Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
It’s been a bit of week in our world hasn’t it? I really don’t mean that to sound as trite as it does, the truth is I don’t know what to say. So I leave part of that beautiful poem up there because the words, “Just keep going. No feeling is final.”, for me is like a gentle push forward and right now, I need that.
Two days ago, with my three kids in the car I began to pull out of our parking spot before I stopped the car and set the gear back to park because whatever grumblings I heard coming from the back seat put me over the edge.
“Listen.” I said to them feeling that surge you get when you’re about to drop a parenting bomb and just hoping that for two minutes they could actually hear my words.
“Everyday there is much to grumble about. Each day is filled with pain, suffering and heartache. But each day there is also joy. Sometimes we have to fight hard to see that joy but that fight is worth battling and it’s our choice who wins; joy or grief. Your feelings are valid and you should feel them as you need to and then, when you are done feeling crappy, please choose joy. And I will try and do the same.”
Beauty and terror. Everyday. We can’t protect ourselves from the terror but we also don’t need it to be our focus.
I’ll have many more of these sorts of conversations, with myself and with my children. In my own head it’s been daily as I’m so easily crippled by the suffering overwhelming this world. And honestly, it’s hard to then come here and simply talk about food. But right now my beauty, in part, is the food coming from my kitchen and the people I get to share it with.
So I keep going because no feeling is final and I think keeping going is brave and quite frankly the only way to go. And when we are strong enough to see the beauty we actually do the things that put more beauty into this world.
Last week Gabe and I attended a fundraiser for First Aid Arts. Our friends, along with the help of many people, created a First Aid kit for the soul. The kit seeks to bring healing through art (drawing, music, and dance) as a way of helping people who have been affected with trauma. That’s what it looks like when terror turns into beauty.
I’ve mentioned them here before as we have been partners with First Aid Arts using one of my art forms – food – to give back. Specifically cookies. Each time you purchase our cookie mix a portion of that money goes directly to First Aid Arts.
To celebrate the release of our holiday cookie flavor – White Chocolate Peppermint with Vanilla Salt!! I made us a trifle. A cookie trifle! (Worthy of an excess of exclamation marks).
I’ve made a similar trifle with the Salted Chocolate Chip variety as well but this one is so seasonally appropriate I’d say.
Layers of crisp cookies turn soft under a blanket of vanilla bean flecked custard. The custard is softly reminiscent of butterscotch. Dark brown sugar can be thanked for that. It’s soft, cool and makes friends with the cookies in a delightful way – softening them and encouraging them to mingle. Whip cream hugs the layers and lightens(not actually as it is indeed cream but rather it just feels light) the whole lot. A added hit of peppermint extract to the whipped cream would reinforce the peppermint flavor but as is it’s subtle and that’s nice too.
A trifle is just the sort of dessert you need for the holidays as most of the magic is done while you’re sleeping. Make it the night before and tuck it into bed. You may even have a few cookies to spare to leave out for Santa or to eat in the middle of the night feverishly wrapping the last of the presents.
Peppermint White Chocolate Chip Cookie Trifle
1 package White Chocolate Peppermint Cookie Mix (or you can use this recipe)
2 cups whole milk
4 cups heavy cream, divided
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
6 egg yolks
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract (optional)
1/4 cup crushed candy canes
Bake the cookies according the package directions. Set aside (and try to resist eating them. Okay, eating one is fine).
Make the custard.
In a medium saucepan combine the whole milk and 1 cup of the heavy cream. Add the seeds of the vanilla bean along with the bean itself. Bring the whole mixture to a gentle simmer.
While that heats up whisk together the egg yolks along with the cornstarch, brown sugar and salt until it has lightened in color just a bit.
Carefully pour half of the hot milk mixture into the egg yolk mixture while whisking. Return everything back to the saucepan and gently simmer for a couple minutes, until thickened.
Strain the custard through a fine sieve into a clean bowl then cover the surface with plastic wrap.
Refrigerate until completely chilled. The custard will thicken more as it cools.
Whip the remaining 3 cups heavy cream with the sugar and vanilla extract. Feel free to add a touch of peppermint extract here if you want to reinforce the peppermint flavor.
Assemble the trifle.
I like to start with a layer of cookies and I make the cookie layers (of which there will be two) sort of thick so that even in the overnight refrigeration and the custard soaks into the cookies there still will be a bit of texture. So use just about half or so of the cookies (you can reserve some for just eating or to decorate the top or do three layers of cookies) and break them up into large chunks. Add them to the bottom of the trifle dish then top with half of the custard. Add a layer of whipped cream on top of the custard. Repeat the layering to finish with whipped cream on top.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours but overnight really is ideal.
Just before serving top the trifle with the crushed candy canes.