Wow! I have a LOT to pack into one post. I’ll try to divide it in categories so that it doesn’t jump all over the place.
*If you (like me) enjoy crepes, I have a fabulous filling idea for you: peanut butter and hot fudge sauce. When they get liquefied and warmed inside the hot crepe, it’s like a Reese’s cup!!! Definitely a must have for anyone who loves peanut butter and chocolate.
*We had a dessert and chili cook-off at my church last night, so I made a flourless chocolate cake from one of my favorite cookbooks: Baked: New Frontiers in Baking. (I could eat almost anything in that book, and if I ever go to New York, I want to visit their bakery!) It turned out fairly well considering that a week of drizzles is not the best weather for whipping egg whites.
Flourless Chocolate Cake (from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking)
For the cake:
10 oz. coarsely chopped dark chocolate
10 tbsp. softened butter
1 c. sugar
7 separated eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. salt
For the ganache:
9 oz. coarsely chopped dark chocolate
1/2 c. heavy cream
1/4 c. lite corn syrup
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9 in. springform pan. Line the bottom with buttered parchment. Melt and set aside the 10 oz. of chocolate.
2. In a bowl, beat together the butter and sugar on high til pale, light, and thoroughly combined, about 5 min.
3. On low, add the yolks, beating well after each addition. After all the yolks are incorporated, scrape down the bowl and beat for 10 more seconds. Add the cooled chocolate and mix til thoroughly combined. Scrape down the bowl, add vanilla, and beat til just incorporated.
4. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg whites and salt til stiff peaks form. Scoop 1 c. of the whites into the chocolate mix and fold gently for 30 seconds. Add the remaining whites and gently fold them in til almost completely combined. Do not rush the folding.
5. Pour the batter into the pan and smooth the top. Bake 30-35 minutes, til the top of the cake seems set or firm to the touch. Do not over-bake.
6. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely. Use a knife to loosen the cake from the sides of the pan. Remove the sides, invert the cake, peel off the parchment, and re-invert the cake so that it’s upright.
7. Put the 9 oz. of chocolate into a heatproof bowl and set it aside. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the cream and corn syrup and bring them to a boil. Remove from the heat and pour the cream mix over the chocolate. Let it stand 2 minutes, then, starting in the center and working out to the edges, slowly stir til the chocolate is completely melted and the mix is smooth. Whisk a few minutes to cool the ganache. Pour over the cooled cake.
Amazon offers free MP3s every day. Today’s is a song called Someone Like You by Adele. I’m a fan of some of Adele’s first hits (Chasing Pavement & Best for Last), so I was excited to see this. She has a really good, gravelly voice and an old-school type of sound.
Groupon currently has a deal under Abilene, TX where you pay $1 for 3 one night movie rentals from Redbox. The deal says that they don’t expire until 6/1/11, so it sounds like a pretty good deal if there are some movies coming out that you’re interested in.
While I was reading my devotions this morning, I came across a few verses that read like a balm to my soul. Exodus 33:12 says, “I [God] know thee by name.” That little phrase is enough to throw my mind for a loop. I’ve heard it many times, but it still amazes me. The Almighty God who created everything knows me by my name. Then, in verse 14, it says, “My presence [still God] shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.” I just can’t read that without immediately feeling a breath of fresh air and a weight lifted from my shoulders. It’s an oft-repeated, but always beautiful promise that can’t help but make my day better.
Review of “A Grief Observed” by C.S. Lewis:
I saved this for last because there’s so much I wanted to say. I just finished reading, A Grief Observed, and I was enthralled with it. C.S. Lewis had a beautiful way with words and some insightful views on God and grief. I can’t say that I agree with everything in the book, but it was certainly something that made me stop and think. One of the reasons I started to consider blogging is that I love writing. I don’t think I could ever write a book, but there are times when I just feel the urge to write because something inspired me. I started this blog, in part, so that I could share those moments with others. For those who haven’t read the book, it is C.S. Lewis’s account of his battle with grief after losing his wife to cancer. I will warn you that those with an empathic nature should read with a box of tissues close at hand. Lewis is a master at putting his feelings into words so clear that you will feel his pain.
The first line of the book is this, “No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.” That sentence just resonates in my brain. It’s beautifully written and it just rings with truth and raw emotion.
Later on in the book, Lewis talks about how he doesn’t want to have a distorted memory of his wife. Not even that he think’s he’ll blot out all her imperfections, but that he’ll just forget the little things. Lewis says that, without meaning too, we forget about all the little things that make up a person; seeing that person again would remind us, but what happens when we can’t meet them anymore. At the end of this discussion is such a beautiful phrase where he says how he misses his wife. He says, “The rough, sharp, cleansing tang of her otherness is gone.” The otherness he refers to is the difference between his memory and her actual self.
“A corpse, a memory, and (in some versions) a ghost. All mockeries or horrors. Three more ways of spelling the word dead.” – A beautifully sad remark.
“You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you.” – C.S. Lewis grappled with his beliefs in God during his mourning, and though he concluded that he did believe, he plumbed the depths of unbelief before he got there.
“The old life, the jokes, the drinks, the arguments, the lovemaking, the tiny, heartbreaking commonplace.” – Lewis’s beautiful commentary on the comfortable ordinariness of marriage and love.
“And the past is the past and that is what time means, and time itself is one more name for death, and Heaven itself is a state where ‘the former things have passed away.’ ” – Though in this section, Lewis is regretting the former things passing away, there is still a beautiful truth to it. Of course, we will miss it while we’re here, but when we join in heaven, it won’t matter to us at all.
“What St. Paul says can comfort only those who love God better than the dead, and the dead better than themselves.” – Though he didn’t understand at the time, this is true and how God intended it. God calls us to love Him above all, and it would be hard for us to derive comfort from His words when we aren’t following His will.
In the third chapter, Lewis’s grief is not so constant, but it’s still deep. “What’s wrong with the world to make it so flat, shabby, worn-out looking? Then I remember.” He doesn’t hurt for his wife constantly, but to him, the world seems faded somehow; those sentences are a perfect portrayal of that feeling.
Also in this chapter, Lewis explains that his railings and questionings of God from earlier were his attempt to hurt God like he was hurting. He had thought that God was purposefully hurting him, but what wavered was his belief in the motive. When he was mad, he said it was for pleasure at his pain, now he says that it’s in an effort to help him. “Of course the cat will growl and spit at the operator and bite him if she can. But the real question is whether he is a vet or a vivisector. Her bad language throws no light on it one way or the other. ” How many people have believed that God wanted to hurt them, but taken their own children to the doctor for a shot without realizing that what they tell their child is also true in their fight against God, it hurts but it’s for your own good. Though it doesn’t apply in every situation (and we can’t know God’s motives), it saddens me to think that people could so malign God.
Lewis also talks about the fact that we sometimes can’t have what we want (like a good memory of the deceased) because we want it so badly. Similar to how obsessing over a good night’s sleep makes you wakeful and worried. ” ‘Knock and it shall be opened.’ But does knocking mean hammering and kicking the door like a maniac? And there’s also ‘To him that hath shall be given.’ After all, you must have a capacity to receive, or even omnipotence can’t give.”
Lewis also compares losing a loved one to losing a limb. Even though the leg heals, you have pain, you almost never forget your loss, your whole life has been altered. You can still live, but nothing is quite the same as it was before.
“I’d better keep my breath to cool my own porridge.” – A witty way of saying you shouldn’t talk when you don’t know what you’re talking about.
“How often — will it be for always? — how often will the vast emptiness astonish me like a complete novelty and make me say, ‘I never realized my loss till this moment’? The same leg is cut off time after time. The first plunge of the knife into the flesh is felt again and again. They say ‘The coward dies many time’; so does the beloved.” – His explanation that grief is never gone. Though you may move through phases, there is always a sore there.
“For this fate would seem to me the worst of all; to reach a state in which my years of love and marriage should appear in retrospect a charming episode — like a holiday — that had briefly interrupted my interminable life and returned me to normal, unchanged.” – Something I believe is the fear of all those who have lost someone so close to them. The fear that you will forget them and that your life will no longer have any marks that show that they were an impact on you.
“And then, of her, and of every created thing I praise, I should say ‘In some way, in its unique way, like him who made it’.” – How true. Everything is unique and special because the Creator is unique and special.
“I need Christ, not something that resembles Him.” – Oh, that this would truly be my heart’s cry! How often do I take things at face value, accepting something resembling Christ but missing his true glory and blessing in the process.
“Images of the Holy easily become holy images — sacrosanct. My idea of God is not a divine idea. It has to be shattered time after time. He shatters it Himself.” – This corresponds with something my pastor has been preaching on. We limit God by what we think about him. How could we really understand Him when our minds are so finite. We must let him break the ideas we’ve erroneously formed so that he can show us truths about himself.
“Can I meet H. [his wife] again only if I learn to love you [the Lord] so much that I don’t care whether I meet her or not?” – A beautiful truth that is so much easier to say than do. The only way we can truly have anything is if we care about God so much that the other thing becomes irrelevant. God can’t bless us with something if we let that something come in front of God.
And a beautiful thought to end on: “His love and His knowledge are not distinct from one another, nor from Him. We could almost say He sees because He loves, and therefore loves although He sees.” Above all this is a beautiful thought. No matter what horrible things we do, God sees it all, but loves us anyway.