When I was growing up, my family's birthday tradition was to have cake and presents at breakfast, before going to school. I love that my parents let us have cake for breakfast, and I also love that they let us have presents when we woke up, because really, who wants to wait? As soon as I was old enough to choose, I chose cheesecake with raspberries on top. We grew amazing raspberries, and would freeze bags and bags of them in the summer, and one bag would always be reserved for my January birthday cake.
It's one of those traditions that I have kept up -- as often as I could, asking friends or partners to make me a cheesecake for breakfast. This year I decided I want to have a low-key birthday celebration, spent doing things I like to do. I love to cook, I love to bake, and I love to multitask. So this year I decided to bake my own cheesecake in the middle of a work day. So while I was on a phone call, I scooped out two pounds of ricotta into a metal bowl, and smoothed it with a spatula to get out the air bubbles, and I blended in 1/3 cup of flour and 3/4 cup maple sugar, and then one by one I stirred in 6 beaten eggs (I beat them before the phone call) and then added in cinnamon, vanilla, salt, and lemon rind, and poured it all into a springform pan that Abigail left at my house (thanks!) and she will get back this weekend, and set it in the oven to bake at 300F. (Now you know my recipe.) That all took just 10 minutes.
It needed to bake for minimum 90 minutes (ended up taking longer because the pan was 8 inch instead of 9 inch) so when I got off the phone, I decided to slip in a trip to the gym, which I hadn't made time for since before the New Year!
I think I should mention that this week's mide (middah) is Diligence: Always find something to do. While I am typically very good at finding something to do, I also have let some things, like go to the gym, slip off my plate lately because I have been quite busy. At this week's Mussar va'ad (Mussar study group) Alissa mentioned that she thinks that for busy, over-programmed people, it can be as useful to think of "something to do" as resting or self-care as it is to think about it as work or our traditional notions of productivity. So in the midst of a day in which I revised a screenplay treatment, did production work on two documentaries and a short video spot, and had a meeting with my sister, I am glad to say that the Mussar practice helped me get back to the gym.
When I got back, the cake was still jiggly in the middle, so I let it stay in the oven while I showered and got on the phone with my sister. We had an extremely productive meeting, during which I checked the cake from time to time, and finally took it out after it had been baking for a full two hours. And then it sat on the counter cooling for the rest of my work day, smelling wonderful and building my anticipation for my birthday, which I am going to start out by eating cheesecake for breakfast.