I am a hypochondriac who never falls ill.
The mercury hasn’t limped past 98.6° F since Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire flashed across cinema screens. The Potter flu hit me hard and swift as an entrail-expelling curse just hours after I left the theater. By some charm I managed not to spew my Fenton’s sundae (the Muggle’s equivalent of a Florean Fortescue spectacular) down the front of my black robes.
So when I feel a cactus in my throat, or cobwebs in my sinuses my self-pity comes tied up in a green ribbon of secret delight. I relish my sick days. I pamper myself with the paradoxical hope that my ministrations will both relieve the discomfort and prolong the malady.
Today was a cactus-throat day (something is slinking through the office, it’s kept the executive editor under blankets for two days, but I know my herculean immune system too well to get my hopes up*). First I flushed my breathing tubes with the mentholated breeze of coastal dawn. Then I melted into indulgence—skipping the phlegmatics of NYTimes Section A and languishing in the linguistics; savoring the last of the throat coat tea; magicking up a jar of cookie butter from leftover grahams; letting the hammock cradle me under the cyan canopy of larksong.
And we mustn’t forget the tartlets. Itsy-bitsy, treat-yourself lime tartlets that leap off the fork with citrus spunk and vitamin C zing.
*Update: Low and behold, I did fall prey to the office’s viral villain. My sinus faucets leaked for a week!
- 10 digestive biscuits (or Hansel and Gretel’s grahams)
- 2 tablespoons vegan butter, melted
- 2-3 tablespoons nondairy milk
Adapted from Fat Free Vegan
- 3/8 cup lime juice (about two limes)
- zest of two limes
- ½ cup sugar
- ¼ cup + 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup + 2 tablespoons nondairy milk
Preheat the oven to 375° F. Place the digestive biscuits, melted butter, and two tablespoons of nondairy milk in the food processor and run until the mixture is pasty. Add an additional tablespoon of nondairy milk if necessary. You should be able to gather the dough into a ball without it crumbling to bits. Pat the dough into two miniature pie tins. Prick a few holes in the bottom of the crust and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until a lovely biscuity scent wafts up when you open the oven door and the crust feels dry to the touch.
Whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a large saucepan. Add the water and milk and cook over medium heat, whisking frequently to prevent clumping. When mixture comes to a boil, cook for five minutes, stirring often. The mixture should be quite thick and gel quickly when sampled on a spoon.
Transfer the pudding to a glass or ceramic bowl. Using a non-metal utensil, stir in the lime zest, and gradually incorporate the lime juice. Fill the pastry shells with the lime curd and chill until set. Leftover filling can be stored in a jar in the fridge for toast and biscuits and other morsels in need of some limey spunking up.