Better Late

I’d expected a card first thing in the morning, as we got ready for church. I’d waited  through the service and through our late, diner breakfast.

I was impatient, but decided not to spoil the fun. I’d over-eagerly done that, before. Most notably, by ruining Jeff’s engagement plan and proposal.

I figured there would be a surprise when we got home. Only, there wasn’t one.

Halfway through Sunday, July 23rd, 2006, I finally said it. “It’s my birthday, you know.”

“I know,” he replied casually. “I didn’t have time to get you a present.”

“You didn’t have time?” I asked.

“Besides,” he tacked on, “I could never surprise you, anyway, ‘cause you see all the bills.”

“That’s true,” I laughed. “Did you get me a card?” I was still hopeful.

Jeff’s flat answer was, “No.” Then, a half-hearted, “I never made it out.”

“Well, why didn’t you make me a card?” I wanted to know. “You used to always make me cards.”

Jeff sighed, “I was gonna bake a cake later.”

“Oh, ok.” I understood. Going out and getting around was getting more difficult, so that made sense to me. “You could have wished me a happy birthday, though.” I stressed.

“Yep.” he acknowledged, with a nod. “I probably should have.”

Just about dinner time, Jeff got up, and said he was going to go make my cake. I told him he didn’t have to, and that I’d be just as happy ordering Chinese food.

So, that’s what we did, complete with my favorite almond cookies and ritual fortune cookies. As usual, Jeff wanted to know what my fortune said. I read it to him, to which he responded the same way he had every time since we’d first met. “Mine,” he’d wiggle his substantial eyebrows and the tiny little paper slip, “Says – ‘Lucky Number –  69!’”

Three days later, I came home to a colorful Happy Birthday sign in our home-office window. Strategically hung facing the driveway, so I’d immediately see it when I pulled in.

Waiting for me inside, was a stellar dinner. Jeff made a special meatloaf concoction of ground beef, sausage and salsa baked under a cloak of ketchup and garlic. Accoutrements: hand-smashed, garlic red-potatoes with butter, Brussels sprouts drenched in butter and dinner croissants… with butter.

The butter-use was a nod to the occasion. Our frugal budget and our smidgen of health-consciousness meant margarine, in tubs. When planning special dinners, or upon getting good celebratory news, Jeff would roar, “This calls for Butter!”

After dinner, Jeff told me to close my eyes.  I opened them to a cake and a card. The double-chocolate cake was covered in neon yellow frosting and featured a black-piped beak plus google eyes to which he’d added eye-lashes using more black piping.

The card was a comic one. Amusing and strange, with an extra bit of Jeff’s handwritten humor. “Better late, than never.”

We went to bed full of cake topped with canned cherries and vanilla ice cream, holding hands, and giggling. I loved that chicken cake, and my husband, completely.

Jeff had managed to surprise me on a day I wasn’t expecting anything. I like to compare this birthday to the way I consistently and erroneously surprised him the day before his birthday; every year.

That card, though.

It was the last one.

Jeff had, unwittingly, been philosophically correct. I would gladly take always late, instead of never again.

Quote for the Week: 2019 03 05 late is always better than never again jakorte

2019 03 05 better late than never card jakorte

Mugged and Gone

Still thinking about how I want to go.

Honeymoon? Snippets? Yeah, I’m gonna need a minute.

In the meantime: Cake

I don’t make cake.

I don’t make cake, because I’ll eat cake. Whole cakes. I don’t usually frost them, but a eating a whole unfrosted cake is still not a good idea. Even if it takes me 3 days of breakfast, lunch and dinner with not much else.

Don’t start with the cupcake theory. Cupcakes only make it seem like you’re eating less. Mostly because I sit down and eat one, decide I need another, and count off 25 steps to and from the couch. 50 steps round trip on my Fitbit. At least that burns a calorie or two, right?

Don’t even mention freezing suggestions. I’ve packaged cake slices to be frozen. It turns out I’m not averse to eating a slice of frozen cake. Directly from the freezer. No frosting, no defrosting, at all.

I’ve frozen unsliced cake remnants, since the slice thing was still too accessible. Guess what? Frozen cake isn’t that hard to slice. Just takes some heavy leaning on the knife. Tests my balance, too, so I must be strengthening my core.

A recent thunderous Saturday evening, I craved… cake.

I had almost everything I needed to bake a cake. Except butter. Or rather, I didn’t have enough butter: none in the freezer and half a stick in the fridge.

I googled cake or cookies without butter. The most popular substitution offered was vegetable oil. I don’t stock vegetable oil in my cupboard. I do stock olive oil and I’ve even heard of Olive Oil Cake. I’ve heard they taste of olive oil.

I also have a jug of sometime solidified / sometimes liquefied coconut oil. I just didn’t like the idea of a cake tasting  too faintly like coconut.

A cake should either be totally coconut or not. I did have ½ a bag of unsweetened flaked coconut. In the freezer. Which would require defrosting and then toasting. Last time I toasted coconut was a disaster.

I let it go a little too long and ended up having to take my fairly new, now black smoke spewing toaster oven outside. I left it on a garden table long enough to let it cool down enough to open the door and remove the charcoal contents. I wasn’t quite in the mood for that much work.

This got me thinking about single serve cake. Mug cakes. Cake in a cup. Cake for one. Whatever it’s called, most required only one tablespoon of butter.

Chocolate mug cake calls for cocoa. Of course. Without any, I was momentarily thwarted, until I saw the sidebar listing variations.

Banana cake! I could do that! Even better, the recipe seemed reasonably healthy… for cake.

I altered the ingredients slightly. Not just for the sake of tweaking, but because 3 tablespoons of brown sugar seemed like a lot for one serving of cake. I only used one tablespoon.  Maybe next time, I’ll cut that down to ½.

I used water instead of milk. I had milk. Just call me a calorie cutting aficionado.

I didn’t mix it or make it in a mug. I used my Pyrex measuring cup. I wasn’t sure about the microwavibility of my rag-tag promotional mugs. As it turns out, I think a 12 ounce cup would have overflowed and make a monstrous mess of my microwave.

Since I was still thinking about chocolate, I threw on 8 semi-sweet chips. Yes, I counted them. Why, I don’t know.

Cooking time was listed as 1 minute, adding 10 seconds until it seemed done. One minute went by: nope. Add 10 seconds. Nope, not even close. Add 1 minute. Yep!

It was good, and so super hot that it needed more than a minute and some major fork hole poking, to convince me I could try again.

The beautiful thing was, when it was gone, it was gone.

I’d have to go through the whole process again to make another one. My counter was filled with just as many containers as it would have been if I had baked a true cake. I was just using minuscule amount of each. I really didn’t need another one, anyway.

I’ll unhumbly admit I had another brilliant thought. Why not pre-measure and create little packets of the dry ingredients to make it easier? So next time I craved cake, I’d already be halfway there.

I thought better of that. A little reaching and grabbing and transporting ingredients meant I’d be moving, And I’d be making it way too easy. Cake shouldn’t be a daily affair.

PS. I truly believe it could serve 2 easily. It’s dense and moist and yummy and just a few bites can satisfy the craving. And then, it’s gone!

Knabbled Cake in a Cup:

1 mashed banana

1 egg

3 tbsp flour

1 tbsp melted butter

1 tbsp water

½ tbsp brown sugar

½ tsp baking powder

8 semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional, of course.)

Original Recipe: Banana Bread Mug Cake

2016-10-11-banana-mug-cake-jakorte-with-hyperlink

 

Couch Point

Our meal was done, but weren’t, so we decided to go somewhere else. At one of those popular Friday night chain restaurants, we ordered whiskey sours and a piece of chocolate cake with ice cream. I think we invented the dessert and drinks dating experience. We liked it so much, we ended up doing it a lot; almost every weekend from then on.

I decided to pay for this part of our date, and when I pulled up my miniscule cross-shoulder zip-bag, Jeff practically jumped in his seat. I laughed because his expression was somewhere between quizzical and comical as he blurted out how unusually small my purse was, and enthusiastically revealed he was quite fond of paisley.

He was also quite fond of plaid and if he wasn’t wearing a Dale Earnhardt shirt, he would most likely be wearing plaid.

When our first institution of drinks and dessert was over, we still weren’t done talking or smiling or laughing. It was getting late, and Jeff lived an hour and a half away. So, I agreed he could sleep on my couch, and only my couch, and that he shouldn’t be expecting anything else, and that my neighbor knew about our date.

As soon as she’d heard my door close, my neighbor called to ask how my date went. I told her it was still going and that I’d talk to her in the morning.

Saturday morning, we went to breakfast, did a little antique shopping, and went back to my apartment to make tuna sandwiches for lunch. A soon as she heard my door close, my neighbor called to ask how my date had gone, and I told her it was still going and that I’d catch her later.

Later, we went out to a movie, had dinner at one spot, and dessert and drinks at another.

30-ish hours into our first date, we were back at the couch point, again.

Quote for the Week:

2015 11 10 New relationships require invested time spent learning about jakorte

Enjoy this Week’s Discovery Links:

Persian Pickles: http://www.paisleypower.com/#!history-of-paisley/c9ar

Dessert & Drinks in Columbus (road-trip?): http://www.experiencecolumbus.com/blog/index.php/2015/09/02/great-spots-for-after-dinner-drinks-and-dessert/

Purse-onally: http://365tests.com/style-tests/purse-onality-which-bag-should-you-tote/

Using Up Milk

Does anyone else’s thought process go like this?

Hmm, I have a half half-gallon of milk left, and an expiration date of tomorrow. That’s too close for me to comfortably put in in a glass and straight-up drink it. Nope, if the milk will be going past its prime within the next 12 hours, I’d better bake a cake.

Check for a cake mix. I usually have one, but I’m never sure what type it might be. White Cake! My favorite to work with so, I gather up the box, eggs, and some healthy coconut oil. Because, healthy is important. Making bad stuff healthier counts for something, right?

Then… Debate # 1:

A sheet cake or cupcakes or 2 round cakes? Sheet cakes are easier to share, but sharing means I’d have to find a someone or for a healthier alternative I should find a few some-ones. And it’s nighttime on a weekday, so the chances of that happening are rather slim. Cupcakes. Well, cupcakes are portional. Portional sometimes works for me; sometimes not. Like back in a few years when I joined the Sparkspeople tame your sweet tooth challenge. I thought I’d just have one a day. Again, not a healthy choice, but a better choice than eating a sheet cake. Which lead me to the round cakes idea. Two round cakes – one goes directly into the freezer for the future and so I don’t eat it. Still, though, the temptation to eat cake for breakfast , lunch and dinner has in the past become overwhelming. I decide on cupcakes and this time vow to bring them into work to share.

Debate #2:

A glass mixing bowl versus my not-used-so-much-anymore Kitchen Aid? One isn’t any easier than the other, so why that stymied me, I have no idea. While pretending to be still deciding, I check the cabinets for add-ins, because really, who eats just plain white cake without frosting. Without frosting, because I didn’t have any, and was not about to pull out a cookbook and start a project like that as it was getting later and later. Mini chocolate chips and mashed bananas? Pulverized pistachios? Marshmallows? Yeah, I could stuff fluffy little mini marshmallows into the center of cupcakes. Oh, and top with chocolate chips! That’s make the no frosting thing more ok.

Suddenly my counter is cluttered, and I’ve run out of space to mix anything. I moved a few things around and took out the milk jug. The sound of a milk jug coming out of the refridgerator brings my beasties running. One loves milk; the other one doesn’t. Having been trained well, I go through the routine. Placing my body between the two furballs, I pour milk for the one, and walk the other away from her backwards. He’s not closing in to steal her milk. He just wants to be sure I know he’s there and that I plan on following through with the throwing and fetching of treats.

Debate #3

To bake or not to bake, that is the question. While I’m questioning it becomes 8:00 PM. Fifteen minutes to mix; an hour to bake. I recall seeing a box of pudding mix in the cabinet while I was foraging around for add-ins. Sugar free chocolate: I can still add marshmallows to that that, right? Right! I pat myself on the back for avoiding the cake/cupcake conundrum. There’re only four servings in a box-restricting the potential for all-out system- damage. Pudding it is!

Debate #4

Standing there, tossing little milk-flavored Temptations, I have a disturbing thought. If I mix the nearly-expired milk into a pudding, won’t the milk still go bad? Cooking and baking chemically transform milk, to what I have always assumed was a safer place, but… instant pudding is just that – instant. No cooking, heating, baking, transforming required. I certainly don’t want to eat four servings of pudding this evening. Time’s already ticking away, the milk is getting older, and I am becoming more hesitant.

What it really comes down to is this: Which is more costly; throwing away suspect milk, eating some form of time consuming, calorie-crazed, cake-y thing, or wasting a perfectly good pudding mix?

Life lands us in many non-food versions of similar dilemmas.

What is the cost of taking out the garbage in the freezing rain versus letting it stink-sit overnight?

What is the cost of skipping a workout today versus reaching a fitness goal on time?

What is the cost of fear of rejection versus being comfortable with whom you are?

What is the cost of maintaining an unhealthy relationship versus letting go when it has moved past useful positivity?

What is the cost of salvage when it leads to greater waste?

Quote for the Week:

.2014 04 01 what it is the cost of salvage jakorte

 

Enjoy this Week’s Discovery Links:

Best Recipes for Using Sour Milk: http://www.cooks.com/rec/story/121/

Health Benefits of Coconut Oil: http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/surprising-health-benefits-coconut-oil

A Different Opinion on the Healthfulness of Coconut Oil: http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/coconut-oil-and-health

Bible Verses for Inspiration When Struggling: http://voices.yahoo.com/inspirational-bible-verses-times-struggle-9129379.html