the recipe series

lemon blueberry cake life lessons

I baked a cake on Saturday.

I had this urge when I woke up early Saturday morning to attempt to bake a cake.

Yes, I said attempt. 

I used to be a from a box cake baker, blasphemy I know, but when I was in Spain and was going to make a wedding cake, obviously I needed to make it from scratch. I found a great recipe and it worked out incredibly well.
But, sadly, that recipe never translated to the states.

So, on Saturday I decided I was going to take it slow. I was going to make sure all of my mise en place was done and that I didn’t deviate from the recipe at all.

I even purchased a flour sifter.


When I was young, a tiny human if you will, I was a straight A student. I was quiet and kind and did my work.

But, I had one issue:

I sometimes did things too fast.

Mainly, art and handwriting. I was notorious for having to redo coloring sheets and the first paper I ever typed blew my mind.

I also talked too fast (which I blame obviously on being a Reeve woman). But, the talking too fast was something that caused me to have to repeat myself a lot because when I talked to fast I couldn’t be understood. It wasn’t necessarily my fault, as a weird medical issue I had growing up hindered my speech slightly. 

It was frustrating.

That constant conscious effort to remember to slow down ALL THE TIME and the terror of speaking in front of class.

Now public speaking and teaching and all that type of stuff is mostly fine (as long as it’s my idea and not an on the fly thing) but slowing down all together isn’t something I’m great at.

There are reasons why I don’t slow down. Part of it is because I’m busy. I need to go, go go and get all the things done. Like on any day of the week at about 1:15 you can find me trying to will tiny humans to sleep because I have 15 things I need to do. I am always at least thirty minutes ahead in my brain transitioning to the next thing and finding the holes.

And sometimes I don’t slow down because I don’t want to pause.

God’s been bringing me back around to things I had long thought were done the last couple weeks. I have been busy doing all the things that I do and attempting to add more to my page and the minute I pause, the thing is there, standing in front of me, reminding me that I still need to deal.

So, I put pausing on my to-do list and keep going.

If I don’t slow down it can’t catch me right?

So, Saturday I slowed down. I juiced lemons and I sifted flour. I mixed slowly and wait for cakes to cool and frosting to thaw back out. I sipped coffee and scrubbed dishes with all the windows in my house open.


I forgot what happens when you allow everything space to do what it needs to do.

My cake turned out beautifully. Tangy with lemon and bursting with blueberries. Moist and spongy and surprisingly light.


I think the next season of my life potentially might involve coming back around to things. Things that go deeper then I thought, and maybe put a mark on my life that I was unaware was still there.

When you over mix cake batter it can get dense and chewy because the gluten will form elastic gluten strands. It ruins the cake.

What happens in our life when we choose to ignore the things that keep coming back because we’ve already dealt with them? What happens when we choose to over mix all the things in our life because we just want to be done?

Slowing down and actually resting is the struggle of my life. I’m going to attempt it more and more and maybe just make the practice of baking when I need to slow down.

So, my encouragement to you is this: find what YOU need to pause. Find the thing that slows your brain and your heart and your whole self. Make that thing a part of your soul work and see what happens.

the recipe series

The Recipe Series: Community Cheesecake

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I had never made a cheesecake before I set foot in Bellingham. If I am being 100% honest, cheesecakes aren’t my favorite. I mean, yes I can crush a Cheesecake Factory cheesecake, but the thought of mixing together that much cream cheese didn’t sound appetizing.

Enter my friend Joanna.

Joanna can’t eat a handful of things because of allergies and when the time came that I would have to bake something for a lunch she’d be at I took it as a challenge.

Enter cheesecake.

Cheesecake with coconut sugar and an agave nectar sweetened shortbread crust. Top with fresh berries. It was more tart then cheesecake the first time I made it. But it seemed to be a winner so I tried it again for friendsgiving.

I got a little fancier with this one adding homemade whipped cream. The cheesecake was a little more cheesecake like this time around and I think much more delicious.

But, I honestly didn’t think I’d make another cheesecake, I thought it would more a recipe I could tuck into my pocket for a rainy day.

Then, my lovely friend Joanna and her then fiancé now husband Patrick asked if I’d make a dozen for their wedding.

Duh.

It took my three days, one family trip to Costco, waaaaaay too many ounces of cream cheese, multiple trips to the store, filling my entire fridge with said cheesecakes, 9 spring forms, 12 microwave covers, a trip to the farmers market and of course one maid of honor turned soul sister.

And I would do it all again tomorrow. (Though maybe I would steal their kitchen aid this time).

I love baking for people. I love giving my time and producing something that someone will enjoy.

And it might not always look perfect. It might not work out each time. But when it does…man.


I made two more cheesecakes last week. One for a bachelorette party and one that I had made a mental note in my head to make after seeing that Joanna and Patrick only had one slice of the dozen at their wedding.

The one from the bachelorette party barely got eaten. So it just sat in my fridge for two days as the whirlwind of (another) wedding weekend happened. And Saturday night after this beautiful, holy moment took place, my crew of people ending up at my house before going out.

And we grabbed the cheesecake out of the fridge and set in on the counter and people grabbed forks and spoon and dug in.

It was messy, and there were crumbs in the floor and a couple stray pieces got left behind. To me, right there in that moment though, was perfection. We didn’t need plates or chairs or even a table. We just need the laughter and something to stand around and lean on.

And it was more than ok that we made a mess.
That’s what cooking and baking and creating in the kitchen is to me. It’s not necessarily in the perfectly made pastry, or the chocolate chip cookie that’s the same size as the other 11 in the dozen.

It’s about making a bit of a mess, and laughing and inviting people into your creation.

Really, to me, baking and cooking is about community.

It’s how I bring people together.

Be it a dozen cheesecakes for a wedding, or one eaten with plastic forks directly out of the pan as the woman changed out of their heels.

So, maybe attempt something you haven’t before, or maybe just make a friend a grilled cheese in a cold day. See what happens and what you can create when make a bit of a mess and allow someone in along the way.

the recipe series, washington whimsy

The Recipe Series: an international wedding cake 

Edit

1 cup sugar. Half a cup of Greek yogurt. Half a cup of milk. 1 and a quarter cup of flour. Third a cup of oil. 1 and a quarter teaspoon of baking powder. A splash of vanilla. 20 minutes in the oven at 180 degrees Celsius makes one layer of a five layer cake. Repeat times 7 (because you need back up cakes)That is how you make the layers for a five layer wedding cake with one 9 inch round and a hit & miss oven in the south of Spain.


I remember when I got a random Facebook message from Whitney- a woman I had never met. She told me that Tiffany and Abby had told her that I made wedding cakes. (Fact: I had made one wedding cake) And she wanted to know if when I got to Spain I would like to make the wedding cake for Esther, Andrew and Mo’s daughter.

That wasn’t terrifying at all.

You see, Andrew is the founder for G42, the leadership academy I went to in Spain and at that point in my pre-Spain brain, I was scared of meeting him, because I had a feeling he would be a person who could look at me and cause me to cry with a glance (and I mean for the most part I was right except replace terror with lots of love). So, to make the wedding cake for his daughter was saying a lot about myself. But, of course, being the human that I am, I said yes.

I was only in Spain for a couple weeks when the weekend came to prep and make the cake. I was going to make all of the layers and freeze them the day before and dirty frost them. I had made one test layer prior to this day and it turned out well and got rave reviews, so I felt prepared the cake wouldn’t suck. And I googled how to fill the cake with jam without it toppling.

Baking is sacred to me. And if I don’t like how it turns out I normally will toss it. So, for the first time in my life, I started to fill the baking of this cake with prayer. Because I was an absolute nervous wreck. This cake was going to speak of me, or so I thought, what if it fell apart, or didn’t taste good. Most of the people I was now doing life with in Spain didn’t know me at all, didn’t know who I was or what I was capable of.

What I am trying to say is that I was practically paralyzed with fear that the cake would be a failure.

So I scooped and measured and stirred and cleaned and sang and face timed with friends. I coated the kitchen in flour and powdered sugar and got shaky from said powdered sugar and mass quantities of coffee. I cooled the cakes and wrapped them in Saran Wrap and stuck them in the freezer.

And in the midst of the stirring and measuring and baking, Andrew came by the house to drop off some wedding prep items and as I was the only one in the house he popped into the kitchen to talk to me. I couldn’t tell you what he said to me at this point, but the peace fell in that moment and I believe because of that, the peace fell into my baking.

I had two days of baking in the Mijouse kitchen to create a five layer cake with raspberry jam filling and buttercream frosting. I was mainly alone with some assistance from the flower girl and visits from my friends.

But what I learned from that moment was my stress translates into my baking and cooking. And instead of pouring stress into something I need to pour love and peace and goodness. So I wrote a prayer for Jason and Esther on the cardboard that I used as a cake board.


No one saw it but I knew the cake was sitting on a foundation that more then just a physical piece of cardboard.

In the end I was just plain honored to have made that cake.

I made that same cake two more times. Once halfway through my time for Kellen and Whitney’s one year wedding anniversary and once at the end for Andrew’s 70th birthday; because according to Mo–I made Esther’s cake in the beginning so I needed to make Andrew’s at the end of my time. And it’s funny as I look at the timeline. That I made that cake three different times in the span of six months and how I was a different human each time. And by the time I made Andrew’s cake, I was bursting with love for him and for that place and for that tribe. So I poured all of the love and honor and celebration (and tears) into that cake and it showed. I could tell the cake was different then any others I had made.


There’s a moment in my favorite cheesy dance movie CenterStage in which Charlie tells Jody to “Whatever you feel, just dance it”. I don’t want to bake or cook with whatever I feel. I want to get it all out, the stress, the nerves, the overload, the weight on my shoulders, with the chopping and the mixing and the cutting and the blending. But when I pour the layers into the cake pan, or simmer the soup on the oven all that needs to be left is the truth, the joy and the celebration.


Things fall flat or burn or fall apart when they come from a rocky foundation. But when things are filled with hope and joy and truth and celebration they aren’t wobbly. They are declarative and they are a resounding choice to not be controlled by what you feel. And a resounding choice to live above the fog.

Cooking and baking is about more then just the act of feeding and nourishing those I love. It’s about story and emotion and truth and revelation. This new blog post is the inaugural post for “the recipe series”. While right now it is just words and story on a screen my hope is that one day it will be a physical tangible cookbook. Filled with stories about making butternut squash Mac and cheese for my entire squad in Swaziland, or cooking over the fire at training camp or vegetarian April and poblano pepper and mango quesadillas or my new signature dish coconut sugar, gluten-free cheesecake.

So without further ado, let’s eat.

hope is a verb, Spain g42, To dream

Cake with Jam

Before coming to Spain I had the vague idea of what I wanted to do. But mainly I just had this large pile of things that I wanted to be involved in. Passions, gifts, talents, words. Just in this bag of tricks that I lugged with me over an ocean.

I had no idea what to do with it.

A few weeks into my time in Spain we held the inaugural g42 reunion. Alumni from the first five years came from all over the globe to remember and celebrate what God had done and was doing, to lift one another up, to visit this place so many people still call home and of course to establish more vision in the next years of life.

The house I live in is the bigger of the two so we hosted ten alumni and in that group was the Harder family. Steve and Jo Harder and their beautiful boys who are missionaries to Ukraine.

Jo is a kindred spirit.

She is a powerful, strong, vibrant woman who hears wonderful, beautiful truths from God.

At the reunion kickoff we had a time of prayer and prophecy and Jo shared a word she had. She wasn’t sure who it was for but she knew she had to share it.

She shared a picture of this person who was holding all of this JAM. It was dripping out of their hands and the person wasn’t sure what to do with it all. Jo reiterated that she didn’t know who it was for, but if it was for you then to come see her.

I didn’t give it a second thought. Mainly because I was in an incredibly emotionally, overwhelmed place and also because I didn’t WANT to hear it.

(you see where this is going don’t you)

So that evening after worship was over I had two people come up and say they thought of me when the “jam hands” picture was given. Why? The week prior I had made a wedding cake and the filling? Raspberry jam.

But, like I said I wasn’t in the place or the mindset. And also like I said in this last blog; I feel as if God has been “saving thoughts” for me and this thought; this picture was one he saved for me.

A couple weeks later during class we were doing the process of identity mapping and while Zach was getting his done I suddenly had this thought:

What if I opened a secondhand bookstore?

There it was. A random thought in the middle of class on a Thursday morning.

What if I opened a secondhand bookstore and taught creative writing classes?

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I wrote a little more and then stopped.

What if I taught story? Through everything in this little bookstore.

Through creative writing, through baking, through book clubs, through sharing and laughing over good food.

 Wow.

Since going on the world race I’ve known that for the rest of my life I want to sit across tables from people. I want to hear story and see what is going on the lives of those around me.

I am honored that I get the privilege of hearing what God is doing and being able to speak into what God is doing and where he is going in someone’s life.

I’ve also known that I want to tell my story and let other’s use it in their lives.

I want to teach things that are good for the heart. I want to use the things I have been given to speak into other’s lives.

I want to create a space out of which people can MOVE.

But my thought prior to this random moment of revelation was where in the WORLD can I do this? Is this just a lifestyle that I am going to live? Is this a ministry I will step into?

But there wasn’t enough for me in that.

And then sitting in the class in the middle of the morning I just knew.

I knew I had found something that was more.

I knew I had found something that terrified me.

I knew that I was standing there with jam on my hands

Later that same afternoon I did my identity mapping up front. And one the questions that was asked of me was this: Where do you see yourself in 30 years.

My answer: Standing on my porch.

So what does that mean?

That I own a house.

WHAT?

And suddenly everything that I had ever thought was gone and I was choosing to believe in myself more. Choosing to believe that I could do more then just sit across from someone at a coffee shop.

So that’s where I am going to leave this.

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That’s where I am going to leave you.

With the fact that there is more for me then I ever actually thought possible.

I’m dreaming big, creating a plan to get there. It’s not a next year plan, or even two years, but a long term plan.

Dreaming, thinking and invisoning the future.

I’m here in Spain for 3 more months and would be honored if you would consider partnering with me in further what I’ve learned and done here.

To see ways that you can journey with me check this out.

I’ll leave you with a verse from class today; the prayer of Jabez. It encourages me to dream, hope, and long for more.

1 Chronicles 4:10

Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request.

It gives me the courage to know that I CAN do more with all this jam on my hands.

 

Honest, Spain g42

and this is why I bake

Growing up with a mom who was in the business of helping others I picked up a smattering of advice.

  • you have to suffer for beauty
  • if you don’t wear clean underwear something bad will happen
  • always make your makeup look natural
  • never return a dish without something in it even if it is just some store-bought cookies.

The one lesson though that I heard my mom preaching day after day was when you were stuck in yourself, stuck in your addiction, stuck in whatever you are in: you need to do something for someone else. Bake something, clean something, DO something outside of yourself.

And that is something I have grabbed onto and ran with.

When I am too inside of myself, when I can’t figure why I am down or depressed or when there is LITERALLY nothing I can do to make myself feel better; I do.

I bake, I clean, I buy someone a present, write someone a card. Keep my hands busy. Not allow myself to go into a black hole of murky unknown without a way out.

And that has lead to many different trails of life.

It’s led me to loving better because I’ve learned to try to make peoples days a little happier. I’ve learned that I treasure loving others and helping them.

But it’s also led me to spiraling into a depression and anxiety and collapsing on the floor because I’ve chosen not to think but just to do.

It’s why I detest the phrase “fake it til you make it” because while it does hold value to sometimes it also leads us to walking away from feelings and emotions that are good to have and get through.

I’ve had a couple of sleepless nights in a row; waking up with my heart pounding and my chest heaving with anxiety. I’ve been unable to get into a restful regular sleep and I know it’s because things are being pulled up and I’m longing to run to places I’m comfortable that in all reality don’t exist here.

I’m having to force myself to sit in anxiety and I’m striving to find words to fit the feelings and emotions of sentences that lack explanation.

But I’m also baking. Cleaning. Doing. Creating. Walking.

Because as my mind spins around and around with no place to land my hands will continue to move. And I will continually learn to write and speak and be. I was told this week by our rocker, renaissance man of an instructor Herman Haan to continuing writing because people need my story. They need to hear what I have to say.

So I will continuing saying them and writing them and figuring them out.

But I will continue baking and doing.

So this is why I bake. This is why I show up places with muffins and cookies. Partly because I enjoy it, I love baking, writing, cooking, serving but also I do out of place of healing.

So maybe I need to do less and talk more, I’ll strive for a balance but I want to encourage you; if you are stuck in a circle, if you don’t what to do or where to go, make something, bake something, help someone and you will have a moment of clarity in the midst of the chaos. You will create something and not destroy a piece of yourself.

You will stand.

 

Honest

I’m horrible PR for myself

I’ve apologized a lot this week. I’m in a new place where only a few people know me. These new folks have been told I’m a good baker, a great cook etc.

That makes me nervous.

And it makes me apologize.

I’ve broken a wineglass, had way too many blonde moments, I’ve accidentally used corn starch instead of cornmeal. I used the wrong type of sugar in baking cookies. I’m walking this line of insecurity that is laughable.

IMG_9363(test layer of cake I made//gone in five minutes)

And I just keep apologizing.

Tonight during worship I realized that I keep apologizing and belittling the gifts and talents that God has given me. And in that way; I’m belittling God. I’m belittling the fact that He Himself gave me all these gifts.

And here I am just apologizing away all of these things when I am unsure, or insecure or make a mistake.

I’m calling myself out on apologizing. I’m calling myself out on not having confidence in the gifts and talents He gives me. And it’s so funny because just this week I allowed myself to be taken up on stage and I danced with this Spanish rapper during the half of the World Cup final in the square in Mijas in front of at least a couple hundred people.

But ask me to write something for you, bake something, cook something and this week I have been full of excuses that it might not be up to par or that I’m full of nerves. Compliment me on something I made and I haven’t responded with “thank you” but “oh it’s actually really easy”.

IMG_9364(my refrain on the novel I am writing “I suck at writing dialogue”)

Why? Why do I completely brush away the things that I know God has given me to use? Why do I not allow myself to walk in gifts, talents and knowledge.

Why have I been walking these week like I will never be enough?

I was told tonight that God delights when I wake up every morning. That He gets so excited to see me live out my life.

And here I am squandering it away with “I’m sorry” or “It’s not my best” or “Please, don’t think to highly of this or that thing that people say I’m good at.”

It’s stupid, lame and I need to stop.

So if you’re reading this and you are currently doing life with me in Mijas: this week (and beyond) I give you permission to call me out when I don’t respond with “thank you” to a compliment or when I belittle the work I have done by undercutting the task.

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And mind you this next week I am doing the following: making a wedding cake, cooking for my house and helping with some writing projects.

Three things I hold close to my heart. Three things I know I am good at. Three things that I have undercut and apologized for lacking in in the last two weeks.

I don’t want to live a life of apology.

I don’t want to live a life peppered with insecurities or feeling like I’m not a enough.

I want to live a life walking in confidence of the good gifts He has given me.

So here I go: choosing to live a life free from apologizing and undercutting myself away.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

(Why I am in Spain? Check out journey with me)