Lavender custards and why I disagree with Stephen King when it comes to Wendy Torrance and Kubrik
Last Saturday we sat down to one of our 'funky dinners' as our son calls it. It has become something of a tradition that most Saturday nights we have a special kind of dinner, whether in the form of an elaborate dish, or something using ingredients that are unusual to us, or special dishes we particularly like, or just plain ole' portuguese traditional staples. It is mostly an intimate affair, very low key, though sometimes I may even set the table properly and make it quite formal and grandiose. The kid enjoys these dinner parties of our own, and I dare say we do too. I mean, why should we keep special things for specific dates, or for when one has company, or when one is throwing a party? Why shouldn't a dinner party consist of only parents and children living together, having dinner together every night, why not have a special night every week, to bond, to laugh, to be cheerful, to really indulge in sitting down at the table and enjoy each other's company? Week nights are always on the run, with next day being a school day, a working day, so why not throw a party for yourselves on the weekends, with no one else around and no thought to the dishes you have to wash, and the homework the kids still have to finish, and bedtime just around the corner...
We started doing these dinner parties rather casually, and casual we have kept them, but we're sure to have them most weekends, the kid will not let us forget. He really likes it! So last Saturday was no different, and we lingered on at the table over a glass of wine, a wedge of cheese, a bowl of refreshing fruit salad. When we finally left the table, it was rather late, the kid was on the verge of zombiedom, still he wanted to go into the living room and sit down with us a little. As it turns out, both he and his dad ended up curling together on the couch, dozing, and I sat watching Jack Nicholson be awesome playing Jack Torrance in The Shinning - no matter what Stephen King says! I may or may not have watched that movie over twenty times, and it still does not get old.
Did you know Stephen King is not a fan of Kubrik's version? He stated once it was because of Wendy, as she was portrayed as a feeble, weekling of a woman. I read the book, a few times as well. Wendy Torrance's book version may be quite tougher as King is prodigal in writing down very tough female characters - I dunno if he's portraying his wife Tabitha or his mother Ruth, but hey, most of his women are pretty badass. But there's just something about the film version of Wendy Torrance that makes me like her so much - and it's not only for Shelley Duval's amazing portrayal. She is very much a real woman. She looks feeble, fragile, weak. She acts as a kind of a doormat to that obnoxious husband of hers. And she tries to keep that marriage working out, like so many women everywhere. She's very real, to me.
As one starts watching the movie, the way she never talks back to Jack, she just swallows all of his rudeness and abuse, one may think she will be unable to fend for herself. But she's a mother. And as it turns out, she ends up acting like most mothers, and all her feebleness, her frailty, her weakness, those are gone when she starts fighting for the life of her son. So she does scream a lot, the whole of the movie. What some people seem to forget is that: wouldn't you? If you found yourself in that situation, wouldn't you scream your lungs out, as you strived to keep yourself and your child alive? I mean, your husband is acting like a lunatic on speeds, a madman with an axe, trying to kill you and the kid, and you don't scream? Some people might not. But I believe most would. Anyway, it was kind of a treat to reconnect with that movie, the movie - along with Carrie - that made me want to start reading Stephen KIng, I must have been about thirteen, I think. Now, what this has to do with lavender custards, I'm sure I don't know!
But this weekend was such a good one, weather wise! The temps are rising, the skye's been blue all the time, the wind carries in it the scent of pine trees and sea breeze, the sun is a dazzling disc over the horizon, and I immediately start craving freshness in every thing. We had our first salad of the year, this weekend, and it was so delicious just munching away on lettuce and tomatoes! We also had the first fruit salad, with a little splash of sweet port wine, and I changed and faffed around with the seasonal decor of the home, adding up bits and pieces that feel more Spring like, a drop of colour here and there, making everything look and feel lighter. And nothing beats a good batch of cold custard for freshness, in my eyes. A lavender custard is sure to hit the spot everytime when I am craving something not overly sweet and not overly warming.
There's really nothing to it, as long as one keeps a keen eye on the cooking, as the eggs will break, if you're not careful. Seeing that the silver cake I made left egg yolks unused, a custard is always a good way of using those. Or you can even do it the other way around, make yourselves some custard and then freeze the egg whites to use later on, on financiers, silver cakes, souffles! Round here I'm the only real fan of custard, so when I make it I always cook just a teeny batch, as I know I will be the only one eating it. It's a recipe that is easy to pair down or make a big portion if you plan on having people over, and it's not overly filling, nor too rich - I do not make my custard with cream, I use milk.
So, and even though I have given this recipe here before, a reminder is never too much. For the lavender custard you need:
- 3 egg yolks
- 2 tablespoons of sugar
- 375 ml milk
- lavender flowers, dried
Beat the egg yolks with the sugar until the mix is fluffy and light. On a saucepan heat the milk with the lavender, but make sure you don't bring it to a boil, just let it simmer. Let the lavender infuse the milk for a few minutes, then take it off the heat and sift, and place it over a low heat. Add two to three tablespoons of the milk to the egg mixture and stirr, then add this to the rest of the milk, mixing well. Keep the heat very gentle and keep stirring with a wooden spoon, until the mix has thickened enough to cover the back of the spoon and trace a line through it that holds. Once it's reached this point, take it off the heat and let cool. Place cling film over the top of it so it doesn't get that icky skin and refrigerate if you want a cool custard, or let it come up to room temperature and enjoy straight away!