the farmwives’ kitchen :: thankful

I woke up excited.  It was a beautiful day, with a rather exciting prospect of rain in the afternoon.  The question was, could I make a batch of plum jam, mow the lawn, and bake a three layer chocolate cake before friends arrived?cake 1

The answer, of course, was no.

Today, for once, baking the chocolate cake came to the top of the list.

You only turn 40 once.

The cake was a classic chocolate from Alice Water’s Art of Simple Food.cake 2

With a little help from my daughter and primary baking partner, the cake came together beautifully.  There’s something about pouring boiling water into the batter that really makes it work.cake 3

And then the kids enjoyed the perks of their mother’s fortieth birthday.cake 4

Meanwhile, I whipped up a double batch of honey-sweetened custard filling (a full dozen egg yolks were involved – thank you chickens!) and put it to cool in the fridge.cake 5

After a lovely lunch of fresh roasted corn, grilled sausage patties, and fresh tomatoes, the custard was nearly cool enough, so I assembled the cake.

Each of the three chocolate layers was topped with custard and fresh-picked blackberries.  It was a moist, fresh, chocolately, mess.  I’m pretty sure everyone had seconds.  Well worth the morning’s labors, and a complete pleasure to share with friends and family.cake 6

It is a fine thing, to be alive.cake 7

thankful

In the middle of the afternoon on a long day that’s just looking longer, or a long week, month, season, when I’m tired and can’t afford to stop, I am thankful for a little piece of

chocolate.

choco

I don’t drink coffee, and rarely drink caffeinated tea.  They give me the jitters and leave me feeling hungover.  But chocolate…

fair trade and organic, so my pleasure is not a burden to someone else.

dark, the higher the cocoa content the better. I’m in it for the chocolate, not the sugar.

That’s what works for me.

Today I also give thanks for friends who make chocolate.  One in particular, Sandy, passed away this week.  I’m grateful for who he was.

Sandy was a visionary.  He believed that little ordinary people could effect big change in their own lives and the world around them.  He believed in peace, in health, in freedom and fun, and in really good food, including chocolate, which he learned to make himself from cocoa beans grown organically by a women’s cooperative in Guatamala.  He made me feel a lot better about chocolate.

Sandy was not one to back away from large conversation and intense projects, even when his position or approach was not popular.  I didn’t always agree with him, but I respected that quality, and admired his endless hopeful energy.  He always had something to share.

When Paul and I were newly married, sitting around a bonfire at a get-together somewhere, Sandy walked up to Paul for an introduction, shook his hand and said, “So, you must be Mr. Coree.”   He gave us some very find green tea for a wedding present.  When I don’t eat chocolate, I still savor those beautiful exotic teas.  Thanks, Sandy.

sandy