Intro

“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”
― Epicurus

My tendency is to live from one project to the next, marking my life with goals, successes and the trying process of reaching those goals. Ambition in and of itself is not bad but what I find is that the constant desire to want something that I don’t yet have robs me of truly enjoying what I have now.

Recently I watched the documentary entitled, Happy. It looks at various cultures around the world and how happy they are. I’m not certain how one can measure happiness but as the images of dancing villagers in a remote tribe, a rickshaw driver in India who has “nothing” by our cultures standards, and a group of older women on a remote Japanese island who gather daily to converse, play games and build intricate origami creations it’s quite easy to see that these people are truly happy.

My first thought when watching the film is that true happiness comes when you concern yourself with the happiness of others. All of these people live in community. They support one another, celebrate with each other and carry one another’s burdens.

When a wave of sadness hits me I tend to analyze my emotions and my life extensively. “Why am I feeling this way? What do I need to change? What can I do to be happier?” Not bad questions but did you notice all those “I’s” in there? I make it all about me. Rarely do I reach out for help and more importantly, rarely do I concern myself with the happiness of others as much as I obsess about my own happiness.

Days after watching the movie and reflecting on my own need to change my attitude and my desire to find more joy in my days I realized that a change in attitude requires more gratitude. It helps that it rhymes.

When expressing gratitude my energy is spent focusing on all the good in my life. Making others happy by thanking them for their presence in my life inevitably fills me with great joy. Taking a moment at the end of a long day to think about what I have to be thankful for today can do nothing but alter my attitude for the better.

A big reason why I’m writing this here is to give myself some accountability. When I write it then I’m more likely to do it or keep doing it. And also I wanted to start the gratitude here with you people.

I’ve said it before but it bares repeating at least a few times a year – thank you. Thank you to those of you who come here and leave here silently. I appreciate you taking the time to stop by and spend some time with me.

Thank you to those of who comment. I’m not very good at responding to comments but that is no reflection as to what they mean to me. I read every single one and I value their affirmation and encouragement more than these mere thanks can express.

Thank you to those who write personal emails. I’m humbled by your generosity and willingness to reach out and encourage me in such an incredibly powerful way.

Your continued support along this journey is often what powers these pages. You are what keeps me coming back here and propels me further.

Thank you is not enough but it’s a start and I feel better for having said it.

 

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Cornmeal Loaf Cake

adapted from Bon Appetit 2006

This hearty cake is perfect for sweet syrupy berries and softly sweet cream. It’s also perfect in the afternoon with a bit of tea or coffee. The crunch of cornmeal and sweetness of honey mark its uniqueness and leave you lingering in the kitchen slowly cutting away at the golden loaf. I find the texture improves after the first day. 

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
5 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Butter and flour 9x5x3-inch metal loaf pan.
Whisk flour, cornmeal and salt in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat butter, sugar and honey a in large bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time beating constantly, then beat in vanilla. Scrape down the sides of the bowl the mix again. Add dry ingredients and mix just to combine. Finishing mixing by hand as to ensure everything is well combined.. Transfer batter to prepared pan.
Bake cake until brown on top and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour.
Cool cake in pan 15 minutes. Turn cake out onto rack and cool completely.
Can be made 1 day ahead. Wrap well once completely cool and store at room temperature.

Maple Whipped Cream

I don’t care for too sweet whipped cream but if you want more sweetness and more maple flavor feel free to add as much maple syrup as you’d like. I don’t imagine you needed my permission but it’s there no matter.

1 ½ cups heavy cream
2-3 tablespoons maple syrup

Combine the cream and the syrup and whip until soft, billowy peaks form.

 

51 Responses to “Cornmeal cake with blueberries and maple whipped cream”

  1. la domestique

    There’s been a lot of discontent in our house lately and I’ve been trying to bring things back in balance. You are so right about changing the focus and putting that energy towards other people. Your cornmeal cake with blueberries is absolutely lovely.

    Reply
  2. Kate @ Savour Fare

    Have you read The Happiness Project? The blog is worth reading, but the book really changed my life. I feel like I should reread it twice a year.

    There’s a bakery here in LA, Huckleberry, that makes a cornmeal cake with blueberries baked in. The Blueberry and Corn flavor combo is so great, isn’t it?

    Reply
  3. Jacqui

    Beautiful. The very act of you stopping and thinking these feelings shows your goodness and care for others. Thanks for reminding us all along with you. And I will take a cornmeal cake with berries and cream any day!

    Reply
  4. Fabiola

    Once again your writing and post fills me with with appreciation and joy. I totally get your words. I understand that things of this nature propelled is into reflection. I think that is a mark of a truly present person. If we miss these things to become better individuals then we are lost. So thank you too.

    Reply
  5. Laura

    Yum. I just made a cornmeal cake and was surprised at how much I liked it (i.e., it did not remind me of cornbread). This also looks delicious!

    Reply
  6. alison

    Beautiful. Both the images and the post. I’ve been working on feeling more gratitude as well. It’s kind of amazing how being purposeful about it can change your entire attitude. Thank you for your posts, I look forward to them.

    Reply
  7. Laura Dembowski

    I think happiness is relative and depends on a wide variety of factors. I agree that placing more emphasis on the happiness and well being of others can bring us happiness too. This post was a thoughtful and interesting read that will have me thinking for awhile. Thanks for sharing it! And that cornmeal cake looks wonderful!

    Reply
  8. Jocelyn Pascall

    Really great post, and so true. Happiness is something we all want, but I think many of us get lost in what we think it the right path to happiness. Really, we all have so much to be thankful for right in front of us. Anyway, that dessert looks amazing and right up my alley. Have a great weekend!

    Reply
  9. Christy

    The many things there are to expound on in this post! Your photos are just dreamy; I aspire to take such nice food photos one day.

    Loving the opening quote– such an important message, and can’t be overstated. There is so much to be grateful for (as I sit here in my own apartment, on my own laptop, surrounded by a gorgeous sunlit yard, with my health, a stocked kitchen, etc, etc).

    And your words in this post are why this is one of my favorite blogs to visit again and again- thank you for your thanks! Haha. My blog is really just starting, but I like the habit of responding to each person who comments, and acknowledging how much their readership means to me. Also appreciate the documentary recommendation- checking it out ASAP :)

    Reply
  10. Kimberley

    And thank you too, lovely lady. For your kindness, honesty, warmth. For sharing your gorgeous recipes. Loving this one especially, on the cusp of fall, as I have a strong hankering to bake lately. (Thanks, too, for turning me on to that film.)

    Reply
  11. Sheri

    With all that is going on in our world, it is very important to pause and be thankful for all that we have. Your post was a gentle and thoughtful reminder. Thank you!

    Reply
  12. Kate Harvey

    This is a beautiful reminder! I also am someone who always looks to the future, for the next project or the next phase, and your words and the quote at the beginning of the post are so lovely. Thank you! Oh, and the cake looks divine :)

    Kate
    Something Ivory

    Reply
  13. Annalisa

    This phrase from G. K. Chesterton is helpful to me: “Don’t outstrip your mercies with newly invented needs.” Thank you! Can’t wait now to try maple whipped cream on something-yum!

    Reply
  14. leaf (the indolent cook)

    Such a great piece. So many of us (myself included) are always in pursuit of more happiness and we forget that life is usually already pretty good and to treasure the people in our lives. Thank you for your post.

    Reply
  15. Amanda

    Mmm, gratitude. I’m finding this simple concept keeps returning to me.

    I’ve never commented before, but this post reminded me: thank you for taking the time to share all your beautiful recipes and photographs! This blog is one of my favorites.

    [Also, thank you for the “thank you” ;) ]

    Reply
  16. dervla @ The Curator

    Perhaps if we concentrate on the happiness of others for a bit we’ll find our own joy in that. I’m going to try and live that philosophy and see if it helps. Wonderful post and lovely recipe too.

    Reply
  17. Pieternel

    Thank you so much, Ashley, for this beautiful post – and for the blog in general. You’re an inspiration. This summer I cooked a lot of your recipes and we couldn’t get enough of the lemonade with rosemary!! The combination of perfect recipes, the most fantastic pictures and your view on life move me. Look forward to new entries every day. Thank you! love Pieternel

    Reply
  18. Erin

    Once, a couple of years ago, when I was having a bit of a rough time I started making a list of all the things I’m thankful for…and I have to say, it truly did help me to improve my attitude. :)

    Reply
  19. Sarah

    How incredibly true and what a much needed reminder. A good indicator that I am beginning to focus too much on myself is when feelings of discontentment begin to grow.

    Thanks for the encouragement and inspiration!

    Love everything about the photos by the way…

    Reply
  20. Piper

    I love the sound of this, and so beautiful too! I can imagine it would be great with any fruit, and the maple whip cream is the bomb!

    Reply
  21. Jessie

    Great post. Thank you for sharing everything- the beautiful photos, an amazing recipe, one great film, and most importantly your gratitude. Unfortunately, we all need reminders to revel in what happiness exists in our lives. It’s good to know there’s many in the same boat.

    Reply
  22. Karen

    Just bought fresh real stone ground meal from Bradley’s Country Store. They grind their own and it’s the best. I now have a new recipe to use it! Thanks

    Reply
  23. Liz B

    Again Ashley, I’m so touched by your honest words. It is so comforting to read and to know that everyone struggles and feels guilty at the ‘I’ and importance we give it. I for one have been very guilty of this recently and I’m learning to give more gratitude and to talk. Talking to someone and saying I’m struggling and I need to talk this through, requires alot from me and does not come easily. And I’ve found that the people who I should give more gratitude to, is the people who know this in me and yet still continue to love me and help coax me into talking and for waiting and being there when I do share. And boy does it feel good to share. This is my lifes lesson, share and share again and say thank you and be gracious to others. You are so honest Ashley and don’t pretend to know it all and just tell us the sweet sides of life but you make us all feel together in this and share with us the often sour parts too. Thank you. And looks a gorgeous recipe xx

    Reply
  24. MikeVFMK

    Lovely cake! Joy is such a tough balancing act. I hope you find yours in what you have and the people you are with. Love coming back here.

    Reply
  25. Lael

    It was such a pleasure to meet you at The Book Larder, Ashley! Thank you for this lovely looking cornmeal cake and for your thoughts on gratitude. These thoughts remind me of the book One Thousand Gifts…have you heard of it? Taking the time to collect even the littlest gratitudes and verbalize them or jot them down really can bring a quietness and peace inside and help me gain perspective outside myself. Thank you that your writing often extends beyond good food in and of itself and to broader life and relationships…it’s a beautiful thing that you steward these gifts God’s clearly given you!

    Reply
  26. Hannah

    Wow, even though I’ve never met you I felt like you could have written this post specifically about me. I’ve always had trouble feeling content and you inspired me to jot down a few things I was grateful for before bed last night.

    I’m reading Eckhart Tolle’s “A New Earth” right now and in it he says, “Don’t seek happiness. If you seek it, you won’t find it, because seeking is the antithesis of happiness”. Still bending my mind around that one but I’ve been thinking about it a lot recently!

    Reply
    • Ashley Rodriguez

      Hannah – I love this. Thanks so much for sharing. I need to remind myself this post again and again. I find it so much easier to complain than to give thanks but the reward of doing so is a much happier me. Now, thanks to you I am going to write down a few thanks tonight.

      Reply

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