Yesterday was Valentine's Day. Hubby and I spent it quietly, as we do most holidays.
I woke up early to answer emails (Sundays are my work-from-home day). A few hours later, Hubby got up and cooked us French toast for breakfast.
I typed away in the dining room as he pan-fried slices of challah in butter, then layered them with strawberries, cream cheese and maple syrup. We discussed the weather as our coffee percolated, then politics as a pan of bacon sizzled in the oven.
Under the watchful eye of our snow-white maltese, we ate in the dining room rather than in front of the TV. We felt very adult. We decided to pull up a chair for Maple, since she's family and it was her Valentine's Day too.
We exchanged cards and candies, and I was presented with white roses (kept fresh overnight in the icebox that is our mudroom).
After breakfast, I dressed Maple in a sweater and coat. I took her for a winter's walk around the backyard while Hubby cut branches off a tree for kindling.
We made a fire in the living room and kept it going through the afternoon. Hubby napped on the couch and I wrapped up my work for the day.
After Maple had her dinner, we washed up, put on our dress clothes and drove to a local steakhouse where we had reservations. Hubby ordered French onion soup and a New York strip steak. I had duck breast and butternut squash ravioli. It was all delicious.
On the drive home, we marveled at just how cold 2 degrees feels.
And here we are, Monday morning. It's another holiday (President's Day) and I don't have to work. It's my first day off in three weeks, since I've been working voluntary overtime all month. I felt I deserved a break.
I'm in between loads of laundry. We're expecting snow and freezing rain this evening. Our neighbors popped in for a bucket of hot water because they woke up to frozen pipes.
It's shaping up to be another quiet winter day with the family, so I'm going to take this opportunity to reflect.
Six months. That's how long it's been since I last wrote on this blog, which wouldn't be a big deal on its own - I've been so busy.
But it's also been six months since I last read a book or baked a cake; and since I didn't obsessively worry about my gluten intake, the elasticity of my skin, whether I'm excelling at my job, or what coffee is doing to my colon.
In summary, it's been six months since I've come up for air.
I know that I'm in there somewhere, but over these past six months, I've felt myself slowly disappearing. Like the Cheshire Cat from Alice In Wonderland, I've been fading away in increments. It's partly due to overworking myself. The rest I attribute to being 30 and neurotic.
I fret over finances, aging, if I'm making the right choices, saying the right things, treating other people well enough, treating myself well enough. I spend more time worrying about how I'm living than actually living.
So, a few days ago, I baked a cake. And I started reading two books - fiction for fun (The Cider House Rules) and nonfiction for motivation (The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up).
I signed up for a public speaking workshop and am looking into joining an adult ballet class. I plan on jumping back into my Rosetta Stone Spanish lessons soon.
I've realized that while it's great to philosophize and be self-aware, I'm doing a disservice to myself (and, by extension, those around me) by overthinking. I need to focus more on doing rather than pontificating about how things should be done.
Blueberry Crumb Cake
The first cake I've made in six months. It was perfection.
for the streusel topping:
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon. ground nutmeg
1 & 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
for the cake:
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 large or extra-large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2/3 cup sour cream
1 & 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 & 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and lightly flour a round 9-inch cake pan.
For the streusel: In a mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Stir in the melted butter until crumbly, then set aside and prepare the cake batter.
For the cake: Cream the butter and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer (fitted with a paddle attachment) on high speed for 3 - 4 minutes.
Reduce the speed to low and add the eggs, one at a time. Add the vanilla, lemon zest and sour cream. Continue to stir on low until combined.
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. With the mixer still on low speed, add the flour mixture to the batter until just combined.
Gently fold in the blueberries with a spatula. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and spread it out evenly.
With your fingers, crumble the streusel topping evenly over the batter. Bake for 35 - 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before cutting. The cake should be dense and moist. I enjoyed it with ice cream for dessert, as well as with a cup of coffee for breakfast the next morning.
Welcome! I'm a pie-baking, dog-loving, antique-hunting patriot. I'm a fan of rustic home cooking, the Yankees and scenic drives through the mountains.