Welcome to austinagrodolce … My family and I garden with more intention and enthusiasm than allocated budget or overall design plan. It shows. Wildlife populations don't seem to notice our lack of cohesive design, they just like the native plants here. It seems by growing local we've thrown out a welcome mat. Occasionally, we're surprised at who (and what) shows up.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A moving experience

You know how allergic reactions can develop some of the time?  You are exposed to something, nothing much happens, you get a false sense of "this doesn't bother me" and so you get a little cavalier, don't worry about it the next time you are in contact.

The second go round things are just a little different though, and maybe you think, "Wow, I am glad this is not too big a problem for me because I can see how if this was worse it could be real trouble.".

Then that third exposure rolls around and you are realizing, "Whoa, OK, maybe I am reactive to this.  I am going to need to be careful here and limit my exposure.".

Well folks, that is how it is with me and moves.

The Hub paid for medical school, residency and a post-training fellowship by joining a branch of the military.  They took care of his tuition and books and provided a stipend during his schooling and he paid them back year for year with military service after.   It should come as no surprise then to hear that required us to move around fairly regularly as a young family.

Houston for medical school.  San Antonio for internship.  Salt Lake City for a residency and fellowship and then California for the "paying you back for school" years of service at a regional military medical center.

Admittedly, the first few moves, while exciting in their own way, were entry level.  We didn't own much, so packing it up and hauling it someplace new to unpack again was not much of a big deal.  And when you are in the military, they may ask you to move but by golly in those years they also handled the logistics very supportively.

Eventually however, debts paid, we gratefully resumed civilian status.  Along the way we'd accumulated a house full of stuff.  And two (amazing, wonderful - I love you so so much kids!) children.

All our moves past that point were just about as complicated and frazzling as anything I am ever supposed to be wrangling needs to be.

Along the way I discovered three things about myself and the process of moving.  

First I learned to prepare and have on hand a bag loaded with rolls of toilet paper, a couple of light bulbs, a box of trash bags, extra rolls of tape, a box cutter, a marking pen, bottles of water, Advil and a music source.  That combination has gotten me through many a long day.

A second major lesson has been the wisdom of access to loads of high carb sugary treats along with caffeinated drinks to get through the initial push.  I am not advocating this as a healthy life style believe me, but then again I don't see moving in or out of a place as healthy per se.  Moving is hard physically and emotionally, even when it represents an exciting new stage of life.  For me the combination of hard physical labor and emotional stress cries out for those two major food groups: sugar and caffeine.

Third truth is that moves make me crazy.  Correction.  At this point in my life, any move, large or small, ramps me up to Psycho Plus.  My family knows this about me and depending on how fun they are finding the move themselves, they give me a little extra head space to accommodate.  I do my best each and every time but I gotta tell you with each subsequent exposure, my reaction to even the idea of moving, escalates.

With that in mind, understanding there is a truck of stuff coming from Michigan to Austin to re-feather our nest for the short term (our daughter relocating back home for a stint), I wanted to make some sort of sweet loaf.  I knew it would come in handy to help fuel the upcoming extra trips up and down stairs to get her stuff unloaded and sorted into place.  And I knew I would rely on that sweet treat to feed the monster caloric requirements of my impending Move Psycho-Meltdown.

I put together a tried and true banana bread, bumped up a level with some chopped nuts as additional  energy source.  I've used this recipe for years.  I keep a stash of overripe bananas in the freezer so I can whip up a batch when the impulse strikes, and I've taken to swapping out Splenda for half the sugar called for.  It holds the calorie count down a bit and doesn't have any noticeable effect on the taste or as importantly, the texture.

See what I mean?  Hellooo gorgeous.  It may have been too long since the last time I made banana bread however because this loaf just about disappeared in two days. That meant I had movers arriving a half hour after the birds get up tomorrow and precious little sweetness left to gobble down with my coffee as fuel.  No can do, folks.

I turned to a recipe for a sour cream pound cake  The recipe stated it could be halved and baked in a loaf pan (the original calling for a tube or bundt pan). Congratulating myself smugly in advance, I thought it would be just the ticket.  A loaf of pound cake would be just enough to get us (read:me) through the high energy requirements of the move without leaving us with a lot of leftovers to fatten up on after the last flattened boxes were hauled to the curb.

Remember a really long time ago when you started reading this post how I was talking about reactions escalating in severity due to repeated exposure?  Well here is where we discover what it looks like when I say how [Oprah voice] cuhRAYzee even a small move now leaves me.

I said I wanted to have this cake on hand for the energy boost it could provide.  That would come chiefly from the sugar in the recipe, right?

And even if I was trying to be a bit careful with that sugar intake, I routinely make and had just made a loaf of banana bread with a half and half Splenda and sugar mixture and it turned out great. So why then, WHY is it that I purposefully made this pound cake with all Spenda and no sugar?

Oof.  What was I thinking?  Just look at this.  The top is caved in and those gaping holes simply do not say "delicious cake".  I swear when I leaned in for a close shot I heard them whispering "be afraid, be very afraid...".

Lesson learned.  Using half Splenda in a recipe is hunky dory if you are OK with using Splenda at all.  Even in my pre-move nutso-ness I realize some of you are just not cool with sugar substitutes.  A few of you may even be writhing around out there sensing our Splenda use is singularly responsible for polar melting and oil spills, not to mention China's rising economic domination.

I get that, truly I do and as odd as it may sound, every other ingredient I used for the recipe was organic.  Some of the ingredients were both organic and local.  So there, let that sink in for a moment, ye lovers of Mother Earth.  My sad deflated little loaf cake may just be its own punishment for my transgressions......

The taste is what I am looking for, regulation pound cake mid-level sweetness (as opposed to the frozen at the store super sweet monsters that nobody-doesn't-like) but that texture is just really really wrong.  An aberration I suppose I ought to have expected from the combination of FrankenSugar and organics.
Who am I kidding?  What with the movers on the way, texture issues or no, I'll be eating every crumb of this.

Once the dust settles, I'll try the pound cake recipe out again with half sugar and half Splenda as I wish I would have yesterday.  If that works out well, I'll share the recipe.  Until then, hold a good thought for me as we face what look to be Indiana Jones Nazi-face meltingly high temperatures and humidity tomorrow for hours with our doors standing wide open.

There may not be enough pound cake in the universe for that.

Move-savvy as I fantasize I am, there is always wisdom out there to be shared.  If you have any sure-fire-can't-miss Move Smarts to share feel free to post 'em in the comments section.  Certainly any excuse to space out in front of my computer as I sit here NOT STRESSING ABOUT TOMORROW will be a welcome treat.

Meanwhile, pass me another slice of that pound cake please?


Kathleen Scott said...

I'm with you, it's disturbing to have your life turned topsy, even if it's your choice.

And I still chucked at the post. I often wish we lived as neighbors. That banana bread looked good. The pound cake, not so much. But then, it's not chocolate so I could probably resist.

When you perfect the pound cake recipe, can you also perfect a chocolate version?

TexasDeb said...

Kathleen I feel certain that if I can somehow elevate this pound cake recipe past mere edibility all the way up to enjoyability, then figuring out a chocolate version will be child's play by comparison.

And if I cannot? Well you know me - I am all about the research. A selfless science gal that way. I'll keep you posted....