Elbow deep in house painting, I have come to realise that there is no such thing as the perfect home. All those corners you died over on Apartment Therapy? Those don’t exist. Not over here at least. I’m sorry but it’s the sad, sad truth. Ultimately, junk mail piles up, clothes don’t get put away and you can only hide so much under the bed. Our home has been a lesson in patience and paint buckets, colours and negotiation and knowing when to let go and embrace the mess. There’s a word for people who function below their capacity in clutter – Type A, is it? I am NOT that. I am somewhere in between that and a person who says “F this” and goes for a walk.
The stuff you learn from having a place of your own is life-changing. Through the worst of the disorganisation, you find the plateau of peace where time is too precious to sweat the small shit and money is an asshole. Home improvement for us has been one big sigh of good and bad. Honestly, I can only list contradictions because it’s all I’ve seen so far. Plus, I’m a Gemini and that’s what we do. The kitchen is a stupid happy yellow and as of today, my newly-christened “art room”-formerly couch-TV room is a green that took maybe six samples of paint to get to. The moment we start a project, we are stopped right in our tracks because a) There are holes in the wall b) Walls first or trim first? c) We usually have no idea what the hell we’re doing [YouTube rules for that stuff, btw] If you’re going through similar motions in your own existence right now, stop. Stop, breathe and concede imperfection. It’s freeing…revolutionary and will pull the carpet from right under perfecthome.com. The time we spend on couch and TV island is all think off on the bus home from work. The meditation space is set at the cheapy card table that sits right in front of the biggest window in the house (that’s forever fogged up because it wasn’t sealed correctly). It’s covered with art supplies, crayons chewed up by rascal puppies and books. I sit on a rolly office chair because that’s all we got. And I like to spin around while I’m thinking. This is where we’re at. This is wonderful.
Two weeks ago while I was writing this post from the corner floor of our bedroom, I hear nothing and then suddenly I hear “FUCK FUCK FUCK* like there was blood pouring out of the human I live with. I didn’t want to go look but I couldn’t not, right? I walked over to now-wonderfully green “art room” (but still sort of couch-TV room) and said, “WHAT HAPPENED?!” as loud as I could, expecting blood. “I JUST DROPPED A BUCKET OF PAINT ALL OVER THE CARPET, THAT’S WHAT.” “Oh I thought you cut yourself. Calm down,” I said, ironically. For about a minute, we were headless chickens, trying to figure out the best way to make it all disappear. Finally, we gave up – him in disbelief – knowing well that the carpet was always going to have a big white splotch on it. We then went on to painting three rooms worth of trim. Score. Today as I ran my foot over the part of the floor where his life fell apart, I remarked how hard the carpet felt. “Yeah,” he said, regretfully but with a hint of “moving on…”. As the day’s work came to a close, he was walking around like the most masterful home-improvement dude. “It looks sooo niiiceee.” I agreed. This stuff makes me smile.
For the world of imperfect that surrounds us, I’m thankful we can find the perfect. It’s always in the middle of the mess and it’s forever granting me perspective.
The Baking Bible was a Christmas present from a chef and lady who has fast become a close friend here in Washington. Always encouraging and so full of wisdom, she would be able to do everything from the book with her eyes closed but she’d much rather let me learn for myself. This sweet cookie tart crust is the first thing I’ve attempted (with adjustments) from the book. Thumbs up, people! It works wonderfully. Also, happy birthday to the other baking inspiration in my life – Gayle. This is only the start of great things. Love every second of it.
- The edges of the tart will cook faster than the rest of it so if you feel it is not yet set after the recommended cooking time, cover the edges with a foil ring and bake for 5 more minutes.
- A good way to tell when the tart is ready is to check if the pie weights/beans (in my case, split green peas) are still sticking to the dough.
For the lemon curd
Follow this recipe for lemon curd here. You can make it a day or even a week ahead.
For the Sweet Cookie Tart Crust
Adapted from The Baking Bible
- 85 gms/6tbsp unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 150 gms/ 1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 37 gms/3 tbsp turbinado sugar (sugar in the raw)
- 1 large egg yolk (19 gms)
- 2 tbsp (29 gms) whole milk, cold
Cut the butter into cubes and place back in the fridge until it’s ready to use. In a medium-sized bowl, mix the flour and salt.
Next, process the sugar in a food processor until it’s super fine. Add the cold butter to the sugar and pulse until the sugar gets incorporated with the butter. Add the flour mixture to the food processor and pulse until the butter turns to the size of small peas.
In a separate bowl, stir the egg yolk with the milk. Add the mixture to the food processor and pulse just until incorporated. The original recipe suggests to pulse eight times. The dough will be crumbly, like wet sand.
Scrape the dough from the processor into a dry bowl and knead it lightly a few times until it stays in one piece. You should not be able to see any visible pieces of butter. If you do, press the down and spread them out. Roll out a piece of plastic wrap and place the ball of pastry in the middle of the plastic wrap. Roll up the pastry tightly in the plastic wrap, flatten it and shape it into a disc. Chill the dough for 30 minutes until it firms up.
Once you’re ready to prepare the tart to be rolled out and baked, set out two pieces of parchment paper. Lightly flour the surface of the paper. Roll out the pastry dough until it’s about 1/8 inch thick all around. If you feel the dough is sticking while you’re rolling it out, dust with a little flour.
Take 1 of the tartlet shell moulds and place it face down onto the rolled out dough. Cut the dough around the tartlet mould about an inch larger than the circumference. Repeat for the other moulds. If the dough softens after you cut it, refrigerate it for about 5 minutes until it’s firm again. It it’s too firm it won’t sit well in the mould so keep that in mind when you put it in the fridge.
Take the cut out pastry and place it into the mould. Press down and against the sides into the mould using your fingers. If it’s too thick in parts, flatten it out a bit using your fingers. The dough gets puffier while it bakes. Using a knife, cut off the excess pastry dough from the top of the mould.
Cover the tart and chill it in the fridge for an hour.
Place the oven racks at the middle and lowest levels and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Using a fork, gently make a few holes on the surface of the dough, being extremely careful not to poke right through. This will cause your filling to leak out and make you angry. Place pie weights or uncooked beans on the surface of the dough. Transfer the tartlet moulds to the baking sheet and place on the lower rack of the oven for 5 minutes. Bake for 5 minutes and then turn the oven temperature down to 375 degrees F. Bake for 15-20 minutes more, until the pastry has set. Bake until pale gold in colour. The edges of the tartlet will be a deeper brown.
Carefully move the tartlet moulds to a cooling rack and let them rest for 10-15 minutes. Just like cookies, they get firmer while cooling.
Unmould the tart shell when cooled and spoon in the filling, like in the picture. Refrigerate to let the curd set for about an hour. Eat and enjoy while cool.