I'm getting old. I don't mean that the way I usually do, when I'm looking at my gray hair in a mirror and having an existential crisis about wasting my life. My body is getting old. Unlike birthdays and gray hairs, people don't feel the need to tiptoe around that one - with each day that passes, each holiday we celebrate, each wedding we attend, each baby that is born, there is someone there to remind me that if we want a baby, we need to get on it because my body has only a few more "safe" fertile years left in it.
As I approach my mid-thirties, with only a soon-to-be 11-year-old cat to call my baby, I am reminded of all the things Mister and I have said over the years, regarding procreation and why we really have no interest in it. For most of our time together, Mister has traveled extensively for work. Babies would interfere with that in multiple ways - I didn't want to explain why Daddy was away so much and I didn't want to resent my offspring for preventing me from going with him. That is a tangible example of the underlying theme of Mister's and my decision to remain childless - we are just too selfish. Neither of us has come to a point in our lives where we can see children fitting in - rather, for us and our lives, children would be an interference of sorts.
Before you decide I am the worst human being ever and take my uterus away, hear me out. I have a very high opinion of mothers, which is the primary reason I am not one. I think mothers (generally) are the most selfless, loving, patient, amazing humans on the planet. From the moment of conception, a mother gives and continues giving until she finally takes her last breath. A mother cares about your hurt no matter how mean you were to her in the midst of it. A mother works solely so her children can have what they want, since their needs are more than met; or, a mother stops working so her children can benefit from her attention and love as they grow. A mother is always thinking of what is best for her children (okay, maybe not always, but it sure seems like it sometimes) and doing whatever it takes to show her love to them.
I admire those qualities. I think if I needed to, I could cultivate them because I can feel them lying dormant inside me. I just have no desire right now to be that person.
Believe it or not, although I do love my mother with all my heart, she was not the inspiration for all that mushy. Believe it or not, that was all to build up to this ridiculous idea I had: to cook a whole night of recipes from Mama Pea. I admire the way she raises her children and if you read her blog for just one week, you will be as hopelessly hooked as I am. Lucky for you, she just revamped her recipeas page so all of her awesome is easier to find. You want easier? She has a book coming out soon - you can (and should) pre-order it on Amazon.
Anyway, for my first trick (AKA Dinner), I made her Meatless Meatloaf. This was actually on last week's menu, but I chickened out last week. I made it tonight by sheer force of will and at this point, morbid curiosity. Now, I'm kicking myself for ever having doubted Mama Pea - I've been reading her blog long enough to know better.
It's really not very attractive...but then again, neither is "real" meatloaf. What matters is the extraordinary taste. No offense, Mom (I love you!), but this loaf of mystery meat was far more flavorful than the gray loaf of ground beef we ate in my childhood. Of course, I'm inclined to think chickpeas taste better than cows, but I know my mother and I differ there.
To go along with the theme, I sauteed some Yukon Gold potatoes in a mixture of olive oil, vegetable broth, garlic, and Mediterranean seasoning from California. They were good, but were far overshadowed, flavor-wise, by the 'meatloaf.'
Turns out, though, that together, they complemented each other - the intense flavors of the loaf enhancing the potatoes while they calmed the seasonings in the loaf. I think Mister might have preferred that both components of dinner not be smushy, but he seemed to like it nonetheless and thanked me for making "funny dinner."
For my next trick, I decided to make this amazing recipe for Apple Spice Coffee Cake that Mama Pea just posted over the weekend.
It looked amazing going into the oven, although I made a huge mess of everything putting it together! There are a lot of ingredients, possibly more than I had bargained for, so it took me quite a bit longer than I had anticipated. If I realized how inefficient I was in my kitchen (after all, I am still getting used to it), I would have started at least a half hour earlier than I did.
Nevertheless, it was fun putting it all together - I rarely make things that have a crumb/streusel topping because it's such a pain in the you-know-what. My "small" bowl was way too small, so I had to upgrade before smushing in the Earth Balance, and my fork was frustrating me - I had run out of patience at this point, so I just rubbed it all together with my fingers. This is not the best idea when you have long fingernails. So, after I had coaxed the last bits of topping from under my rings and fingernails into the sink, I finally got this sucker in the oven.
One of the reasons I love making spice cakes or cookies is because they start smelling good when you are mixing everything together and the aroma only gets better throughout the assembling and cooking process. Most of the time, by the time I get to remove my treasure from the oven, I'm almost literally drooling. There's also something about the scent that fills my kitchen while baking these delights that is just so patently "homey."
To borrow a phrase... oh. my. peas!
My pictures aren't as pretty as Mama Pea's, but I haven't taken any seminars on how to do anything more than point-and-shoot, and my camera is adequate, but nothing "special." Regardless, I certainly hope my cake tastes as good as Mama Pea's because I can't imagine it getting much better!
The pain-in-the-butt streusel topping was absolutely worth every sliver of Earth Balance that got stuck beneath my nails, trapping with it some cinnamon and brown sugar and maybe a piece of oat for added comfort. What was the most amazing thing, though, was the way the two textures came together. The top was undeniably crunchy, almost crisp, but the cake itself was light and pillow-soft.
Speaking of pillows....
I'm really bad at going to sleep by a reasonable hour.
Good night, folks!