One chocolate muffin at a time

As Harold took a bite of Bavarian sugar cookie, he finally felt as if everything was going to be ok. Sometimes, when we lose ourselves in fear and despair, in routine and constancy, in hopelessness and tragedy, we can thank God for Bavarian sugar cookies. And, fortunately, when there aren’t any cookies, we can still find reassurance in a familiar hand on our skin, or a kind and loving gesture, or subtle encouragement, or a loving embrace, or an offer of comfort, not to mention hospital gurneys and nose plugs, an uneaten Danish, soft-spoken secrets, and Fender Stratocasters, and maybe the occasional piece of fiction. And we must remember that all these things, the nuances, the anomalies, the subtleties, which we assume only accessorize our days, are effective for a much larger and nobler cause. They are here to save our lives. I know the idea seems strange, but I also know that it just so happens to be true. And, so it was, a wristwatch saved Harold Crick.

– Stranger than Fiction (2006)

Life isn’t perfect. And for a good reason. It’s only when you have the bad days that you appreciate the good. If not, what’s the difference? And like a block of really good dark chocolate, it’s the bitter bits that bring out the intensity and flavour of the cocoa.

The Hubs was diagnosed with acoustic neuroma early this year. To put it simply, we found a tumor about the size of a marble in his brain, along the 8th cranial nerve. That’s the bad news. The good news is that these tumors are usually benign and grow slowly.

To find a 1.8 cm spot on your brain MRI sucks. But sitting outside a neurosurgeon’s office puts a lot of things into perspective. When you see little children bravely heading in for radiation, or sit next to someone who has half his brain cut out, you realize how petty and trivial a lot of things are. And more importantly, you learn to appreciate the little things in life. You start to look for the bright yellow golden hues that color your life.

And that’s when you start to find Bavarian sugar cookies. Because of the size and nature of the tumor, the ENT surgeons, neurosurgeons and radiation experts we spoke to all recommended treatment. But none of them could agree on the type of treatment because of the risks involved. Since the tumor wasn’t causing too much of a disruption, we decided to adopt a wait and see approach. Meanwhile, The Hubs and I are trying to starve the tumor by cutting sugar, wheat, meat and upping his intake of anti-inflammatory and ‘superfoods’. We figured that even if it doesn’t help fight the tumor, it would build up his immune system should we decide on treatment later. Nobody, including the doctors in the family, questioned what seemed like madness – feeding The Hubs broccoli instead of sending him in for brain surgery or radiation. Instead, our families rallied behind us and our decision. Friends kept us in their prayers and thoughts, and cheered us on. And through it all, God’s grace gave us a deep sense of peace. We found our cookie jar full of Bavarian sugar cookies.

The past 8 months has taught me a lot. I learnt new things about healthy living, clean eating and in the process, strengthened my own immune system. I learnt that even when the going gets tough, The Hubs and I make a great team. And that a good dose of humor goes a long way in lighting up even the darkest of moments. I discovered the quiet strength in the man I married.

The Hubs and I have continued to savour life – we travel, play and laugh as hard as we can. Because I’ve learnt that all these things – the nuances, the anomalies, the subtleties – they come together and make up the gooey deliciousness that is life. And with God’s grace, we can trust that on bad days, there will always be Bavarian sugar cookies.

I know these aren’t Bavarian sugar cookies because there isn’t really a recipe for them. But these are the MOST awesome flourless chocolate muffins. And I’ll take my days one chocolate muffin at a time.

P/S: For those of you who are wondering, we’re fine ๐Ÿ™‚ The Hubs had his second MRI this week, and the tumor looks stable. We’ll continue to monitor.

You will need:

  • 150g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 125g butter, softened, plus extra to grease
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1/3 cup (90g) caster sugar [I left out this bit of sugar because the muffins are already plenty sweet]
  • 100g almond meal
  • 2 tbs caster sugar, extra
  1. Preheat oven to 170ยฐC. Grease 10 x 1/2 cup (125ml) muffin pans with the extra butter. Melt the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water or in the microwave on 50%/medium power for 1 minute or until smooth.
  2. Add egg yolks, sugar and almond meal. Mix well.
  3. Use an electric beater or balloon whisk to beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Sprinkle over the extra sugar. Beat until firm peaks form.
  4. Fold into the chocolate mixture until just combined. Spoon into the muffin pans. Bake 30-35 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Set aside to cool slightly then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

14 thoughts on “One chocolate muffin at a time”

  1. I am floored Happy. This post is amazing and so is your husband and so are you. You are in my thoughts, prayers and you both will be on my mind. I wish I could say more to be supportive but my words seem sort of lost to me. Those Bavarian Sugar Cookies must be very powerful.

    1. That is so very sweet and kind of you. Thank you ๐Ÿ™‚ I have no idea what Bavarian sugar cookies taste like but they looked really good in the movie Stranger Than Fiction. Pity I can’t seem to find a real recipe.

  2. Now I understand some of your posts in recent months better than I did — and I’m sorry for your ordeal.
    It sounds like you have come closer together and have crafted a fine spaceship to conquer the problem. Broccoli sounds great as a treatment! And Bavarian sugar cookies even better. A goal to keep reaching toward — meanwhile those chocolate muffins look fabulous.
    Wishes, prayers, hugs to you both.

    1. Thanks Judith for your kind thoughts and prayers ๐Ÿ™‚ Lol there are days when I look at my broccoli and think “really? You’re fighting a brain tumor with this?” But fighting this the natural way feels like the right thing to do at this point. And seeing the benefits of our diet on my own health has strengthened my belief. We’ll see how it goes. Ganbatte!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Yes, diet is very important as is a positive frame of mind. You’ve kept each other motivated, and that is what team-work is all about, in a good marriage. Good luck to Hubs for the future, and keep well, both of you! The photos are wonderful too! Liked. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. I love that movie and I love that entire passage that you quoted. That’s it, isn’t it? Those little things are here to save our lives, to enrich our lives and encourage us. I’m so glad that the tumor is stable. I’ve wondered now and then what was going on, and I figured you’d share it when and if you were ready. It pains me to know what you guys have been going through, but I know you are pretty strong, as is your faith. I’m praying for you both just the same. As for food, I totally believe that what we put into our bodies can make a big difference, and I probably would have done the same thing in waiting. It’s wonderful that you two continued to live your lives and do what makes you happy!

    1. I love that movie and the only reason I picked it up from the store was because you wrote about it so thanks for a really good recommendation ๐Ÿ˜€ Thank you also for the encouragement and kind words. You’re right – I’ve been processing it for the longest time. Some people feel better after talking about it but I like to retreat into my cave and sort it out. It was only recently after the second MRI that I was ready to come out of my cave ๐Ÿ™‚ You’ve been having a rough time lately too and I hope you’re feeling better.

  5. Hi there! I found your site through Rommel’s blog…sending thoughts to you and your husband – I hope he is doing better, as I realize this is an earlier post…on the brighter side, I am now officially craving chocolate…your photos are enticing!

    1. Hi Desiree! I love your site and your art! Thank you for your kind thoughts. The Hubs is good. We’re still working on it naturally and have another MRI coming up in a few months. Fingers and toes crossed that all stays well.

  6. Pingback: What I Ate Today |

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