Hi guys! Now, I know Julia Child said a hostess should never apologize, but since this isn’t a meal we’re talking about per se, I’d like to start off with an apology. I don’t know to what extent you’ve noticed or been bothered by it – I’ve tried to fix or get fixed everything as quickly as possible, but quickly is never quick enough when you’re the harried one trying to make it happen! – but we’ve been dealing with some little (ok, and some big) glitches with the website over the past couple of weeks.
I loooove the new site, the look, the new functionality, everything, but we’ve been having some totally unanticipated (obviously! If they’d been anticipated, we’d have done something preventive beforehand!) problems with the server host and with data usage issues, which have caused the site to crash three times now in, what? two weeks? Ugh. I’m sincerely sorry that this has happened at all, let alone more than once. I’m mortified. It hasn’t been anyone’s fault, just unexpected stuff that happens and has to be dealt with, and it’s been dealt with absolutely as fast as possible each of those times. There’s a learning curve with this stuff, and sometimes I feel like I’ve gone shooting off the curve entirely (I’m telling you, I’m really bad with computers and internet things and technology. So bad.). I’m really sorry if you’ve been bothered by it, and we’ll keep doing our best to prevent future problems.
Can we still be friends?
The other big news this week – besides the fact that my committee meeting actually went really well and I came back totally inspired and motivated to work harder than ever on my dissertation, and how often does that happen? – is that we found out on Wednesday that we’re having a little boy!
This is SO exciting and cool. And, me being me, it also sent me off into a major panic attack. Of course.
Seeing the baby with everything developing healthily so far (YAY!!! Continuing to keep fingers crossed for the next 4 months…), and knowing it would be a boy, and working on registering for all the gear that we’re going to need, made everything seem really concrete and really intimidating. I feel like a lot of pregnancy is like, “yay, babies!” and you have this little imaginary friend that you cary around with you, and you talk to it and feel it move around, and people are happy for you that you have an imaginary friend. But then, you see, real imaginary friends don’t, after a number of months, suddenly come kicking and screaming into the world with wants and needs that you have to somehow figure out how to fulfill when, in fact, you know nothing about babies or children or parenting.
You can read all the books in the world, and get all the advice in the world, but there still is no way to actually know what you’re doing. You’re dealing with an individual! And, I’m a person who rather likes to know what she’s doing. I like to be at least somewhat skilled at something before I start doing it in front of anyone at all, and that’s just not something that’s going to happen (with a baby, even if no one else is there, the baby is there, and totally counts, and is totally going to be judging, I just know it!). I find that a little terrifying.
So my mind has been in a tizzy of, “oh my gosh. what am I doing? I don’t know how to do this. I’m going to drop it or smash it or lose it or not be able to understand what it needs or not be able to give it what it needs.” And then, “what if I don’t like the baby? What if it’s just like this baby that’s sitting there and I don’t know what to do with it. What if I’m a terrible mother? I’m going to be a terrible mother!” Those kinds of things.
I know it’s quite normal to go through phases of panic before having a child – it says so in my books! But it still feels bad to have them. It feels like there must be something wrong with you when everyone else is so thrilled for you, but you’re feeling more scared than thrilled. At least at that moment.
But that’s the good thing about it, that it’s all just moments. And the moments of sheer terror pass and the moments of elation come again. I started to calm back down yesterday afternoon and remember all the reasons why I was, and am, excited, how I’m not doing any of this alone, and how even if you could parent perfectly, it would probably be way less fun than muddling through and figuring out your own way. Right? (Please just say I’m right.) After all, imperfection provides much better material for stories.
Also, for the first time ever I received flowers for mother’s day! Including hydrangeas from Squid (the dog) and little baby boy (I’m hazarding a guess their dad had something to do with it). That was awfully cool. And, because I have, for several days, had a serious craving for rhubarb crumble cake, I made myself a mother’s day cake.
The universe was extremely obliging, and supplied a number of possible recipes to sate my craving, without my even directly asking. I had the thought, and then rhubarb crumble cake and muffin recipes started popping up everywhere. I’m sure this has nothing to do with it being rhubarb season.
I decided to take one from Food52, ever an inspiration, and adapt it to suit my, well let’s just call it a need. This is a somewhat unusual cake in that it has no leavening apart from whole eggs, whipped like crazy into a creamy yellow fluff. This, folded together with moderate amounts of sugar, butter, and flour, gives you a cake that has a richly moist, intensely buttery, soft and pillowy crumb. Which is just exactly what I want in a simple fruit studded cake. The richness and sweetness are perfectly cut by the tangy pieces of rhubarb, which melt into compote-like puddles dotting the cake.
I love rhubarb. Love. So, I added it in a quantity such that there are almost equivalent amounts of rhubarb and cake. Don’t bury your rhubarb, strut it out, I say! Then, the pebbly crumble on top adds a nice bit of sandy crunch to a cake that is in all other ways a big old softy. You could serve this cake with yogurt for breakfast, by itself for coffee or tea, or with a bit of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream for dessert.
Do your mom proud, or yourself proud, or rhubarb proud, or all of the above. Bake a cake!
- For the crumble:
- ¼ cup all purpose or white whole wheat flour
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- 2 Tbs. butter (I used salted and really liked the extra punch of salt)
- For the cake:
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- ½ tsp. salt
- 6 Tbs. butter, melted (again, I used salted, but unsalted will also be good)
- 1¼ cup all purpose flour (or white whole wheat flour)
- 2½ cups rhubarb (I used 3 fat stalks), cut into half-inch thick pieces
- Preheat your oven to 350F. Grease an 8 or a 9 inch cake pan.
- To make the crumble, put the ¼ cup flour, brown sugar, ¼ tsp. salt, and 2 Tbs. butter into a small bowl. Use your fingers to rub them together until all combined and you have pea-sized lumps. Set aside.
- Combine the eggs, 1 cup sugar, ½ tsp. salt, and vanilla extract in the bowl of a standing mixer, or another mixing bowl. Beat on high speed with the wire whisk attachment (or a hand held mixer) until tripled in volume, about 5 minutes.
- Gently fold in the melted butter. Then, fold in the flour and rhubarb until mostly combined. Spread the cake batter into the pan, and sprinkle the crumble evenly over the top.
- Bake the cake until it it is nicely browned on the top and a toothpick comes out clean, about 60-65 minutes for a 9-inch pan, about 65-75 minutes for an 8-inch pan.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool before removing it from the cake pan. Or just allow it to cool slightly and then cut it and serve it warm from the cake pan! The cake should keep for a few days, covered with foil or plastic wrap.