Of book revising, map making and custard tarts, or How To Trick Your Own Husband Into Doing What You Want
Right after the muses took off smack in the middle of book III of my novel, I decided it would be better to take some time out of writing the darn thing, and start revising book II. It was still pretty fresh in my mind, and as I was jotting down certain chapters of book III stuff kept getting at the back of my mind that I knew I had to go over on book II and add details or change minor mistakes.
See, when I'm in the grip of a writing frenzy I tend to just put stuff down to paper no care to form or matter. I just want ot get the gyst of it there, the main ideas, the important stuff, like dialogues, confrontations, discoveries, what not. And when that happens, it all ends up being rather raw in the way of writing. So there are always, always a few chapters that do need to be embellished. I usually end up doing that a while after I finished writing, and it turns out to be an ongoing process - I am still revising and amending book I!!
So when I started on book II and the editing of it, I was thrown to chapters on book I that subsequently needed revising, as I was spotting down diverging happenings and dates, especially dates. But what shouted out more to me were the crass mistakes geographically speaking. At a certain point I would say certain area was surrounded by trees, only to find myself backtracking later on and saying there were only a few scattered bushes here and there. Or putting down rivers where none had existed three chapters prior to that one. I realised I needed a map. I needed to draw a map.
Having spent more years than I care to admit playing vigorously Sid Meyer's Civilisation's instalments - all of them and even more!! - I was no stranger to fantasy maps. Or so I thought. You see, there was a time in my life where I used to draw quite a lot. I was never really talented, not like my father, but the more I worked at it, the better I got. And in between my craze for fashion design (yes, I did draw a lot of collections that have never seen the light of day.) I used to draw maps of imagined lands. So I thought I might as well give it a go.
To cut a long story short, let's just say the map I ended up drawing would make you burst out laughing if you ever saw it - it's on my Instagram account, should you need some laughs on a dreary Friday like this one... - but it solved quite a few glitches when it came to locations and what not. So now I have a map I can base myself on, but which looks gross. And what one does, when one is kind of a perfectionist only too lazy to really be one, is just go on line and try to find software to draw a fantasy map that is not made for RPG gamers and the likes. And ends up frustrated as one realises there is no such thing!
But because I do not want the map to look like it does, I worked on my hubby to get him to want to make me a map, with software only physicists like using. It is a thing of beauty, you know, manipulating someone into thinking they actually want to do something - like say, a map - when they had not even thought of said thing. Like these custard tarts. I had been craving them for a while, and spent a couple of weeks working on my husband to get in the bandwagon with me. See, he doesn't like cooked milk. The scent of hot milk makes him gag, a lot less nowadays then it did when we were first married, but having babies in the house ends up doing that to you.
Seeing I reaallyyyy wanted these, I nagged him incessantly about it. We have a rule around the house, that when it comes to sweets and pastry and cakes, we all have to be in agreement of what we will be cooking. Usually the kid is game for anything, only really eating certain cakes and pies that do take his fancy, so it ends up coming down to me and Hugo to decide on what we're having for cake this week. And although we normally go with whatever we happen to have around the house, sometimes we do go out of our way to make something more complicated that will need special ingredients and careful planning. Not these tarts.
They're called Queijadas de Leite, here in Portugal, and the best translation I can come up with is custard milk tarts? I dunno. All I know is that the ingredients are household staples, and the results are so, but so good you will want to bake them again. And again. And again. All you really need is:
- 375 gr caster sugar
- 2 eggs
- 175 gr soft butter
- 215 gr flour
- 500 ml milk
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- zest of one lemon
On a bowl add all the ingredients by the above given order and then with a blender - do not, at any time, use a stand up mixer, trust me on this one, use the blender! - blend until it is all mixed and creamy like. Line cupcake tins with melted butter and flour, pour the batter to half the height on each one and cook on a previously heated oven at 200º for 35 to 40 minutes. Take them off the oven and let cool before you sprinkle them with a mix of sugar and cinnamon. You will not want to eat anything else for days, trust me. These are so good we have even come up with other versions of them!