Chocolate Cake for One (Or Two) (& tastes)

There was a period of time in college where I wanted nothing to do with chocolate.

Didn’t care for it. Not the sight of it, the smell of it, and especially not the taste of it.

This continued for about a year. Not wanting anything chocolate flavored or related or even tangentially connected to it. And this was way back when I worked at a candy magazine and was constantly surround by chocolates of all varieties. It was a dark time.

Thank god that’s over.

The distaste was merely a blip, a nonevent in my tastebuds’ lives. Now, blessedly, I love chocolate once more. Can’t get enough of it, actually.

My favorite way to eat it? In cake.

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Marion’s Mayo Cake (& reasoning)

My little sister’s alarm went off. Again. She didn’t stir. Again. I crawled in beside her, jostling her awake.

“I don’t wanna get up,” she mumbled, rolling over.

“None of us want to be awake, do we?” my mom said, coming into the room. She stood at the foot of the bed, looking down at us. Decision flashed across her face. She smiled. “Make room for Mom!” She crawled in between us, making a sandwich. Daughter, mother, daughter. Not to be left out, Edgar jumped up onto the foot of the bed. He quickly fell back asleep, despite the tossing and turning of three other bodies. My mom faced my sister and I began to scratch her back, an absentminded move I’d picked up from her – years of her tucking us in at night or snuggling on the couch.

I see that moment in my mind’s eye so clearly. Viewing it from the ceiling, watching the scene play out below. My mom turning the other direction, facing me, smiling. My little sister now scratching her back. We laid there for awhile, my foot dangled off the edge of the bed. No one rushed to get up, to start the day. Instead, we laid in silence for a while – our breathing beginning to match Edgar’s steady inhale and exhale.

When people ask me how being home is – I wish I could show them this moment, have them feel what I felt. Because this is how being home is. It’s the opportunity to crawl into my little sister’s bed and joke around with her, the ability to make my mom laugh when I eventually try to dismount from the mattress and land less-than-gracefully on my backside.

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Double Chocolate Muffins (& debates)

The glass partition between the brewery and bar slid open. Ryan, the head brewer, poked his head out, “So…uh…what’s the difference…?”

“There’s no frosting on top,” I said, without glancing up. I knew exactly what he was going to ask. Because it’s a question I’ve wrestled with before. How is a muffin different than a cupcake? Especially when it’s chocolate. And has chocolate chips in it.

The answer? No frosting. Frosting isn’t a breakfast food. Muffins are. Chocolate can be. When it’s in a muffin.

Right?

Right.

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Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies (& comfort)

We could all use a little comfort right now, yes? With the cold and the snow and the anticipation of the year ahead of us – unknown, unfamiliar.

Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

We could all use a little something known, something familiar.

Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Of course, it doesn’t hurt if it’s also something sweet.

Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate chip cookies are one of my all time favorite treats. They’re easy to put together and even easier to enjoy. Well-known, well-loved. By virtually everyone. Browned butter as the base adds a little more richness and a dash of cinnamon brings some much needed warmth at this time of year (or really any).

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Mississippi Mud Pie (& heartbreak)

Heartbreak is…heartbreak is… heartbreak is what, exactly?

Mississippi Mud Pie | via Midwest Nice Blog

Heartbreak is different for everyone. Different for the same person. Changing and shifting and morphing. At least, that’s how it’s been for me.

It has been painful, of course. Annoying, aggravating, cursed, unrelenting and seemingly unending. Those too. It has ebbed and flowed, ceasing altogether some days only to rear its ugly head the very next, with a force that quite literally took my breath away. It has been fleeting, flickering into my consciousness unexpectedly only to be whisked away in a moment. It has tugged gently at the edges of my memories, in those early morning minutes between sleeping and waking, when the dreams still feel real, before reality has set in and my mind and heart are still weightless, grief not weighing them down.

It has been necessary. Necessary to avoid “his side” of town. Necessary to avert my eyes when I think I spy his truck on the road. Necessary to sit in a hot, dark shower, water hitting my skin until it’s red and raw, the sounds of this song reverberating on the bathroom walls. Necessary to feel the ache in my chest, the hurt in my lungs, the catch in the back of my throat from another bout of sobs racking my entire body.

Mississippi Mud Pie | via Midwest Nice Blog

It has been strong.

I know I am stronger.

There was a time I didn’t know that, though. A time when all I could be was left. Alone. Again. I know I am not the first person to be broken up with, to be broken hearted, and I know I won’t be the last. I know there are worse things that can happen to a person, that other people have a harder time, but I’ll be damned if that means my experience and emotions hurt any less. Are worth any less.

Mississippi Mud Pie | via Midwest Nice Blog

My friend Kristen, in all her unending wisdom, equated it to a death. And as melodramatic as that sounds, as all of this has sounded thus far, something did die. A relationship is a living and breathing thing, and when it ends it leaves a void, a chasm. It dies. There were hopes and dreams and plans that ceased to exist. And for a while, I thought a part of me had gone along with them.

Mississippi Mud Pie | via Midwest Nice Blog

In truth, that’s the main reason for my silence these long, winding weeks (going on months). Sure, it was partially the new job, the juggling of a new schedule and new responsibilities, a desire to perform well and make connections with my new coworkers, impress the new boss. But, mostly, it has been heartache. Restarting my life without the person I was planning it around. Leaning into sadness and loneliness, leaning onto the pillars my family and friends have provided.

But I’ve gotten used to it. Or, at least, I’m getting used to it. That’s what we as humans do. We adjust, we carry on. Even as much as we fight and fear change, homeostasis is a biological inevitability. I have made new routines, started new traditions. I have grown comfortable falling asleep alone and waking up that way, too. I have begun filling my life, and my heart, back up. I have chosen to make changes after one was forced upon me.

That includes changes around here, too. To be more honest, more intentional, for better or for worse. I still firmly intend to share food and drink, but with less fluff, more substance. I don’t want to put up a post just for the sake of it. I want meaning. I want emotion. I want to be myself. Because, according to Kristen, who once again surprised me with a nugget of necessary wisdom, “that’s all I should ever be.”

And I am emotional. I know no other way. I have been called an open book many times – sometimes in admiration, sometimes in antipathy. My friend Danielle has expressed equal amounts of both after seeing the big, beating heart on my sleeve. She’ll probably think this post is too much info, would never do such a thing herself, but won’t ever hold it against me. Because she knows me. She loves me. So does Kristen. So does my dad. My mom. My grandma, sisters, aunts. Robin and Bunny, too. Shawn and Dawn, without a doubt. They prove there is still so much love in my life, even if I haven’t found the love of my life. Everyone who has rallied around me has shown me that, gifted me that. And I am eternally grateful.

Mississippi Mud Pie | via Midwest Nice Blog

In some small attempt to repay them for their love and kindness, their shoulders and strength, I have made treats. Efforts at returning the love so freely given to me. Cakes, cookies, pies. I know it is a small gesture, not necessarily life altering or affirming for them, that they don’t get the same buoying from a batch of biscuits that I get from a phone call back home. That their hearts aren’t as heavy, don’t need as much lifting.

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