A Bit of Gleam

Made a bee sting cake on Monday and it was not bad. A new recipe, and oh my, is it good. I have been craving honey lately – pouring it on Irish oats and mixing it in with tea – and when I came across that cake recipe, I was all in. I think it’s good to add something new to the menu now and then, even as a habit and regularly, and that cake is a fine example. Because my word for this year is “Life,” I’ve been thinking up all kinds of new things to add to my life, too, to round out the corners and shine it up a bit. Really LIVING a life includes letting go of some things, too, and that list is a bit more challenging.

I have let go of cleaning the entire house every Saturday, something I’ve done most of my life, and I’m finding it doesn’t need that kind of attention since the kids left and I’ve grown older. Now I focus more on cleaning up as I go, and no longer give an entire day each week to gathering up the dust. It’s futile, in a way, if you think about it. I mean, we live on a planet made of dust and who are we to think we can keep a house dust-free?

I’ve let go of sitting down to a meal at the dining room table each night. Another routine kept while the kids were around more, and it was healthful and important to do each night. Now, though, Mr. S and I have been a bit creative at dinnertime. Sometimes we sit at the island in the kitchen. Sometimes we even stand. We’ve been eating out on the deck now and then, and down in the family room while watching the news, and sometimes we skip dinner and go right to dessert. Amen to that. I’m finding what’s important isn’t so much a big spread of food; what’s important is a break and conversation, and sometimes a loaf of bread and some wine and cheese and apples does the trick.

I’ve let go of wearing makeup each day. Mr. S thinks I’m a “looker” (ha) without it, and putting on mascara has never been a process I enjoy. Now I wash my face and put on a bit of blush (or pinch my cheeks a few times) and some lipstick, and I’m good to go. I spend less time in the shower and more in the bath and, let me tell you and I hope you know, a good long bath can be a holiday in itself.

Let go last week of all the clothes I haven’t worn in the last year, and two boxes of books I’ve read and likely won’t read again. Let go of everything expired in the cupboards and fridge, and a whole bunch of tax papers and old receipts and birthday cards from over the years. I’m certainly not done; are we ever done letting go? Thing is, every time you let go of a thing, something takes its place.

My plan, before summer’s heat arrives, is to go through this house from end to end, corner to corner, and let go of a good hundred pounds or two of things neither practical or loved, and replace each with time or space or something new. Ways to make more interesting this aging Life of mine, shine it up, let go of the detritus and add a bit of gleam. It’s possible, you know, to make it all more meaningful. Just takes some time and space, and thoughtfulness. All right there for your wide-open arms.

This one I served still warm, with some homemade whipped cream on the side. I’m thinking it’ll work just fine for a summer dinner on the deck, and ice cream, after a meal of grilled brats and a big ol’ bowl of potato salad.

German Bee Sting Cake

1 stick plus 6 T butter, softened, divided
3/4 cup honey, divided
2 tsp vanilla extract, divided
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 3/4 cups plus 1T flour
1 T baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 (3.4-ounce) package Jell-O instant vanilla pudding and pie filling mix

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Coat bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray, and line bottom with wax paper; set aside.

In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, melt 6 T butter and 1/2 cup honey. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 1 tsp vanilla and the almonds; let cool.
In a large bowl, beat remaining 1 stick butter and the sugar until creamy. Add remaining 1/4 cup honey, the eggs, and remaining 1 tsp vanilla; beat until thoroughly mixed.

In a medium bowl, combine 1-3/4 cups flour, baking powder, and salt; mix well. Gradually beat flour mixture and milk into batter until smooth. Spread batter evenly in pan. Sprinkle remaining 1 T flour on top, and lightly press down with fingers. Pour almond mixture evenly over flour.

Place pan on baking sheet and bake 30 to 35 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool. Remove springform pan ring, invert cake onto baking sheet, and remove bottom of pan and wax paper. Invert cake top side up onto platter. Slice cake in half horizontally.

In a medium bowl, beat heavy cream until stiff. Add pudding mix and beat until thoroughly combined. Spread mixture onto bottom half of cake. Place top of cake over cream mixture. Serve or refrigerate until ready to serve.


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