Oh, how the years go by

Wait, where did October go? How is it November already?

OK, it’s been a while since I’ve posted. Let’s see…the week before I left for vacation was awesome. Monday night I saw a Broadway concert with a friend; she has declared me her new theatre buddy, which totally works for me. Tuesday was the night I was officially declared not-single. Wednesday was…um, a blur of packing and cleaning and such. Thursday night was girls’ night — several of my friends came here first for appetizers (port which was SO yummy, crackers, gruyere and blue cheese, halved cherry tomatoes, baby carrots), then we met up with the rest of our crowd at a nearby sushi restaurant. There were a dozen of us total, and the meal cost less than $20 per person on average (including an 18% tip!). We had a blast. And I realized, looking around the table, that of the 11 women there, only one had been a close friend of mine a year ago. Five were people I knew a year ago, but only casually. And five were people who only moved to town within the last year (4 only arrived during the summer!). Yet they’re now all friends of mine. I’ve been to meals at almost all of their apartments, and have had most of them over to mine. It’s amazing how much can happen in a year.

And on the Friday that I was leaving (on an 11.30 red-eye), A. e-mailed me at work to say he could come over to say goodbye before I left, and he offered to take me to the airport. So I cancelled my SuperShuttle reservation, made us a last-minute Shabbat dinner, and got to spend a couple extra hours with him, which was nice. Then off I went to the East Coast, where I saw my brother, sister-in-law, and niece in NJ; two friends from work, one friend from college, and an old family friend in NYC; friends from college in Bethesda and DC; and friends from LA in Potomac. Good stuff, all around. My friends rock.

A. picked me up from the airport Sunday night, and we hung out again on Monday night. On Wednesday, I had a long-overdue dinner with Samantha and got to catch up with her, which was so good. A. was coming over after dinner, so she met him, and I am very glad that at least one of my friends has met him in person! She left, and A. and I just hung out for a bit before he went to a Halloween event at a club where a friend of his was DJing around 11.30. That’s past my bedtime, though, so at his recommendation, I opted out.

After services on Friday night, I had dinner right near Universal Studios, at my friend D.’s brother’s condo. D. is a friend from USY and from college; he lives in Boston but was in town for a conference. I hadn’t seen him in about three years. I got a bit lost on the way there, twice — first, somehow I totally missed Highland and had to backtrack, then I found Highland and got on Caheunga but somehow (without turning) ended up on some totally dark street that dead-ended in a chain-link fence and gate that said, “No Public Access.” Then I remembered that I have a GPS, so I plugged her in and let her guide me the rest of the way.

Saturday morning, I led the first half of services, and later went to lunch at a friend’s apartment. She has a cat, and before I go to her place I always medicate heavily, which gets me through for about an hour to an hour and a half. Saturday night, A. taught a friend of his (the one who’d DJed on Halloween) to make sushi, and her girlfriend and I got to reap the fruits of their labors. I didn’t want to show up empty-handed, so I made truffles (see below) which were a BIG hit. The girls also live right near Universal, and I managed not to get lost, which was a plus.

After dinner, I followed A. back to his place so we could hang out for a while, taking advantage of the fact that although it felt like 11, effectively it was only 10 because of changing the clocks. I have so far changed my watch and my microwave clock (and the car’s clock), but haven’t yet hit my alarm clock, the spare room alarm clock, or the clock and old digital watch in my bathroom. The cable box, computer, and cell phone are all smart enough to change themselves.

As you might have guessed, things with A. are going well. I am trying (a) not to jinx myself, (b) to stay in the moment and not get too far ahead of myself, (c) not to make up problems where none exist. I told my friend D. on Friday night that I hadn’t heard from A. since Wednesday, and normally we e-mail daily. But when D. heard that I’d seen him three times that week already, and had plans for Saturday night (though I didn’t know when or where), he said that for sure I shouldn’t worry. His advice was, “As long as the next date is planned, you definitely don’t have to worry.” Good rule of thumb.

This past Shabbat marked the 36th anniversary of the Library Minyan, the lay-led minyan at my shul. They had special services and a dinner and luncheon over Shabbat, possibly some sort of party last night, and speakers today. I did not attend any of it except Friday night services, since they were combined with the service I normally attend. When I saw the Exec Director on Friday night, she asked if I were going to the Sunday event, and I said no. She asked, “Could you stop by just to meet someone?” It took me a moment to understand, and then I sort of stumbled over my words to say, “Oh! Um, I’m actually seeing someone right now, so, um, no.” It’s funny, I am not at all used to having a boyfriend. But I wouldn’t mind getting used to it.

Last Friday, 26 October, I started the day with H. in Bethesda, then went to R. & J.’s place in Potomac where I was spending Shabbat. That day marked one year since the “disengagement,” which honestly only occurred to me a few times during the day. R. told me that she was so proud of me for the growth and self-awareness I’ve achieved during the last year. H. asked if I would ever have believed then, that now I’d be healthy and happy and healed, and totally ga-ga over a new guy. When I got back to LA, a friend e-mailed me to ask if he could give my e-mail or phone number to a friend of his in New York who is in a bad state after recently being dumped (out of the blue) by her fiance. My friend ended his e-mail with, “Just let me know. (And see what a difference a year makes?)”

In the last year, I’ve cemented a few friendships with people who were incredibly supportive; I’ve let a few friendships drift away with people who weren’t; I’ve become friends with people I hardly knew (or hadn’t even met) a year ago. Time really is an amazingly powerful healer.

* * *

Pumpkin Chocolate Almond Truffles with Amaretto

The original recipe was this.

Ingredients:
1/2 c pumpkin puree
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
3 Tbsp margarine
1/4 c amaretto (or kahlua, or other liqueur — strong cold coffee would probably work, too)
2 egg yolks (OR 2 Tbsp Eggbeaters — or in my case, 2 Tbsp Simply Whites)
1 c toasted almonds*, ground
2 c powdered (or superfine) sugar
Cocoa powder (for coating truffles)

1. Spoon pumpkin puree onto double layer of paper towels, cover with another double layer of paper towels, and press gently to squeeze out excess liquid. Leave covered with paper towels until step 4.

2. Melt chocolate and margarine in medium-to-large mixing bowl in microwave for 45 seconds and stir. Microwave again for another 45 seconds. Stir gently until chocolate is completely melted and mixture is smooth. Let cool a few minutes. (Use this time to measure out your other ingredients.)

3. Stir in liqueur and egg yolk. Whisk until smooth.

4. Add ground almonds, sugar, and pumpkin. Whisk or stir until smooth.

5. Cover loosely with plastic wrap, refrigerate at least one hour.

6. Pour some cocoa (start with 1/3 cup, you can always add more if you need it) into a shallow bowl. Remove truffle mixture from fridge. Scoop with a mellon baller and roll into small balls (3/4 inch diameter, maybe?) and roll them in cocoa. Put in wax-paper-lined airtight container. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Made approx. 36 truffles.

*To toast almonds: either stir often in [ungreased!] saucepan over medium heat until golden brown, or bake at 350 on [ungreased!] baking sheet for 10-15 minutes and stir occasionally

Notes:

I had to make a few changes and substitutions which I was afraid had rendered the mixture unusable — for one thing, I was planning to use two egg yolks’ worth of Eggbeaters, but my Eggbeaters had gone bad and all I had was “Simply Whites.” I figured the yolk was there as a binder to hold the mixture together, and I didn’t think egg whites would work, and indeed the mix was really gooey and sticky. But I managed to shape it into small balls, which held their shape after being rolled in cocoa powder, and they were SO yummy.

Also, I couldn’t find ground almonds (or almond meal, or almond flour) at the store. I had slivered almonds which I ground in the food processor, but I didn’t toast them first. I suspect that toasting them gets rid of their moisture, so that when they’re ground you actually get something like flour. Since mine retained their moisture, I got something a bit more textured than flour. I decided to add the word “Almond” to the name of the truffle — i.e., treat it as a feature, not a bug.

I didn’t realize when I began that I didn’t have any powdered sugar (oops!). I did have superfine sugar (which you can buy directly, or you can make by running an equivalent amount of granulated sugar through a food processor for about 30-60 seconds — if you do this, make sure you wait a minute before you open the food processor so you don’t choke on a cloud of sugar dust!). It seemed to work just fine.

I made a double recipe and got more truffles out of it than the 28 the original recipe indicated. I must have a smaller mellon baller or something. I’ve given the measurements and quantities that I used. Also, mine might be somewhat healthier since I used trans-fat-free Smart Balance margarine rather than butter.

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2 Responses to Oh, how the years go by

  1. Stacey says:

    I am so thrilled for the place you are in right now. Glad the trip was good, that things w/A are moving along well and that you have such a lovely group of friends. The truffles sound amazing. I am printing out the recipe now. Hugs!!

  2. Samantha says:

    Tme is a powerful thing and Stacey is right, you are in a GREAT place right now. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger! Love you!

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