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celebrating the abundance

November 27th, 2011 | 1 Comment »

The very first time I did NaBloPoMo, it was in 2007 and I used the theme of ‘Food Holidays’ to blog about every day. Did you know that just about every day of the month, and every month in a year has a national food holiday?

For instance, November is National Pecan Month, Good Nutrition Month, National Peanut Butter Month, National Pepper Month, National Pomegranate Month, Raisin Bread Month and Vegan Month.

{{if you’re interested in learning about ALL the monthly celebrations…. go here}}

I first learned about these many years ago when I worked for a produce company and wrote their weekly marketing report. And having those daily prompts to write about made the very first NaBloPoMo really easy to navigate. Since then, I’ve focused on re-introducing past recipes to everyone.

And my Recipe Index has A LOT to showcase. But lately, my eating habits have turned in a new direction, and by the first of the year [[hopefully... right honey??]] my blog will turn in a new direction too, with a re-worked design and a more streamlined Recipe Index that’s much easier to navigate. And in doing so, I plan to likely wipe out several years worth of posts and recipes that have become irrelevant.

If you haven’t been around this blog long, and let’s face it, blog readers are flighty; they come, stay awhile then flit away to the next best thing. But without that history, it’s easy to consider eliminating what you don’t know is there.  I’ve been writing for 5-1/2 years. No one who hangs with me now goes back that far, and frankly, that’s fine with me. The first few years of this blog are scattered, unfocused and raw; like life itself, really, they lacked any kind of direction and my photos were terrible. I’d no more introduce you to those posts than I would eat a block of Velveeta. So, onward and upward.

There is a lot, each year, that I am so thankful to have in my life, and although it’s been the source of a great deal of angst and hair-twisting anxiety for me, this blog is one of them. In going back over the recipes I’ve collected, I’ve watched my life, and my eating habits unfold, change, grow and mature since 2006. I’ve seen photos turn from something that evokes a cringe and an ‘Oh dear….’ to a gasp and a ‘Wow’. I’ve seen recipes develop, tastes change and habits both form and disappear. Friends have come and gone, and family still opens the site with each new post. My boy has turned from a budding adolescent to a mature young man, and Mike and I covered a lot of ground together through these pages.

There is gratitude this time of year, and then there’s celebration, of the abundance, the fruits of our year of laboring through life, the joys of another bountiful harvest (or so it was, in the past) and it all comes together with feasting and family. The personal harvest this year, for me, has been a new-found level of health and well-being, new friends that are blessing me continually, and a bit more financial security, now that I’m working again. In years past, the last few months on the calendar have been filled with panic and fear. This year, these weeks feel much more calm, with far less anxiety. I’m so grateful for that presence in my life. I’m grateful for the willingness from Griffin to explore and be open to navigating the changes in our kitchen as we embarked on healthier eating; I’m grateful for the farmers who worked so hard to share the bounty with us, and I’m grateful for the ability to stretch, explore and learn about new foods, new ways to consume familiar options and the creativity to make it all delicious, fun and flavorful.

 

 

What’s on YOUR plate this month??

meet my new baby…..

November 15th, 2011 | 8 Comments »

I have been abundantly blessed to receive this beautiful Nikon D80 camera as a gift, straight from the heart of a wonderful friend.

And here I am, someone who is so good with words and story-telling, and I can’t find the proper ones to express my gratitude for her kindness and generosity. She has blessed me, abundantly, and I am so excited to get to know this little beauty better.

You have no idea how much I look forward to sharing with you all that we’ll be able to create.

This week marks the 10th Edition of Just Write Tuesdays, hosted by Heather, of The Extraordinary Ordinary.


grateful

November 12th, 2011 | 1 Comment »

I awoke this morning with a full heart, enriched from an experience last night that really blew me away. I’ll share it soon, when it manifests in reality. But it got me thinking, with Thanksgiving approaching, about everything that I’m brings me gratitude in my life. I could go on endlessly, because my life is filled with abundance for which I am deeply humbled about, but today, in this quiet moment with the sunrise, two cuddly cats and a steaming cup of coffee, this is what comes to mind.

Today I am grateful:

~~for chances taken, despite how ridiculous they sound in my head.

~~for my job, which is about to get crazy busy and exciting and fun and I’m looking forward to every moment of that.

~~for fun, because we all need to have fun in our lives.

~~for the support of my amazing husband and for an equally amazing son.

~~for two loving felines in good health.

~~for a warm home, good food, abundance and never-ending grace from above.

~~for a reliable vehicle.

~~for endless creativity and spark that keeps me excited for life and each new day.

~~for rest, even when it’s fractured.

~~ for friends, amazing, loving, warm-hearted, passionate, silly, engaging, strong, beautiful friends. My life has been so richly blessed by the presence of so many incredible people and the kind and generous ways they’ve guided me. I don’t know where I would be without them in my life.

 

What’s on YOUR plate this month??

thankful~~

November 24th, 2010 | 12 Comments »

~~ for my health, especially following last month’s car accident.

~~ for the fact that last month’s car accident was not serious

~~ for good insurance, oh thank goodness for good insurance

~~ for the 5 kittens and their mama who were rescued last month, and that someone may open their hearts and homes to them.

~~ for a wonderful, amazing, supportive, loving, accepting, gracious spouse

~~ for the best 16 year old boy anyone could ask for

~~ for the skills of my masseuse and chiropractor who keep me feeling good, and my hairdresser who is nothing short of amazing with both her talent and her personality

~~ for a nice home, good cars, warm clothes, sturdy shoes, hats & mittens, central heat, cozy blankets, good furniture, entertainment and rest

~~ for the food in our kitchen, and the ability to buy what I need

~~ for the warm fuzzy felines that lay all over me purring their love, and for their vet who keeps them healthy

~~ for the fact that life sometimes breaks your heart, then turns around and unexpectedly gives you another chance, a better story, a happier outcome. We would never appreciate those peaks of life if it weren’t for the dark valleys we travel through to get there.

~~ for being able to choose my happiness, for being strong enough to say ‘No’, for the ability to say ‘Yes’, for knowing when it’s time to let others make the decisions, for being wise enough to ask ‘Can you help me?’

~~ for being able to see that the little things in life are often far more important than anything else

~~ for family, as imperfect as they are

~~and last, but most definitely not least, I am incredibly thankful for the ladies who give me reason to smile every day, regardless of how close they are to me, or even if I’ve yet to meet them in person; wonderful and warm women who support me, encourage me, inspire me, humble me, remind me of who I am, and love me anyway. Women who seek me out, who point me out, who rave over what I do and jump with glee when they see me. Women who give me bone-crushing embraces while smiling to the end of the universe. Women who share their lives, their expertise, their failures and victories, their beautiful children, their humor and grace, and most of all, themselves……. people like Liz, Missy, Molly, Tracy, Darcie, Jennifer, Liz, Samara, Jen, Stephanie, Shaina, Crystal, Anna, Heather, Monika, Kristen, Chris Ann, Trish, Jen, Laura and Barb, Cindy ……. I suppose if I’m going to be thankful for these wonderful ladies, and the presence of them in my life then I need to also be thankful for Twitter because without that platform, and without me jumping in to it headfirst just one year ago, I wouldn’t have met any of them. And to try and stress how much it’s changed my life, and how grateful and thankful I am for them…. well, I would need an entire post to do that.

Giving thanks……

November 24th, 2009 | 6 Comments »

I’m finding more and more, and sometimes quite rapidly, that what brings me the most pleasure in life is really quite simple.

Whether it’s a shock of color discovered on my daily walk, or the foods that pass through my life, I’ve learned, with some astonishing insight, that often the greatest pleasures we can embrace are found in the tiniest of places and means.

There’s a lot of fodder in the blog world, at least in the North American contingent, regarding preparations for Thanksgiving. I’ve been skipping a lot of these posts, and not because I’m not interested, but mostly because it seems that there is a huge amount of anxiety involved in putting this meal together and making it perfect and I just can’t read about it. Where has all that come from?Somehow, some standard has been ridiculously raised and everyone is straining to jump to new heights, to take a day set aside for gratitude and thanks and make it perfect, flawless and exacting. Mark Bittman even talks about it, and gives a timely and very wise message to cooks everywhere. ‘Just Chill’ he says. He nails this one.

I used to be that way, that awful anxious and stressed person, endlessly making lists, sweating through details and cringing if foods came out less than perfect, and I am really thankful that it’s quietly slipped out of my life. Making my way through life is often all I need for producing an inordinate amount of anxiety, and when I step in my kitchen, I don’t want to be in a position to add anything to that. My kitchen should relax me and strip the rest of the world away. It’s in there that love should surpass most anything else.

These days I’m pretty thankful for that love, in any form it takes. There’s my family, a terrific husband and a pretty amazing teenager, and I’ve got my sibs who provide yet another constant. There are my amazing friends who can both hold a mirror up to me with exceptional grace and then catch me when I see what’s in it. And there’s my huge extended family on Mike’s side that fills me to overflowing. When I think about all of that, I could be reduced to tears from the gratitude I feel.

And my family, well all they really want is to come together and dwell in that love. They aren’t here on Thanksgiving for a feast beyond all belief. They don’t want to be “WOW”ed by the food, in fact, they react often with disappointment when I wander off the playing field and start tossing experimental ideas in the air. The playbook of their holidays is tattered at the edges from overuse. But it has a worn and familiar feel that they need. When they walk into my house, it’s more about who stares back at them from across the flickering candles. It’s about returning to better times in our lives when we had no idea what it was like to be a grown-up. Now I can take those tastes, the ones that stem from years of tradition, and I can make them better and more modern and they look to me for that. But they also just want their mashed potatoes, their gravy with some lumps and a pan of stuffing that they can attack and conquer. They know that I can make it all delicious, so all they really have to think about is whether or not they should refill their wine glass, which game comes out next, or the remembrance of some far distant holiday memory that still brings peals of laughter even when told for the hundredth, no, thousandth time. What’s on their plates is important, but it never has to be perfect. The setting, the faces and the laughter is perfect enough.

And I’m so very thankful for that. This past year has been challenging in so many ways, and the one comfort I’ve derived through this madness that is my life is what happens when the stove comes on and my hands become busy. I pour it all into my food, so my food can give it all back to me; the comfort, the solace and the firm realization of good that I find in my meals. But the simple truth is, I could share a takeout pizza with my guys at home on any given night and as long as I’m staring at their faces, what’s on my plate is irrelevant. Mike’s serious back injury this past May was a huge perspective shift. And Mike and Griffin, my whole world, were both in the car when it was totaled in July. Then, in September, my beloved Harmon was diagnosed with cancer. Holidays always bring about emotions that rise and fall every year: I lost a sister almost 18 years ago. My mother died unexpectedly 15 years back. The holes in my family portrait are acute and tender, and that is never going away. Between now and the end of the year, I feel those losses deeply. And it makes me that much more thankful for everyone who still sits down at my table, who asks for pumpkin pie, who loves the crunchy edges of the stuffing almost as much as I do, who cares little for something extraneous or unusual. Perfection is impossible, and family is forever. I know which one is so much more important.

My hope for everyone is that somewhere in the chaos of your family traditions and meals that you stop to embrace what you have, the faces that smile at you and take the time to appreciate them deeply. Be very thankful for the food on your table, whatever form it takes,  as we celebrate through some very tough times. Please remember that not everyone is as fortunate as you may be. Show gratitude. Speak tenderly. And have a wonderful, feast-ful, delicious and tantalizing Thanksgiving, from my house to yours.

Taking a necessary food holiday break

November 26th, 2008 | 2 Comments »

Today is National Cake Day. I’m no cake scrooge, really- I love me a good rich decadent slice of cake. Or two.

It’s just that tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I’m full up of plans to make my regular feast and I just feel like I should take a minute to inhale deeeeeply, stare down the end of NaBloPoMo and steer away from this holiday to be thankful and reverent for a moment about that holiday.

Plus I didn’t make a cake. Not for today, but recently I did make this one, and this one and they were stellar so they may have to do for now.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, I mentioned that, right? Are you ready?? I’m getting there. Organization is the key for me to make this a fun and enjoyable holiday with the littlest of stress, so today I am tackling a To-Do list and getting myself together. I do many things to make it easier on myself because even with pretty good cooking skills, it doesn’t mean I want to be chained to the stove, my knives or vegetable peeler while my family sits around, wine glasses in hand and laughter rising ever higher. No- I want to be getting in the thick of that sibling love.

First and foremost, to make my oven as accessible as possible, I started doing my turkey on our gas grill about three or four years ago and I have never looked back. I use the indirect heat method, a double layer of disposable roasting pan and tin foil to cover the bird. I chop apples and onions and stuff the cavity along with pushing copious amounts of sage butter under the skin. I baste occasionally, but generally leave it be. Additions of mixed cherry and apple wood for smoking make the meat so succulent and flavorful that my siblings eyes roll back in their heads. And if I don’t make a HUGE turkey for plenty of leftovers, I am always disappointed because they eat like they’ve starved for a week to get ready. What’s a Thanksgiving dinner without leftovers??

Then there’s mashed potatoes. My family loves them, and the one year that I decided to roast them instead of mashing them, you would have thought I asked them to eat glass. They looked really ticked about it. So I make mashed because I really can’t stand to see them sad that way, although sometimes I just want to say ‘Ya know what?? You’re an adult! Deal with it!’. And yeah, it’s pretty easy to make them mashed. I plan to peel and cook the spuds today, then mash them and reheat them in the oven tomorrow.

For my vegetable, I am roasting garnet yams and carrots. Then I plan to mash those with chopped pears, shredded gouda, chopped nuts-probably pepitas- and then bake it off tomorrow as well. I use pear juice to flavor it, and may add in chopped craisins or currants. This is one of my favorite and easiest vegetable dishes. I do most of it today. It’s super delicious and healthy too.

Dessert will be a bowl of my famous Chocolate Pudding, and maybe a Lemon Cream Pie.

So that’s my holiday meal in a nutshell- pretty straightforward and uncomplicated. I love that the food nurtures my family, and the atmosphere in our house is so festive and fun when they’re here. I really look forward to it. I very thankful for them; that their health is good and they’re close by, and that we all enjoy our time together. I’m thankful for work to keep us busy and the love of our big huge loving family to keep our hearts full. I very thankful for all my wonderful friends, both here in town and those who lately I have rediscovered through the magic of the Internet (and Facebook). I hope your Thanksgiving holiday brings you many blessings of good food and wonderful family.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!! May your turkey be moist and your smiles bright!

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