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When I'm not here, you may find me wandering the pages below. (If I'm a regular visitor to your site and I've left your link off or mislinked to you, please let me know! And likewise, if you've blogrolled me, please check that my link is updated: thisroamanticlife.blogspot.com. The extra (a) makes all the difference!)

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Body: in sickness and in health

I won't lie; this body and I have had our issues with each other for many years. Body image -- sure. Physical and mental overextension -- comes with being a Type A kind of girl. I still struggle with these things, so they show up from time to time in my writing.

More recently, illness, pure but not simple, has added itself to the mix in a multi-system sort of way. And the challenges in figuring out exactly what's gone wrong are many. As problems have revealed themselves in the last few years, beginning with reactive hypoglycemia in late 2008, I've documented them here, partly to gain a little clarity on managing complex conditions but mostly to give voice to vulnerabilities I feel but don't normally share with anyone face to face. Better out than in, they say, right? (Oh yes, humor is one way I deal.)

The links below cover the different angles I've examined (and from which I've been examined) within that experience.

Travel: neither here nor there

When the person you're married to lives two time zones away, you log a fair number of frequent flier miles. And if you blog about commuter relationships, you log quite a few posts en route too.

Since we're no longer in separate places, I blog less often from airports. But we do travel -- together now! -- which is much more fun to write about. So in addition to thoughts on our years of commuting, the links below cover the places we've been as a pair and, in some cases, the adventures that have happened on the way.

Writing: the long and short of it

Why do I do it? Good question. Maybe it's not so much that I like to write but that I have to write, even when the words refuse to stick to the page. Believe me, I've tried doing other things like majoring in biochemistry (freshman fall, many semesters ago). Within a year, I'd switched to English with a concentration in creative writing and wasn't looking back.

After graduating, I taught English for a few years and then worked as an editor, which I still do freelance. In 2007, I applied and got into an MFA program at a place I like to call Little U. on the Prairie. I finished my degree in 2011 and have been balancing tutoring and writing on my own ever since.

The following links cover the writing I've done about writing: process, content, obstacles, you name it. It's not always pretty. But some part of me loves it, even when it's hard. And this is the result.

Heart: family and friends

I'd have a hard time explaining who I am without being able to talk about the family I grew up in as well as the people I've met beyond its bounds. But even with such context, it's not easy! In the simplest terms, I'm a first-generation Asian-American who has spent most of this life caught between cultures. That, of course, doesn't even begin to describe what I mean to, but there's my first stab at the heart of it all.

That's what this group of posts is reserved for -- heart. The essential parts of my life whose influences I carry with me, for better or worse. The links below cover what I've written as I've learned how these forces work within me, for me, against me, in spite of me. They anchor me even as they change me, and they keep life interesting.

Recommended reading

What do I do when there's too much on my mind and my words won't stick to the page? I escape into someone else's thoughts. Below is a collection of books and articles that have been sources of information, inspiration, and occasional insight for my own work.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

As promised


Here's what we did to make our upside-down cake, modified from the original version in yesterday's post to make it Troubadour-friendly.


Peach and Cornmeal Upside-Down Cake
adapted from Martha Stewart Living, August 2008

Ingredients
  • 5 1/2 oz. (1 stick plus 3 tbsp.) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup erythritol* sugar substitute
  • 1/2 cup Splenda granular, divided
  • 4 medium ripe peaches, skins on, pitted, and cut into 3/4-inch wedges
  • 1 cup coarse yellow cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup Carbalose flour**
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. dried lavender
  • 1 1/4 tsp. coarse salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Melt 3 tbsp. butter in a 12-inch skillet (ours was stainless steel, works as well as cast iron) over medium heat, using a pastry brush to coat sides with butter as it melts. Sprinkle 1/4 cup Splenda evenly over bottom of skillet, and cook until Splenda starts to form a crunchy skin (will not caramelize), about 3 minutes. Arrange peaches in a circle at edge of skillet, on top of Splenda. Arrange the remaining wedges in the center to fill. Reduce heat to low, and cook until juices are bubbling and peaches begin to soften, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from heat.

2. Whisk cornmeal, Carbalose, baking powder, lavender, and salt in a medium bowl. Beat remaining stick of butter and erythritol with a mixer on high speed, until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down sides of bowl. Mix in remaining 1/4 cup Splenda, vanilla and cream. Reduce speed to low, and beat in cornmeal mixture in two additions.

3. Drop large spoonfuls of batter over peaches, and spread evenly using an offset spatula. Bake until golden brown and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 30-35 minutes. Transfer skillet to a wire rack, and let stand for 10 minutes. Run a knife or spatula around edge of cake. Quickly invert cake onto a cutting board. Tap bottom of skillet to release peaches, and carefully remove skillet. Reposition peach slices on top of cake as needed. Let cool slightly before serving.

* This creams WAY better than Splenda but lacks sweetness, hence the use of both in our substitutions.

** When using Carbalose, a general rule of thumb is to lower baking temperature by 25 degrees, double the rising agent, and increase baking time by at least 5 minutes (can be more, depending on the oven and the recipe). All adjustments have already been made here.

6 comments:

Bev said...

this. looks. amazing.

C. Troubadour said...

It is! The cornmeal gives it a lovely crumb. The texture approaches coconut tarts, which makes me wonder if I could replace the flour in those in a similar fashion ...

theycallmejane said...

So glad D came to the rescue so you could make this! (How horrible to have such an allergy. I'd be lost!) Because this looks and sounds so very, very tasty!

C. Troubadour said...

I'm sure D saw the benefits ;). He loves cornbread, so this was a natural extension of the idea to him, I imagine! Mmm peaches ... summer is such a delicious season, even if it's hot.

BigLittleWolf said...

Oooooooo, CT! This looks fabulous!

And a texture of coconut tarts? That sounds amazing.

C. Troubadour said...

They were a favorite childhood treat (now very hard on the blood sugar), BLW. I'm encouraged by the recent experiments with ingredient substitutions! We've acquired unsweetened coconut, so maybe a few other tweaks ...

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Saturday, July 24, 2010

As promised


Here's what we did to make our upside-down cake, modified from the original version in yesterday's post to make it Troubadour-friendly.


Peach and Cornmeal Upside-Down Cake
adapted from Martha Stewart Living, August 2008

Ingredients
  • 5 1/2 oz. (1 stick plus 3 tbsp.) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup erythritol* sugar substitute
  • 1/2 cup Splenda granular, divided
  • 4 medium ripe peaches, skins on, pitted, and cut into 3/4-inch wedges
  • 1 cup coarse yellow cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup Carbalose flour**
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. dried lavender
  • 1 1/4 tsp. coarse salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Melt 3 tbsp. butter in a 12-inch skillet (ours was stainless steel, works as well as cast iron) over medium heat, using a pastry brush to coat sides with butter as it melts. Sprinkle 1/4 cup Splenda evenly over bottom of skillet, and cook until Splenda starts to form a crunchy skin (will not caramelize), about 3 minutes. Arrange peaches in a circle at edge of skillet, on top of Splenda. Arrange the remaining wedges in the center to fill. Reduce heat to low, and cook until juices are bubbling and peaches begin to soften, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from heat.

2. Whisk cornmeal, Carbalose, baking powder, lavender, and salt in a medium bowl. Beat remaining stick of butter and erythritol with a mixer on high speed, until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down sides of bowl. Mix in remaining 1/4 cup Splenda, vanilla and cream. Reduce speed to low, and beat in cornmeal mixture in two additions.

3. Drop large spoonfuls of batter over peaches, and spread evenly using an offset spatula. Bake until golden brown and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 30-35 minutes. Transfer skillet to a wire rack, and let stand for 10 minutes. Run a knife or spatula around edge of cake. Quickly invert cake onto a cutting board. Tap bottom of skillet to release peaches, and carefully remove skillet. Reposition peach slices on top of cake as needed. Let cool slightly before serving.

* This creams WAY better than Splenda but lacks sweetness, hence the use of both in our substitutions.

** When using Carbalose, a general rule of thumb is to lower baking temperature by 25 degrees, double the rising agent, and increase baking time by at least 5 minutes (can be more, depending on the oven and the recipe). All adjustments have already been made here.

6 comments:

Bev said...

this. looks. amazing.

C. Troubadour said...

It is! The cornmeal gives it a lovely crumb. The texture approaches coconut tarts, which makes me wonder if I could replace the flour in those in a similar fashion ...

theycallmejane said...

So glad D came to the rescue so you could make this! (How horrible to have such an allergy. I'd be lost!) Because this looks and sounds so very, very tasty!

C. Troubadour said...

I'm sure D saw the benefits ;). He loves cornbread, so this was a natural extension of the idea to him, I imagine! Mmm peaches ... summer is such a delicious season, even if it's hot.

BigLittleWolf said...

Oooooooo, CT! This looks fabulous!

And a texture of coconut tarts? That sounds amazing.

C. Troubadour said...

They were a favorite childhood treat (now very hard on the blood sugar), BLW. I'm encouraged by the recent experiments with ingredient substitutions! We've acquired unsweetened coconut, so maybe a few other tweaks ...