Have you ever run your own business? It's hard! I mean, I know everyone says it's hard but it's REALLY, truly hard. The hardest part, ironically, is not the legal stuff or the finance stuff... those bits have clear cut rules that are the same for every business. If you're organised enough (and I like to think I am), those bits are a doddle.
The really hard bit is selling what you actually want to make money on. The publicity, the PR, getting people other than your friends to buy your product, targeting the right audience, selling enough of your product so that you can actually make a profit, convincing your audience that your product is different - better even - than your competitors'... the list literally goes on.
So why not pack it in? If it's so hard, just I've up. That's the most sensible and cost effective thing to do, right? Right.
But then, you see a customer "using your product" and you see the joy it brings them. Or you overhear or read a really good review of your product and it encourages you to keep going. And you start to believe in yourself again. You start to remember that you have a passion for creating this product, whatever it may be, and it gives you a newfound confidence to keep going. So I will keep going.
I love cooking - obviously. I love cooking for other people. I love bringing people together through food, through the food that I love to cook and eat. I also love to tell my story. I feel that as our world gets smaller, people think their stories aren't interesting anymore. WRONG! We all have a story to tell and I want my guests, my customers, to eat their way through mine. So whenever I pick up a pan, a tray or a wooden spoon, I remember that this brings me joy, as it will bring joy to those who eat at my table.
The recipe below is for muhallabiyya. It is a set milk pudding VERY popular in the Middle East after a big, indulgent meal. It's the Arabic answer to panna cotta. It's light, fragrant and gluten free. I'm serving this at my next event and I really can't wait to share it with all of you.
500ml whole milk
125g caster sugar
3 tbsp cornflour
2 tsp rose water
1/2 tsp butter
Chopped pistachios and rose petals to serve
Keep back about 50ml of the milk and add the rest of it to a saucepan with the sugar. Put the saucepan on a medium heat and stir the sugar into the milk so that it dissolves. If the heat is too harsh and the sugar has not dissolved, it will crystallise.
Add the cornflour and rose water to the rest of the milk and stir until the cornflour is dissolved and you have a slurry. Once the pot of milk is hot but not boiling, add the slurry and keep stirring until the mixture thickens. It should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
Pour the hot mixture into ramekins or your serving vessel of choice and cover with cling film so that the cling film is touching the top of the muhallabiyya. This will stop it from forming a skin - some people like the skin, I'm not a fan. You can skip this step if you don't mind the skin so much.
Let the pudding cool and then refrigerate it overnight or for at least 8 hours. To serve, top with chopped pistachios and rose petals.