Two years and two days ago, the Midwestern Gentleman and I crossed paths for the first time, sitting at opposite ends of the table from one another at a gathering of mutual friends at the pub London Underground. We had each come close to deciding not to go out that night, each of us exhausted from dealing with the aftermath of the recent Ames flood in our professional capacities at the University. We both did go out that night, however, and so we met.
After two weeks of email correspondence, we went on a 30-mile bike ride, ate sushi, watched a movie. We have been by each other’s side ever since.
In all this time, the Gent has never wavered, not when I was mysteriously ill, not when the frightening diagnosis came, and not on any of the worst days since. Without ever formally making a vow, the Gent showed me the meaning of “in sickness and in health.”
Two days ago, on the second anniversary of the day we met, we did make some formal vows. The Gent and I were married under the maple tree in our backyard.
Our good friend Jesse, a pastor by vocation, officiated. Our good friend Kori witnessed. And our parents and sisters traveled many distances to stand with us as we bound our futures together.
We exchanged rings. Our guests participated in a handfasting ceremony, strengthening our symbolic bond by “tying the knot” over our interlocked hands with a ribbon or cloth of their own choosing. Each voiced a blessing for our future while doing so.
We drank champagne afloat with pomegranate-blueberry ice cubes. We nibbled on chocolate-dipped strawberries, and fresh fruit skewers.
We laughed, danced, and told stories under the perfect blue sky of a late summer day. Then we piled into cars and drove to Des Moines, where we dined at Sam & Gabe’s Fine Italian Bistro. (My late father would have approved.)
It was a very good day — something to celebrate.
Strawberries, nuts, and dark chocolate all offer anti-inflammatory health benefits. This recipe is so easy, you could whip it together the morning of your wedding day. I should know…!
10 oz. dark chocolate (60 to 70% cocoa recommended)
1 Tbsp coconut oil
3 quarts strawberries, rinsed and patted dry*
Optional: finely chopped nuts and/or unsweetened, shredded coconut
*If you don’t pat the strawberries dry, a droplet of water is enough to cause the melted chocolate to “seize” and turn grainy.
Melt the chocolate and coconut oil together in a double boiler over a simmer, or in a glass bowl in the microwave. (Heat in 30 second intervals on HIGH, stirring vigorously in between until melted smooth. Use the minimum heat to melt all the chocolate.)
Grasping the strawberries by their tops, dip the fruit about halfway into the melted chocolate. Gently shake the strawberry and allow the excess chocolate to drip back into the bowl. Quickly rotate the strawberry so the tip points upward, and allow the chocolate to set for a few seconds before placing it carefully on a sheet of waxed paper to firm up. Do not move the chocolate-dipped strawberry again until the chocolate has completely set.
If desired, lightly dip the chocolate-coated strawberry into a small bowl of finely chopped nuts or shredded coconut before setting on waxed paper to dry.
The chocolate-dipped strawberries can be left at room temperature or refrigerated for up to 12 hours.