You are currently browsing the monthly archive for November 2012.

Fall has always been my sad season. The slower pace of July and August gives way to busier, more hectic days. Nature’s life cycle begins to come to an end.

I’ve always preferred the newness of spring and the heat of the summer.

This year, for some reason, I found myself charmed by the signs of autumn everywhere.  Shades of auburn dominate the trees and bushes, lending a cozy feel to the atmosphere.  The air smells of a pungent earthiness, and its chill feels welcome on my skin.

Walking through Central Park, I felt awe at all of the beauty around me.  It was as if I’d forgotten what I hadn’t liked about this time of year. I suddenly discovered a new appreciation for the season.

It felt intoxicatingly magical.

Of course, the angels are always looking out for us, no matter what the season.

Wherever you live, go outside, look around and take in the beauty around you.

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Over cocktails last evening, a former co-worker lamented over how tough it has been to land a full-time job after being laid off earlier in the year. She has two freelance gigs right now, and while juggling both she is interviewing for something permanent. In between the details of this and a family situation, she declared that this Thanksgiving, she had absolutely nothing to be thankful for.

Which sent me into a tizzy.

In one of my more ungraceful moments, I let her know in no uncertain terms that she had much to be grateful for: money from her freelance jobs, a husband who loved her, a roof over her head, a car to take her where she needed to go, among many other things. Her comment put me in close touch with fury.

Later as I was walking home, I wondered what it was about her comment that made me so angry. I’ve learned that often the things we cast judgment on are simply a mirror to traits we don’t like in ourselves. Maybe she was simply expressing her vulnerability in a dramatic way.

So I started thinking about where I hadn’t acknowledged gratitude in my own life. I’ve had my share of anxiety over the last few weeks, and I wondered whether or not if some of that would have been alleviated if I had just stopped and said thank you.

As I silently counted my blessings – and the tally climbed higher than I’d expected – I looked up at the nearly full moon and was filled with the wonder of such beauty. Gratitude creates an emotional shift that can put a halt to a rageful pity party.

In a beautiful show of graceful synchronicity, this quote came across my Twitter feed as I was thinking about what I wanted to say:

Gratitude is wine for the soul.  Go on. Get drunk.

— Rumi

Drink on, baby…it’s good for you.

Today marks the third anniversary of Goodness, Grace and Grub!

After trying to find a quote relevant to a third anniversary, I realized that this spoke perfectly to what I wanted to say:

All you need is love.

— The Beatles

In the three years I’ve been writing this blog, I’ve been seeking joy in sunrises and food and all the little things in life. In paying attention to these things, I’ve learned what I already knew: that love is the point. Without love in what you do, love for the people around you, and – perhaps most importantly – love for yourself, nothing has much meaning. As a seeker of joy, I understand now that I’m really just seeking love.

What I know now is that it has always been there, just waiting for me to acknowledge its presence.

And so, on this anniversary, I’m wishing all of you the knowingness that love is all around you. Embrace it and let it change you.

It is the goodness of life.

My mom often cooked cabbage when I was growing up, so it is a comforting vegetable that I’ve always loved eating.  She would cook it down with some butter (though she’s since moved on to olive oil), onions and thyme, with the aromatics counteracting any funky smells – and adding to the deliciousness.

Brussels sprouts, a family member to cabbage, were a foreign concept.  I never ate them as a kid, and whenever I’d seen them, they looked questionable and vaguely grey in color.

And then as an adult I saw the Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten, make them.  She roasted them, with olive oil and salt, until they were browned and crispy.  A new veggie love was born to me.

Roasted brussels sprouts are the beginning of the recipe from Momofuku, a restaurant in the East Village of New York City with inventive food.  I felt a need to mix it up a little bit with a new Thanksgiving side dish this year, and so I experimented with these.

They exceeded all expectations.  After roasting, they are tossed in an extraordinary vinaigrette of fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, water, cilantro stems and chili peppers.  Cilantro leaves top the whole mixture.

Even my father, who previously wanted no part of brussels sprouts even if they were the only food left on earth, went back for seconds.

This year, I’m thankful for these brussels sprouts.  I can’t wait to make them again.

To try the recipe for yourself, visit food52.com.

When word of the hurricane hit the news, I thought it would be a good weekend to start a cleanse.  Not a juice cleanse – the idea of not eating is pure lunacy to me –  but a diet full of vegetables and salads and all things clean.

Fast forward to 2pm on the day it blew into town, when I’d already polished off one jar of Nutella and was onto my second.

It was the week of comfort food.  So today when I came across a recipe for Chicken Pot Pie with Cream Cheese and Chive biscuits on Joy the Baker’s blog, I knew it had to happen.  I made it my project tonight, with a glass of wine and my iPod playing as I cooked.

Digression: am I the only one with an iPod full of questionable music?  I contemplated this as “Disco Inferno” played while I chopped.

Chives found their way into the dry ingredients of biscuit dough, followed by butter, cream cheese and buttermilk.

Hey, did you know that Mick Jagger and David Bowie recorded a cover of “Dancing in the Streets”?  Clearly, I did at some point in the past.  Because it’s on my iPod.

The biscuit dough gets kneaded briefly and patted into a disk, then cut into circles.

The biscuits get refrigerated while I started on the filling.  My favorite veggies – carrots, peas and onions – are sauteed….

…while meat from a rotisserie chicken (Whole Foods makes an awesome rotisserie chicken!) mingles with a cream sauce of butter, flour, chicken broth, milk, cream cheese, lemon juice and nutmeg.

Then the vegetables are folded into the chicken mixture.

The mixture is transferred to a baking dish, while Coldplay sang in the background.  Are they still cool?

The biscuits came out of the fridge to crown the chicken/vegetable/cream sauce mixture, and I brushed buttermilk on top to encourage them to turn golden brown as they cooked in a 400 degree oven.

And, magic.  It’s a dish full of creamy comfort.

U2 sang a live version “Bad”, with a little “All I Want is You” thrown in, while I ate.  Happiness.

 

Tomorrow, a veggie day.  And a long sit down with the iTunes store.

Though I do have a jar of Nutella to finish first.

Check out the recipe at joythebaker.com.

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