Flourless chocolate almond cake with coffee and cinnamon

IMG_0364.jpgLast Saturday was a blizzarding day. The sky was white and bewildering, the time passed quickly and not-at-all, and the snow lay in deep, perfect drifts all around. A week later, the snow is still in giant gravelly piles where it was pushed away from all the places people walk and drive and park. The time is still passing strangely. The hours pass in the usual way, some flying some crawling, but at the end of the day it’s all a blur and I haven’t done half the things I’ve persuaded myself that I need to do. It’s days like this that make you want to turn into Malcolm’s latest superhero creation: Slothman. Slothman’s super power is that he goes slowly, he takes time to enjoy things. And he enjoys everything. Malcolm believes that people, and himself in particular, move too fast. He is a speedy fellow. So if he could turn into slothman he would slow down, everything would slow down. He could be happy just sitting up in a tree doing nothing but just sitting up in a tree. That in itself would become something to enjoy. The funny thing is that I think Malcolm already has this quality in spades. Not the slowness part, he is fairly full-speed-ahead in all endeavors. But the enjoying part. When you’re doing something with Malcolm–cooking or playing cards or going for a walk–he’ll announce, “This is fun.” And because he says it, you stop and think, “this is fun,” and then, strangely, it becomes more fun, just because he said it. And on the day that Malcolm told me about Slothman, we were on a walk. He’d been jumping puddles rimmed with black mud, and I was worried about his shoes, because it’s my job to worry about his shoes. Malcolm stopped walking and I yelled, “No jumping puddles!” But guess what–he wasn’t jumping puddles, he wasn’t moving at all. He was standing perfectly still, with a beaming face, and he said, “It’s so pretty! The light through the trees! And the shadows!” I looked ahead on the path and it was pretty, it was beautiful. The pale hopeful January light through brambled leafless trees. I thought about taking a picture, but it would never work, I couldn’t capture it. So we just stood for a moment and watched the shifting slanting light, until Clio woke us and we moved on.

 

Snowy weather is always good baking weather, so we’ve been making lots of cookies and cakes and bread. One day I ran out of flour, so I made this cake. It’s very tasty! Soft and flavorful, but with an almost crispy layer on the top. The flavors–cinnamon, chocolate, coffee, almond–they’re perfect together! This wasn’t at all hard to  make, and it was even easier to eat.

 

Here’s Groovin in Style by Ken Parker

 

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Almond cake with jam and chocolate

IMG_5247“You know how people mostly draw Yin and Yang as fish?”
“Um, I guess…”
“What if they drew them as wolves instead, packs of black and white wolves?”
“That’s a picture I’d like to see.”
“Of course the chances of it happening are almost zero. But there’s not a completely zero chance of anything.”
“So anything is possible?”
“Yes, everything is possible,” said Isaac trotting down the street and singing, “Yin and yang, sucker. Yin and yang, Sucker!”
I’m in concurrence with Isaac on this one. I believe anything is possible. I always have. I believe most things some of the time. I believe some things most of the time. I believe there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our philosophy. I believe there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. I believe in chance and coincidence and luck. I believe if I play a game of solitaire in the morning, whether I win or lose reflects how other things in my life might turn out. Not that it will change the outcome, but it will predict it, like the augers of ancient Rome. Do I really believe this? Naw, no, of course not. Mostly no. But not zero chance no. And the thing I mostly play for these days is my novel and my stories. Will they ever be published? Will anybody in a position of any power in any editorial department in the world like them at all? Will the next message I get be from somebody who likes my writing? No. No it won’t. It will be from somebody trying to sell me something. Somebody asking for money. I know that. There’s a 99.9% chance of that. And although I honestly believe that most people who get their work published are genuinely talented and deserving, and if something’s really good it will get seen (as they used to tell us at the independent film festivals), I believe for me, if anything gets published it will be sheer dumb luck that the right person sees it and likes it. Despite all of my considerable soul-crushing efforts to contact agents and publishers, it won’t be any of those. It will be some weird connection I didn’t even know I’d made. Like when I’d made my second film and I applied for all kinds of grants and submitted it to all kinds of people, but it was some guy that saw somebody else watching it on a monitor across a crowded room that ended up giving me a grant. And I was thinking that maybe I have a little bit of luck set aside for me on a certain day, and it could go towards stories or novels getting published, but maybe instead I win something stupid in a cereal box, or I get a coupon in the mail for something I don’t even want, and that’s my luck for the day. And then, maybe, I don’t even recognize all the luck I have every day, because it’s bigger than any petty thing I’m thinking about. Maybe I drive down a road at the exact time that flocks of blackbirds are forming and reforming in dizzy formations over my head. Maybe I go for a walk with Malcolm and he tells me “Yellow can be lemon or banana, and I’m cool with both of those.” And then he continues with a reasoned monologue on the merits of various candy flavors despite the fact that I’m laughing so hard I can hardly walk. Maybe that’s the lucky thing, having that chance to be with these crazy people who tell me these crazy things that make me bursting glad to be with them. And I know I know about all the lucky things so precious I can’t even talk and can barely even think rationally about. And of course I believe in fate, too, and meant-to-be, because there’s just as great a chance that this is true as anything else. And I’ll take it, I’m cool with both of those. Yin and yang, sucker, yin and yang.

I’ve been making lots of cakes this winter, because it’s been that kind of winter. One after another. For a while I was making cakes with nuts and jam and chocolate. Because who wouldn’t want a cake with nuts and jam and chocolate?

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Almond cinnamon shortbread cake

Almond cinnamon shortbread cake

Almond cinnamon shortbread cake

The other day I thought I lost a scrap of paper. It was just another scrap of paper with words on it, but it was worth fifty dollars, so I felt like an idiot for misplacing it. I searched for it through piles of papers with words on them, through drawers-full of scraps of paper with words on them. This is how I organize my life. I scribble thoughts and plans and recipes and names and dates and numbers unintelligibly on torn pieces of paper, which flutter around me like maddening moths. And then I lose them and years later I find them and wonder at their meaning. As I was searching, I found one relatively intact sheet of a smallish size stuffed into my drawer. Near the bottom, in very neat (for me) handwriting, it said “Yes Today is Today.” The neatness of the handwriting suggests to me that I was trying out a new pen. I love new pens! Other than that, I have no idea what the hell I was talking about, or why I wrote this. Judging from the name & number scribbled on the top of the paper, it dates from around a decade ago. What was I happy about on this today? What had I been looking forward to? I’ll never know. But what a good inspirational meme this would make, Yes Today is Today, with some lady in yoga pants and a flowing scarf looking ecstatic as she stretches into the sunset. It’s so now-momenty. Of course I’m not at all now-momenty. I understand the appeal and the advantages, but I just can’t do it. I live in a cluttered tangle of memories and plans, half-remembered words and half-hearted hopes. How can we live only in this moment when this moment is so fleeting? Of course we can’t, we’re made up of our past and our future is upon us before we know it. Obviously I don’t want to live in the past and anticipate the future at the expense of my appreciation of the present, but there would be no present without the past and the future. I like to think about the moment I wrote this years ago, I’m glad I don’t know what it was that made me happy, that I was looking forward to, I’m glad to imagine what it might have been. It seems more real, more full of promise than whatever actual event I was anticipating. It could have been anything. It could be anything, it might be something I’m still looking forward to. It might be nothing at all other than the recognition that today is irrevocably and undeniably today. There’s no arguing that point! And on these dark cold January mornings when it’s really goddamn hard to get out of bed, it might help to say Yes Today is Today.

Cinnamon almond shortbread

Cinnamon almond shortbread

This is an incredibly simple cake, and I like it a lot. It’s like soft shortbread when you first try it, with a crispy crunchy top of almonds and sugar. And after a day or so it becomes a little firmer and more cookie-like.

Here’s Time has Come Today by The Chambers Brothers

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Almond cake with blueberry & chocolate filling

Almond cake with blueberry and chocolate filling

Almond cake with blueberry and chocolate filling

We went to look for eagle feathers though we knew we wouldn’t find any. As with most things in life, it was more about the journey–the walk on the towpath, over the old train bridge, down the hill through the tall ferns and prickly vines, up to the tower where the eagle had lived. Maybe we’d go farther past it, all the way to the river, maybe we’d see the eagles flying over the water, looking for fish. We didn’t see the eagles, we didn’t find any feathers, the prickly vines scratched our ankles, but it was a wonderful walk. The wild ferns and flowers and vines are taller than me down by the eagle’s tower, and it’s a strange bright green world with narrow paths, some that lead into the woods, some that lead to the river, and some that lead up the hill back to the path. Under the staring blue sky, with small white clouds and grasshoppers flicking across our path, this felt like summer. Is it the dog days? Because we’re living like dogs, sun dogs, dogs of summer, here at The Ordinary, with no plans. We snooze in the warm sun, and wake to eat or run to the river for a swim, or chase wildly through tangled ferny paths. Clio is the leader of our pack, she shows us how it’s done, and the boys are attentive pupils. We’re trying to slow down the days, with our lazy ways, but they’re flying by anyway. Evening falls earlier, and there’s almost a chill in the air in the mornings. So we’ll follow Clio into the sunshine, and soak it up, we’ll store it inside of us against the cold days ahead.

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You know what I’ve been making a lot this summer? Flat wide cakes with fillings inside. Almost like a gateau basque. This one had blueberries and chocolate chips. (They almost always have chocolate) I’ve made some with ground almonds or almonds and pistachios, and I’ve filled them with jam or other kinds of fruit. Sometimes they’re soft, sometimes they’re crispy like big cookies. This one was quite soft inside, and a little crispy on top. It was very juicy, you can’t turn it out of the pan or anything, because it will fall apart. David said it’s like blueberry fudge. I’ll tell you about the other cakes another time.

Here’s Summertime by Sam Cooke.

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Clementine almond pastry cake

Clementine almond pastry cake

Clementine almond pastry cake

Sometimes when we have trouble making a decision we’ll ask Malcolm for help. Usually it’s a small thing–choosing between two paint colors, say, or whether or not I should add olives to a stew. He’s very decisive, but he’s thoughtful, too–he thinks quickly. And when he gives an answer it always seems to have been the obvious answer all along. It sounds silly, but I’ve been wracked with indecision lately on the subject of a story I’m writing. It was going along in the usual halting, stumbling way of most of my stories, when I noticed that it kept getting longer and longer. The characters were in my thoughts all day and night, and they were becoming more complicated, and all of these ideas about what things could be about started haunting me. I know you’re supposed to write something until it’s as long as it needs to be, but at some point you have to decide what you’re doing, you have to know where you’re going and have some idea how to get there. So I asked Malcolm. I was mostly joking, but I said, “Hey, Malcolm, should I write a short story or a novel?” I was thinking he’d just laugh it off, because it’s a ridiculous question. But he said, “Well, tell me about it, tell me about some of the characters, what’s it about?” This kills me! It’s so smart and sweet. And Malcolm had an idea for a story, too, which I’m going to help him write by asking him questions, so we were just like two writers, together, just a couple of story-writing friends, discussing our work. And I’ve decided to think like Malcolm, when I’m choosing if the story goes this way or that way…I’ll think quickly, and make it seem like it was inevitable all along. He chose novel, by the way, so we’ll see how that goes!

Clementine almond pastry cake

Clementine almond pastry cake

It’s a pastry cake! I’m very excited about this…I feel like I’ve invented a genre of sweet food. I first encountered the phrase “Pastry Cake” in one of my favorite books, Joan Aiken’s Go Saddle the Sea. I couldn’t find an actual pastry cake any where, so I decided it should be a thick dense cake, almost like a soft shortbread. The first one I made had a salted top. This one has clementine zest in the batter, plus almonds and a pinch of allspice and a drop of sherry. It’s stuffed with milk chocolate chips, and topped with sugar crystals, which gives it a nice sort of crispiness. Very festive, very tasty!

Here’s The Choice is Yours by Black Sheep
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Cinnamon almond cake

Almond cinnamon cake

Almond cinnamon cake

It sometimes seems as though Thanksgiving has become a celebration of having too much. It’s funny that it’s a uniquely American holiday, because it seems like such a singularly American characteristic to want more than we need. Too much is never enough. We don’t just eat lots of good food, we eat till we feel ill, and then we set out that very night to buy lots of things we don’t need just because they’re cheaper than they were the day before. It’s madness, I tell you! Everything feels very off-kilter sometimes: in a world with so much poverty and hunger, we should celebrate because we have enough, we should celebrate balance and sharing, and plenty for everyone. We should remember what it feels like to be hungry, to have that keen feeling of anticipation, and we should recognize when we’ve had enough, when we’re sated. And we should be thankful for being full of hope and love and affection and kindness, because these things we truly can’t have too much of. And that’s quite enough of my Sunday preaching! In this spirit, today’s Sunday interactive playlist is on the subject of feeling full and feeling hungry. We could be talking about food, or emotion, or ambition, or any other thing.
Almond & cinnamon cake

Almond & cinnamon cake

Well, I make a lot of cakes, and this is one of my favorite I’ve ever made. It has a dense pleasant quality, almost like shortbread, and the combination of cinnamon and almond is a perfect one. It has a soft cakey part topped with a sort of crumble with lots of bittersweet chocolate chips in it. Nice with coffee in the morning, tea in the afternoon, and wine after dinner.

Here’s a link to the interactive playlist. Add what you like or leave a note in the comments and I’ll try to add it through the week.

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Almond cake with chocolate and fresh cherries

Almond cake with chocolate and cherries

Almond cake with chocolate and cherries

Isaac is miserable about having to write a summer journal entry, so in solidarity I’m writing one, too.

July 11, 2013.

This morning I cleaned the bathrooms for the first time in a few weeks. I thought about time passing. A baby screamed outside the window with that sound that could be crying or laughing, and from behind a closed door Isaac made the same sound. I thought about how summer used to last forever and now it flies by; I know it’s a clichéd thought, but that doesn’t make it less true–it might make it more true. Our summer days are the old-fashioned kind, nothing planned, but long and busy. They race by in a flurry of periods of activity mixed with spaces of inactivity, but they’re not particularly eventful, and maybe that’s why it’s hard for Isaac to think of anything to write about. It honestly doesn’t feel as though we have time in our days for notable events, that’s how full they feel. I thought about how Camus said “Since we’re all going to die, it’s obvious that when and how don’t matter,” and about how he died in a car crash with a train ticket in his pocket, for a train ride he could have been on. I know about these things from wikipedia and some dumb website that collects people’s quotes, and I wonder if Camus would have had any respect for these because obviously it means people are trying to understand everything, on some level, or if he would have been depressed by them because he said, “what we ask is that articles have substance and depth, and that false or doubtful news not be presented as truth.” I remembered another time that I’d cleaned the bathroom, and I’d made a humorous quip about how scrubbing a toilet if two little boys live in the house is sisyphean and leads to existential despair, and I’d wondered if Camus had ever had to do it. And I think that this quip was proof that I’d gotten Camus completely wrong my whole life, and I wonder why that was. Because I’d read him in high school French class, and I don’t speak French at all? Because I speak precious little English, either? Because I’d read him in high school and I heard what my teenage self needed to hear? Maybe I have it all wrong now, because I’m forty-four and I’m hearing what my middle-aged self needs to hear. I thought about this quote “I leave Sisyphus at the foot of the mountain. One always finds one’s burden again. But Sisyphus teaches the higher fidelity that negates the gods and raises rocks. He too concludes that all is well. This universe henceforth without a master seems to him neither sterile nor futile. Each atom of that stone, each mineral flake of that night-filled mountain, in itself, forms a world. The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy,” which is not despairing at all, but completely hopeful, and I claim it for The Ordinary, and I apply it to all things–to getting out of bed in the morning and deciding to wake up and live, to embracing the long littleness, to scrubbing toilets and listening to the boys bicker and scream and laugh, over and over and over again, to all the beautiful tediousness of our long, busy, uneventful days. Isaac just finished his journal entry, and he said that tomorrow he’s going to write, “Yesterday in my summer journal I wrote about writing in my summer journal, and next day I’ll write about how I was writing in that summer journal about writing in my summer journal, and in that summer journal I was writing about a river!”

Almond cake with chocolate and cherries

Almond cake with chocolate and cherries

We have so many vegetables now, from the farm, and I bought so much fruit from the store that I have a ridiculous sense of hopeful anxiety. I know what I want to do with all of it! But we only eat so many meals a week, and I don’t want any of it to spoil! I got myself a cherry & olive pitter for my birthday (thanks, Mom and Dad!) because it seemed like such a fun, frivolous item and therefore perfect for a birthday. So now, of course, I had to use it! I bought a big bag of cherries, and Malcolm and I pitted a bowlful. I made a batter of ground almonds, with almond and vanilla extract. I added chocolate chips, and I whizzed half in the food processor to break them down so they melted right into the batter. I made this in my big old french cake pan, but you could make it in any largish cake pan. Everybody liked it!

Here’s Everyday by Yo La Tengo.

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Savory almond cake with toasted beets, beet greens, goat cheese and asparagus

Savory almond cake with beets and asparagus

Savory almond cake with beets and asparagus

Last night we went to Isaac’s poetry cafe. I’ve got to start wearing dark glasses and a veil to these things, because I find them so moving that by the end I’m a puddle, despite my cynical and cantankerous nature. The kids are adorable, obviously, but it’s not this that gets me. It’s the raw, pure emotion–they’re all so animated and nervous and happy it just kills me. They’re not used to reading at all, let alone reading aloud. They stand at the front of the room, glance at their teacher, take a deep breath, and then they dive into the river of words–their words! They paddle through, head down, voice low and hushed, in a barely audible muddle, and then they’re done, they reached the other side, they’re elated, they nailed it. And it’s all so beautiful! Even when you can’t distinguish the words, the poems are full of rhythm and emotion. They’re about what they love and who they are, and these things are so clear and certain when you’re little–constantly changing and evolving, but not yet muddied and confused. They’re seven years old, so the poems are sincere in the best sense of the word. These kids aren’t trying to sell anything, or prove anything, at this age they’re not even worried about getting a good grade. They’re just telling you how they feel, and it’s so joyful and funny and even disarmingly profound in spots that you want to laugh and cry at the same time. Or at least I do. How long before the boys forbid me to attend events at their school? The whole class read a song about keeping a poem in your heart and a picture in your head, so you won’t be lonely, and this is such a perfectly Ordinary idea–this is what it’s all about! Not that you memorize a poem and walk around reciting it to yourself, but that everything is a poem or a picture, if you take the time to notice and collect it in your head in a way that you’ll remember it–with words or images or memories. My beloved OED defines a poem as “A piece of writing or an oral composition, … in which the expression of feelings, ideas, etc., is typically given intensity or flavour by distinctive diction, rhythm, imagery.” This is it exactly! Everything in your life can be given intensity and flavor, if you wake up and live. It sometimes seems that “they” are trying to make us slow and dull and stupid, so we’ll buy more that we don’t need. So I say, don’t watch the dumb shows, don’t eat the fast food, make your own meals, think your own thoughts, with passion and creativity! Nobody can take this away from you. In my visit to the OED, I also discovered the word “poeming,” as in composing or reciting poems, and I will tell you that the children in Isaac’s class were engaged in “Loud Tawkings and Poemings.” Yes they were. And so should we all be.

Savory almond cake with beets and asparagus

Savory almond cake with beets and asparagus

Yesterday at the flea market we met a French couple selling baking pans. I liked them so much, in an instant. They seemed so kind and friendly. We bought a half dozen pans of surprising proportions, and I’m excited to use them all. One was very large with straight sides about 1 1/2 inches high. I knew right away that I wanted to make a big savory cake in it. I’m fascinated by the idea of savory cakes, because I don’t think I’ve seen it anywhere, and I wonder why. We have savory pies and savory pancakes, but not savory cakes. I’ve experimented a bit, with a cake with chard and chickpea flour, and one with cornmeal and beets. This particular cake had ground almonds, and I made it like a savory version of a gateau basque, so it had two layers, combined on the edges, and containing a filling of toasted beets, mozzarella, goat cheese, beet greens and asparagus. And the asparagus tips are on top for decoration. I thought it was really delicious. Unexpected, with nice flavors and textures. Not too soft, not too dry. I was happy with the way it turned out! If you don’t happen to have a big French cake pan, you can use a regular cake pan or a small roasting pan.

Here’s Bob Marley with Wake Up and Live
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Flourless chocolate cake with salted almond praline

Flourless chocolate cake with salted almond praline

Flourless chocolate cake with salted almond praline

Would you rather have super strength or super speed? This is a question I encounter frequently, in my travels. Usually it’s Isaac doing the asking. But there’s a trick to the question, because Isaac already has super speed! He makes his hands rigid, like knives, and they slice through the air, propelling him forward at a remarkable rate. Malcolm’s new favorite sartorial accoutrement is a button down shirt, usually flannel, always plaid, worn open over a t-shirt. Not because he looks cool, or it keeps him warm, but because if he holds the corners and pulls it up behind him over his head, when a slight breeze blows it feels as though he could fly. We invented a super hero called “Whatever Boy.” His power is that he’s as impervious to discomfort as a ten-year-old boy. Sub zero temperatures? He’s fine in a t-shirt. Sand in his swimsuit? Pour some more in there, he won’t mind. Soaking wet jeans? Bring them on. This was my little joke, and I left it at that, but Malcolm didn’t. He’s expanded the universe of Whatever Boy to include arch enemies, additional powers and side-kicks. All he needs now is a uniform and a theme song. I love this about my boys! I love that they see the potential in themselves and in everybody around them to have super powers. If you think about it enough, your shirt might become a cape, and you might take off into the sky. If you see things in the world around you that are upsetting, invent a superpower to battle it, and it just might work. Of course they’re not always typically heroic powers intended for commbat with evil-doers. Sometimes they’re quite practical. Malcolm invented a scenario in which super heroes live together in a sort of dormitory, and they all have powers that come in handy around the house. There’s vacuum man and hose man and fan man and fire-starting man. Yes, they can save the world, but they can also keep a tidy house, cool you on a hot day and fill your swimming pool. Whilst walking through the woods, Malcolm and I saw a rusty oil drum. He told me that in World Tenn, a universe in which Malcolm and Isaac have different names, powers, sisters and flying dogs, the whole point is to stop things like that from happening. He told me that when they finish writing their book I’ll know a lot more about it. I can’t wait! If you were to ask me what superpowers I’d really like to have, I’d tell you I’d like to be as glowing and funny and singing as my Isaac. I’d like to be as bright and brave and vivid as Malcolm. I’d like to have their super creativity, and their super energy, and their super generosity in seeing everyone around them as capable of marvelous powers and heroic deeds, in seeing a world where you could have any power you want, just by wanting it.

salted almond praline

salted almond praline

This cake was gooooood! First I made a praline of salted almonds, skin and all. I keep buying salted almonds because, of course, they make a healthy snack for hungry boys. But nobody else notices they’re there, and I can’t resist them! So I decided to keep myself safe from them, and use up a few of them in a not-at-all healthy cake! Unassailable logic. So, first I made a praline of salted almonds. And then I pulverized that praline into a crumbly mess. Some big pieces, some quite small and powdery pieces. And I stirred this into a batter of ground almonds, melted chocolate, butter, strong coffee and eggs. And the result was a dense, delicious cake that I couldn’t resist! Damn. Very very good with fresh strawberries or raspberries or sliced pears and a dollop of whipped cream.

Here’s Old School by Danger Doom and Talib Kweli. I love it! And they talk about cartoon super heroes.
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Almond cake with chocolate chips and ginger

Almond cake with ginger and bittersweet chocolate chips

Almond cake with ginger and bittersweet chocolate chips

Clio’s attitude towards fetching a ball is “I could, but why would I?” Some people might think this is a sign of stupidity, but I disagree. (And not just because I’m her biggest fan!) I think it’s funny that people take it as a sign of intelligence if an animal acts like a human, or in a way that a human wants them to behave. I had a theory when I was much younger. (I had lots of theories when I was younger, I had all sorts of philosophies to explain the universe. And then I grew up and realized that everything is too shifting and complicated to be explained.) My theory was this, this was the theory that was mine. I thought that animals were wiser than humans, and that the way that they understood to live in the world made more sense than the way that we did. A cow, for instance, who spends her day eating sweet grass, feeling the sun on her back, watching her world change subtly around her, thinking god-only-knows what thoughts behind her beautiful cow eyes, has everything figured out on a fundamental level better than, say, some girl that goes to school, and has her lunch packed in plastic, and learns what she’s told to learn by people who laugh at her for saying that cows are wiser than humans. The fools! And then they’ll say, yes, but what about the fact that people build highways and cities and cars and cure diseases! And the girl with the theory says, “That doesn’t prove anything! We created a lot of the pollutants and carcinogens that cause the diseases in the first place! And highways and cities bind up the world and hurt it, and make it impossible for us to understand the wild magical truth of nature, which is the only true religion! The electric lights of our homes blind us to the variations of the gradually changing sunlight and moonlight all around us! Our walls and windows make us immune to the cool winds that blow the stagnation from our brains and make us alive! The animals understand that, look into their eyes! They feel the beauty and truth of the world around them in a way that we will never understand, and that’s why they are wiser than we will ever be!” Yes, I was a very strange child, and I grew up to talk about my past self in the third person! So I think Clio is a wise child, and very smart not to fetch the ball, but to joyfully run after it and toss it around and drop it wherever she wants to.

My boys go through phases with food – they’ll love something for a while and eat it every day, and then one day, they just don’t want it any more. It takes me a while to catch onto these mood swings, so I often find myself buying something they used to like, and then having to figure out some other way to use it up when they reject it. One such item is vanilla yogurt. Malcolm used to eat it by the tub, so I’d buy a big carton of it, and he’d scarf his way through it in no time. Lately he hasn’t wanted it. So I decided to use it in a cake. Yogurt makes cakes nice and dense, and I combined it, in this instance, with almonds. I whirled the almonds and yogurt together in the blender until they were perfectly smooth and creamy. This cake also has candied ginger, chocolate chips, and a few spoonfuls of marmalade, so it’s a lovely cake, simple, but complexly flavored. Comforting yet piquant. If you don’t have vanilla yogurt, you can use plain, but you might want to add an extra smidge of vanilla flavoring, and be generous when you measure the sugar.

Here’s Done by the Forces of Nature by the Jungle Brothers

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