Let me start by saying that I am not a big fan of cheesecake. Plain cheesecake filling and graham cracker crust leave me wanting more, which is probably why I am a big fan of Cheesecake Factory cheesecake. The options are varied and plentiful, ranging from Wild Blueberry White Chocolate to Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough to Caramel Pecan Turtle. One of my absolute favorites is Chris' Outrageous Cheesecake. The top layer is a toasted coconut-pecan frosting, with an emphasis on the coconut. Next is a layer of chocolate cake, and then comes the cheesecake itself, which is a chocolate chip coconut cheesecake. The bottom layer is a thick, rich brownie. I particularly like the contrast in texture between the light chocolate cake on top and the dense fudge brownie on the bottom. The cheesecake in the middle nicely breaks up the two. The toasted coconut within the frosting, echoed by the coconut within the cheesecake, ties it all together. The pecan is more of an accent, or a subtle accompaniment to all of the coconut and chocolate. The dollop of whipped cream, served with the cheesecake, is a wonderful, cool finish to a rich collection of decadent flavors.
There's a whole lot going on in this cheesecake, but it really works. For me, with dessert, the busier the better. Add something else--one more ingredient, topping, flavor. But the balance has to be right in order for it to work. It can be that way in life too, which is how I ended up becoming a dog lover.
Some people are born animal lovers. I was, I have to admit, not born that way. I grew up with pets, but my pets and I were pretty much pleasantly coexisting. In my mind, I didn't really have the time. Fast forward to my adult life and my kids routinely asked if we could get a dog. No, I always said. We do not have the lifestyle for a dog. You all have too many activities. There are too many allergies for this to work for our family. I am not a dog person.
And then, life got complicated and even more busy. It was a very anxious time, and I was looking for something that would refocus me away from my own concerns. I decided I needed to get out of my own head, and take care of something else. Yes, I was already taking care of children, but the kids were pretty self sufficient at that point. Amidst all of the internal and external chaos, I inexplicably decided that the solution would be to get a dog.
I went into research mode, and decided on a breed that my allergic husband had tolerated well when he was a child. I thought about getting a rescue dog, and called the head of the schnauzer rescue organization in our area. As it turned out, there were no rescue dogs at that moment, but the person I called was a breeder, and had older puppies that were trained and were looking for homes. My children were both ecstatic and a bit in shock that I had had such a change of heart. We took a road trip and had an interesting experience meeting the bloodline for the puppies--lots and lots of yapping dogs running around, introduced as the mother, grandmother, uncle, and cousins of the puppies we were there to see. It was, in a word, overwhelming. Finally the puppies were announced and scampered in to join the fray. Amidst all the chaos, one little puppy quietly walked up to me. That's how I met Kadie.
Kadie became part of our family within the week. It was as if she had found us, and found me, just when I needed her. In those early weeks and months, it was incredibly soothing to hold her, have her sit in my lap, even to simply watch her in our yard. I became a dog person to the fullest extent. My parents would come to visit, watch me with our new dog, and ask what had happened to their daughter and what had I done with her. I would just laugh and continue happily holding Kadie. This was me now. Kadie had changed me, and helped me, and I was now, proudly, a dog lover.
Kadie has been with us for over three years, and is now often referred to as my fourth child. I'm still not sure why adding one more thing to the mix was such a help, but I'm thankful that it was, and I'm thankful that it was Kadie. The addition of a little dog balanced my life in exactly the way that I needed.
Sometimes too much is just enough. With cheesecake, and with life.
Have a sweet, balanced week.