You know the old saying “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”, well, I’ve been a regular lemonade factory of late. It’s really tough seeing the positive in a situation when the outcome is so desperately far away from how you’d hoped it would be. The last few years have held extreme disappointment, frustration and trials just lining up to test me and my little family, but we resolutely somehow manage to carry on regardless.
There is a church on the main route to our village shops which has a notice board up out front. Some kind soul keeps posting messages of encouragement on the board, certainly not for us, but for the wider community. My husband and I shared a chuckle recently when we discovered that we both look to that notice board each time we drive past to see what new few but inspiring words we can take with us into that day. So thank you to whomever is responsible. It doesn’t solve our troubles, but it helps to focus on the positive and bring out a smile.
I am not religious by any stretch of the imagination. The first 20 years of my life were spent so entwined in a very strict religion that I think I’ve had more than my fair share, but I believe in God and that He has a plan for each of us. I just can’t seem to see what the plan is for me at the moment so feel a bit like a lost tyre bouncing down the motorway, completely out of control and hoping that I don’t collide with any more obstacles before I find a nice safe place to settle.
I see myself as more Spiritual than Religious if that makes sense. I don’t judge others for what they believe unless of course it impinges on the rights of individuals or groups to safety, security, their beliefs, etc. etc. I feel that one’s beliefs are personal and your relationship with whoever or whatever you believe in is also personal. This bond will be as weak or as strong as you let it be. And this is where I’ve been battling for a while now. I think some might go so far as to call what I’m feeling coveting, but I don’t quite think I’ve gone that far. But I do find it interesting and frustrating to say the least that some people can coast through this life as if they’re on a magic carpet. Admittedly I can’t see into their homes or souls to understand their hopes, dreams and challenges, but I’m close enough to them to know that they certainly haven’t had to face anywhere close to what I have had to deal with in my life – and this is where I’ve been trying to channel my energy – into not focusing on what I don’t have, but focusing on what I do.
And therein lies the challenge. I think it is a mistake that far too many of us make and once in that way of thinking, it becomes very difficult to extricate oneself. Is it perhaps a case of only seeing the things in another’s life that your heart yearns for while you completely miss the things in your own life that others think you are so lucky to have? Gosh, isn’t this life interesting. So many lessons, so little time. Perhaps I signed up for a crash course to fit as much into one life as possible, lol! Who knows. I sure don’t. But as we splash our way through this very wet Spring before being allowed to enjoy the splendour of another New Zealand Summer, I’m going to try to stop and smell the roses more often. Breathe the wonderful fresh air we are blessed with. Enjoy every moment I can with my immediate family, catch up with a few friends I haven’t seen in a while.
Plan for the future by all means, but know that Change and Disappointment are two things that are a constant in this life and try to go with the flow a little more. Thanks for listening. I wish we could have chatted over a shared cup of tea and a slice (or three) of this delicious Apple and Ginger Loaf. Never mind, I’ve probably had enough for us all. Find a hobby and focus on it in the dark times, baking is mine and I’ve even been battling to find joy in that recently but perhaps it’s time to explore a few new ideas and recipes. This one was particularly good, and easy too.
2 large unpeeled apples (I use red mostly as the green can be a bit tart)
1 x 400 g can condensed milk (yup, the whole can!)
1 egg, beaten
1½ cups self-raising flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground ginger
And then I added a little something to the base recipe as it looks a little bland once baked and I thought it needed a bit of sprucing up. It is also delicious: a glaze.
250 ml icing sugar (130 g)
about 30 ml (just over 1 Tbsp) boiling water
2 ml vanilla essence
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan forced). Core and grate the apples.
- Combine the condensed milk with the grated apple and egg. Sift in the dry ingredients and mix gently.
- Pour into a 21 x 11 cm loaf pan lined with baking paper and bake for 40 – 45 minutes until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for a few minutes. Turn out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
- In the meantime, prepare the glaze by sifting the icing sugar.
- Add enough of the water to make a smooth consistency.
- Add the essence or other flavour if you prefer, like lemon juice or a liqueur but probably not with this slice.
- Pour over the cooled loaf allowing it to run over the edges and quickly but gently spread it out over the top. The glaze will set quite quickly so you’ll need to work quickly.
- Cut into slices and serve.
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