As I was growing up, my Dad was fond of saying something to the effect that he wished he knew at my age what he knew at his age. I think most of us can identify with that sentiment as, “If only I knew then what I know now.” I never really quite grasped Dad’s version until the most recent of years. I look back on the past decade and think, “Man, if I had the knowledge I had now but the youth I had a decade ago, I could really rock a few things.” On a much smaller scale, if the person I was at 8 a.m. could have given my 5 p.m. self some advice, it probably would have gone something like this:
You can do anything, but you can’t do everything, today. Just pick something and run with it. Even though you are pretending to decide between what you should do and what you want to do, you know what the day will bring so go ahead and charge your camera battery. You haven’t received a “battery low” message as of late, but trust me, it’s dead as a door nail. That way, when you set up to take a picture as daylight is fading fast, the camera will turn on.
Accordingly, you will want to make sure the charger is fully plugged into the outlet. This will save you a lot of frustration. Repeat, a lot of frustration. And since we are on that topic now, the gorgeous photo you see accompanying the recipe write-up will look nothing like what you will actually get. The tip to tent the dish with aluminum foil in the event the topping gets too brown should really be the first thing you do because 25 minutes into 60 minutes of baking the top will be DARK.
Oh, and while you are whipping up peppermint meringues as the cobbler bakes, go ahead and trust your instinct to add the vanilla when the egg whites reach soft peaks. If you wait to add it after stiff peaks form, they will fall, and you will have no cookies. Resist the urge to throw in the towel and take a nap because you will eventually be able to get a decent picture of your ugly apple-cranberry cobbler before it gets too dark.
Those things I did today, at the expense of Christmas shopping and reading a great book, were yoga and baking. One of the studios where I practice yoga issued a 62-day challenge on November 1. This is pretty much just what it sounds: practice 62 times in 62 days. I accepted the challenge because I wanted to reintroduce some discipline to my life and, frankly speaking, hoped it would help me fit in my pants again. Just when I thought the pants thing was not going to happen, I was able to wear my jeans with no discomfort yesterday. In fact, I buttoned them and didn’t think a thing about it until I was eating and thought, “Hey, my pants aren’t hurting my stomach!”
The frustration I felt in class today was the perfect foreshadowing to the baking I attempted. I practiced with a teacher who was new to me, and I had a difficult time following her cues. Instead of flowing through poses, it was very start-and-stop. I was pretty much over the whole experience when I happened to see a girl in front of me do this crazy arm balance. Oh, come freaking on.
As the class was drawing to a close, I noticed a few girls behind me were pretty much just sitting on their mats and taking it all in. I knew one of those girls was new only because she had stopped me in the hall earlier to ask where she could find a mat. When I saw them sitting there looking utterly defeated, it hit home that they might be thinking, “Oh, come freaking on” towards me when I was in one of the arm balances I can manage. They couldn’t have possibly known it took me a good 10 months of practice to get to the point they witnessed today.
This led me to think about something I have been considering quite a bit as of late: beginnings. It is so easy, at least as adults, to quit something new before we give it a chance to bloom. So many around us have achieved a level of proficiency that intimidates or frustrates to the point that, when we compare ourselves to where they are, it makes it easy to quit. For me, yoga is a great example. I tried Ashtanga in April, and I haven’t practiced it since May simply because I couldn’t get my butt off the ground. (That will make zero sense to anyone who has never heard of this style of yoga – and just eight months ago I would have been in that group – but to those who have, it will make perfect sense.)
Thank the heavens above a yoga teacher who makes her living teaching Ashtanga recently posted a YouTube video in which she said it took her three months to get her butt of the ground. Perspective can be everything, and hearing her say that reminded me of the way I used to think. Ironically, this shift in my thinking occurred in a yoga class. I saw a girl get up into a bird of paradise and instead of thinking, “I will never be able to do that,” I thought, “Wow, I could do that if I stick with this.”
So, the next time you are doing something new – whether it be trying a recipe or contorting your body in a yoga class – and things aren’t going so well, remember what you have to look forward to if you keep going. Just because things did not go smoothly this one time, failure is not necessarily a given. When cobbled together, the eventual outcome can be a delight, or in this case, delicious. My path today looked much more like a wild zig-zag than a straight line, but I got to where I wanted to go: writing a blog post and sharing a recipe. Enjoy!
“You give up on what you need to be doing because you forget that you’re worth it. This is why most people aren’t leading exemplary lives.You have to believe in yourself so much that you’re willing to do what’s uncomfortable, time-consuming, inconvenient, and on occasion seemingly impossible. When you don’t believe in yourself this much, pretend.” ― Victoria Moran
- For the Filling
- 5 Granny Smith apples, chopped
- 1½ cups cranberries
- ¼ granulated sugar
- ¼ brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 lemon, juice of
- ½ cup (1/2 stick) butter
- For the Topping*
- ¾ cup milk
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Place all of the filling ingredients EXCEPT the butter in a large bowl and toss to coat.
- Go ahead and place the butter in a 9 X 13 baking dish.
- Put the dish with the butter in the oven and start heating it to 350 F. Keep an eye on the dish and remove when the butter is melted.
- Meanwhile, make the topping by whisking those 5 ingredients together.
- When the dish with melted butter comes out of the oven, pour the fruit and spice filing in the dish.
- Then pour the topping over the fruit.
- Bake for one hour or until the juices are bubbling and the topping is golden. Cover the dish with aluminum foil at any time it the topping gets too brown. I reccommend starting out with it covered.