Wednesday, March 6, 2013

{a breath} letting go of fear & {a bite} homemade lemon curd is easier than i thought


Lemon curd and meringue have been two recipes I've been afraid to try.
Victory! I conquered both this week!

"leap and the net will appear." john burroughs


Has fear ever stopped you from trying something new? I'm sad to admit this but it has me – in many areas of my life.

I don't want to be the kind of person that doesn't know how to leap. Even as a child, I was deathly afraid of falling: falling off my new bike, falling off my skateboard, falling down so I never tried to climb, never skated down those big hills, never raised my hand in class unless I was positive of my answer. 

Don't color me green but I've been envious of those people in my life who see what they want and go for it with boundless determination. Do you know those kind of people? Are you one of them? How do you do it? 

I don't know if this comes from being the eldest child or not – psychology has never been a strong subject for me – but I've always felt like I had to go everything alone. I felt if I was going to do something it had to be the best – MY best – so that I could set a good example for my sisters and in turn make my parents proud. If I did put myself out there and tried something and if it turned out that I wasn't good at it, I'd usually give it up. My reasoning was often that if I didn't have the potential to be great, why keep reaching when my foundation wasn't stable? I really didn't want to fall. 


iPhone photo
For the longest time I felt that way about my creative work. I used to get so frustrated that I wasn't "good enough." The desire to create has always been strong in me. The need to express myself started young with drawing, painting collaging even before I started school. By the time I was in 6th grade, I was writing poetry and making photographs, attempting to play the flute and working on ceramics at our local recreation center. But there was always that nagging fear in the back of my mind that what I was doing wasn't good enough. I'd quietly cry myself to sleep at night questioning God for giving me such a strong desire to create beautiful things without the talent to do it.

Fortunately for me (or was it God, pushing me along?), the desire to create won out. The mediums and disciplines I felt were more successful I kept working on, secretly wishing I were better while those I felt I would never be better than average, I gave up (bye-bye music, drawing and pottery). The fear of falling plagued me through college and into the beginning of my career.


iPhone photo

It wasn't until my early 30s when I took a full day workshop by a local celebrity artist that something clicked inside of me. He had us drawing, painting, experimenting without fear of critique. The class had beginning artists, non-artists and those of us who always felt like we were nothing more than "posers." My biggest take away from that workshop absolutely changed the way I felt about my creative life from that point on: It doesn't matter what stage of our creative journey we are in, wherever we are, whatever we do, we MUST practice our craft everyday so that the technique becomes like breathing. That way, when we start our next project we aren't bogged down by technique and are free to just create. Even if all we have time to do is draw a squiggly line on the side of a note, make doodles while on the phone, jot a line or two of a thought in a journal, or make ourselves pancakes from scratch, the act of creating something takes us one step closer to being the kind of artist we want to be and in the process, the fear of failure (falling … ) will no longer bind us. He, this accomplished artist with the just as accomplished artist wife, still doodled everyday so that he could keep fear and failure at bay. 

On that day I pledged to do the same. Every day and as much as I can. Scattered throughout my notepads at work are flowers and swirls, my iPhone is filled with daily snaps of my fur baby, a leaf on the ground or cool car I might encounter on a walk and behind the scene photos of a food shoot or photos of recipe I want to try making. I have notes on my iPhone, in a journal, on Evernote of ideas for photographs, recipes, confessions for posting here. Everyday I cook or write or snap or jot. 

And every day I try to do something that makes me just a little uncomfortable … a little nervous … a little anxious and when I'm finished with whatever it is, I come that much closer to conquering the fear that can potentially keep me from moving step by step toward the life I want. 

Someday soon, I hope to even be able to leap.


Easy Homemade Lemon Curd

You're going to need a stainless steel bowl that can fit snugly over a stock pot with about two inches of water. The bowl cannot touch the water so if it does, use a little less water or a deeper pot. Also, I left my eggs out on the kitchen counter overnight to make sure they were at room temperature in the morning when I knew I'd be making the curd. A candy thermometer helps. I don't have one as I have never made candy. I am, however, a latte making fanatic complete with a handy dandy thermometer I bought at Starbucks to ensure my milk was at the correct temperature before ever touching my lips. That worked just fine for me here.

3 large eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
juice of 3 lemons (at least 1/3 cup, mine gave me just shy of 1/2 cup)
4 tablespoons of room temperature unsalted butter, cut into smaller cubes
2 tablespoons of lemon zest (just the bright shiny yellow skin, avoid the pith)

Plastic wrap

Place a pot on the stove on medium high and add about 2 inches worth of water and bring to a boil.

Add the eggs to a stainless steel bowl and whisk just to break up the yolks. 

Add the sugar and lemon juice and place the bowl over the pot, reducing the heat to medium low so that the water is gently boiling. 

Whisk the egg mixture continuously until an inserted thermometer registers 180 degrees Fahrenheit (careful not to let the thermometer touch the bowl when measuring temp). It might take 10 to 15 minutes of whisking but keep at it! Curd will thicken before your eyes and will be pudding consistency when it's reached the right temperature. 

Remove bowl from pot whisk in the butter and zest until smooth and well combined. 

To prevent a skin forming on the surface of your curd while it cools, place plastic wrap over the bowl so that it's making contact with the curd, pushing out any air bubbles. Allow to completely cool at room temperature before transferring to a container for storage in the refrigerator. 

Curd will keep for 7-10 days. 


Some suggestions for use



Until next time, my lovelies ...
¡Buen Provecho!
Ani

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