In so many ways I’m like a child. The very things that cause me to raise my voice or think less-than-pleasant thoughts toward them, I myself do. Sleeping in past 7:00 am, using a fork, sitting still for longer than thirty seconds, managing to keep a straight face while saying the word “underwear” – these things I can handle, but that’s how we differ. Throwing fits with legs pounding and arms flailing and having to re-learn the same lessons again and again? In these matters I’m pretty much a toddler.

Okay, so maybe my fits are a bit more mature but repeating the same mistakes and having to remind myself of previous lesson learned, in that there is no exaggeration. Currently I am re-learning the freedom in acceptance. In particular with accepting who I am and who I am not.

The longer I live the more I realize I have tendencies towards control and perfectionism. My perfectionist’s personality manifests itself in ways that are not at all closely related to keeping a perfectly manicured house (or fingernails for that matter). I tend to expect a lot of myself and seem to think that I can do it all. Apparently I am on the quest to earn my superhero cape. In my mind this caped woman does it all with grace and ease. She fights stains without creating pink socks, she cooks a well-planned meal and serves it on matching dishes, she serves all day then asks, “what’s next?” before she sits down, she doesn’t raise her voice to her children (as I JUST did) she is fulfilled and fulfills with joy. She doesn’t exist. Or maybe she does exist, but that’s not me.

There was a recent spell where I fought against who it was that I was created to be. I pushed through my days with some expectations put on myself, then was frustrated when the day ended and I was left feeling dissatisfied. It went on like this for weeks until arriving at a place of darkness and deep sadness.

After much thought and some changes I felt myself returning. It was then that I made the switch to choose acceptance. When a tinge of guilt enters into the thought process I simply redirect it and say, “this is who I am and this is who I am to be.” No longer is there a place to feel guilty for the things I am not, instead the reflection is on appreciating who it is that I am.


Now it is to be said that in any relationship be it friendship, marriage or parenting, there are sacrifices that must be made. That is, after all a real reflection of true love – one can not either be loved or love without the presence of sacrifice. But there comes a point when the sacrifice becomes too great and those relationships suffer as a result.

My family isn’t asking for me to sacrifice as much as I ask it of myself. In fact, they’ve already given me my cape and love me regardless of the pink socks and mismatched dishes. They love me for who I am and now it’s my turn to do the same.

While other things were more pressing than for me to turn to the stove I did it anyway. It may have been this or perhaps it was that, either way my mind was on nutmeg and I could not shake that thought.


In the process of simmering cream with vanilla beans so plump it’s as if at any moment they were going to burst spraying fragrant seeds and nutmeg that reeks of fallen leaves and cold evenings, I thought to appreciate the uncommon joy I feel during such a simple action. When the yolk released the white and landed in the bowl revealing it’s nearly neon color I paused to admire its tone as if I had never seen such a thing before – I have, many times. When finally dipping the spoon into a cool cream so impossibly smooth it caused a pleased grin to cover my face I re-learned that the delight in this process is part of who I am. A part I really enjoy.

The clothes still need folding and the toys must get picked up (at some point) but the fight is against the guilt that plagues when the call of perfection rings. Setting that guilt aside makes room for more joy, more life, more love, and more pot de creme. In this there is no guilt just delight.

One thing I know for sure, I will have to re-learn this at some point, and most likely at another point beyond that. I hope that each time the lesson becomes more poignant and that it is in the presence of Nutmeg Pot de Creme.



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Nutmeg Pot de Creme

This softly spiced custard is reminiscent of egg nog and is destined to become a new holiday tradition. It is lightly sweet, cool and creamy and can easily be transformed into Nutmeg Creme Brulee with the addition of a torched sugar crust.

2 cups heavy cream

1 vanilla bean (or 2 tsp vanilla extract)

1 ½ teaspoon nutmeg, freshly ground

6 yolks

½ cup dark brown sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

Pre-heat your oven to 320*F

In a medium sauce pan add the cream, vanilla seeds and bean, and the nutmeg. Bring to a simmer then turn off the heat and let sit for 15 minutes.

In a medium bowl add the yolks, salt, and sugar. Whisk until lightened and well combined.

Bring the cream back up to a simmer. Turn off the heat and slowly add hot cream to the yolk mixture, stirring while pouring.

Strain this mixture with a fine mesh sieve to remove vanilla bean and unwanted egg bits.

Pour this into four oven-safe ramekins. Place these in a larger baking dish (I use a cake pan). Place this into the pre-heated oven then pour water into the baking dish holding the ramekins.

If you don’t want a bit of a skin on top of the pot de creme then place a sheet of foil over the ramekins. I leave the foil off as I prefer the slight textural difference you get when you bake it without a cover.

Bake for 30-45 minutes until the center of the custards still jiggle slightly when gently shaken. Start checking at 30 minutes then check every 5 minutes or so, until done. The custards will continue to set once out of the oven.

Let cool slightly then place them in the fridge to set – about 2 hours.

Just before serving sprinkle with a bit more freshly ground nutmeg.

These can also benefit from a sprinkling of sugar and a broiler or torch turning them into Nutmeg Creme Brulee – perfect for the holidays.

47 Responses to “Nutmeg pot de creme”

  1. la domestique

    Oh I do feel your pain, believe me. This post is a good jolt for me as my weekend has already started down that same dark path. Instead of finding joy in the process, I feel quite overwhelmed. Time to turn it around, I think. The soft, silky pot de creme you’ve made looks fantastic, by the way. 🙂

  2. Maria @ Scandifoodie

    I really enjoyed reading this post, Ashley and I think I can certainly be like that too in many ways. I like what you say about ‘re-learning the freedom in acceptance’, it is so true and something I should remind myself much more often! These pot de creme look gorgeous and I love the addition of nutmeg – perfect for the upcoming holiday season!

  3. Courtney Reimer

    Beautiful post Ashley! I think as a woman our goal is often to do and be everything to all people. Accepting that it is not possible is not easy and for me a bumpy road. I often tell myself that accepting something does not mean I have to like it but it gives me the freedom to move forward beyond it and find some peace. Allows me to get unstuck faster. And I think having a pot de creme certainly makes the journey sweeter!

  4. Anna

    Even though we want to be able to do it all and have everything be perfectly the way we want it, superheroes can’t do everything. They have their special talents and areas where they excel. You are certainly a superhero in the kitchen (and with the amazing way that you photograph things) creating such beautiful and delicious foods. And I’m pretty sure your superhero cape is shining brightly with those random acts of cookies! It is so hard to appreciate the good things we do without thinking of everything we wish we could do better, but I hope you realize more and more how amazing you are even when you can’t do everything.

  5. Nicole Thomas

    Thank you for your post! The autumn semester is always an incredibly busy time of year, during which I struggle with my own tendencies towards perfectionism. There are a few lines from a favorite Frank O’Hara poem that always resonate: ‘Now I am quietly waiting for/the catastrophe of my personality/to seem beautiful again, and interesting, and modern.’ I think Frank didn’t realize that the key is to embrace the catastrophe! Beautiful photographs, as always. Love autumn spices.

  6. Kocinera

    I really liked what you said about acceptance. As a fellow perfectionist, I find it hard to stop and say that I’ve done “enough” or that I’m good “enough.” The truth of the matter is this: nobody expects so much of us as we expect of ourselves. What helps for me is to think of how I view my loved ones–at the end of the day, I love them just the way they are and would hate the idea of them being hard on themselves. Taking that view, I try to apply it back to myself.

    And I’m sure nutmeg pots de creme also help. 😀 They look amazing!

  7. Kelsey

    Ashley… first off, these look fantastic. Shaun is sitting next to me on the couch and I’m like, “look how pretty,” he responds “Oh Wow!” We’re both melting into the photography. Second, on the feelings of perfectionism and control, you MUST read Being Perfect by Anna Quindlen if you haven’t already. I think I read it 4-5 times a year.

  8. KathyG in WA

    Ashley, I can empathize with your struggle with perfectionism. I am there. When I read your post, I was reminded of this verse: “Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 1:6) This verse reminds me that perfection is coming! Until then, parenting, responsibilities, and relationships continue to build our character and God continues His good work in each of us until the Day when we are made perfect in Him. 🙂

  9. Crystal Malek

    Needed to read this. Ah, how that guilt plagues me daily! So hard to find the balance in loving myself vs. being lazy, you know? I know I can do better in so many areas that maybe I should be doing better, but wow, never happens!! So, maybe this is me. The babies seem to love me as is. Thanks for the post, and the recipe. Sounds delightful!! Oh, and made those toffee bars the other day when I needed a big, gooey hug. They did the trick. So yummy! 🙂

  10. Anna

    Self criticism is a very hard thing to stop after years of perfecting the technique, but I think just realizing that you’re awesome and actually letting yourself believe that is a good starting point. At least that’s what I tell myself 😀 The nutmeg pot de creme looks amazing, perfect fall twist…oh! and I swear I saw you in a Cascade commercial today! How awesome! Congrats 😀

  11. Calantha

    Ashley, you have a marvellous way with words, and I think that it is safe to say that you managed to expound upon what myself (and many others by the looks of the other comments) have thought, felt and experienced. I have been attempting to emphasize the joy that can be derived from the process (cracking eggs, organizing the house) over the product (nutmeg pot de creme, a manicured living space) in order to slow down and take the load off my pitter-pattering heart that urges me to do more – and to do it better – each time. I think acceptance plays a key role in this process–both in terms of acceptance of oneself, and of others. For I have found that in demanding perfection of oneself, it is easy to transpose those expectations on others. And I believe you spoke the profound truth when you linked acceptance with freedom. Once you release yourself from unrealistic demands, you are able to more fully develop and explore who you are–and who OTHERS are for that matter. Finding joy in the intricacies of your personality and the personality of others. And isn’t that what life is about?

    Lovely post. Thank you.

  12. Sue/the view from great island

    This is a wonderful, inspiring post. It’s so hard to learn (and re-learn) to redirect our self-critical thoughts and appreciate the unique person we all are. This pot de creme is a wonderful recipe, I love nutmeg so I will definitely try it.

  13. Kasey

    I really need to read this right now, Ashley. Feeling a little bummy and can totally relate to accepting the whole “not feeling guilty” thing. This pot de creme is absolutely gorgeous. xoxo.

  14. Kenya

    it’s so funny how we all carry the same pain and insecurities that we put on ourselves… the part that rang truest for me was “accepting who I am and who I am not”…
    I really enjoy your pictures and your blogs… i have yet to try my hands at one of your recipes, but in the meantime, i sit and salivate at the delightful pix that pop up in my inbox…
    May we all become better at forgiving our “flaws” and accepting ourselves for who we are, as we are, where we are in this life.
    thanks again for a lovely post!

  15. MG Atwood

    Just remember Popeye….I am what I am, and that’s all that I am! Tell me sweet Ashley, how is pot de creme different from creme brulle?

  16. Kathryn

    Beautiful post, and you are certainly not the only one to feel this way. It’s amazing how we can be so forgiving and understanding with others, and then put these crippling burdens on our own shoulders and expect to do it all. Thank you for the reminder that we need to give ourselves a break…and enjoy some pots de creme once in a while 🙂

  17. Mags

    I think women waste too much precious time being worried about how they are supposed to be, instead of just BEING. I know that I’m often guilty of this, but it is sooo wonderful in those moments when you can just get over yourself and enjoy things, moments, tastes and just LIVE.

    • Ashley Rodriguez

      @Mags – This is such a great point. I waste so much time comparing myself to others rather than focusing on being the best me – or even just being as you said. Thanks for your comment.

  18. alison

    I love your words. I hope you turn this blog into a written memoir one day!! You have a way with words and I love reading. I felt like you were describing my thoughts exactly and my love for desserts like this. I am going to make these soon and eat them and think of just being!! Love you friend

  19. Jinger

    I’ve never made pot de creme or pudding before, but this lovely description makes it sounds amazing. I often have these feelings while I’m in the kitchen or crafting, and it’s nice to see it put into words.

  20. Zahra

    I stumbled across your blog while looking at another of my favorites.. this post was the most perfect thing I could read today. You describe exactly how I’ve been feeling for a while. Thanks for the inspiration, I’ll definitely be back to visit and hopefully to try some of your amazing looking recipes!

  21. Mikaela Cowles

    You are not alone. We’re all re-learning lessons ALL THE TIME! I can’t seem to remember that neatly laying my pants in a pile as I take them off each day creates a messy room or stop feeling guilty for not finishing my to-do list. Have you ever noticed to-do lists are always too long and then the next day you just keep adding to them? If only time could be frozen for a second. Perhaps then we could all catch up. Regardless, I love your acceptance of imperfection. It’s an strong woman who can take that on and wear it.

    And, that Pot de Creme – well maybe you have a little perfection in you somewhere. It looks amazing!

  22. Jen Laceda

    I just made and posted my Dark Chocolate Pot de Creme with Milk Crumble! This is the season that I am absolutely wanting pots de creme of different flavours! Will try this nutmeg version!


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