Happy New Year! Hopefully 2012 is treating you all well so far. My year started with house guests and a busy work schedule, so I haven't had much time for blogging. But I had this weekend off, which means time to bake, so I now I have a bunch of stuff to share. First, though, I wanted to write about my ideas for what I want for my life in 2012.
I don't do New Year's resolutions. But last week, I read an intriguing post on my friend Anandi's blog. Rather than starting off the year with resolutions, she came up with a single word to use as her theme for the year. She shared a post from Ali Edwards, who has been doing One Little Word for a number of years now. The idea is to come up with one word that stands for what you want for yourself for the year. I started reading through the comments on Ali's post where others had shared the words they picked and why they chose them. Some were interesting, but after a little bit of reading I found the one that really spoke to me. FOCUS. That's what I want for my life this year.
I struggle a lot with stress and anxiety--I'm a worrier by nature. The more things that are going on, the more I feel overwhelmed and unable to figure out where to start. So I don't. I just shut down and avoid dealing with anything. I also worry way too much about being perfect and about what others think, instead of figuring out what's right for me. Already, I see my daughter Brianna (who'll be nine this month) struggling with these same things. I want to provide a better example for her. I need to focus on doing a better job of taking care of me so I can do a better job of taking care of everyone and everything else. I need to focus and handle one thing at a time. Heck, I need to slow down and figure out which things really need to be handled by me, which can be handled by someone else, and which things just aren't that important.
Sometimes I feel like I'm forty years old and I still don't really know what I want to be when I grow up. I tend to go with the flow and do what's expected of me, instead of figuring out what I really want. I've struggled with that a lot in the past year. It's really hard for me to say no when someone else wants me to do something, and even when I do say no, I end up feeling really guilty. I need to focus on that inner voice, listen to it, and give up the guilt. I suspect it's going to take me the entire year (maybe longer) to get good at all these things. And that's okay.
When I shared with Anandi that I was going to do One Little Word this year along with her, she asked if I was going to write about it, or "maybe bake a cake with FOCUS iced onto it?" Well, here you go! It was too good an idea to pass up. The great thing about this cake is that it's really quick and easy to make, and it's delicious. It was published in Fine Cooking in 2004, and I've made it quite a few times since then, but have never blogged about it. The recipe is from one of my favorite authors of chocolate recipes, Alice Medrich. One reason I love her is that she most often uses natural cocoa, which I prefer. I broke out the good stuff--Scharffen Berger--since cocoa provides all the chocolate flavor in the cake itself. Once the cake is cooled, you top it with ganache for another punch of chocolate flavor. To be honest, I've topped the warm cake with ganache and promptly eaten it with vanilla ice cream, and it's quite fabulous that way. This time, though, I made sure the cake was cool and then let the ganache set for several hours so I'd be able to decorate it.
The verdict? Anything with chocolate is well-received in this house, and this was no exception. =) As soon as Brianna and Gillian saw it, they wanted to know how soon they could have some. One thing I really like about this cake is its size--just the one layer, so we actually get through all of it while it's still at its best.
If you'd like to try the cake for yourself, you can find it here at Fine Cooking. (The recipe appears to be available to all, not just website subscribers.) If you're thinking of picking a word for yourself, Ali compiled a list from the comments on her post--you can find it here, and see what speaks to you.
Stay tuned for more posts this week. I've come up with some ideas for what I want to focus on here on my blog this year. I want variety, as well as the chance to share lots of things that I like, and I think I've come up with a good way to do that.