There are a few things in life that I am scared of; sharks, bears, my car dying on the Golden Gate bridge, needles, and cancer. Not necessarily in that order. When I see the words written before me, it seems selfish. What about losing loved ones? Or not experiencing love? I can tackle them gracefully or maybe not so gracefully. One thing I am not afraid of is indulging often with are these butterscotch pudding tarts. The tart shell is not a traditional pastry shell instead I used macadamia nuts, oats and dates. The homemade pudding is dreamy and the perfect companion for the nutty pastry shell.
I wasn’t going to write about this experience until I read my friend Bree’s post, so I apologize if you are just hearing of this. It happened so quickly, that I have not had time to really tell anyone, and I feel it is important to share experiences and hopefully, nudge people a little. During a press trip last week, I did not encounter bears nor sharks; instead, I received a voicemail that punched me in the gut. I knew the missed call number seemed familiar, but figured it was a client. Instead, it was the hospital calling to tell me my mammogram was suspect, and that I should come back within the next couple days.
I sat on it for what felt like an eternity, before calling Lenny to tell him the news. Should I call back the hospital now? Or should I wait? We both agreed to call them. The woman on the other side of the line was unsympathetic and basically informed me that I had a large mass on my right side and I needed to come back within a couple days. Speechless.
The next few days were hell being in my own thoughts. I was on a trip and couldn’t burden my new found friends with “TMI so I plugged along, keeping busy shooting, listening, taking notes and enjoying cocktails and good food. As soon as I got on the plane, and had my first moment to sigh, and it hit me. All the Whats came flooding in. Client projects were lined up for the year. How was I going to tell my family and friends? I had weddings to attend, babies being born. I know many women who have gone or are going through the same thing and have done so with wit and grace. I was not sure I could do the same. I was terrified.
We headed to the hospital to further the testing process on Friday. I was lined up for more in-depth mammograms, as well as ultrasounds. I was lead to a small room, full of women, with cold hospital gowns lined up on the walls. The air was somber. I couldn’t make eye contact. I sat with Lenny in a waiting room where men were allowed. Every time he touched my knee, squeezed my hand or smiled, the tears welled up and the pit in my stomach became tighter.
Upon entering the room for the next round of pictures to be taken, I am informed that there are actually two areas of concern, in both breasts. One was larger than the other. They proceeded to tell me that they would do the mammogram, the doctor would evaluate and if there was a further concern we would proceed with ultrasounds, and so on. In the end, I would know that day. While it should be comforting to know so soon, I was hoping it wouldn’t be that quick.
For us the outcome was positive. The tests came back negative. I cried tears of joy; but, I still could not make contact with the many women who were waiting gracefully.
What does cancer and butterscotch pudding have to do with each other? Nothing really. Sometimes, we just need a big bowl of comfort in the form of something sweet. This recipe for butterscotch pudding is creamy, buttery and loaded with scotch, and goes really well with a macadamia nut-based tart shell. Perfect on its own or in a nutshell as here. Either way, it will bring you a small amount of comfort on a good day or bad.
Ladies, get your mammograms, do not put it off until another day. Sure, self-testing is fine as a precautionary, but it does not catch everything. If you are over 40, you should be doing so yearly. If breast cancer runs in your family, you should start earlier. Talk to your doctor, and see what is best for you. Just do it.
Butterscotch Pudding Tarts
* makes 6 tarts or 6 small bowls of pudding
Macadamia Nut Tart Shell
1 cup gluten-free rolled oats
1/2 cup macadamia nuts
8 whole dates, pits removed
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup
pinch kosher salt
Preheat oven to 400.
In a food processor add all of the above ingredients. Blend until it comes together, about 2 minutes.
Lightly coat each tart pan with a small amount of coconut oil. Place on a baking sheet.
Equally, divide the tart dough, and press into the pans.
Pre-bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
4 tablespoons cornstarch
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 large eggs
3 tablespoons Scotch
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the brown sugar, stir and cook over medium heat for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.
In a small bowl stir together the cornstarch and 1/2 cup milk until smooth. Whisk in the eggs. Set aside.
Whisk the rest of the milk along with the heavy cream into the butter/sugar mixture, until mixed well. Then whisk in the cornstarch/egg mixture.
Place the saucepan on the stove, over medium-low heat, whisking constantly until the mixture thickens. This will take 4 – 8 minutes, depending on the heat of your stove. Do not stop whisking or you will have scrambled eggs.
Remove from the heat and stir in the scotch and vanilla.
If you are making the above tarts, pour the mixture into a glass bowl, and place a layer of saran wrap over the pudding, layering the wrap on top of the pudding. Then place in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours. After three hours, divide the pudding mixture between the tart shells, cover with saran wrap and return to the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving.
If you are going to enjoy as pudding, divide the pudding between 6 small serving cups, cover with saran wrap and chill for at least 4 hours before enjoying.