There is a conversation that I feel like I have been having a lot lately, resonating even more in light of turning a year older this past week. It is on the subject of finding that fine balance between hard work and surrender.
I have written previously about the idea of letting go in certain areas of life, in the contexts of yoga and travel, but I have been thinking about it recently in terms of the overarching grand scheme of things. I can feel that a lot of change is on the horizon for me, both personally and professionally, and every time I talk to someone in my life about it all, it always comes back to similar advice. "Let it go, Ruby. Be patient and just let it happen." Surrender to the fact that you cannot always control where life is going to take you and have faith that in some crazy roundabout way, things tend to turn out exactly as they should. It is not always an easy thing to believe, but this past year and around this birthday in particular, the idea of letting go and equalizing the push and pull of it all keeps coming up.
“We are all fighting, indeed, but it’s not as external a battle as it seems. So much of it isn’t fight at all; it’s surrender. Surrender to sleep. Surrender to discomfort. Surrender to what it is. Surrender to our own greatness. Surrender to love.”
-Courtney E Martin, On Being
“Surrender” used to have a negative connotation for me- the idea of giving up and giving in as opposed to making things happen. The truth is, though, that the big things tend to occur when you stop trying to force them. Surrendering is to humble yourself, to admit that you cannot know or control everything, especially regarding the ever-mysterious looming future. With all of this in mind, I am now actively trying to find balance. What in my life needs a push, and what can I release?
Being the kind of person who always journals and reflects during any kind of life transition- birthdays, new years, holidays, etc.- I made a little wish list for turning 26. 6 things to work harder towards and 6 things to let go of. I know you are technically not supposed to share birthday wishes, but these are less “wishes” and more “things to hold myself accountable for.” So here they are:
-Journal/scribble something down every day. Writing always helps me organize my thoughts.
-Define more clearly my personal style of dance and choreography.
-Make time and space for the people that really matter.
-Produce a podcast.
-Go outside more.
-Pick up a book instead of my phone.
Let go of:
-The stress of waiting for things that are out of my hands.
-Caring about what I assume people judge/say about me.
-Needing to fill every minute of the day with something “productive.”
-Wishing I was a ballerina/acrobat/gymnast, basically everything I’m just not in the dance world.
-Habits that don’t fit quite right in my life.
-Regret. The should-haves.
Oh, and push to make more delicious cakes and let go of any smidgen of guilt felt about eating multiple pieces. Make your cake and eat it too.
I made this tea cake, loaf cake, whatever you would like to call it, for a belated birthday celebration for my sister-in-law and I (whose birthdays are a day apart) with Marouan’s family. My go-to with family gatherings is to make a beloved lemon tea cake that I know by heart, but I wanted to make something a little more special for this occasion. Plus, strawberry season always has me buying a kilo of them a day from my fruit guy on the corner, so I usually have some of these ruby red beauties to spare.
I tend to like my cakes a bit on the more moist side, soft with a good crumb and a crunchy sugared top for texture. This one ticks all of the boxes and more. On the whole, it is not too sweet and the yogurt and lemon make it tangy and bright, with sweet pops of juicy strawberries throughout. Being a fairly simple loaf cake, it is easily made both dairy-free or vegan, using non-dairy yogurt + milk substitutes and flax eggs in lieu of real eggs. However you make or personalize it, this cake is the perfect sweet treat to celebrate a birthday, a milestone, or whatever occasion (or non-occasion) you choose.
Strawberry Lemon Yogurt Cake
Makes 1 large loaf or 2 small loaves, dairy-free and/or vegan optional
Recipe adapted from Sprinkle Some Sugar
Preheat your oven to 375ºF (190ºC) and line a large loaf pan with parchment paper, or grease + flour.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder + salt. Set aside. In a larger bowl, mix the oil and sugar. Stir in the yogurt, lemon zest + juice, then beat in each egg one at a time until the mixture is smooth. Add half of the dry ingredients to the wet, stirring until just combined, then add 2 tbsp of milk. Dump in the remaining flour and remaining 2 tbsp of milk, mixing until smooth, but do not over-stir. Carefully fold in the chopped strawberries before transferring the cake batter to your prepared loaf pan. Sprinkle the top with some extra cane sugar for a little crunch.
Bake for about 40-45 minutes or until the edges are golden brown and a knife/toothpick comes our clean (depending on your loaf size, this could take longer so adjust accordingly). Let cool for about 10 minutes before removing from the pan, slicing up and enjoying.
- 1 cup chopped fresh or frozen strawberries
- 1 1/2 cups (225g) all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil (or any other neutral oil)
- 3/4 cup cane sugar
- 1/2 cup unsweetened plain yogurt (or plain non-dairy yogurt for vegan/dairy-free)
- 2 large eggs (for vegan option, can be replaced with 2 flax eggs)
- 2 tbsp lemon zest
- 3 tbsp lemon juice
- 4 tbsp milk (or unsweetened non-dairy milk)
- extra cane sugar for topping