Playing with Fire

We’ve been back to the doctor and it wasn’t good news.  He’s concerned Arabella still has The Glange in her bloodstream and therefore needs to lie low and not go anywhere or do anything for at least the next few weeks.  He wrote her a medical certificate for another two weeks off school, minimum, and recommended no outings.

‘But I have my formal on Thursday’, stressed Arabella.

‘Well you don’t have to go to your formal’, he said, ‘Most kids who go to their formal don’t even remember it.  It’s really not that big a deal.  Trust me, you won’t be disappointed if you miss it’.  And the delivery of this news just rolled off the tongue with a great air of nonchalance like all Arabella was missing was an early morning gym class.

The man has no idea.

Pistachio and Rosewater Turkish Delight

On the way to the appointment I spoke on the phone with Arabella’s date’s mother.  The date is the boyfriend who is now the ex-boyfriend but they are still ‘special friends’ (I don’t know what that means).  His mother has bought her son a suit and booked his train travel from Gunnedah to Sydney.  He arrives on Wednesday afternoon after his seven-hour train trip and will stay with us for three nights.

Before the doctor’s appointment we went to the jewellery store where we collected the earrings she will wear to her formal.  Beautiful Thomas Sabo sterling silver drop little disco balls that are a gift from her boss.

And prior to the visit with the doctor I organised some pre-formal drinks at our house that are actually the pre-pre’s because after our pre’s we are taking her to the actual pre’s that are being held at her friend’s house.  Confused?

I’ve bought the formal tickets and they cost almost as much as a week’s wages and I’ve also bought the tickets to the Afters.  The hair appointment has been booked as has the make-up appointment and I’ve had to pay a 50% non-refundable deposit.

Not to mention The Dress that is being delivered here on Wednesday night after a few fittings by The Tailor that were not so close to home.

Of course her health must come first.  The doctor is worried that if she does too much she could end up with CFS.

‘What’s that?’ asked Arabella.

‘Chronic Fatigue Syndrome’, he said, ‘You don’t want that’.

And he went on and on about what a miserable life she would have if The Glange turned into CFS.   Arabella listed all that she has given up.  ‘There’s the ski trip and the weekend at the races and Briony’s 18th and the movie night at Elsie’s and all the gatherings I haven’t been or won’t be going to.  And now the formal?’  And she was very glum and turned to me.  ‘I can’t not go to my formal, mum’.

‘What have you got planned for the night?’ asked the doctor.

‘Well there’s the pre-pre’s, then the pre’s, then the formal, the pre-afters and the afters and then I’ve been invited to stay in a suite at a hotel near the afters with another family’.

‘Arabella, do you really think you are up for all of that?’ he asked.

‘I was really looking forward to it’, she said in a very sad voice.

‘What can you cut out?’

And after a very lengthy consultation Arabella conceded to some pre-pre’s here with family and family friends, then pre’s with her own friends and attending the formal for a very short time.

‘You don’t want to play with fire’, he said.

And so Arabella and her boyfriend who is now the ex-boyfriend but the special friend have made a concession to have all the glamour but half the fun.

It will still be her ‘night of nights’.

Arabella’s not allowed to help with food preparation for fear of contaminating us all but she did enjoy watching me make this Middle Eastern favourite.

Pistachio and Rosewater Turkish Delight

Pistachio and Rosewater Turkish Delight

Makes: 24

Degree of Difficulty:  3/5

Cost:  It really is just sugar and water and cornflour so very cheap to make and even cheaper if you make it without the nuts!

  •  2 cups sugar
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/4 tsp tartaric acid
  • 3/4 cup cornflour
  • 1 3/4 cups icing sugar
  • 4 drops rosewater
  • few drops pink food colouring
  • 1/2 cup chopped, shelled pistachios

Put sugar and 1/3 cup of the water in saucepan, stir over low heat until sugar has dissolved, brushing down sides of saucepan frequently.  Bring to boil, reduce heat, simmer until syrup reaches temperature of 240F, (115C) on sweets thermometer (approximately 20 minutes).  Add tartaric acid, remove from heat.

Combine cornflour and sifted icing sugar in bowl, add another half cup of the water, stir until smooth.  Bring remaining water to the boil, add to cornflour mixture, stirring continually.  Put into saucepan, stir over medium heat until mixture boils and thickens, add hot syrup gradually, mixing over the heat until well blended.

Continue to boil gently 30 minutes, without stirring.  It is important to boil the mixture for this amount of time for correct incorporation of ingredients.  The mixture should be a very pale straw colour and transparent.

Add the rosewater, pink food colouring and pistachios.  Pour into greased deep 20cm (8in) square tin.  Stand several hours or overnight until set.  Cut into squares with wetted knife.  Toss the squares in combined sifted icing sugar and cornflour (you will need about 1 cup of each).  Store in air-tight container, sprinkle with a little extra combined cornflour and icing sugar.

Makes an excellent hostess gift.

This recipe has been adapted from a recipe I found in the Australian Women’s Weekly Cooking Class Cookbook.

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  1. Poor Arabella.  My heart ached for her when I read this. Of course she wants to do all those things!  Sometimes life’s not fair and it’s a tough lesson to learn for an active young woman.

    The Turkish Delight WILL help.

  2. Hi,
    It must be so hard for Arabella, my heart does go out to her, but at least she can go to a bit of the formal which is a lot better than not going at all.

    I love Turkish Delight. 🙂

  3. I feel for Arabella. Poor thing. Sorry that it’s taking so long for her to get better. That glange is the worst. At least she gets to go to some of the festivities. Can’t wait to see pictures of the dress!

  4. Jo Baby says:

    I’m sure I speak for others when I say we’d love to see a wee pic or 2 from the night. Yummy turkish delight…I’m going to have rosewater dreams tonight!

  5. I can feel for her too, dear Charlie, sorry for this. But her health is more important and you are doing right. You are so nice mother too dear Charlie, as your amazing recipes too… 🙂 Turkish delights… I have never done… but I love to eat them… I wish your daughter to get well soon and don’t be sad for anything… Thank you, Blessing and Happiness to you all, love, nia 

  6. Hello Charlie, I’m back from a vacation trip and I just read that your daughter is sick, oh I hope she feels better really quickly.
    My thoughts are with you.

  7. Glad that at least she can enjoy part of her formal 🙂

  8. Mandy - The Complete Cook Book says:

    Oh no, poor Arabella is having a real time with this glange!  Hope she is able to enjoy as much as she can at her formal and then bed rest!
    🙂 Mandy

  9. Poor Arabella, what a disappointment.  But at least she can enjoy part of the festivities.   It’s good that she is cutting back as CFS would be a true horror.

    I almost make myself sick in Istanbul on each trip by over-indulging in Turkish delight (and I am not an over-indulger usually) and this is my absolute favorite combination of flavors.  Thanks so much for this recipe.

  10. Bitsandbreadcrumbs says:

    Poor Arabella and poor you! As I was reading this, looking at the beautiful earrings, the dress, fabric, tailor and hearing about the overall expense, I kept thinking how horrible it would be if she couldn’t go at all. And while I know this compromise is a huge disappointment to her, at least she gets to go and enjoy some of the festivities. Sending positive energy her way for better health…and some positive energy for you, too Charlie Louie! 🙂

    Quick question: Do you know if Tartaric acid and Cream of Tartar the same thing? Your delights do look delightful!

    • hotlyspiced says:

      I wondered the same thing Betsy. I had to google it because I had Cream of Tartar but I didn’t have tartaric acid. Apparently they are derived from the same thing but cream of tartar has had the acid altered or changed. I didn’t want to risk a it so I went and bought tartaric acid – could only buy a huge back of it too – wonder how I’ll use it up! xx

  11. I hope Arabella can recover soon!  So tough to lie low when you’re young and social.

  12. Mar says:

    Oh. 🙁 poor, poor Arabella. I know about being sick during year 12 and missing fun… and it’s Horrible! I had to leave a bunch of stuff after a couple of hours, which seemed to be just when everything was getting interesting.
    But I also know about having CFS (5 years now)…. And I can safely say that overdoing it is not worth the risk.

  13. That compromise certainly sounds workable. Just make certain she adheres to the agreement because this does sound like a serious health issue.

  14. Charlie, you are very clever, I’ve never thought of making my own Turkish delight!

    Poor Arabella and poor you. I agree that she has to be careful not to get CFS, but it’s a little like telling someone they have to postpone their wedding… xx

  15. This poor girl! And poor you! It’s hard to know which stressors are going to tip the balance! Perhaps going out a bit (is there such a thing as ‘a bit’) will be less physically taxing than the histrionics at home if she misses out entirely! I wouldn’t want to make that call, but I can certainly understand how complex a situation it is! I am still waiting for the story of the guy from Phoenix! Apparently he isn’t the “special friend,” though. Imagine what it would be like if you had more than one daughter, Charlie 🙂 oxo Debra

  16. Choc Chip Uru says:

    This sounds very serious my friend – I hope Arabella gets well soon!
    I think her compromise is perfect to still enjoy the night of nights in high school 🙂


  17. Juliet Batten says:

    Oh what dilemmas! And everything is so tragic at that age. Sounds like there is scope for compromise however. I hope it all goes well and that she can rest before and after.

  18. Poor Arabella. It’s hard to be practical when you’ve built up this evening into such a special series of events.

    Lovely turkish delight. One of my favourite treats.

  19. Oh I can hardly bear it for her, that’s a great compromise. I hope the week unfolds smoothly and she has a fabulous time. Adore the new dress, hope we get a little sneak peak. You have done very well Charlie. X

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Thanks Kris. Yes, I’ll share some photos. Really looking forward to the weekend though when this is all over! xx

  20. I feel so sorry for Arabella 🙁 That poor girl she’s gone you and her have both gone through so much for the formal and paid all that money and she was told she couldn’t go 🙁 But i’m glad you were able to work it out with doctor in the end and that she’s still going to go but only for a short period of time 😀 That’s still better than missing the whole formal 😀

  21. Oh poor Arabella I really do feel for her. I would have been devastated if someone had told me I couldn’t go to my formal.

    She’ll just have to have double the fun for the time that she is there (in a low-key fashion).

    Sending her lots of get-well-soon thoughts. xx

  22. Heh, I didn’t realise Turkish Delight used such easy ingredients.. I actually have everything, all except the rosewater. Hm, need to wait a bit because I’m making a lot of sweets these days it seems but “soon” 🙂

    • hotlyspiced says:

      I was surprised too. It really is just sugar, sugar and cornflour and a bit of flavouring and colouring. I had to watch it like a hawk when it was simmering for half an hour and the recipe said not to stir it. I was terrified it was going to burn because by then it is very thick. I turned the gas hob down as low as it could go. That’s the tricky part so good luck and let me know how it turns out for you xx

  23. Oh yes, Chronic Fatigue was exactly what I was warning about! It happened to a friend of mine after glandular, and it was not fun at all. Also, holy smokes, I can’t believe how extravagant this night is! My formal seems like a walk in the park in comparison. Phwoar! “Half the fun” is still probably more than the shenanigans my friends and I got up to 🙂

  24. Poor Arabella.  I am sending her lots of positive energy to help her get well soon.  It could still happen.. she has a few more days.  I don’t want her to  miss her formal dance… and contrary to what the doctor said, I believe it’s something that you don’t want to miss when you are at her age right?  HUGS,

  25. Oh poor Arabella. I’m so sorry. I was actually talking about her with my mom the other evening. My mom and I both had mono. Mine was my first year of college and while I didn’t have it that awful, I did miss cheer try-outs. My mom on the other hand, had it her senior year of high school and missed out on a ton of stuff. She was home for two months from school. I hope that Arabella feels better soon. My heart goes out to her.

  26. ChgoJohn says:

    So sorry that Arabella’s illness is being so uncooperative. Truly bad luck. At least she’ll be able to spend a little time at the Big Event. Sending positive thoughts your way. 

  27. InTolerant Chef says:

    I’m glad there was a suitable compromise available, at least its not ask bad news for Arabella. My friend was a healthy late teenager who came down hard with cfs out of the blue. He missed out on three years of life. He was a successful model who lost important contracts and uni was put on hold, not to talk about hits love life! Better to put life on hold for weeks rather than years!
    My husband adores Turkish delight, and would love me to make this fantastic recipe indeed 🙂

  28. Oh poor Arabella – and poor you, with the stressful lead up and then stressful end! I’m glad there is a compromise and hope it doesn’t hurt her health too much. The doctor clearly doesn’t spend enough time with year 12 girls in the lead up to their balls!

  29. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella says:

    I hope Arabella gets better soon! The doctor is so wrong, of course you remember your formal-imagine dispensing that advice! 😛

  30. Love the description of the events … the pre-pre, pre, etc … nonetheless, hope she gets feeling better and can enjoy part of the evening. Oh … the treat looks yummy. (FYI: I added a link to my post that hopefully will lead you to the video.)

  31. Karen (Back Road Journal) says:

    The compromise doesn’t seem too bad. I know that what ever she ends up being able to do will be memorable for her.

  32. Oh, poor Arabella, my heart really goes out to her (and you for all the money you’ve spent so far). Not knowing the timing, could you possibly rent a wheel chair and she could be wheeled around her actual formal? I love Tomas Sabo, in fact I am wearing the charm bracelet (23rd anniversary gift) with the champagne bottle charm (24rth anniversary gift). I just gave a girlfriend the charm bracelet for her 40th birthday!
    I adore Turkish toffee and never thought to make it myself. I’ll bookmark this recipe for sure.
    I do hope you post some photos of the prom and the dresses!
    All the best to Arabella.

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Hi Eva, do you think a wheelchair would do the dress justice? I’m not sure but I’ll put it to her! I love Thomas Sabo too. I have the black bracelet with three charms on it – a heart, a cross and a C for Charlie! And I have the purple bracelet with the sparkly ball on it. As for Arabella, she just has the whole collection! xx

  33. I am so glad that you guys were able to work out a compromise. As I was reading, I was so sad and crossing my fingers 🙂

  34. It would be awful to miss a formal… but tickets that cost a week’s wages!  My own “proms” (I’m American!) were not that long ago and tickets cost about $20.  Are they going to be giving out iPads to everyone who attends the formal or something??

  35. Delicious looking delight Charlie. I hope it all works out for Arabella. We didn’t have a formal in my day but I can imagine her disappointment in missing it.

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