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Life is Sweet

September 20, 2008

This weekend marks a momentous anniversary for me: last year, on September 21st, I received my autologous stem cell transplant for Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and finally (knock on wood) kicked the stupid cancer to the curb. Last year at this time, I had no hair. My eyelashes were gone. I was confined to my “private room” on the transplant floor at Memorial Sloan-Kettering. I couldn’t eat (mucositis was setting in. This was probably one of the worst parts of the whole experience for me.) I was trying my very hardest to make the best of the situation: piping my room full of music I love, playing Scrabble with my mom, joking around and smiling as best I could, focusing on putting one foot in front of the other. It was my way of dealing with a situation that I had never imagined myself in, but that I was determined to get through as peacefully and with as little distress as I could.

One year later, life is so sweet: I am living in a place I love, with my husband whom I adore, doing the things I love to do, feeling so completely happy and healthy it makes me grin from ear to ear! I’ve had nary a cold or sniffle since the transplant — amazing. Our life is moving forward, finally, after two years of being stalled in a situation neither B nor I ever expected or wanted to be in. I know — beyond a doubt — that I could not have gotten here without all of the love and support that my family, friends, co-workers and even acquaintances surrounded me with…nor without the wonderful doctors and nurses at Sloan.

So, I made dessert. Chocolate Orbit Cake, to be specific. Nothing like a dark chocolate flourless cake to celebrate the sweetness and richness of life, right? The recipe is from none other than the ice-cream-and-pastry-chef-author-and-blogger we all love, David Lebovitz. There are only four ingredients: chocolate, butter, eggs and sugar. It’s like the little black dress of desserts: simple, elegant, classy. Dress it up any way you like; berry sauce, crème anglaise, ice cream, whipped cream, a dusting of cocoa powder, chocolate shavings — all would be delicious accessories. Eat it cold from the fridge, and it’s like a dense, fudgy brownie. Eat it at room temperature and the soft, silky texture melts in your mouth.

I’m sending a slice of this out to everyone who wrapped their support and love around me during my cancer experience like a warm blanket around my shoulders. Thank you, thank you, from the bottom of my heart. And, to all of you readers who have taken an interest in this little bloggity blog, who have taken the time to comment and share your enthusiasm — a slice of this goes out to you, too!

I thought this might be a nice time for me to officially say “hello,” too, now that I’ve been blogging and writing to you for the past 9 months: it’s very nice to meet you!

me with my trusty Reisenthel tote at the Ithaca Farmer’s Market, by my favorite local honey stand.

And, I’d love to hear from you, too! I know some of you might be a little hesitant to comment, but really, I’d love it if you just said hello. I’ve so enjoyed sharing recipes and photos with all of you over the past year, and I’d love to know who’s out there reading. Are there any recipes you’ve particularly liked? Anything you’d like more of?

Oh, and one more thing. I kind of can’t believe I haven’t mentioned this yet. Guess where I’m going this upcoming week? I’m shipping off to a 5-day Boot Camp at the CIA! That’s the Culinary Institute of America, not the government agency, folks. I am so, so, SO excited. It was B’s gift to me, to celebrate my one-year transplant anniversary / upcoming birthday. (Yes, he’s a keeper, all right!) I’ll be there Monday through Friday, and the days run from about 6am-8:30pm, so I’ll be super busy during the week but loving every minute of it, I’m sure. And, of course I’ll be writing about it when I return, so stay tuned!

61 Comments leave one →
  1. September 20, 2008 11:38 am

    Congratulations, my dear! [I’m supposed to be answering comments on my own blog, but keep getting distracted…] I will maintain positive thoughts and hope that you will remain cancer-free. Such a lovely gift from B and I have to say that your cake is a GREAT way to celebrate this moment in time. Btw, I’ve been to that stand!🙂 Hee hee.

  2. September 20, 2008 12:44 pm

    Hooray for you and all of the sweetness life brings! We’re glad to celebrate with you.

    Lauren

  3. September 20, 2008 12:52 pm

    Love your blog. Your photography is beautiful and the dishes always look so good. Hope you enjoy many more wonderful celebrations in the future. Enjoy the CIA, that is going to be an amazing experience.

  4. trishinomaha permalink
    September 20, 2008 1:41 pm

    I was trying to remember how I ended up at your blog. It was the Asian Chicken Salad – I googled it and your blog showed up. That was in July and I liked it so much I added you to my Bloglines. Sincere congrats on your great recovery. You look way too young to have gone through such an ordeal. I’m looking forward to hearing about your CIA adventures. The cake looks incredible by the way…

    Trish
    Omaha, NE

  5. Andy permalink
    September 20, 2008 1:55 pm

    I grew up in Ithaca. From when I was five to when I left for college in Rochester at 18 I loved that town. I’m across the country now, enjoying Seattle and all it has to offer. Still, I greatly enjoy your blog; not only for the recipes and reflections but also for the glimpses of Ithaca. I look forward to returning for Christmas every year and seeing the gorges, lakes, and town I left behind. It’s great to hear you’re doing so well and I’m happy to see someone else enjoying everything Ithaca has to offer.

  6. September 20, 2008 1:57 pm

    I’m glad that things are going well for you – your cake is beautiful!

  7. Ruthanne (in Seattle) permalink
    September 20, 2008 2:45 pm

    So glad that things are going well for you. I can’t remember when I first found your site, but I continue to enjoy it! Thanks for the the great pictures and recipes, enjoy that CIA “Camp”!

  8. September 20, 2008 2:49 pm

    amy: What a joyful post! Congratulations! And, as you told me a couple months back, it’s nice to finally “meet” you! Your site–your photos, food, words and seasonal/local approach—is a constant source of inspiration for me. Enjoy every minute of bootcamp and every bite of this delicious-looking cake.

  9. September 20, 2008 3:50 pm

    CIA Boot Camp! I can’t wait to hear all about it.

  10. whitneyinchicago permalink
    September 20, 2008 5:27 pm

    Congrats! I love the color of your tote btw. Enjoy bootcamp and come back with new tricks to share with us loyal readers! I have been a bit of a lurker but now that I am trying out this blogging thing myself I am trying to leave more and more comments.

    I love your blog!

  11. September 20, 2008 5:30 pm

    Congrats! I just wanted to stop buy and tell you that I love your blog. I have been somewhat of a lurker but now that I am trying my own blog I am becoming more of a talker🙂 I hope that you have a blast at BootCamp and come back and share all the fun with us!

    I love the color of your shopping basket too🙂

  12. September 20, 2008 6:31 pm

    Oh my gosh! Have a great time at CIA!! And I’m so glad things are on the up and up🙂 It’s quite a struggle, and says volumes for your strength and all the support you have around you!

  13. September 20, 2008 7:04 pm

    I don’t remember how I stumbled onto your blog either, but I read it now and then, and I do subscribe. I don’t always have time to read, but this recipe is going to be my favorite because 1)flourless chocolate cake is my absolute favorite and 2)because of the wonderful reason you published it. Congratulations on your anniversary and I hope the CIA experience is more than you ever imagined it would be!

  14. September 20, 2008 7:15 pm

    I’m so glad for your health and happiness after such a difficult period. It really comes through on your blog. Here’s to much, much more of the same!

  15. September 20, 2008 7:22 pm

    I just found your blog recently and love it — the photography, the recipes and the writing. I’m going to forward this post to a friend who has multiple myeloma and has had two transplants, one autologous and one from her brother. So glad thinks are working out so well for you. Enjoy the CIA!

  16. Anita permalink
    September 20, 2008 7:23 pm

    Love your site – I check it often! Congrats on a year of living cancer free! You are one tough chick! Enjoy CIA!!!

  17. ECanitano permalink
    September 20, 2008 7:44 pm

    What a great celebration for you! I so enjoyed your blog and your terrific recipes! Enjoy CIA…….I am certain you will be inspired!

  18. September 20, 2008 8:09 pm

    What a wonderful post. I’m so glad to hear this story is having a happy ending. I do read your blog all the time, but mostly in rss, so I don’t comment too often. Love the blog though!

  19. September 20, 2008 8:50 pm

    Chocolate is the perfect way to celebrate overall goodness! I love reading your posts and getting to know you, just through the computer. I hope you have nothing but awesomeness ahead of you🙂 Enjoy your time at the CIA and let me know how it goes. I want to head to CIA for classes too…

  20. Christine permalink
    September 20, 2008 9:57 pm

    Congratulations! I stumbled on your blog, and I have to tell you it always makes me smile. I think we might be “foodie soulmates” (I so totally got it when you admitted your addiction to fresh produce!)and I’m so thrilled to hear of your anniversary. Have a wonderful time at the CIA!!!

  21. September 21, 2008 12:06 am

    What a fabulous way to celebrate–I’ve always wanted to make that cake. Yours came out beautifully.

    Congrats on being so healthy (boy that sounded odd but you know what I mean). I’ve kicked a few serious things to the curb myself, and it is an amazing feeling. Don’t ever let go of it.

  22. clee permalink
    September 21, 2008 12:50 am

    Finally delurking—just wanted to say congrats on your year of being healthy and thank you so much for writing this blog, it is such a highlight to me. Enjoy your bootcamp experience!

  23. kenjfletcher permalink
    September 21, 2008 2:49 am

    Oh wow! CIA Boot Camp! Have a wonderful time.

  24. Joyce Gallagher permalink
    September 21, 2008 3:16 am

    Happy Anniversary and Congrats on your health!!

    This is my first time posting, but I visit your site often and have made it one of my favorites! I enjoy your photos and recipes. Thank you for sharing.

    Have fun at the CIA. I took a chocolate class at the French Pastry School here in Chicago. It was so… much fun and the best part I left with a wonderful large sample of the chocolates we made in 3 days!

    Have a golden day and continue to celebrate!!

  25. September 21, 2008 7:01 am

    Congratulations on your health and happy birthday – all such fantastic news! I don’t recall when I stumbled on your blog, but I want to say it was through the “Discover” on Google Reader. Regardless, I enjoy reading and glad I stumbled upon your blog! Congrats again!

  26. September 21, 2008 9:02 am

    Congratulations on such a great and healthy year! I look forward to hearing all about your CIA adventures!

  27. Dee permalink
    September 21, 2008 9:47 am

    Congratulations and continued good health! Great blog!

  28. September 21, 2008 12:58 pm

    congratulations, and many blessings…

  29. Mandy permalink
    September 21, 2008 4:36 pm

    Just found this blog. Yum! And I’m a 2 1/2 yr Stage III breast cancer survior. Kick cancer ass girl!
    Mandy Moran

  30. Mandy permalink
    September 21, 2008 4:37 pm

    Just found this blog. Yum! And I’m a 2 1/2 yr Stage III breast cancer survior. Kick cancer ass girl! Congrats on living your life and smiling!
    Mandy Moran

  31. Adam and Cole permalink
    September 21, 2008 9:15 pm

    Congrats on the year anniversary!! We both love you and can’t wait to see you again soon! Good luck at the CIA and be sure to call us with updates. Love you Amy!

  32. September 22, 2008 5:16 am

    Hi!, I am from India and have been reading your blog for quite some time now. I really enjoy what you make out of the CSA share every week.
    Here’s wishing you all the good health!

  33. carolina permalink
    September 22, 2008 9:42 am

    amy,
    happy birthday and continued good health! i am glad that i found your blog this past year and i am looking forward to hearing about your cia experience. rock on girl!

  34. September 22, 2008 10:09 am

    Eat that delicious looking cake in wonderful health. Congrats on a very big milestone.

  35. September 22, 2008 11:16 am

    Amy,

    Well done, well done! I’ve only just stumbled upon your blog and chocolate cake and your year anniversary made me grin.
    And the CIA, WHAT a treat. Rather perfect in fact. Hopefully somewhere in or after that hectic 5 day timetable you’ll be able to blog about what happens/some of the things you learn. My (new) American boyfriend is a chef and a CIA grad, so I’ve heard all sorts of good things.

    best of luck, and lots of hugs from the UK xx

  36. Betsy permalink
    September 22, 2008 11:54 am

    Amy,

    What a heartwarming post – thanks for sharing this anniversary with us! Congratulations, and enjoy boot camp this week – I can’t wait to hear about it!

    Love,
    Betsy

  37. September 22, 2008 1:33 pm

    I am delurking🙂 I love the look of that cake.

  38. September 22, 2008 3:00 pm

    Congratulations on beating cancer – you totally deserve this OMG -amazing looking cake! I’m a regular reader (but one of the annoying silent ones LOL) but wanted to say have a fabby time at your course – very jealous over here. x

  39. September 22, 2008 4:30 pm

    Hi There!

    Congratulations on your one year anniversary and birthday!

    I’ve been lurking for a while, and I seriously can’t remember how I found you… it was either that I found your blog and found Kirstin’s through you, or the other way around.🙂

    I love your cooking, it is inspirational!🙂

  40. September 22, 2008 7:34 pm

    I found your blog because our CSA’s weekly email had a link to it. We live in the Boston area, and given that our produce comes in as yours does, it’s been really fun to see how you transform the goods. Your recipes are great originals and great variations on ones that are already out there, and your photography is outstanding. As a physician, I’m just so tickled to hear about your anniversary. Congratulations, and thanks for the good work!

  41. September 23, 2008 10:18 am

    Amy, I’m so glad to hear that you’ve recovered. You look wonderful and very happy.
    As many others have mentioned in their comments, I too am really happy to have found your blog. Every recipe is a keeper. I hope you enjoy your week at the CIA- it sounds fantastic.

  42. September 23, 2008 10:30 am

    Congratulations on your 1-yr anniversary, and thank you for your wonderful blog! I just love reading it, and I’ve enjoyed trying out more than a few of your recipes.

    BTW I have the exact same tote, and it sure is the perfect thing for farmers’ markets or bringing food to parties. I’m glad to learn the official name – I received mine as a gift and had no idea what to call it. People are always complimenting it, though!

  43. Lindsay permalink
    September 23, 2008 11:57 am

    I love your blog and Ithaca too! I’m so glad to hear about your recovery. You’re beautiful! Thanks for the awesome, healthy recipes. You inspire me when I have a pile of produce and no ideas.

  44. Megan permalink
    September 23, 2008 12:37 pm

    From the first time I stumbled upon your blog, I knew you were a little butt-kicker! I am grateful for you, your health, your amazing pictures, and this blog that I happen to find. I wish you many more years of good health!

  45. September 23, 2008 2:46 pm

    Congrats on being cancer free! What a wonderful dessert for such a special occasion. Looking forward to reading about your adventures at CIA and seeing what tricks you bring back.

  46. September 23, 2008 5:01 pm

    Amy, I am so happy to hear about your full recovery! I wish you a long healthy and sweet life from now on! And finally, I know how you look:) Cute picture:)

    Nice recipe too. Boot camp sounds like it’s going to be an exciting adventure! Can’t wait to hear all about it:)

    Cheers!

    Farida

  47. September 23, 2008 6:12 pm

    I love your blog. I can’t cook, but your blog always inspires me to try. Not only are your recipes wonderful, but so are your pictures and the way you write about your experiences with food. Your story and your blog remind me to appreciate life’s bounty.

  48. September 24, 2008 10:05 am

    Many, many congratulations! My boyfriend’s mother was diagnosed with non-hodgkins two years ago, so I love to hear recovery stories (she is doing fantastically, btw).

    I love your blog so much, nearly every recipe is starred in my google reader to go back and try. I also love when you rundown your CSA share. A dear friend of mine just started grad school at Cornell and all your posts make me want to pay a visit to him more and more.

  49. September 24, 2008 10:09 am

    Wow, you’re adorable! Funny how we always wonder what the face behind the blog looks like. =0) I’m blessed to hear your story. I’ve been reading your blog for about 4 months now and have greatly enjoyed your cooking ideas. I have a cooking blog in addition to our family blog (I’m a wife and mom of two kids) that I’m recording recipes on for my children, pictures included. I hope to someday print it into a book through blurb.com. Due to my own battles with a disease that has no cure, I’ve been learning to cook and eat healthier so that is the focus of my cooking blog….always in search of healthy recipes that actually taste good!
    Anyone who is interested, here is my url:
    http://whatscooking4us.blogspot.com
    Blessings Amy and I’m now addicted to your blog! Have fun at CIA!

  50. September 24, 2008 1:46 pm

    I really love your blog and your attitude towards everything. Your posts make me happy and you should be very proud of everything you do. Congratulations on all you’ve accomplished this past year.

  51. Penny permalink
    September 24, 2008 2:14 pm

    Amy: Congrats on your one-year anniversary!!! You look so beautiful, and always “sound” so very happy. Your blog is my FAVORITE,your writing is inspirational, and all the recipes I have tried have been awesome! The CIA – what a great gift! I can’t wait to hear all about it! I am going to make your flourless chocolate cake for Craig’s birthday next week. Oh! and last night we had one of our favorites from you the chicken rarebits – that’s how I am using up my cherry tomatoes! Love you tons Amy!

  52. September 24, 2008 7:53 pm

    Amy- It was heart warming to hear about your full recovery. You are precious and I wish all the best. Have fun at your boot camp week and I know you will have lots to share. BTW, your cake looks simply divine.

  53. September 25, 2008 10:15 am

    Congratulations! CIA boot camp sounds amazing–I can’t wait to hear all about it. I just started my own blog this month and find yours so inspiring–keep up the good work!

  54. September 25, 2008 8:34 pm

    Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful! You are beautiful, the new look of your blog is beautiful and all those recipes you’ve made lately that I haven’t been around to see are just beautiful.🙂

  55. September 25, 2008 9:19 pm

    Hi! I’ve been out here reading. I’ve been a lurker for a few months now. I’ve got a bunch of your recipes on deck and am looking forward especially to the Farro and Roasted Vegetable dish and the blueberry lemon pudding cake. But the more I look, the more I like.

    I really enjoyed this post. You have a great attitude, it’s really admirable.

  56. September 27, 2008 12:21 pm

    Great post. Love your photos!

  57. Emily permalink
    September 27, 2008 5:33 pm

    Congrats! What a wonderful celebration and a beautiful blog. I love coming to it for inspiration!

  58. Bijou Frise permalink
    September 28, 2008 4:01 pm

    My friend told me about your blog because I am part of a fruit and veggie co-op and I am always looking for fruit and veggie cooking inspiration. I love your recipes and your photos are awesome. It is also nice to see the Ithaca photos, as we have good friends there and going to the market is an annual ritual. Congrats on being well and happy. P.S. I have the same basket in the same color!

  59. September 28, 2008 5:09 pm

    What a lovely and inspirational celebration! I don’t even remember how I first came across your blog, but am so glad I did. Your zest for life comes through in all of your posts, and for that I thank you!

  60. Daralyn permalink
    September 28, 2008 9:55 pm

    Congratulations on kicking cancers ass! You look WAY to young to have been going through such a battle, but sounds like you are in good spirits… think positive… it helps more than you think. My husband, ironically enough, last year was going through chemo for colon cancer and is doing just great. So, I have an idea what stress you and your family went through. It seems more and more that you hear of young people being diagnosed with cancer… scary. Anyway, back to food… the flourless cake looks simply divine. I will be trying that out when I have some friends over to share it with. Thank you for sharing your wonderful recipes and your life with all of us!

  61. October 18, 2008 2:30 am

    Congratulations on kicking cancer to the curb! I don’t know how I stumbled upon your blog, but I do enjoy it. I come here often. I love your CIA boot camp entries! You have inspired me, when I return to the states I plan to attend! Again, congratulations.
    Trish, from Seoul, South Korea

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