Self Help or Counseling/Butter or Olive Oil

I love the flower of fresh Thai basil and how it mimics the color of the blackberry jam

I love the flower of fresh Thai basil and how it mimics the color of the blackberry jam and that is a spoonful of Greek yogurt on the side.

Do I need help? That is a question one in mourning may ask over and over again. While there is no universal answer to that one question the chances are if you are asking yourself, “Do I need help?” then you probably do. As a medical professional and prior to my own son’s death I often referred patients to mental health counselors and supportive groups. While in uncomplicated cases one may only need a supportive, nonjudgmental listener to facilitate the normal grief process there are others that need much more. Here are a few questions one should be asking themselves as they travel the grief road.

  • Am I stuck or making progress towards a more joyful life?
  • Am I using addictive substances like alcohol or smoking more than I ever did?
  • Am I over-eating or not eating at all?
  • Do I talk of my loved one as if he/she is still alive?
  • Can I manage my anger or am I self-destructive?
  • Have I thought about harming myself?
  • Have others told me that they think I need help

If you answer “yes” to any of these questions don’t hesitate to seek out grief self-help groups like Compassionate Friends or deeper therapeutic intervention with a professional mental health care provider. There is no shame in seeking help. Remember that losing your loved one is a complete assault on your body, mind and heart. There is no pain like it. If you felt this kind of pain for any other reason you would be running to the doctor. There would be no hesitating. Get what you need to facilitate healing and support your experience.You have a choice.

always loved a good camp fire

lots of healing took place around this firepit

Butter or olive oil. There is a choice when it comes to baking. I love them both, but clearly there is a big difference in taste and texture of the finished product. This recipe was inspired by a lovely bottle of blood orange olive oil. Have you ever gone into one of those shops where you can sample all kinds of olive oils and vinegars? So fun and so filling because I taste many before settling on 1 or 2 to take home.

the one with olive oil

the one with olive oil has a thinner, more fragrant batter

Not quite sure of the science behind it, but the cake made with the olive oil was more moist in a way I can only describe as “juicy”. It was a bit surprising to get that burst of bittersweet blood orange. The butter cake, however, just melted in the mouth with the slightest hint of citrus. It was the hands-down favorite. Speaking of “hands-down” do you remember that board game? I used to love playing that with my kids, but I digress. SIGH.

baked with butter--see the difference in the batter?

baked with butter–see the difference in the batter?

Here is the recipe. Take whichever direction suits you best…..and with those leftover egg yolks make a pudding or custard pie or ice cream…..sounds like a future blog post.

Little Blackberry Almond Cakes

4 egg whites

¼ teaspoon sea salt

½ cup sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla bean powder

1 cup almond flour

1/3 cup all purpose flour

½ cup blood orange olive oil or flavored olive oil of your choice

12 teaspoons blackberry preserves

¼ cup sliced almonds

garnish: powdered sugar, fresh berries

Heat oven 350F. Line a cupcake tin with foil liners or use little mini loaf size baking containers. Beat egg whites and salt to just stiff peaks. With mixer running, gradually add sugar and vanilla bean powder; blending well. Add almond flour, all-purpose flour; blend just until mixed. Add oil and blend until incorporated. Divide batter among prepared muffin cups. Spoon 1 teaspoon preserves into center batter. Sprinkle with almonds. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until puffed and golden and wooden pick inserted into cake comes out clean. Serve warm or at room temperature. Dust cakes with powdered sugar and garnish with fresh berries. Makes 12 cakes

For Butter version:

Replace oil with ½ cup melted unsalted butter and add grated zest of 1 orange