Apart from my birthday, which was entirely enjoyable and thanks to dear friends is still going on, May has brought nothing but mayhem, with an apparently never-ending sequence of things falling apart.
The crack in a favourite plate. The lamp I knocked over, breaking the light fitting. The food processor lid and bowl that finally collapsed, costing half as much as a new machine to replace. The tooth filling that fell out. The arm of my glasses snapping off. The massive scrape on the back of the car, from hastily backing it down the drive early in the morning out of the house painters' way and banging into the one bit of scaffolding sticking out into the drive.
The iPad mysteriously insisting I was someone else who did not have access to it (I managed to get the NZ helpdesk number and they put it all right). Spark changing their security and sending my power bill straight to Spam so it didn't get paid on time (and not being able to put it right). The worst was saved till late last week: Microsoft's latest massive compulsory update being followed by the complete collapse of my hard disk and the permanent loss of everything on it. Had I saved it all somewhere else? No, of course not.
The only consolations: Most of the work I'd done on the big project I'm currently engaged in is retrievable from other systems; and I didn't lose any major new work of genius (because I don't have any such thing under way). With a bit of finangling, I could afford to fix everything. And thanks to fantastic help, I now have the computer up and running again, with newly installed software and a brand new hard drive. Plus I have relearnt the old lesson I used to know by heart: BACK UP.
In these circumstances, I did something rare for me: I took to baking. In last week's DomPost Saturday magazine there was a strikingly simple recipe for lemon custard shortcake, and I had everything I needed to make it.
Lemon custard shortcake
Slightly adapted from House and Garden recipe,
DomPost magazine, Saturday 26 May 2018
2 c plain flour + 2 Tbsps flour for topping
1/2 c custard powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 c sugar
200g butter chopped into smallish pieces
zest of 1 large lemon
1 and 1/2 c lemon honey/curd, bought or home-made
Heat oven to 180C or 170C fan bake. Either grease a slice tin, approx. 27 cm x 17 cm, or line tin and sides with baking paper.
Put 2 c flour, custard powder, baking powder, sugar, butter and lemon zest into food processor bowl. Process until the mixture looks like rough crumbs.
Add eggs and process until mixture forms a ball.
Press two-thirds of mixture evenly into tin. Spread lemon honey evenly over the top.
Put remaining third of mixture back into processor, add 2 Tbsps flour and process briefly until mixed.
Crumble this evenly over the curd.
Bake 25-30 minutes until slice is cooked through.
Allow to cool and set in the tin before cutting into fingers or small squares.
(Once it's cool and set, the baking paper allows you to easily lift the whole thing out of the tin and onto a board for cutting.)
Here's a not-very-good copy of part of the photo from the magazine - doesn't do it justice, but gives an idea of what it was supposed to look like:
And here's mine. In real life it looked reassuring similar to the original, and tasted like sunshine - just what I needed.