Today’s post is not a normal one — I just couldn’t imagine writing a cheerful recipe description full of overly-cheesy prose with all of the emotions I’m currently experiencing. Remember my friend Lindsay, who was looking for a bone marrow donor last January? I am shocked and extremely saddened to share with you that she lost her two year battle against lymphoma this past Sunday. Life is not perfect, people are taken from us way too early, and although it’s usually sunshine and rainbow sprinkles over here on Erica Sweet Tooth, I felt it was appropriate to set a slightly different tone for this week’s post. (And if you’re wondering about the title, please check out a group and charity Lindsay was very involved in — I’m Too Young for This)
I mess up. A lot. For every 4 or 5 recipes I attempt, I’d estimate that at least 1 of them is a disaster. Muffins that taste just a little too healthy, cookies that practically disintegrate onto the pan, red velvet ice cream that no matter what, always tastes like vinegar food coloring, etc. etc. Ryan teases me that he could start his own blog featuring all of my failed recipes, with the suggested title courtesy of a friend “Erica Sweet Tooth Gets a Cavity”. The day of the disintegrating cookies was particularly stressful — I was asked to bring a dessert to an event, and once I realized my cookies could not be salvaged and I wouldn’t have time to restart, I had to come up with something. So I ran to the mall, bought some mini Mrs. Fields cookies, and used the batch of crusting cream cheese frosting I had made for the cookie sandwiches to quickly pipe as drop flowers. Topped with a chocolate chip center, they were semi-homemade and cute enough to help conceal my disastrous day.
I know this is all very cliche, but when you lose a loved one, your whole perspective of the world totally changes. Who cares about curdled buttercream — I suddenly feel so lucky to simply have the opportunity to live my life. I gave a presentation on my summer research yesterday, and although I fought back tears the whole day, I had a certain strength from knowing that yes, speaking in front of an audience can be scary, but some things are just not worth getting worked up over. Life can be unfair and extremely uncertain, but being afraid of making mistakes is no way to live it. Of course you can’t compare the fear of botching up recipes or words to facing the evils of cancer, but I’ve always admired Lindsay and she will always inspire me in everything I do. Even before she was forced to show her true inner strength following her diagnosis, I looked up to her, and not just because she stood 6 feet tall, but because she was friends with just about everyone on campus and had such a special charisma about her that no one could ignore. (Not to mention her impeccable style and amazing collection of fun jewelry that I particularly enjoyed borrowing.) I expect her funeral this Friday to be absolutely mobbed and couldn’t imagine missing the opportunity to join the masses in honoring such an amazing woman. It kills me to write of her in the past tense, but I know her memory will live on and continue to touch everyone lucky enough to have crossed her path or heard her story.
Nervous about piping? Try this recipe, follow this helpful tutorial, and if you mess up and end up with hideous flowers, laugh. Life’s too short, please enjoy it.
Crusting Cream Cheese Icing
Recipe adapted from Cake Central
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
1 pound cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon clear vanilla extract
3-1/2 pounds confectioner’s sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
– Cream butter, shortening, cream cheese and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer
– Gradually add confectioner’s sugar and salt
– Beat on low speed until smooth and creamy
If you’re interested in making a donation in honor of my friend Lindsay, please send a donation to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Northern Ohio Chapter. 23297 Commerce Park, Cleveland OH, 44122.