21 October, 2012

To do : Say no. Bake a cake.

Yesterday was the first day of rest I have had in quite some time.  I had to fight against myself in order to keep it that way, though.  It can be difficult to say "no" to the many good things going on in this area -- or to say "no" without feeling as though you must also provide a detailed, incontestable reason for your unavailability!  This week I forced myself to say "no," to protect this one day on the calendar, though it seemed a selfish thing to do.  I didn't have any conflicting plans last night; I simply knew that my body was exhausted, running on empty.  There is no shame in listening to your body; there is no shame in lying low now and then.  After all, what can I pour from an empty cup?

A quiet day offers a choice:  to fill it with distraction, or make a true cessation -- the restoring pause between labors.  I aspired toward the latter; "restful" activities can easily become passive amusement (I'm looking at you, Hulu), providing my mind a break but not enriching it in any way.  I had a short list of things to accomplish, catching up on household chores and taking my car to the repair shop, but there were also things on the list that would rebuild me.  Bake.  Read a book not related to work.  :)  Listen to good music.  Do some calligraphy.  Write a letter.  Don't check email so often.

Busy does not always equal effective.  The days with short to-do lists are sometimes the deepest, the best.

Upside-down Apple Cider Cake


Spiced Hard Apple Cider // Great Shoals Winery
Toward the end of the day I unleashed my baking urge upon our tiny kitchen!  I didn't have much of a plan, but I knew that I wanted to use apple cider.  About a month ago I went to the Maryland Wine Festival and came home with a bottle of delicious Spiced Apple Cider from Great Shoals Winery.  We opened it last week for my mom's birthday celebration, but didn't finish all of it.  It had since lost its fizz but still had a lovely spiced taste, so I didn't want it to go to waste.  After a bit of searching, I landed on this recipe and got to work!  I prepared the whole thing in my handy cast iron skillet, and was fairly liberal with some of my favorite spices since the recipe is a bit vague in that area! I used a generous teaspoon each of cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg (possibly more cinnamon...Honestly, I wasn't measuring!).  The result is delicious.  The apples caramelized beautifully, and I can definitely pick up on the bright spiced cider (don't worry, all the alcohol cooks off).  A fine finish to a peaceful day.