I’ve been furiously busy this week. I’m writing articles for a magazine, trying to clean my house – which consistently looks like an household grenade has been deployed, and spent all day Wednesday and Friday preparing food and being filmed cooking for a wonderful online magazine. And my deliriously decadent son has taken to sleeping in short bursts which means I’ve managed about four hours of broken sleep a night.
I’m tired, I’m short tempered, I’m prone to bouts of self pity and unreasonable demands.
It all came to a bumpy head on Saturday morning. My tears woke up before the rest of me could. I felt them sliding from my still-closed eyes, fragmenting the thin veneer of competence I had managed to slick onto my face for the last few days. I could feel the shadows in my heart, weary weeping without sound. I couldn’t even muster up the pride to hide them from my son and husband. “Nothing’s wrong,” I repeated over and over, the limp mantra of a broken train pulling into station, “nothing’swrongnothing’swrongnothing’swrong.”
I’ve spent the weekend since then in a fugue. I’ve eaten too much, struggled to sleep, wanted to hide in books and computer games and lamented the responsibility of my child, so I couldn’t be a child myself. I’m chafing at the roles I’ve chosen and usually adore, those that have prevented me from disappearing into the empty abyss of self. I haven’t wanted to be a grown up, I’ve wanted the comfort of darkness and solitude.
It’s not who I want to be. It’s definitely not the person my ego would have me present to the world. Certainly not the one I want to be writing about tonight. I’ve got three days coming up where I can take a big step back and settle back on the rails, I seriously contemplated missing tonight’s post and writing something easier and calmer during my usual Wednesday post.
Two things stopped me. This blog really matters to me, meeting the deadlines I have set feels important. And, I am imperfect – human actually – and I strongly believe that I have spent too much of my life trying to hide from that fact and keep it hidden from those around me. To be human is to be frequently vulnerable, if I’m doing it right. One of my friends says that she knows she’s living her best when she feels uncomfortable, because then she’s continuing to challenge herself and continuing to grow.
Well, I’m growing tonight… Tonight I’m very human and imperfect. Lyrics from Leonard Cohen keep scrolling through my mind.
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.
Speaking of perfect imperfection, it is highly unusual for me to take a recipe without making changes. This recipe from Nigella Lawson’s ‘How to be a Domestic Goddess’ is one of the few. Because it’s awesome, a truly untouchable recipe, from another gloriously flawed and beautiful woman.
For the tarts
- 175g plain flour
- 30g cocoa powder
- 30g caster sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 125g unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 tbl sp iced water
For the filling
- 50g white chocolate
- 250g mascarpone
- 100ml double cream
- approximately 500g raspberries
6 x 12cm tartlet tins with loose bottoms
Put the flour, cocoa, sugar and salt into a food processor and pulse to blend.
Add the butter and pulse until the mixture looks crumbly.
Beat the yolk and the water together and add slowly into the funnel until the pastry begins to clump together.
Take the pastry out of the processor and use your hands to work it into two balls.
Wrap the balls in cling wrap and rest the pastry in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
Lightly dust your rolling surface with flour.
Roll out one of the dough discs.
Using a tart case as a guide, cut at least 3 rough squares or circles, slightly bigger than the tin.
Ease the pastry into the tins and cut off the excess pastry.
Complete all 6 tins and freeze for about 30 minutes, or until they feel frozen.
Turn on the oven to 180c and slip in a baking sheet to heat up at the same time.
Put the tartlets straight into the oven on the baking sheet.
Cook for 10-15 minutes or until the pastry feels cooked and dry.
Remove the tins from the oven and leave the pastry to cool.
Melt the chocolate, either in the microwave or a double boiler.
Gently beat the mascarpone and double cream together and fold in the melted chocolate.
Slip the pastry out of the tins.
Fill the pastry cases with the filling and top with raspberries.
Share with all those whose similarly bumpy surface helps you to stick together.