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  • Melissa Orquiza

Dark Chocolate Pecan Pie, Zombie Cat & ”Soul” Creators on Passion & Purpose

Dark Chocolate Pecan Pie. Perfect for an indulgent breakfast with COFFEE!

Dark Chocolate Pecan Pie Video. Yes, that is my toddler speaking in the background (unedited).

Originally Published April 28, 2021

Dark Chocolate Pecan Pie, Zombie Cat & ”Soul” Creators on Passion, Purpose, & Realizing You're Enough

I grew up in a very traditional, high achieving family where oftentimes, our self-worth or attention was based on how much we accomplished. It was not born out of malice, but out of necessity, since both of my parents had seen fortunes and dreams, rise and fall within their own families. This past year has made me and my friends realize how little it takes for us to be happy and how the

“bare-bones” mentality I grew up with came in handy.

My husband and I have discussed that every traditional culture has a version of a value set. Within a larger context, you see it play out in society, in how we treat or not treat each other. As a mother, it’s hard enough to make sure your child is happy, healthy, emotionally secure and provided for, without having to deal with outside pressures of whether or not you’re doing a good job according to societal standards. No matter if you’re single, married, a working parent, young or old, there seems to be a strict societal standard of whether or not you’re enough or not. As your motherly, professional musician, (who has seen enough bizarre human behavior to write a trilogy), I dare you to think that this simply, may not be true.

I am grateful that those that have encircled me are the truest friends and family a girl could ever have. With every season, has come difficulty and joy, oftentimes tied to the values I continually rethink, usually after a life altering event. (I think my life would have been easier if I didn’t think so much.) When I was younger, it was school, moving, a breakup, a new job, or career aspirations. As I grew older, it became more life altering: health concerns, the (luckily) temporary inability to walk, pregnancy complications, blood transfusions, and your husband telling you he doesn’t want a second kid because he’s afraid of losing you.

I’ve always found comfort knowing that no matter how bad a day I might have had, when the sun rises, it’s a new start, a new beginning, a tangible sign to work, explore, and play. (I like to throw in spotting random acts of hilarity and kindness to keep things interesting.) Because… let’s be honest. Thinking and doing are both work. Not doing or not dreaming to know, is a form of dishonesty, a disservice to yourself and is more important than whether or not society deems you a “success.” The terror of imperfection might lead to the most perfect love, friendship, relationship or job. Imperfection can be beautiful, letting in light through jagged edges, casting prisms of breathtaking joy, where perfection can sometimes, fall predictably, flat.

These small acts of joy and kindness foreshadow larger plans of happiness that I’ve been grateful enough to experience. But, as with most people, my ideas of success have been constantly redefined, based on life’s changing seas. Again, like the movie “Soul”, I dare you to rethink and reinvent “what is success?”. Here’s to finding your truest, happiest, most successful version of yourself.

On Sunday, “Soul” won Best Animated Feature and Best Score at the Academy Awards. It is the first Pixar film with a black protagonist, the first with a predominantly black cast, and with the first black co-director. My husband received a jazz orchestration credit. It is particularly significant because he was a jazz pianist, who gave it up in order to make a living. He pursued me relentlessly, even though we were friends. (When you’re surrounded by musicians, you can get pretty jaded… and wonder “maybe I should’ve become a doctor.” ) One day, I watched him play jazz piano and realized he wasn’t just good, he was exceptional… and had a pretty cute butt. Who thought I’d end up with a jazz musician?

Here’s “Zombie Cat.” I thought it was weird that my husband was a cat guy, but the idea eventually grew on me. (He went straight for my mistrustful, protective dog.) He likes to say he always manages to land on his feet. Here’s to being your own “Zombie Cat.”

Zombie Cat

This is an interview on NPR with “Soul’s” directors Pete Docter and Kemp Powers, talking about the turbulence Docter experienced after writing and directing “Inside Out.” Kemp Powers, had his own near death experience and existential crisis, that contributed to him writing “Soul.” I used to think that creatives were especially prone to bouts of insecurity due to definitions of “success” but after this year, I realized it’s normal… even human. It might even be more important to those with “traditional” careers because at least we have art as an outlet.

Most creators access a stillness, a core that forces them to reconcile difficult experiences into art. I think after what we have all endured over the past year, you do not have to be a creative professional, to understand how to make art or beauty in your life. Here’s daring to showcase your artistic soul with courageous happiness.

"Soul" Creators On Passion, Purpose And Realizing You're 'Enough'

It is especially meaningful that “Soul” is an animated film about music and it won for Best Score. Here’s to all the musicians, creatives, and creatives at heart. Here’s to your sun and your rain and learning to jump into the muddy puddles.

The Music of Soul

Thanks for reading! Have a wonderful week! Go watch “Soul” and enjoy your life! You only have one (unless you’re a zombie cat!) Xo, Melissa

Dark Chocolate Pecan Pie

Dark Chocolate Pecan Pie

from Sur la Table


1 pie crust (I used a pre-made one because I wanted to chill out during the weekend.)

6 Tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup light corn syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 Tablespoon rum

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 large eggs

1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped

2 cups pecans, whole or halved


  1. Bake the pre-made pie crust per package directions until a golden brown. Make sure to prick the bottoms.

  2. To prepare the filling: Place the butter in a medium saucepan and melt on the stove over moderate heat. When melted, add the sugar and stir until smooth, about 2 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk in the corn syrup, vanilla, rum and salt. In a separate bowl, add the eggs and whisk lightly, then whisk in the corn syrup mixture.

  3. Place the partially baked crust onto a rimmed baking sheet. Scatter the chocolate evenly over the bottom of the crust and arrange all the pecans on top of the chocolate. Pour the corn syrup mixture over the pecans and transfer the baking sheet into the oven to bake until the filling is set, about 50 minutes to 1 hour. Allow to cool completely before serving.

#darkchocolatepecanpie, @surlatable,#zombiecat, #soulcreatorsonpassion@purpose, @petedocter, @kemppowers, #soul, @jonbatiste, @trentreznor, @atticusross

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