I could very easily begin this post with a couple of well-worn phrases -- "life goes on" or "time flies" -- and I just did. There's a reason those phrases are so well worn. They are often applicable to how we feel. My life does go and time certainly does seem to fly by. My life is also a crazy, mind-wrenching roller coaster of mental illness. One thing I tried desperately to do when I started this blog is to seem normal. Or at least as close to some version of normal as I could be. It wore me out over time.
Making food makes me happy. It is my little haven from the chaos around me. I am pretty sure I mentioned a few times before that my husband has a mental illness. More specifically he is bipolar, a.k.a. manic depressive. He was misdiagnosed for 12 years. Part of his treatment before he was correctly diagnosed was ECT, or Electro Convulsive Therapy (better known as Electro Shock Therapy). Most folks know it from "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest". It's nothing like that anymore and can work wonders. Less than 1% of patients have permanent memory damage and again another 1% see no lasting benefit from the treatment. My husband is lucky enough to fall into the 1% of both of those categories. He was leaps and bounds better for a month or so after the treatments. Then he started going down hill. He got so bad that I had to force him to sign himself into a hospital to keep him from harming himself while I was working. That was the turning point where we found a doctor that finally gave him a proper diagnosis. The proper diagnosis doesn't make things perfect. Some days he's down and wants to sleep all day. Some days he's manic. Manic means he'll stay awake for a couple of days, talk your ear off, and start lots of new projects. The swings are unpredictable, but better than always down.
The hardest side effect of the treatment is his permanent, um, well, brain damage (for lack of a better term). He lost about 3 years of his life. He doesn't remember Isaac, our youngest, as a baby or toddler. The everyday side effect is the permanent damage to his short term memory. He can remember every fact he has read about the cars in the new Mad Max movie (which is totally amazing) but can't tell you what he did today. He can do complex Trigonometry or Calculus, but can't add the tip at a restaurant. He loses words. In the middle of a conversation, he will lose the name of whatever he is talking about even though he just used it 20 times in the last few minutes.
These changes have made life a lot more challenging since the last time I really posted anything. I just needed to drop everything I did for me and only do for Eric and my boys for a while. They need me. That's still a present tense need, so I'm not going to be posting 3 times a week, like I did before. I'm shooting for once a week.
I've been wanting to start a little project for a while and I think making a fresh start on the blog is the right time to start. I inherited a manila envelope and a couple of folders of my NeeNaw's recipes. I can't describe how immaculate her house was, so I know if she liked a recipe enough to save it, then it has to be amazing. This recipe isn't from her collection, but it is from an old newspaper clipping and just like the kind of thing she would have saved. I was intrigued, so I put it on top of the envelope and made it an honorary member of NeeNaw's collection. I made only a teeny-tiny change to the original by adding some almond extract in addition to the vanilla. Cherries and almonds love each other and it makes the whole thing smell amazing, so it's a no-brainer. It's just the kind of thing she would have loved. I think she would have tucked this into the envelope, too.
Upside Down Cherry Pudding
Print me, Please!!!
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar, divided
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup milk
2 cups pitted sour cherries (fresh, frozen, or canned)
1 cup hot water
Preheat the oven to 350°.
Cream the butter and 1 cup sugar on medium until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, vanilla, and almond extract until completely combined. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the flour mixture alternately with the milk and beat until just combined. Pour the batter into a lightly greased 9x9" baking pan. Sprinkle the cherries over the batter; sprinkle the remaining sugar over the cherries. Pour the water over the top. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until golden brown and the pudding starts to pull away from the sides of the pan.