Valentine’s Day is upon us and I know, however silly it may sound, and however strong and independent one might be, it can be a tough day for some of us.
I was never into Valentine’s Day, I don’t even recall ever celebrating it at all. That until a couple of years ago. I went to Venice to visit my best friend and my then boyfriend tagged along. It happened to be Valentine’s weekend and also the first trip we took together. Venice was pretty empty that time of the year and we had the romantic cobblestone streets to ourselves. It was the first time I saw in him the potential of being the one, and the first time I dared to tell him “I love you.” My life had turned into the kind of situation that feels pretty unrealistic when you see it in a chick flick.
Several months passed by and reality checked in. We hit a very rough patch that almost ended things between us. But last Valentine’s we were in an amazingly good place, we thought we had figured out our differences and, in order to celebrate the fact that we had overcome that huge one-year crisis, we went to my favorite Japanese place in Barcelona (Doble Zer00). We were genuinely happy and very much in love. The waiter came to us to say it was adorable to see a couple like this, bacause he could tell that, for us, every day of the year was Valentine’s Day and that night was merely an excuse to take extra care of each other.
We exchanged DIY gifts. He made me a mixtape and drew me a lovely caricature of us:
And I made him a corny photo album with both the good and bad things that had happened in the past year, as to remind us how we were stronger than ever and nothing from then on could tear us apart.
Except that something did.
We mainly had four problems, the noisiest of them all being my bad temper. When I get frustrated by something I find unfair, I yell a lot and say pretty hurtful stuff. Things that are usually true but could definitely be phrased in a calmer and more loving way. I have been working on that; meditation and sport help a lot. But of course it takes some time to rewire old communication patterns. A time he was not willing to give me.
Our second problem was that he would almost never admit any wrongdoing and, when undeniable, he would almost always place responsibility elsewhere. And that made me so, so frustrated (therefore making it extra hard to work on my own issue), because when, in your mind, you never make a mistake and, in the event you do, someone else or some external circumstance is to blame, you don’t see the need of changing your ways. He had this idealistic vision of relationships where sacrifice, compromise or effort are not at all necessary, or just something the other person must do, and when he realized it was hard work on both ends, he deemed us not worth it.
Our third problem was that I was impatient. I saw I was actively working on becoming a better person for him, while he wouldn’t lift a finger to try to switch the behaviors that hurt me. I felt taken for granted and became edgy and touchy; even the smallest of details would pile up and develop into this enormous affront. For instance, I would get really mad because he used the good wine for cooking without consulting, but the real issue was the unresolved drama of how he adopted a dog and therefore discarded our around-the-world trip (the reason why this blog started), without discussing it with me.
And that brings us to our fourth problem: he was unreliable, and he didn’t even acknowledge it. We couldn’t make any plans because he would forget about them or change his mind without so much as a notice. I couldn’t talk to him about my worries because his way of empathizing consisted on interrupting with a remotely similar situation he had lived, instead of listening. He would make promises and then break them without showing the slightest regret. He would become so enthusiastic about an idea and then abandon it the minute he realized it would entail tasks he didn’t like to do. And that’s not only with me, but in general: he lost a big client because he wouldn’t share his artistic vision for something they commissioned and were paying for, to mention just one very public example.
Long story short, we were not meant to be. It was hard for me to see it, and still is, because on a daily basis we were a loving, affectionate, passionate couple who would talk for hours and laugh like crazy; we admired, desired and adored each other. However, when facing the really important matters, we simply didn’t know how to communicate and make decissions together, and he chose not to try and learn. Anyhow, I guess I was wrong thinking we were compatible when we actually were a recipe for disaster. I suppose that what I see as self-indulgence and puerility, maybe a more carefree woman won’t mind so much; and, while I still need to work on my temperament, I know I’ve had relationships where I didn’t feel as neglected so I didn’t react so frantically. But that doesn’t make it any less hard to find myself in Valentine’s Day coming to terms with the fact that I have yet to find the person with whom to have brisket for the rest of my life.
Luckily, I have the perfect recipe for a heartbreak: Traveling.
When my engagement fell through, I took a road trip along Florida. I remember Key West being my stepping stone towards healing. When the next guy after that cheated on me (yes, I always pick the bravest, most mature guys there is), I flew to Japan and found my peace at the Nanzoin temple in Fukuoka. So, in a little over a month, I will fly to Southeast Asia. From there, to Paris. From there, to Turkey. From there, to Stockholm. From there, to Krakow and Prague. From there, to Peru, Bolivia and Chile. And, from there, we will see.
I am fully aware that I am an extremely lucky person who can afford, even if it is on a tight budget, to travel like this because I can work from wherever there is WiFi. I know this “recipe for heartbreak” is not feasible for most people because of money, responsibilities, time constraints, etc. But maybe a day trip? A change of scene, a fresh environment, even if it’s for short periods of time, helps to see everything through a different lense.
(although you probably already guessed that thanks to the spoiler in the title). Today I read this thread on Twitter where someone wrote that the better smell there is, is the scent of your loved one. And some stranger asked back: “Have you ever walked by Cinnabon?” It made me laugh in a pretty emotional day, so here you have, my cinnamon rolls recipe. Probably eating your feelings away is not the best piece of advice for this Valentine’s Day, but if that’s realistically what is going to happen, it’s best to do so with homemade goodies, isn’t it?
Ingredients for the dough:
- 500 g or 4 cups of flour
- 1 big egg
- 240 ml or 1 cup of hot milk
- 75 g or 1/3 cup of butter
- 60 g or 1/4 cup of sugar
- 1 pinch of salt
- One small package of yeast
- 1 Tbsp of vanilla extract
Ingredients for the filling:
- 115 g or 1/2 cup of melted butter
- 170 g or 3/4 cup of sugar
- 2 Tbsp of ground cinnamon
Ingredients for the icing, although I sometimes skip this part:
- 4 Tbsp of melted butter
- 220 g or 2 cups of confectioner’s sugar
- 1 tsp of vanilla extract
- 5 Tbsp of hot water
Dissolve yeast in warm water and let it rest. The water needs to be just warm, not very hot, otherwise the fungi in the yeast will die and the dough won’t raise. Meanwhile, mix the milk, sugar, butter, salt and the egg together. Then add the flour little by little, and before incorporating all of it throw in the yeast mixture. Keep kneading for at least five minutes or until the dough is easy to handle, and then let it rise for about an hour.
In the meantime, you can prepare both the filling and the icing, which basically consist on putting all the ingredients together. The filling will have this earthy texture that will later melt in the oven; but the icing you have to blend until smooth and shiny. Add more water if needed.
Then roll the dough in a rectangular shape and spread the filling without leaving any edges. Some people add walnuts or raisins. Also, last weekend, my brilliant aunt had this idea of, instead of using cinnamon, make the filling with raspberry paste. I’ve also seen people using dulce de leche, Nutella, and all sorts of fillings, but I still prefer the traditional ones. In any case, role up the filled dough and cut it into one-inch slices (two and a half centimeters).
Place the rolls in a baking pan and let them raise for another hour and then bake them for about 30 minutes at 350 ºF or 180 ºC. Lastly, let them cool and coat them with the icing.
Maybe some of you will consider I am oversharing, but this blog started bacause I thought I had found the travel companion who would taste all of my creations before I would present them to you, guys. It was a dream come true I have now to let go, and I needed some sort of closure here in the blog as well, in order to detach it from my ex somehow. So here you have: three recipes in one post. The four ingredients for my failed relationship; the exotic dishes that will help me mend my broken heart; and actual sweet treats to lift my spirits up in the process. I hope any of them prove to be somewhat useful.