Love to hate you
Valentine's is a day to broadcast saccharine love on social media platforms, but Sophie White will be celebrating the rage-love that fuels her marriage through pancakes.
Usually Valentine's Day is completely ignored in our house. I will also be shunning social media on the day in an attempt to avoid the deluge of posts of sparkly engagement rings, chilled bottles of Champagne and hashtags proclaiming 'feelingloved'.
Perhaps I'm being unduly scathing towards those in the first flush of love, but I never really went in for it even in the early days. Apathy would have prevailed had it not been for a recent brush with minor illness, which reminded me of the depth of feeling I have for Himself. Sadly, it was not a depth of positive feelings.
It is rare that I go in for the sick-and-bedridden routine, so it took me completely by surprise when I was struck down after Christmas. Luckily, Himself was on hand to administer Mother Teresa levels of martyrish, round-the-clock care.
After a couple of days of his saint-like behaviour, I found myself growing steadily more irritated. The more he tolerated my histrionics, the more demanding and unreasonable I became. If he didn't carry out my ridiculous requests to exacting standards, I would rage and glare from my - frankly disgusting - sick-bed, while he meekly proffered scented candles and treats.
I'm putting some of my mania down to fever, compounded by my home-remedy of Lemsip, topped up with shots of whiskey, but really a large part of it is the fact that when you find someone to love, you also find someone to hate.
This is how I know that I love Himself so much - there is no one else in the world for whom I can summon up such potent levels of hatred.
I am pretty indifferent to most people. Sure, I get annoyed by people who beep me if I take more than a nanosecond to drive on when the light turns green, and I have unlimited reserves of contempt for people who fetishise their pets. But it is only Himself who can illicit such disproportionate vitriol for what is usually a pretty minor infraction, such as an unsteeped Weetabix bowl.
But I feel this is something pretty universal to most couples. No one can wind us up better than our loved ones. When one of the Bitchherd doesn't answer her phone, do I fly into a homicidal rage? No, but when Himself doesn't answer, I have been known to leave screaming messages on his phone, wondering why a person even bothers to have a phone if they don't answer it.
This is painting a pretty volatile picture of our relationship, but after nearly 10 years, it is probably preferable to be spewing bile over who appears to be incapable of wiping down the bathroom sink after a beard trim, rather than to have already slid into resigned apathy.
So, this Valentine's Day, I was thinking that I might break with tradition and honour a decade of rage-love with a decadent breakfast of pancakes with a side of passive aggression. Lucky Himself.
Pancakes, grilled banana and maple syrup ice cream
Serves 2, with ice cream left over.
For the ice cream, you will need:
200g (7oz) of condensed milk
4 tablespoons of maple syrup
¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
600ml (1pt) cream
For the pancakes, you will need:
110g (3¾oz) flour
½ tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
A pinch of salt
Zest of one orange
½ teaspoon cinnamon
150ml (5fl oz) milk
1 tablespoon of melted butter
Butter for frying
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Make the ice cream the night before. In a bowl, combine the condensed milk, the maple syrup and the grated nutmeg. Whip the cream. Fold the cream gently into the condensed milk and maple syrup mixture, then pour the ice cream into a plastic container and freeze.
To make the pancakes, combine the flour, the baking powder, the sugar, the pinch of salt, the orange zest and the cinnamon in a bowl. Make a well in the centre of the mixture, add the egg and pour in the milk. Whisk together thoroughly to make a smooth batter, then whisk in the melted butter.
Heat a little butter in a non-stick pan over a medium-high heat and cook the pancakes in batches of three. Cook them on one side until bubbles appear on the top, then flip the pancakes over and cook them until they are firm in the middle. Transfer them to a dish in the oven to keep warm. Keeping the bananas in their skins, slice them in half lengthways and coat the cut sides with the brown sugar. Melt about a tablespoon of butter in the pan and add the bananas, sugar side down. Fry for about 5 minutes until the underside is caramelised, then flip them over and cook, skin side down, for a further 3 minutes until they are tender. Serve with the pancakes and a scoop of the maple syrup ice cream.