I’ve been slowly — very, very slowly — reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Big Magic. Every couple of nights when I’m not up late working, or putzing around the internet, I look at it on my nightstand and decide to read a chapter or two. When I first started reading it, I thought I’d breeze through it in less than a week, but I’ve realized that reading is one of those indulgences that I just haven’t prioritized (along with exercise, pedicures, and vacuuming my car). But every time I spend even 15 minutes with the book, I get a zap of energy, so much so that I actually find it hard to fall asleep.
I’m not one of those people that loved Eat Pray Love but I’ve always loved Elizabeth Gilbert’s voice. I like how she writes the way I imagine she talks. I can picture myself sitting at a coffee shop, across from Elizabeth Gilbert as she tells me that in order to make yourself available to ideas, you should consider dressing up for the occasion. Elizabeth Gilbert is someone who I think of as quite extraordinary, but who comes across as quite ordinary. She told The Rumpus, “I just wanted to write things and wanted something to be published, and that was the entire extent of my aspiration.”
Sometimes I think I’m approaching life all wrong. So many of us overachievers are.
We’re trying to write the best seller novel (or cookbook or dissertation or marketing plan to knock the socks off the investors). Trying to win the parent of the year award (literally or metaphorically). We’re hoping that our Thanksgiving turkey will be the best damn Thanksgiving turkey there ever was.
The secret, I’ve realized, to not only being happy, but to actually creating something really awesome is often to not try so hard. To let the crumbs remain on the counter. To miss that cowlick in your hair. And mostly to just kind of be. Seems like it’s easier to welcome good vibes that way.
Now, I’m not proposing we all get lazy or pack up our aspirations and hide them in the closet but there is something to just waking up every day knowing that you’ll put one foot in front of the other and commit yourself to something very small that will make you happy: whether it’d be a chocolate croissant from a local bakery, a run around the lake, ten minutes of meditation, or fifteen of journaling. I’d never thought of living life this way. I always thought it had to be about the big things.
And so it is with recipes — some are showy and va-va voom while others are a lot like Elizabeth Gilbert (so sorry to compare you to a bundt cake, you brilliant woman!). They’re not trying to be the best seller, the cover of a cookbook. And yet, somehow, they manage to win our hearts anyway.
Rye Pound Cake
adapted from Near & Far
2 1/4 cups of rye flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
3/4 teaspoon of kosher salt
1 teaspoon of caraway seeds
1 1/2 tablespoons of black sesame seeds
1/3 cup of sunflower seeds
1 cup of pepitas (I skipped these)
1 tablespoon of orange zest
3/4 cup of unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup of muscovado sugar (you can use regular sugar here)
1/2 cup of honey
2 teaspoons of real vanilla extract
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup of full fat plain yogurt
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and generously butter and flour a bundt pan.
2. Add the flour, seeds, and orange zest to a bowl.
3. Add the butter and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a beater attachment and beat until light and fluffy. Drizzle in the honey and vanilla extract, beating in slowly, then beat the eggs into the mixture, one at a time.
4. Add half the flour mixture and half of the yogurt. Beat to incorporate. Add the rest of the flour and yogurt, scrape down the sides of the bowl, then beat until smooth.
5. Transfer the batter to the prepared bundt and rap it against the counter (gently) to release any air bubbles.
6. Bake for about an hour, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cake sit for a few minutes before turning it out onto a baking rack.
7. Serve slices of cake with Greek yogurt or whipped cream and a drizzle of honey (my own addition).