Baby steps: Sweet Cranberry Cornmeal Torte
Our 10 m.o. refuses to sleep. She’s taken her first steps, and wakes eager to practice at 3 a.m. When she succeeds, she claps her hands and screeches with delight. When she fails, she grunts her frustration as she topples over. Her motor won’t shut off until she’s learned how to walk. So no matter the hour, she tries. And tries. And tries.
Soon walking will feel natural to her; she won’t remember her struggles. Her mind will lock in on its next milestone, running, and life will become even crazier for both of us.
*Photo copyright Amy Gunty
Through her, we see how many failures it takes to reach one milestone. And we see how you must conquer each milestone — first sitting, then crawling — before you reach your next, like walking.
On Sunday night, Matt and I attended a Simple, Good and Tasty local food event at Spoonriver. I was in awe of the talent there, like Molly Herrmann from Tastebud Tart and her friend, Michelle Gayer, from The Salty Tart. I felt as if I should stand up and say, “Hi, I’m Jennifer. And I eat processed food. A lot.” But then Lee Zukor, the founder, spoke about his journey to supporting local food sources. And I realized it is overwhelming for all of us to make big changes in our eating habits. But we can make small ones, and they add up. What matters is that we try.
His speech made me reflect on my milestones. Last year, I could barely cook. To boil corn, I pulled out my copy of Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything (no joke). But here I am this year, ready to cook Thanksgiving dinner. The thought of that is overwhelming: five dishes at once? But I’m no longer afraid. So what if I fail? It won’t be the first time Matt’s been served a frozen pizza for dinner.
To prepare for Thanksgiving, I’m experimenting with some dishes in advance. Our 4 y.o. asks me nightly to make cornbread (not because I have a great recipe but because his favorite restaurant, Famous Dave’s, does). Only I have a pint of cranberries I need to use up.
Sweet Cranberry Cornmeal Torte, adapted from About.com: Southern Food:
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup honey
- 3/4 cup butter, softened
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 1 egg
- 1 cup unbleached white flour
- 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
- 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
We preheated the oven to 350, then greased and floured our springform pan (which we got for our wedding, and haven’t used once).
Then, we combined the sugar, butter, honey, vanilla and egg in a mixing bowl. We beat it until it was well blended.
We stirred in the flour, cornmeal and baking powder. We spooned the mixture into our springform pan, and lightly pressed in the cranberries.
After 30 minutes of baking at 350 it turned light brown and…
I loved the cranberries. Usually I find cornbread dry, but the cranberries gave this torte a delightful twang, sweetening it up like a McDonalds’ apple pie. Not that I eat those. Or order two.
And, why yes, I am letting the torte cool on our stove top. Some day we’ll invest in a cooling rack.
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