My best efforts at a posting schedule have been wishful thinking so far this year. By now you know that the updates ebb and flow with the particular tides of each season.
News time, though: we’re moving! Cross-country! Again! As we step into a new chapter, I can’t help but re-thread the narrative of our journey in search of some purpose and guidance for the road ahead.
Every time we move, I think back to when I first started this blog in Seattle. Adjusting to professional life and marriage, I came home every night and self-soothed through baking. In a way, the blogging game was easier then. Pinterest and Instagram hardly existed and it was acceptable to take bad photos with a crappy point-and-shoot camera. As I’ve grown more adept (and paradoxically, increasingly insecure) with photography, I am increasingly nostalgic about those haphazard snaps in a dark kitchen. Cinnamon Raisin Bread and Pumpkin Muffins from the early days are still my favorites.
Like every move to a new city, our early days in Savannah were a struggle. Fortunately, the blog followed me and reaching out in this space somehow made the distance less daunting. I tussled with homesickness here, making Mango and Bread Puddings, Chiffon Cake and Poor Woman’s Soup in answer to the vast continent separating me from anything familiar. Cooking has always been a comfort when I’m not sure of anything else.
Then there was a silence, a palpable emptiness where I couldn’t bring myself to cook or write. My husband had a summer internship across the country, and I found myself alone for the first time in five years. Exploring that strange freedom lasted for all of a week before the phone call came: It’s your father. How quickly can you get on a plane?
Through the chaos of those weeks, our fledgling Savannah community went into overdrive. There were rides to the airport and an army of volunteer cat-sitters, prayers spoken and hands held. If you’re looking for a happy ending, this isn’t it. Sometimes things just end.
I still struggle to talk about my father and his illness, but a recent Kate Bowler op-ed rang true:
“Cancer requires that I stumble around in the debris of dreams I thought I was entitled to and plans I didn’t realize I had made. But cancer has also ushered in new ways of being alive…I find myself returning to the same thoughts again and again: Life is so beautiful. Life is so hard.”
Tragedy grants us the opportunity to be loved in ways we would never otherwise allow. Of beautiful, desperate necessity, I finally permitted myself to bond with Savannah, with our friends, with our quirky apartment and the sticky heat and the Spanish moss. Beauty from ashes. I branched further into creating my own recipes and embracing my new home through Biscuit-Topped Peach Cobbler, Deep South Cottage Pie, Pound Cakes and Zucchini Relish on crackers.
Our final year in Savannah is best described in fullness: of schedules and of hearts. Our friendships have deepened to a level acceptable to introverts, and our social calendar is (in a good way) out of control. My house is a wreck, but I still let people into the mess–the metaphoric, metaphysical, and actual dusty corners and smelly trash. We love our people and they love us enough not to care.
We always knew that graduation day would come, but it’s here. In March, my husband will finally receive his degree. He accepted a design job with a car company, and soon we head north to the land of great lakes and great expectations, to join a monumental experiment in urban revival. I’ve spent three days in Detroit, and saw enough of the majestic decay and renewal to grant it permanent residence in the back of my mind. We have always suspected that the turmoil under Savannah’s genteel surface, the police shootings and poverty, corruption and drugs, must be preparing us for something. As much as I dreamed of returning to the West Coast, Detroit feels logical.
In the next few months, I can’t say what updates will surface here. I’m in a fairly manic “use it up/wear it out” phase (will our grandchildren refer to this as the “recession-era mindset?”), which means repeat doses of bon bon chicken (or tempeh or tofu or shrimp), cardamom-dosed tapioca pudding, and weird concoctions to clear out all of the odds and ends in the freezer.
Enjoy the drought with the knowledge that we’ll be back soon enough, unmoored once more in a foreign landscape and itching for contact through keystrokes and pixels.
- zest of 1 orange and juice of half (1/4 cup)
- 1/2 cup full-fat coconut milk
- 150g (3/4 cup) light tasting olive oil
- 210g (1 cup) sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 1/2 teaspoons guar gum
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 65g (1/2 cup) sweet rice flour
- 80g (1/2 cup) cornmeal
- 100g (3/4 cup) sorghum flour
- 65g (1/2 cup) tapioca starch
- 130g (2/3 cup) chocolate chips, plus more for decoration
- Preheat oven to 350F. Oil a 9" x 5" loaf pan and dust with tapioca starch. Set aside.
- Whisk together orange zest and juice, coconut milk, sugar, eggs, and oil in a mixing bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients and mix until only a few smallish lumps remain, scraping down the sides with a spatula to make sure all flours are mixed in.
- Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 45 minutes. Wrap a piece of foil over the top of the loaf, being sure to give it a little room for expansion, and bake an additional 10-15 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Cool pan on a wire rack 15 minutes. Then, run a sharp knife around the edge of the cake and invert to gently coax out of the tin. Allow to cool completely, about 1 hour, before cutting in. (Very important for a moist cake that slices beautifully.) Melt a little chocolate on 50% power in the microwave, and drizzle over the top for decoration if you like.
- Store, covered, in the refrigerator or on the counter for a few days.