“A barn raising, also historically called a “raising bee” or “rearing” in the U.K., describes a collective action of a community, in which a barn for one of the members is built or rebuilt collectively by members of the community.” – Wikipedia
For the better part of my life, I have tried to make the best, most positive decisions. I have lent people a hand when they were in need, without asking for anything in return. It wasn’t always this way. There was a period where I resided in utter darkness, making one bad decision after another. It culminated in a rather nasty motorcycle meets truck, life changing kind of moment that forever left me appreciative of life. I laid on the cold, dark highway surrounded by my shattered bones in a pool of my own blood begging for a second chance. A down and out man with a cell phone saved me from what would have undoubtedly been my end. Sometimes when I think really hard about it, I wonder if the truck driver was an angel sent to save me from myself. He never stopped, so I never could ask.
Reach out your hand if your cup be empty
If your cup is full may it be again
Let it be known there is a fountain
That was not made by the hands of men
-the Grateful Dead
The first Christmas after the accident I picked up one of those newspapers homeless people sell in big cities to help raise a little money for themselves. In Chicago, it was called Streetwise. That issue featured small Christmas Wish vignettes from homeless people who survived every imaginable adversary in life – drugs, poverty, broken homes, utter despair, terrible luck. I was spellbound by one gentleman’s story and his wanting an electric guitar so badly he could taste it. Music would set his soul free from the miserable confines of his everyday life. I hobbled through the cold, gray slushy Chicago winter to the dimly lit, embracingly warm offices of Streetwise and handed over my prized electric guitar and amp. I asked them to pass it along anonymously as a gift from Santa. It really was all I had left of material value that mattered. Pay it forward. Tears of joy filled my heart as I stepped back into the cold and left my past firmly behind me. That is a story I never have shared with anyone. For a long time it was my private story. It needed no thanks and I still want no thanks, it’s too personal.
I never have forgotten what brought me to that moment nor my escape from it. Rainbow colors, smiles and happiness have returned to my life and I have been blessed with a loving wife and an amazing little boy. One lesson learned is the greatest moments of life are shared moments that ask for nothing in return other than to be savored. These are the substance moments that make up the meat of existence. The rich, woven fabric of shared meals and Sunday family lunches. I am certain when death finally comes and my life is replayed it will be full of those times.
When life is lived through the lens of community and goodness one creates a rich life. Recently my buddy Dave and Ayngelina set forward to kickstart their dreams of opening their own restaurant. The defining moments of it were the community gathering together to help one of their own raise his own barn. The raw, unfiltered emotion Dave expressed struck me deeply. It got me thinking about life and sharing which eventually leads back to food and thru hiking the Appalachian Trail. Shared food moments can be complex or as simple as gathering around a roaring bonfire, toasting marshmallows and making s’mores. In my sleep deprived brain I put the two together and come up with a simple, but elegant soul satisfying dessert. I used the chocolate mixture from Julia Child’s chocolate cake and stuffed a marshmallow into it and came up with something familiar to our palates.
This morning I am asking for your help to raise my barn. Please check out my kickstarter campaign bit.ly/KickstartSunshine I will be forever in your debt for your kindness.
- 2 tablespoons soft butter
- 4 Graham crackers
- 4 ounces Lindt Dark Chocolate with a touch of Sea Salt
- 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted Butter
- ⅔ cup granulated Sugar (i used organic)
- 3 Egg Yolks
- 3 Egg Whites
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- ½ cup sifted flour
- ⅓ cup almond meal
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 8 marshmallows
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
- Butter 8 small ramekins or espresso cups.
- Put four Graham crackers in a food processor and reduce to dust.
- Dust whatever molds you use with Graham cracker powder, shaking the excess out into a garbage can. Set aside.
- Melt 4 ounces of chocolate over a gently simmering double boiler. When it is melted, take off burner and let cool slightly.
- Beat sugar and butter till pale yellow and fluffy in a stand mixer.
- Add egg yolks and reserve.
- Beat egg whites in a stand mixer till you have soft peaks of billowy white egg white. It will look like a mound of snow.
- Add 1 tablespoon of sugar and continue beating at high speed for 30 seconds. The egg whites will start to look shiny and stiff peaks will appear.
- With a rubber spatula, add melted chocolate to egg yolk mixture.
- Add flour, almond meal and vanilla.
- Gently fold in one third of beaten egg whites.
- Add remaining egg whites gently as to lighten the batter.
- Spoon into your prepared molds, shove a whole marshmallow in the center and bake at 350 for 25 minutes.
- Be careful unmolding onto a plate, these puppies are HOT!
- Let cool slightly and enjoy with a glass of wine and a nod towards the lovely spirit of Julia!