Written by Terri Crosby for In Care of Relationships
My Cinnamon Coffeecake is really good. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s epic, or a million dollar coffeecake, or the coffeecake of the century, but when I hand it to people, and they taste it… well, I have to admit, sometimes they say it.
Which counts, yes?
It’s nice when this happens with love, too!
What do you suppose it is about Coffeecake? It’s just Coffeecake, after all.
Maybe the aroma reminds people of their childhood, or their Grandmother’s baking.
Maybe it’s the Vietnamese cinnamon (the strongest, richest, sweetest around) or China Tung Hing cinnamon (extra sweet, spicy and strong), or Kornintje cinnamon from Indonesia (sweet and mellow), or Ceylon cinnamon (complex and fragrant with citrus overtones).
Spices matter and Penzey’s knows what they’re doing. Their cinnamon leaves grocery store varieties in the dust. If you try Penzeys, you’ll never go back.
So, maybe it’s the cinnamon that makes them swoon and sigh! Maybe it’s the instant vacation to another land when Ceylon cinnamon hits your taste buds.
Or maybe it’s the Blade Mace.
Did you know…
Mace is the lacy, yellow covering of nutmeg, removed by hand (yes, by hand!) and dried. Nutmeg grows on an evergreen tree native to the Maluku Islands of Indonesia, and now in other places as well — for instance, Penang Island in Malaysia, in the Caribbean (particularly Grenada), in the southern state of Karela in India, and on the island of Zanzibar off the coast of Tanzania.
Mace is usually ground, but the kind I put in my coffeecake topping is called blade mace, peeled straight from the nutmeg. It’s chewy and the flavor pops. It’s pretty heavenly.
So the taste of Cinnamon Coffeecake is an international affair for sure. When you dive into that first bite, your taste buds visit other far away lands.
In anything, ingredients matter, quality matters, freshness matters whether we’re talking coffeecake or relationships.
So what does my cinnamon coffeecake have in common with your good love life?
Here’s what I mean.
PASS ME SOME O’ THAT
My Cinnamon Coffeecake recipe was passed down. The way we are in relationships with others is often passed down as well. We watch, learn, listen, and we may choose to do things the way our parents or grandparents did. Sometimes that’s a good thing, and sometimes, well, not as good as Cinnamon Coffeecake!
But every recipe — whether we’re talking Food or Relationships or anything else — is, of course, adjustable in our capable and creative hands. Over the years, I have modified my family’s versions of just about everything, and you probably have, too. It’s natural to tweak, adjust, re-think, and revamp.
Relationships have to work for you. Your relationships don’t require the approval of anyone else — the King, the Queen, or your family. Your relationships just have to work for you.
And so does a simple recipe for something you produce in your very own kitchen. So I took my mom’s recipe for Sunday morning Cinnamon Coffeecake, and changed it over the years to suit me.
HUMOR AND SUBSTANCE
My Coffeecake is light, but has body. It’s not a white-bread version, it has deeper flavor. It’s nice when a relationship has that, too — it’s light-hearted, but has plenty of substance. You laugh, have meaningful conversations and use your combined abilities to work out the details of relating. You’re creative about problem-solving. You try new things, see what works and do more of that. You create a relationship recipe that works for you.
With love or crumble cake, there is also the matter of substitutions. Maybe you ran out of patience or cinnamon? Then what?
If you’re plumb out of patience, try taking a break. Walk away, even for 30 seconds. Get your bearings, think of something that eases your mind (this is not the end of the world, this is no big deal even though it feels like it, this too shall pass…)
And in place of cinnamon, try the pumpkin pie spice you haven’t used since last Thanksgiving — it’s deep and rich and lovely.
CHANGE IS THE CONSTANT
Lord knows Recipes and Relationships are ever-evolving. Goodness. The changes I’ve been through with Eric, and the changes I’ve made to the Coffeecake — so many parallels, you know? I’ve learned what I like. I’ve deliberately added and subtracted to make love and cake work for me.
And — big deal — it’s important to remember that preferences and needs change with time. I don’t have the same life with Eric that I did 15 years ago, and my Coffeecake has followed suit.
Food and tradition are such great partners. In my family growing up, we had coffeecake on Sunday morning with scrambled eggs. On Christmas morning, we added Texas grapefruit, which was a big-deal, out-of-season treat when it was 20 below.
In relationships, we can follow tradition — or create our own as we go. We can find a way to relate that creates a light, delicious tender crumb. For instance, if I’m clearly causing Eric a little frustration I often say “Eric, do you love me?” which is my way of acknowledging that I know I just threw him a curve ball and I know he’s frustrated. It’s my way of saying, “I see it.”
On cue, he hesitates, looks at me (with whatever facial expression he feels at the moment) and says “Mostly!” and we laugh. That’s a pattern. It works for us, and it has become a tradition.
Or I walk into the room where he’s watching TV, and without hesitation, he pauses the program. It’s a small tradition with big impact and it works. I love love love that he does that. In turn, he loves that I am conscious about interrupting. I’m not assuming that I can initiate a big long conversation about the state of the world or talk about vacation plans for next summer while he’s watching the Dodger game. I ask a question, get some needed info, and I’m on my way. Aretha calls it a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
See? My Cinnamon Coffeecake and Your Good Love Life are practically the same! Delicious and Ever-Evolving!
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