A Different Kind of Paradise


Anne Michael

I am having one of “those” days where I don’t want to do a thing. It’s a great day for that, especially since there is naught in particular that grabs my attention, my interest, my brain, or that I am obliged to get done. It’s a nice change since I had the previous two days off from work for vacation, so the house got scrubbed from top to bottom, the yard work is done and my husband Steve and I spent the whole of yesterday exploring roads and towns we’ve never seen, getting away from it all. 

Today is another matter altogether. Steve seems to be having a day like mine too. He is walking around the house muttering under his breath as he looks out the sliding doors, “Dingy, gray, crappy day.”  My adorable spouse is not one who does well without sunshine, which was one of his prime motivations for moving to Florida (long before I met him). These days of ennui do not even make me want to read, something that never ceases to surprise me. Neither of us can seem to settle on any particular thing to do, although we have agreed that at some point in this sunless day, a nap sounds like a truly fine idea.    

More than anything it feels like the perfect day to eat, for wrecking a special diet if one is diabetic or trying to lose weight if one is not careful. Today is the day to search for the ultimately satisfying food as a prelude to a nap. Granted, it would be easy enough to go sightseeing through the pantry and refrigerator for that particularly agreeable comestible. Many years of experience with this phenomenon has taught me I will nibble on just about everything I come across and eat far too much, and Steve will be right there with me.  And even by 11 p.m., we will still not have found the cure to this inexplicable malady that seems to be as much mental as it is physical. I feel obligated to keep that from happening. (Altruism? No, just not interested in carrying around an additional ten pounds next week.)

I have, however, taken inspiration from a recipe for Chocolate Pudding Cake, gifted to me by my friend, Susan, as a way out of this gray restless funk. I baked this cake earlier this week when Steve had an attack of the “killer sweet tooth.” The title led me to believe that it would be rather ordinary since each element of this recipe is a staple in my pantry. Well, ordinary became Extraordinary. It is incredibly easy to make, prepared and baked in the same pan, far better than any fancy mix out of a box and much less expensive as well. It was an exquisitely rich, gooey and heavenly orgasm-by-chocolate, I swear! It is so lushly and powerfully chocolate that to share the plate with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and sliced banana or caramel would have been an entirely new experience, and nothing would have been lost at all.

Sometimes reading a recipe just doesn’t tell you all you need to know. Trying it becomes paramount. So I would be remiss if I did not share this recipe with you before I head to the shelf that holds my cookbooks. They do look rather forlorn, having been neglected over several months of hot, sunny weather—during which the meal preparations were simple and easy and the food cold or barbecued. 

Susan’s Chocolate Pudding Cake
3/4 cup flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder, divided
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup chocolate chips (miniature, if you have them)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups hot water

Preheat oven to 350F. Combine flour, sugar, 1/4 cup cocoa, baking powder and salt in an 8-inch square baking pan and stir with a fork to combine. Mix in milk and oil until batter is uniform.

Sprinkle brown sugar, 1/4 cup cocoa and chocolate chips evenly over batter. Add vanilla to the hot water and pour over everything. Do not mix.

Place pan in oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, until surface of the cake looks dry. The pudding will be bubbling around the edges. Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving. Leftovers, if you have them, may be stored for one day at room temperature. Reheat before serving.
I don’t know what kind of day you are having, but if it is one those where you could eat everything that is not nailed down and nothing interests you in the least, try the cure to make your taste buds stand up and shout “Hallelujah!” Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to play in my kitchen with my cookbooks and transform this blah, gray day into something warm and wonderful. Steve has happily volunteered to be my taste tester. Then we’ll nap!

At age 10, Anne realized she was never going to get to be Miss America since reading a book was not an acceptable talent. So she went on to get a job and raise a family. Along the way, she fixed meals, picked up toys, helped with homework, and collected a drawer full of rejection slips for her “great American novel.” It was not all bad, however, since she ended up wallpapering a closet with them. She currently designs and creates greeting cards for her tiny company, The Frog Prints, LLC, and also works full-time as a Training Specialist. Anne is currently tethered to reality by a loving spouse, two dogs, one cat and the occasional hurricane that blows through Florida, although falling headlong and happily into a book is still her favorite “talent.” She can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
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