionally get smashed and wander around Paris. I would love to have been a fly on the wall for that. Velodia didn’t speak English, Rob didn’t speak Russian and they both spoke a smattering of French.
When he’s not working on my herb garden, he spends quite a bit of time on his computer every day writing to physics professors around the world, old friends from the university where he taught, family in Norway and reading the local Melbourne paper.
I’ve told you before he eats really well for an old fella. He loved Paris and still writes emails in French to several old friends. Yesterday I made some plain macarons and filled them with chocolate ganache. When I finished I brought him one and said, “I think if you eat one of these you automatically start speaking French.”
He’s too cute for words. This isn’t a great photo because those arthritic fingers hid the entire macaron — and I made big ones. (I probably should have said, “Comb your hair before I click,” but I didn’t.)
This macaron recipe is a good one. I made successful chocolate macarons last year and since then I’ve had 2 fails – no feet. I was almost expecting to turn on the oven light and see nothing that needed socks but I was pleasantly surprised. Not ony did I get feet but I got good ones.
- 140 grams egg whites (about 4 large egg whites) at room temperature
- 70 grams caster (superfine) sugar
- 230 grams icing (confectioners) sugar
- 120 grams almond meal
- pinch salt
- powder or gel food colouring - optional
- 100 grams dark chocolate
- 30 grams cream
- Preheat oven to 150C/300F
- Place egg whites and caster sugar in an electric mixer bowl and beat until stiff - you can pick up the bowl and hold it over your head and the mixture won't fall out.
- At this point add any food colouring you wish and beat for another one or two minutes.
- Sift the almond meal and icing sugar and then sift it again. You don't want any almond bits that are too big to go through the sieve as they'll mess up your macarons.
- Fold the almond meal and icing sugar into the beaten eggwhites with a large rubber spatula.
- Mixing or what's called the macronage stage is the key to good macarons so fold about 35-45 times or until the mixture is still thick but does run off the spatula in a ribbon.
- Line a tray with baking paper and pipe rounds of macaron mixture. I use a free macaron template.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until they come away from the baking paper easily.
- Match tops to bottoms and make the ganache filling.
- grams dark chocolate
- ml cream
- Bring the cream nearly to the boiling point and pour over the chocolate. Let stand for 2-3 minutes and then stir. Microwave for 10-20 seconds if there is any unmelted chocolate.
- Let cool and pipe onto the bottom of one macaron and place another to make a sandwich.