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.
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
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.