For my dear CY, who encourages and pushes me forward
Two and a half years ago, Husband was working these crazy night hours, so he and I decided together that we would have one of our friends, who had hit a bit of a rough patch, to move in with us. She had left California for a while to care for her family, and upon coming back, had no place to live and no funds really to get a place of her own. It was ideal for me because then I wouldn't be home alone nights when Husband was gone, and during the day, when Husband was home, he'd be sleeping and our friend would be doing other things. It was the perfect setup.
As CY was looking for teaching jobs, she enlisted my help and every single night we would pore over job openings and apply to whatever seemed halfway suitable. Even if it wasn't suitable at all, we would apply. I helped her convert documents into PDF files, proofed her cover letters, helped her think about her teaching philosophy and prepared her for interviews. I was "Get Hired for Teaching Boot Camp" and I was a merciless sergeant. Every night, every single one, we worked hard at getting her hired. Job after job was filled, already filled, no longer needing to be filled, and it was one disappointment, and one heartbreak after another.
We spent time encouraging each other, because believe me, it is NOT easy helping someone every night with their applications. I was still working, still taking care of my own three kids, but felt the need to help CY. Together we would pray for the right job, the right interviewer, the absolute right position to pick her, and time after time our hopes would be dented, as the jobs didn't come through. Each time CY would feel badly, feel sorry for the work she was putting me through, and I reminded her, "When this all works out, and it will, I will be more blessed from having helped you, than if I didn't do anything at all. And when you get hired, you owe my family and me dinner at Baja Fresh." She giggled and agreed.
But before she even got hired, she decided spontaneously one day, to put her trust in God and to go ahead and buy my family dinner, because she knew that God would absolutely provide the job. So even before she was hired, and even before she was black in her account, we all went to Baja Fresh, in my minivan, and ate a meal that was supposed to happen after she got hired. But we did it without that guarantee, only with our faith in God.
Finally, a tiny district that I had never heard of, a small one, wanted to interview her. I prepped her as I normally did, helped her figure out how to articulate her teaching passion and philosophy, worked out her interview outfit, and sent her on her way. The person she met at the interview was the assistant superintendent of this small district, and when he saw her, he knew. She was the person that he needed to hire, and he did.
Last Friday, CY called me to tell me that she had made permanent status after her work for the district for 3 years, and that she wanted to take my family and me out to dinner. She reminded me of our time together two and half years ago, of how hard we worked and what we did to get to where she was now. And I readily agreed and we went out to eat together, once again at Baja Fresh and re-lived our sweet time together. And I have to say, the fish taco I ate this time, was the tastiest thing I had eaten in a long time, as it really reminded me of how much effort you put into something directly is reflected in the joy you get in the results.
Congrats CY. We all love you and know that you were the right person for that position. And sweet like the effort, sweet like the results are these strawberry financiers.
Strawberry Financiers (adapted from Bon Appetit May 2012)
Makes 24 small cakes
1/2 cup plus 5 tablespoons unsalted butter (learn how to brown butter here)
1 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons of honey
5 large egg whites
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered
Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Simmer until browned bits begin to form. Continue to simmer, frequently scraping up browned bits at bottom of pan, until fragrant and dark brown but not burnt, 6–7 minutes.
Meanwhile, process almonds and flour in a food processor until nuts are finely ground. Transfer to a medium bowl; whisk in 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar. Add egg whites; mix until smooth. Fold in honey and browned butter (but not the brown solids) into batter. DO AHEAD: Batter can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and chill.
Arrange a rack in middle of oven; preheat to 375°. Coat muffin cups with nonstick spray. Pour 1 generous Tbsp. batter into each prepared muffin cup. Top with 3–4 strawberry quarters. Bake until cakes are golden brown and just cooked through, 17-20 minutes. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove cakes from pan. Serve warm or at room temperature.