“Don’t spend a lot of time imagining the worst-case scenario. It rarely goes down as you imagine it will, and if by some fluke it does, you will have lived it twice.” Michael J Fox
I’m a worrier. Always have been. When I was a kid I worried about not making friends and how I’d sleep without my toy dog. When I was a teenager I worried about getting fat and failing exams. When I was in my twenties I worried about not being successful and never finding someone to love. In my thirties, amongst so many other things, I’ve worried about not being a good mother and not being kind or selfless enough.
And then, not so long ago, it occurred to me to reflect on the amount of time in my life I’d spent worrying about things that never ended up happening. And when the things I worried about actually did happen, whether any of my worrying had actually improved life.
I decided I’d wasted endless time planning for life events that almost never happened, and couldn’t help but wonder how much easier life would be if I’d lived without worrying all this time.
And, when my worrying did come true? That guy actually was cheating on me, or that friend was bitching about me, or I failed that exam? I never once felt any better for all the worrying I’d been doing.
At the end of this period of reflection, I had to ask myself a simple question
What the hell have I been wasting all this time doing?
By thinking and planning for all the bad things that might happen, I’d been trying to avoid the lessons of life that’ve been my greatest teachers in compassion, perseverance, self care, open mindedness and all the qualities I like most in myself.
When that guy cheated on me, I learnt resilience and that I needed to be a whole person, instead of seeking my other half. When that friend bitched about me, it was either a lesson in setting strong boundaries and challenging people to treat me well, or was a lucky discovery about someone who didn’t belong in my life. When I failed those exams, it was because I needed to learn to work for what I wanted instead of waiting for success to be handed to me, and it was sometimes because I was doing entirely the wrong subjects that failed to inspire me.
Life is many things, but predictable it aint. So firstly, worrying is arrogance in assuming I can control the future by thinking about it enough. And secondly, it’s a marked lack of trust in a universe that’s never steered me wrong.
I want to live a life with a mute button for my worry. And if you see me anywhere with a furrowed brow, I give you full permission to come on over and laugh at me in just this way…
These madeleines are a lovely part of a whole life — light, summery and pure cheer. I’ve added a hint of lavender to soften the lemon in the sponge and replaced sugar with honey in the curd for a richer tartness. They work beautifully together, sheer joy in a bite.
- 80g butter, very soft
- 100g caster (superfine) sugar
- 2 eggs
- zest from 2 lemons
- 3 tsp dried culinary lavender buds
- a pinch of sea salt
- 100g plain (all purpose) flour
- ½ tsp baking powder
- Icing (powdered) sugar to dust
Cream the butter with a tablespoon of the sugar
Whisk the remaining sugar with the eggs, lemon zest, lavender and a pinch of salt in a separate bowl until light and fluffy
Gently fold in the flour and baking powder until just combined
Scoop out a third of the batter into the butter and whisk vigorously
Transfer into the remaining batter and fold very gently
Scrape the batter into a plastic piping bag and chill for at least 3 hours or up to 3 days
Preheat the oven to 220˚C / 430˚F
Butter and flour a madeleine pan
Snip a small (8mm) hole from the tip of the piping bag and pipe the batter three-quarters of the way up the prepared moulds
Reduce the oven temperature to 180˚C / 350˚F and bake for about 15 minutes, or until the edges are a deep golden brown and the domes are just beginning to brown
Remove from the oven and leave to cool for a few minutes in the pan before turning out onto a wire rack
While the madeleines are slightly warm to the touch, pour some honey lemon curd (I use a heaped teaspoon per madeleine) into a piping bag with a narrow piping nozzle, push the nozzle into the mound of each baked madeleine and squeeze about a teaspoon’s worth of the curd into each while slightly wiggling the nozzle to get into all the spongy crannies
Dust with icing sugar and serve immediately, while still beautifully warm
Honey Lemon Curd
- 3 eggs and 1 extra egg yolk
- Zest of 2 lemons
- Juice of 4 lemons
- 100g honey
- 70g unsalted butter
Put the lemon zest and juice, the honey and the butter, cut into cubes, into a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, making sure that the bottom of the basin doesn’t touch the water. Stir with a whisk from time to time until the butter has melted
Mix the eggs and egg yolk lightly in a separate bowl with a fork, then pour into the lemon mixture. Let the curd cook, whisking regularly, for about 10 minutes, until it is thick and custard-like. It should feel heavy on the whisk
Remove from the heat and stir occasionally as it cools. Pour into a 500ml jar
It will keep for a couple of weeks in the refrigerator