Sometimes in life as in baking and cooking, you just can’t fix something that is broken. Sometimes, you must start again, start over – from scratch, and create something better. While today’s post contains a soothing, easy fall apple cake recipe, it will also serve as a way to walk myself through feeling the blues. Many of my readers know, that I have undergone substantial life changes in the last year: I ended a long-term, deeply troubled marriage, and am still reaping all of the difficulty that entails for anyone; and shortly thereafter, by coincidence, chance, magic, the pull of the universe, or simply that which was always meant to be, I was reunited with my high school love – the one person in this world that always believed in me, loved me for who I was and am, and never stopped loving me (and I him) despite the different paths our lives went down; true soul mates. I relocated from Northern California to Southern California to in essence, begin my life again – new home, two new jobs and multiple changes therein, and a new blended family (and crazy L.A. traffic!). But along with those prior different life paths, marriages for both with another became a reality, and children were born of those unions. And with my relocation to Southern California, came a difficult and conscious choice I had to make – to move away from my children, now 18 and 22 (and 36), all of whom are semi-adults and adults, self-sufficient and away from their family home and on their own life paths in college and such, but who will always “need” their Mother. Visits are difficult due to everyone’s schedule, and there is still a great deal of emotional upheaval, lack of understanding, acceptance and empathy, and healing for all that is taking place and will take place for some time to come. The roles of all become different, unfamiliar, clouded, and feelings are ruptured at every turn it seems. Distance will eventually take a toll, of that I was always sure; and yet, at 53, to begin my “back half of life” in love, peace and harmony, this was the only choice for me. Add to that, the fact that their other parent exercises negative control, innuendo, unfair influence and disparaging and untrue commentary of me to all day in and day out, and what you have are many undeserving hurts and tears and a situation that remains difficult at best, for me. And so, the blues wrapped themselves around me in mind and spirit today, as I learned yesterday I most likely will not be spending any holidays with them because of the negative parental forces constantly working against me – something over which I can exercise little to no control. It is my hope that just as with many childhood movies (think Cinderella), that goodness will prevail over evil and that my children will one day come to grips with the truth and find their way back to me in a loving, accepting, positive way. While it is true that you cannot walk down two roads of life at one time, that each of us must choose only one path to follow, doing that requires taking responsibility for our choices, standing strong, staying focused, living by choice not by chance, making changes not excuses, being motivated not manipulated, working to excel in your passions and your craft and not competing, but most of all – choosing to listen to your inner voice, to your own heart, and finding the courage to move forward, ignoring the jumbled negative opinions of perhaps nearly everyone around you (with the exception for me, the man I live with now – my shining light). I have lived with a coat of armour for many years in my past life, shielding my children from another parent who was damaging us all emotionally, much of which they were too young to acknowledge and fully understand, and much of which as semi-adults, they choose to ignore. At the time, I thought staying put was the best that I could do, to stay present in that union, for their benefit and physical and emotional protection. While we all have imperfections, if basic emotional and physical needs are not being met, you become vulnerable to being manipulated by someone willing to exploit that gap. And that coat of armour thickens year by year, simultaneously extinguishing the spirit of the person that lies underneath. You begin spending all of your energy tolerating things that shouldn’t be tolerated; you settle for mediocrity and in some situations like mine, downright abuse. What I can say is, if you don’t value yourself, nobody else will; you’re sabotaging yourself and you take all prisoners down with you. With respect to my kids, I am for the first time in years following my heart, my true and gentle love, and my creative passions, which have been forcibly hidden underneath my armour for 20 plus years; it is, a difficult thing for them to understand, to grasp, and to view me, their Mother, in another light that is foreign to them now, but truly, who I always was before them. I may have underestimated the time it will take for them to find their way; if they will find that way at all. It will take some time for them to grow up – and growing up for all of us means growing apart from old habits, relationships, bad situations, and finding a new reality of life in the present, and something new in our own lives that truly moves us; for me, it is baking, cooking, teaching and sharing with others; and that is, what living life is all about folks. Walking away really has nothing to do with weakness – it has everything to do with personal strength. Remember, “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost – perhaps now is a good time to re-read this famous book. I was once just a simple girl, from a small town, in a simple green shirt, smiling and happy. That picture, with that very image from my youth, is one that my true love has in his possession; it has become the symbol of making a happy life together for he and I, here in sunny Southern California, as for the most part slow but sure, that girl in the green shirt is happy and smiling once again. I hope that when I blog about personal experiences, that it will “make you think” about things in your own life; that my life stories, will perhaps induce thought-provoking in your own life. Just as when you leave my baking classes, you will have learned how to make something, reflect on that class experience and memories, and apply those skills in your own kitchen. For all of us, no matter what age, what job, what relationship, what life path – you can’t start the next chapter of your life if you must keep “re-reading” your previous one. Today, a famous quote from Maya Angelou comes to mind: “You may encounter many defeats, many disappointments, many heartaches and lose your way; but you must not be defeated. It may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, and how you can still come out of it.” To say that there are not parallels in baking and life would be wrong. Indeed, they boast many similarities and “life lessons.” Take this life recipe, and this apple recipe, to heart. Make this cake and have it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, snack or all of the above, if that is what your heart tells you. Although I don’t generally use many boxed products, cake mix in various formats is the one exception, and can cut the work, create buttery tenderness in recipes such as this one, and let’s face it – is just plain good! Thanks for listening folks!
5-7 apples (mix of Granny Smith and red apples is awesome) (think sweet/sour!)
1 yellow boxed cake mix
2 tbls. granulated sugar, 1 tbl. brown sugar
1 tbl. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. apple pie spice
Dash of Salt
Dash of Nutmeg
1 stick salted butter, melted
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Fill a baking pan or baking dish (9 x 13) with sliced apples, with or without skins is up to you! Just make sure they are sliced fairly thin. Sprinkle the apples with the dry cake mix. Combine the sugars, salt and spices; sprinkle over the dry cake mix. Melt butter, and drizzle all over. Bake about 30 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm on its own, with a dollop of whipped cream, with the Caramel Sauce recipe below, or with ice cream and caramel sauce!
Caramel Sauce – Easy Peasy!
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 stick salted butter
1/2 cup half and half or heavy cream (heavy cream will make it thicker)
1 tbl. vanilla
Pinch of Salt
Mix all ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium low to medium heat. Cook while whisking gently for 5 to 7 minutes, until thicker. Turn off heat. Serve warm or refrigerate until cold. If sauce is thin, just continue cooking for a few more minutes.