Gratitude- now!

I know, here I go again with gratitude and all that. It is sometimes how I get through the day. Well, that and making lists. As I sit in my “office” for hours a day, working on lessons, answering emails from students, colleagues, family, and the big wide world, listening to music clips sent to me as “homework” by Son #2 as he works from home, daydreaming, and occasionally checking Facebook, I am struck by how quickly life has changed for all of us in the span of three weeks. From a cancelled Spring Break trip to Paris and Provence to a stay-at-home order from the mayor of my city, which I fully support.

So, without further ado, here is what I am grateful for right now (in no particular order other than when it pops into my head):

-Memories. The postcard photo above is one sent to me December 8, 1981 by my college roommate and best friend, Melody. I found it not long ago while cleaning out some stuff and now have it propped up where I can see it every day. She is no longer with us, not for about 27 years or so. The French would say “Elle a disparu.” She disappeared and that is exactly how I feel she left me. But I have so many happy memories of our escapades and adventures. I promise a blog soon about our time in France in 1978.

-Vanilla Chai Tea with a little bit of milk and lavender honey. Smells heavenly and tastes really good.

-A good book. I just finished The Room on Rue Amélie, set in Paris (bien sûr) by Kristen Harmel. I will send it by mail to anyone who wants to read it. I can share!

-Baking. Banana bread, cookies, scones, muffins, baguettes. I am almost out of all-purpose flour so I am going on a scavenger hunt as soon as I finish this blog post. Help, King Arthur! Come rescue me. I will also share baked goods. Just like Judy C. shared her levain with me yesterday. Found it sitting on the porch. Now, to find the bread flour to make the baguettes…

-Students emailing or using Microsoft Teams to ask me questions. It makes me feel useful. Please, kiddos, I need to hear from you!

-Walking every day. The Ex-Ex is going out with me every day. Yoo hoo! And the BFF and I keep trying to coordinate our schedules. It will happen. Soon. We consider it free therapy.

-Spring. On those walks, I see something new blooming every day. The flowers and trees know nothing about Covid-19 nor do they care. And the birds I hear singing to each other outside my window. Oh, to be oblivious.

-And my darling granddaughter, Mlle K. I deliver food to her mommy and daddy just so I can see her. Shhhh! Don’t tell them.

My friend and traveling buddy, Betty G, made me start thinking about a wonderful recipe, so here it is. Just in case you are running out of flour, too.

Flourless Chocolate Cake

makes 12-16 servings, depending on how large you cut the slices

From Williams-Sonoma’s Essentials of French Cooking

1/2 c. (4 oz / 125 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for buttering the pan

1 c. (8 oz / 250 g) granulated sugar

8 oz. (250 g) bittersweet chocolate, chopped

8 oz. (250 g) semisweet (plain) chocolate, chopped

6 large eggs, at room temperature

Hot water

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Freshly whipped cream, optional

Raspberries, optional

Preheat the oven to 350˚F (180˚C).  Cut a circle of parchment paper to fit the bottom of a 9-inch (23-cm) round cake pan.  Generously butter the pan and parchment circle.  Place the parchment in the pan.
In a saucepan over medium-high heat, combine 1 cup (8 oz / 250 ml) water and 3/4 cup (6 oz / 185 g) of the sugar and cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves and a light syrup is formed, about 5 minutes.
In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the 1/2 c. butter.  Add the bittersweet and semisweet chocolates and whisk until melted, about 4 minutes.  Whisk in the sugar syrup and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs with the remaining 1/4 cup (2 oz / 65 g) sugar and vanilla until pale yellow, about 3 minutes.  Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture until incorporated.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan.  Place the pan inside a larger baking pan.  Pour hot water into the larger pan until it reaches halfway up the side of the cake pan.
Bake until the center jiggles only slightly when the pan is shaken, 45-50 minutes.  Transfer the cake to a wire rack to cool completely.
Run a knife around the edge of the pan, place a parchment or aluminum foil covered plate on top of the cake, and invert them together to unmold the cake.  Carefully peel off the parchment from the cake.  Place another cake plate on top of the cake and invert again.  Discard the parchment.  Loosely cover the cake with aluminum foil or plastic wrap until ready to serve.
To serve, cut the cake into wedges.  Spiff it up with whipped cream and raspberries, if desired.

Bon appétit! What’s on your gratitude list? If it’s a someone, be sure and let them know. Send a note, pick up the phone and call or send a text/email. I am sending random postcards and having fun doing it! Stay safe, mes amis. And wash your hands!

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