I gave up a few years ago trying to be superwoman. Although I do still veer on the side of trying a bit too hard to please everybody all of the time, through age, experience and probably more pertinently bouts of ill health, I have learnt that it is a totally futile and dangerous occupation.
A few years ago I was on my way home from a stay in hospital. My parents had been staying at our house as it was my mother’s birthday when I had been taken ill. On the way home in the car I said to Michael I wanted to stop at the shops to get a few bits as when I got home I needed to make my mother a birthday cake, quite irrationally thinking she would be really disappointed if she didn’t have one.
He stopped the car so suddenly I thought I might end up back in hospital. After what I shall call a good discussion, we did stop at the shops but only to quickly pop in a buy a ready made cake which my mother was delighted with. But of course she was more delighted that I was home and well. It was from that moment that I realised I can’t do it all. Even if I try as hard as possible, I can’t do everything for everyone and, more to the point, do it perfectly.
There is an expression used by Social Services to describe the level of parental care they expect parents to give their children – ‘good enough’. When I first heard it I was quite shocked. ‘Good enough’ was certainly not good enough I thought. Surely we should all work towards being better than just ‘good enough’ but over the years I have changed my mind. Now I look at it from a different angle and think that although we certainly can strive to be good at what we do, there are those occasions when ‘good enough’ will be just fine. If ‘good enough’ is all we have the time, energy or financial resources for, there is absolutely no shame and nothing wrong with that at all.
We can’t all be super mums, super wives, super workers or super children. We are all better at some things than others, most of us have our crosses to bear or baggage to carry around that weighs us down sometimes. This time of the year can be extremely stressful to say the least with added financial burdens and family conflicts, not to mention the additional work involved, everything from shopping, making up spare beds, extra cleaning, organising the children and/or parents. Even the bits that are supposed to be fun and enjoyable such as work parties and Christmas drink invites can become a source of stress for some people. Worries over what to wear, the expense of taxi fares or child minders or even just the having to mingle with strangers is anathema to some.
Christmas is a very special time of the year for me. I have always really, really loved it and I still do. It helps that I feel at home in the kitchen so the cooking side is relatively stress free now. I don’t fret about the under cooking the turkey or over cooking the sprouts and have learnt over time that no one is going to have a rotten Christmas just because I forgot to buy that extra packet of cashew nuts.
I am extremely fortunate that I can find the time to make things like biscuits, not only do I like biscuits but it’s an excuse not to do the housework which has never been my forte. I will be making more of these Almond Crescents as the first batch was destined for my next door neighbour, unfortunately unbeknown to Michael who polished six of them off while I was out last week. They are very easy, light as air but very crisp which in my book makes them a perfect biscuit.
But if you haven’t got time or inclination to make your own and want something to keep in the cupboard for guests, these will be most welcome. Someone asked me to try these Asda Extra Special All Butter Palmiers and Cinnamon Straws, created with Leiths School of Food and Wine. I won’t lie, I was sceptical, but they are very good. The ingredients list reads like something I would make myself, no nasties, and it shows. Really buttery and a lovely crunch, they are certainly good enough, both for guests and for you.
- 110gm unsalted butter
- 70gm icing sugar
- A few drops of almond extract
- 120gm ground almonds
- 80gm flour
- Icing sugar for dusting
- Line two baking sheets with baking paper
- Preheat oven to 165c (fan)
- Beat the sugar, butter and almond extract together until light and fluffy.
- Add the almonds and flour and mix until combined. Don't overmix.
- The dough will be quite stiff.
- Take a lump about the size of a walnut, roll into a sausage shape and curl gently into a crescent.
- Lay on the baking sheet and repeat until all the dough has been used.
- It should make about 20.
- Place in the oven for approx. 15 minutes until firm.
- The biscuits should be pale in colour, just starting to brown slightly, no more.
- Whilst still on the baking tray dredge with plenty of icing sugar so they are white.
- Lift biscuits onto a cooling tray and leave until cold.
- Store in an airtight tin (will keep for a week).