Oh great. Just what the world needs now – more vanilla.
It’s really been hard to focus on celebrating these last few days because every time I try to get in the festive spirit, I look at my Facebook feed and that feeling instantly goes away. It happens any time I look at any news for that matter. Everyone’s trying to tell us to come together and to make this a positive, but it’s just not that simple. These are not issues that we can just hug out. The issues at hand affect the lives and liberties of real people in our community. That doesn’t go away with just a pat on the butt and a ‘good game’.
My intention for this blog was never to get political (although these issues are not political, they are more about civil rights). It’s supposed to be a year long journey trying to celebrate every day and to see what happens along the way. Well this happened along that way and it’s affecting me. I’d be remiss to not talk about it. For the past few days, I’ve been filled with a feeling of melancholy and I’ve lost some hope in the future (and I’m generally a hopeful person). It’s hard to muster up a big celebration when your head is out of the game.
Today was National Vanilla Cupcake Day and maybe that would be ok because perhaps some sweetness would be good for my bitter heart. It was worth a try. I’ve talked about how Lola and I were cupcake fans before cupcakes stormed the dessert world and how we found some great bakeries in New York that were serving up some of the finest cupcakes ever. One of those bakeries was the now super-famous Magnolia Bakery which is on the lower East side of Manhattan, made famous from being featured on Sex in the City. We were early discoverers of the place, although it was already pretty famous in New York. It’s a line around the corner kind of place. The cupcakes were simple and decorated with heaps of bright colored frosting. Worth the wait for sure. Because they become so famous, naturally their recipe became available online and that’s where I found out how to make them today.
They are actually simple to make and the only ingredient I didn’t have readily available was the self-rising flour which is regular flour but it has baking soda and baking powder added in. I picked some up at Clement’s and then went to work making the cupcakes. It takes two sticks of butter, two cups of sugar and four eggs, so I knew these would be pretty good unless I really screwed up. They took about 20 minutes to cook and when they came out of the oven, they were looking pretty good. I let them sit so they could cool properly.
The frosting was even easier. It too used two sticks of butter plus almost eight cups of sugar, so I knew that it was going to be nice and sweet. When you first put your ingredients together, you think you have an ugly mess on your hands, but then as you keep beating it, it starts to take on frosting form. When I was finished, I had some really sweet delicious frosting. I frosted each cupcake as best I could (not my strongest skill). I did a dozen with the straight up frosting and then for the second dozen, I added some food coloring to go for a sea foam color just for fun. I frosted the rest of the cakes and they came out looking pretty good.
The last cupcakes I made came out on the drier side so I was worried that would happen again. I sat down to try one after dinner, and I have to admit I nailed this one. The frosting was spectacular, but I kind of knew it would be because did you see the note on using eight cups of sugar? But the cake came out nice and moist too. I felt like I had really nailed the recipe, so it was a sweet feeling of accomplishment.
Today was also the birthday of the United States Marine Corps. I wish I had been a little more motivated today because knowing that, on a more festive day, I would have brought my cupcakes to a Marine in celebration. Had he not moved to New Orleans, I may have even brought them to Cookie, Lola’s cousin-in-law (is that a real term?) who was not only a Marine but who was also celebrating his own birthday today. He’s been a bit of an inspiration to me and I would have liked to have thanked him for his service and for having been born. It would have been nice. But alas, the malaise of the post-election took it out of me.
I’m going to keep on celebrating as best I can, but I can’t deny that things haven’t changed. One of the small rays of hope that I found today was a quote posted by the Newport Folk Festival by one of my heroes, Pete Seeger. It said, “I think the world is going to be saved by millions of small things.” Ok, Pete. I’ll believe you and I’ll keep up the small things. That’s advice from a guy that fought for social justice for over seventy years. He stood up to fascism armed with just a banjo, he marched alongside Martin Luther King Jr., he withstood the scrutiny of the McCarthy blacklist, and he fought every time he saw injustice in the world until the day he died. Were he alive today, he’d grab his banjo and get ready to fight once more. So let’s keep up the small things. Like cupcakes.
Next Up: National Sundae Day