My International Love Affair

A text message ‘I love you’ appears from an unknown number. It must be him… He calls me in the middle of the night to tell me he’ll be on a plane and then a bus. I don’t know how many hours will pass until I hear from him again. My heart awaits the sound of his voice… I receive an email, it’s my travel itinerary. But wait, my name is misspelled. Will I be going undercover for this trip? There’s never a dull moment in this affair…Did I mention this affair is with my husband!? And my name misspelled on the travel documents that will inevitably get me called aside in immigration is a result of miscommunication between me and the third party international travel agent. And those unknown numbers are the result of cell towers many time zones away. It may not be an affair but sometimes it sure feels like one!

My husband has traveled far and wide the past few years for his career. The traveling and time apart have made for an exciting longing to be with each other somewhere, anywhere. For the times we aren’t together, I’ve mastered the art of carefully composing care packages and concealing baked goods to be shipped far away. Or at least I thought I was artfully concealing baked goods and snacks until FedEx called me to tell me my package was being confiscated by Mexico’s Department of Flora and Fauna for the transportation of “exotic animals” detected in a canine search. Hmm, surely they were surprised when they opened the package and found coffee cake, peanut butter fudge and Snickers, not lizards. Go figure.

Long night chats, handwritten notes or gifts arriving at my door are all fun but it’s the journey to see each other again that puts the romance in this affair. Certain trips I may take from start to finish several forms of transportation to get to him and that’s what elevates the desire in a wanderluster.  It’s all about the ‘if I make it through this it’ll make for a good story’ kind of trip. I’ve been at a border crossing, summoned out of my transportation, sniffed by a German Shepard and looked sideways by a federal agent and still manage to smile inside. It’s all part of the game, a player in this affair.

I’m waiting to see the sunset together again. The bittersweet joy of the best part of the day that lasts only moments. I’ve been watching the shuffle of people in and out of the terminals..I’m in an empty airport now. The sun sets. One day into this trip already gone, used on my journey here. Then I feel a hand on my shoulder. I can’t help but smile. I look behind me at someone so familiar yet still a bit curious. My heart laughs a little. In the backseat of the taxi we look at each other and in unison say, ‘You’d never believe what I went through to get here.’ He grabs my hand and smiles. Oh yes I do, I think. But we ride silently. We’ll story tell tomorrow. Right now, the night is ours…

Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake

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Of all the treats I’ve packed and shipped I’ve got to say this has to be the oddest one. How does one pack cheesecake in their checked luggage you ask? Cut it into bars, place the bars in cling wrap between ice packs and dry-fit workout clothes. Anything for my man.

For the graham cracker crust:

Butter, softened for greasing
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
10 graham crackers
1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:

16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 eggs
2 lemons, zested and juiced (zest and juice a third lemon if desired)
About 3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
Powdered sugar, for dusting

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Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

For my photos featured in this recipe I doubled the recipe and used my cute heart dish. A single batch of this recipe is best made in a 9 by 9-inch glass baking pan. Grease the bottom of the baking pan with butter. Then place parchment paper over the top, pressing down at the corners. In a food processor, pulse sugar, cinnamon and graham crackers to a fine bread crumb texture. Add the melted butter and pulse a couple of times to fully incorporate. Taste, and sprinkle in extra sugar or cinnamon until desired taste is achieved. Pour into the lined baking pan and gently pat down with the base of a glass making sure that corners are pressed down firmly. Bake in the oven for 12 minutes until golden. When done set aside to cool while making filing. 

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Add cream cheese, eggs, lemon zest, lemon juice and sugar to the food processor and mix until well combined. I like my filing very lemony so I usually add a third lemon if the lemons are small or not very juicy. The filing should have a smooth consistency. Pour onto the cooled base and then cover with blueberries. You can create a cute pattern with the berries or scatter them randomly. They will sink but still be exposed and will burst a bit in the cooking process.

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Bake in the oven for 35 minutes or until the center only slightly jiggles, top will get golden in some spots. Remove from the oven and cool completely before refrigerating for at least 3 hours to overnight. Once set, remove from pan and peel away the parchment lining to reveal the beautiful crust and filling. If using a shaped pan like I did, remove the entire cake and place on cake stand for presentation then dust with powdered sugar.

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