Not much compares to opening the mailbox and seeing a hand-addressed letter peeking out between the bills, junk mail and advertisements. In this day of email, text messages and instant communication, receiving items like this are becoming more rare. It is much more likely that the card waiting in your mailbox is from a ninety-year-old family member than from one of your friends. Don’t get me wrong…the card from said ninety-year-old thrills me, but there is nothing like hearing from an old friend.
This year for my birthday, I received not one but two real-live birthday cards in the mail. As you can guess, I was giddy. As I walked back to the house, anxious to tear them open, I recognized the handwriting on each of them. Named on the return addresses were two of my oldest and closest friends. Memories of conversations, vacations and good times instantly filled my head.
Now here’s the funny part: These oldest and closet friends are not friends that I see daily, weekly, or even monthly. In fact, months may go by and I’ve realized we haven’t talked in all that time. But then you do, and it’s as if you haven’t skipped a beat. All your inside jokes are still hilarious, you laugh loudly and heartily, and you remember just why you’ve remained friends all these years. They know your secrets and your history. You can confide in them knowing they will never judge you, but that they will be honest and tell you what they think, even if it might be something you don’t want to hear. These are the friends you can count on for anything, anytime.
Perhaps in a perfect world, you would stay in touch more regularly with these good friends. But with busy schedules, jobs and families, it doesn’t always work out that way. Excuse the cliché, but life really does get in the way. And for me, because of that, it makes having friends like this that much more important.
When I read those birthday cards, I welled up, filled with gratitude for having these two friends. There would be so many times in my life would have been so very different without them. They are a part of me. They are a part of my past. And they are most certainly a part of my future.
Share this cake with a good friend. Eat, talk, laugh and reconnect. Be glad you have them.
Pretty in Pink Cake
(Strawberry and Cherimoya Cake)
8 ounces flour
4 ounces sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
1/4 cup slivered toasted almonds
4 ounces milk
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup cherimoya puree, seeds removed*
1/2 cup diced strawberries
1/2 cup cherimoya puree, seeds removed*
1 cup diced strawberries
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
Preheat the oven to 350°.
In a large bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients. In another bowl, whisk together all the wet ingredients. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Pour batter into a greased loaf pan. Bake for 50 minutes, until a tester inserted into the middle comes out clean.
Meanwhile, put all glaze ingredients into a blender. Blend until completely pureed. Pour glaze through a sieve into a saucepan. Heat to a simmer and let simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and reserve.
When cake comes out of the oven, let cool about 5 minutes. Remove from loaf pan and transfer onto wire rack. Drizzle top and sides with glaze. (Glaze will soak in to cake as it sits.) When serving, drizzle with extra sauce.
*Note: Cherimoya seeds are toxic if broken open, so be sure to carefully remove all seeds from flesh.
As I’ve said about a hundred times, my ability to create baked goods without using a recipe is sub-par. I’m just not good at it. The cake I made prior to this is now named “Awful Cake” in my recipe notebook. So you can imagine my surprise when this little beauty came out of the oven looking like an actual cake. And better yet, tasted like a cake. And even better still, tasted really good!
This cake is so moist and has a very delicate flavor. The cherimoya gives it an overall hint of tropical fruit, to me almost like papaya. The almonds sprinkled throughout give it a little crunch and the strawberries a tart sweetness. Topped with a pretty pink glaze, this cake won my heart.
Now after all this talk, I think I have some phone calls to make…or maybe some cards to get in the mail…