There are times I wonder if I am literally two people stuck inside a single body. Sometimes my mind runs on two separate tracks and I have a hard time deciphering which one I really am. These days the two separate tracks of my mind seem to be running on even more divergent paths than normal and I feel a little bit monstrous inside.
In less than two weeks, Daughters will take on their first piano competition. Five months ago, I got it in my head that I’d like for the girls to try a competition, if only to dip their feet in the pond and have an experience of practicing, polishing, and performing a piece of music to the best of their ability. Daughters are proficient but not exceptionally gifted in music but they work hard and I thought the competition would be a good place for them to work on these skills. Upon announcing that this is what they would do, there was mass rebellion initially, but they got behind the idea that they didn’t have to win and it was much more about the experience. They have challenged themselves through difficult pieces, practiced nominally harder than normal, and learned a lot about the extensive work that goes into preparation for the competition. With that, they have met the almost all the original goals of the competition, even before they perform.
However, there is another side to me, just bubbling underneath the surface that wants the WIN. I want a WINNER. I want them to be the BEST. I want them to crush the competition and come out on top and I want victory and I want it bad. I want them to walk on the stage, wow the judges with their virtuosity and blow away everyone else in the field. It’s the side I’m wrestling with so much these days, when I see that they aren’t pushing themselves further and harder and more intensely, especially frustrating to see when I look at how challenging the list of competitors are. (They are just competing against so many other students.) I deliberately chose a music program that focuses much more on the fun of music and didn’t want one that would suck the joy out of music. However, I feel this strong desire every time I hear them practice, to suck the joy right out of their musical lives and push them to be the competitors that I think that they should be! This is the monster side of me and the one that makes me insane. I want them to win. I want to be the mom that screams and yells for more, harder, better, greater, simply for the win.
The realist in me knows that a win is unlikely, simply because they aren’t there yet. Daughter are young and I’ve not coached or primed them for this. I’ve not made music and the playing of the piano about the destruction of their self worth to balance or hinge upon the winning or losing any given competition. I chose music and piano for them to teach them other things such as practice, discipline, and improvement in small moments and not about the win. I don’t want them to feel that the value of their musical experience is based on the victory in an arbitrary competition where some stranger evaluates them and compares them to others.
But still. That Monster Hyde in me grunts and says, “Let’s WIN! Let’s DO IT! Let’s be FIRST PLACE! I’m going to be challenged on the performance of their duet on competition day as they need a page turner for their piece and they asked me if I would do it. I’ll be nervously up there WITH them, desiring to prime them, to address their needs, to coach them, but being unable to do so. I’ll have to have a mask on my face, hiding my emotions, my displeasure, my dismay when they miss a note or mess up, and I’ll have to withold my desire to tell them what to do. I’ll be internally battling within myself as they play – the proud mom for taking on this challenge and doing their best and the monster mom who wants them to just to crush the performance and turn out a winner.
This cake pretty much represents me these next few weeks. It’s chocolately, fudgy, decadent and delicious WHILE being made from cooked quinoa. Yes. Keenwah. Wipe the dumbfounded and slightly disgusted look of your face as I assure you that you can’t TASTE the quinoa, but it’s there, just under the surface. The cake is reminiscent of a flourless cake, rich and fudgy and super moist. It’s kind of healthy food, but it really isn’t, and it’s better for you kind of, but really isn’t with all the butter and sugar. It’s worth making even if you DO NOT have a gluten allergy, because the sinfulness of it is amazing. It’s kind of healthy, kind of sinful, both at the same time. Two purposes existing in one cake.
Two mothers existing in one body. Sigh.
Chocolate Quinoa Cake
Adapted from Quinoa 365
Serves 16 (two 8 inch cakes)
2 cups cooked quinoa, any color (cook ⅔ cup uncooked quinoa in 1 ⅓ cup of water)
1/3 cup milk
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon espresso powder
3/4 cup (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 ½ cups white sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Valrhona)
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
Preheat oven to 350. Line two round 8 inch pans with parchment paper and grease well.
Combine the milk, eggs, quinoa, and espresso powder in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Add the butter and continue to blend until smooth.
Whisk together the sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl or in a mixer. Add the contents of the blender and mix well.
Divide the batter evenly between the 2 pans and bake on the center oven rack for 40 to 45 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and cool completely in the pan.
Once cake is fully cooled, turn out of pan. Dust with powdered sugar and serve with berries on its own.