It’s all turned to custard

It rained on my mother’s birthday (15 June), it rained yesterday, and it rains still…and HOW! 110 ml in the past 36 hours.  Rivers and drains and ditches are overflowing and some of the city streets are flooded. When the weather deteriorates like this, or when anything worsens, New Zealanders often say ‘It’s all turned to custard.”

I don’t know the origin of this expression. When I left New Zealand in 1977, custard was confined to the family dinner table. When I returned to New Zealand in 1999, I was astonished to learn that a great many things, including our attempt to win the Rugby World Cup, had “all turned to custard”.  Why custard? Why was poor, innocent, humble custard chosen to represent the unbright side of life. Had New Zealand become a nation of custard haters in my absence?

I love my custard. So I am deeply affronted by the sullying of custard’s good name. 😉CustardI make all kinds of custard but,  for my favourite quick custard, I use Edmonds Custard Powder. Edmonds used to be a genuine New Zealand brand but it has been sold out to a bigger overseas concern . So does that mean even our national custard industry has turned to custard?

So, those are photos of  the beautiful custard which nourished my body and soul yesterday.  Here is how it was made: Three tablespoons of custard powder, mixed with one tablespoon of sugar and 1/4 cup of cold, full cream milk.  Mix into a smooth paste.  Add 1/4 cup cream, mixed with a lightly beaten egg to the mixture.  Heat 1 and 3/4 cups of full cream milk and add this heated milk to the cold mixture.  Put the combined mixture in to a saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer gently, with frequent stirring, until the custard thickens. Add a few drops of vanilla or almond essence and serve hot or cold. This recipe makes a very thick custard. ( I like thick custard with a thick skin on top! ) To make a thinner custard use 2 tablespoons of custard powder.

That’s the custard. Now look at the photos of the weather that has ‘all turned to custard.’ Can you see a connection to custard? I can’t.

Footnote: I have taken a light-hearted approach to custard, and the weather, but the weather and flooding are extreme in some parts of the country. There will be extensive damage  to land and property as a result.

© silkannthreades

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83 thoughts on “It’s all turned to custard

      1. restlessjo

        Hot apple pie with custard, or a custard tart (pastel de nata in Portugal 🙂 ). Not tried a custard slice. I imagine it’s similar 🙂 Flaky pastry?

        Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          Yes, flaky pastry. Custard tart would be yum. I have just made a pear crostata, but there’s not a skerrick of custard in the house to go with it; guess I’ll have to make do with icecream and crostata. 😀

  1. Cynthia Reyes

    I have not made custard in years and years (“in donkey’s years”, I nearly wrote, but wasn’t sure you’d understand that saying.) I never know whether these sayings I grew up with are British or Jamaican in origin. Anyway, your custard looks good, and I hope the weather is no longer gone to custard.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Donkey’s years I know well. The weather is good but my custard making has fallen by the wayside. Instead of custard I am making semolina porridge and cornmeal porridge. I’ll eat either for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

      Reply
  2. melissabluefineart

    20 years ago when I was in college studying ecology, my professors would tell us that humans were creating conditions that would lead to desertification in some areas (see: California!) and wild storms and flooding in others, with much damage and loss of land and life. It is eerie to be witnessing all of this now. It has, indeed, all turned to custard. 😦 I love the expression but custard is delicious. I wonder if it is a British thing, to express a terrible thing in a light-hearted way. To suggest that since we all know that custard is actually pretty great, even terrible things will come out right in the end. ??

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      It is indeed unsettling to see the climate turmoil. One of my professors (30 years ago) talked about a future where countries would fight for water resources. In the meantime, we are squabbling over whether we want a new flag for New Zealand. I had to laugh when I saw this headline “Political plans turn to custard in battle of flags” http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11514088 Even our flags flail in custard, apparently. 😀

      Reply
  3. dadirri7

    I have vague memories of hearing that expression, but not being a Kiwi I seem to have missed out on the impact of it …. your weather actually looks nothing like the custard which looks and sounds sumptuous … sadly I don’t eat cow’s milk but a soy milk custard does the job for me!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Exactly! I don’t see the connection between weather and custard at all. I am wondering if custard is a euphemism for something less polite 😉 And, now that you have mentioned soy custard, I am also wondering how many different types of custard there are.

      Reply
      1. dadirri7

        well of course when we had goats is was goat’s milk custard, but we usually made junket at that stage of life 🙂 … my favourite custard recipe was in the Australian Health Food Cookbook from about 1971 … made with eggs, yum!

        Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          Custard made with eggs, I adore. I wasn’t ever a fan of junket but I expect that is because it was made to boarding school standards. I would probably have enjoyed your junket.

  4. Pingback: It’s all turned to custard….. remix | silkannthreades

  5. utesmile

    Isn’t it weird how hhe weather is stranger every year. In GErmany they had big floods and now they have such hot weather like 33 degrees celsius, it is not real. The older people do find it hard at those temperatures. Whereas we here in England have it still cool with 18 or 20 degrees. Yesterday one warm day without sunshine though.
    We cannot change the weather and that is good….. otherwise we sould have weather wars….
    but we can make ourselves comfortable with ….. let me think… custard…. yes I like that very much.
    Love you custard!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      You are so wise Ute and you remind me of a song that my mother often quotes , called Weather

      Whether the weather be fine,
      Or whether the weather be not,
      Whether the weather be cold,
      Or whether the weather be hot,
      We’ll weather the weather
      Whatever the weather
      Whether we like it or not.

      The other fun story about weather which your weather wars remark made me remember is Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=olO73t4kf9E You will probably be familiar with this children’s story. Let’s have a toast to Custard!

      Reply
      1. utesmile

        I love that song! thank you! I think I heard it once in school to teach us the different spellings of whether and weather.
        I shall watch the video in a second, I don’t know that story!
        Our school kitchen made chocolate custard today , smelled lovely, but I resisted…… I don’t eat school dinners. 🙂

        Reply
      2. utesmile

        What a delightful story….. so where was it again , where it rains custard, and drizzles soda, heavy lambchops and jello setting in the west.
        You know that means no cooking, how wonderufl…I am going to move there! 🙂

        Reply
  6. Clanmother

    When I was young, we spent most of the time in the kitchen – doing homework, playing board games, eating meals and cooking. The average amount of time spent in the kitchen is reducing no matter how many cooking shows or recipe books are produced. (And there are many more of both products produced now than when I was young.) We want to go back to the kitchen and somehow we are trying to figure out how to do that given the work/life balance.

    When I visit your blog, it is a wonderful way to find myself back in the kitchen.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      It is true. I spent such a lot of time in kitchens as a young one. And I used to love being in my grandmother’s kitchen. The kitchen is one of the engine rooms of my house. The other is the laundry or, as I now call it, ‘the lavender room’. I have ideas for a post on my engine rooms!

      Reply
  7. mmmarzipan

    I was thinking about custard just this afternoon (perhaps on account of buying the season’s first Swedish strawberries…). Must make some soon! Sorry about the rain, btw. Happy birthday to your mum!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you for your birthday wishes. Yum, fresh strawberries. They might need a delicate pouring custard? For us, older ones, custard is a very good way to boost our calcium intake ;).

      Reply
      1. mmmarzipan

        🙂
        Yes, perhaps! I was also thinking of maybe a custard/berry tart creation? Don’t know if I’ll have the time in advance of midsummer celebrations, but it would make for lovely picnic fare 🙂

        Reply
  8. melodylowes

    I’m sorry to hear that NZ is having flooding problems. Our area has struggled with those issues for the past few years – roads washed out, basements flooded, etc. so I know the damage and disappointment and devastation it can cause. I wonder why the idea of going to custard? as you say, custard is so delicious. You should start a new trend somehow. (But pick a rather more lowly scapegoat than your lovely custard!)

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Yes, flooding seems to trouble a lot of places. The excessive rain coincided with high tides in the case of our city. It is still raining and inland there is snow today. Ah well, it is winter. As for custard; my daughter wondered if the expression started out as ‘the custard turning” or ‘it’s turned to curdled custard or lumpy custard” which would seem more sensible. But ,still, I protest on behalf of custard 🙂 Another food to replace it, might be ‘boiled cabbage’. Boiled cabbage has fans too, I am sure, but I am not one of them.

      Reply
  9. cindy knoke

    May I come to your house, and will you make custard? Please? Lovely post. I am so sorry I confused you with Pauline in a reply and you were too polite to mention it. Mortified! I’ll tell you what, why don’t you come for dinner?
    Oh…..and could you bring some custard???
    🙂

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      A lovely invitation. We could have a feast. We could even be reckless and have custard to begin the meal, instead of soup. Then for dessert I could bring the pannacotta I made today. And by the end of the meal we will be tired of milky, creamy concoctions. 🙂

      Reply
  10. silvana1989

    that custard look so delicious!!! I use to cook custard and your recipe is completely different than mine, I should try yours.. nothing better the custard for a rainy day!!

    Reply
  11. Sofia

    Im sorry about the rain on your mothers birthday, hope she had a great day anyway. Custard is good (but unfortunatelly to strong for me..)

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Today the sun shines, so nothing stays the same forever 🙂 Custard can be a bit too rich for some people. And of course no use to people with milk allergies!

      Reply
  12. Forest So Green

    I have also copied your custard recipe and I hope the weather improves soon. Take care, Annie

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      It is comfort food but also very nutritious if made with slightly less fat! I have always loved custard (my grandmother’s custards were especially good ) but there are members of my family who think it is horrible stuff. They would understand why you didn’t care for it 🙂

      Reply
  13. Katherine's Daughter

    Your custard reminds of of the thick, milk pudding we Greeks make for a dessert called Galatobureko. It is delicious and your custard looks delicious too. What is in the custard powder? Maybe cornstarch?
    I am praying for the end to your rainy spot and for a good drying up. Blessings, Joanne

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Yum, I like the sound of Galatobureko.The custard powder is cornstarch with a little salt and colouring. The rain is easing but I think we may get snow before there is time to dry out. All prayers welcome! It is very harsh for some of the people who are still living in earthquake damaged homes.

      Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          With your interest in history, you may like to know that the original custard powder was Bird’s Custard powder, developed by Mr Bird for his wife who was allergic to eggs and therefore couldn’t eat the traditional egg based custards. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bird%27s_Custard Making custard powder or cornstarch products may actually be quite a hazardous business as cornstarch dust is potentially highly explosive. Be ware the custard powder!

    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Exactly! Some people are in emergency shelters tonight because they can’t reach their homes. I am sure they would appreciate some warm custard 🙂

      Reply
  14. pleisbilongtumi

    I made a copy of your recipe and would love to enjoy it when rainy day. Same happen in my place, the street become a river when heavy rain fall. the drainage are neglected by all people so all run off flooding the road and houses.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I am glad you copied the recipe. I make the custard with full fat milk but some people prefer a low fat milk. One time I even used a little bit of coconut cream. That was good. Yes, I think some of the drains in our city were probably blocked with autumn leaves.

      Reply
  15. kiwiskan

    I love custard as well – it’s such a comfort food when the weather is rotten. Looks like you might be in for a bit of snow as well. My sister sent me a photo of her flooded garden

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I hope it’s only her garden that is flooded. My garden is very very soggy. If it does snow, I have plenty of custard to keep me warm and sunny 🙂 But I would rather it didn’t snow.

      Reply
  16. ordinarygood

    We are sodden here too. Each time we had to leave the house today the heavens opened. It sounds bad around various places in the country. As for what is to come…..hmmm.
    Perhaps Max Cryer and his books about phrases, sayings and words could help you with this oft quoted line.
    Keep warm and dry.
    P.S I like your coasters and I am intrigued with the open book behind the custard powder!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Yes, his book would be useful. The internet hasn’t helped me much with this phrase. I love your sharp eyes 🙂 The coasters were a gift from my visitors from Wellington who were with me last week. Purchased in a second hand store in Sydney. The book I found in a second hand shop in Christchurch. It is about Old Masters in the Royal Collection. The book is open at a gorgeous self portrait of Artemisia Gentileschi 1591 -1652. I think her life turned to custard at one time and of course it must have been quite something to be a female artist in the 17th Century. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-Portrait_as_the_Allegory_of_Painting_%28Artemisia_Gentileschi%29

      Reply
  17. aleafinspringtime

    Custard brings home memories of safe, cosy childhood days. Thank you for the recipe! I can see the love and healing from a bowl of custard! Long live custard! Sharon p.s. keep us posted on the weather and take good care xx

    Reply
      1. Playamart - Zeebra Designs

        briefly today i met a nice couple from new zealand. they’ll be in the country for five weeks. it’s chilly here at night, but snow – oh no.. when it’s raining and then snow, would you have a chance for ice and ice storms?

        stay warm and well! z

        Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          I doubt we will have ice storms in Christchurch but perhaps in the mountains, the Southern Alps. This predicted snow, or icy blast, is coming to us straight from Antarctica. The NZ couple have chosen a good time to be away NZ 🙂

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