August 16th, 2012
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“Chains do not hold a marriage together. It is threads, hundreds of tiny threads
which sew people together through the years.”
“You come to love not by finding the perfect person, but by seeing an imperfect person perfectly.”
I married at 38, and by that time in my life, I never expected to either be married, stay married or be happily married.
But God had other plans for me, as well it should be.
“Lovers do not finally meet somewhere. They are in each other all along.”
I won’t say that the past 10 years have been easy; in fact, it’s probably been the hardest 10 years of my life. Marriage forges you, like new steel, and that’s pretty painful at times. It hones and sharpens you, stripping away everything that you once were and shaping you into part of the ‘We’. It rids you of ego and self, forcing you into compliance for the sake of your relationship; fight against that and no one wins. Nothing has made me fight harder for what I need than these last 10 years, and nothing has turned me into a fighter more, someone willing to do what ever is necessary to uphold this sanctity I’ve been given. These years have stripped away parts of an old me in huge chunks, re-knitting a fabric of a million shared threads, with him, that I would step in front of a train to defend.
And if I thought I loved him when we married, it pales in comparison to how much I love him now. It goes deeper, wider and stronger than I could have ever imagined. This man has been, hands down, the best thing that’s ever happened to me. And next to my mother, he’s been the only one that’s loved me unconditionally, supporting me regardless of my choices or direction, who has given me the freedom to be me, and be the best me that I am capable of. He encourages me to pursue my dreams, to take time alone, to leave the house and see my friends, to take care of who I am and what I need because he knows that when I do, I have far more to offer him. And we both benefit from that.
“I love you, for putting your hand into my heart and passing over all the foolish, weak things that you cannot help dimly seeing there, and for drawing out into the light
all the beautiful belongings that no one else had looked quite so far enough to find.”
I’m certain of one thing today, and that is that on a cool Summer day, August 17th, 2002, I made the right decision in spite of the unknown, that in sticking to the vow I took, in facing the hard parts head on, and in rejoicing in even the most minor of victories together that we’ve cemented our union with an impenetrable bond. After 10 years, we still laugh at each others jokes, we love spending time together and we still kiss like newlyweds.
And I also know that what I hoped for on that day, that this love would be redemptive, consoling, life-giving and glorious, and in those gifts I’ve learned that there are a few things that we can dream about and expect; and without a doubt, that they’ll come true.
August 17th, 2011
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Happy 9th Anniversary to the love of my life. I’d marry you all over again, in a heartbeat.
June 15th, 2011
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I can’t recall, nor can I find the exact date that I first hit the ‘Publish’ button on this blog and began this journey, but it happened in June, and it was five years ago, in 2006. There were hardly any food blogs then, and I really had no idea what I was getting myself in to, nor what would happen over the next 1,825 days, the people I would touch, and who would reach back to connect with me, the ways I would explore food and all it’s impact on my life and the way this little niche world would explode like it has. I had no concept of how this venture would change me, and who it would make me out to be. I’m a food blogger, for certain, but also, I buck the trendiness of food blogs. I don’t follow the popular ones, I don’t criss-cross the country for conferences, I don’t jump on the latest food bandwagon and post a recipe that’s been talked about to death. It’s not because of who I am, but because of who I am not.
Because I’m not one of those bloggers; you know, those picture perfect bloggers with the amazing photos that are always in rotation on the websites that every food blogger dies to get linked to, and the fact that I can’t even remember the names of these sites is proof I’m not one of those bloggers. I’m one that doesn’t reach for the stars, that doesn’t spend hours styling every photograph. I’m one that just makes stuff they like, take a few shots of it on an old TV tray set near a western window in a sunroom full of plants. A girl who crosses her fingers, most of the time, as she aims a simple point-and-shoot camera, hoping one or two of the 20-30 shots she takes will look really nice. And then applies all the best iPhoto techniques to them anyway, just in case, posts it to her blog and sends it into cyber space. To a place that no one really seems to go, but they do, according to the numbers. But they don’t, according to the comments.
There’s a lot that I do well, and even I can see that. And I hold stubbornly hard to the gut instinct that this blog of mine stay as organic, as original, as personal as possible. But it’s hard to continually put your best foot forward, akin to dressing for the coolest party and then showing up to an empty house, before you begin to think you’re just banging your forehead against the wall and no one is hearing the ‘cronk cronk’ sound of your effort. I’m no slouch as a food blogger, and my friends, my dearest most amazing and supportive friends will never let me forget that. They are my lifeline during those times I post what that I feel is incredible, yet also feels like something that no one seems to have found. But I will not compromise myself for success, and it’s been a long hard road to accepting the internal, and perceived success of this little place of mine. Because it isn’t out there, that success; it’s in here. It’s inside of me, not in the search engines, not in the popularity polls. It’s not in the accolades, ever. Ever.
And every year, as the anniversary of starting this blog approaches, I am faced with the same ‘standing on the ledge’ feeling; the sense that I want to jump ship, give up on this baby I’m trying to raise in all the right ways, maybe stuff both of us with junk food while watching endless amounts of bad television, while I hover over the ‘Delete’ button, eyes dripping in tears. It’s like we’re both five years old this year, this blog and I. Five. Years. Old. If this was a child, I’d be thinking of sending her off to Kindergarten. And those of us with children, we know how emotional this stage of life can feel.
But really, it’s a blog about food that has grown up in a superbly saturated food blog world. There are thousands upon thousands of food blogs out there now and unless you’re screaming at the top of your lungs from the rooftops about what you do and spreading yourself thin to every corner of the world in order to get your point across, you are, for the most part, an insignificant attendee at a big ol’ trendy party, hovering just outside the glare of the paparazzi.
And that’s not me anyway. My friends will be the first to remind me that I’m not a showgirl. I’m the one who enters any gathering and circles around the edges, a smile on her face, waiting politely for a group to stop talking so I can step in and say ‘Hello’. I never burst in and shout ‘Here I am!’ flashing something eye-catching, showing off my bling and ruffles. I’ll celebrate your success while I keep quiet about my own. I’m good about deflection. I’m humble about where I’ve gone, what I’ve done and what kinds of creations spring from my fingertips. I’m so good at what I do, but I’m terrible at telling you about it. I like for this blog to do that, to spread the word for me while I quietly hum to myself in the background, maybe washing the dishes out of sight, my sleeves rolled up and a stray lock of hair falling over my forehead. If I based my sense of success on how glam this blog is, how well received it is, how much people talk about it, then I’d never lift my head off the pillow. But that isn’t what success has come to mean to me. Not for this little blog, in her unassuming way. And it certainly isn’t how I measure my own success.
And in terms of the last five years of blogging, I can, with the utmost confidence say that this blog has been a success; a rousing, mind-blowing, gorgeous and delicious success. In my own world, where the only thing that counts is the measuring stick I hold up next to me, this blog of food, photos and stories has had an undeniable, smashing run. I can look back over the last five years and see how far I’ve come in terms of my writing, my pictures and the foods that I show you. It’s grown by huge leaps and bounds, become tightly focused and, within the last few years, has found it’s footing with an audience that loves what they find each time they pull up my site. Within my local food community, the people in my immediate circle, the ones who move and shake the food life of Minnesota, I’ve found a platform that is solid and an acceptance that is monumental. My reach as a blogger may not be far, but it runs very, very deep. And in my own quiet and unassuming way, I’d like much more to deeply please and really touch half a dozen people than a hundred or more in an utterly superficial way. One ‘Yum’ comment means little to nothing for me. I want to stir something in you with what I post. I want it to make you feel something move within your heart, or your gut. At the very least, I hope it makes you hungry. And not just for food.
So this post is an acknowledgement of ownership. This baby, this little one that’s grown, evolved, matured and become stronger is not going anywhere. And neither am I. We’re going to stick with our plan, the foods that nurture you both in body and spirit, while continuing to avoid the proverbial blogging TV, the ads that make you Want! Want! Want! and avoid the urge to think that somehow, it needs to me more than it is. Although I may have moments where I gaze in frustration at what the public seems to find appealing in terms of food blog posts, I can’t measure my own acceptance by that tiny and insignificant stick. Every post that comes through my fingertips originates within my heart, and springs to life through the food, the recipe, the words and the feelings it evokes. Nothing you read here is ever forced or contrived, even the posts for financial compensation. Nothing is ever posted to fill empty space, a day in the week or some need to be heard. I rarely have an agenda when I write, except when I’m eager to express what my food wants to say. And my food speaks clearly when it desires to be heard, and tapping in to that effect is what makes this blog soar.
I must admit though, that this post has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever written. It’s an acceptance that doesn’t come easy, evidenced by how hard I push against the tide each Spring, how often I look at this place of mine and grind my teeth over what it’s not. We’re hard-wired to always want more than we have. We bombarded over and over with what we think we need, what we should do to become successful, to be popular, and to buck the trend, to get off the horse while the rest of the crowd rides on is difficult and often very lonely. But I can’t become something artificial. I can’t force this into a shape that it isn’t. And I absolutely won’t write anything for this blog that doesn’t spring to life within the muscle that powers my life. I’ll remain true to what I want within these pages, to follow my own path and trail.
And I hope you continue to stick with me in this journey.
August 22nd, 2009
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Mike and I recently had our 7th anniversary. I’ve posted on the blog in prior years about it, but this time around I enjoyed it quietly. With cake. I’ll get to that in due time, ok?
And as a side note, today, August 22nd, is Mike’s birthday, my niece Leah’s birthday, and my friend Melissa’s birthday!! Woot!
Ok, now back to anniversaries, the untraditional, and of course, CAKE.
Someone asked me what gift coincided with the 7th anniversary, and I had to pause a moment to recall what they were talking about. Apparently each year has some sort of meaning in terms of the gift you give, and seriously, who does this anymore? If you’re at all interested in what each year should entail, check this out. The 7th anniversary, according to that chart, should be either Wool, Copper or a Desk Set.
I’m stunned at the romance behind that.
My husband is not a gift giver, and I don’t know that I’ve met anyone who has more anxiety and trepidation over getting someone a gift. It just isn’t his thing. If you’re one of those people who think that no special occasion is complete without a pretty wrapped package, you might have some trouble with this mentality, and admittedly, it was a somewhat tough reality for me to accept at first, but Mike has shown me in the eight years I’ve known him that the best gift he can give me resides within him, not in some store. He gives me his heart and his love on a daily basis. No brightly wrapped box will ever come close to that. Although in years past I have asked for a few items- a simple bracelet, a 5th anniversary ring- what I get from him every day comes without a price tag, and all year long. I would take that over a thousand red roses, a paper card or a shiny trinket because it really is so much more vital to a happy union than some expected token given out of a sense of obligation.
So I didn’t get an anniversary gift, not in a box, wrapped in paper, with a bow anyway. I got this…..
……for the rest of my life. That’s an awfully spectacular gift.
But there has to be cake. It is, after all, the best of celebrations, the finest excuse to kick up our heels and revel in what we share. And because there is little convention to our celebrations, what with the absence of pretty packages, the cake we shared should also bear little resemblance to those towering stacks of genoise, layered in thick cloying buttercream that are often represented at your standard party.
So I made a Flourless Honey Almond Cake.
This cake, from the April issue of Eating Well magazine, caught my eye immediately when I first read about it. I like a good cake that is versatile, a slice being perfect for a quick light snack or dressed up with vanilla bean ice cream for a more glorious treat. The cake is light and deeply nutty, using ground toasted almonds for the base that is then fluffed with beaten egg whites. Although I was expecting something a bit sweeter due to the honey, and it was delightful as it was, I imagined a version with orange zest and juice to give it just a little more personality, some more ‘Hey, Look at Me!’ kind of taste. It was the easiest cake to put together. My new springform pan worked beautifully too.
Flourless Honey Almond Cake
1-1/2 c. toasted whole almonds
4 large eggs, room temperature and separated
1/2 c. honey
1-1/2 t. pure vanilla extract
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
Honey and toasted sliced almonds
Heat your oven to 350°. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray; line bottom with parchment paper and spray paper. Process the whole toasted almonds in a food processor until finely ground. It’s ok if there are some larger bits, it makes for a delicious texture.
In the bowl of your mixer, beat the 4 egg yolks, honey, vanilla, baking soda and salt on medium speed until well combined. Add in the ground almonds and mix to incorporate. The mixture will be very thick and sticky.
In a separate bowl, and with clean beaters, beat the 4 egg whites until they become very foamy and double in size, but not to a point of holding stiff peaks. You want them to be firm, but still loose. Turn off the beaters and push them gently through the whites; the whites should be firm enough that the beaters make ridges yet still fall away when you stop.
With a rubber spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the almond-honey mixture until just combined. Be sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl as you fold. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake on center rack of oven for 25-30 minutes. A cake tester will come out clean and the top will be golden brown. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then run a knife around the edges and release the spring. Cool the cake completely before removing the bottom part of the pan.
Serve with vanilla ice cream, yogurt or fruit topping. Or just eat it plain.