I am Valentinezilla.
That’s right – the day that is supposed to be full of candy hearts and sweet cards and spending time with the one you love has turned me into an absolute nightmare.
Today, the day before Valentine’s Day, started innocently enough. I slept in late, snuggling in next to TJ and our cat, Suzie, until the idea to make crème brûlée for my V-Day blog post popped into my head.
So I hopped into the shower, got ready, and headed downtown – TJ in tow – to pick up some delightfully-coloured ramekins and a crème brûlée torch from the local kitchen store, and some eggs, blueberries and whipping cream from the Victory Meat market. Easy, right?
Not so. The torch was procured easily enough, although TJ complained bitterly about the price. A quick surveil of the store, however, revealed no ramekins. A second, more thorough search also yielded nothing. This is when I started to get cranky.
We paid for the torch, but were informed by the cashier that we’d have to buy butane from a smoke shop, as it came empty. A relatively minor wrench in my plan, but doable, I thought.
There was another home store around the corner that would surely have ramekins, so TJ and I headed further down Queen Street. After a desperate walk-around of their kitchen appliance section, and an even more frenzied dash upstairs in their furniture area, it was certain: there were no ramekins to be found.
As I’m writing this, I realize fully just how benign this situation is. Of all the problems in the world, finding half a dozen ramekins is hardly a crisis. But no, this little dilemma was cause for an utter and complete meltdown. My face started getting hot, my mind was spinning, and my lips just wouldn’t stop flapping. Arms flailing, I stampeded my way up the street to the market in search of ingredients.
Of course, they didn’t have blueberries, and the recipe I had my heart set on involved a blueberry bottom. Things really started to get ugly then. I barked at TJ to drop the basket he had grabbed on our way in, stomped out the doors, and started power-walking in the direction of home, TJ trailing after me like some kind of sad puppy. He tried so hard to calm me down, asking – begging – me to put things in perspective for once and recognize that this isn’t a big deal. But I kept ranting, cursing the city of Fredericton and its founders for failing to provide me pretty ramekins and a pint of blueberries.
“I have to make the cream, then refrigerate it for two hours,” I yelled. We were already so late in the afternoon, and that didn’t leave me enough time to take photos of the finished product before the natural light disappeared. After all, there’s no sense in making them if I can’t get a good photo for my blog, I said.
It was then that it occurred to me then that I had clearly lost track of what was important. I cook because I love to, and I share it on this blog because it makes me happy. So what if my photos are a little shaded for this one post, I thought. I’ll make this work.
My optimism didn’t last long. While I managed to find ramekins uptown, TJ had failed to locate some butane for my torch. I still needed the ingredients and it was bordering on 4 o’clock. I started to get hungry, headachey, and very, very grumpy. Everyone was annoying me – pedestrians, people in the supermarket, anything that impeded my mission.
When we got home, I quickly got to work preparing the dessert. Cooking soothes me, so I started to unwind again, and actually came around to apologizing to TJ for being such a nightmare of a girlfriend. While the cream was cooling, TJ ran out for a couple errands and I called my parents.
I was talking to my dad about my awful luck today when TJ came back home, thrusting a bouquet-shaped package in my direction. Instead of responding like a normal, decent girl, my mind automatically went to the negative, questioning why he would give me flowers while I was clearly on the phone. His face sunk. I felt like a total ass.
It was then that he dubbed me Valentinezilla. Like bridezilla, I had allowed the pressure and stress of something meant to be enjoyable to send me to the brink of insanity. I was a monster.
I wish I could say that I finally came ’round and realized how lucky I am, and how ridiculous I’d been acting, but I have to admit, I’m still pretty grumpy. While I haven’t quite yelled at TJ since the flower incident, I did get a little testy when he accidently lit one of my crème brûlées on fire, and I did get short-tempered when supper didn’t turn out right, either.
It’s funny how the pressure of something great can completely backfire; I wanted this day before Valentine’s Day to be perfect, casual and fun for the two of us, but instead I tried so hard that I turned it into a stress-filled mess.
But I know it’s not the end of the world – that’s the thing about being with someone special. Even when you might completely screw up, they love you just the same.
1 pint blueberries
3 cups half-and-half
1/4 cup sugar
3 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 – 12 teaspoons white or brown sugar
Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat the half-and-half in saucepan over medium heat until it just reaches a boil. In mixing bowl, whisk sugar, whole eggs and yolks until frothy.
Slowly mix in hot half-and-half , then add the mixture to the saucepan and heat over low. Stir in vanilla. Drop blueberries into the bottoms of the ramekins. Pour cream into ramekins. Place ramekins in a large baking dish. Pour hot water into the dish until it reaches two-thirds of the way up the sides of the ramekins. Bake 35-40 minutes.
Once baked, remove ramekins from the dish and let cool for 10 – 15 minutes, then chill in refrigerator for two hours.
When ready to serve, sprinkle one to two teaspoons of brown or white sugar on top of each and apply torch flame until sugar caramelizes.