All posts by Jacqueline

Crème Pâtissière (Pastry Cream)

I actually have several recipes for pastry cream. I use one that’s thickened with flour and egg yolks only as a base for soufflés or even ice creams or other desserts where I want a stable but soft custard. I use one thickened with a mix of egg yolk, flour and cornstarch for a firmer custard that I might lighten with a bit of whipped cream as a filling for cream puffs.

The quantities on the first type of pastry cream are as follows:

3 egg yolks
50g (1/4C) sugar
20g (2.5T) flour
250ml (1C) milk
1 tsp vanilla paste

For a firmer pastry cream:

3 egg yolks
50g (1/4C) sugar
15g (2T) flour
10g (2T) cornstarch (corn flour)
250ml (1C) milk
1 tsp vanilla paste

The directions for mixing both are the same. Beat the egg yolks with half the sugar until thick and pale and ribbon consistency. Add the flour and or cornstarch (aka corn flour) and continue to mix until smooth and well combined.

Heat milk and remaining sugar until steaming. Temper the yolk mixture with some of the hot milk mixture, then add the yolk mixture back to the milk in the pan and cook until thick and smooth stirring constantly to prevent the egg from scrambling. (I use a piano whisk because I find it’s the best for making a perfectly smooth sauce). I also like to test the temperature of the custard made without cornstarch because if it goes above 180°F/82°C it will curdle, I usually cook it to about 170°F/76°C to 175°F/80°C. The one thickened with cornstarch must actually come to the boil in order to thicken properly, the cornstarch protects egg mixture from scrambling.

After I remove it from the heat I add the vanilla (or about 30g/1 oz of chocolate if I’m making a chocolate flavored cream). If I’m adding a liqueur I might add it earlier to allow the alcohol to cook off.

You can also make a pastry cream using only cornstarch as a thickener, it does tend to make the resultant custard a bit more translucent, and much firmer than a flour or flour / cornstarch mix custard.  Never add cornstarch without first mixing it with a small amount of liquid into a paste because it’s nearly impossible to keep it from clumping if you just toss it straight into a larger quantity of liquid. That being said you can always strain the clumps out of a lumpy custard, but I’ve found that mixing the yolks first with the sugar and starch really prevents most of the trouble you might find with any clumping.

More Fun with Iron Deficiency Anemia

Last year when I was diagnosed with lymphoma I was severely anemic, and that continued throughout my chemo, but my oncologist told me to stop taking iron supplements because my body couldn’t use the iron during treatment, and I might build up a toxicity. Anyway, I never resumed supplementing my iron intake after finishing chemo. Continue reading More Fun with Iron Deficiency Anemia

Key Lime Pie (or Tahitian Lime Pie)

Key Lime Pie

I don’t know whether this recipe is an entirely traditional key lime pie (I guess it can’t be if you’re using Tahitian Limes), but it’s still very tasty. If you want to be more true to tradition, find key limes (or Mexican limes), don’t add the beaten egg whites before cooking and reduce the cooking time to 15 – 18 minutes; that will give you a denser filling, but I find it a bit too sweet for my taste. This pie filling is lighter and some of the sweetness of the sweetened condensed milk is lifted by the whipped egg whites.

Key (or Tahitian) Lime Pie

4     tsp   grated lime zest
1/2 c      lime juice from 3 to 4 limes
5              large egg yolks
1              can sweetened condensed milk (395g/14oz)
3              large egg whites
Graham Cracker Crust
125g           Graham Crackers/ Marie biscuits , processed to fine crumbs (1 1/4 cups)
3     tbsp    sugar
5     tbsp    unsalted butter , melted

Filling:  Whisk zest and yolks in medium bowl for about 2 minutes,  until pale green and ribbon consistency. Beat in the sweetened condensed milk, then the lime juice; set aside at room temperature and allow to thicken.

Crust: Adjust oven rack to center position and heat oven to 325°F/160°C. Mix the crumbs and sugar in medium bowl. Add butter and stir with fork until well blended. Spread the mixture into 9-inch pie pan and press over the bottom and up the sides of pan to form an even crust (or line a 9″ springform cake pan with parchment, and press evenly to the bottom of it). Bake for about 15 minutes, until lightly browned and fragrant. Transfer pan to wire rack, and allow to cool for about 20 minutes.

While the crust cools, whip egg whites to stiff peaks, then fold through the lime filling. Pour the mixture onto the cooled crust and bake about 20 minutes, until center is just set; it should still be slightly wobbly when jiggled. Return pie to wire rack; cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until well chilled (about 3 hours). It can also be covered with plastic wrap sprayed with oil, laid directly on the filling and refrigerated for up to 1 day.

Garnish with freshly whipped cream and slices of sugared lime.

Goodbye to My Baby, K

K by the Pool

February 20, 2009, I had to put the love of my life, my beautiful cat, K, to sleep. Last year around this time I learned that my he had an inoperable nasal adenocarcinoma (shortly thereafter I learned I had a primary bone lymphoma too). K and I both went through chemo-therapy for about 6 months (6 for me 8 for him).  Anyway, his tumor returned sometime around December of 2008, and things have been a bit up and down with him for the last few months.

His breathing would seem to be blocked, then it would clear up. When he has trouble breathing he’s not much for eating, but when it cleared again, he’d be back into his food and begging for extra. Anyway I’d been lulled by the up and down nature of his illness into a kind of denial of what I was going to have to do, even as I was preparing to have it done. I’d notice the Sunday before I had to put him down that he’d lost about a pound of weight, and I found that worrying, but then Tuesday of that week when I got home from work he was waiting for me at the door, just like old times, and he raced me to his food bowl. His breathing was cleared, and he was a hungry boy. We cuddled on the sofa for a good part of the rest of the evening, and he came to bed with me for a bit before begging to be let out to roam the rest of the house. Wednesday was the same, and I was feeling pretty relieved that he was doing better, and maybe his tumor was even shrinking again.

Thursday though, I got home from work and there was no one waiting for me. I didn’t think to much of it though because sometimes he likes to sleep with my hubby (he works nights so he goes to sleep in the afternoon and my kitty generally naps all afternoon anyway). Anyway, I made myself a snack and sat down to do some computer stuff. When I finished my snack I noticed about 40 minutes had passed, and I was able to complete an entire snack with no visitor. So I popped into the study where he sometimes like to sleep under the desk and was confronted with my baby sitting in the middle of the floor dripping blood from his nose and mouth. The corner that he normally naps in was covered in blood, and he looked like he was in shock. That was the start of a horrible night.

By Friday morning at 8:00AM I made a call to Dr. Amy the Housecall Vet .  K always hated going to the vet, and when he started getting sick in December and I realized I would most likely have to have him euthanized, I had started searching for vets who might perform that service here at our house. I honestly just didn’t want his last moments on earth to be that horrible combination of a terrifying drive to the vet’s office, followed by the trauma of being in a vets office with strange dogs and cats, followed by a lethal visit with a strange vet who thinks he’s feral.  Luckily for me and K, I found Dr. Amy who comes to the patient.  She had been over to visit him earlier in the month, and she was acquainted with his circumstances. I told her I thought it was time, and she came over shortly thereafter. She didn’t have an assistant who could help, but I was comfortable with helping her look after him. Still it was so hard. I was hoping she’d tell me she didn’t think it was time yet, that she might have something that would help, but I guess I always knew better.

My -inlaws came over to provide some moral support, and K didn’t even get up to do his normal inspections (even at his sickest in the past he’s never let a guest get by without a serious once over). He was similarly disinterested when the vet showed up, in spite of her having a big box full of stuff he could get into. He didn’t want Dr. Amy messing with his forearms too much (she shaved one to examine the veins), and she said there was no need to rush anything we could just take things slowly and let him adjust. I took him outside and walked him around the yard, because he always loved being in the yard. The doctor didn’t think we’d be able to get the needle in his veins without sedating him, so after he’d wandered around a bit (and been sick again) she gave him a sedative. When he started to get a little woozy I picked him up and cradled him on my shoulder, and he drifted off to sleep there. Shortly after that he was given a lethal dose of anasthetic and passed away with his little face cradled in my hands.

I’m so shattered by the loss of him, I just realized today that it’s been nearly 3 weeks since his death, and I still cry for the loss of him. My husband has been great, everyone has really, but I would do anything to have his sidle up and try to wedge himself into the nook between me and the sofa arm again. It was truly horrible having to euthanize him, still I’m relieved I could put a peaceful end to his suffering. I’m very greatful for Dr. Amy’s services, but it just breaks my heart that it had to come to that. Other than the tumor he was in great health, a really strong and vital little guy. His oncologist had told me last year that it would be like this, that the tumor wouldn’t kill him, it would just leave him in misery, and I’d have to make the call to end his suffering, but even with a year to prepare; I still feel so devastated. I miss him so very much, and I just pray that he’s at peace. Much love to you my sweet beautiful boy, you were such a blessing in my life; you’ll be loved forever and never forgotten.

Getting Better With a Jiggle

I’ve been feeling guilty about not writing lately, but I’ve made a commitment to myself to eat home cooked lunches and work out twice daily, and that takes a lot of time; I seem to always be full of good ideas that take a lot of time. Anyway, I’ve kept to my commitment, and I feel good about it, but the site has really suffered for it. I even had some time off around Christmas, but I spent that time away from the computer, mainly in the pool. My pool has really become one of my best friends. I can have a massive sweaty work out when I get home from work, and then jump into the pool to cool off… being able to actually jump into the pool for the first time was a real treat for me. My pelvis has been in various stages of brokenness since we bought the house, and I’ve always been afraid to jump into the pool with a mess of a pelvis. I was feeling so good around Christmas though, I figured I’d give it a go… what a blast :) Continue reading Getting Better With a Jiggle

Fractured – Print

is Karin Slaughter’s latest gift and I thought it showed a growing maturity to her writing style. The story kicks off with a wealthy Atlanta housewife strangling an intruder in her home. I won’t give away more than that, as there are a number of twists, typical of Slaughter, that really make the story. This book was not a continuation of the Grant County series, but is a continuation of Triptych. Further the story isn’t as over the top gruesome and viscerally confronting as her previous works, but she hasn’t lost that edge that makes it difficult to put her books down. I for one don’t miss some of the more gruesome elements, and I think I enjoyed this book more than any of her previous works.

Me & Kitty Still Hanging In There

I’ve been feeling a lot more energetic lately. So far I’ve lost 29 pounds and last week I was even able to complete an entire tae bo workout without stopping or skimping or anything twice in one week, after working a whole day even. I was horribly sore for days afterward, but I did it. I’m probably lucky I’ve lost anything this month, but my weight loss has been going really, exceptionally well. That’s in spite of there being about a morning tea (work party for my American friends) nearly every week of the month for which I’ve made chocolate gelato, coffee almond crunch cake, cheese cake, ice cream cake, and pumpkin pie, thank God the people I work with eat it all up :). It’s actually nice to be able to enjoy a good home made dessert, without having a bunch of it sitting around to tempt you into having too much. Plus I REALLY enjoy making desserts so it’s been quite fun. The crunch cake was based on a Gordon Ramsay recipe & it was really delicious, so was the cheese cake. Really, so far I’ve been very pleased with the quality of the recipes in his books. I’ve made quite a few things from “Healthy Appetite” and “Cooking for Friends” and I’ll have to write a review of them because they’ve been quite satisfying; easy to prepare, and yet quite flavorsome. Continue reading Me & Kitty Still Hanging In There

It’s Been Awhile

I’ve been so tired lately I just haven’t had the energy to write. When I get home from work I don’t even really want to look at my computer, though that’s when I have to tally up what I’ve eaten for the day. Lately I’ve been too low on my calories throughout the day, and I’m just not all that hungry, but I know I should eat more; just not for my dinner meal. I also have to tally up my exercise for the day, and then fit some extra in to meet my goals. I am feeling pretty good lately though; the only thing is everytime I get a cough or a pain in my hip I freak out a little on the inside about the lymphoma coming back. Continue reading It’s Been Awhile

Day to Day

I’m feeling resolutely human of late, and I don’t think I care for it. I’ve always been quite strapping, pretty well bursting with energy most of the time, plus a little invincible feeling. I’m stunned that just going into the office a couple days a week, managing a bit of public transport, water cooler talk with my work mates… is killing me. I need to take an afternoon walk when I go into the office to keep myself from clean passing out at my desk. I feel like a broken record too, I’m stuck in the “I’m so tired” groove, and I wish someone would give my needle a good flick. Everything I ever thought feeling tired was, is energetic compared to this. It’s funny too because I’m eating some of the best meals and in the best proportions that I ever have. No caffeine or caffeinated drinks, loads of fresh fruit and veg, limited amounts of bread and pasta and regular lean protein, my little nutrient pie charts on Spark People show a good balance of carbs/proteins/fats and I’m doing well with my calorie range, so I don’t think it has anything to do with how I’m eating. Sleep is another matter. I’ve always had a bit of chronic random insomnia; I don’t really focus on it or dwell over it, but it is often hard for me to shut down for the day. I’ve been making a concerted effort in terms of that though. I know sleep is really important, and I’m making a serious effort to prioritize my bedtime. Hopefully that will help me out soon because I seriously feel depleted. I guess maybe I should do some reasearch into how long chemo sticks with you. My body is feeling great though. Stronger than it has in years and more stable. I was noticing when I was walking a few days ago how much more power I feel through my core, particularly through my pelvic area. It’s really such a relief to finally feel strong and sure of myself when I walk again, one step at a time I guess… power walking for now, power working for later :) Continue reading Day to Day

Plea for Help Response

I just wanted to let people know that my friend Shway, who posted a plea for help here awhile back has managed to find work and is very close to acquiring insurance, hopefully her cancer will not be considered a pre-existing condition. She recently had to move house, and now has some difficulty accessing the internet, but wanted me to thank those who offered a donation or any other form of support, so thank you everyone.