This past week was another one of those mad visits to Deadline Land, resulting once again in a newsletter packed full of information and reasons to celebrate. By the time the weekend hit I was ready to dissolve into hot water like a sugar cube. Earlier in the week I saw this recipe at Smitten Kitchen for blood orange olive oil cake and had it in the back of my mind for our weekend indulgence. Every moment of the process was one of peace: shredding the zest with the Saturday opera floating through the air, methodically removing orange sections from the whole, the streams of purple juice flowing into the bowl of the white ceramic citrus reamer. Once again, I didn’t think to bring my camera down until the very end of the process, with one sad orange half left. I started a pot of dhal and knit a few inches on a sock. I started a book I absolutely cannot wait to tell you about.
You might have to make nose-to-nose friends with your monitor to see it, but the cake is packed full of zest. There’s a bitterness to it because of this; the flavors are complicated and not overly sweet, and the crumb is making my mouth water just to remember it. As Deb mentioned in the recipe, it improves markedly after a few days, too. I skipped the compote topping and saved my extra fruit because I feel like some blood orange curd is in my near future. By the time we settled in for a movie Saturday night, I felt pleasantly spent. We may still be missing our third valentine in this house, but the two of us did all right on our own.
I am not one of those people who has problems with Valentine’s Day, nor did I when I was single. But heck, I don’t even “do” Christmas, the biggest holiday in the western world, and with Valentine’s Day I’m similarly un-invested. Some people really do need the excuse of Valentine’s Day to be a little mushy and tell their loved ones how they feel. They save it up all year, quietly showing love in different ways—knocking down a mortgage, being on time, choking down a mystery casserole with a smile, being a pillar through health crises and empty bank accounts. I love to see burly men poking through the card aisle at the grocery store in February, picking up one after another, making sure the card says enough, but not too much, and nothing that can be taken the wrong way.
On the other hand, we are spenders. I make my own chocolates (with chili and fleur de sel). I grow my own flowers (not too successfully, but doggedly, damn doggedly). There are stars in my eyes for my husband all year long, and I know in my bones how mutual the feeling is. The thing about love is that you can spend it all you like and not run out. Unlike cake with blood oranges, there’s always more.