Those who know me well know that math and I aren’t exactly the best of friends. There’s something about my general nature that causes me to derive a lot of enjoyment from solving a problem so it’s odd that I wouldn’t enjoy math.

I blame those pesky numbers.

While I adore words, numbers give me the heebie jeebies. People tell me not to be afraid of them but the truth is that when numbers are involved, I start to get nervous. I’m immediately convinced that I’m going to make a mistake. I start to panic and then I freeze a little.

Oh, math. Will it ever work between us?

While I search for the answer to that question, there is one thing I’m certain of – I deeply admire the math-gifted.

The math-gifted are the ones who remind me that math is really about simple principles: like 1 + 1 = 2. Laugh if you must, but for me, that’s manageable and gives me hope that one day, maybe, math and I can be friends.

The idea of 1 +1 = 2 makes sense to me. Take one thing, add it to another and you have two things. Or as I like to see it, take one thing, add it to another and you have one bigger and better thing (okay maybe I’m bending the math rules a bit there).

Nothing demonstrates this idea more to me than cooking and baking. Pasta + Parmigiano Reggiano = Delicious. Coffee + Cream = Happy. Cheese + Honey = Delicious. And so on and so forth.

One of my favourites, though, has to be Strawberry + Rhubarb = Summer. A beautiful, juicy strawberry belongs with the tart and crisp rhubarb.

To prove the accuracy of my equation I made this delicious Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote. That’s math I can handle.

While that equation is accurate and logical, there is a part of the equation that can’t be defined: friendship.

The beautiful strawberries that went into that compote were picked for me by a very dear friend.

Who also happens to be brilliant at math.

I’m fairly certain that her strawberries added something to that compote that can’t be measured in numbers.

Every day, good or bad, I am aware of how lucky I am because I have a beautiful family and some pretty amazing friends.

My friend N, who picked the strawberries that went into the compote, is a blessing to me every day.

Thanks, N! Love you!

Cheesecake with Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote
(Note: The cheesecake base is from my very favourite cheesecake recipe – Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake.)

1 recipe Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote

Crust:
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
¼ cup butter, melted
1 tbsp. granulated sugar
½ tsp. ground ginger

Cheesecake Filling:
3 packages cream cheese (8 oz each), at room temperature
¾ cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Have a 9-inch springform pan ready for the cheesecake and also a large roasting pan that you can fit the springform pan into (you’ll be baking the cheesecake in a water bath.)

2. Combine all the crust ingredients and mix well. Press the crumbs into the bottom of the springform pan in an even layer. Wrap the bottom of the pan in aluminum foil to ensure water doesn’t seep into the cheesecake as it bakes. Set aside.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine cream cheese and sugar. Cream together until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg. Add heavy cream and vanilla and blend until smooth and creamy.

4. Pour half the batter into the prepared pan. Drop dollops of the strawberry-rhubarb compote over the layer of cheesecake batter (about 1 cups of compote). Pour the remaining cheesecake batter into the pan.

5. Place the springform pan into the larger pan and pour in enough hot water (into the larger pan around the springform pan) until the water level comes to about halfway up the side of the springform pan.

6. Bake the cheesecake for 45 to 55 minutes, until it is almost done. The cheesecake will be set around the edges but will still jiggle in the middle. At this point, turn the oven off and let the cheesecake sit in the oven for an hour as it cools.

7. After one hour, remove the cheesecake from oven and lift carefully out of water bath (remove the aluminum folk). Let the cheesecake finish cooling on a rack. Once it’s cool, put the refrigerate the cheesecake before serving (at least 4 hours).

8. Serve the cheesecake with the remainder of the compote and some whipped heavy cream.

9. Enjoy!