Well, look at that. It’s my 100th post.
I can’t believe I’ve already jabbered here a hundred separate times. I feel like a real blogger now. I’ve finally gotten my wings. It’s strange; I’m going to have to get used to this flying thing.
When I started here a year and change ago, I wasn’t really sure what I wanted this blog to be. I figured I’d use this as a space to let off steam, put up some photos of things I cooked, and let the rest sort itself out. But slowly, it’s becoming clear that when I take the time to write from the heart, people listen. I’ve now written two posts, in particular, that have struck a nerve in ways I never expected. So many people have reached out with their responses and stories; even when I don’t agree with everyone, it amazes me that people took the time to read and respond to little old me. I’m touched, and I’m honored, and I’m humbled.
I’m also thinking.
Writing about food is my “safe” fallback; it’s something I like, and it’s unlikely to get people hot under the collar. I like documenting my attempts at a healthy, fulfilling life through what I do in the kitchen. But my understanding of food and body image and women’s health and politics goes beyond that, and I’d like to start expanding on those aspects of my life. I’m not usually as angry (or as profane) as I’ve been in the past couple of days; but I am thoughtful, and I have a lot to say.
So over the next 100 posts (whew), I’ll be tweaking the mix here. There will be more essays, more personal reflections, perhaps a few diatribes. The recipes I post will be ones I’m truly excited to share. I’ll keep figuring out ways to navigate this crossroads of food, health, society and politics where I live. If you want me to write about something in particular, let me know–I’m always open to suggestions.
While I’m at it, now seems like a good time to finally fire up my Tweeter-machine. That’s right, Twitter, I’m about to learn your ways. Follow me @ieatthepeach to see me dive into the deep end of the twenty-first century.
And, of course, no milestone would be complete without a cake. So here’s a good one: a mango upside-down cake, sweet and moist and just a little funky. (Kind of like me?) This is the kind of thing that makes me whole, and happy, and ready to write to you about it.
Mango Upside-Down Cake (makes one 10-inch cake)
2 firm-ripe mangoes (1 lb each), large diced and peeled
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar (if using very sweet mangoes, decrease to 1/3 cup)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
6 tbsp (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar, moderately packed
2 large eggs
2 tbsp fresh-squeezed lime juice (from about 2 limes)
2 tbsp white rum (or use mango juice if serving to young’uns)
1/3 cup mango juice
Special equipment: a well-seasoned 10-inch cast iron skillet
Preheat oven to 350º F and place an oven rack in the middle.
For topping: Place the (dry, clean) cast-iron skillet over medium heat. When it’s hot, add butter and let melt, swirling to coat the sides of the skillet. Add brown sugar and simmer, stirring constantly, until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is smooth and fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and add diced mango in an even layer–you can arrange the pieces in a pretty pattern, or do what I did and just dump everything in. (When the mango hits the hot caramel, the sugar may clump up and get sticky–don’t worry, it’ll sort itself out in the oven.) Set aside until needed.
For cake: In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt; set aside until needed. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, followed by lime juice and rum. Add half of the dry ingredients and mix until just barely combined; if there are still a few streaks of flour, that’s fine. Mix in mango juice, then add the rest of the dry ingredients and mix just until the last of the flour disappears.
Gently spoon the batter over the mango-caramel mixture in the skillet, then spread in an even layer all the way to the edges. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, 40-45 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes, then place your serving plate over the skillet and invert the cake onto the plate. (Be careful–the skillet will be hot, and there may be some gushy caramel around the edges.) If there are any mango slices stuck to the skillet, carefully pull them off and put them back on the top of the cake. Put the plate on a rack, if you have one, and let the cake cool to room temperature.
Serve the cake with lightly whipped cream. If you decided to put a splosh of rum in the cream, I wouldn’t judge you at all.