Thursday 22 March 2018

Barefaced Cheek... and some nutty granola

Living with an exceptionally vain man has its advantages, though Sophie White soon learns that Himself has no sense of boundaries when it comes to double dipping

Sophie White

At the beginning of this year I made a resolution to start making more of an effort with my appearance. As I outlined in the piece I wrote for this very magazine, I was reasonably committed to certain aspects of looking presentable - wearing make-up and that sort of thing - but was woeful at the more taxing grooming.

Since writing the piece, I'll be honest, I have made no further inroads into the quest for improved grooming and reduced body hair. If anything, quite the reverse - I have slipped further into grooming complacency.

Since about the age of 14, I have worn make-up every day. I am one of those annoying people who go to the airport at 4am to catch a flight, wearing a full face of make-up. This is not something I'm proud of, but the fact is, for me, not wearing make-up is a really big deal.

I have quite bad skin, and on the rare occasion when I'm not wearing make-up, I feel incredibly exposed and ugly. But I've always longed to be one of those people who just uses a bit of tinted moisturiser and mascara. It's a confidence thing. In my defence, I was raised in the school of "a bit of lippy". My mother is a woman who claims that when I answer the phone, she can hear that I'm not wearing enough lipstick.

In case you think I am fishing for compliments, or completely appearance dysmorphic, that photo on the right is me at my optimum. It was taken on my wedding day. Everyone looks reasonably good on their wedding day, so it is not representative of me day-to-day.

Himself, who is never self-conscious, frequently mocks me about my spots. If there is a new one, he will remind me that he has yet to be formally introduced to "my new face friend".

Himself is incredibly vain, and if I ever complain to him about my affliction, he immediately turns into his mother and lectures me for eating sugar - which is, according to the Whites, the only known cause of spots. Himself's maintenance regime is simple. He is a one-product kind of guy, which would be fine if that one product didn't also serve as a key ingredient in my breakfast. His go-to, all-in-one cleanser, moisturiser and hair serum is none other than my coconut oil.

Prior to this gruesome discovery, I kept a big jar of coconut oil beside the stove, within easy reach, to stir in when making the morning porridge. Imagine my horror one day when Himself marched into the kitchen and, bare-handed, clawed out a chunk of the oil and began massaging it into his beard, onto his face and into his hair. Effectively, slathering it all over his entire head. Grotesque. Even worse, he went in for a double dip.

As disgusting as his method is, he does have exceptionally good hair and skin, so perhaps he is on to something after all. I instated a new 'grooming-dedicated' jar of coconut oil in the bathroom and joined in the morning slather. After a few weeks, I did start to notice an improvement in my skin. For a period, I even ceased wearing make-up around the house and felt confident enough to venture to the shops barefaced.

One night, excited, I told him about the next step in my programme - I was planning to go to work without make-up. At this point, he must've contacted my mother to arrange an intervention, as she rang just moments later and said I sounded like I wasn't wearing enough foundation.

I've accepted that perhaps the world isn't ready for my make-up-free self(ie), so I've resumed the shlap and have turned to granola for my coconut oil consumption as the summer hits, and porridge is off the menu.

Nutty Granola

10 portions.

You will need:

200g (7oz) hazelnuts

100g (3½oz) pecan nuts

300g (11oz) oats

100g (3½oz) desiccated coconut

150g (5oz) pumpkin seeds

4 tablespoons coconut oil

4 tablespoons maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 180°C, 355°F, Gas 4. Put the hazelnuts and the pecan nuts in a food processor and whizz for a few seconds to roughly chop them.

Line a deep oven tray with baking paper and pour in the chopped hazelnuts and pecan nuts, the oats, the desiccated coconut and the pumpkin seeds. Put the coconut oil and the maple syrup in a pot over a low heat and stir them together to melt and combine them thoroughly.

Pour the coconut oil and maple syrup mixture over the chopped nuts, oats, desiccated coconut and pumpkin seed mixture in the tray and toss together, ensuring that everything is evenly coated. Place the tray in the middle of the oven and bake for 20 minutes, tossing the mixture every few minutes until the granola is evenly golden. Remove the tray from the oven and allow the granola to cool completely before storing it in an airtight container.

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