MAKING EACH DAY COUNT
Last week was an emotionally tough one for me.
After what started out as a normal, calm week, I went to work as usual last Thursday morning, said hello to the doorman who guarded the building, and then headed to my office, only to receive news half an hour later that the poor doorman had passed away from a heart attack on the job.
It was shockingly hard news to take.
Even though the only relationship I had with the doorman, Marcos, was a hi-and-bye one, I’d seen him at the building every day, and the reality of the situation hit me particularly hard because I’d never experienced something so tough so close.
The hardest thing for me was seeing the pain so sharply reflected in the faces of Marcos’ family, and watching them collapse in tears and heartache, after realizing that the horrible news was real and irreversible.
I remember hugging Marco’s wife, as her large body trembled with sorrow and disbelief, and her, clutching tightly onto me, afraid to let go once more. I witnessed the tear-streaked face of Marcos’ daughter, as she sat surrounded by her friends, shaking at the harshness of the situation. I saw the weariness on Marcos’ son’s face, like a light had been abruptly switched off inside his soul.
Marcos’ sudden departure, as with all departures in life, made me wonder.
Because life is short, and no one knows how long any of us has – I wonder, what difference do I make in this world?
Speaking to Juan about my thoughts and feelings about Marco’s passing, I challenged both of us to make full use of every day of our lives.
I thought that I should challenge all of us as well – Make each day count.
Does every day of your life count? Do you do something for others that makes a difference in their lives? Did you sit and listen to the woman whose heart has been broken after her husband left, just because she needs a listening ear? Did you offer a smile to the homeless woman on the street, because there was nothing else you could offer? Did you tell the people you love that you love them?
Life’s unexpected news and events are like that; and we have to learn to rejoice in the beauty of life, to grieve together when a loved one is gone, and to find comfort in the smallest, loveliest things that we’re blessed to have.
JACKIE’S HONEY OAT BREAD
In a week of tough news and difficulty understanding why certain things happen to good people, I found comfort in Jackie’s honey oat bread.
Jackie blogs over at La Casa de Sweets, a food blog that is as beautiful as it is practical. While exploring her amazingly pretty site dedicated to sweet foods and desserts, I stumbled across her original honey oat bread recipe.
Remember the honey oat walnut muffins that I made a while back? They were filled with the tastes of nature – sweet wild honey, textured oats and crunchy walnuts – all in a bite-sized muffin. I’d enjoyed them so much and wanted to make something similar again.
Now Jackie’s recipe for honey oat bread calls for similar ingredients to those used in my muffins, but she used brown sugar instead, and because I liked the idea of a loaf of honey oat bread so much, I just had to try making hers. I made a couple of tweaks to the recipe, but its essentially still the same as Jackie’s with just minor modifications.
In her recipe, Jackie calls for yoghurt, and specifically Greek yoghurt, but because I didn’t have any, I used whipping cream – the closest substitute I could get in my kitchen at the moment. I also used slightly less brown sugar than indicated and topped it up with a bit more of honey, so that the taste of honey would really come through when you bite into the honey oat bread.
Once both dry and wet ingredients have been well incorporated to form the batter, carefully pour the batter into a well-greased loaf pan, after which you generously sprinkle more oats to cover the entire batter surface, which makes the loaf look immensely pretty once it’s baked.
Moist with a sturdy crumb, the brown sugar used makes this loaf look more like bread made of chocolate as opposed to honey and oats, but I loved the contrast between the dark brown of the bread with the beige oats on the top. The increased amount of honey also worked its magic – every bite was filled with the taste and smell of honey, so naturally rich and sweet that it really wasn’t necessary to eat the bread with anything except on its own.
It’s the kind of food you can really call “comfort food”, the sort that leaves your stomach filled and your heart brimming with warmth.
And in the tough past one week, this was my comfort food.
JACKIE’S HONEY OAT BREAD (Makes 1 loaf)
Adapted from: La Casa de Sweets Honey Oat Bread recipe
1) 1 – 1 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour
2) 1 teaspoon of baking soda (or baking powder)
3) A pinch of salt
4) 1 egg
5) 3/4 cup of dark brown sugar
6) 100g of melted butter
7) 3/4 brown honey
8) 1/4 cup of whipping cream (the original recipe called for yoghurt (preferably greek), but I didn’t have it)
9) 1/2 cup of quick-cooking oats + 1/4 cup of quick-cooking oats, divided
1) Pre-heat your oven till 190 deg cel (or 375 deg farenheit)
2) Mix egg and brown sugar until sugar is dissolved
3) Add in melted butter to the sugar mixture and mix till combined
4) Pour in honey and whipping cream (or yoghurt) and then mix till well incorporated
5) In another bowl, sift flour and baking soda (or baking powder) and mix well
6) Slowly pour in flour mixture to wet ingredients, stirring well until you get a homogeneous mixture
7) Add 1/2 cup of quick-cooking oats and stir well so oats are spread out evenly in batter
8) Grease a loaf pan, and pour batter into the pan
9) Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of oats over the batter (0r slightly more), in order to cover the entire surface of the batter (for a prettier effect)
10) Bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the loaf comes out clean
11) Serve cooled with a drizzle of honey (or alone)
Mix egg and brown sugar until sugar is dissolved:
Add in melted butter to the sugar mixture and mix till combined:
Pour in honey and whipping cream (or yoghurt) and then mix till well incorporated:
In another bowl, sift flour and baking soda (or baking powder) and mix well:
Slowly pour in flour mixture to wet ingredients:
Stir well until you get a homogeneous mixture:
Add 1/2 cup of quick-cooking oats and stir well so oats are spread out evenly in batter:
Grease a loaf pan, while your batter is ready:
Pour batter into the pan:
Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of oats over the batter (0r slightly more), in order to cover the entire surface of the batter (for a prettier effect):
Bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the loaf comes out clean: