It might be one of the first signs that I am getting old. I am changed, I am not the same person as before, I do not have anymore that resistance I was so proud of. I am not talking about party life resistance, I’ve never been famous for staying up late, dancing until the next day on high heels or going out every night of the week. Indeed, if possible, in this I am improving with age.
My problem is that I am not able to work for many hours in a row. I crave for care-free weekends, I physically need to unplug and go off-line after dinner, I love being able to do something which is not filed under ‘work’, or I dry up. A few years ago I would work in the office for the canonical hours of an employee in marketing and communication, then I would go home, wear my apron and begin my second life, which I would usually stretch up until after midnight, writing, cooking, having fun.
Now I wear my apron all day long, I write about products that excite me and recipes which I grow fond of day after day, but I need to take a break from time to time.
A creative work needs its time. It’s okay to be under pressure, but sometimes you have to release it. When what you do for passion turns into an assembly line, it’s time to take a step back. Done this step, I usually have the choice of two activities which are my favourite option to recharge my batteries, and often I devote myself to both, as to be sure to get back to work full of new energy and smiles.
First I need to work out, to do something which does not require thinking. I go out to walk with Noa, quick steps, loud music, and the fields running next to me flooded by the sun or blown by the wind. Now I have to wait until later in the afternoon because going out in mid-afternoon, especially with this heat wave, would be a real suicide. The other option if I need to clear my mind, is to clean my house. I know it sounds very desperate housewife’s style, but it works.
Once everything is at its place, dishes and glasses, ironed clothes, books and bags, I can finally think better. The further step, when I am just on the edge of exploding, is to rearrange my props. Plates, cups, forks and knives, fabrics and backgrounds. When I reach this level it means that I really need to start again from the basics. Yesterday I turned into a tidiness maniac and the first effect of these few hours I spent cleaning up the attic where my props are, are new photos, with a new awareness, a new harmony.
The second activity is to get back cooking. I know, I am hopeless, but my favourite solution when it comes to release the stress is still cooking. I would cook not any dish, but a basic recipe, one that should be on the menu of every good home cook. I have my mental list that I’m ticking away, a list of recipes and dishes that I want to be able to make to perfection, almost with my eyes closed. In a distant day, in about twenty years or so, those will be my recipes, tried, tested, loved, and I’ll pass them to someone with pride, or I will cook a dinner to my family and friends and I will be completely sure of the result.
I’m still at the beginning, but arista, peposo, latte alla portoghese or fresh pasta are already part of my baggage. After having tried them numerous times and having dramatically got them wrong, now they are mine, right to the end, and I’m proud of them.
Meringues are another preparation that I manage to perfection now – let me boost my ego every now and then – and all thanks to the perfect recipe that I learnt a few years ago at a pastry class. I made them small, large, long, as a nest, but the result is always by the book. Grandma has a sweet tooth for meringues, so I never lose the chance to make them in large quantities, as to be able to give her a big bag every time. For her, nothing is ever too sweet, and since I can bake them just as she likes, leaving only a tiny soft pocket inside, she can no longer do without them.
So when I had to choose the third recipe for Sammontana I had no doubt: meringues. Small, paired two by two as sweet kisses, with a scoop of yogurt ice cream to quench their sweetness and a drop of dark chocolate to create a delicious contrast of colour.
These meringue kisses will go away like cherries…
Meringue kisses with ice-cream
- Yoghurt ice-cream
- 125 g of egg white
- 250 g of sugar
- 75 g of icing sugar
- 100 g of dark chocolate
- Heat oven to 130°C.
- Beat the egg whites with the sugar for about ten minutes, until they are shiny, firm and compact.
- Sift the icing sugar and fold it slowly into the egg whites with a spatula.
- Cover two baking sheets with parchment paper, then with a pastry bag make small meringues, big more or less large as a walnut.
- Bake for about 45 minutes until they are dry, then leave to cool in the ajar oven.
- Melt the chocolate in a double boiler and dip half of the meringues quickly. Leave them to dry on a wire rack until the chocolate will be perfectly cold, then store all the meringues in a tin box or an airtight container.
- Take out of the freezer the ice-cream.
- When ready to serve pair the meringues two by two, one with and one without chocolate, with a teaspoon of yogurt ice cream and serve immediately.