Saturday, June 11, 2011

New Year's Resolution 2010 #1 - DONE!

Yes, you read that right.  I am referring to one of my first blog posts when I listed six New Year's Resolutions I was making.  The first one was as follows:
1) I will make a dish with beets. I apologize for this rather rude revealing, but beets were almost guaranteed to make me gag as a child, and so I have resolutely avoided them as an adult. I did have them in a dish in Colombia where they were combined with tomatoes - they weren't bad, but they still tasted like dirt to me. I wish I loved them because I know they are good for me. So, my goal is to try to cook them myself and I am very open to enjoying them. I have found that my personal pleasure in cooking increases my appreciation for the dish itself. I have eaten meals at my table quite worthy of 5 stars - so I think my missing beet ingredient might just be - Me.
Well, last weekend I purchased two different kinds of beets at my local farmer's market.  Those promises have long lingered in my memory; time has been passing but they have continued to follow me with the clasp of a pledge made in confidence.  I know, you don't care or probably even know what I said back in January 2010.  But I do, and it binds me.

So, I figured I should start with the best and something that was homegrown usually fits that bill. Borrowing from a couple of different websites, I leaned primarily upon a rather basic recipe from the ultra-reliable Simply Recipes.  I only had a smidge of foil, so I wrapped up my beets in parchment paper and that worked fabulously.  I was so pleased; the meal I served was 100% organic.  A tender beef roast with bell peppers, tomatoes, onions, garlic, and celery in the crockpot.  Sweet potatoes roasted in the oven with coconut oil and Emeril's Essence (ok, not organic there.)  A cold garlicky green bean and sliced potato salad, steamed beforehand and then put in the fridge to chill.  And my beets in a balsamic reduction glaze.  It turns out I was right.

They were the best beets I've ever had in my life.  

We've all agreed that we could eat beets once a week during the summer.  A Triumph my dear, a Triumph!

I am sharing this with Simple Lives Thursday, We Are That Family, and Far Above Rubies.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Marital Counsel by Way of a Quote

When my boys were quite young and I was a new Christian, we would have conversations over dinner about how things would be when they were grown up.  There were several areas to which my response would invariably be, "I don't know how we're going to do it yet, but we won't be doing it the way Mama and Papa did it when we were younger."  And I would wonder silently to myself in follow up - how will we do it?

Dating was one of those areas, so understand we do not support the kind of dating for our children which we ourselves engaged in.  That kind of dating leads down one of two roads - heartbreak or marriage - and we would rather that our children live out relationships with others with greater care and honor than we did at their ages.  

Now the issue of the one they chose to marry was something else entirely.  Of course they should all marry someone possessing particular qualities well suited to their character.  And as the primary woman within our home, well attending to their individual person, they might do well to look for an example of some of these gifts in ... well, me.

I say this only partly tongue in cheek.  If any of my sons should be reading this, I'd wager they would tell you there are only a few grains of jesting in this confession.  They'd tell you there is more dogma than theory in what I have professed.  But do they really know?

The following quote is quasi-reflective advice for my boys from a young lady I read online.  And the best part is, she's a blogger.

(Oh, and since we've been blessed with our daughters: they, of course, should marry someone very like their Papa.  I tell them so on a regular basis.)

 A Quote-Worthy Quote:

"Date a girl who reads. Date a girl who spends her money on books instead of clothes. She has problems with closet space because she has too many books. Date a girl who has a list of books she wants to read, who has had a library card since she was twelve.

Find a girl who reads. You’ll know that she does because she will always have an unread book in her bag.She’s the one lovingly looking over the shelves in the bookstore, the one who quietly cries out when she finds the book she wants. You see the weird chick sniffing the pages of an old book in a second hand book shop? That’s the reader. They can never resist smelling the pages, especially when they are yellow.

She’s the girl reading while waiting in that coffee shop down the street. If you take a peek at her mug, the non-dairy creamer is floating on top because she’s kind of engrossed already. Lost in a world of the author’s making. Sit down. She might give you a glare, as most girls who read do not like to be interrupted. Ask her if she likes the book.

Buy her another cup of coffee.

Let her know what you really think of Murakami. See if she got through the first chapter of Fellowship. Understand that if she says she understood James Joyce’s Ulysses she’s just saying that to sound intelligent. Ask her if she loves Alice or she would like to be Alice.

It’s easy to date a girl who reads. Give her books for her birthday, for Christmas and for anniversaries. Give her the gift of words, in poetry, in song. Give her Neruda, Pound, Sexton, Cummings. Let her know that you understand that words are love. Understand that she knows the difference between books and reality but by god, she’s going to try to make her life a little like her favorite book. It will never be your fault if she does.

She has to give it a shot somehow.

Lie to her. If she understands syntax, she will understand your need to lie. Behind words are other things: motivation, value, nuance, dialogue. It will not be the end of the world.

Fail her. Because a girl who reads knows that failure always leads up to the climax. Because girls who understand that all things will come to end. That you can always write a sequel. That you can begin again and again and still be the hero. That life is meant to have a villain or two.

Why be frightened of everything that you are not? Girls who read understand that people, like characters, develop. Except in the Twilight series.

If you find a girl who reads, keep her close. When you find her up at 2 AM clutching a book to her chest and weeping, make her a cup of tea and hold her. You may lose her for a couple of hours but she will always come back to you. She’ll talk as if the characters in the book are real, because for a while, they always are.

You will propose on a hot air balloon. Or during a rock concert. Or very casually next time she’s sick. Over Skype.

You will smile so hard you will wonder why your heart hasn’t burst and bled out all over your chest yet. You will write the story of your lives, have kids with strange names and even stranger tastes. She will introduce your children to the Cat in the Hat and Aslan, maybe in the same day. You will walk the winters of your old age together and she will recite Keats under her breath while you shake the snow off your boots.

Date a girl who reads because you deserve it. You deserve a girl who can give you the most colorful life imaginable. If you can only give her monotony, and stale hours and half-baked proposals, then you’re better off alone. If you want the world and the worlds beyond it, date a girl who reads.

Or better yet, date a girl who writes."
— Rosemarie Urquico

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Next Best Thing to God's Heart in a Garden

Earlier this year my daughters, a few friends, and I attended a wonderful evening of educating ourselves on the wonders of organic gardening.  By the time we left we were all geared up to purchase precious seeds from a reputable company, and the warming pad and lights necessary to properly roust our little seedlings from the sleeping soil, had the name (it escapes me now) of the bonafide best potting soil and the one place we could lay hands on it within a 50 mile radius.  A delay of a few days allowed my albeit 'not-necessarily-better' self to prevail, definitely it was my more real self.  One bit of advice from the evening remained ringing loud, clear, and true.  Start small.

Normally, my husband is the "farmer" in our marital bond; but with his years of experience he has his own way of doing things.  He has made a lot of organic changes in our yard care, but as he hadn't attended the meeting, and I didn't feel up to trying to convey the elucidation we have received (ie I can't remember enough to fill a decent paragraph), and he was otherwise occupied with his real job... at length I decided to pitch the start from seed ideal.  However, I did drive the distance and pick up some organic baby plants and brought them home for him and the girls to plant with organic feed.  I'd also had dreams of either having more raised beds to plant in (to add to our one), and/or attempting hay bale planting.  Seriously, how cool is that?!  Be that as it may, we now have two heirloom tomato plants, one tomatillo, three cherry tomato plants, three jalapenos, an italian basil, and a thai basil - all doing remarkably well, I am pleased as punch to report.

And I have decided that I will pacify my delayed desire to have much more produce growing in my own yard by supporting my local farmer's market.  I've always known we had one, I just didn't have the understanding of its importance to give me the oomph to get my butt out of bed on a Saturday morning. Today, I came home with two kinds of yellow squash, bok choy, garlic and onions, a jar of apple pomegranate jelly, and two lbs. of local antibiotic/hormone-free bratwurst.  Even more exciting, I brought home TWO different kinds of beets.  Yes, that two-year-old New Year's Eve specter of a resolution will be vanquished within the week!  The lady who sold me the traditional ruddy beets swore they'd taste like candy.  While I'm not going to hold it against her when they don't, her pitch pushed me over the edge.  And the second bundle looked so beautifully artistic - really, their deep golden hue ready to be captured in a still life - I just had to give them a go as well.

So, the moral is: sometimes our thwarted desires lead us into lanes of unexpected pleasures.  That's a worthwhile lesson, don't you think?