Love is a funny thing, isn’t it?
We were born into this world as screaming babies, showered and baptized with an immediate outpouring of love from our parents.
Over time, we learned to bask in their undivided attention and affection, and we flourished as our family’s love accompanied us from the cradle and even long after we moved out of the nest.
At school we sought recognition and acceptance from our peers, and as we gathered and sifted through the friends we made growing up, just like sand falls through the hourglass, our bonds of friendship strengthened and tightened over time and distance.
We grew to love our friends, who invariably became the sisters and brothers we chose by intention, and over time, a friend’s loss or heartbreak affects us almost as much as it does them.
And then, along came another type of love, that which is shared with a partner.
A love whose boundaries override friendship and whose intensity smears the dotted lines between relationships platonic and romantic.
All three kinds of love are strong, but while a family’s love tends to be unconditional and pure (particularly if you’re talking about the love our parents bestow upon us), love between friends as well as that between partners requires a lot more nurturing, the latter demanding much more than the former.
It’s easy to neglect our friendships, or let time slip by between meet-ups (or Skype conversations for those who have relocated overseas like myself). As our schedules and time differences get in the way, friendships, like all projects that we hope to see grow and succeed, need purposeful attention and effort.
I know this first hand, because sometimes, when I’m feeling all alone on this side of the world, and it seems as if my friends back home may have forgotten about me, in the same way that one may forget the title of their favorite literature book, I’m reminded that it takes two hands to clap.
As for love between partners, anyone whose been in a serious relationship before can tell you that maintaining a loving romantic relationship it isn’t always easy. While romantic love is often the most passionate and tends to run the deepest, routines and the worries of daily life can sometimes stretch our patience for the other.
Living side-by-side another person, during days which eventually turn into months and years, can rub off the initial novel feeling – the one that includes butterflies in your stomach and a fluttering of the heart. Where there once was a constant appreciation of the other’s character and personality, that space may later be with indifference and we may start taking each other for granted.
Sometimes, we may need to be reminded that it’s about putting the other first, stretching out our hands and offering our attention and time, as well as being open to receiving, and just simply loving the person we have by our side.
Love is the sort of thing that gives back as much as you put in, and going forward, I’m determined to put in the love where it’s needed. I love you Juan.
By the way, dear friends, these are some of the most incredible and fudgy brownies I’ve ever had.
Brownies I made last Friday night, as I listened to Spotify’s weekend playlist, with the smell of sandalwood-scented oil in the air.
Brownies that are rich and chewy and dark and chocolaty – all the elements that comprise a good brownie worthy of praise. They’re made with a secret ingredient – black beans – and because the beans give it such a great texture and the batter holds so well together, there is no need for any type of flour at all.
They make for excellent company on your table, alongside glasses of cold fresh milk, Valentine’s or not.
Happy Valentine’s, everyone!
- 1½ cups or 1 14-oz can of unsalted, cooked black beans
- 2 large eggs
- ¾ cup cocoa powder
- ¾ cup sugar
- 1½ teaspoon neutral vegetable cooking oil
- 1 tablespoon milk (dairy or nut, your choice)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Pre-heat oven to 350 deg Fahrenheit (180 deg Cel)
- Grease a non-stick 9 x 9-inch square baking pan (I used a glass pan) with baking spray and then line with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on all four sides
- Place all the ingredients (black beans, eggs, cocoa powder, sugar, oil, milk, vanilla extract, baking powder and ground cinnamon) in the bowl of a blender and blend until as smooth as possible.
- Pour the blended brownie batter into the prepared pan and place pan in the middle rack of the oven.
- Bake for around 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- Allow the brownies to cool completely (about half an hour) before slicing them into squares.