Cooking, Cleaning, and Cassia

Sheltering in place has spurred a tug toward cooking and cleaning.

Office closets, filled so haphazardly their contents would bonk me on the head when opening the door, are now pristine. A pile of unworn clothes is packed for donation to Goodwill. The whir of the vacuum and the smell of Fabuloso make more regular appearances on Lockwood Ridge Road.

Or should I say “Lockdown Ridge Road?”

Yes, I’m going stir crazy. I’d much rather be shopping, dining out, and otherwise frolicking than cooking and cleaning.

But the harsh reality? I should well appreciate the privilege of sheltering in place when others must work outside of the home. A million thank you’s to the healthcare workers and grocery store cashiers who carry on in the midst of a scary, insidious, invisible threat.

Nope, I’m not leaving the house. The one time I had to? It involved picking up a prescription for my mom (who I still can’t visit). I wore plastic gloves and a mask, and handed the meds (along with her favorite, People magazine) to an attendant who wouldn’t let me traverse the doorway.

PS – I am SO GRATEFUL Mom is at Atria Assisted Living. They bring her meals, deliver wine for happy hour, and protect her health like it’s Fort Knox.

So back to the domestic arts. When cleaning one of the aforementioned closets, out popped a recipe. This is not unusual. I’ve spent a lifetime collecting recipes for dishes I’ll never make.

Ah, but THIS was for Cassia’s flan.

More than the memory of the richest, creamiest, most delectible desert EVER, I remembered Cassia.

I met her back in the church days, and she was the light (and fire) of every room she entered. Gorgeously Brazilian, she was an elegant, refined lady who would surprise with her sassy comments. Everyone was darling – or rather, “dah-link” – but she did not suffer fools. Oh, but if she liked you? Or loved you?

Well, Cassia’s love was a force to be reckoned with.

She was ready to leave the church/cult when I was getting married but kept silent about her intentions because she didn’t want to put a damper on my party.

Soon after, she left. When I finally had MY awakening to leave, she was the first person I called.

“You were right! Cassia, you were right!”

She loved me enough to give me the space to come to my own conclusion. But was right there to comfort and love me back from the brink of despair when the place I had given my life to was revealed to be a sham.

Cassia loved passionately, and it always showed up at her dinner table. When she invited you to dinner, you dropped everything to be there for a veritable feast that would always end with her life-changing flan.

After almost 20 years of storing the recipe, I finally decided this week to make it.

Why did I wait so long?! It was PERFECTION. Just like Cassia.

But here’s where the story gives me goosies. The day that recipe reemerged from the dark corner of my closet was Cassia’s birthday.

I had forgotten the date! Only later that day when I scrolled through Facebook did I see her adoring widower, Luis, post a tribute to his beloved wife.

On her birthday, Cassia gave me a gift. A tap on the shoulder from beyond and a resurgence of happy memories.

I am probably the age of Cassia when we met. A woman could only hope to aspire to her unique beauty and the quality of her love.

And to the deliciousness of her flan. Of course, you want the recipe! Here you go (by the way, I doubled the ingredients to make the version you see above):

Warning: Put some non-stick spray or parchment paper as a barrier to the caramel. It had hardened to concrete and we ended up throwing away the pan. But the flan was worth it!

With patience our recent Word of the Week, it made sense that I’d try something out of my wheelhouse that required a little bit of the WOW. Here are my parting thoughts on patience, and a zippy new reveal!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mJp9np1oPcQ

May all of your adventures these next two weeks be…delicious! And if you have a Cassia memory, please share…

xoxoxox

Brenda

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