It's me, Graham.
I was thinking about you recently and was wondering how you were doing. I know that it's been a while since we've seen each other, but I've been using this time to reflect on our relationship.
Our time together certainly hasn't been perfect, but we definitely had our moments together. I still cherish those often. Remember the all of the silly selfies I shared with you. Or the drunk tweets that I totally never posted? And all of those desserts?! That was a really nice time and I really wish we could make many more moments like those in the future.
So, how have I been? I've seen better days, that's for sure. If you haven't noticed, I've been laying pretty low lately. Sometimes, social media makes one's life look like they've got it all together. I wish that was the case, but it's far from the truth. I know it's probably not what you want to hear, but things have been difficult this year and I needed some time off to take it all in. Though I normally would shy away from sharing the untouched remainder of my personal life online, I've recently come to the realization that everything becomes harder when you bottle up your emotions. Everything becomes harder when you censor yourself. Everything becomes harder when you're portraying a life you don't truly and fully live.
After eight months of going back and forth between posting this very blog post, I've reached a sort of breaking point. Thanks to some lovely blogger friends (hello Molly, Beau and Matt!), I discovered the importance of finding the strength in owning one's vulnerability. For me, sharing my life rather publicly through Glazed & Confused has been a cathartic experience, but I've always guarded a major aspect of my life: my eating disorder.
The story is a long one, but it goes a little something like this: From a young age, I was overweight. Throughout my childhood and teenage years, I relied on humor as a crutch to deal with my weight. The tipping point for me came during my senior year in high school, during a period of my life marked by friendships in limbo, coming to terms with my sexuality, and just general depression. My life seemed out of control, so I took matters into my own hands by controlling the one thing that I knew I could: my body. Through strict restriction, i.e. a maximum of 700 calories a day, I lost nearly 40 pounds in a mere three and a half months. But once the initial excitement of sheer physical transformation waned, I found myself feeling unhappier (and fatter) than ever. From there, I spent three years controlled by the voice in my head. Sometimes, I found myself depending on a mere apple and copious amounts of Diet Coke to keep me full during the day. Other times, it was all about over-indulgence and sneaking into secrecy wherever possible to purge multiple times a day.
I know what you're thinking: "How does Graham, the boy with the blog devoted to the most utterly excessive of desserts, have an eating disorder." Interestingly enough, I started this blog smack dab in the thickest moment of my anorexic behaviors and for a long time, I made it work. I found a strange sense of joy in watching other people enjoy the foods I so furiously denied myself. However, once my disorder erred more to the side of bulimia, I found it mentally and emotionally much harder of a task for me to bake, so my posting frequency during the beginning of this year became dodgy.
So where am I now, you might ask? It wasn't until this March that I took matters into my own hands. Though I had endured this cycle for years, I realized how much unnecessary pressure I was putting on myself. Since then, I've been in a period of personal recovery, teaching myself how to love and live fully and reclaiming my own self-image. Although every day has its struggles, I'm doing much better. I've recently reached a point in this reconciliation with myself where I've become comfortable enough to enter into a new, happier era of my life, one not defined by guilt, but rather self love. I want nothing more than to share that with you.
I know that I haven't always been there for you as much as I would have liked to have been, but I hope I could help you can understand a little more, because I think our relationship is one I've always truly cherished. Right now, I'm channeling this newfound inspiration and general okay-ness into the work I share in this virtual space. In the meantime, I made you a pavlova as a peace offering. It's drenched in salted caramel and is really delicious, I promise! Enjoy it!
SALTED CARAMEL, GRILLED PEACH & PECAN PAVLOVA
for the meringue:
- 4 egg whites
- 1-1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp. lemon juice
- 2 tsp. cornstarch
- 1 tsp. vanilla bean extract or paste
- 3 drops of almond extract
for the topping:
- 1 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 cup salted caramel
- 1-1/2 to 2 cups freshly sliced peaches
- turbinado sugar, grilling
- 1/2 cup toasted pecans, coarsely chopped
- salted caramel, as desired
Preheat oven to 300 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and using a pencil, draw a 9-inch circle in the center of the parchment.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until stiff, but not dry. With the mixer running on low speed, gradually add in the sugar, one tablespoon at a time until the mixture is thick and glossy. Gently fold in the lemon juice, cornstarch, and extracts.
Spoon the meringue mixture in the center of the circle drawn onto the parchment paper. Using a spatula, spread the mixture to the edges of the circle, making sure to build up the edges and create a small well in the center of the meringue. Bake the meringue for 1 hour and cool on a wire rack.
Using the same mixer with a clean bowl, whip together the heavy cream and salted caramel on high speed until soft peaks form. Place the salted caramel-infused whipped cream in the center of the baked meringue.
Using a grill pan or barbecue grill, coat the peaches in sugar and grill until golden brown and cooked through. Place grilled peaches on top of the whipped cream. Garnish with chopped pecans and remaining salted caramel.