FIFTY TWO POSTS FROM THE EMPTY NEST

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52 posts.  All we really knew when we contemplated writing a blog was that we needed to find a new direction for our energies.  We weren’t morose in the empty nest.   Nostalgic and sad sometimes, happy and laughing others.  But we knew the train had left the station and we were still standing on the platform, waving, and bewildered.

52 posts ago, we signed up for WordPress.  It was Lucy and Ethel at their best.  You would have thought the keyboard was crawling with poisonous spiders.  “What do you think will happen if we push this button?” While we have come a long way,  most of the mechanics of WordPress, and computers in general, remain a mystery.  And we’re okay with that.

52 posts ago, we bought a notebook to write down ideas for blogs.  The fact that there are places on our computers and our phones for “notes” didn’t occur to us until blog 51.

52 posts ago, in an effort to improve our photographs, we bought white plates for pictures of Sunday dinners even as the words “Oh no, we forgot to take the pictures!” resonated through the kitchen.

52 posts ago, we moved the cursor to “publish” for the first time.  What did we think would happen?  Fame and fortune?  Maybe for about five seconds.

52 posts ago, we saw our first comment.  Our reaction: startled surprise.  It was from Grown and Flown.  They are gifted writers, wonderful mothers, and women we’d like to count as friends.  They have continued to encourage and inspire us and we are grateful to them for that.

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52 posts later, we still aren’t sure what we thought would happen, but what has happened is this:

52 posts later, we have proved to ourselves that we are committed to writing this blog, whether anyone reads it or not.  It’s something we do for ourselves-a journal of this journey we’re on now that the kids are starting journeys of their own.  The writing leads to field trips and projects and those field trips and projects, lead back to the writing.  Would we have started canning without the blog?  Probably not.

52 posts later, we find we are not very good at expanding our connections in the blogosphere.  A big part of that is time.  We both work full time.  When we’re tired, we’re book and movie people.  Sometimes sitting at the computer seems more like work or being at work.  52 posts later, we still haven’t made friends with the “buttons”.   People tell us we’ll get “there”.  Our goal is to get in the vicinity of “there”.

52 posts later, we have come to treasure the people we have connected with.  Reading their blogs every week is like a phone call to a friend.  Lisa and Mary of Grown and Flown make us feel a little less alone in the empty nest.  Lillian has become the daughter we’ll never meet.  TBM has taken us to places we’ll never see in stories and pictures.  Maryanne is a kindred spirit.  Cynthia’s pictures have the power to bring us joy and we’re cheering Lou on in her search for bliss.   When they like something we’ve written or done, it makes us happy.  We would miss them if they went away.

52 posts later, we have come to realize that writing about the empty nest has dissipated the sadness and the pain.  We still miss those years of motherhood and long sometimes for a “do over”, but 52 posts later, it has eased.  We have claimed something for ourselves that is, in its own way, independent of motherhood just as our children are beginning to claim something for themselves that is independent of us.  That they have responded  with so much support and encouragement took us a little by surprise.  It shouldn’t have.  It is the echo of the same support and encouragement that we have given them and it has touched us deeply.  That alone is reason enough to write 52 more.

The McCloskey concrete ships from WWII

The McCloskey concrete ships from WWII

THE MENU:  BAKED HAM, BAKED PINEAPPLE, GLAZED SWEET POTATOES, CHOCOLATE CAKE WITH RASPBERRY BALSAMIC VINEGAR AND MARSCAPONE:

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GLAZED SWEET POTATO WEDGES – (Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc):

  • 3 lbs large sweet potatoes
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter cut in to 12 pieces, softened
  • kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar, in a shallow bowl.

Wash potatoes thoroughly and peel them.  Cut off the ends.  Cut each potato in half and then cut each half in to 1″ wedges.  Place in a large baking dish in a single layer.  Spread the softened butter over the sweet potatoes.  Sprinkle with salt.  Cover the pan tightly with foil and bake at 450 for about 35 minutes until tender.  Remove from the oven and cool.  Preheat the broiler.  One at a time, brush the cut sides with the melted butter in the pan, then dip in to the brown sugar.  Return to baking dish and sprinkle with salt.  Right before serving, broil the potatoes until caramelized and heated through.

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CUCUMBER MELON VINAIGRETTE:

  • 1/4 cup organic cucumber melon infused balsamic vinegar (available at Drizzles)
  • 1/4 cup Meyer lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 tsp. minced shallots
  • 2 tsp. minced chives

Whisk together vinegar and lemon juice.  Slowly whisk in the canola oil.  Stir in chives and shallots.  

CHOCOLATE RASPBERRY BALSAMIC CAKE WITH WHIPPED CREAM FROSTING AND RASPBERRY COULIS:

Using your favorite chocolate cake recipe, bake in two 9” round cake pans.

Cool for about 15 minutes. While still warm, remove one cake from its pan, place on a large plate and drizzle with raspberry infused balsamic vinegar.  Set aside and allow layers to cool completely.

Raspberry Coulis:  Place one cup raspberries, 1/8th cup raspberry balsamic vinegar and one tablespoon sugar in small saucepan.  Bring to a low boil, reduce heat and cook for  10 minutes.  Pour through a fine sieve, to remove seeds and set aside.

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Whipped Cream Frosting:  Beat together one pint heavy cream, 3 tablespoons marscapone and 3 tablespoons sugar until desired consistency.  The marscapone will keep the whipped cream from weeping.

Assemble Cake:  Cover bottom layer with frosting.  Place second layer on top.  Cover with remaining icing and top with a few whole raspberries.  When serving, spread the coulis on the plate around the cake.

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12 Responses to FIFTY TWO POSTS FROM THE EMPTY NEST

  1. lillianccc says:

    As I said before, you ladies are the sweetest. Your encouragement and support of me always makes me feel like I have two other moms looking out for me (which is wonderful since my own mother is so far away). Blogging isn’t always easy but it definitely takes you on a lot of unexpected adventures. Here’s to more blog posts and more food adventures! 🙂

  2. TBM says:

    Wow 52 posts. that’s great. Blogging is an amazing way to meet people and to find encouragement. Here’s to another 52! And thanks so much for mentioning my blog. I love popping in here to read about the wonderful food you cook. I am not a cook. Even the dog won’t eat my cooking. You think I’m exaggerating. I’m not. Ask Miles. He gives my cooking one good sniff and then turns his nose. I wish I could cook fabulous meals. Instead I read about them 🙂 And ham is one of my favorite dishes.

  3. snati001 says:

    Congrats on 52 posts! Looking forward to more! The meals you put together always look so delicious and inventive. I’ve been bookmarking several recipes that you have posted 😀

  4. Denise and Sandy, Lisa and I are honored beyond belief with your friendship and please know that what we feel toward you is exactly the same….except neither one of us is a very skilled cook! You have inspired us 52 times with your recipes, your photography and the road you are on as empty nest moms. We feel less lonely knowing that we are in a rich sisterhood at this time in our lives. Our only regret is that we cannot sit down with you and have dinner in person – maybe someday! xo, Mary Dell

  5. likeitiz says:

    Denise and Sandy, your blog is like a mother’s well-used kitchen which, when you enter, you can’t help but smell the baking and feel embraced and welcomed, not to be judged or sized-up. Here’s to the next 52 two times over!

  6. thank you maryann. you will always be welcome in our kitchen.

  7. Hi Denise and Sandy, Just read this and am very touched. I found similar things in blogging during the year I’ve been writing, visiting places that I would not have visited otherwise or trying out something new, and also looking at everyday things differently. Keep on writing….!!

  8. Thank you so much for the encouragement. We love your blog and feel as if we are in Languedoc every time we visit.

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