Wound Care & Spring Cleaning Coconut Cake

wounds in this coconut cake are a good sign you took the time to do it right

wounds in this coconut cake are a good sign you took the time to do it right.

It has been 4 years this month, April 16th, since William and his friend and fellow Navy Corpsman, Brenton Lane, died in a motor vehicle accident. According to reports, they died instantly from their wounds and did not suffer. We’ll never know why two great men met such a sad fate, but we do know they left behind an amazing amount of love and gratitude for who they were and what they accomplished in their short lives. This love and gratitude along with time has allowed for so much healing.

even his favorite flower cries

even his favorite flower cries..bird of paradise at Longwood Gardens

Grief is much like a deep, open wound. It is painful and scary and requires careful attention for proper healing. For that wound to heal it must be irrigated with copious salty tears and then properly dressed with strong supports. It’s time consuming and heart-breaking work, and requires more energy than one could ever imagine. Some may choose to ignore the wound, deny it exists, but left alone it will fester and somewhere down that lonesome highway complications will arise. Are you actively working through your loss? What can any of us do to help?

coconut x 4 gives layers of flavor

coconut x 4 gives layers of flavor

Right now I need help with spring-cleaning. I can’t ignore it any longer. Let’s start with the refrigerator. That is how this recipe was born. Cheeses were on the brink of expiration as was the tofu and it seemed like the perfect time to use up some of these coconut products. I love coconut. Cleaning out my fridge has never tasted so good. I’m gllad I did not wait another minute to work on it.

I know it is hard, but give it time to cool before slicing

I know it is hard, but give it time to cool before slicing

With tangy goat cheese and layers of coconut flavor, this dense, moist cake gets an extra protein boost from tofu and has those crusty end slices that we all fight over. Great with a cup of tea or topped with some Greek yogurt or cream and those tropical fruits hidden in the back of the fridge.

Spring-Cleaning Coconut Cake

3 cups all purpose flour

1-teaspoon baking powder

1-teaspoon salt

½ cup smashed tofu*

6 ounces mild goat cheese

2 ounces cream cheese, softened

1½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

2 cups sugar

1-cup coconut sugar or brown sugar

2 tablespoons coconut liqueur (I use Southern Accents Coconut Cake)

1-teaspoon coconut extract

4 eggs

4 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut

Heat oven 325F. Butter 2 (8 to 9-inch) loaf pans (glass pans work best). In medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and salt; set aside. In large mixing bowl, combine tofu, goat cheese, cream cheese and butter; beat for 3 to 4 minutes or until well combined, scraping down sides of bowl as needed throughout this mixing process. Add both sugars and continue beating for 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating to incorporate after each addition. Add coconut liqueur and extract; blend well. With mixer on the lowest speed, add flour mixture, 1 cup at a time until moistened. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat for 1 minute or until batter is smooth. Divide batter evenly among prepared pans and smooth the tops. Sprinkle evenly with coconut. Bake for 35 minutes and then reduce the oven temperature to 300F. Bake for another 50 to 55 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean and the hallmark crack down the center of the loaf appears just barely dry. Flip cakes out of pan onto a cooling rack immediately and then turn upright. Freezes well.

*I used Nasoya extra-firm sprouted tofu, but any firmness works well. Tofu has a similar moisture and protein content to eggs and I often use it as an egg substitute in many of my recipes.

tropical paradise on a plate

tropical paradise on a plate

Freedom isn’t free: A Passover

sedar plate

sedar plate

It was a gathering of old friends and their families last week. A mix of Christians and Jews celebrating Passover with a seder ceremony. Rich in tradition and symbolism it was an honor to take part in the journey reminding us that freedom isn’t free. It’s a teaching moment. Do not forget and be thankful for those who struggled to escape slavery and do not become complacent as there are those who still suffer and fight the good fight. As Ronald Reagan reminded us, “Freedom is never more than one generation from extinction”.

children of Afghanistan: photo by William Keys

children of Afghanistan: photo by William Keys

Bitter greens, horseradish and salty water remind us of the harshness of slavery. In ancient times, the hard-boiled egg, a symbol of mourning. So many tears with the loss of dignity and life. Fresh greens like parsley remind us of the warm spring night of the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt. Spring brings hope, renewal and optimism.

dipping Spring greens in salty water to remind us of the tears...may we never become complacent forgetting the pain of others

dipping Spring greens in salty water to remind us of the tears…may we never become complacent forgetting the pain of others

The Jews left Egypt in haste. Time is of the essence. There is no time to let the bread rise. Eating matzoh is a lesson in humility. It is flat, brittle and tasteless. However, it is the perfect platform for a bittersweet sandwich of horseradish and charoset.

matzoh with charsoset, horseradish and a hardboiled egg. Notice the 10 drops of wine on the edge of the plate?  It's a reminder to not feel joy for the suffering of our enemies.

Matzoh with charsoset and beet horseradish. Notice the 10 drops of wine on the edge of the plate? It’s a reminder to not feel joy for the suffering of our enemies.

My favorite seder food came at the end of the ceremony. A Mediterranean mix of dried fruits, nuts and spices bound together with a bit of sweet red wine known as charoset. Charoset looks a bit like cement and is made to resemble the mortar used by Jewish slaves to build Pharaoh palaces. Spread on matzoh with some horseradish it was a delicious, but bittersweet reminder of days gone by. A closer look at the recipe ingredients, minus the wine, there is a mighty good power bar in there waiting to happen.

Sephardic Charoset

Adapted from the Jewish Holiday Cookbook

1 cup pitted dates

1-cup raisins (golden or dark)

1 apple, peeled, cored, cut into chunks

½ cup walnuts

½ cup blanched almonds

1 medium orange, peeled, quartered

2 tablespoons sweet red wine

Combine all the ingredients except the wine in a food processor; pulse to coarsely chop. Add wine and continue to pulse forming a soft chunky mixture.

sunrise over Afghanistan: photo by William Keys

sunrise over Afghanistan: photo by William Keys

Grief can sometimes enslave my heart and paralyze my mind. It is a long journey. Thank you Stang family for renewing my spirit. Watching our children smile and laugh together was rejuvenating.

Mom Advice: listen to me

addition of fresh berries-good job Bill

addition of fresh berries-good job Bill

Yesterday was my 58th birthday. It was a joyful occasion. I was completely pampered by my daughter, my son in law, my husband and friends. I am a lucky lady. Still, I stole a quiet moment to be with William all because he wrote me a letter. If you ever wonder why I write this blog I think this will explain it. Here are a few excerpts from his letter. Will's Letter Will was in Afghanistan by the time I got the letter Now for some mom advice: If ever you love someone Write them a letter A handwritten letter No email No text If ever you love someone Tell them why In a letter Folded and saved in an old box And if ever you are gone That handwritten letter now yellowed Will be treasured, unfolded and read Over and over and over And if ever you wonder Will it be enough Be sure It will always be the best gift ever