Opening Virtual Windows
Some days are good and others are emotionally difficult. Not for any particular reason, just this sense of the world closing down around me and becoming infinitely small. There are still ways to break out of that feeling: reading books, writing poetry, working out daily (which is much easier if you have a workout partner), eating lunch on the patio in the sunshine, or drinking virtual coffee with friends (including with my cousin in London!). We don’t have to feel isolated and small.
It’s important to put our Corona pandemic into perspective. We are not being persecuted. We have enough food and supplies to last a long while. Can you imagine hiding in a small space like Ann Frank did in Holland or like my friend Eddie Bielowski, who, as a five-year-old in Poland, had to stay completely silent during the day so as to hide from the Nazis? Eddie and his family relied on the kindness of a farmer and his wife to bring them food in secret, and it was never enough for the five adults and two children hiding together in a space they took turns to lay down in. I highly recommend Eddie’s book, Invisible Jews: Surviving the Holocaust in Poland. Yeah, we’re really doing fine.
So, if the bed or couch “glue” is a little strong these days, don’t fret. Take it in stride. We are safe. My mom is safe in her facility. My dad is healthy. I know where all my kids are. (We’ve locked up our daughter for 14 days after her international flight, something my husband has been jokingly threatening to do for years!).
And there is time to bake. I’m trying to use up all our stores of flour before Passover arrives in a few weeks. I don’t have much energy for this upcoming holiday, but I’ll find it. My daughter will be out of quarantine by then.
Here’s wishing you all good health—physical, mental, and emotional—during these very trying times.
Ok, so I looked around at my supplies and decided I wanted to make a Black Forest Cake. I substituted strawberries for the cherries, but wow, what a moist, delicious cake! I can’t claim to be a perfectionist or a good cake decorator, but I did my best. I don’t mind being an amateur. My goal is to eat well and in good health and create a practical cooking life. Here’s my rendition of a non-dairy Strawberry Black Forest Cake.
Strawberry Black Forest Cake
I learned a new skill in making this cake. See that chocolate bark? So easy. If I can do it, so can you! What also surprised me was that the basic cake recipe was identical to my recipe for Deep Dark Chocolate Cake. I also learned that chocolate melts very quickly, and taking photos of whipped cream is time-sensitive.
2 cups flour
1½ cups sugar
1 cup cocoa
1½ tsp baking powder
1½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
½ cup canola oil
1 cup almond drink
1 cup hot water
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup water
1/8 cup Amaretto
3 cups soy or alternative whipping cream
¼ cup powdered sugar
½ cup chocolate chips
1 tsp water (2 tsp for a thinner icing)
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup strawberries, chopped
¾ cup strawberry jam, warmed
Several whole strawberries
Prepared whipped cream in can
Chocolate shavings from a grated chocolate bar
Preheat oven to 350° F / 180° C. Measure dry ingredients into a bowl and mix. Add oil, eggs, almond milk, and vanilla and continue mixing batter. Add the hot water last and slowly work into the batter. Pour into two 6” / 15 cm greased pans and bake for 30 minutes. To make more than two layers, cut cakes in half horizontally. Place bottom layer cake pan-side up on a plate and spoon over amaretto liqueur mixture. Combine chopped strawberries with jam (warmed in microwave for about 30 seconds) and spread in middle of cake. Cover remaining layer with frosting. Place second layer cake on top, pan-side down, and continue as with first layer. Frost sides of cake with white icing. In a microwave-safe measuring cup, measure chips, water and vanilla. Heat on high for 30 seconds. If needed, stir and repeat until chips are melted. Spread chocolate on paper and cover with a second sheet of baking paper. Roll and place in freezer for 30 minutes. When you unroll the papers, chocolate will automatically break into long strands. Place these on sides of the cake then decorate the cake with whipped cream, chocolate shavings and whole strawberries.