When is quitting the right thing to do?
Society screams and shouts, “Winners never quit, and quitters never win,” but that advice, though well intentioned, is misguided. Life, and ultimately success, requires quitting every now and then, so how do you know if you’re seeking an out because the situation is actually wrong or because it’s too difficult? I’ve grappled with this question before, but it especially plagued me as the year came to a close.
Fortunately, it’s 2015, and the internet can be as much of a guru as a pious monk on a pristine mountaintop. Through the powers of the web, I stumbled upon The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When To Quit (and When To Stick) by Seth Godin. True to its title, this little book was short in length but powerful in message. I walked away with probing tools to help me answer my daunting question:
Am I willing to try to be the very best in the world? If I’m settling for mediocrity, something is wrong.
Am I panicking? Panicking is not the time to quit.
Who am I trying to influence? If I’m trying to influence one person, persistence has its limits.
What sort of measurable progress am I making?
Am I quitting before I have begun? The time to define quitting circumstances is at the outset of the endeavor, not at mile 7 of the marathon when fatigue and boredom set in.
Simple as some of the book was, reading these parameters gave me direction and reassurance and removed the pressure of the more Quitting = Failing philosophies. This topic of perseverance is especially relevant as we enter the more trying months of winter. The luster of the holidays has dulled, and the bone-chilling cold has descended. There are never enough warm layers, and leaving the corner nook of the couch requires more discipline than should be expected of one day. To the challenges of winter, I say extend and cling to the little joys of late December- a warm oven, festive decor, and the gatherings that warm the home. Keep your door clad in fragrant greens and your table decorated with deliciousness. Play in the snow. Do not panic. Do not give up.
Chocolate Matcha Bundt Cake with Matcha Peppermint Buttercream & Sugared Cranberries
This bundt cake is a colorful swirl of matcha cake and chocolate cake, topped with a Matcha Peppermint Buttercream and the sweet, tart burst of sugared cranberries. The matcha adds an earthy note to the cake, and one of my guests likened the flavor to a hint of rye flour. Matcha is a finely milled or fine powder green tea and is available at Asian grocers or online. Supposedly, the health benefits of matcha tea exceed those of green tea because when you drink matcha, you ingest the whole leaf, not just the brewed water, so go forth and eat this whole grain cake without guilt.
Whole Wheat Chocolate Matcha Bundt Cake
organic coconut oil, melted, for pan
2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon instant espresso or coffee powder
1/3 cup pure cocoa powder
1 1/3 cups organic turbinado raw sugar, divided
1 whole organic/cage-free egg
1 organic/cage-free egg white
6 Tablespoons organic, unsalted butter
1 cup organic Greek yogurt
1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons matcha powder
Bring all the ingredients to room temp. Preheat oven to 350 degrees with rack in the lower third of the oven. Grease an 8-10 cup bundt pan with coconut oil.
Use a whisk to combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In a small bowl combine the espresso powder, cocoa and 1/3 cup of the sugar with 1/4 cup of water. Whisk until smooth. Set aside.
In another small bowl, whisk whole egg with egg white. Set aside.
Cut the butter into pieces and place in an electric mixing bowl. Beat for 1 minute to soften.
Gradually add remaining 1 cup of sugar and beat at high speed for about 3 minutes. Dribble eggs in slowly, about 1 Tablespoon at a time, beating constantly for about 2 minutes.
On low speed, beat in a third of the flour mixture.
On medium-high speed, beat in half of the yogurt.
On low speed, beat in half of the remaining flour.
On high speed, beat in the rest of the yogurt and the vanilla. On low speed, beat in the remaining flour.
Measure out 1 1/2 cups of yogurt batter and mix into the cocoa mixture. Set aside.
Add matcha powder to the rest of the yogurt batter in the mixing bowl.
Use a large spoon to fill the bottom of the pan with about three quarters of the green batter placed in dollops. Cover the green batter with dollops of chocolate batter. Top the chocolate batter with small dollops of green batter spaced so that the chocolate batter shows through.
Use a table knife to marble the batters together with a circular or zigzag motion; be careful not to blend them too much.
Bake for 45-50 minutes for cake, (20-25 minutes for cupcakes) or until the cake starts to pull away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted in comes out clean.
Cool for 5-10 minutes on a rack before inverting onto a serving plate. Do not cool longer than 10 minutes, or you will not be able to invert the cake. Cool completely before icing.
Matcha Peppermint Buttercream
8 oz organic cream cheese, at room temperature
2 sticks organic, unsalted butter, at room temperature
1-2 cups organic powdered sugar, to taste & texture preference (I prefer less sweet)
2 Tablespoons Eggnog
4 teaspoons matcha powder
3/4 teaspoon organic peppermint extract
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy.
Gradually add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed.
In a small bowl, combine the Eggnog and matcha powder. Whisk to dissolve. Add the matcha mixture to the butter and cream cheese. Add the peppermint extract, and continue to beat until combined and fluffy.
Spread or pipe onto the cake once it has cooled. Garnish with sugared cranberries or the bright red berry of your choice.
Note: This will make more cranberries than you’ll need for the cake top. You can either reduce the recipe or use the remaining cranberries in another dessert (my preference), or skewer them and add them to a cocktail. This process cuts the cranberry’s natural tartness, adds just the right softness and sweetness, rendering them delicious treats on their own.
6 ounces whole cranberries, fresh
1 cup water
2 cups organic evaporated cane sugar, divided
Bring water and 1 cup sugar to a low simmer, and stir occasionally until sugar is completely dissolved.
Turn off heat, and add cranberries, being careful not to heat the liquid too hot, as the cranberries will pop.
Transfer to a medium mixing bowl and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.
Drain liquid reserving for another use.
Place cranberries on a shallow baking dish and gently toss with remaining sugar to coat completely.
Spread out in a single layer and allow to cool about an hour.
May your oven warm your home!