James

Eva

Funemployment Cake

Funemployment Cake

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Eva:

Last week I got laid off from my supply chain engineering job at 4moms. (but you can hold the conciliatory booze)

Joni Mitchel says, "you don't know what you've got till it's gone". Passenger sings, "you only know you've been high when you're feeling low". But there's a corollary to their warnings: "you only know it's heavy when you put it down". 

In the past week, I learned how much energy I put into work. Home before sunset, I felt guilty, kept thinking there was something I should be doing, I was letting things slip, other people were at the office. Then I’d remember: not my problem. I’d wonder how projects were doing, if meetings resulted in decisions, if vendors sent samples. Then I’d remember I didn’t care. It was like running fingers through a new haircut, repeatedly discovering a new lightness, revising my expectation.

Unlike some of the other 23 "survivors" of the layoffs, I was definitely NOT expecting this. My 2015 review went really well, so when I was called to a 9am monday meeting with the VP of supply chain, my direct supervisor, and the head of HR, I skipped performance remediation scenarios and went straight to "WHO DIED?????!!". Luckily, my team is (or was) ok, my position was just "restructured".
 
Well, cool. Have a nice day. Thanks for saving me the trouble of quitting. 

After sending about a hundred texts so Megan could find my work, I met James for tea at Umbrella Cafe. Then James headed to the late Monday staff meeting and I bussed home to think about my life, schlepping all my desk shit like a giant sign reading "LAID OFF". 

The hardest part about being laid off is that it forces you to confront the fact that someone thinks you’re expendable, and that hurts. I spent a lot of the week fighting feelings of general inadequacy, which is a never-ending struggle, but in this case I had a righteous anger trump card. Smugly considering the unusually ordered management documents you left and hoping/expecting things fall apart in your absence might not be the healthiest coping strategy, but it does work.  

And now I’ve got 40-50 more hours in my week to put towards personal projects, bus trip preparations and other important things, like running in Frick park and reading on the couch with a cup of tea. 

So here’s cake. Because you deserve it, and cake is always appropriate.

It’s vegan, and gluten free, and intensely chocolate. You can enjoy it with a glass of milk, or a glass of wine, while celebrating or while trash talking any establishment you’re over right now. 

KUMQUAT MARMALADE
(too busy for cake? Just make this)

Ingredients:
about 2 cups of organic kumquats
2 marmalade oranges or other small oranges (blood oranges make pink marmalade)
1/3 cup honey (raw & local if possible)
pinch of salt

Steps:

  • Wash your fruits
  • Use a peeler or a paring knife to cut the outer peel from the two oranges, then slice into thin strips. Taste the peels for bitterness. If have you have super bitter marmalade orange peels you can reduce the bitterness by soaking them in freshly boiled water for 5 minutes, then draining. Repeat if necessary.
  • Cut the skinned oranges in half and juice them. 
  • Slice the kumquats into thin rounds, picking out the seeds as you go. 
  • Add peels, kumquats and juice to a small sauce pan with a tiny pinch of salt, the juice probably won't cover all the peels at first. If you only have refined honey, you can add it now too.
  • Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, on very low heat for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. You're looking for the peels to soften, the juice to thicken and the mixture to resemble a compote or sauce. 
  • Remove from heat, stir in raw honey and cool. 

*This should keep awhile in the fridge since it's basically sugar and acid, but it was gone in a couple of days the first time I made it, and I don't think the second batch will last long either.  

Icing #1: Decadence and structure

  • Combine 1/3 cup coconut cream (from the top of a refrigerated can of full fat coconut milk) with one 3.5 oz bar of good quality super dark chocolate in a double boiler
  • Watch and stir patiently, mine separated a little because I let it heat for too long and the frosted cake ended up with white coconut oil spots.
  • Allow to cool to room temperature before frosting the cake

Icing #2: fluffiness and richness
This one is a little “healthier” than the other but it’s also a bit darker/richer. It’s based on the frosting from this earthsprout cake, I like just eating it with a spoon.

  • Blend: 1 cup of baked & peeled sweet potato (the sweeter & milder the better, a Japanese  sweet potato (purple-skinned white) would work well), 5 medjool dates, 1/2 cup raw cacao powder, 2 tbsp nondairy milk (if needed), 1 tsp vanilla extract & a pinch of salt. 
  • This made just enough to put a thick layer on top of the 9” round cake. A thin layer would probably just cover it, or you could double the recipe.

CAKE
Makes one 9 inch round cake or mini three-layer cake
This cake is largely based on the blood orange chocolate cake in Sarah Britton's book, adapted to be gluten free and use a dry sweetener rather than maple syrup. I also took some inspiration from the chocolate rye muffins on the Green Kitchen Stories website.

Ingredients:  
2/3 Cup Almond flour
2/3 Cup Rice flour
2/3 Cup Oat flour
3/4 Cup Coconut Sugar
1/2 Cup Cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 cup nondairy milk + 1 tsp cider vinegar
3 tbsp ground chia seeds + 1/2 cup water
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup melted coconut oil 

Steps:

  • Put parchment paper in a sheet cake pan and spray with coconut oil cooking spray, - or just cooking-spray a 9” springform.
  • Whisk together chia and water, set aside to thicken
  • Mix dry ingredients
  • Preheat the oven to 350F
  • Mix wet ingredients
  • Combine wet ingredients with dry, try not to overmix
  • Pour into the pan and bake for 45-55 minutes, until a knife comes out mostly clean with a few crumbs
  • Allow to cool about 20 minutes in the pan, then cool completely on a plate before layering
  • If you’re making the mini cake, use a template (like a tupperware) and a sharp knife to cut out the small rounds.
  • Layer cake with marmalade, frost with your choice of icing and top with more marmalade
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