Introduction: Brunch on the Rocks
This is the story of TangerineBadger. She's very particular about her food, so she likes to take brunch in a certain way.
First Prize in the
Le Creuset Brunch Challenge
Step 1: TangerineBadger's Morning Routine
Every Sunday, she sleeps in late before taking the time to prepare a leisurely meal of Eggs Benedict, cereal, bread, fresh fruit, orange juice, champagne and a steaming cup of freshly brewed coffee.
When the weather's fair, TangerineBadger goes outside to enjoy her meal over the Sunday papers. Most weekends she'll sit on her veranda while she eats. If it's an especially gorgeous day, she'll consider going slightly farther afield.
Step 2: Searching for the Ideal Location
Sometimes she has to drive for miles, just to find the perfect spot for a picnic brunch.
Step 3: Scenery Is Important
She believes that selecting the appropriate surroundings is key to fully appreciating a good meal. Ideally, she'll take her brunch to a spot that affords a panorama of rolling hills and lush forest.
Step 4: A Cosy Little Spot on the Hillside
Rather than just plonking herself down willy-nilly atop an open hill, TangerineBadger likes to take a little bit of care in choosing her brunching seat.
Ideally, she'll abseil down a sheer cliff face to a cosy cranny that's sheltered from harsh, champagne-warming sunlight and distracting, newspaper-rustling breezes. Once she's in the perfect position, she'll nestle snugly into the tailor-made harness sewn into the fabric of her pyjama trousers, kick back and finally enjoy her morning meal in comfort and style.
Step 5: Behind the Scenes...
Of course, it's not quite that simple.
The above tale of a stylish young mountaineer taking her weekly brunches casually dangling from cliff-tops is largely based on fact, but we may have taken a few liberties with the details.
This Instructable is, in fact, a guide to staging our elaborate "Brunch on the rocks" photoshoot. It is a collaboration between PenfoldPlant and TangerineBadger.
In order to take these photographs, we had to climb some very large rocks. We are both experienced rock climbers and, as such, are well aware of the risks involved in climbing. Never go rock climbing if you have not been trained in the techniques involved in climbing, belaying, mountain safety, etc. If you are in doubt as to whether you are suitably experienced to try this, you are not suitably experienced to try this.
Personal comments from PenfoldPlant (PP) and TangerineBadger (TB) are featured in italics throughout the Instructable.
Step 6: What You'll Need
Below is a list of materials we used to make the brunch tray. It's long and fairly non-specific, so not very useful as a shopping list if you feel inclined to reproduce our project. However, it gives a flavour of what went into making this Instructable possible.
- Tray-sized cardboard box
- Old belt
- Place mats
- Plastic champagne glass
- Glass tumbler
- Coffee pot
- Bread basket
- Knife and fork
- Bread rolls
- Bar of soap
- Wide ribbon
- Acrylic paint
- Wood screws
- Cotton wool
- Plastic flowers
- Wire twist ties
- Printer paper (plus printer and ink)
- Clear plastic food packaging
- An awful lot of superglue
- Climbing shoes
- Belay devices
- First aid kit
- A very large cliff
- A camera
Step 7: Attaching a Strap
To make sure that our mountainside brunch didn't plummet to an untimely end, we had to secure it to our climber with a sturdy strap. This was as much for the safety of the people below as for the climber's convenience. Can you imagine having to explain to a mountain rescue paramedic that we'd accidentally concussed someone with a plate of synthetic Eggs Benedict?
The bulk of the brunch tray was made from a wide, shallow cardboard box. This came in two sections, one of which nestled neatly inside the other. To make the safety strap, we passed an old belt through one face of the inner section. We placed it off-centre so that it could be strapped to one leg while leaving the other one free for abseiling shenanigans.
Step 8: Reinforcing the Tray's Corners
The upper surface of the tray was made from two bamboo place-mats, glued side by side to the cardboard box.
As the mats were slightly larger than the box, we had to reinforce their corners with spare cardboard so that they didn't flop about too much. This was just a matter of cutting L-shaped pieces of cardboard and gluing them in place on the underside of the mats.
Step 9: Slicing the Ham
The ham in our Eggs Benedict was made from wide ribbon, which we cut into shape and painted with acrylic paint. Notice the careful detailing on the peppered rind; it's these little things that make us happy.
Step 10: Poaching the Egg
The egg was made by whittling a bar of soap to roughly the required shape and size using a sharp knife. We removed any visible corners by washing our hands with it under running water (this was also handy for removing the acrylic paint from our fingers), then drying it thoroughly with kitchen towel.
PP: Here's a useful tip that has come in handy for me several times in the past few years: the best way to remove superglue, paint or other stubborn stains or adhesives from your fingertips is to go rock climbing. Within a couple of hours, the abrasive surface of the rock will remove even the toughest fingertip stains.
Step 11: Assembling the Eggs Benedict
To keep the eggs and ham firmly affixed to our roll (well, half-roll) we skewered the whole lot on a thick wood screw, using a screwdriver to embed it carefully embed it into the soap without splitting it.
Step 12: Drizzling on the Hollandaise Sauce
A few dabs of yellow acrylic paint provided the finishing touch to our Eggs Benedict.
Step 13: Filling the Cornflakes Bowl
To give the illusion of milk and keep the bowl nice and light, we filled the bowl with cotton wool which we glued down. We then covered the cotton wool with enough white acrylic paint to create a smooth surface, onto which we superglued individual cornflakes.
Note that if you want to add a spoon, it's easier to do this before all the paint and cornflakes have dried.
TB: As we found out subsequently.
Step 14: Preparing the Gelatine
To create the water in the flower vase, the champagne and the coffee in both the pot and the cup, we used extremely thickly set gelatine, dyed to different colours.
We measured the amount of liquid needed over all by filling the different containers with water to the desired levels, then pouring the water together into a pan. We brought the water to the boil, then calculated three times the amount of gelatine required to set it according to the instructions on the gelatine packets. When in doubt, we added more gelatine. We weren't going for a nice jiggle, but for very solid.
We then soaked the gelatine in cold water and dissolved it in the boiled water to make a large batch of master liquid which we could then dye to different shades of brown using coffee.
For the water in the vase we used the clear liquid; for the champagne we added about half a teaspoon of coffee; for the coffee itself we added the equivalent of about two shots of espresso.
Step 15: Arranging the Flowers
For this meal's floral accompaniment, we trimmed some plastic flowers to size and glued them in place in a vase (actually an empty glass IV infusion bottle). So that our artificial flowers wouldn't dehydrate, we gave them some artificial water by half-filling the vase with untinted gelatine.
Step 16: Pouring the Champagne
The champagne was made by gently tinting a small portion of gelatine with coffee, then pouring it into a plastic champagne glass to set.
Step 17: Pouring a Steaming Cup of Coffee
To make the steam for the coffee, we glued a ball of cotton wool to the base of a small coffee cup.
Inside the cotton wool we glued a thin white twist tie (i.e. a piece of wire coated in a strip of plastic, used to keep refuse bags closed), which gave the steam cloud a bit more rigidity. With the twist tie in place, we could fluff up the wool and carefully pose it into the desired shape.
The coffee cup was then glued to a saucer and half-filled with coffee-dyed gelatine.
Step 18: Brewing the Coffee Pot
For the full effect of coffee being poured, it was vital that we had the coffee at the correct angle inside the jug. To achieve this, we wedged the empty jug at around 45 degrees, then filled it to its mouth with dark, coffee-dyed gelatine.
Step 19: Adding Some Flow to the Coffee
To make a poseable stream of coffee, we glued a strip of ribbon around some twist ties and painted it with brown acrylic paint. This made a rough flattened brown cylinder which we then glued to the mouth of the coffee jug.
Step 20: Lifting It Up and Pouring It Out
Altogether, the effect was rather pleasing.
Step 21: Catching the Morning News
The Daily Instructable was made using this template found at presentationmagazine.com.
We edited the text of the front page, then printed it off and wrapped it around some old newspaper to bulk it out.
Step 22: Squeezing Some O.J.
To make the orange juice, we painted two-thirds of the way up the inside of an old glass tumbler with orange acrylic paint. We then cut out and painted a circle of clear plastic (scavenged from an old strawberry container), which we taped horizontally , paint-side-down across the glass to make the juice's surface.
Step 23: Arranging the Bread Basket
We took two slightly stale crusty rolls and secured them to the inside of a light bread basket using a pair of screws (see picture). We also used a little bit of glue to stick the rolls together and to the basket itself.
To keep the bread basket attached to the tray, we fed a wire pipe cleaner through the gaps in its base and tied it through two small slits we cut in the tray.
Step 24: Serving It Up
Once we had all of the individual items assembled, we had to secure them all very firmly to the tray somehow. The last thing we wanted was for a coffee cup to suddenly come loose and fly down the cliff onto some bemused bystander!
Our solution to this was to use superglue. Lots and lots of superglue. Several tubes, in fact.
For the finishing touches, we also glued down a couple of pieces of real fruit and some cutlery.
Et voilà, brunch is served!
PP: Actually, the cereal bowl did come off during the photoshoot. The wind caught it and carried off into the forest, where a confused German hiker will someday find it.
Step 25: Note of Thanks
It's always nice to have supportive relatives, but this got tested to a maximum when undertaking this project. We want to thank TangerineBadger's parents, who apart from easy things such as giving up their dining table for a day of crafts and lending us their car also provided us with a base in Germany from which to launch our quest.
TB: My mom turned into a full-on prop master, sourcing second rate cutlery, bread basket, belt and trinkets. She also closely followed the weather forecast to make sure we could go through with the photo shoot. My dad cycled up the mountain to watch the entire scene happening, and remained remarkably calm, seeing that my crazy foreign boyfriend had just hoisted me up a cliff, then come back down and gone on a thirty minute walk to find a good spot to take pictures from.
Thanks to both of them. They might still wonder where all the craziness comes from, but they indulge it ever so nicely.
PP: I couldn't agree more. Herr and Frau Badger were nothing but supportive throughout the whole project. I'd like to thank them both for their generosity and patience. They are both wonderful people, even when I'm seemingly imperiling their only daughter's life.
Step 26: Testing It Out at 90 Degrees
Once the glue had all dried, we tested whether everything held together at various angles.
The second and third image in this section were both taken with TangerineBadger lying on her back, with the tray at 90 degrees to the horizontal.
That's some pretty rugged place-setting, all right.
PP: The first image shows TangerineBadger tilting the tray onto its side for the very first time. Even though she has her mouth wide open, the sound coming out of it was still, "Squeeeee!"
Step 27: Driving It Carefully to the Mountain
Now that we had our props prepared, the next stage was to get everything to the climbing site. Here's where it helps to have a sherpa who will be responsible for lugging the tray (and other equipment) up into the mountains. PenfoldPlant was employed in the role of sherpa.
The first step of his journey was a short drive, during which he held the tray in his lap and kept reminding himself not to eat any of the food glued onto it.
PP: Not shown in the first photo, TangerineBadger played the less important role of driver.
TB: This less important role included worrying about how the heck I would explain a passenger with full brunch tray to the police, if my car were stopped. I'm quite glad it didn't come to that.
Step 28: Ascending Aforementioned Mountain
Then came the arduous trek through the forest and up into the mountains. This is a lot easier when you're not carrying a tray, even if it is mostly covered with fake food and possible to hold at any angle.
It was roughly a 45-minute walk to the set of cliffs we had in mind.
PP: I didn't carry all of the kit shown in the first photo, but I insisted on posing next to it so that I'd look more manly.
Step 29: Making Base Camp
Time and adverse weather prevented us from taking more photos of our climbing location, but here is a great photo of Wielandstein from flickr.com, used within the terms of its creative commons licence (Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)).
See the original image online at: Ruine Wielandstein by 1yen
The following images are also worth visiting on flickr.com, but are not available for sharing under creative commons:
Ruine Wielandstein by Mr.Vamp
Wielandstein mit Wolken by horstmall
Yes, this is where we climbed with a full tray of brunch.
Step 30: Recruiting Bemused Helpers
The Wielandstein is a popular spot for rock climbers in the area, so we were pleased to find a few other groups present on the day. Most of them took a polite interest in what we were doing and we even managed to rope one of them in (PP: ho ho) to helping us out.
The skeptical looking man in the green shirt is Daniel. He was extraordinarily helpful and patient. Thank you, Daniel!
PP: Daniel really was amazing. He took a couple of hours out of his day to help out two complete strangers and didn't ask for anything in return. Climbers have a reputation for being friendly, and he is an absolute credit to the rest of the climbing community.
Step 31: Having a Sherpa Lead the Route
Next we had to get the tray to the summit of the cliff. This is where the safety strap on its underside came in handy.
With the brunch tray firmly strapped over his shoulder, the sherpa led the daring ascent of these treacherous cliffs.
PP: When I got to the top, I met another climber who asked what I was doing and complained that I didn't have any beer with me. When I explained that TangerineBadger was also on her way up, he asked if I was planning to propose to her over a meal. I wasn't (and I didn't), but I think that this project could easily be adapted into a very romantic date.
TB: While that's a sweet idea, I don't think a breakfast date that starts with a 45min hike and goes on with "just belay me while I get breakfast up the wall" and culminates in "Oh, but this isn't real food!", can be classed as romantic. Serious tweaking would be needed!
Step 32: Following Him Up in Jim-jams
TangerineBadger followed the same route up to the peak, with PenfoldPlant belaying her from above. To make climbing in pyjamas and bathrobes easier, we recommend tying the bathrobe into a small ball on your back, so it doesn't hinder your leg movements. It also helps if the pyjama pants are nicely oversized.
Step 33: Lowering Down the Sherpa
Now that we were both at the summit of the cliff, we needed to the return PenfoldPlant to the base so that he could take photos of TangerineBadger descending with the brunch tray.
TangerineBadger carefully lowered him down the vertical north face of Wielandstein. When he reached the base, PenfoldPlant untied from the rope and passed it over to Daniel, who was then able to belay (bottom-rope) TangerineBadger for her descent.
PP: This descent was somewhat more awkward than anticipated, for several reasons. The high winds and thick foliage at the top of the cliff meant that after descending about five metres I was unable to hear what TangerineBadger was saying as she belayed me, while the friction against the rope made it very hard for her to judge my position. Walkie-talkies would have made this stage much easier. Also, the rock face itself was slightly less structurally sound than we'd hoped. As we later found out, a good third of the cliff had sheared off during a heavy storm just a few years previously.
Step 34: Arming the Sherpa With a Telephoto Lens
PenfoldPlant then scuttled off to a good vantage point from which to take photographs.
Step 35: Carefully Descending With Brunch
After making sure that everyone (model, photographer, belayer and anxious relatives) was in position, TangerineBadger strapped the brunch tray to her legs, untied the bathrobe and gave Daniel the sign to start the descent.
The photos show her at about halfway down the cliff, approx. 12m above the ground.
TB: What we're jumping here is the part where people get into position, which took a good 30 minutes. As previously mentioned, communication between the peak and the bottom of the crag turned out quite sketchy because of the wind. This made the entire process quite arduous, and in the end needed a three person relay system, with me shouting down to helpers on the bottom of the east face, who then relayed the message around the bottom of the rock to the PP and Daniel on the north face and vice versa.
Step 36: Posing Delightfully
All that remained was to take suitably cool looking pictures of a seriously cool project.
TB: and by all that remains, we mean that it had started to rain and go cold and windy, we had coerced someone to hold a rope with me dangling from it, and my anxious dad was watching me climb for the second time ever. There was a little bit of time pressure, to say the least.
It's remarkably hard to look poised while on the rock balancing a tray. Instructions from below to "step your right foot and move your hips away from the rock while pouring coffee!", and "look poised!" didn't help either.
PP: Honestly, you can't find the models these days...
Step 37: The End
At last, brunch and model returned safely to the ground, everyone untied from the rope, and our kind volunteer assistant could return home.
No-one was hurt in the making of this brunch project, which was fantastically fun to craft and stage. Everyone at the crag who saw us with the tray immediately started smiling and we got lots of kind feedback. We both really enjoyed our brunch on the rocks and hope that you will too!
PP: Making an Instructable with TangerineBadger was even more fun than making one on my own. For me, the best thing about this project was doing it with such a good playmate.
TB: Right back at you. This project started as a crazy brainstorming session, and I really didn't think that we could pull it off. Turns out that two crafty climbers and five tubes of superglue can achieve a lot. Thank you for playing!
We have a be nice policy.
Please be positive and constructive.