Thursday, November 25, 2010

Going Off Recipe

Two days ago I had the pleasure of attending a cooking lesson at The Santa Fe School of Cooking.  The class was taught by Chef Rocky Durham who was a most pleasant combination of historian, comedian, culinary expert mixed in with humility, compassion and (instantly detectable) character.  He explained to us that the menu for Mexican Cuisines III had been developed by someone else and he was not the author of the recipes that were sitting in front of us.  While he found merit in the recipes and was going to instruct us on these specific items; he also made it very clear that he was going to go "off recipe"....sort of as the spirit moved him.

I will certainly blog about the cooking class, recipes, etc. when I get all my Santa Fe photos properly uploaded, cropped, etc.  For today, though, I want to talk about going "off recipe."

I suppose each of us is born into, and unto, completely unique circumstances.  Depending on a myriad of variables I think each life starts to take on it's own "recipe."  Some of the ingredients are just basic...just necessary...like salt, for instance.  Usually, in cooking and baking, there is some sort of oil, butter, fat at the foundation.  There is often a binder like an egg, egg white, egg yolk.  In baking there are your "dry ingredients" and your "wet ingredients" and most baking recipes start from the "dry" mixed into "wet" sort of place.  These fundamentals can not be argued or tampered with.

I prefer baking to cooking.  I don't consider myself a "bad" cook by any stretch.  But I think I shy away from cooking for a number of reasons.  One is that as a single gal...it is really a pain to cook for one person day in and day out.  It is hard to purchase items "for one" and I am terrible about eating left overs.  I also tend to back away from cooking because there are far less rules and boundaries.  You can really go all over the place, a pinch of this and a toss of that.  You can switch gears mid-way and wind yourself up in a place you never intended to go.  By it's very nature...cooking is NOT who I AM.

Baking, on the other hand, demands exquisite precision and attention to detail.  One shard of flour more, one granule of sugar extra, one change in barometric pressure might render a valiant attempt into a terrible failure.  (Lately my pound cakes and brownies have suffered terrible fates as I bake them and immediately toss them out.  I think I need a convection oven!)  Baking, for me, is a labor of love.  I like to take my time and enjoy the process (usually with a spot of bourbon that helps to heighten the sweetness of each recipe I make).  Where something calls for melted butter, I choose to do a slow melt on the stove as opposed to the instant gratification of pressing some buttons on the microwave.  I mix sugars together with my hands imagining the feeling of the best quality satin sheets.  I grate whole nutmegs and grind cinnamon.  I use only organic products as I feel that they not only "crisp" up the flavor of the baked goods but they also hearken back to the days when people "made" their own baking products from the fruits of the land they lived on.  I make a special trip to the farmer's market to collect eggs from the same gentle woman who lovingly raises her chickens and is so proud of what they produce.  In short, the process warms my heart and takes me back to a place when values and sensibilities were....just different.  At least in my mind!

Going "off recipe" in baking is not an option.  I usually thrown in a flavor here or there that might enhance the over all experience; but never do I tamper with the fundamental ingredients.  Baking IS who I AM.  Going "off recipe" makes me very nervous.  I am not a rule breaker or a thrill seeker.  By nature I like to stick to a general plan and follow through with it.  Don't get me wrong...I do have a creative side; but as "living" life goes...my understanding has always been that there is a recipe and you do not deviate from it lest you find yourself desperately searching to get back on course.

Having given it some thought during this amazing week in Santa Fe...here is what my life recipe "should be:"

2 amazing parents
Siblings (optional)
12 years foundational education
4 years university
2 years graduate studies (at minimum)
1-2 serious boyfriends
1-2 heartbreaks
1 husband
1 marriage
1-2 dogs
2-3 children
1-4 homes
1 career
1 solid faith in God
1 sweet relationship with Christ
70-80 years of living
And a pinch of joy, sorrow, celebration, trials, tribulations, successes and failures thrown in for a bit of flavor every now and again.

Combine and make certain you don't wait too long to find your husband and have your children because that could result in an imperfect creation and irregularities.  Keep a firm handle on the amount of sorrow, heartbreak, trials, tribulations and failures because you certainly don't want an excess of those ingredients.  That might render the product slightly bitter and burned ever so slightly...a golden crispiness.  Infuse the ingredients with as much joy and celebration and success as possible.  Those ingredients are as essential as butter and mayonnaise is to a Paula Deen recipe.  I believe her philosophy is that you can never have too many of those items.  Do not deviate from this pre-scripted plan.  It is expected, the norm and any variation will result in a bizarre end product that will offend the sensibility of the recipe.

Here's what the recipe has ACTUALLY been:

1 unbelievably loving mother
1 amazing father (who has set the bar so high, I can't imagine any other man living up to it)
1 extraordinarily tender and thoughtful childhood
4 amazing aunts
3 cousins who are my "sisters"
1 God daughter
1 God son (as of January)
1 year pre-school (picked up one life long friend)
7 years primary school (private school)
2 years middle school (private school)
4 years high school (picked up two life long friends)
4 years college (picked up a NUMBER of life long friends)
1 semester abroad in London, England (acquired a love for Europe, theater, art and traveling)
2 years graduate school (picked up 3 life long friends + one of their sisters)
11 years assessing students for special education services (picked up a NUMBER of life long friends)
1 apartment
1 home
3 kitties
4-5 European vacations
Unlimited travel throughout the United States
1 belief in God
1 fresh relationship with Christ
4 and 1/2 major heart breaks (if left alone long enough will turn into tender friendships, sometimes)
2-3 bad decision (still working on forgiving myself and others)
1 blessed road to The Children's Bereavement Center of South Texas (began to find my voice here)

I suppose that is my "base" recipe.  Here are some of the "flavors" that have given my recipe it's unique flavor:

Unlimited amounts of love and laughter
Tears of joy-save these; they are hard to find
Tears of sorrow-use sparingly; they make for puffy eyes...even though sometimes they feel so good to shed
Fear of failure-just a pinch of this; if not complete omission....often results in paralysis
Limited self confidence-be very careful of this one; especially in your teens and twenties
Books-can never have enough of this
Music-can never have enough to this
Movies-can never have enough of this
1 Sassy obsession with a television show
2 Serious episodes of depression-you can't always control for this....it's like barometric pressure and baking....you have to accept it and adjust for it....and not feel embarrassed
1 Terrible love of shoes-they set the mood for everything
1 Pinch of adventure and spontaneity-if you are able to add more then you should
Unlimited amounts of forgiveness-because we all expect it back someday, don't we?
1 Heaping amount of "terrible with money!"-although re framing that notion has proved helpful recently
0 Children-but trying to figure this one out on my own
0 Husband-no longer feel the need to figure this one out on my own
Several spiritual guides-find quality ones, keep in abundance and shower with love
Tons of people who call me "Auntie Patty"-this sweetens any recipe and feels like warm melted butter in your heart

While I am certain there are millions more flavors I can add or take away that have made this recipe unique to me...the truth is I am a glass and a half into some serious champagne and it is best if I put this blog to rest.

I am coming to terms with "my recipe" and how it has completely gone "off script" from the recipe I once held onto so tightly I practically strangled it.  I am releasing the grip and adding flavors, a pinch of that and hint of this, and beautifully living out my own recipe, adding and taking away with each step I take forward.

As I was composing this blog post my friend, Jennifer, sent me this via text messaging.  I laughed at the coincidence; but I also laughed at how short this recipe is compared to mine.  So typical of me to over-think, over-analyze and over-process.


Today, on this day of giving thanks, I am MOST grateful for the last six months of my life.  I have learned so much about myself, my value and my voice.  None of which would be possible without Jesus, Scripture and my friends and family.  May you all be so blessed.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Cowboy Junkies Sing Me Into Santa Fe

This was the sunset my first evening in Santa Fe...........................

Heavenly wine and roses seem to whisper to her when he smiles. -Velvet Underground

Friday, November 19, 2010

Somedays I Feel Like This....Today is One of Them

Lorelai: You know, there are very few times in my life when I find myself sitting around thinking, "I wish I was married."  But today...I'm...I'm happy, you know?  I like my life, I like my friends, I like my stuff, my time, my space, my TV.
Luke: Yeah, sure.
Lorelai: But every now and then, just for a moment, I wish I had a partner.  Someone to pick up the slack, wait for the cable guy, make ME coffee in the morning.....

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I'm Gonna Rant a Little Bit

There are several themes that recur in my dreams.  These symbols, as I like to consider them, have haunted my dreams since my childhood.  One prominent symbol is a plane crash.  (I like to attribute all these symbols to anxiety and/or perceived loss of control....my dream life is wicked and consistent as day turns to night.)  I am not paralyzed by the idea of flying; but it certainly does conjure up a serious amount of trepidation.  However, I refuse to allow the fear ground me (pun clearly intended).

So, here's the thing.  If you want to "full body scan" me....go right ahead.  And "full body scan" the guy in front of me and the lady behind me.  I do not care if you see my "internal parts."  I do not even care if you analyze my "internal parts" or laugh about my "internal parts" with your co-workers in the "remote viewing room."  I will tell you all about my "internal parts" and the surprises you may or may not find floatin' around in there.  Do what you have to....just make sure I am safe.  The image, from what I can tell, is rather cloudy and non-descript.  I certainly don't think it is any image that anyone might get their kicks from viewing.  Hell....you can sell a picture of my "non-descript," "cloudy," "unrecognizable" body parts to some seedy internet guy....I don't care.  Why do I not care....because ultimately I know I am "safe" on that airplane AND you can't recognize me in that photo to save your life.  So...scan away.  And people need to find something "real" to focus on.  There...that's my rant!  And yes...I WILL be body scanned in less that 5 days.  And guess what...I don't even care!  I feel much better now.....
Listen, you pin head.  You should be kissing the ground she walks on.  Why that sweet girl lets you within a hundred miles of her is beyond me; but she does.  You are the luckiest man on the planet to have a girl like that looking after you, caring about you.  And if you say so much as one unkind word to her, I will personally break every bone in your body.  You got me? -Luke

Kirk: It's unorthodox.
Lorelai: That's because I'm not orthodox.  I am a liberal with a touch of reform and a smidgen of zippity pow.
Who wants to win some amazing, amazing, amazing prizes?  You do!  I know!  Here's how this works....you (generously and graciously) give me 10 dollars and I will hand you one of these:
Can't read it?  Let me enlarge the text for you....
Help support the mission of The Children's Bereavement Center of South Texas by purchasing one, two, five, twenty, one hundred, two hundred raffle tickets.  Call me or email me and we will make the arrangements.  Oh...and don't forget to ask your friends!  

Monday, November 15, 2010

Eventually....Some Mistakes can be Forgiven

I'm not mad anymore...well, that's not true.  I won't be....eventually. -Luke

I am not perfect, okay?  People make mistakes.  I mean, Gwyneth Paltrow dyed her hair that dark brown which was very unflattering.  I mean if she's not perfect, how do you expect me to be? -Lorelai

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Staring at a Blank Screen

For the first time in the life of this blog I am staring at this screen with absolutely no idea what to write; or "borrow" as I have been doing for some time (as you may have noticed).

I keep starting sentences and then immediately hitting the "delete" key and watch my words and feelings erase-in a backward motion.

This blog is about daily celebration.  Here's what I celebrate today....
  1. Amazing grace
  2. My support system-friends and family (and the kitties)
  3. Answered prayers
  4. Compassionate caregivers
  5. Books, Pandora and Gilmore Girls
  6. Re-defining my value system-as it pertains to me
  7. Understanding forgiveness-both given and received
  8. Laying my burdens down
  9. The power of a child
  10. My life, my breath, my health
I want to thank everyone to whom I have told my story and they have been brave enough to say, "I know...I've been there.  I love you and I pray for you."  And an even greater thanks to those of you who "haven't been there" but didn't judge me; instead quietly extended hope.  That...I think....is the greatest lesson I will take from all of this.  We can not judge because we do not walk in each other's shoes.  But most of all, we can not judge because we have been asked and warned not to; lest we be.  

As I enter this season of giving thanks I am humbled by all that I am able to give thanks for.  How undeserving this life is of God's sweet grace and yet He gives it to me; a pure gift with no expectations.  
Every relationship requires a big, honkin' leap of faith. -Rory

I'm not being evasive.  I am trying to be mysterious so 100 years from now you will still find me attractive. -Lorelai

No one invited you!  Get out, right now, before I go Bonaducci on your ass! -Paris

Yeah, that's me, I'm fast.  I am the perfect storm of caffeine and genetics. -Lorelai

People do things.  It's not pretty, it's not Disney; but it's the real world. -Sookie

So, yesterday I had to let go of the bumper because it hurts too bad.  It hurts too bad! -Lorelai
Currently I am reading The Power of Half for my December book club selection.  The Power of Half is a non fictional account of a family who literally, democratically and thoughtfully agree to give up "half" their "wealth" (for lack of a better term) in order to make an impact on individuals who might benefit from their means and their sacrifice.  I am moved by the fact that the idea was conceived by their 14 year old daughter who, while sitting at a stop light with her father, saw a homeless man to the left of their car and a black Mercedes to their right.  She told her father, "Dad...if that man had a less nice car, that man there could have a meal."  And so sprung forth the idea....

Goodnight dear friends!  May you all enjoy a wonderful week.  I am looking forward to mine...compared to recent weeks...this one will be relatively calm.  Hmph...turns out I did have something to say, after all.  

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Worst of the Storm Has Passed....



And after the storm,
I run and run as the rains come
And I look up, I look up,
on my knees and out of luck,
I look up.

Night has always pushed up day
You must know life to see decay
But I won't rot, I won't rot
Not this mind and not this heart,
I won't rot.

And I took you by the hand
And we stood tall,
And remembered our own land,
What we lived for.

And there will come a time, you'll see, with no more tears.
And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears.
Get over your hill and see what you find there,
With grace in your heart and flowers in your hair.

And now I cling to what I knew
I saw exactly what was true
But oh no more.
That's why I hold,
That's why I hold with all I have.
That's why I hold.

I will die alone and be left there.
Well I guess I'll just go home,
Oh God knows where.
Because death is just so full and mine so small.
Well I'm scared of what's behind and what's before.

And there will come a time, you'll see, with no more tears.
And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears.
Get over your hill and see what you find there,
With grace in your heart and flowers in your hair.

And there will come a time, you'll see, with no more tears.
And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears.
Get over your hill and see what you find there,
With grace in your heart and flowers in your hair.

-Mumford and Sons


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Sweet and Peppery

Last March I purchased several herbs with the intent to "grow my own food."  After re-potting and several attempts at relocating, my basil plant flourished.  I was given specific directives by the AMAZINGLY helpful staff at Shades of Green and I have abided by them diligently.  They told me basil does not appreciate temperatures under 68 degrees.  Given the (however tardy) change in weather the time has come to create something with the copious leaves I was blessed with.  
Rather than freeze the leaves, I decided to make pesto.  I used a recipe from Everyday Italian by Giada de Laurentiis (the second sexiest woman in television...is it weird they are all chefs?).
www.giadadelaurentiis.com
I doubled the recipe since I had over 4 cups of basil leaves.  Admittedly...I over-toasted the pine nuts by about a minute or two but it was not terribly detrimental to the overall flavor.

Next time I will be more mindful about picking the leaves, washing the leaves and allowing them to dry a little more thoroughly.  I tried to soak all the water off them by dabbing them over and over.  They flattened out quite a bit and I just felt sad to see their fluffy spring-i-ness eliminated.  In the end it makes no difference.  However, I imagine excess water could do some damage to the overall finished product.
My food processor and I are slowly entering into a special relationship...similar to the one I've got going on with the Kitchenaid Mix Master.  I grated the Parmigiana myself and it was so fresh and buttery...it was a perfect final addition to the recipe.  

I used part of it over a block of cream cheese for an event I hosted at CBCST last week.  I also lightly coated whole wheat pasta and used it in my crispy chicken wrap.  It was delicious...if I do say so myself and I TRULY believe the fresh aspect made it 100% yummier!  The best part was the satisfaction of growing, creating AND consuming!  Being "green-ish" DOES, in fact, feel pretty sexy!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Fisher Willow

This weekend I watched a film called The Loss of a Diamond Teardrop.  This film is based on a screenplay originally written by Tennessee Williams in 1957.  I LOVED this film.  I needed a period piece and I needed a beautifully crafted woman of all shades of gray to relate to this weekend.  Bryce Dallas Howard payed a tender homage to Fisher Willow in her performance of a terribly wounded, majestically outspoken, uniquely flawed and deservedly insecure woman.  Fisher Willow both simultaneously stole and spoke to the deepest recesses and corners of my heart.  I read that reviews were terrible.  I am happy I pushed aside the hype because I deeply enjoyed the movie.  And I felt as if the film were created with the subtle nuances of the "stage."  Maybe that is why the critics didn't like it as a "movie."  As a "play"...it worked beautifully.
 www.comingsoon.net

Jason: Hey!  I didn't know you were going to be here.
Lorelai: Oh well, the white rabbit ran by, I chased him down the hole and here I am.

Scene: Phone ringing
Lorelai: Hello.
Emily: It's a complete disaster!!!!!!
Lorelai: My existence?
Emily: Not everything is about you, Lorelai.
Lorelai: Oh.

Honestly, Lorelai!  It's not your looks that keep them away.  You should think about that. -Emily


Nothing is as beautiful as when she believes in me. -Ben Harper