A party without cake is really just a meeting.
The secret of a happy marriage is finding the right person.
You know they’re right if you love to be with them all the time.
35 years ago today, I said I do.
Or actually, we said, we do.
Oh, that is such a long story from such a long time ago…
It is a story that was questioned by some back then and later questioned, more times
then not, by our two younger selves.
And yet here we are.
For better and worse…35 years later…
And yes, we’ve seen both…
However, we are currently out of pocket…so that little story will have to wait for
a day or two…
But this is the first time in 35 years that we’ve actually gotten to go do something on
the actual date…I was always teaching and he was always working…so we typically had to
squeeze in a night out or a quick getaway at a later day…at a later time when
time actually allowed.
And with one of us having just recently retired… leaving both of us now home…retired,
we’re practicing on that notion of Julia Child’s…
that notion about being together alllllllll of the time.
I’ll let you know how that goes… 😉
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love.
Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.
1 John 4:16
God’s mercy is a holy mercy, which knows how to pardon sin, not to protect it; it is a sanctuary for the penitent, not for the presumptuous.
Reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert,
Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers 1895
Where there is injury let me sow pardon.
Francis of Assisi
Je suis désole
I’m sorry. . .
No matter the language, traveling or at home,
I have learned first hand that a sincere apology can often
build a strong bridge to one’s fellow man.
It should be noted however that this is not the empty sort of quibbling little apology offered so flippantly by the arrogant. . .those ego pride wrapped individuals who have felt stepped upon, insulted or who have incorrectly felt a perceived insult where none was intended. This is not for those feeling inadvertently and off handedly offended. . .those who initially offend, while grievously failing to recognize the affront which they had actually caused. This is not a gushing or fawning sort of apology or the empty sorry of the rushed and self absorbed.
This is not the coerced apology contrived in order to save one’s hide.
This is a short, to the point, sincere gift from the heart–offered from one human being to another.
And yet, I admit, there are times and places where perhaps no apology is necessary at all.
Such are those times when something usually big, grand, and important goes a rye—a time in the spotlight or public eye when it is better to merely shrug off the moment with grace and style, never missing a step as if nothing ever happened. . .no apology, no admission of unplanned disaster or hapless guilt, just a “keep going while never looking back” sort of moment.
Julia Child, who we all know is one of my personal heroes, once offered a bit of advice along the same vein with regard to apologies.
Who among us, when cooking for family, friends or some seemingly important guest hasn’t experienced a disaster or two in the kitchen?
Something didn’t set, something burnt, something undercooked, something was seasoned entirely wrong, something was far too spicy or salty, something was cold when it was to be hot, something literally fell woefully flat. . .Shades of the young bride’s first Thanksgiving dinner. . .
Julia instructed, ”Never apologize. “She considered it unseemly for a cook to twist herself into knots of excuses and explanations. Such admissions “only make a bad situation worse, “she said, by drawing attention to one’s shortcomings (or self-perceived shortcomings) and prompting your guest to think: Yes, you’re right, this really is an awful meal. “The cook must simply grin and bear it,” Julia said firmly.
excerpt taken from an article in the NY Times written by Alex Prud’homme–Julia’s great nephew
We have seen that in recent months that there have been perilous moments in this delicate world of ours where Christians are finding themselves facing an accusatory finger pointed by an ever increasingly intolerant global public–
Dark words are cast forth like daggers. . .
“Backdown Christian. . .”
Don’t believe that. . .
“You can’t say that. . .”
“You fairytale worshiper you. . .”
“Your kind of Christianity is wrong. . .”
“Don’t say that in public. . .”
“You can’t pray here. . .”
“Don’t say that word. . .that Jesus word. . .”
“You and that faith of yours are not welcome here. . .”
“Renounce or be killed”
The initial reaction would be to politely apologize. . .
“Oh, I’m so sorry if I’ve offended you. . .”
Yet the Christian must, as Julia so eloquently states, “grin and bear it”–not backing down
from the conscious choice to believe in, to follow and to practice the words of Jesus Christ.
Ours is not a faith of apologies.
Jesus never apologized. . .
rather. . .
He spoke strong words. . .
He was clear and succinct–
“Take up your cross, follow me. . .it will not be easy.”
“There is no turning back.”
“You’re in with both feet or not at all.”
“You will lose riches, friends, family, jobs, possibly even your life,
for my name sake, but you will be with Me for all of eternity. . .”
No apologies. . .
No “I’m sorry”
No “My bad”
There will be times in life in which we all need to apologize,
offering a sincere and heartfelt “I am sorry”
Yet we must never feel obliged to apologize for being a follower of
Yeshua ben Yosef,
The only begotten Son of God. . .
“Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household.
“He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.
Matthew 10: 30-38
“People who love to eat are always the best people.”
“With enough butter, anything is good.”
Who doesn’t love a woman wearing a grin from ear to ear, while raising a mallet high over head, ready to smash some unsuspecting something to bits?
“How ’bout dinner in half a minute?”
What a marvelous concept!
Only Julia could give us a complete satisfying meal in under a minute or an elaborate labor intensive 3 day arduous Beef Bourguignon.
Pity being this is not the day to extoll the virtues of Julia, although we probably should, yet fear not for I have done so on numerous occasions in numerous posts prior. . . and most likely will do so again. . .
Today however is a day to hail the often maligned omelet. An amalgamation of egg, a touch of water, a sprinkling of salt and pepper, a dab of butter, a bit of heat and you suddenly have a mix of warm, soft, light, airy, nourishing, wonderment. . .the epitome of the blank canvas.
There are those days when you just want, gotta have, something warm and soothing. . .something that envelopes you from tastebud to tummy. Be it a comforting, yet quick, breakfast or a light little brunch, an elegant lunch, a quick supper on the fly or even a lucious late night snack– an egg transformed can provide all of that and then some.
On a trip to my mecca, aka William Sonoma, a couple of years ago, I saw the most intriguing little pan.
A rolled omelet pan.
Ooooooo. . .
A sucker for any little boost in the kitchen, I made the purchase.
Which brings us today. . .
I’d like to share with you how this fun little pan, coupled with a few simple ingredients, can create a satisfying delight which can be happily turned out in less then a minute. And remember that an omelet is a “vessel” for all sorts of goodies, be it chopped ham, chopped bacon, chopped peppers, onions, spinach, tiny shrimp, crab—the sky’s the limit
For all practical teaching purposes, we’ll keep things simple and make a humble soul satisfying cheese omelet. . .
I highly recommend this particular pan but you may certainly use a round small sauté pan, however you just won’t have the fun little rolled variety of omelet but rather the folded variety which for some odd reason is just not nearly as fun or easy to make, nor will it be as tasty. . .
a touch of butter or PAM
a sprinkle of salt and pepper
a few slices of a nice cheddar cheese
a touch of water.
Place the pan on the eye of your stove over medium heat. Despite being a rectangle pan on a round eye, trust me, magic will happen. Put in a dollop of butter ( 1/2 tablespoon) and heat until sizzling.
Meanwhile in a bowl (a fun little bowl I made years ago when I was in the classroom) crack two eggs, add a splash of water ( 1 Tbl) and whip up until light and frothy–notice the honey wand I’m using to mix the eggs. . .made by our own little Michael over on http://michaelswoodcraft.wordpress.com
Next pour the egg into one of the wells of the pan.
Continue heating, slightly tilting the pan, allowing some of the egg mixture to pour into the other well. . .
Continue tilting back and forth as the egg begins to “set up”
At this point lay your slices of cheese on top of the egg, on either side of the well.
I’m using a lovely double decker cheese, a two tone of Red Leicester and creamy Double Gloucester.
Now take the nice little spatula that was included with the pan, gently pulling and pushing one end of the omelet, rolling it toward the other end.
and Voila—the whole process takes maybe 4 minutes, from prep to plate
I’ve included a YouTube link to the omelet episode for the TV series of The French Chef
Beauty is a fragile gift.
This beautiful gerber daisy continues blooming like nobody’s business, unaware that in a few short weeks, the first frost of the year is predictably scheduled. Until then, I suppose we shall bask in the vibrant colors and beauty of the last hoorah of a slow fading season.
Beauty of a flower, with it’s often quickly fading glory, is not the only fragile “gift” I’ve recently been privy to observe. . .rather, it is Life herself, that is most tenderly fragile. . .as I have so poignantly observed over the past couple of weeks. . .
I did something this morning that I have never done before. I finished my 30 minutes of pure torture on the elliptical when something unexplainable inside myself made me push the start button—again.
A double run.
It must have been an outer body experience.
Sweat was already pouring down my face, my toes were already numb and luckily I had yet to inhale my gum.
Maybe it’s because in two weeks I’ll be turning 55.
Maybe it’s due to the black cherry juice (yes black cherry juice but more about that another day).
Maybe it’s because of the cheesecake.
Cheesecake, did she just say cheesecake?!
And I’m proud of it.
I made the most heavenly and unctuous cheesecake over the weekend. I haven’t made, let alone eaten, a cheesecake in years.
What’s so bad?
It’s got all the major food groups—dairy, eggs, grains —graham crackers are a grains right?
And for all of you über svelte individuals out there who post your latest marathon number on the back window of your cars and nosh on kale chips and who are currently rolling your eyes over my paltry 30 minutes of weights and a 30 minute elliptical “run”, now doubled, on this fine Tuesday, may it be noted that I work rather hard at striking a balance, trying not to go too far off on any one tangent— or ledge for that matter.
Life is all about a healthy balance. . .
A balance of activity, spiritually, health, relationships and butter. Yes you heard / read me correctly, butter.
Remember, I grew up as a member of the Julia Child butter is life club. . .life is no fun without butter. . .
Yet it is my having witnessed and observed a couple of “encounters” over the past several weeks which has not only touched my heart, but has brought my attention around to this precious thing we call Life. . . with all of her tragedies, her triumphs and her fragility, of which has maybe pushed me a bit further this morning in the pushing of myself. . .
Two weekends ago a friend of mine popped in on a Saturday afternoon for a visit of catch up. Her daughter, who went to school with my son, has moved far way. And not that she’s not been away before, she has. It’s just that now, her mom ( my friend) always knew it was temporary—as in away at college, away on trips, away on study abroad programs–always knowing she’d be returning . . .home. . .
This time however, the move is more of a permanent nature.
As in moving to Chicago to live and work sort of permanent.
She and her husband had just returned from a quick weekend visit–the first visit since the big move.
The daughter had plotted and planned a grand weekend adventure for her parents as it was their first trip to the Windy City. At one point during the adventure, the daughter looked at her mom asking if there was anything special she wanted to do or see before having to head back south to Georgia.
My friend then said something that struck such a deep chord in my soul. She turned to her daughter, locking her arm around her daughter’s arm and said– “I didn’t come up here to be entertained. I don’t care if I do or see a single thing. . .the only thing I wanted to do was to be with you”
That took my breath away not to mention the sudden tears filling my eyes.
Maybe it’s because I don’t have a mom anymore who can say that to me or that I can now finally truly appreciate hearing that from my mom–or that I would long hearing that from my mom.
I suddenly felt a tremendous sense of sadness missing my mom.
Maybe it’s because I was thinking sightseeing mode for my friend and the fact that she just wanted / needed to see her daughter, as that was all that simply mattered, caught me by surprise.
Only the love of a mother. . .
The next observation came Friday evening. My husband and I had gone to dinner at a local restaurant. The place was packed as we were lead over to our table. Scanning the overtly crowded restaurant, I thought I recognized the face of a former student but thought better of it as I knew he was now making his home in Atlanta. Out of the blue, a friend who had seen us being seated, made her way over to say hello. It turns out she and her husband were actually dinning with this former student and his family.
In the midsts of her conversation, she began telling me something about this particular student, when suddenly she said “after his accident. . .”
Accident? I inquired as I had no knowledge of him having been in an accident.
She proceeds to tell me that yes, he had a diving accident almost two years ago and was now paralyzed from the shoulders down.
Long story short. . . I got up and went over to his table to speak with him. He had come to see me just before I retired a little over two years ago. He had graduated college and was actually working at the State Capital. He had had this diving accident shortly after seeing me at school and has since been in rehab and therapy working on some hoped for mobility.
As I made my way back to my husband and our supper, I was still so terribly shocked. Such a vivacious, joyful young man perched on the periphery of a long career and happy future when BAM, he’s thrown a devastating curve ball. Yet he still possesses that most vivacious smile and joyful spirit.
I wondered if I could or would have any sort of spirit if I was sitting in his place or if I were his mom. The unfairness of life plagued my heart.
The last situation came about yesterday.
I had run up town to a local little farmer’s co-op when I ran into a young man I had had the pleasure of working with many years back. I had also had the pleasure of teaching his wife many years ago. I actually had worked with both this young man as well as his older brother as they each began with careers in education at my school. Having long left teaching, he now owns his own investment firm and is quite successful.
As this was a Monday morning and he was not dressed for the office, I asked if he wasn’t working today or did he take Monday’s off. He seemed to be a bit reserved which was quite out of character.
He hung his head a bit, telling me that “no, this is the second anniversary of my son’s death and I just couldn’t go in to work today.”
Hit with the enormity of his words, I felt winded.
Two years ago, as he and his beautiful family, his wife and three young sons, were leaving a restaurant off our town’s small downtown square, just as the family was crossing the street, a truck made a shape turn into the intersection, not seeing the young child at the end of family’s journey across the street, the truck struck and killed the little boy.
It was a terrible accident. The young teen driver had simply not seen the little boy. It was a devastatingly tragic accident. An accident which shook our entire community.
I had not realized, when I saw my friend, that this particular day had marked the very sad day of remembrance for his family. Again, the unfairness of life plagued my heart. As a parent, who has not suffered though such a tragedy, any and all words of solace on my part ring terribly empty, as simply, there are no words.
And so it is on this October day that I am most mindful of Life and of her most fragile nature.
Her Triumphs and her tragedies.
We are joined together, you and I, by the ties of such events which take place each and every day.
It is what joyfully or sadly grants us a unifying humanity. For good or for bad we journey together on this planet. We are all given choices. We may either join together supporting one another as the global family we are, or we may rile against one another with suspison, distrust and hate.
There are those who are bent on destruction and hate.
And I wonder, what is the point.
I am reminded of the lyrics of Gary Jules song, It’s a mad world:
“And I find it kind of funny
I find it kind of sad
The dreams in which I’m dying are the best I’ve ever had
I find it hard to tell you,
I find it hard to take
When people run in circles it’s a very, very
Mad world, mad world, mad world, mad world”
But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
2 Timothy 3:1-5
May we choose caring, may we choose compassion, may we choose love, may we choose Life.
Life is simply too fragile to choose anything else.
For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
When the sword of rebellion is drawn, the sheath should be thrown away
John Singleton Copley
Well I suppose I made it too easy for you.
Yes it’s true, I’m a tag-a-long on a quick trip to Boston.
I’ve never been to Boston before but being a lover of history, I’m certain I can find enough to keep me happy, as well as entertained.
It also helps that I love lobsta. . .
Have you ever noticed how the New Englanders end all their words with an “a” sound?
Have you also ever noticed how the minute I open my mouth, every one immediately knows I’m from “down there”, as in waaaaayyyy down South?
I swear I do not intentionally add syllables to my words. . .as they probably think the er at the end of a word is pronounced as an “a”—go figure.
And I wouldn’t be a very good art teacher if I didn’t share with you the surprise encounter with a familiar friend, who I accidentally ran into this afternoon. As our hotel is located in what is known as the Back Bay area near Copley Square, I ran into John Singleton Copley–or actually I ran into, not literally mind you, his statue.
John Singleton Copley (1738-1815) was a colonial American painter best known for his portrait work. Copley established himself as a successful artist long before our war for Independence.
He is claimed as a favored son of Boston who was born to humble parents. . . who had actually made their way to this fledgling new country by way of Ireland.
Copley’s bronze statue, which I stumbled upon by mere happenstance, is but a stone’s throw from the famous yellow finish line of the famed Boston Marathon. As I walked along the sidewalk, heading back toward our hotel up from the finish line, I was deeply touched noting the small subtle remembrances left behind by individuals who have gently woven tributes into the fabric of this city– small reminders to and for the victims of the Marathon bombings. There remains a palpable determination deeply rooted in “Boston Strong”
Stay tuned—today there is to be a small personal adventure and quest for the remaining traces of Julia—
“Julia” you ask?
Why of course silly—Julia, as in Julia Child, as in Julia lived in Cambridge and her house is still there —I come to seek the queen of butter. . .I can’t wait!!
Some folks come to Boston in search of Lobster (aka Lobsta), some come for the Red Socks, some come for a tea party, some come to run. . .but I come for the queen of cream. . .
People that seem so glorious are all show; underneath they are like everyone else.
Humility is the foundation of all the other virtues hence, in the soul in which this virtue does not exist there cannot be any other virtue except in mere appearance.
***ok so yesterday’s pilgrimage did not go so well– perhaps it was more like a disaster. You, we, I don’t want to talk about that today— let’s swing toward something a bit more, uplifting, shall we. . .we’ll talk about the disastrous pilgrimage later, once we recoup and attempt to regroup. On to better things, or maybe, in this case, not exactly better. . .*****
Do you suppose the other chickens get a bit jealous of those chickens in the coop with the prettier feathers, the fancier combs, the fluffier feet or the more garish head feathers? Do the more showy chickens somehow perceive that they are prettier than their coop mates? Do the other chickens who are not as festive, not a pretty, gravitate to the more fancy chickens, wanting to rub wings as it were, with these more glamorous birds?
I think we can be safe in assuming that a chicken is a chicken is a chicken—regardless of the extra fluff and puff. They all scratch, cluck, eat, poop, sleep, and the layers lay and the others, well, they wait to star in Sunday’s Supper.
With all of this chicken business racing through my mind, I am attempting to take stock of what I see staring back at me in the mirror.
Hummmm. . .
Maybe the chickens are looking a little more puffy and preened than what it is that I’m seeing in this mirror.
Geesss. . .
I don’t think February is a good time of year to study one’s physique in a large mirror– this while a pasty white overtly dry body stares back.
So there is this wedding thingie I’ve been alluding to, on and off for a while now. As in I’m the mother of the groom. . . in just a mere 4 months.
My husband walks into the bathroom while I’m precariously perched on the side of the tub turned around backwards with a mirror in one hand while trying to see over my shoulder as to what in the heck is the view from behind, as in my behind.
“What in the world are you doing?? Have you lost your mind? You’re going to break your neck!”
“Look at that” I exclaim!
“Look at what?” mr. gallant asks.
“Look at that, something’s wrong, it’s, it’s not symmetrical”
“What do you mean it’s not symmetrical?
This as he heads to the closest to gather whatever it is he came to gather when he walked in on my moment of taking stock.
“My, uh my, uh,uh, my butt, look at the right side, it’s like part of it has lost it’s “umph” and gave way”
“Maybe I need to go to see a doctor. . . maybe it’s some sort of mass or lump blocking the view of my butt”
“Are you crazy” mr. gallant smirks from the closet, eventually coming out to where I remain perched on the side of the tub, mirror in hand, head cocked around almost backwards, like an owl, peering over the shoulder.
“You don’t need to see a doctor, you’re perfectly fine. You’ve just gotten older and things just— fall.”
“Did you just say I’m old and that my butt fell?!
“Yes, you just said that I’m old and that my butt fell because I’m old”
“No, that is not what I said” as I note the slight curl upwards around the corners of his mouth.
“Oh my God, I can’t believe you just called me old and fat”
“I did not call you old and I never said fat”
“Look, all I’m saying is that age has a way of shifting things around”
This as mr. gallant makes a very poor attempt at logic.
A woman standing on the side of bathtub, taking stock of a pasty white dry aging body, is in no mood for logic!
“You may speak for yourself, thank you very much” I smugly retort.
This as I’m debating whether to say something about a delicate subject. . .about seeing more head than hair. . .when suddenly mr. gallant spouts out his now marvelous thought of a solution.
“I’ve got just what you need—
“We’ll just tape things back into place. . . you’ll be good as new!”
May I just say that he is very very lucky that he is still walking around with all appendages in tact.
Duct tape. . .I mean really.
Hear my cries. . .is my time on that blasted elliptical all in vain?!
“Where are the results?” I seem to constantly scream as I step from the scales.
Maybe it’s the elliptical’s fault my butt fell off in the first place. And anyway, who’s bum looks as if its fallen off in the first place?
How do I tell the doctor I think something is wrong with my behind? How do I tell her it looks like part of it just gave way, sort of like some sort of mini avalanche. . .hummm. . . .
30 minutes every morning on the elliptical.
Level 15, one of the more difficult levels.
up, down, up down . . .all to a very swift pace.
This while my “workout music” echoes throughout the basement.
Next, it’s time for the protein smoothie– every morning.
Who says spinach and ground flax seed doesn’t mix with cranberries, strawberries, frozen cherries and peaches?
Add a scoop of protein powder, a little coconut milk, voila.
When did I start drinking coconut milk?!
Just like a milkshake. . . a brown throw-up looking milkshake. . .mmmmm. . . good, I think.
No bread, no sweets, no butter. . .
This is all Julia’s fault!
And no, not me Julia, Julia Child, Julia!!
Julia and that blasted affinity of butter and cream of hers!!!
Julia could carry a love of fat on that 6 foot frame of hers and get away with it—- at 5’3″ (it was 5’4.5″ but then the osteoporosis kicked in. . .let’s not talk about that) I sadly cannot!
UGH. . .
We took our son and his fiancé out to dinner the other evening.
“So”, Abby begins, “Did you find the workout song you were wanting?”
“Oh yes! I first start out with a little U2, switching then to Bruno Mars. . .”
“MOTHER, you listen to Bruno Mars!?
I suddenly feel the eyes rolling.
“Yes Brenton.” I continue. ..
“Perfect music, with a great beat, for working out.”
“Oh, and I also like that Macklemore group, that’s great music with a beat to huff and puff to.”
“WHAT! Mother when did you start listening to Macklemore?”
I feel the eyes rolling again.
“When I started working out” I triumphantly reply over my shoulder to the back seat that holds my incredulous son whose eyes are now popping out of his head.
And so it goes.
No support from the males in my house.
One wants to duct tape me and the other one wants to sensor me.
My aunt is always exclaiming “it’s hell getting old”
So yes, whereas it may be hell getting older, all I know it that I’m going to give it hell right back! Plus demand the return of my, uh, derrière!!
I may be pasty white, a little out of shape and no longer symmetrical, but come June, I will be a lean mean fighting machine marching down an aisle!!
When you rise in the morning, form a resolution to make the day a happy one for a fellow creature.”
― Sydney Smith
Ok, so I originally wrote today’s post wising to discuss my new healthy purchase. I veered off the subject as usual, verging on a rant regarding our Society’s obsession with beauty, über health, thinness and of our obsessive fear of aging. Things got too wordy, albeit all correct, plus my intent has never for my little blog to be stage for ranting, although there is a great deal I could rant about–Now that being said, this sacred space is reserved for that of a retired Yoda’s musings—plus I was certainly not on topic with that of my new little blender–so he is now the abbreviated version.
I’m not one to make resolutions for the New Year. I just think that we should all try our best, each and every day, without needing some sort of mile marker pointing us in the right direction year after year–those “resolutions” are the things which should be determined each morning as we open our eyes—a daily sort of quest of determination to do right and do better by not only ourselves but our kinsmen as well. Isn’t that a novel concept.
And so it was on the Monday to the new week to the new year—no more sweets, no more fats, back to my little weight lifting regime, loose this excess of weight, get that elliptical machine for the basement, get healthy, get lean. . .hummm. . .
have I ever been lean?
Remember, I’ve got a wedding in June.
No silly, not my wedding, my son’s wedding.
“Ahhh, mother of the groom eh?”
Yes and I want to look nice and I want to be able to fit into a dress.
“But no one will be looking at you, they’ll be looking at the bride.”
So you say.
I’ve been to those weddings and you have too– as they escort the mothers in you turn and whisper to you friend, “She surly has aged. Wow she’s gained weight since the retirement. I don’t remember her being so grey. . .” and the litany goes on.
As I take stock of myself in the mirror, wondering what it is that I need do in order to get into “the mother of the groom” sort of shape, I’m noticing that I can no longer tell whether or not I have eye lids, my mouth has more lines around it than a road map and those things that are supposed to be up on my chest, the things that I think folks refer to as breasts, now seem in a position closer to my navel. Hummmm…
I suppose I should start with not only some exercise but perhaps a bit of monitoring of my diet.
I’m certain it comes as no surprise to you that the new trendy super vegetable is Kale. Every time you open a current cooking magazine or search the web’s plethora of foodie sites the once humble green is now all the rage. This simple prolific winter crop of greens which has kept many an Irishman happy as he ate a hearty bowl of Colcannon is now the darling of health food. Funny how the lowly collard and turnip green, along with cousin kale, have taken the eating healthy stage by storm. I’ve been eating such for years—of course the southern style–simmered in chicken broth, a little hot sauce a piece of bacon, or for those hard core southerners, fat back. That my friend is the South on a plate.
Not to be left out of the latest food craze I too have fresh kale on hand. But as far as those kale salads and kale chips are concerned, I’m good. I’ll stick to my spinach and mesclun lettuce for salad and the only chip, as far as I’m concerned, is a potato. I don’t buy potato chips, as I do try to watch what I put in my mouth, I at least know where they are if I need them–right there on the chip aisle–not the kale chip aisle.
Everyone is screaming for kale and I’m still in wonderment over my butter making jar. Now that’s something truly special—butter. And I say all of this as I type under the watchful eye of the placard hanging in my kitchen— “If you’re afraid of butter, use cream” Those immortally wise words of Julia Child.
But let’s get to my point shall we—I bought a Bullet.
A what you ask?
I had not heard of it either but it seems to be a most popular little device.
What started this new little move to health was actually founded in a bit of guilty indulgence. Monday, I decided that I would make chocolate pudding. My poor husband has felt quite deprived since the new year’s healthiness began. Pudding would be okay. But then I saw a fun recipe by the pioneering red head, Ree Drummond for Pots de Creme, which sounded quick and easy. Put the chocolate chips in a blender along with eggs, grind, then add the hot coffee. I did as instructed and as the chips began “grinding” , suddenly my very nice Kitchen Aid blender stopped. I thought the chips were stuck to the blade–but as luck would have it, the chips killed the blender. Who knew?!
Obviously I had to get a new blender. It was suggested that I try a NurtiBullet, as in a magic bullet to health, which will enable me to make those wonderful healthy smoothies which are now all the rage. Really? I want to do that? Who says I want to do that? Blenders are for fun little cocktails, and the blending of the bases of various soups. . . milkshakes, yes, smoothies, ok—but what’s this healthy business?
I proudly bring my new Bullet in the house and unpack it. Looks easy enough. It’s smaller than a traditional blender and it even has a nice little recipe book.
As it is lunch time and I am a tad hungry, I immediately pack the blender cup with the suggested items–peaches, blueberries and kale, filling it with water. I used frozen peaches and blueberries hoping to eliminate the need for ice as I don’t like a smoothie full of hunks of ice. Pop that puppy up on the base, plug it in, and ZIP—within seconds a beautifully deep purple, dotted with little specks of green, smoothie. “This looks really good,” I’m thinking as I bring the cup to my lips. Big sip. . .
AAAGGGHHHHHHHH—eeeoooo, gag–cough, cough
Oh my Lord, I’m drinking grass! All I can taste is the raw kale–no sweet peaches, no tangy blueberries. Honey, I know, it needs some honey!!
Let’s just say that honey will not blend into something very cold, it stays a clumpy cold mass–so now I have a cup full of purple raw greens with a wad of honey hiding within.
Ok, I do see some potential here, but I’ve got to think this through— rather than just throwing any healthy thing in a cup thinking I can blend it up into a palatable concoction, there must be balance. Back to the grocery store I go. More fruits. Some Greek yogurt, some frozen yogurt, add some dashes of perhaps protein powder, this new rage of flax seed meal, some chai and gogi crap. I can do this.
I am now armed with an arsenal of “additives”–all in the name of health. Do you know what excessive fiber can do to your system if you are not use to such. Let’s just say it’s not pretty nor comfortable as a smoothie is pretty much cold raw fiber in a cup. And this is what I wanted?? Hummm
Now on day 3 it’s gotten a tad better. Peaches, strawberries, a banana for texture and potassium, some Greek yogurt, a little coconut milk, cinnamon, a tad of honey—ZIP again, voila, pretty smoothie and one that is much more palatable. Next, blackberries, frozen peaches, pineapples, frozen yogurt, cinnamon, almond milk and a sprinkling of Qia—What in the heck is Qia?? Some sort of magical mix of super seeds—ZIP it up again and I now have a pretty crunchy smoothie. Hummm—I don’t like the seeds, I doubt my intestines like the seeds. No more seeds—
At least however, there are possibilities. It’s easy to use and clean–I can give it a try for a while. I wonder if the yogurt, peaches and almond milk would enjoy a shot of Amaretto? I think I would. Oh, this is breakfast, I forgot, nix the alcohol.
This will definitely take some playing around with in order to appreciate the full potential–ratios and combinations are certainly coming into play. And yet, I’m still drawn back to the pudding. So much smoother–such a wonderful feel in the mouth–none of this stick in the teeth seed business. Chocolate and creme–a thing of beauty in the mouth–and what’s more these two would appreciate a shot of Amaretto, Rum, Bourbon, you name it!!
Oh what would Julia say?
The moral of this tale—make no big yearly resolutions, simply tell yourself each morning that you will make good daily choices for yourself and others— while always making room for a little added pudding.
Now I’m thinking I may just go back to my fig newtons for lunch–figs and whole grains—now that sounds healthy!
“O wonderful, wonderful, and most wonderful wonderful! And yet again wonderful, and after that, out of all hooping.”
― William Shakespeare, As You Like It
Part II to Presents of Purpose—from yesterday’s post:
As my students so irritatingly use to say when something grand took place—OMG! Now you and I are not phones so “text talk,” as I use to call it, has no place in face to face conversation or any sort of conversation, but try telling that to teenagers. However, at this moment, I suppose I must make an exception as what has transpired here is truly a wonderful marvel—a marvel indeed!!
BUTTER, we actually made butter!!!
The real deal! An amalgamation of an unctuous tongue coating sublime byproduct all from a cow– BUTTER!!
It worked!! The little shaker jar worked!! I must feel like Edison or Bell when their little tinkerings actually produced light and sound—amazed and elated all rolled into one.
But Julie, for Heaven’s sake, it’s just butter for crying out loud.
Just butter you say?!
Not just butter. . . but rather light, fresh, clean homemade wonder in a jar.
This little jar has produced something that I, until today, have only been able to procure from a store or vendor—never from my own kitchen.
The possibilities, imagine the possibilities. . .
The gears in the ol brain are turing now!!!. . .
This little gift, has in turn, given me not only joy and wonderment but tremendous possibilities for creativity as well as self satisfaction–and of course the added plus of tastebud pleasure. Who would have thought a little box with a little jar could bring such simple joy and pleasure?!
After the cream sat in the shaker jar for the specified 8 hours, and after I picked up my aunt from the side of interstate I-75, I came home to shake the jar as directed for about 3 minutes. At which point I strained off the resulting “buttermilk.” I was instructed to next add cold water to the jar and shake some more. After which I poured off the water while the resulting butter accumulated in the small ramekin attached at the bottom of the jar. Unscrewing the jar from the ramekin, I was amazed at what I beheld sitting before me. There amassed within the small white ramekin was a soft creamy off-white clump of spreadable butter. Sprinkle with a little salt, gently blending and VOLIA!!!
And for my second act, I’m thinking herbs de Provence, or maybe honey cinnamon, or maybe red pepper, or maybe garlic, or maybe. . . mmmmmmmm so so good and so so wonderful!!!
“People who love to eat are always the best people.”
― Julia Child
I’m so excited!!
Do you want to know what my son and his bride to be presented me Christmas morning?! It was a basket–but just not any ol’ basket. This basket full of Christmas cheer was actually full of fun little knick knacks–knick knacks especially for the kitchen–or rather, knick knacks to use while in the kitchen–as that is the place in which I spend the majority of my time on this earth.
Julia Child, who I have written about before, was one of my hero figures while growing up. I won’t rehash the stories from the previous posts (“Butter to my Bread” 10/4/13 and “Feast and Fellowship 3/19/13) but suffice knowing that it was tops on my bucket list to meet Julia—but alas, Julia finished her bucket list before I began ticking off mine.
To say that she was an inspiration would be putting it mildly. My generation grew up, watching with our mothers, the original episodes of the French Chef. She became a mainstay in my world as she was the user friendly chef. She was not pompous or arrogant but very real and she very much wanted real women, real American woman, to learn how to really cook really good food. Food that to mom’s such as mine, which had only been seen in magazines or dreamt about but not something ever thought attainable, was now possible due to Julia coming on the scene in the early 60s.
Most mom’s such as my mother were not world travelers who wined and dined in fancy restaurants in such worldly places as New York, Paris or Rome. My mom was a stay-at-home mom in the late 50’s and early 60’s who was busy raising her kids. Sadly I remember the day when my mom discovered the cooking bag, minute rice and hamburger helper. May we just say right here and now my mom was not meant to be nor did she care to be a culinary wizard by any stretch of the imagination.
And maybe that is why I gravitated to the kitchen. Maybe it was the art teacher in me wanting to try the hand of creativity at an early age. Maybe it was the adoption thing (remember, it all comes back to the adoption–as in I am pretty certain that I am the missing love child of Sophia Loren–despite the fact she does not know she has a missing secret love child, but then I digress)—maybe it was simply my being named Julia too—but only after my grandmother, not the grandame of cooking.
Whatever the reason, I found my way to the kitchen and have enjoyed being there ever since. But it must be stated, for the record books however, that I am not some blingy accomplished little food blogger. I just love to cook–cooking for friends and family. . . and as Julia so aptly reminds us, for people who love to eat, as they are indeed the best kind of people. Indeed!!
And so it was on Christmas morning, to my delight, digging through the basket of kitchen knick knacks, that I pulled out the box for the DYI butter kit. OOoooooooo butter!! (do see that previous post won’t you regarding Butter to my Bread).
Now it should be noted that simple things, such as butter, are the mainstays, as well as success, to many a recipe and that any recipe is only as good as the ingredients involved–just as butter is as good as it’s ingredients—which is pretty much a good grade of organic, grass fed, cow’s milk / cream. Throw in a little sea salt and life just doesn’t get much better.
I couldn’t wait to try my hand at this marvel of transformation in a box. The taking of simple dairy cream, pouring it into the special little jar, and for this recipe, waiting 8 hours then proceeding to shake, shake, shake– pouring off the remaining “butter milk”, which leaves behind a ball of “fresh butter”—or so that is how it works in theory.
Now I did try something similar last year–a similar kit from William Sonoma. The WS kit, however called for non pasteurized cream–a commodity that I simple could not locate in my community without having to track down a dairy farmer. Something about the pasteurized cream not being able to totally transform from the liquid to the solid as readily as the non-pasteurized.
Maybe the sitting out at room temperature for the specified 6 to 8 hours helps this store bought pasteurized cream do its thing. Only time will tell.
First, however, I must go meet my aunt who has hitched a ride north from South Florida with a friend who is going to visit her daughter north of Atlanta. I’m driving a ways south to the interstate in order to find my aunt sitting on the side of the road with suitcase in hand. . . or so that’s what she fearfully thinks–(remember this is the aunt who is my world wide travel partner so a little jaunt 10 hours up the interstate for a rendezvous should be a piece of cake!) We are actually meeting at a service station at a specified exit. So as I journey south, then back north, my cream will have plenty of time to “sit”. I’ll shake this evening upon my return.
Stay tuned for Butter part II. . .