"The danger of venturing into uncharted waters is not nearly as dangerous as staying on shore, waiting for your boat to come in" - Charles F. Gassman
As I am getting close to publishing my book about my recovery from M.E. I haven't had as much time for baking or blogging, but over the weekend I was inspired to do both. I had just written a piece for a newsletter about M.E.. where I mentioned my blogs so one has followed!
One of the things that has appeared in my writing, both in the piece I mention above and my book, is how I felt during my time with M.E. I had lost who I had previously been and was existing between two worlds as though in a sort of no man’s land, waiting for something. I now realise that this was what I needed. So much had been happening for me before I became ill, wearing myself out with work, emotions, worries, anxieties and, as I have mentioned in a previous blog, I was unknowingly very depressed. Before becoming ill, work and all that came with it was the highlight of my life; I loved living the high life, commuting to London, whizzing around from meeting to meeting but, over time, I hadn't been looking after myself properly; I wasn't eating healthily, I wasn't drinking enough water and I was working exceedingly long hours; I was becoming very stressed and fatigued. I thought I was the Duracell bunny, except my battery power was running out and it finally expired on Valentine’s Day 2004. The problem was I tried to keep on going like the Duracell bunny, trying to do what I had done before, but that wasn't going to work any more. Life had changed for me, literally overnight and, although being in between those two worlds was difficult at times and confusing, that is what I needed to do until I found the compass to move me forward.
At the time I was also working with a life coach, Francine Kaye (http://www.francinekaye.com) who helped me enormously with this massive change in my life. She realised that a mind-shift in me had happened when I finally relented and allowed myself to “wait”; she explained that at first I had been like a rider desperately trying to pull my horse in the direction that I wanted to go, but what I needed to do was to let the horse pull me where it wanted and that is what I finally did. The difference between these two was about effort - me trying to pull the horse was effortful, whereas the horse pulling me was effortless. That was how I had to be until the time was right for me to move on - in an effortless state because I did not have the energy to be anything else.
When the time was ready for me to take action, it was important that I did so with a professional whom I trusted, because I could only “wait” for so long. I was in uncharted waters and I didn't even think I had a boat, but as Charles F Glassman says in his quote, “The danger of venturing into uncharted waters is not nearly as dangerous as staying on shore, waiting for your boat to come in.” What the professional advice did for me was to find me a "boat" to start with and then point it in the right direction with my star to guide me; the rest was up to me.
Thinking about being sandwiched between two worlds got me thinking about custard creams! I have only recently found this recipe again and they are delicious. They are not as sweet as the ones we can buy in the shops and they are far lighter too. The other thing is that they use an ingredient from my childhood, Bird’s Custard Powder.
Yes, this is a bit of a cheat's way of making custard, but the flavour evokes such lovely memories that a little cheating doesn't really matter, does it? The recipe is from Nigella Lawson’s book “Feast” - http://amzn.to/2oE5CkG.
These biscuits can be cut into any shape, like the boat and the star above, just remember if they are unusual shapes to turn the cutter round for the back to back biscuits!
175 g plain flour
3 tablespoons Bird’s custard powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
50 g unsalted butter cut into smallish cubes
50 g vegetable suet (Trex) cut into smallish pieces
3 tablespoons caster sugar
1 tablespoon milk
Custard Cream Filling
1 tablespoon Bird's custard powder
100 g icing sugar
50 g unsalted butter softened
1 teaspoon boiling water
Preheat oven to 180℃ (160℃ fan).
For the biscuits, place the flour, custard powder and baking powder into a food process and whizz until well mixed. Add the butter and the vegetable suet and whizz until like large breadcrumbs.
Pour in the sugar and whizz again and then add the egg and milk down the funnel of the processor, but add a little at a time as you may not need it all to bring together in one ball. Wrap the biscuit dough in cling film and put in the fridge for about 20-30 minutes.
Lightly flour a work surface and roll the dough out to about thickness of 4 mm. Use whichever cutter you like dip it in some flour to cut out the shapes. Place the biscuits onto lined baking sheets, with a little room in between. This recipe allows for about 26-30 biscuits (about 13-15 custard creams when doubled).
Prick the outside edges of the biscuits with a fork around to give a nice perforation pattern and bake in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes. If the biscuits are quite small, they made need fewer minutes in the oven. Cool them on a baking rack before sandwiching them with the cream.
To make the custard cream, mix the custard powder and icing sugar in the food processor until combined and fine. Add the butter and mix until it forms a smooth cream. Add the teaspoon of boiling water down the funnel and whizz again.
I find that using a pallet knife is the best way to add the cream filling as it avoids the biscuits breaking. Put a little of the cream in the middle of each biscuit, take the other side and lightly press together, moving around a little to spread the mixture around both bases.
Finally, enjoy with a nice cup of tea!