November 7th, 2012
These aren’t election celebration cupcakes. Not exactly. They are cupcakes that I made nearly a month ago to celebrate the hungry baby’s 3rd birthday. I’ve been wanting to share them with you for a while. I started 2 weeks ago when I told you how to make the homemade maraschino cherries that you’ll need for this recipe. I meant to follow up with the full recipe for Cherry Vanilla Cupcakes just days later, but then everything went topsy turvy. Since then, I haven’t been able to bring myself to write a post about celebrating my son’s birthday or, really, celebrating anything. Until today.
This morning, for the first time since Sandy hit, I feel hopeful. Perhaps it’s a luxury to say so since I still have too many neighbors without reliable food, heat or electricty (and with more rain pounding against my windows), but I feel ready to share something fun, something happy with you.
I have what is, in my circles, a bit of a different perspective on the election. Both of my parents are immigrants. They gambled on an America that promised succeess and security in exchange for hard work. An America that, at times, seems more in line with that of the GOP. My parents’ gamble paid off and I’m a first generation American who’s been able to reap the rewards of their long shot.
Both of my parents grew up in a village. Seriously folks, villages in Greece. I went to a fancy liberal arts school with fancy people, many of whom have been fancy for a very long time. My parents, with some aid, paid for my college education, something that they remained committed to even as I began earning enough to contribute to the lingering monthly payments. Instead, they supported my decision to invest my earnings in graduate school. In one generation, the course of our family completely shifted because of the chance my parents (and grandparents) took on America. So, yea, I’ve had many political disagreements with the older folks in my family, but I get it. Because today’s America—the hungry boy’s America—feels very different from the one on which they doubled down. The one that served them well.
Hard as that might be for them, we need to filter the ideals that my parents built their—and my—life on through the country that we are today. Our country is more diverse than ever, women are a critical part of our social and financial stability, immigrants continue to make our daily lives possible, and so it goes. As scary as it is to change, change is what we must do. Over and over.
As I looked at pictures this morning of Obama and Biden on stage with their families, I felt proud. We, once again, elected an African-American president. We have a powerful, bad ass first lady who is so much more than a fashion plate trophy wife. Don’t get me wrong: that woman is beyond fashionable and I’d feel like I had a trophy is she was my wife, but I’d also vote for Michelle for president if I could. I got teary looking at Malia and Sasha, knowing that we did good by the young women in our country.
Then I scanned my FB and Twitter feeds. Tears. Friend who thought they might never get a chance to marry feel hopeful today. Moms breathing easy for their daughters. And I felt excited, for the first time in while, about the country that my boys are growing up in. A country that made it possible for me to live in my pretty house in the greatest city in the world. I could have been a little village girl, y’all. Seriously.
I believe that our election results show that we are moving. It’s hard, there’s a long road ahead, there will be resistance (some of it shocking) and, sadly, I think our journey will be slow going. But we’re moving. We’re moving towards a deeper understanding of who we are and, as we do, we’re holding true to the ideals that brought my parents here in the first place.
I want to share this with you from “The American President” by Andrew Sullivan at The Daily Beast. It is more beautifully articulated than anything I’ve written here in my emotional mad dash to post, but the sentiment is the same.
America crossed the Rubicon of every citizen’s access to healthcare, and re-elected a black president in a truly tough economic climate. The shift toward gay equality is now irreversible. The end of prohibition of marijuana is in sight. Women, in particular, moved this nation forward – pragmatically, provisionally, sensibly. They did so alongside the young whose dedication to voting was actually greater this time than in 2008, the Latino voters who have made the current GOP irrelevant, and African-Americans, who turned up in vast numbers, as in 2008, to put a period at the end of an important sentence.
That sentence will never now be unwritten. By anyone.
Today, before I turn my attention back to helping my neighbors in need, I’m going to take a moment to celebrate my boys, your children and their country. It’s not a country that looks the same as the one to which my parents arrived, but today it certainly feels like the same country to me. Maybe even a better one. A country full of hope, fight, promise and change. A place where I’m proud to raise my boys and where I hope they will always feel at home no matter who they are, who they love or what they choose to do with their lives.
To my gorgeous, funny hungry baby (can I still call you that at 3?!), allow me to raise a Cherry Vanilla Cupcake to you. Your brilliant light will surely help keep the future bright.
Cherry Vanilla Cupcakes
adapted from Sprinkle Bakes
(can be shared with kids 12+ mos)*
makes 12-18 cupcakes (or 1 9-inch layer for a cake)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup juice from homemade maraschino cherries
1/4 cup whole milk
1 1/2 teaspoons all natural almond extract
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
4 egg whites, beaten to stiff peaks
Swiss buttercream, enough for a 9″ cake (this is my favorite recipe; I doubled the vanilla for these cupcakes)
12-18 homemade maraschino cherries, to top cupcakes
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line pan with cupcake liners. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, mix together cherry juice, milk and almond extract; set aside.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat together butter and sugar until creamy. Add flour and liquid mixture to the butter starting with the flour and alternating between the two.
4. Gently fold stiff egg whites into batter. Pour batter into cupcake liners and bake in preheated oven for about 25 minutes, checking on them after 20 minutes (cooking time will vary depending on your oven and the exact size of your cupcakes). The cupcakes are done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before transferring cupcakes to a wire rack to finish cooling completely.
5. Pipe the swiss buttercream (made with double the vanilla) onto cooled cupcakes. Toss maraschino cherries with remaining 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar and top each cupcake with a cherry. Sprinkle with red or pink naturally colored sparkling sugar.
*Note: While there is nothing in these that cannot safely be shared with younger children, I recommend these beginning at 12 months due to the high sugar content. No matter how old your eaters, serve age appropriate portions. A little of this sweet treat goes a long way with little ones!