My parents met between sheets and underwear. My mom wouldn’t stand for my dad’s treatment of his bed linen. (Sheets are meant to be folded gentlemen. Not stuffed into pillowcases and carted back to your apartment.) Their budding relationship continued over Friday nights spent collating on my dad’s office floor. Somewhere between the single-sheet photo copier and the manual typewriter, on which my mom plugged away, they eloped. Their marriage was quick. It had to be. The judge needed to feed his chickens.
This story is not a fairytale. In fact, it is filled with lean months living out of the bank. It is made of simple dates spent reading on a couch. It was forged by my mom’s cold feet warming on my dad’s legs during winter nights, while he howled in protest. See, it didn’t end with a kiss at sunset. It continued then as it does now. It grew on the foundation of two people who stood by one another unconditionally.
a small prayer for the day
Would that I should that I live to find love,
I pray he looks upon me,
the way my dad looks upon my mum.
I pray I find my partner
My best friend.
I pray I find a man
Strong enough to battle life, with me to the end.
February 14 is not a day I like very much. In fact, I have quite a few objections to it. Primarily, there are 365 days a year. If you love someone, you should tell them on each and every one. That being said, there are two things I like about Valentine’s Day. First, even when times were lean my dad bought my mom a dozen roses, every year except one. On one of their first Valentine’s Days together she asked him not to buy her roses, because, “They just didn’t have the money.” After a lot of pestering and pleading he agreed not to buy her a dozen roses.
On Valentine’s Day, a dozen-and-one roses arrived at their front door.
I discovered the second redeeming quality of Valentine’s Day my freshman year of college – Black Bottom Cupcakes. They arrived in a care package, slightly smooched and sticking to the sides of their Tupperware container. Thanks to Lara Louise’s mom, I always looked forward to Valentine’s Day in college. “Would that I should that I live to find love,” a dozen-and-one roses would be beautiful. For now, Black Bottom Cupcakes are wonderful.
Black Bottom Cupcakes
From The Great Book of Chocolate by David Lebovitz
Makes 12 cupcakes (Note: I found this makes 12 huge cupcakes, which bake up and out of the muffin cups or 24 normal size ones)
I don’t have Momma Jones’s recipe for Black Bottom Cupcakes. It is another thing on my list of, “Items I Misplaced in My Move North.” I am in hot pursuit of it again, as I have enlisted Lara Louise’s help in asking her mom for it. In the meantime, Lebovitz’s recipe was a fabulous stand in.
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature (regular or reduced fat)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
2 ounces chocolate chips (bittersweet or semisweet)
Beat together cream cheese, granulated sugar, and egg until smooth. Stir in chocolate chips and set aside.
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
5 TBS natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 TBS cider vinegar (white vinegar can be used as a substitute, but I preferred cider)
1 tsp vanilla extract
Adjust rack to the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray or line it with paper muffin cups.
In a medium bowl ,sift together the flour, brown sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, mix together the water, oil, vinegar and vanilla.
Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Add the wet ingredients, stirring just until smooth.
Note: If you over stir the batter, the cupcakes won’t be tender.
Divide batter among the muffin cups. Spoon a few tablespoons of the filling into the center of each cupcake, and divide evenly.
Note: Lebovitz says this will fill the cups almost completely and he’s not joking. When I baked them, they grew up and out of the muffin cups. I found filling each cupcake cup only half way up with batter and adding only 1 TBS of filling to each cupcake was a lot better. Not only did it make more cupcakes, but they were easier to handle and store.
Bake for 25 minutes, or until the tops are slightly golden brown and the cupcakes feel springy when gently pressed. Allow to cool for one minute and then remove from muffin cups and transfer to a wire rack to continue cooling.
Note: It is helpful to run a butter knife around each cupcake, between the muffin cup and the cake, and then use the knife to help gently lift out the cupcake.