Ch ch ch changeeesss....


I heard an interview with a woman recently who was talking about some moderately difficult personal experiences and how she kept trying to get through them so that she could get back to her life.  And as time went by, and things evolved, it finally hit her: these experiences, these "unwanted intrusions" into her vie quotidienne, these WERE her life; that life is, in fact, the entire quilt weaving hard and easy, silly and sad, anxiety and contentedness into our collective experience.  Excluding one part as an aberrant event is to miss the whole crazy, inconsistent sine wave that life really is.

The obvious corollary here is that, in life, change is the default.  Good changes, bad changes, they come no matter who you are, what you do, or whether or not you’re ready for them.   I’d like to say I’ve handled the unplanned changes in my life with grace and fortitude, but, alas, sometimes I have grunted and screamed and pushed with two hands against the affront to my happy status quo.  Even the changes I have wanted or worked to create have not come without some second thoughts.

I will be starting a new job in a couple of months.  It’s a job I have long wanted, so I am so so excited.  But I am also terrified.  My work schedule will soon become infinitely more complicated and less flexible.  I will not have as many days at home to have breakfast with my littles or nighttime snuggles with my hubby (read: falling asleep with mouthguard in while watching VEEP, but at least next to him).  I will likely miss HJs first day of preschool, and won’t be able to take June to gymnastics much anymore (which may actually be a good thing - turns out when your kids do sports you used to be into, it can make you crazy competitive. So ODD).  And these realizations, they are a little bit heartbreaking. 

I am NOT complaining.  I feel very lucky to be able to do something I love, in a place I love, with people I respect, people who are really trying to make a difference.  But doing things we want, well, it always seems to come at a price, doesn’t it?  Something has to give. And this, my dream job, comes with the price of no longer being a part-time stay at home mom – the greatest (ok, and sometimes worst) job of all time.

Needless to say my already sporadic blogging will become infinitely more so.  But stick with me, at least for a little while, and you may still get a recipe or two you can use as well as some honest quips about what’s left of my free time.  Not to mention the guest bloggers that drop me a line now and again – I’m surrounded with good cooks and good writers, so its fun to have the help and remind you I haven’t completely fallen off the face of the earth.

Speaking of which, my cousin, Jamie, recently dropped me a delicious lifeline.  She has had her own big changes, too. Read on...

Hey there -  

It's 8:04pm. Allie is down for the night.  Charlie is having a sleepover at my mom's.  Chris is on a plane flying home from New York. And here I am, sitting in the kitchen, alone.  

Close your eyes and just listen. Shhhhh.

The silence.  It's so beautiful.

The last three months have been a complete shit-show around here, so I am thoroughly enjoying this quiet moment. It all started with Allie's whirlwind delivery (she was almost born in the car. No, really, 10 more minutes and her first view of the world would have been the ceiling of a Honda Pilot), the adjustment at home with a new baby, the holidays, Chris' insane work schedule, and then a two-week "vacation" in Palm Springs. ("Vacation" ha. Do moms ever really get a vacation?) I seriously feel like I just woke up and have no clue what has been swirling around me for the last three months.

But here I am on a Tuesday night, alone, and I get to do whatever I want! Imagine the heavens opening up with rays of light shining down and angels singing - that's how happy I feel.

What to do... I'm going to get my bake on!

I scored this amazing cookbook for Christmas by America's Test Kitchen called Naturally Sweet. It has amazing treat recipes using less sugar and also uses alternative sweeteners like coconut sugar, sucanat, and date sugar. I am really REALLY trying to watch my sugar intake so this book speaks to me right now.  And it's saying, "Jamie, make date-nut bread." Ok...

This bread is lovely - not too sweet, the flavor of the dates is amazing, and you get a nice crunch from the nuts. I highly recommend cutting a thick slice, poppin' it under the broiler, and spreading it with butter. It is the perfect treat after a loang day, while I enjoy my fleeting moment of peace and quiet.  Shit, Chris just got home. Gotta go...

Date-Nut Bread

2 C bread flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 C whole milk

8 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled

2 1/3 oz brown sugar, about 5 1/2 Tbsp (the recipe actually calls for 6 Tbsp of date sugar, but brown sugar gives it a little deeper flavor)

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla

1 C chopped dates

1 C pecans or walnuts, toasted and chopped

Heat oven to 350, grease loaf pan.

Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk milk, melted butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla unit smooth, then stir in chopped dates. Fold milk mixture into flour mixture with rubber spatula until combined. Fold in nuts. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.  Bake until golden brown, 55 minutes to 1 hour.  Rotate pan halfway through baking.

The book suggests letting the bread cool for 1 1/2 hours before serving. Ha. Good luck with that.