- Date: Saturday, September 19, 2009 -- 6pm
- Location: Bloomington, IN
- Kitchen: My Apartment
- Dining Companion: Matty
- Recipe Rating: B
This recipe had been on the list generated by the random number generator since 2007, and it just didn't sound good to me, so I kept putting off making it. A couple weeks ago though I decided to finally give it a try. And it was much better than I expected! I first made the cake layers. I beat butter and sugar, then added vanilla and almond extracts. I added milk alternately with a mixture of flour, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl I beat egg whites with cream of tartar and salt until they held stiff peaks. Then I folded the whites into the cake batter, divided the batter among 3 parchment-lined buttered and floured cake pans, and baked the layers. Meanwhile, I made the icing and filling. I boiled sugar syrup until it reached 248 degrees. While the sugar was boiling I started beating more egg whites and salt. When the syrup reached the right temperature, I slowly added it to the egg whites, with the beaters running. I beat in vanilla, then beat the mixture until it was cool. I took some of the icing and folded in chopped figs, pecans, and raisins to make the filling. I assembled the cake by layering the cake and the filling, then frosting the top and outside with the remaining icing. This cake was pretty good. The cake layers themselves were awesome -- they had a great texture and a lovely almond flavor to them. I enjoyed the frosting for the first few bites, but it was rather sweet. The addition of dried fruit made it seem even sweeter, and as a net result the filling in particular was rather cloying. I have a serious sweet tooth but this cake was a little too sweet even for me! My special gentleman and I ended up scraping off much of the frosting and filling and eating the cake layers plain. They were quite delicious. I wouldn't make this whole recipe again, but I would certainly make the cake layers and frost them with a lovely chocolate frosting. Yum!
The recipe is here.
Running a marathon seems a little crazy. It's not particularly good for your body -- in fact the wear and tear can be quite painful. I signed up for this crazy feat solely to prove to myself that I could do it. I always thought of running a marathon as one of those things that I could never do. But after I ran the half, it seemed to me that maybe I could, and I wanted to try! So I started training, and in my training I learned something: there are huge benefits! I didn't see them before because I thought of running as a physical task, and physically marathon running is probably not the best for you. What I neglected to see, though, is that marathon running is not solely a physical task. It is also a psychological one. And the training is not only physical, but also psychological. During every long run, there comes a point when I don't want to run any more. Sometimes that point is a half a mile from the end. Sometimes it is 6 or 7 miles from the end. Getting over that hump is not about whether or not I am in good shape. It's not about my muscles or my endurance. It is completely psychological.
I ran 20 miles on Sunday, and around mile 14 I was ready to quit. I started making excuses for myself (I was too tired, I hadn't eaten enough, I had spent all weekend moving furniture, etc...). I convinced myself that I couldn't finish. I probably would have stopped running had I not been meeting my special gentleman at mile 15. I didn't want to walk before I even got to him, so I pushed through that 15th mile, and at the end of it my special gentleman was waiting for me. I was secretly hoping that he would tell me I should stop running. But instead, he ran alongside me, giving me encouraging words. That was enough to completely change my attitude. Not only did I finish the 20 miles but the last 2 were the fastest of the 20. Apparently I had it in me to finish -- I just needed to find it.
Marathon running is certainly a physical challenge, but it is also a psychological one. And if there is one thing I have learned throughout my training, it is how powerful a little psychological push can be. I have learned how to convince myself to keep running. I think that is the real prize that one gets from marathon training -- the ability to push past uncomfortability and keep going. That's a skill that is useful in many facets of life. I hope that long after the marathon is over, and my muscles have recovered, that I am still able to mentally rally myself to push through my perceived limitations. That is certainly a skill worth the many hours of training that went into it!