I've been feeling trapped of late by the bitter cold of the winter, and a neurotic compulsion to clean out the clutter from every inch of my home - the pantry, the spice cabinet(s), and the deepest corner of the walk in closet I seldom ever see or touch. I put my pots in new places, as if moving them from point a to point b would have some grand effect on my mood.
My neurosis spilled over into the technology sphere, the weight of old emails and unused apps making me feel crowded, inattentive and somehow stagnant. I went years past in my inbox to find emails I had written to myself, and cherished exchanges with friends and family. I now and always have craved reassurance. I waded through tidbits I had written to myself marked with a simple subject line of "read this" or "this is so you, and it's ok". My habit of systematically referencing literature to find the right words to quell my anxieties or unfounded fears was prevalent then too.
Lost in pages and pages of archived mail, I read some messages written from the Francesca of years ago. Despite some advancement in knowledge and life experience, adulthood after graduation, the gauntlet of entry level work, disillusionment over finding a career, angst over longing for a partner... despite it all, that girl is still very much alive and well. Her point of view is evolving over time, she carries an extra laugh line or two, and lost her edge in the swimming pool. But otherwise, her hopes are a different utterance of the same hopes, as are her fears.
I focused on the starred emails, marked to be read again, although as time passes we don't always make it back. This time I did, and I reflected fondly on written transcripts between confidants and friends, their voices still clear in my ear. I felt an odd peace. I was broken then, and am broken now but the world hasn't fallen to pieces. The sun still rises, and then sets. The tide rolls in, the gulls look for food. I show up, I try, sometimes fail, and try again.
Thankfully, the reservoir of assurance and love extends beyond my archived mail. The people I surround myself with provide light for the journey. My dear friend Nicholas told me, " Every rose has thorns, is larger or smaller, richer or lighter in color, fuller or more trim. However, each is beautiful. And every spring, more grow, and each one is stunning." Everyone needs a Nicholas. I encourage you to find yours and hold him or her closely. If all else fails, check your email as you never know what insight you will find there.
Now for the treats. I do my best thinking when my hands are occupied, hence the writing sparked by action. This past Sunday I got a craving for Thai Iced Tea but being that snow was falling, I opted to make a Thai Tea Cupcake instead. I adapted the recipe from an existing tea based cake in Williams Sonoma's book Bake Good Things.
- 3 Thai Tea Bags
- 2/3 cup boiling water
- 1 1/4 cups flour
- 3/4 light brown sugar, firmly packed
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup honey
- 4 tablespoons melted butter
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- For whipped cream : 1 cup chilled heavy cream and 2 tablespoons sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a cupcake tray with paper liners. In a small bowl steep the tea bags for five minutes. Discard the tea bags and let tea cool to room temperature. In a bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl of a mixer combine honey, melted butter, and heavy cream. Add the flour mixture to the liquid mixture and beat on medium speed for about two minutes, until combined. Add the tea and beat until just combined.
Fill the muffin cups about 3/4 with batter. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean from the center of the cupcake. Cool completely. Meanwhile, whip your cream. Add sugar to the large mixing bowl, preferably chilled, followed by heavy cream. Beat on medium high speed until stiff peaks form. Frost cooled cupcakes with whipped cream.