How much time do you spend worrying? Not about the big things -- I'm talking about the little, anxiety-producing moments all day: The barista making your morning latte lukewarm, the woman one seat over on the subway talking too loudly on her cell phone, your computer restarting three times and losing your work.
In a perfect world, you breeze right past life's little irks, breathing deeply and calmly, and choosing to not let them get to you. In reality, this takes effort and practice, and I'm still learning what works for me. Here's what I've decided: Instead of focusing on what you don't want to think about, focus on good things you do want to think about.
Today, here's my list.
I like salads with real oomph: texture and flavor and heat. Currently eating a mix of baby spinach, romaine, and shredded kale with bean sprouts, carrots, creamy cubes of soft tofu, cucumber, and a Sriracha-laced dressing.
Someone reaching for my hand. Curling up against their chest, feeling skin on skin, the presence and nearness of another person: Not even talking, just having the otherness nearby, feeling acutely the opposite of loneliness.
I like rainy runs. The kind you take in serious weather: cold, driving rain sluicing down your skin. I have to wipe the water from my face and squint my eyes to see ahead of me. My shoes go squish, my shirt is soaked through. When I finish, I step into the warmth of my foyer. I think about a hot shower, soft sweatpants, coffee.
Snow: when it comes down in fast, furious flakes, obscuring your view, making you feel like there's nothing but you, a stand of pine trees, and a hushed, cold quiet.
Turning off all the lights at night before I go upstairs to bed, putting on music, and dancing down my hallway, socks sliding on the polished wooden floor.
I like very intense mint ice cream: bright, refreshing, and strewn with crunchy chocolate-covered mint cookies with slightly softened edges.
This pear and cardamom cake. Just slightly sweet with a bold, fragrant layer of spice, it was very good upon the first bite. But then I tried another, and another, and soon enough I was licking the crumbs of my second slice from my fingers. I particularly love how the sliced pears soften just a bit, creating a thin custard-y, almost crepe-like layer where the fruit bakes into the cake batter.
Pear & Cardamom Cake
8 tablespoons butter (1 stick), at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 cup sour cream
2 medium pears
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan and line it with parchment paper.
In a large bowl or stand mixer, cream together the butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and ground cardamom. Set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and sour cream until smooth.
With the mixer running (or working by hand), alternate adding the flour mixture and the egg mixture to the butter and sugar. Beat until just combined (don't overmix).
Pour the batter into your prepared pan.
Slice the pears thinly (about 1/4-inch thickness is good). Arrange the pears in a concentric circle, overlapping just slightly, over the top of the cake. Sprinkle the turbinado sugar evenly over the fruit.
Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan and a tester inserted into the center comes out cleanly.
Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. Turn the cake out onto a wire rack to finish cooling. Serve warm or at room temperature.