I don't really connect with how Western society deals with death anymore. I don't believe in Heaven, and I don't really believe in putting people in metal boxes in the ground to preserve their bodies forever.
Crying in bed and consuming nothing but black coffee for days does not bring anyone back, nor does it make us feel better. (If this your personal way of mourning, I am not knocking it, because I definitely gave it ago four years ago. Please continue to mourn in whichever way you see fit.) For me, personally, however, I don't want to cry as much anymore. Spending my time commiserating over "what ifs" and "should haves" is doing a disservice to those that are no longer here. We are fortunate enough to still be here, and so we should spend it out living.
Each year, I bake something (usually cheesecake, since Kurt was a cheesecake master) for this anniversary, and each year, the symbolism of my doing so changes. At first, it was a way for me to stay at home and cry and cope. The next year, it was a way for me to honor his memory. Last year, I used it as a reminder to be grateful for the friends that still surround me. And today, I made a cheesecake to celebrate life in general. I am celebrating Kurt's life, my life, your life, and the life of my Hawaiian volcano plant, Viv, that is sitting on the counter next to me. Life, as hard as it is, is still beautiful, and sometimes it takes death, or the memory of one, to remind us of that.
Over break, my housemate, Greer, had a birthday while she was in Georgia babysitting coaching a teenage crew team. I decided to bake this celebration of life cheesecake in honor of Kurt and in honor of Greer's birthday. Because really, what better way is there to celebrate life than with a birthday? May I present to you the very lively:
Honey Whiskey Cheesecake
Recipe VERY adapted from the new baking book
Yield: 1 large cheesecake (16 servings)
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
Whisk together dry ingredients, then stir in melted butter. Press ingredients into the bottom of a springform pan. I used my favorite 10"glass-bottomed springform. Set aside to make filling.
2 8oz packages full-fat cream cheese (at room temperature)
1 8oz package reduced-fat cream cheese (at room temperature)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/8 cup + 1 Tbs honey
2 Tbs all-purpose flour
1 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
slightly less than 1/2 cup whole milk
3 Tbs good-quality honey whiskey
|Beat the cream cheese on high until smooth and fluffy|
|Add in the sugar, honey, flour, and vanilla and beat just until incorporated|
|Beat in eggs, milk, and whiskey all at once just until smooth. DO NOT OVERBEAT.|
|Gently pour filling over crust.|
|See? dark and mushy...|
|Cool in pan on wire rack for 15 minutes, then loosen the sides of the cheesecake from the pan, but do not remove the pan.|
|After 30 minutes, release the sides of the pan, and allow to cool for another hour.|
Love, happy memories, and cookies,