In college, I noticed that the goal of English teachers seemed to be to complicate things. This annoyed me at the time, but I figured maybe I was imagining it. Then I became an English teacher, and now I can say for sure that I was not imagining it. I do try to create a certain level of uncertainty in the discussions I start and the projects I give my students. They, in turn, are annoyed.
But I think I’m in good company: if God had simply wanted us to get to a final, clear, unequivocal answer, He could’ve knocked us over the head with a lightning bolt and spelled it out. But He sent prophets; Christ spoke in parables; “signs” were not literal signs with, like, letters and things. There was a level of indirectness there that wasn’t an accident. Something about the process of being confused, searching for information, unwinding the data, living in the mystery — something about the journey was the destination.
In our most recent project, my students graphed the intensity of different plot points from a novel. The goal is to get them to examine the structure of a story using some techniques they’ve learned about making visual comparisons from math. It’s cool. They hate it.
Here’s why: they don’t know what their axes should look like. They’re not sure what to do when two points overlap. They inevitably encounter a problem with where to graph things that happen in “winter” — at the beginning or end of a year? If they were doing this project at home, I think they would probably (with parental permission, of course) set it on fire and dance on the ashes.
But they’re doing this project in my classroom, and I don’t allow matches. Plus I sing and dance and guide and encourage, so they usually don’t quite reach the arson level of frustration.
One day, sensing a particularly acute sense of hopelessness in a couple of students, I stopped the class and let them in on my little secret. “Don’t feel sad when you reach a problem, or think that that means you’re failing at your project work. Actually, I put problems in on purpose. Teachers are a little sadistic like that.” Cue lots of groaning.
“Really, though, I think sometimes we’re used to school projects feeling like a ride downhill on a bike: wheeeeee! and then we’re at the bottom, easy as pie. But in the real world, projects aren’t like that at all. I’m trying to get you ready for the real world — in fact, you’re really already IN the real world! — so it doesn’t do any good to have you just glue stuff on a poster all day. In the real world, you get on your bike and start pedaling and BAM, there’s a huge wall. You can sit at the base of the wall and feel sad about it, or you can try a few things. Some of them might not work. But eventually you’ll find some footholds and climb up. When you get to the other side, you’ll realize that you now know how to climb a wall! And you feel strong and capable! Awesome!
“Then you’ll keep on jogging along and eventually, BAM, there’s a deep moat. With, like, piranhas. And you could sit down and give up, but you could also try some things. You might try some of the wrong things and get your fingers nibbled a little. But eventually you’ll realize that music puts the piranhas to sleep and if you do the backstroke, you have enough energy and lung capacity to get across the water while singing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.” And when you climb out on the other side, you’ll realize that you now know how to get past a moat! And you’ll feel even more strong and capable! Awesome!
“Eventually you’ll get to your destination, and instead of feeling like gravity took you there, or like you just wasted a lot of glue and poster board for no real reason, you’ll know that you learned something and grew throughout the process. No pain, no gain, as they say!”
My reassurance speech was long and a little quirky — my students will all tell you that that’s just how I roll — but I could tell their spirits were lifted. They’d been running into problems and thinking, “Uh-oh, I’m on the wrong track” instead of, “Okay, another challenge! Let’s go!” It’s a hard mental switch to make unless someone with the right amount of authority and insight into your situation can come by and give you permission to make it: “Hey, just so you know, even though it seems uncertain, you’re on the right track!”
I don’t know about you, but I very much understand their struggle. My life is my major project, and I often hit a wall or a moat. My reaction is usually: “Okay, that was the complete wrong path. I might’ve ruined everything. Whiiine.”
The funny thing is that someone with the right amount of authority and insight into my situation has already given me permission to make the mental switch and change my perspective. He’s given me all the information I need to feel optimistic in the face of obstacles, knowing they’re going to be productive and that I’m going to be safe in the long run. After telling his disciples about many coming troubles, Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16.33 NASB). Someone please remind me of that next time I’m grabbing for the matches.
Do you find it easy to remain optimistic during your struggles, or difficult?
At the end of a long post about struggles, I thought I’d share a super simple recipe with you. This icebox cake only has 5 ingredients and is a cinch to throw together, but is also indulgent and delicious. It’s a riff off of the ubiquitous and well-loved Oreo Icebox Cake, but uses Lotus Biscoff Cookies because they are insane. A little Goldschlager in the whipped cream enhances the cinnamon flavor and gives this chilled dessert a nice bit of “heat.” Enjoy!
One year ago: Eggs à l’Oignon
Two years ago: (Freshly Picked!) Strawberry Cream Pie
Three years ago: Caramel Cream Croquembouche
Spiked Biscoff Cookie Icebox Cake
Recipe by: Willow Bird Baking
Yield: would easily feed 10 people
Icebox cakes are amazing, and spiked icebox cakes are amazinger. With 5 ingredients and 15 minutes of prep, you have a gorgeous, delicious dessert!
4 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup goldschlager (or cinnamon liquor or liquor of your choice)
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 packages Lotus Biscoff cookies
caramel sauce for topping (optional; I used store-bought but this is a great from-scratch recipe)
Combine cold cream, goldschlager, and powdered sugar in a chilled mixing bowl and beat to stiff peaks. Taste it to be sure the alcohol/sweetness ratio works for your tastebuds. In a trifle dish, place a layer of Biscoff cookies along the bottom, breaking them to fit as needed. Dollop whipped cream on top and spread it over the cookies to form about 1/4 inch layer of cream. Continue layering cookies and cream until you’re out of cookies, finishing with a layer of cream. Cover the dish and let it chill overnight so the cookies are softened. Heat the caramel sauce and then let it cool a bit so it won’t melt the cream. Drizzle it over top of the trifle and serve.
22 Comments on Spiked Biscoff Cookie Icebox Cake (only 5 ingredients!)
1Pingbacks & Trackbacks on Spiked Biscoff Cookie Icebox Cake (only 5 ingredients!)
[…] (“icebox”) where the biscuits soften and form a cake like layer. This particular recipe from Willow Bird Baking uses Biscoff or Lotus biscuits (the little caramel spiced biscuits you often get with coffee) which […]
Barbara @ Barbara BakesMay 27, 2013 at 11:23 pm (10 years ago)
Why have I never made an icebox cake. Yours looks delightful.
Jocelyn (Grandbaby Cakes)May 27, 2013 at 11:29 pm (10 years ago)
I adore icebox cakes! Isn’t this the perfect time of year to start making them. I love the spiked touch!
Angela @ The Dancer BakesMay 28, 2013 at 3:44 am (10 years ago)
So glad the goldschlager worked out! Somehow I’ve made virtually every kind of cake but icebox cake…naturally I’d skip over the easiest thing to make. Can’t wait to find out what I’ve been missing!
And thanks, as always, for the words of encouragement. I’m at a point in my life where I’m encountering more questions and challenges than answers and accomplishments. It helps to be reminded that God’s in control and He can redeem every low moment for His good purpose 🙂
Katrina @ Warm Vanilla SugarMay 28, 2013 at 12:06 pm (10 years ago)
This looks so heavenly! Love this idea 🙂
Jennifer | Bake or BreakMay 28, 2013 at 5:01 pm (10 years ago)
Love this! The flavors and the simplicity are big winners. And how I don’t own any cinnamon liqueur is beyond me.
PapaLos - The Man, The Chef, The DadMay 28, 2013 at 5:18 pm (10 years ago)
I always try to remain optimistic and about 98% of the time I’m successful. The only times I am not looking at the bright side of a situation is when my wife is going crazy and she pulls me down with her. She’s the complete opposite when it comes to things like that and it’s always mentioned – “how can you be so calm?!” My answer is usually something along the lines of what you said – “What is happening is meant to happen and we’ll get out of it soon.”
I think I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again.. Your students don’t know how lucky they are.
Colette @ JFF!May 28, 2013 at 9:27 pm (10 years ago)
This is the amazing-est!
CharlieMay 29, 2013 at 11:21 am (10 years ago)
What could I use instead of the liqueur?
Have a Joyful Day :~D
Julie RubleMay 29, 2013 at 11:54 am (10 years ago)
Charlie, you can just leave it out and it will still be delicious 🙂 I might also add a teaspoon of vanilla extract in the whipping cream in its place.
KateMay 29, 2013 at 4:45 pm (10 years ago)
Is it really 1/4 CUP of liquor?
Julie RubleMay 29, 2013 at 4:56 pm (10 years ago)
Yes. That’s for the entire dish (10-12 servings), so when eating a serving, you’d be ingesting no more than 1 – 1.5 teaspoons at any given time.
CharlieMay 29, 2013 at 1:19 pm (10 years ago)
TriciaMay 29, 2013 at 7:12 pm (10 years ago)
I just found your blog and what a beautiful place to start. First, this looks stupid delicious and second what a beautiful and positive message about struggle! Struggle is so messy but this an amazing outlook. Thanks for your wise words and sunny outlook
Amanda @ Food, Fitness, FaithMay 31, 2013 at 11:49 am (10 years ago)
How adorable was this post?! Also, make more cinchy, delicious and boozy cakes. I’m finally 21 and I wanna make the most of it and this seems like a great way to start!
Kari N.June 1, 2013 at 6:41 pm (10 years ago)
What an amazing post ! As a mom to two girls, the challenge everyday is training them to navigate through life with the “dust yourself up and try again attitude” even in the face of failure. First time on your blog, and can’t wait to read more!
Julie RubleJune 3, 2013 at 1:37 am (10 years ago)
Welcome, Kari, and thank you!
JaneenJune 4, 2013 at 4:49 am (10 years ago)
Yummy recipe, amazing words. I love, love, love what you said about changing our perspectives regarding our struggles and even our failures. You sound like a wonderful teacher. 🙂
Kailley @ Kailley's KitchenJune 5, 2013 at 2:08 pm (10 years ago)
What a creative idea! This looks and sounds delicious!
DickiAugust 14, 2014 at 1:00 pm (9 years ago)
I would love to make this but do not have access to biscoff cookies – that would be a good substitute? milano cookies?
Julie RubleAugust 14, 2014 at 1:54 pm (9 years ago)
Biscoff cookies have kind of a spicy graham cracker flavor — but like a billion times better 🙂 I’d suggest ordering them on Amazon if you can, and if not, I’d substitute cinnamon graham crackers. Enjoy!!
leslieMarch 24, 2015 at 1:10 pm (8 years ago)
Is it my imagination, or is this cake screaming for summer and peaches? 😉 It’s going on my “summer retreat” menu for sure.