There are times when despite your best efforts to be brave, strong, and smiling in the face of tough life stuff you just have to throw off the good girl gloves and do something selfish. A walking meditation tape I sometimes listen to describes it as cradling your child-self in your arms and nurturing it with a mother’s love.
I’ve been dealing with some tough abdominal pain stuff and all sorts of expensive tests can’t sort it out. I think it’s my gallbladder because the symptoms point to that, but as soon as I step foot in a hospital for a test, my gallbladder goes into hiding and refuses to misbehave. It’s just like when you take your car to the mechanic and as soon as you pull into the garage, your car stops making that knocking noise.
It’s been two months, and honestly it wearing me down. It’s an effective weight loss plan, as long as you don’t mind lots of pain, lots of nausea, and lots of medical bills that deliver no answer. Boo hoo, poor me! Just as soon as I start to feel terribly sorry for myself, or wonder what on earth I did in a past life to deserve this, I think of the folks I’ve seen in the hospitals halls I’ve been frequently lately who are in much worse shape than me. I silently wish them freedom from suffering and mentally send them an ice cream sundae. And then I thank my lucky stars for everything I have.
When stuff gets really hard, we all have ways to self-nuture. My friend who just got her 4-year sobriety coin reminded me that when times are tough, it’s best to go by the AA tenants of “Keep it Simple” and “Easy Does It.” I’m doing that: working only when I can, being the best wife and dog mom and food writer I can be, but setting limits. As Anne Lamott says, “You can say no. No is a complete sentence.”
I’m also trying hard to feed my soul. Pain can make you forget what’s good, what gets you going, what floats your boat. Thus, I played hookie one day of a work conference to visit The Chicago Art Institute where I had a nice long talk with a self portrait of Vincent Van Gogh. (Silently of course. I’d get kicked out otherwise. Cray-cray alert.) I’ve done a few comic strips about the demon named Snickersnack in my gut and haven’t cared that they aren’t any good. And finally, I’ve let myself have dessert for breakfast, lunch, or dinner if I feel like. When I have an appetite, it’s getting what it wants right now. Here’s a rare snippet of my life where I’ve given myself the allowance not to feel too bad that I’m not dining on kale and whole grains at every meal. I’m eating sundaes, kimchi on rice, and apple cider and feeling fine about that.
So here it is, the decadent little layered sundae full of rich, creamy coffee ice cream, warm chocolate ganache, crispy chocolate nibs and nuts that’s served as a bit of calm in the storm I’m in. Even if you haven’t had a rough day/week/month, I recommend you give this recipe a try. It’s like cradling the kid in you and the adult in you at the same time (because there’s booze in this little number, I assure you).
Tummy hugs with a spoon to you all.
Coffee Ice Cream Sundaes with Espresso Chocolate Sauce, Cocoa Nibs, and Boozy Whipped Cream
For the whipped cream
1/2 cup cold heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 tablespoons coffee liqueur (I used New Deal Distillery Mud Puddle Chocolate Vodka, but Kahlua would work)
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
For the chocolate mocha sauce:
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons espresso granules
7 ounces 70% dark chocolate, finely chopped
1 teaspoon light corn syrup
2 teaspoons dark rum
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/3 cup toasted macadamia nuts, finely chopped
4 rolled “cigarette” cookies crushed (1/4 cup) (I used Piroline brand)
2 tablespoons cocoa nibs
6 cups (12 scoops-about 1/2 cup per scoop) premium coffee ice cream (I used Fifty Licks, from Portland, OR)
Make the whipped cream: Place the cream and coffee liqueur in a cold metal mixing bowl. Sift the powdered sugar over the cream and beat with a hand held mixer or whisk until soft peaks form. Cover and refrigerate.
Make the chocolate mocha sauce: In a medium saucepan, heat the cream and espresso granules over medium heat until hot to the touch. Add the chocolate, corn syrup, and rum and stir until smooth. Add the butter and stir until it has melted, 30 seconds. Keep warm over the lowest heat possible, or store in a small thermos for up to 2 hours.
To assemble the sundaes: Combine the macadamia nuts, cookie crumbs, and cocoa nibs in a small bowl. In 4 sundae glasses, layer scoops of ice cream with the chocolate sauce and nut mixture. Top each sundae with a dollop of the coffee whipped cream and a teaspoon of the nut mixture. Have at it.