Been a while...and lots of water under the bridge. High tide, I mean high time for another post.
So, I switch on the laptop and, while waiting for things to load, catch my reflection in the monitor. Yep, those "highlights" are gray hairs. Wow. Not necessarily a bad "wow" either. And I can faintly see the color line as I allow my hair, colored for years, to return to its natural colors. My eyes scan a bit lower and notice the glabellar lines, like soft close and open parentheses between my eyebrows. The nasolabial folds, like two half-arches....from lots of laughter, I smile quietly.
Funny, years ago I would've reminded myself to relax my brow and soften my jaw. I certainly didn't want to age, but if I was going to ever be old, I wanted to look incredible and draw (unsolicited) comments like, "Fifty?? I can't believe it. I thought maybe 30!!" And at one point, even 30 sounded old!
So, here we are twenty years later, and I'm thinking that 50's the new 30. It's really pretty great...even with all its "unexpecteds." Transformation? Don't really know, but I'm much more accepting of the little crows feet than I thought I would be. Maybe it's because the alternative to aging looks a lot less inviting.
And the other changes are okay by me, too. A few mornings ago when I looked at my body in the mirror, I asked J if it now looked deformed. "You're healthy again and you're home; that's all that matters," he said as he gave me a little kiss. We both looked at my breast*, smiled, and went about the day.
But, yeah, I really wanted to add that to my list of things to celebrate, right behind the fact that I'd just washed my hair and bathed -- all by myself for the first time in weeks!! So we celebrated and toasted those accomplishments, and good health among other things, that evening with a glass of champagne. Well, peach sparkling wine, anyway. Delicious bubbly tingles that breathed of spring and new beginnings.
My dad used to tell me, "if you've got your health, you've got everything"....corny at 15, gospel truth at 50. How life changes.
And changes. As a youngster I thought of ooey, gooey chocolate anything as the ultimate dessert. As I've gotten older, I still enjoy a delicious, organic dark chocolate, preferably plain, to be slowly savored like fine cognac. And I still love the comfort that only sweet dessert can deliver. But my dessert taste buds have shifted from the ooey gooey to fruity. One of my favorite treats is a cup of steaming hot tea with a slice, or two, of plain butter cake with fruit in it.
As my appetite has returned post-hospital, I've been buying the frozen gluten free cookies at Whole Foods. Love their molasses ginger cookies! But I was really craving something homemade, so today my first baking attempt in weeks was to make my standard butter cake. I'd bought some quinces a while back at H MART off of the Bush Tollway and made morabba-ye beh, an Iranian quince preserve, with sugar, fesh lemon juice, crushed cardamom, and a drop of golab, rosewater. Mm, butter cake with quinces sounded like just what I needed to keep me going through the weekend. You know, a slice here, a slice there, till it's all gone....yeah.
So, that's what I made -- all by myself. But the cake can be made with any soft fruit: plums, apricots, cherries. I've also made it with pineapple curd (recipe at another time) and lemon curd. And, yes, I've made it with chocolate. And Nutella. And had it with a glass of bubbly.
Give it a try. Life is short and meant to be enjoyed....by the buttery, or bubbly, mouthful.
I wish you a New Year filled with love, happiness, and health -- all that really matters.
*On December 15th, I had a mastectomy. I'd been diagnosed several weeks earlier with an invasive cancer that had spread to all quadrants.
Small Buttercake with or without Fruit
4 tablespoons softened, unsalted butter
2 tablespoons virgin, organic coconut oil**
1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 cup GF flour (your favorite mix, Bob's Red Mill, or AP if you're not gluten free)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup milk (soy, rice, dairy, or whatever)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
If desired, fruit topping of choice or curd
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter a small cake pan (I used a fluted 7" pan), and line with buttered parchment.
2. Cream butter and coconut oil; add sugar, and beat till fluffy.
3. Add eggs, one at a time.
4. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt and add to the mixture.
5. Lastly, stir in milk, vanilla extract, and lemon zest.
6. Spoon batter into prepared pan and top with fruit or curd. Sprinkle with sugar, if desired, and bake about 40 minutes, or until tester comes out clean. Cool (or not) and serve plain, with more fruit, whipped cream, ice cream....
** I like to use a mixture of unsalted butter and coconut oil because I love the subtle richness coconut oil adds. And, for the taste, our health, and the record, I use organic, whole foods wherever possible.