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I thought about claiming that I gave up blogging for Lent, but that wouldn’t be true. My friend St. John Chrysostom says that it is more important to give up sins during Lent, such as lying, than to give up indifferent things, like eating and blogging. So I will just say that I slacked off on the blogging front, and the longer it went on the harder it was to correct. 

Since last we spoke, I

  • cooked lots of vegan and gluten-free food
  • didn’t run enough to talk about (pesky leg)
  • went to Utah for skiing and visited a great Orthodox church
  • celebrated Holy Week and Pascha
AND AND AND
  • wrote and submitted my first whole dissertation chapter! All 45 pages and 98 footnotes. 

It still needs polishing but my director says to go on to the next one for now. 

In honor of my blogging comeback, I leave you with my Pascha cake.

I haven’t made a proper layer cake in years, and I had to borrow pans from two people, but this was worth it. I’ve been thinking about carrot cake for a few months now and looking at lots of recipes, because I have very strong opinions on the subject. Carrrot cake ought to have a very high proportion of carrots, and also include pineapple, coconut, and walnuts. This recipe fits the bill, baked in 3 9” round pans. With cream cheese and dulce de leche frosting from here (a little different from the one with the cupcake recipe). 

Edited to add: I used 2 T of Ener-G egg replacer whisked with 7 T of warm water instead of the 3 eggs. I also used unsweetened coconut, since that’s what I had in the pantry, and thought it was still plenty sweet. I used the larger amount of sugar in the frosting, but if I were to do it again, I’d use less. Keep it refrigerated so the frosting doesn’t melt off, but let it sit out for a short while to soften up the cake before you eat it.

Since it was a special occasion, I splurged on Thomas Keller’s famous-in-the-GF-world all-purpose gluten-free flour mix, C4C. Sold by Williams-Sonoma at astonishing price, I think I can say it is worth the investment when you want to make something really spectacular. I was being such a careful baker that I even sifted it before measuring! (I also made hot cross biscuits with it for my Pascha basket.)

I took it to a big party, and 3/4 of it got eaten by other people, leaving just the right take-home amount for me. Yum.

What should I try with the rest of the precious bag of C4C?

Last semester I felt as if I wasn’t doing very much work, but actually I:

  • Ran a marathon
  • Threw a 90th-birthday/Thanksgiving/family-reunion party in California
  • Applied to four competitive grants for dissertation support next academic year
  • Wrote 35 pages of the dissertation
  • TAed for a religious history course in the honors program, cooked, cleaned, sewed, knitted, babysat, etc.  

So next time I start whining about how lazy Dana hasn’t accomplished anything in days, feel at liberty to smack me. Nicely.

It seems popular in some circles to be scornful of New Year’s Resolutions, but I like them. I like them as a perfectionist who is always on the lookout for socially acceptable ways to raise my (already unreasonable) personal performance standards. This tendency also means that resolutions aren’t necessarily good for me. So I try very hard to make the big public one something healthy and reasonable, and keep it to one. (Of course there are scads of unofficial perfectionist fantasies running amok in my brain.) 

2011’s resolution was to run a marathon. Done and yay. It was nice to have such a concrete goal. I might even do it again because it was so awesome. 

This year’s resolution is to blog once a week. So everyone will know whether I’m doing it or not. (I make no promises regarding depth of content, or even adherence to the purported subject matter. I’m not trying to become a Serious Public Blogger, just to write more.)

What are your thoughts about resolutions? 

First of all, I am determined not to berate myself for being a bad blogger. Sometimes I don’t feel like writing and that’s just how it is.

But in the time since we last spoke, I have raced the ten-miler, tried a week of raw foods, celebrated Pascha, got my dissertation proposal approved by my main committee and the executive committee (it is currently languishing in the dean’s office), landscaped the back yard complete with 64-square-foot vegetable garden, gone on a minimalist kick and cleaned out all the closets, and started teaching intensive elementary Greek 3 hours a day, 5 days a week.

So if I feel like it, in between making awesome grammatical handouts for my Greek students, I will try writing up some of the mental backlog of posts that I meant to write over the last few months.

Or not. We might just move on to cold roasted chicken and salads, full-fledged marathon training, and angst about how to start a dissertation For Real.

Food," said Goethe, "is the topmost taper on the golden candelabra of existence.

— Donald Barthelme, “Conversations with Goethe”

I thought I would blog while I was away for spring break, but I was mostly off-line for the week. Reading in the hot tub was so much more appealing than writing anything after a day on the slopes of Park City.

Now I’m home with jet-lag and my first ski injury other than bruises: a strained tricep, thanks to intermediate-level longer skis and ungroomed runs that made me fall down almost as much as when I was a beginner. I even crashed into someone for the first time, and knocked us both down. A total stranger at that. But these mishaps were more embarrassing than painful for the most part, and I had a good time otherwise. The generous parents-in-law bought me my own ski boots as an early birthday present, and they are so much more comfortable than rentals. They also look better and say “Hot Rod” on the side. I do like to go fast… My ski motto is, if you don’t fall, you aren’t really trying. Of course, that’s easier to say four years in, now that I don’t fall down on every run and sometimes even manage to keep up with my cool snowboarding husband and brothers in law.

Stay tuned for some more gluten-free recipes, book reviews, and a dissertation update coming this week.

He had been eight years upon a project for extracting sunbeams out of cucumbers, which were to be put in phials hermetically sealed, and let out to warm the air in raw inclement summers.

— Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels

There is a certain Proarche, royal, surpassing all thought, a power existing before every other substance, and extended into space in every direction. But along with it there exists a power which I term a Gourd; and along with this Gourd there exists a power which again I term Utter-Emptiness. This Gourd and Emptiness, since they are one, produced (and yet did not simply produce, so as to be apart from themselves) a fruit, everywhere visible, eatable, and delicious, which fruit-language calls a Cucumber. Along with this Cucumber exists a power of the same essence, which again I call a Melon. These powers, the Gourd, Utter-Emptiness, the Cucumber, and the Melon, brought forth the remaining multitude of the delirious melons of Valentinus.

— Irenaeus, Against Heresies 1.11.4