Having wi-fi on a bus is a rather awesome thing for someone who has to bus for more than an hour everyday to get to school. I used to pass my bus time with the timeless act of sleeping, the discovery of unbelievably terrible music on my iPod when I put it on shuffle, and trying to figure out the last couple clues for the crossword puzzle in my school’s daily paper. Now not only can I Facebook stalk my best friends (among other people), I can watch the latest episode of Castle, download the weekly free single from iTunes, and write in my little blog.
Blogging on a bus…I love the thought of that. The blogger on the bus. That’s me. Isn’t that snazzy?
So you probably want me to give you a full-fledged explanation about why it’s been so incredibly long since I blogged. A full two months…what in the world has Natalie been doing? I’ve been juggling classes, taking care of chickens at my college farm, being super enthusiastic for incoming freshmen during our welcoming weeks, welcoming foreign exchange students at a really awesome organization, declaring a major, having Criminal Minds marathons with a bag of my favorite cheese puffs (very productive, I know), and laughing so much. Wow. Not that great of an explanation, but I have more to say.
These past two months have been quite typical with the usual routine of school organizations, classes, and work, but something about them has made them the best two months of this year so far. It goes beyond that internal contentment I gloat with when I see my planner filling up and my days being structured towards my ambitions. For one, my music collection has expanded exponentially because of the amazing new music I’ve been able to listen to both through friends’ shared music libraries and the live events I’ve been going to. I’ve also embraced the beauty of unplanned lunch breaks that involve trampling crunchy leaves in the park and sipping eggnog lattes with one of my colleagues and friends M– as we watch the constant, yet strangely calming, activity on the streets along Lake Union. Lastly, I’ve smiled and waved at more strangers than I ever have before.
By “strangers”, I mean those people with whom you exchange fleeting glances because of a certain familiarity that you can’t quite put to reality or imagination. Was that person in my freshman literature class or am I mistaking her for someone else? Was that the guy with whom I had a random conversation about pulling on doors that say “push” the other day as we were both exiting the library? Those instances are so abundant on a college campus that I have decided that the best way to handle them is to simply smile at everyone who even looks vaguely familiar. That may result in you looking foolishly happy…but, hey, what’s wrong with that?
Although, I have to say, because of the great amount of activities I have filled my life with this quarter that have made me unbelievably happy, I have not been able to take as much time to catch up with many of the friends I cherish most dearly.
To V– and M–: You two were the most amazing study buddies and friends in Winter and Spring quarters. I don’t know how I would have managed to smile through all of that o-chem studying if it wasn’t for you guys.
To J–: Our insanely conflicting class/work/bus schedules seem to prevent us from seeing each other at any time besides microbio class. I want you to know that even if it’s only 5 minutes of conversation after microbio class, you still crack me up like you did when we were 13.
To A–: Our summer times spent sitting on the swing on your front porch or arm dancing at a music festival always make me laugh when I think about them. It’s too bad every month can’t be as amazing as our September was.
To my blog readers: the fact that you’re reading this makes me feel so adored. I adore you just as much.
So then, yes, life has been good. And to celebrate the beauty of Autumn, the excitement of a new month, and the dawning anticipation for the holiday season, I present to you…red wine chocolate cake.
Red Wine Chocolate Cake (From Smitten Kitchen)
6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup (179 grams) firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup (50 grams) white granulated sugar
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
3/4 cup (177 ml) red wine, any kind you like (I used a classic Merlot from my Dad)
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
1 cup + 1 tablespoon (133 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (41 grams) Dutch cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (this is a great place for that fancy Vietnamese stuff you stashed away)
Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom of a 9-inch round cake pan with parchment, and either butter and lightly flour the parchment and exposed sides of the pan, or spray the interior with a nonstick spray. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugars and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and yolk and beat well, then the red wine and vanilla. Don’t worry if the batter looks a little uneven. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt together, right over your wet ingredients. Mix until 3/4 combined, then fold the rest together with a rubber spatula. Spread batter in prepared pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. The top of the cake should be shiny and smooth, like a puddle of chocolate. Cool in pan on a rack for about 10 minutes, then flip out of pan and cool the rest of the way on a cooling rack. This cake keeps well at room temperature or in the fridge. It looks pretty dusted with powdered sugar.