Chocolate mousse and other anti-heartbeak recipes

Ok, so remember how if all the advice you’ve been given to cope with heartbreak fails, there’s always chocolate?

Here’s something to get you started:

Traditional French chocolate mousse (makes enough for 6)

Ingredients:

  • 6 eggs
  • 200 g of dark chocolate
  • 1 pinch of salt

The secret to this mousse is to use the best chocolate you can find, and by best, I don’t mean most expensive, or with a sky-high cocoa content, but one which contains only cocoa, cocoa butter, sugar and lecithin. I generally use Nestlé dessert or Meunier cooking choc, which you can find in most UK supermarkets.

You might also want to use really fresh eggs to avoid making Mousse à la Campylobacter/Salmonella. Unless of course, you are cooking for people you deeply dislike, your ex for example… Just saying.

Preparation time: 10 minutes + a couple of hours in the fridge

How to make it:

  1. Break the chocolate into chunks, add a bit of water and melt. I normally just blast it in the microwave on a medium heat for a couple of minutes, but you can also use a saucepan on the hob. Just make sure it’s well melted, and looks smooth.
  2. Separate the egg yolks from the whites. Add a pinch of salt to the whites and whip them into stiff peaks.
  3. When the chocolate is cool enough to not burn your finger (of course, you will be fastidiously checking that approximately every 17 seconds because you are such a methodical cook… Just remember to leave enough chocolate to not just have egg mousse), add the yolks and stir well.
  4. Fold the whites into the chocolate mix, which basically means: Add a bit of white, cover it with chocolate and gently mix, then repeat until you have an entirely brown mixture.
  5. Refrigerate for a couple of hours at least.
  6. Invite people around and stuff your faces.

Note that because the eggs are raw, the mousse doesn’t keep for more than 24h, unless you are serving it to people you deeply dislike (see above). In my experience though, the mousse rarely survives its first serving.

There. Really easy, and when you feel comfortable with the basic recipe, you can start experimenting, adding candied citrus peels, Bailey’s, or nuts. Let me know how it turns out!

Right, once you’ve downed the whole bowl of mousse, you may also want to reflect on life, and the universe. Seriously, all the people who got over heartbreak fast have one thing in common: They took a long, honest look at themselves

Long, honest look at oneself (makes enough for one)

Ingredients:

  • courage, about 300 kg of it, because let me tell you, taking a long, hard and honest look at oneself isn’t terribly pleasant at times. Guess why most of us had been avoiding it up until now?…
  • friends and /or family for support, tissues, sharing breakthroughs and frustrations
  • some external catalyst such as a counsellor, therapist, group, self-help books, coach whatever works for you. For some people, this ingredient is optional, hats off to them because they manage to challenge themselves enough to really make some progress, and I couldn’t do that for toffee. If anything is an unpleasant truth, I usually manage to studiously ignore it, and pretend it’s eventually going to blow away.
  • A journal, or record of your moods of some description

Preparation time: Anything from weeks to years. Yes, I know, how remarkably unhelpful isn’t it? Don’t thank me.

How to make it:

  1. Find whichever catalyst is going to work for you. I recommend just giving every option a go, and going with your instinct.
  2. Stick to it because you will feel like you are beyond help, going round in circles, or going backwards at times, but it’ll be worth it in the end.
  3. Stir, cook, and stir some more until your head is a big messy ball of confusion.
  4. Chart your progress by keeping track of how often you feel rubbish (let me guess, approximately 26 million times a day now?), and anything that makes you smile.
  5. Gradually picture what you need to be happy, and want from life in general
  6. Move on to relationships and what you may want to do differently next time. I know, I know, you’re probably telling anyone who’ll listen, and probably anyone who won’t too, that you will remain celibate for the rest of your life. Allow me to just have a little snigger here (huhuhuhu)…
  7. When feeling dreadful, stuck, like you’re not getting anywhere, and what’s the point anyway because we’re all gonna diiiie…, check your record to measure how far you have come. You can also whinge about it at length on the internet, which is what I did.
  8. While taking your long, honest look at your navel, remember that you are allowed to keep on living (I know, phew). In fact, I would highly recommend that you keep doing things that bring a smile to your face.

Things that bring a smile to your face (makes enough for a bus-full of people, a double-decker, if you’re feeling generous)

Preparation time: Five minutes each day to plan + a few seconds, minutes, hours to enjoy the results

Ingredients:

  • One table-spoon a day of forcing yourself to do it when you feel like nothing
  • A jumbo-sized pack of pats (a pack of pats, oooh, I like that)
  • A calendar
  • Something to make lists on (if you’re as organised like me, you can also go for sticky notes, notebook, i-phone reminders, and never find anything)

How to do it:

  1. Make a list of things which may bring a smile to your face (to try). Ask people for suggestions, follow all the useless advice you are given…
  2. Keep a list of things that work (which may be non-existent when you first start)
  3. Plan one little thing each day to look forward to and chart on your calendar. It may be something very small. I used to buy myself flowers, plan to call someone whom I knew made me feel better, have a bath, borrow comedy DVDs from the library…
  4. Apply pat to your back for actually doing it.
  5. Something which really worked was to give to others. So I would for example help someone, give a bit of change to a beggar, cook my children’s favourite meal, get little presents for my friends, pick up some litter at the park, tiny things, which probably make me sound like a slightly demented wannabe Mother Teresa, but really, totally selfishly helped me feel better.
  6. Enjoy, and give me your own tricks, tips and feedback!

PS. If you are scaring yourself, or feeling like topping yourself off a lot, then firstly don’t do it, it’s totally last season. Secondly, seek professional help. Not kidding. A lot of us know just how despite being invisible, the pain of heartbreak can be absolutely unbearable. Don’t try to bear it alone. Pretty please.

Right, I don’t know what you are doing tonight, but I’ve got both my smurfs back under one roof (mine), a fridge full of left-overs, and a big week of work ahead after a fairly up and down weekend. I am listening to Rover.

Rover – Tonight:

The Lady E guide to advice on heartbreak

This is my favourite time of year. Snow caps are dwindling, the air takes on a new softness, flowers are everywhere, and days stretch into infinite evenings, punctuated by the cries of  swallows.

I have been on a more even keel for the last week or so, and as the worst of recent heartbreak fades, I have looked back over the tear-stricken path I have climbed in the last year and nearly a half (golly, has it been that long already?).

Ok, so which advice did I follow to get over heartbreak? How did I get over it anyway, and what have I learnt from the experience? Firstly, I’d like to clarify that none of it was truly enjoyable, and if I were you, I would not try it at home.

But if you really, really have no choice and heartbreak is about to kick your door in, here is my first piece of advice: Take a deep breath, and adopt the brace position. Oxygen masks may fall from the ceiling if you are lucky.

Seriously, if you are about to get heartbroken, you are also about to get inundated with (mostly useless) advice.  In my case, I could categorise the advice I received according to rough socio-ethnological groups (bear with me, you are also about to understand why I am not an anthropologist):

American friends said things like:

  • Think positively (No1 useless advice)- Oh yes, of course, now why did I not think of that myself? I’ll just flick the switch and positive thoughts will magically have me skipping around the room.
  • Take pills (antidepressants, anti-anxiety, sleeping pills)- This may actually be good advice if you feel it could help you. Getting enough sleep is especially important because, yes, sleep deprivation will make everything worse (no really, it can get worse). In my view, taking chemicals, is a bit like getting pain relief when giving birth: Good stuff, takes nothing pleasant away from the experience, and what is the point of suffering if you don’t need to? No-one will give you a medal for it, and repeat after me “I am not Jesus Christ…”. Right, now that this point is clear, I will add that pills are not mandatory. In other words, if you don’t feel like taking medications, don’t get bullied into it. In my case, for some reasons I cannot entirely work out, the idea of taking pills made me totally panicky, which kind of defeated the purpose, and so I did without.
  • Pray– Now that’s an interesting one, given that I am a complete heathen who doesn’t believe in anything bar the power of chocolate mousse*. But by all means, do if it works for you.

British friends said things like:

  • Get plastered– Mmm, well yes, sure, but I’d have to spend the next six months on a vodka & orange drip, and I hate needles.
  •  Keep calm and carry on– Are you having a laugh? My world just crumbled, and I am not English.
  • Still, there is a nugget of good advice in there, it will seem positively impossible, when even brushing your teeth feels like a ridiculously hard thing to do, and what’s the point, because we’re all gonna die anyway…. But a minimum of normality (getting dressed before you go out, paying bills, letting the dog out) needs to carry on in your life, because trust me, you will survive, and you want to still have your children, your home and you job when you emerge.
  • This is when you need to ask for help. Unless you live in Farnborough, or somewhere equally weird, lots of people will normally tell you “If you need anything, ask me”, “Let me know if there’s anything I can do for you”. Well, take them up on it. I know, I know, you’re not used to it, you don’t want to trouble them etc… Well, here’s some news: Most people (that includes you) like to help others, because it makes them feel good about themselves. I’m not saying move in with your friends, empty their freezer and hog the remote controls, but ask for meals, nights out, a shoulder to cry on, baby-sitting… Whatever makes you feel better, ask for it. You will be doing everyone a favour.
  • Stop talking about it, it’ll only make you feel worse (useless advice No 348)- Avoid anyone who tells you something along those lines. Either they are psychopaths, or for some reason, your distress makes them feel uncomfortable. It is totally normal to need to talk/write about things endlessly, to repeat the same things over and over like you are a sandwich short of a picnic, it is a way to digest traumatic events. Wanting to understand what happened, when, why, and how at the subatomic scale will also happen, especially if you’re not the one who walked away from the relationship. This is a normal reaction to the feeling that you have lost control over your own life. Keep talking.

French friends said things like:

  • Eat – When T left, I stopped eating and sleeping. It was my reaction to the shock. Other people start eating like it is going out of fashion, and sleeping all the time, we are all different. Anyway, as you may know, the French worship food, and someone who is not eating is a source of unbearable social anxiety. So I got plied by friends and family, who went out of their way to find things I could tolerate to ingest. I am immensely grateful for all these marks of affection.
  • Seriously, not eating for a couple of weeks is all fair enough, and if you want to shed a few pounds and taunt your ex by looking fabulous in your trikini this Summer, fine. But not eating is a bit like not sleeping, it will make things worse. So try to keep consuming food. And if you’re worried, see a doctor. I sort of held out by buying anything I fancied at the supermarket, which made for some very weird shopping baskets at times (like when I went through a spring roll and sushi phase), and having snacks any time I could face eating.
  • You need to go out and see people– Now I don’t know about you, but the idea of having to plaster a smile on in a crowd of happy, well-meaning people, and to go through the motions of pretending I am ok when I feel dead inside appeals almost as much as say… poking my own eyes out with a blunt spoon. If you feel good enough to go out, by all means do, but if not, don’t force yourself, it would only make things worse. I did need a lot of human contact when I felt down, and so favoured seeing friends on their own or in very small groups, so that I could bore them senseless with my broken record of indignation and sadness…

Male friends said:

  • He’s a bastard, forget him (useless advice No1326)- To which my standard response would usually be something like”Yes, what a pig, let’s hide prawns in impossible-to-reach places inside his car, mwahahaha…I cannot believe I actually loved such a horrible person. Wait, he’s not horrible really, or I wouldn’t have loved him. In fact, I still love him, boohoohooohoo”.
  • Along the same lines, you will hear “You need to stop thinking about him/her, you are only hurting yourself, you are better off without him/her, you need to move on, you need to focus on the future, etc…”. Haha, very funny stuff, I’ll just accidentally drop a very heavy object on your foot and ask you to forget about it and move on, shall I?
  • There’s nothing you can do about it– Aah, ok, if you excuse me for a second, I’ll just go and throw myself in the nearest river, then.
  • Shag anything with a pulse within a 50 km radius (10 if you live in a densely populated area)- The idea of being intimate with someone made me want to puke for several months. And when it no longer did, I still felt way too fragile to risk getting close to someone.

Retail therapy friends said:

  • Get new clothes – If you’ve got the funds, and it does make you feel better, why not, hey.
  • Get a new haircut– Same as above, why not. I went for a short cut, which involved running a hand through my hair as the sum and total of my styling routine, and left me with more time to do important stuff such as crying and demanding why oh why oh why. Just be mindful of the fact that now may not be the best time to go for dreadlocks, size 1 clippers, or green dye. It may feel liberating as you do it, but will also feel awful if you regret it five minutes later.
  • Redecorate your bedroom/kitchen/toilet – Again, fine, especially if you cannot wait to wipe out his black and chrome bookshelves (what is it with men and black/chrome furniture?), or her floral patterned wallpaper. In my book, any kind of project which enthuses you is good (but don’t quote me if it involves breaking the law and you get caught), and anything which helps you reclaim your home and feel better is good. Combine the two, ask friends for help, and hey presto, one remarkably good piece of advice. Let’s have a round of applause.

My sister said:

  • Hike at least 1500m height difference everyday and you will sleep at night– Sure. And that sounds highly practical with two children in the middle of winter. Still, it’s worth a try if you have some hills or mountains handy, and no children in tow.
  • What about climbing ice cascades then?– She is my sister, and doesn’t give up easily. I love her really.
  • Variations on the theme include “join a gym, go running, take up tennis again”– All worth having a go at if you feel like it, exercise does tend to make people feel better, but again do not let yourself be guilt-tripped into committing to anything which does not work for you.

Self-helpy friends said:

  • Try Bach floral remedies– I did try, and remembered to take a few drops of the ill-tasting mixture for about three days. I’m skeptical about whether it did anything for me, but apparently a lot of people rave about these, they are relatively inexpensive and cannot do you any harm, so why not try?
  • Read self-help books– Again, call me old fashioned, but I am a huge skeptic when anything claims to revolutionise your life easily and in a time frame which does not involve years. I tried a couple of books, including the popular The power of now, and new Attached. I know that these books help a lot of people, so again they are worth a try if you are into that kind of stuff.
  • Try meditation– I haven’t actually tried meditation, but whatever helps you feel more centered is good. I practice yoga once a week, and think it has really helped me. I am not good at it by any stretch of the imagination, but any activity which helps you forget about your problems, feel less tense, or weepy is good.

Right, I think I’ve covered most of the advice I was dished out. I remember avidly trying everything and anything in an attempt to feel less rough if only for a few milliseconds.

Just remember that people will advise you about what works for them, and sadly, there is no universal recipe to getting over heartbreak… As a rule of thumb, I would say that anything or anyone who claims otherwise is a fraud.

But don’t go running for the nearest river just yet, it does not mean that you have to be miserable for ever and ever. Go with your instinct and try whatever sounds good to you, find out what works, and practice it religiously.

I know, I know, it sucks and you just want a magic wand to make it all go away. Well, that I cannot provide, but just know that it WILL get better. Honest.

Granted, you are probably thinking “But, but that Lady E just doesn’t understand, I feel awful, and will not ever ever recover from this heartbreak”. Trust me, trust pretty much everyone on my blogroll, we’ve all been there, felt like shite, lived to tell the tale, and I dare say that we’d all be cheering you on over the internet.

* If all else fails, there’s always chocolate. My one and only, real choc mousse recipe to come next.

Only love

The cold is piercing, paralysing, painful.

I am so tired of the fear, of being tied to the ground and its dessicated desolation.

I want to soar into a Summer sky, to stop worrying about tomorrow, about the boiler packing up, or running out of breakfast cereal.

I close my eyes and burrow deeper into his neck, listening to Ben Howard’s song *, feeling hope light up the frozen sky, split the clouds, bring colour to my life.

* Ben Howard – Only Love

Snow

Deutsch: Schnee soweit das Auge reicht

Image via Wikipedia

Outside, the sky is a milky grey and it is snowing lightly in spite of the bitter cold, inside I feel cautiously happy.

Granted, fear is never far, I find it hard to believe in myself, to relax into the present, but when I do…

It feels as warm as a tartiflette straight out of the oven on a cold day, as light and fluffy as my (legendary) chocolate mousse, as sweet as a tarte tatin. Erm, can you tell I’m in a (still ridiculous – someone shoot me, please) bakey mood?

Now I just have to hope that the fragile snowflakes of my budding relationship don’t get squashed under the boots of a reality squad, or melted by the returning Spring.

In spite of, and perhaps because of the good times, I keep having to battle through waves of debilitating insecurity, blinding panic, every time I feel myself getting more attached to Mr Nice.

And however hard it is at the time, I have learned that it helps not to share these moments with Mr Nice, and to keep forcing myself to behave like my normal, secure self. Mr Nice knows how insecure I am, but I don’t want my problem to weigh on our relationship.

So I tend to plague my sister and a couple of trusted friends with some special  “I’m sure it’s all over, I’m going to ruin everything” phone calls. Being talked down from my rooftop of fear and irrationality usually helps, and I have noticed that Mr Nice tends to ring when I’m in the middle of those conversations… Either he is tapping my phone, or he has a sixth sense…

One day, I am hopeful to have built enough security in myself that I don’t need so much external support.

Until that day comes, let’s move to the most intellectual dance anthem of the moment…

Pitbull- International love

Freaking out

English: Danger sign Danger sign at footpath c...

Image via Wikipedia

“No I can’t take one more step towards you, ’cause all that’s waiting is regret…”

Ironically, this line from the song that ended my last post, illustrates perfectly how I felt yesterday. Scared out of my wits, with no real reason to be, other than the insecurities, which have plagued my entire life… I could have cried with frustration.

Because contrary to the cold bastard Christina Perri was addressing in her song, Mr Nice has been nothing but warm, understanding, and …well nice, really. Yet there I was, freaking out, feeling like running away and giving up, before I risked letting him too close to me.

All because the past had once again caught up with me, because revealing more of myself to Mr. Nice made me feel excruciatingly vulnerable, and sent urgent danger signals to my tired brain. I sat in misery, convinced that knowing me would send him away, because it is a well-known fact that I am not good enough to be loved, convinced that I am doomed to fail and be abandoned again…

In other words, the same old complete bollocks, which has successfully ruined a few previous relationships, and generally had me living under a cloud of disastrously low self-confidence for most of my life.

Only this time, even though the same anxious patterns are catching up with me, probably made worse by the still fairly fresh trauma of T’s abandonment, I have my eyes wide open. And even though it is an exhausting battle against myself, I am determined to win.

In the moments of peace, I am able to enjoy the present, the joy of seeing someone’s face light up at the sight of me, of hiding in his arms and feeling protected, supported, accepted. This is what I want.

Wish me luck.

Yesterday felt better after dancing around the living to this song with friends and babies, so I thought I’d share…

Basto- Again and again

Sunny spell

Defrosting

Image by matteopenzo via Flickr

After days of cold and grey, the clouds have split, leaving sunshine lighting up the snowy mountainsides, and a timid hint of what might come after winter. A mildness in the air, the smell of earth defrosting…

In my heart, the big melt is still on too, and as scary as it may be, Mr Nice has found ways to wait it out, patiently, disarmingly, a curious mixture of strength and vulnerability himself.

Of course it is very early days, we know so little of each other, and I still feel so scared and fragile, but the torrent of life, love and light is an irresistible force…

This song reminds me of T, who I no longer think about much these days.

Christina Perri – Jar of hearts:

And the winner is…

The Laughing Cow

Image via Wikipedia

Caroline, for her suggestion of “Laughing Cow in France” as my new blog title… Yup, I know, almost as exciting as the Golden Globe nominations! Will she now grace us with a tearful, or at least emotion-choked speech?

Thank you all for the suggestions, they gave me food for thought and made me chuckle…

Ok, so let me clarify a couple of things : a- I have no intention of turning red or sporting ridiculous earrings, b- I don’t even have any particular affinity towards bovines, but hey, Poor Cow pretty much accidentally became the start of this blog, and so the cow will remain. c- I have every intention of laughing. A lot. Preferably to giggle idiotically at Mr Nice’s jokes.

Yes, yes, things are still developing, very slowly but nicely (hence his uninventive moniker) with Mr Nice… Even though opening up is making me hysterical with fear ahem, feel insanely vulnerable.

History has taught us both some tough lessons, and I hope we can avoid the traps we fell into in previous relationships, while not hurtling ourselves straight into the ones we hadn’t previously tried, just for a laugh. Whilst we have kept to intimacy standards, which would please queen Victoria, we have started getting into deep and difficult conversations.

I like that he resists me, and pushes back when I give easy answers such as “T left because he’d met someone else”. The sad truth is we both know that The New Ms T was the catalyst, but not the reason why T left…

I eventually had to admit that T left for a variety of reasons, almost certainly, and uncomfortably including the belief that he could no longer make me happy.

He left because I punished him (I didn’t make him sit on the naughty step- though this may have been more effective), by withdrawing my affection and expressing my disappointment in him every time he (probably mostly unintentionally) hurt me.

He left because I didn’t give him what he needed. Though I was keen to do so, he was incapable of expressing his needs, so I was left guessing and evidently guessed wrong (What do you mean, he didn’t need me to moan about my day, and tell him for the umpteenth time to put his dirty laundry in the effing basket?).

He also left because he was a weak man, who needed me to be strong and then accused me of treating him like a child, who blamed our relationship for his unhappiness rather than tackling the personal problems, which have been weighing him down his entire life. And this is clearly where my responsibility towards our relationship ends (phew).

JLS  – Innocence (Sorry, I know JLS again! Blame it on my son who will not allow any other music in the house)