I don’t like to wax philosophical (too much) on this blog. For one, I don’t believe I have much additional wisdom to add to the pool of generally greeting-card-friendly and quotable collective wisdom of the internet. For two, I don’t believe that’s why people would ever come to this blog, because, well, see #1.
But today, my heart feels all warm, like a chocolate chip cookie right out of the oven. Parts of my heart feel like melted chocolate chips, and parts of my heart feel like warm doughy cookie. I feel grateful for being alive. I feel grateful for my wonderful friends, my disfunctionally loving family, and for all the experiences that make up the 26 years I’ve been alive. And I want to fucking share it.
I know that I take things for granted. I do it all the time. Like, today, I took for granted that my sister would have a lemon zester in her house. Some time, if you want, you and I can sit down and discuss the finer points of scraping zest off a lemon with a dull serrated knife. Maybe not today, to be honest, because at this very moment all I remember is a lot of lemon juice in my eye. But one day. You and me. Maybe over a cup of tea and some of this lemon poppyseed cake.
Here’s what I’m trying to say, readers. Can we make a corny analogy? Can we link this post to this cake? So, this morning I heard a piece on NPR about this 70-year study on happiness. I had read an article [disclaimer: it's long] about this study, and it really made me think about the concept of happiness in general. Specifically….ready?….the RECIPE for happiness. For this cake, I combined all the ingredients in a specific order, put it in the oven, and it resulted in a cake. But what are the proportions of my happiness? How much flour do I need? How much baking powder? If I add too much baking powder, will my happiness collapse?
I know everyone’s happiness is different. Maybe some recipes turn into lemon poppyseed cakes. Maybe some turn into muffins or scones, and maybe some turn into tofu. Maybe some get burnt and maybe some never fully cook. I can’t tell you what goes into my own happiness, but I can tell you that, somehow, despite my general clumsiness in the kitchen, happiness keeps coming out of the oven of my heart (did you like that?). And this lemon poppyseed cake came out of the oven of the kitchen. And that, my friends, makes me incredibly lucky.
So here’s my stolen wisdom, because everything I believe about happiness has already been summed up much more eloquently than I could ever express. To be happy…
Lemon Poppy Seed Cake
adapted from the Food Network
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour (i mixed all-purpose and whole wheat pastry flour, because that is the recipe for my own happiness)
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup cornstarch (so i totally omitted this and added like 1/4 cup more flour…the earth did not open up and swallow me, and the cake did not collapse)
1 tablespoon poppy seeds (i upped this to almost 1/4 cup…I like poppyseeds)
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup skim milk
2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest (i upped this to a tbsp)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 large egg
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease and flour an 8 by 12 inch cake pan, knocking out excess flour.
In a bowl whisk together flour, sugar, cornstarch, poppyseeds, baking powder, and salt and with fingers blend in butter until incorporated. In a large measuring cup, lightly beat together milk, zest, vanilla and egg.
Stir milk mixture into flour mixture until just blended and pour batter into pan. Bake cake for 35 minutes or until tester comes out clean. Remove cake from pan and cool on rack.