WHIDBEY RECIPES: Looking back at second chances

At a recent luncheon with friends, the conversation turned to “things I wish I’d done differently.” This was triggered primarily by one woman’s lament that she’d waited far too long to take up painting, which is now her passion and which absorbs hours of her time every day.

At a recent luncheon with friends, the conversation turned to “things I wish I’d done differently.”

This was triggered primarily by one woman’s lament that she’d waited far too long to take up painting, which is now her passion and which absorbs hours of her time every day. I found myself thinking about that conversation quite a lot, over the next couple of days, with the following results.

If I had it to do over…I’d have married my second husband first. And that’s enough said about that.

I’d never have accumulated so much “stuff” that now haunts me in every nook and cranny, and somehow must be dealt with before it becomes too overwhelming.

I’d have taken up tap dancing at an early age, instead of in middle age, when neither my body nor my brain were as young and flexible as they need to be to dance like Ginger Rogers. (I can hear young readers right now; “Who’s Ginger Rogers?”)

I’d have gone to Vienna and places in Italy every year instead of every two or three years, something I can still rectify if I can bring myself to deal with both the cost and the hassle of international plane travel the way it is today.

I’d have bought the initial offering 50 shares of Microsoft stock when they were first being peddled instead of saying, “Are you kidding? Bet money on that college dropout building computers in his garage? No way!” I believe this is referred to as being too darned smart for your own good.

I’d have spent a lot more time hanging out and visiting with the son I lost far too early, 13 years ago, and whom I still miss mightily.

I’d have taken up trap shooting when my eyes could still clearly see an object flying through the air a hundred or so yards away.

I’d have taken up tennis when I was 6, so I might have become a tennis superstar and made a bundle of money from endorsements and playing a game I love but didn’t take up until

I was, well, just add a zero to the six.

I’d have published, somewhere, somehow, the pages and pages of poetry I keep writing but never show anyone. What am I going to do? Leave it for the grandkids to chuck out when they find it in that file drawer after I’m gone?

I’d have started writing bodice busters (a.k.a. romance novels) instead of marketing copy when I quit teaching and turned to writing as my career. Never mind that I can’t stand reading that tripe; I could have written it and made a lot more than I ever did as a copywriter.

I’d have traveled to France and taken cooking lessons at Cordon Bleu, instead of learning, ever so slowly and by trial and error, how to cook really well. I’m still learning, of course, but

I get a lot of my “tricks of the trade” now from the Food Network. I’d still love to travel to France again, however, for any reason.

The list could go on, but I’m going to cut it short now and ask you, Record readers, to share some of your “If I had it to do over” stories.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a column about what is not on my bucket list (things to do before I kick that proverbial bucket), and was pleasantly surprised by the e-mails I received from readers who agreed and then shared a few additions to the list. It would be fun and interesting to hear from some of you with your thoughts about “if I had it to do over.”

E-mail me at the address below and be sure to mention the “if I …” part so my spam blocker doesn’t zap you to my junk file. If I get responses, I’ll share them in a future column, unless you tell me otherwise.

Meanwhile, if I had it to do over, I’d have finished this column yesterday so I could be out on the boat on this beautiful Saturday afternoon instead of sitting at my computer.

RECIPES

If I had it to do over, I’d never pass up the chance to eat chocolate, as I’ve done on many occasions because I thought I was dieting.

For that matter, if I had it to do over, I’d have realized years ago that dieting doesn’t work for me, and I’d have eaten all those good things I was passing up.

Back to chocolate; for two years, I’ve been looking at a chocolate cake pictured on the cover of a Bon Appetit magazine lying near my desk, telling myself I’d make it one day soon. Well, that day finally came and it is one of the most decadent, rich, delicious chocolate cakes I’ve ever bitten into. If I had it to do over, I’d have been making one of these once a month. Here’s the recipe, if you don’t have the magazine.

NOTE: Please use only the highest quality chocolate you can find and/or afford. This is not a dessert in which you can use Hershey’s chocolate chips. Yes, it’s a bit expensive, but well worth every penny.

LA BETE NOIRE

(The Black Beast)

For the cake:

1 cup water

¾ cup sugar

9 T. unsalted butter, diced (this is 1 stick plus 1 T.)

18 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped

6 large eggs

For the ganache:

1 cup heavy whipping cream

8 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped

Butter a 10-inch springform pan and line the bottom of the pan with a parchment round and butter the parchment also. Wrap 3 layers of heavy-duty aluminum foil around the outside of the pan, bringing the foil to the top of the rim.

Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan, bring to a boil over med. heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Simmer for 5 min.; remove from heat.

Melt butter in a large saucepan over low heat. Add chocolate and whisk until smooth. Whisk sugar syrup into the chocolate and let it cool slightly. Add eggs to the chocolate mixture

(I tempered them a bit first; no point in taking the risk of scrambled eggs) and whisk until well blended. Pour batter into prepared pan and place the cake pan in a large roasting pan. Add enough water to roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the cake pan.

Bake in a preheated

350-degree oven about

50 min., or until the center of the cake no longer moves when pan is gently shaken. Remove from the water bath, transfer to a rack and cool completely in the pan.

Make the ganache: Bring whipping cream to simmer in a small saucepan over med. heat. Remove from heat, add chocolate and whisk until smooth. Pour over the top of the cooled cake, gently shaking the pan to distribute ganache evenly over the cake top. Refrigerate the cake in the pan until the ganache is set, about 2 hrs. At this point, the cake can be covered and kept refrigerated for up to two days.

Run a knife around the pan side to loosen the cake and release the sides. Cut the cake into thin wedges (it’s very rich, remember) and serve with a small dollop of whipped cream. Makes

16 wedges.

And, for something smooth and easy to sip with your wedge of decadent chocolate cake?

What else but coffee, in the form of a coffee smoothie?

COFFEE COOLER

2 cups strongly brewed coffee (or espresso, if preferred), cooled (if necessary, you can use decaf)

1 pint frozen vanilla or chocolate yogurt

2 ripe bananas, peeled

¼ t. cinnamon, or to taste

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth and serve immediately. Serves 4-5.

Margaret Walton can be reached at falwalcal@msn.com.

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