Sunday, May 11, 2014

To Motherhood, and yogurt cake






I’ll start with wishing all mothers a wonderful, joyful Mother’s Day
May it be a day of connection, and ease, and sense of fulfillment from all you do, all you give.



























I am returning from Seattle after a weekend of learning and connection and self-care. I will be sharing a lot of that here very soon... I apologize for the long wait, I have been working on a post for weeks now, terribly spread thin between work and family life (with some sleep thrown in here and there!).

But that post will have to be the next one up, because Mother’s Day has been on my mind. However unoriginal this post may be, what kind of a food and mom blogger would I be if I didn't have a Mother's Day post (with cake)? ;-)





Motherhood has enriched my life in ways I would never have imagined. A few days ago, I was sitting at my desk struggling through deadlines, and my son's face and smile came to mind. The pure joy of love I felt radiated throughout my whole being. I had never felt such unconditional, all-encompassing, completely secure love. Love without the shadow of a doubt, ever. A love that makes me able to accept myself as perfect in all my mistakes, wrong turns, bad choices. In all my vulnerabilities.

Self-awareness, re-parenting myself, acceptance, trust, patience... have been some of the gifts of motherhood so far.

But what I am working through at the moment, is striking this elusive balance that is our lot as humans, between self and others. Self-care and nurture. I have so very much to learn there. 

Connection defines us, it is the very heart of life, what matters in the end. Yet we must be whole in order to connect to others in a healthy way. We must know ourselves, respect and acknowledge our own needs – whether met or unmet - be solidly anchored within ourselves. The stronger the anchor, the safer the connection, no matter how tormented the seas around might be. We must be ourselves and take care of ourselves to nurture well. And we must connect (nurture and be nurtured) to be whole.

In the every day life of most moms, this balance can be a bitch (do pardon my French English ;-)) to find. Do I take my son to breakfast after a long hectic week, or do I keep that time to write, or go workout? Do I do something thoughtful for my family, or for myself?
Do I continue on the safer professional path to maintain my family’s comfort, or do I take a chance at a new path for my own personal fulfillment?

I don’t have the answers. I struggle with this all the time. Yet when I apply it to Pablo, self-care and nurture go hand in hand. Trusting him to listen to himself, to belong to himself, is paramount to me. Connection should never come at the cost of not listening to his body or mind. I do believe our barometer as children are right on in this regard, if it's not interfered with (by not forcing children to share what they care about, for example. Or not asking them to finish a plate to please us... things like that). May this balance come to him with a lot more ease than it ever did for me.

The other afternoon, as I was sitting in the late afternoon sun for a few minutes, these thoughts swirling in my mind, examining my past and childhood for clues, with the feeling of being so torn between my needs and those of the ones I love, suddenly I felt so humbled and exhilarated by this realization that I laughed out loud: 

Life is so much more complex than I ever thought it was when I was younger. 
So much more beautifully (and painfully) complex. 
I see and appreciate its complexity now
And I do, thanks to motherhood.



So perhaps providing both a moment of self-care and connection, here’s finally this very simple variation of the classic yogurt cake, a favorite for afternoon snack at our house. Pablo has been obsessed with chocolate chips as of late, so they were the perfect addition to this cake.

Pablo just turned three, and has been more and more active in the kitchen, able to help with a lot more things: mixing, washing, shaking, stirring, etc.
This is a perfect cake to make with a young child. (This is probably the very first thing I ever cooked as a child myself, in preschool in France, around Pablo’s age). Pablo buttered the cake pan with his hands, he poured the ingredients, whisked and stirred (and ate a few chocolate chips too...)




The connection of cooking together. The self-care of a moist bite of cake with a glass of milk. 
Happy Mother’s Day :-)














































Chocolate Chip Yogurt Cake

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30-45 minutes

Age for babies : 12 months +, this actually makes a good simple cake for a first birthday.

(Note: Use an easy measure, like a sturdy cup, for the child to pour. It can be a measuring cup. Or a small glass.)

1 cup plain yogurt (I use organic, whole milk, European style yogurt)
1 cup of sunflower oil
2 cups of sugar
3 cups of flour (I have used white, whole wheat or spelt)
3 eggs
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
a pinch of salt
a handful (or two) of dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven at 400°F.

In a large bowl, pour the yogurt. Add sugar and flour. Then the oil, and eggs. 
Then add baking powder, vanilla and salt. Mix well until smooth (with a whisk).

Add in the chocolate chips, and stir gently with a wooden spoon.

Butter a cake pan, and pour the batter. Add some chocolate chips on top if you like (you can make a face with them, or a number for a birthday, you can also use a shallower round pan for this cake.)

Bake for about 30 minutes, depending on your cake pan, it could go up to 45 minutes. Check by sticking a knife and see if it comes out clean. Top should be golden.


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