Balance of Bliss

Everything from potatoes to living fully.

Month: November, 2014

It’s not just a bowl.

Me and Grandmom at my cousin's wedding in 2011.

Me and Grandmom at my cousin’s wedding in 2011.

 

About a month ago my fiance, Matthew, and I were fiddling around my office moving furniture, when all of the sudden BAM! I knocked over my great grandmother’s deep red vase.  Aside from a compact mirror of hers I had as a child (which got carelessly lost), this was the only remaining item I had from her estate.  Everything happened in slow motion as I felt my hand swipe the side of the fragile vase, watched it trip off the edge of my desk, and crash onto the chipped tile floor below.  Shattered – myself and the glass.  Pieces of me and pieces of it were everywhere.

I stood in disbelief.

This vase had traveled with me through highschool, college, 4 apartments, and our current home for 18 F*CKING YEARS!!!! I lifted my gaze up at Matt, still frozen in the moment.  For the first time in our relationship, he just looked back at me and said “Babe…. I am… I am so sorry.”… it was as if someone had just died, and I guess in a way she did again.  Without words I swept up the glass as my mind floodedwith memories, stories, and just sheer heartache… I moved on.

Oddly enough, I had found an identical vase about 5 months earlier at the flea market which I purchased for $5 and gave to my sister so we could have matching heirlooms.   The irony, right?

Fast forward to the holiday season….  The other day, Matty asked me to make my Great Aunt Arlyce’s Sweet Potato Casserole for his potluck Thanksgiving luncheon.  This casserole has been a staple on all of our holiday tables since my mother was a baby (and I think it may be a majorreason why Matt asked me to marry him).  Regardless, I said sure without a second thought.

Well, here I am!  8:45pm on a Monday night, listening to Sade and Sting, waiting for the sweet ‘taters to soften in the oven, as I stare at my mis-en-place and a yellow pyrex bowl.  Now, this is where the story gets good (if only to me).  To me, it’s not about the casserole.  To me, it’s about having that bowl out on my counter and mixing the same ingredients in it that my grandmother mixed when she developed this recipe back in the 1950’s.

So… why?  Why do I care about a bowl and why did I tell you the whole story about my great grandmother’s vase?  Because, unlike the vase, if this bowl were to shatter into a million pieces – or even 2 pieces for that matter – I wouldn’t be able to just sweep it up and move on with my evening.

It’s the fact that she physically held this bowl in her hands.  It’s the fact that her name is still scribed on the bottom of it.  It’s thefact that it lived in her cupboard carrying nesting bowls like a mother holds her babies for years.  It’s the fact that when I was a little girl I remember mixing chocolate cake and ambrosia and sweet potatoes and pasta dough in this bowl with her.

Strangely, my source of strength is also the source of my greatest weakness: my grandmother.

‘Tis the season…. here’s the Sweet ‘Tater Casserole Recipe.  From my family, to yours.  FYI: This is NOT healthy, but I’m not about to alter the recipe… you’ve been warned.

1.5 cups Sweet Pot’s (~2.5#s)

1.5 T Flour

.5 c Sugar

1 Egg

.5 c Evaporated Milk

.5 T Vanilla

.5 Stick of Butter, melted

…mix together.

Now for the topping…

.5 c Brown Sugar

.5 Stick Butter, soft and mashable

.25 c Flour

.5 cup o’ nuts (walnuts are classic, but pecans are fatty and delicious)

…mix together and crumble on top.

Bake this in a 350 oven for about 35 minutes.

Bowl and Sweet Taters

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The Art of Trust

It’s been a while since I’ve taken the chance on writing.  I’ve come to my blog multiple times and have started entries and then delete them within minutes.  I wouldn’t say it was for lack of inspiration or for lack of nothing to say, but perhaps because the message wasn’t ready to be articulated.  Lately, I’ve had some inspiration.

The other evening I was driving home from work and listening to my favorite jazz station.  After a while, a commercial aired that said “Meet ‘so-and-so’, he’s a chef.  This is his dish.  It is a pudding made of avocado, dates, ‘yadda, yadda’.  Meet other artists who are entrusting their skill to Watson.  Artists, scientists, etc, etc, who are reaching higher levels of thinking because of the complexity of Watson’s ability”.  Ok, so this wasn’t the exact script, but you get the idea.  I was appalled, taken back, and became really concerned.  On the other side of the spectrum, WXPN has a funding commercial that says “No algorythms, just rhythms.  Vinyl at heart.”  This one restored my faith in mankind and got me thinking…

So why am I so concerned about the first commercial?  Aside from my fear of robots (don’t ask), I have a bigger fear of losing trust in myself.  If I can’t trust my passion, my instinct, my ability, my craft, my dreams, my goals, myself, I sure as hell can’t trust anyone else’s.  What do I do?  I take this idea to the kitchen.

Let’s be honest, not everything I or anyone else cooks always comes out delicious.  There have probably been more gastronomical failures than successes and we are not to become afraid of these.  Instead, the failures should be held in the highest regard and praised.  “I gave it a shot and it didn’t work.  The next shot I give it, if I don’t hit it, I’ll be a hell of a lot closer.”  In life, as with ingredients, we take chances on new ideas, amounts, concepts, and flavors.  It’s how we grow, how we evolve, how we learn, and how we survive.  It’s really how we feed our fire that keeps us going.

Last week I made the decision to dive into my next level of education. I have to take my GRE’s and 5 pre-req courses in order to get into Drexel Universities Masters of Nutrition.  This was a hard decision to make since it wasn’t the original path I had set out to take.  In fact, it’s slightly more expensive (thousands and thousands of dollars more), not online, and not promising me an internship at the end.  So why am I doing it?  Because I trust myself.  Because I mulled it over for months and tore my mind apart and wrote the pros v. cons list.  Because I questioned and did my homework and called them directly.  Because I left my career and my home to become a freaking Registered Dietitian and I cannot give up.  I could go on and on and on, BUT what I didn’t do is ask Watson.  Now, will I get into Drexel?  I freaking hope so.  And, if I don’t? Then I’ll figure it out at that point.

This may be a little long winded and you may be wondering why this upsets me so.  It’s plain and simple: I don’t want our culture to stop trusting itself.  I don’t want our society to forget that it isn’t just numbers and facts that go into decisions, but it’s heart and feeling and the thrill of the unknown.  What does this have to do with food?  A lot, actually.  Our food system is already highly industrialized, do we need to let our creativity become processed, too?

Say “NO” to processing.  Trust on.

All of this thinking makes me thirsty.  So, here’s a high-fiber, GI scrubbing, Green Smoothie… use your imagination and play with the amounts of each ingredient to your own liking:

Spinach, Avocado, Frozen Mango, Walnuts, Grated Ginger, Low-Fat Yogurt, Pineapple Juice,  and then some kind of extra liquid to thin it out (I used Almond/Coconut but sometimes I use green tea, which is quite amazing)

I even got my fiance to drink it!  Who’d have thunk!