Antidotes to inexplicable grumpiness:

Inexplicable grumpiness def: a slight emotional fizzing and hissing; when things just grate. Often the sky seems tilted and objects in your path take on a pale orange sheen of reflected fury. Exacerbated by the sound of sniffing, garbage trucks and the smell of salt cod from the neighbours. It may very well be hormonal. Really, there’s nothing that wrong. But best not to say that to my face.

Antidotes:

-Ignore the fact that it’s grey and raining.  Put on gumboots and a rain coat. Go for a walk. Take surprising amount of satisfaction from the fact that your feet and shoulders aren’t getting wet.

-Walk to the library and get out some new books. I understand they’ve been around for around 5000 years, yet libraries still blow my mind. FREE BOOKS. Crazy, huh?

– Buy some flowers. Even if they’re the slightly crummy white roses from the discount bin at Tesco. There’s something about  flowers on a table that is the essence of cheerful.

– Make a cup of tea. Try not to let it get to you that for some inane reason in the UK it’s nigh impossible to find Earl Grey teabags in a BAG, with a string attached.

– Also try not to get frustrated that every time you choose Twinings Earl Grey from your online shopping  it suggests you might also like to purchase 50 Shades of Grey. I understand the protagonist likes the tea. But any causal relationship between my tea and my reading habits is flimsy at best. There are also plenty of things she likes that I’m not so up for (nb, it’s fairly hard to make me blush. I once worked at Family Planning. I’ve sat through meetings where content for a ‘Sexasaurus’ was brainstormed.  Yet everytime I see someone in London reading that book on the tube my cheeks go pink. NOT APPROPRIATE FOR PUBLIC TRANSPORT LADIES).

-Go to the gym. Put on Florence and the Machine and move some heavy stuff around for a while.

– Slow roast a lamb shoulder under a blanket of foil for six hours. There’s a reason an agency in Australia made a mock advertisement of ‘Lamb‘ as a perfume. It’s a smell that’s as comforting as any other.

– Make baked chocolate custards. You probably have everything in the cupboard. Dark chocolate (for emergencies). Milk. Some eggs. A little sugar. Add vanilla if you have it. Also raspberries- or any red fruit. Or some nuts.

All you need to do is melt the chocolate into the milk, then whisk the eggs together with the sugar. Add the hot milk to the egg mix. Pour into ramekins. Bake in a water bath for 45 minutes.

Eat with a spoon while you flick through one of your library books and admire your flowers. It’s squish and comfort. It’s light.

It’s chocolate.

It’s everything that’s good. It’s the perfect antidote to the orange fizzing of a mood.

Nb this below recipe makes three. That’s one for you to sneakily scoff in the afternoon and then two for you to pretend that you made them as something nice to share with your other half.

Alternatively that’s three all for you. Apply depending on how bad it’s got. You’ll know what’s best.

Baked Chocolate Custards with Raspberries

Makes three 1 cup custards. Would make 4  3/4 cup ones, or doubles easily for a crowd.

Equipment

1 saucepan. 1 mixing bowl. 1 whisk. 3 x 1 cup ramekins. 1 baking tray fora  water bath.

Shopping/foraging

75 grams of dark chocolate (minimum 70 per cent cocoa solids)
1 and a half cups of full cream milk
1 tsp of vanilla bean paste, or scraped seeds from 1 vanilla pod
1 egg, plus 2 egg yolks
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 cup of fresh raspberries to serve (could also substitute with other berries easily or toasted hazelnuts)
1 tbsp cocoa, or grated chocolate to serve.

Method

1) Preheat oven to 150 C/300 F.

2) Place the milk and chocolate and vanilla paste in a saucepan over a low heat. Gently stir together to melt the chocolate into the milk. Heat until you can just hold your finger into the milk.

3) Whisk together the egg, egg yolks and sugar until well combined and the sugar has dissolved.

4) Pour a third of the milk into the egg and sugar. Whisk together. Pour the remainder in and whisk well.

5) Pour the custard into the ramekins through a strainer. Place the ramekins in a baking tray and fill with luke warm water. Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes.

6) Let the custards stand for 15 minutes before serving. Dust with cocoa or grated chocolate and raspberries.