Hello. How are you? I made you cake.
In truth, I made you this cake months ago, but I didn’t share it with you then. Rude. I know.
I have two speeds when I’m overwhelmed. The first speed is the high speed of my Kitchen Aid mixer making something superfluous, or the low and slow bubbling of something rich and comforting (read: this eggplant parm). Yeah, the first speed happens somewhere in my kitchen. The second speed isn’t really a speed at all. It looks more like a scared, paralyzed possum who’s instinctively playing dead. Yes, this is perhaps the slowest speed. It’s a dead (er…playing dead) stop. This is one functional step above lying on the floor of your closet with the lights off and the door closed, foraging a bed out of your impressively large worn-out sweater collection.
Sometimes the overwhelm comes from legitimate, stressful life situations like illness (hello, last four very challenging years), or finances (ugh), or a very large pile of dishes adjacent to four very large piles of laundry (I know, I am everybody). Sometimes, the overwhelm is a self-induced existential crisis garnered from the incredulous perfection storm of Pinterest or Instagram — making one (me) feel incredibly inadequate.
This assault of expertly curated images makes me stop and ask myself things like: Does every blogger besides myself have a perfect reclaimed wood kitchen with flawless white subway tile and the correct amount of quirky succulents? If not, does every other blogger have the money to pay someone to take really cool pictures of them in a perfect reclaimed wood kitchen with flawless white subway tile and the correct amount of quirky succulents? Does anyone else get tired of making cakes and writing about cakes, or is it all just super fun, and there’s never any dishes? Does anyone else ever feel sad or stressed out beyond the tutorials of how to make the perfect detoxifying face mask, or that photo of you and your friends with perfect eyebrows enjoying a lot of gluten-free pizza somewhere in Brooklyn? Also, everyone is pregnant. Like, cute pregnant. Like, barefoot and pregnant on the cover of Kinfolk magazine kind of pregnant. It’s perfection, you guys. There are flower crowns and women’s circles and cool yoga retreats with beautiful people drinking tea and being bendy AF. There are so many cakes that are flawlessly frosted with some sort of fancy tahini buttercream and farmers market flowers. So many cakes, guys.
I don’t mean to sound snarky. I like these things. I AM some of these things. But sometimes you see it all together and it feels like everyone is killing it at life, and you’re just sitting at home in your pajamas eating oysters out of a can for breakfast and wondering if your writer’s block will lift, and why you decided to chew off all your fingernails last night while watching a truly shitty episode of Siesta Key. My brain goes into compare and despair mode (thank you to my dear therapist for this quippy term). Why am I such a hot mess? Why does living my best life not look easy and flawless? Furthermore, even if it doesn’t, why do I get so possumly-paralyzed by it all and allow it to affect the way I communicate (or don’t communicate) with you here? As a recovering perfectionist (one day at a time, guys), the beautiful landscape of social media created largely by my peers can make me feel downright not good enough — and when I really dig deep to try and untangle these feelings, I realize it makes me feel scared to even try. So, back into possum mode.
I’m not cool with possum mode.
The compare and despair phenomenon is real, and should not be carried out. You will only end up feeling wildly inadequate, when in fact you’re anything but. Ready for a pep talk? You’re you. No one else on the internet is you. You have a story to tell, and a voice to be heard. Tell it. Yell it. Be unabashedly yourself. People will relate and love you for it. People might also hate you for it. You don’t need to concern yourself with other people’s opinions of you. What’s that old saying, again? Ah, yes. People’s opinions of you are really none of your business. They’re just not. Haters gonna hate. No one knows this like a blogger who has been cussed out for being too fat, too stupid, and not magically making someone’s crock pot chicken cook in twenty minutes. Let it roll off your fabulous back. Feel free to hit the delete or the block button. This is your space. Make it manageable for you. Don’t let it dull your shine. Try to maintain your kindness and understanding. Root for your peers. Their successes do not mean that you cannot be successful. Like I said, there’s only one of you — so, you’re going to sparkle in a whole different way. Jazz hands. Spirit fingers. All the things.
Was that pep talk mostly for me? Maybe. But, I mean it.
Everything can look so gosh darn perfect, as if life is all cake and juice cleanses. The more I talk with my fellow bloggers, the more I understand that I am not the only one that feels this way. We’ve all at some point got into the compare and despair loop, and felt shitty about ourselves. This isn’t just true in the blogging world, this is true of the entire social media landscape. I mean, think about what you post on your personal Facebook page? I can speak for myself that I usually only post on social media when things are looking pretty dang fun. Vacations, good hair days, styled photos of cake (look around you right now), and way too many videos of dogs and babies. I don’t often post photos of myself when I’m having a terrible Lyme day, haven’t showered in 48 hours, and feel like the human embodiment of a slimy turd. I rarely discuss the days that I am depressed, or how hard it has been dealing with my anxiety. I’m not shouting from the rooftops that I feel scared a lot of the time, and that I honestly truly made the worst banana bread this week — like, it was inedible, and could have doubled as a murder weapon due to its density. There’s just not a lot of balance out there. I try to keep it real around here (ahem, like when I posted photos of my body in a bikini on the internet!), but perhaps it’s time to keep it even realer. I often find that when I have the most to say, and feel my most vulnerable, I don’t necessarily say it –even though that’s what connects us all as humans. But, I’m going to try to change that. Let’s connect on a level that is deeper than cake. I’ll tell you about my not so perfect, messy, and ultimately lucky-to-be-living-it-life. You tell me about yours. I’ll be here.
So, until then, here’s some pretty pictures of cake. This is only part of my life, but I look forward to sharing more of the non-cake aspects of it with you. Also, cake will continue to be shared, because it’s mother-forking cake.
P.S. This cake, tho. It’s stupid yummy. Making it would be a great choice. Slathering it with coconut whipped cream, even better. Not sweating the fact that you ate half of it with a fork out of the pan? Priceless.
Grain-Free Lemon, Apricot + Yogurt Skillet Cake
- 2 1/2 cups blanched almond flour
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. sea salt
- 1/2 cup coconut sugar
- 1/2 tsp. cardamom
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 cup organic whole milk plain yogurt
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp. almond extract
- 3 drops Young Living lemon vitality essential oil (optional)
- Zest of 1 whole organic lemon
- 1/4 cup olive oil + more for greasing the skillet
- 1 whole bag of Semi-Dried Apricots (I bought these in the frozen section in Trader Joes) If you can't find these, you can use fresh fruit, berries, or chopped up dried apricots. Make it your own.
- Grease a 9 inch cake pan with olive oil and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- In a clean mixing bowl bowl, add the almond flour, baking powder, sea salt and coconut sugar and spices.
- Whisk well, until all of the ingredients are well combined. Set aside.
- In a different mixing bowl, combine the yogurt, eggs, vanilla, almond extract, and lemon essential oil. Using a hand mixer, beat the wet ingredients until they all come together. Add in the olive oil and beat again until well combined.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Add in the lemon zest. Using the hand mixer again, beat the mixture until it all comes together. There should be no dry patches, and the mixture should look smooth.
- Pour the cake batter into the greased cake pan. Smooth out the top with a spatula to make sure it's even.
- Arrange the apricot slices in a spiral starting from the center, and going all the way to the outside of the pan.
- Bake for 35 minutes, or until cooked through and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Once cooked, remove from oven and allow to cool. Serve alone, or spice it up with some coconut whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream!
- If you can't find the semi-frozen apricots that I used in this recipe, that's fine! Simply use fresh apricots, dried apricots, or another fruit of your choosing. Make it your own.
- If you're allergic to dairy, try substituting in coconut yogurt!