I feel like my posts have been really disjointed lately, perhaps because I am feeling disjointed. When I start feeling freaked out, I say to myself dramatically, “My life is unraveling!” Job, romance—neither feels stable to me right now. Then I think back to my word for this year, devotion, and it’s enough to keep me from losing it. Devotion, faith, perseverance: these are the ways in which we build a life worth living.
In the spirit of order and updates and tranquility, here’s what I’ve been doing lately.
Life. Things are going well for me these days, with one rather large and obvious exception. Yes, the future is uncertain, but I feel sure that I am doing the right things. I had a great week at work: I finished the latest set of revisions on the grant, and I read and reviewed a manuscript that my advisor has been asked to review. I love reading unpublished work—it’s so much more exciting to me than reading published papers! And I love editorial and reviewing work. This week I worried that I had bitten off more than I could chew, as I was feeling swamped by the grant and experimental work, but the pressure was exactly what I needed: everything got done, and I’m ending the week on a calm note.
I also filled out a silly bracket for March Madness. I call it The Cat’s Meow, and it’s a funny idea that a professor in my department shared with us. The strategy is simple: animals beat non-animals, and cats beat non-cats. So, for example, I was forced to choose the UNC-Asheville bulldogs over the Syracuse orangemen (which I lost, of course, because a 16-seed has never once beaten a 1-seed), but I also chose the Cincinnati bearcats over the Texas longhorns. Cincinnati won, though I feel guilty not choosing Texas (indirect loyalty, you know—Texas is Texas A & M’s sister university).
Anyway, I have no real interest in college basketball, and the randomness of my bracket picks makes me laugh. So we’ll see how well The Cat’s Meow does this year!
Love. Oh, dear. It’s so hard to be calm right now. I have no news about Matt. Whatever he is going through, it is going to take time to resolve. I feel utterly unprepared to handle this situation, so I am falling back on my decision to do nothing. Nothing drastic, that is.
I keep thinking about labels and the role that labels play in relationships. Labels explain our relationships to the external world, to some degree, but they also explain our relationships to ourselves. And I feel lost without a label that feels right to me. My favorite label for Matt is companion—he is my companion. Companion feels soft and comfortable to me, warm and not overtly sexual the way that “lover” is. I also like “special gentleman.” He will always be special to me.
I’m not sure what I would call him right now, as I feel that our relationship has shifted. I hope he will be my companion again, in the future, as it makes me terribly sad to think otherwise. He would probably call us friends, as friendship has always been the foundation of our relationship. For now, I will be whatever he wants me to be. For love, I will become a shape-shifter.
Food. I’m nursing my broken heart with food, of course. With coconut milk, to be specific. Now, I’m not feeling vindictive toward Matt, but he really does not like coconut. A few weeks ago, when he was visiting me, we were talking about where to go for lunch, and he said, “Anything but Thai.” And do you know why he said that? Because Thai food is notorious for its use of coconut milk in all the curries. Matt and I do not eat Thai food together.
Which is fine with me, but I’ll keep the coconut milk for myself.
I think coconut milk is a wonderful pantry ingredient. I like its creaminess, of course, but I also like its versatility. It works well in savory and sweet things, and it always adds an exotic touch. I’d love to get in the habit of always keeping a can of coconut milk in the cupboard because then I could always whip up Melissa Clark’s delicious coconut hot chocolate.
The recipe comes from In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite, the cookbook that became my cookbook of the year for 2011. It’s a terrific version of hot chocolate, pleasantly sweet and deeply chocolatey, rich and smooth and delectable. It’s perfect for dairy-free folks, and I agree with Melissa when she says, “As any Mounds bar lover will attest, coconut is a fantastic match with chocolate.”
Yes indeedy! This recipe reminds me of my friend Nicole, who shares my love for Mounds bars and is lactose-intolerant. Nicole, this one’s for us. Cheers!
Coconut Hot Chocolate
Adapted slightly from In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite by Melissa Clark
Just one quick note about the recipe: I didn’t use an entire can of coconut milk. I had about a cup of canned coconut milk left over from something else, so I used that and added water to get 15 ounces for this recipe. It worked just fine, as canned coconut milk, even the “lite” stuff, is very rich. So this recipe would be a good destination for leftover coconut milk.
1/3 cup boiling water
2 tbsp. cocoa powder
1 15-ounce can of coconut milk (see headnote)
1/4 cup brown sugar
Pinch kosher salt
1/4 cup chocolate chips, preferably bittersweet or semisweet
1) In a small heatproof mug, whisk together the boiling water and cocoa powder until smooth.
2) In a saucepan, combine the coconut milk, brown sugar, salt, and chocolate chips. Bring to a simmer, stirring frequently, until the chocolate is melted and everything is smooth and combined.
3) Stir the cocoa mixture into the coconut milk mixture and serve. Any leftovers will keep well in the fridge, tightly covered.