Two of my kids are desperate for mobile phones (cell phones in the US). They are almost 11 and 13. Most of their friend’s have them already and they feel hard done by (“complete losers” in their words) because up until now we have said no. They also want to go on Facebook. Again, it’s the friends.
We asked them to put a presentation together explaining why it was important to them and what they were willing to do to get a phone. It was their reasoning that got me thinking. They don’t like using the home phone; it’s embarrassing as no one else uses it. Nobody calls their friends up on the main number to arrange a get together. It’s all done through texts.
At first I thought “how ridiculous”! It’s so easy to just pick up the phone, dial the number and ask for the person you want to speak to. That’s not a legitimate reason to get a mobile. I was thinking safety (although they are rarely anywhere without an adult) and the occasional “my mum’s running late, I will be there in 15.”
The more I thought about it though, the more I began to think about my own use of the land-line. Or lack thereof. In fact I use it so little that in reality it barely leaves the cradle. When it does ring, I never answer it. Don’t leave me a message on it either as I never listen to them. (If they really want me, they’ll call me on my mobile!) Not only am I put off by the idea of speaking to someone I might not want to talk to, but I am also adverse to talking to someone I might.
In my teenage years and well in to my twenties, ironically when a phone call was costly, you couldn’t get me off it. I remember my parents saying “but you just spent all day with your friends at school, how can you have anything else to say to them?” But I did! There was a kid’s phone in the hallway outside our bedrooms and my sister and I would slip the long cord under our doors to allow us some privacy. Needless to say the cord ended up a tangled mess after years of pulling and twisting.
With the advent of email and then texting (and let us not forget Facebook and twitter), the demise of the land-line has been swift. Why get bogged down in all the niceties a phone call demands like “hi” and “how are you”, when you can just text “c u tmrw 10.30 4 coffee @ starbucks”? Similarly email enables to say things to people without having to hear their response or more importantly waste our time listening to it. How much more freely we can now say the things we might never have been able to say face-to-face with a quick hit of the send button. “No I can’t help at this week’s charity event,” “you really upset me when…,” “so sorry but I can’t make it on Friday night,” “your work is really sloppy, can you do it again”. Anyone?
I frequently complain about how isolating modern family life has become. Mobile phones and laptops enable our children to conduct their entire social life out of the communal space we live in. You will find them in their bedrooms having a varied number of “conversations” with the outside world without any involvement on your part. This is a level of privacy that was not available in my youth. And it worries me.
So do you pull your family back to an age gone by or do you try to find a way to make the modern age work for all of you? I am not sure I know the answer to that. Ask me in about 5 years.
What better way to get yourself geared up for a long overdue “proper chat” with that family member or friend you haven’t spoken to in ages, then a hot drink and a latte cupcake. Perhaps if I left them in a small cage by the home phone, with the dialling of it the only way to access them, we might just get around to it!
For the vanilla cupcake base, I used the Primrose Hill Bakery recipe which is my current fav. It makes 12 regular size.
110g unsalted butter at room temp
225g caster sugar
2 large eggs
150g self-raising flour
125g plain flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 180c/350f/gas mark 4. Line a 12-hole muffin tray with cupcakes cases.
Using a stand up mixer beat together the butter and sugar until pale and smooth (about 3-5 mins). Add eggs one at a time mixing for a few minutes after each.
Combine the flours in a separate bowl. In a jug mix the milk and vanilla extract.
With the mixer on the lowest speed, alternatively add the milk mixture and the flour mixture. You want to add one-third of the flour mixture first and then half of the milk mixture. Repeat this again and then finally add the remaining flour mixture. Beat until just combined.
Fill each cupcake liner two-thirds full with batter. Bake for 25 mins or until the tops are firm to touch and a toothpick/fork inserted comes out clean. Transfer to rack to cool completely.
For the latte custard filling:
235 ml double cream
2 egg yolks
3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso
Heat half the cream, 2 tablespoons of the sugar and the espresso until just boiling. Whisk together the yolks and the remaining sugar. Add half the hot cream mixture to the eggs whisking continually. Return this mixture to the pan with the remaining cream and bring it to a boil while still whisking. Allow it to boil for several minutes while it thickens. Strain the mixture and let it cool in a clean bowl. Whip the remaining cream to soft peaks and fold it into the custard until it is completely mixed in.
For the latte icing:
170g unsalted butter
130g confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon instant espresso
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Using a stand up mixer beat together the butter and sugar until pale and smooth. The longer you beat it, the fluffier it will get. Dissolve the espresso in a tablespoon of water and add it to the mixture along with the vanilla extract. Mix until combined.
To assemble the latte cupcakes:
1. Use a small knife and cut out the center of each cupcake into a cone shape with the wide part at the top of the cupcake.
2. Fill each cupcake with a teaspoonful of the latte custard.
3. Cut off the top part of the cone and place over the custard-filled hole.
4. Apply the icing to each cupcake however you like. I used a star-shaped tip and a piping bag.