Enjoying the Beauty of Becoming

It has been 374 days since my last blog post.  I have continued on with the writing program at SCAD, expanded the weekly meal program to more than 50 families, gotten engaged, gotten un-engaged, catered many fun social events including a Buckhead roof top social of 300 people, catered the most beautiful wedding, my strong beautiful daughter graduated from high school and my sweet Lauren May left G&H after almost three years to work at a great internship.  This has been a fun-filled and heart breaking year, to write the very least.    I have so missed sitting down and writing about it.

I went a little off course, again.  The roads that led to beautiful moments only lead to more roads with the journey that is never-ending.  I lost sight of what I wanted out of life.  I had gotten to a point where I felt angry and disgust for so much – politics, murder, bigotry, oppression, family dynamics, traffic, cancer, my own mistakes and even simpler things such as burnt toast.  These things are black in my soul that follow me unless I write about it.  I was putting so much pressure on myself to be the best mother, the best partner, the best personal chef and business owner, the best student, the best friend, the best daughter and sister.  I hated myself and this beautiful earth we live on.  I hated who I was trying to become, this little miss perfect.   Trying to be the woman everyone else wants me to be- gross.  Or at least what I thought they wanted me to be- even grosser.  She isn’t the woman I am destined to be, but I know her and I hate her more than anything.  My stomach hurts by writing the word hate- such a nasty word.  And, I’ll not kid myself, I was so far from perfect.  I fought with friends and family.  I snapped at annoying but, harmless business calls.   I screamed at the girls.  I continued to bury myself deeper out of sight so that when it was forced upon me to look at myself, I had no idea where or who I was anymore.  The humiliation of this person I had become is, well, excruciatingly painful.  Everyone seemed to know what I refuse to see.  I wonder if there is no wonder.

As we were catering this beautiful wedding back in May, only a few days after my own engagement ended, the question was asked if the yard had been sprayed for mosquitos and I thought for a brief moment of rolling around in the grass to see if I could be eaten and taken off by them.  This event turned out to be such a gift.  The universe will not let me go my own scared way. It was a peaceful union of two people who adored each other and they certainly aren’t perfect in everyone’s eyes but they are authentic and loving and so imperfectly perfect in my eyes.  I am so glad I got to be there to see their union and feed them well.  The positive energy and love was palpable.   Everything about it was the opposite of what I was living and that gave me the truth to start living differently.

Grief, as every emotion, is relative to whom is feeling it. My biggest loop in my head has been “it is my fault this is awful” and I have gone over and over how I could have changed the inevitable.  But, there is no way and god and everyone else knows I have tried.

Now I am trying to flow with the current that is the least resistant.  I have been known on occasion to believe I have to struggle like hell instead of just flow with the nature of things.  Haggard and disheveled, I kick and scream against my own current and for what?  To feel absolutely beaten down.  Everything is easier said than done.  So glad that my friends are not quitters and want to throw in the towel with me.  This does not mean that I don’t have to work hard to evolve.  As M. Scott Peck says love “requires the extension of ourselves, love is always either work or courage.  If an act is not one of work or courage, then it is not an act of love.” But as I start to let go, stop the struggling internally, have faith in myself again, it does feel easier to trust.  It feels so much easier and I think I may even be loving myself a little bit for it.

Where do I go when I feel I have hit the bottom?   I look up and kick like hell the glass ceiling to get out.  Through one tear (or three), one smile, one laugh, one friendly chat on the phone, one weekly meal, one delivery, one hors d’oeuvre, one dinner party, one movie night with the girls, I get up and brush my knees off.  Sometimes I surprise even myself.  Mosquitos would have been a long and painful death.

I have seen in some eyes that they wish I would stay down.  Or we see in some eyes, “you deserve what you get”.  Someone just recently told me I should get a “real job” instead of my “dream job.”  It’s funny, that was always his encouragement and why he is where he is in his own journey.  This job isn’t my dream, yet.  It is still forming and molding.  My children will not need me at home when I can live my dream job.  For now, it is my value.  I can live no other way without that.  There are people out there that do not want the best for others.  And those people, we have to ignore and let go.  I work like hell to have compassion for those who want to harm and hurt just to make themselves feel better or for their “justice”.  I must forgive them, move on, know that I am still loved, so loved and love those who want to be loved.  This is so difficult for me to do.  We can not make people like, love, understand or accept us. I have tried and so desired it but only getting hurt in the trying.  That is my struggle I must let go of.  Accepting that putting my eggs into a basket for it only to be thrown on the floor to break just hurts myself.  So, I choose not to do that.  I give my egg basket to those who want to handle them with care.  What a corny metaphor!  My professors would have a field day with that.  I am so grateful for those professors that encouraged me to keep going this last quarter.

As I went into a yoga class yesterday, my mantra was to love myself so that I can love others.  I said it over and over through deep breaths.  I felt it through my rib cages sucking in just a little more air to fill the cracks.  I could not help but notice and admire this woman who was fit, beautiful and graceful in her movements.  I quickly wished her love and went on about my practice, not wanting to wish myself to be her.  After class, I grabbed my things and noticed she was leaving in front of me.  I chuckled to myself because I noticed she looked like me but with blonde hair.  Then I noticed when she got into her car, it was the same as mine except a different color.  I smiled again at the universe showing me my mantra.  I drove around to leave when I passed her and noticed she was born in April, like me, from her tag.  I didn’t know this woman and who knows what her story is.  But I know me, and I want to really love and admire fully who I am, the dark and the light.  I could admire this strange woman and not even know her, but admiring myself has always seemed selfish.  This was a little moment of self-love to me.  I have always confused that  self-love was selfish but I do know if we don’t give any to ourselves we are empty.  And empty to give anything to anyone else.  I believe this is an epidemic amongst women, not just in me, that I would love to see gone, forever.  If anything, I will try my damnedest to not pass this on to my own daughters.   I will claw tooth and nail to omit it- really.

One of the biggest things that fills my heart, and I get to share it, is having dinner parties and writing.  I’ve known this but I wasn’t doing it.  So a couple of weeks ago I invited a couple of girlfriends over to sit on the front porch and have dinner.  I had forgotten how much I loved having people over.  I had forgotten how much I loved cooking for people.   My home isn’t big or extravagant.  Since I sold my house I think I have been holding back because it isn’t perfect.  In fact, my neighbor has put a couch out in our front yard that the city of ATL has yet to pick up over the last 3 weeks.  My neurosis are totally kicking in but allowing my imperfections to be seen at the front of the driveway is so much easier than hiding them under my pillow or worse, my heart.   I think the last time I blogged was the last time I had someone over for dinner.  My writing is also so imperfect but it is imperfectly me and that feels so good.

I made a most wonderful, healthy, summer salad with organics from the farmer’s market and grilled chicken breast for our dinner party.  This is my ultimate favorite food, fresh out of the garden.  Can’t you just taste the sweet sun ripening the tomatoes?  We sat outside with a citronella candle to keep any mosquitos from trying to take us away.  If I could encourage others to do one thing, the thing I wasn’t doing, is to do what you enjoy, do what you love and share that light.  Don’t put negative people in your life that want to squash that.  Enjoy moments with loved ones over a meal.  Go write.  Call me if you want to have that dinner but don’t have the time to cook! 😉 I will do that for you and love myself very much for giving you that moment.  Here we are full circle.  My wish is for you to enjoy this summer with friends, a good meal, and sweet peace of mind.

 

Summer Salad with Warm Shiitake Mushrooms and Lemon Mustard Dressing

 

For Salad

Red Leaf Lettuce

Radiccio

Canned Artichoke Hearts in water

Cherry Tomatoes

Cucumber sliced

Shiitake Mushrooms

Grilled Chicken Breast or Grilled Shrimp

Goat Cheese

 

For Lemon Mustard Dressing

¼ cup fresh lemon juice

¼ cup Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

1 cup good olive oil

 

 

For salad: Sauté your shiitake mushrooms in a little olive oil, salt and pepper.  After 3-5 minutes take of heat and allow to cool for a few moments.  Pile your other ingredients as big and high with all your veggies and protein that you desire.  Top with shiitake and goat cheese.

For Dressing:  Whisk everything but oil.  Then slowly, while whisking, add oil.  You can add as much or as little dressing as desired to your salad.  Toss, serve and enjoy.

 

This journey of life is far from over, ups and downs, over and under, but I am so glad I can share it with you.  Please feel free to send me your story so that together we can share it with those who may be looking for answers.  May your summer be a glorious one!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mo Cookies!

IMG_7761Happy Wednesday!  Boy, do I not feel like working on this blog right now.  I can think of 1000 other things I need to do.  But, I told you I would write out the Soft Ginger Cookie recipe.

Some promises are not easy for me to break.  Did I promise this?  I would have to go back and check my writing.  But I do know that I said I was going to do it.  When I say that I am going to do something, it is my language of love to do it.  Expectations can be so titillating or so, so disappointing.   Now, I don’t think if I didn’t get this blog out that you guys would cry (or notice).  But, I never know.  And I do not want to dishearten one soul.  😉

So, here goes!

Soft Ginger Cookies

Ingredients

2 1/4 cups flour

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

pinch of kosher salt

3/4 cup butter (room temperature)

1 cup white sugar

1 egg

1 tablespoon water

1/4 cup molasses

Raw Sugar for rolling over top (optional)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Begin mixing your butter and sugar.  While is mixing add flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt in another bowl.  (I didn’t have time to sift the flour today and the cookies came out just as divine.)  Set this aside after giving it a stir with a fork.  Go back to butter and sugar mixture and it should be pale and fluffy.  Add in egg, water, molasses.  When this is mixed, turn mixer down and add in flour mixture.  Shape dough in a ball and pat raw sugar on top or scoop out small half-dollar balls for baking.    Bake for 10 minutes, then cool for 5 min.  Freeze or refrigerate the dough for drop in guests!

My eyes feel heavy.  Whew, I am tired.  Looks like we are having Soft Ginger Cookies for dinner tonight.  Here’s to that!

 

 

 

Autumn + Cookies = Perfection

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Warm up the fire places!  It is the first day of fall.  School is back in full force, the catering business is getting ready for high season, and all is well with the world.  Well, all is good minus the Republican candidates for Presidency, but we aren’t getting into politics!

I just recently had my first menus printed.  I know that may sound crazy since we have been in business for 4 years (yes, FOUR years!).  But, everything has been either word of mouth, the website, or individual menus that are emailed.  I can’t tell you how excited I am to hold them and pat them and pet them!  They are really so beautiful.  Thank you to the fabulous graphic artist, Jenn Streck!  It is funny how a menu makes me feel all professional inside, as if I haven’t been catering for weddings of 200 plus people.  This is a prime example of the littlest, simplest things that can matter so much.

Another thing that can matter so much is a simple delicious cookie.  And at this time of year, cookies are very important.  We can make them and store them in the freezer for the moment we need them most, like that school function we forget about or the random kids that end up at our house on a Friday night.  I love how baking a batch of cookies warms up the house with the oven temperature and the aroma.

So, let’s get baking.  My two favorite cookies this fall are  the lovely and ever so simple Chocolate Chip Cookie and the spicy, soft Ginger Molasses Cookie.  Today we will get the Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe out.  Look for our Ginger Molasses next week if I can get my blogging life together.

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G&H’s Chocolate Chip Cookie

Ingredients

2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 eggs

1 cup Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate chips

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line your baking pan with parchment paper.  In a standing mixer, mix your melted butter with your three sugars.  While this is mixing on high-speed, in a separate bowl mix together your flour, baking soda, and salt.  After the butter and sugar mixture turns a pale brown, about 5 minutes, add in your eggs one at a time and then your vanilla.  After this is incorporated, turn the mixer to low and add in your flour mixture slowly.  Don’t over mix, just until flour is incorporated.  Turn mixer off and hand mix in your chocolate chips.   Drop a tablespoon size of cookie dough on your parchment paper and bake for 13-15 minutes or until toasty on the sides.  Lastly, try not to burn yourself when eating them too soon after coming out of the oven.

I hope you all enjoy the beautiful Autumn weather immensely with a good simple cookie.  Here’s to the best Chocolate Chip Cookie!  Cheers!

 

 

What’s Your Specialty?

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Chicken Cacciatore

I hear this question all the time.  What is your specialty?  I have always been a little dumb struck by the question.  Specialty?  Eh, I cook, a lot.  Well, that answer doesn’t work so well when we are trying to market this puppy.

So I have been thinking about this question a bit.  And here is what I came up with…

There are three separate entities to Grits and Honey.  First, there is the personal chef side.  This part of the business cooks on a more personal basis for clients.  I find out what your family may or may not like, how many people we are feeding, do we have health parameters, do your children eat “adult” food, and so forth.  This part can be very creative, since we change the meals on a weekly basis.  This keeps clients excited about what’s coming for breakfast, lunch and/or dinner.  It is so fun to get to know clients on a personal basis and to catch up weekly.  Most importantly, I love seeing clients feeling excited to have a healthy dinner made with less stress at the end of the day.

Another part of the business is corporate lunches.  We deliver to Sun Trust Robinson and Humphrey in Buckhead every Tuesday and Thursday, some other local offices and real estate caravans in the neighborhood.   Clients get so excited to have their Organic Spinach Salad with Sockeye Salmon or Pimento Cheese BLT’s (Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato).  I know what everyone wants because they get the same thing every week after almost two years of feeding them.  We are creatures of habit!  We help corporations by allowing them to work through lunch and hopefully leave a little earlier to get home and to stay out of Atlanta traffic.  Most importantly here, G&H is so much better tasting and better for you than a vending machine at half past starving!

The last segment of G&H is the weekend events that we cater.  This would include showers, weddings, birthday parties or graduations.  This takes a lot of work and preparation but are always so fun to attend.  It is wonderful to be such an integral part of these types of special occasions.  These are marked in the memory books.  We want the client to feel special on their special day.  And, I feel so privileged to be a part of it!  These events can be more stressful because we want everything to go perfectly, but that is our specialty.  We take the stress out for the client.  I have a great group of people who work with me to make the larger parties work smoothly.  There is no more satisfaction that comes from having an event end and seeing everyone leave with a smile and full belly.

All three components are really important to make G&H thrive.  But the main idea, in each, is one thing.  That thing is that I like to help people.  I specialize in helping you with your Grandmother’s 90th Birthday Party.  I help you with your daughter’s wedding.  I help you with making your family a healthy meal because life is can be so crazy busy.  I bring your neighbor, who is not well, a week’s worth of soup.  I help you eat lunch at your desk so that you can leave at 4 instead of 5 to get to your family a little sooner.  We simply want to fill your belly with fresh, delicious food and to see you smile.

This week we made Chicken Cacciatore for our weekly clients.  You can freeze the sauce too.  Just double the recipe and have dinner ready for another time.

Chicken Cacciatore

Ingredients

6 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs

Olive oil

1 Red Bell pepper, seeded, cored and diced

1 Lg Onion, diced

1 Fennel bulb sliced

8 oz mushrooms sliced

4 Cloves Garlic Minced

1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt

1 15 oz Can of Whole Tomatoes

1 15 oz Can of Tomato Sauce

2 Cups Chicken Broth

12 Torn Fresh Basil Leaves

1/4 Cup Chopped Fresh Oregano

2 Tablespoons Capers

Sprinkle of Crushed Red Pepper Flakes

Whole Wheat Spaghetti cooked

Parmesan Cheese

Instructions

Pour olive oil in the bottom of a heavy pan or dutch oven that has a lid.  Add your bell pepper, onion, fennel, and mushrooms.  Sauté the veggies for a few moments before adding in the garlic.  Saute for 30 seconds more, then add chicken thighs, red pepper flakes, salt, tomatoes, tomato sauce, capers and chicken broth.  Bring to a simmer with the lid on.  You may cook this over the stove on medium heat or you may put it in a 300 degree Fahrenheit oven.  Both ways will cook for about 1.5-2 hours.  The chicken will be cooked through and easily shredded.  Pour your Cacciatore over whole wheat pasta and top with freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Here’s to being special!  Cheers!

 

 

 

 

 

Lauren’s Debut

IMG_0349I moved to Atlanta with my beau in mid January. We had been here about a month and while I was slowly carving my spot teaching at yoga studios around town, I knew I needed another job. Serving is always an option, but as my love for cooking has escalated over the years, I wanted a back-of-house experience. One night, a glass of wine in sight as I chopped vegetables in our tiny kitchen, I pondered my next move. With little experience in a restaurant kitchen, I thought and said out loud, “I would love to work for a small private catering company, where I could learn the intricacies of the kitchen without being in a high pressure restaurant kitchen”. The next day, I saw Mandy’s ad mirroring what I had verbalized the night before. I had applied for numerous other jobs with very few responses, but Mandy called me back within the hour, and I knew it was going to work out. When I met her a few days later at Inman Perk, it was more of a reunion of old friends than a job interview.

Our meeting has transpired as we transition into new phases of life. This is the first time I’ve lived outside Kentucky for longer than a few months, and first time writing on a blog, though I’ve edited other people’s blogs and been a writer my whole life. After 8 years of odd jobs, travels, and soul wanderings, I’m now in my first year of teaching yoga and ready to move forward with my writing. Novels, story lines, and screenplays simmer at my forethoughts as I try on the shoes of graduate student (but I mostly write and teach barefoot). I’m not yet married, don’t have any kids, and have 3 months left as a 20-something.

Mandy is weathering a different type of transition. As she grows her business and steers her daughters into young women, she is growing, too. Not only as a business owner and parent, but as an artist. I jumped on board to help her, like any new, old friend would do. I arrive in the mornings to find Mandy in a skylit kitchen aglow, music frolicking around her as she scans her yellow legal pad of tasks. I put on my apron and we jump into a recipe. She teaches me discernment techniques, like when to buy campari tomatoes v. roma tomatoes, and we share stories, secrets, and gossip. We laugh A LOT. I get to practice operating fancy mixers, choppers, spinners, smashers, juicers and zesters, and am always astonished to see how many items Mandy can cram into the dishwasher.

When I come home to my own kitchen, I practice techniques I’ve learned or try out similar recipes. Last night, as I poured a real silver tablespoon of balsamic into the pan (I couldn’t find my measuring spoon), it reminded me of when my parents poured cough syrup into one when we were sick. This food is medicine– it brings comfort to the people that eat it and is just as comforting to make.

Another childhood memory comes to mind: sitting up on the counter as my mom makes sugar cookies in the big brown mixing bowl. After mixing the sugar and the butter, she would let me lick the beaters. Sugar and butter are a magical combination and a delightful part of the recipe. But what about trying the oil mixed with egg, yet another phase of the journey? No thank you. Transitions don’t always taste yummy, but you practice patience and keep going, because you know it’s not done yet.

This is simply the beginning and I’m grateful to be here:)

Home Stretches

IMG_9283Only 20 days left in 2014!  We are definitely in the home stretch to 2015.  This has been an amazing year on so many accounts!  G&H continues to thrive and even soar to greater heights than I could have ever imagined.  We are super excited to have been invited to cater the holiday party for the Inman Park Neighborhood this year.  This is such a great neighborhood and it will no doubt be a fabulous event.  There is a lot yet to be done to prepare for the party, so I feel pretty crazy to be sitting down for a moment to type a blog, but HEY- I love it.  And I am not sure who is crazier- me, as writer, or you as reader!

So, we have loads of crapola to do before the new year.  Most of us are sweating bullets to get’r done and frustrated as hell at those who seem to have it all together.  Guess what?  This season, too, will pass, and we will get through it.  Some of us more gracefully than others, some of us with more joy than toys under the tree, and some of us with not one gift to give or receive!  But, all is well!  It will be January before we know it and St. Nick will be gone and the credit card debt will stick around for the next six months!  Ha!  See the silver lining?

Ok- so I really do like the Christmas season.  The part I love the most is having people over to the house to spend the day eating some of the most delicious foods, drinking fabulous wine, and laughing together (mainly at each other).

I take Christmas day to cook a wonderful but simple meal, that I usually prepare for clients, but don’t always do for my family.  I want to show my love by cooking something special and they are thrilled with gourmet food.  For starters, we always have Candied Nuts lying around to nibble on.  These yummies can last weeks if they are kept in a sealed jar, for those who pre-plan and make (or call G&H) ahead of time.  As a main course, I usually make Savory Mushroom Bread Pudding with Beef Tenderloin and a lovely bed of fresh green lettuce leaves and for dessert, Chocolate Whiskey Cake or a Creme Brulé!  I don’t fuss over any of it and that is what makes the experience so enjoyable.  There really is no pressure because it is more about the time together (and time off) than anything else.

It is true, the host sets the tone of the party.  If you are frazzled, everyone else will feel that energy and run for the door.  I have been in both the driver seat and the passenger seat of that experience and I would choose to never experience either again.  UNCOMFORTABLE.  So, if you find yourself there, breath deep and think of a way to move away from that…quickly.  Call Chinese food if you need to.

Ingredients

Beef Tenderloin

Kosher Salt

Black Pepper

Meat Thermometer

 

Directions

The trick to the Beef Tenderloin is a good meat thermometer.  Have I written that before?  Well, it deserves to be written twice if I have said it already.  Go get a good meat thermometer.  It will make your kitchen life so much easier which in turn makes everyone’s life easier.  Stick the thermometer in the thickest area and forget about it.  You can tell it rare, medium rare, medium, medium well, and well done.  Most Maverick thermometers have the temperature already calibrated into those 5 categories.  So, you just pick which you like and it does the rest.  There is also no trick to the tenderloin.  It only needs salt and pepper and should go into the oven at room temp.  No, it needs nothing whatsoever more.  Don’t make it more complicated than it already is around this time of year.  Just let the tenderloin sit out for an hour then add the salt and pepper all over.  Stick that thermometer in and let her tell you when she is done.  Some people sear their tenderloin before putting it in the oven but that isn’t necessary either.  The oven can be set at 300 degrees fahrenheit.   Let your tenderloin sit for some time afterwards (even an hour) before slicing to keep all those fantastic juices in the meat, not running out on the plate.

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and a very Happy New Year!  It has been such a pleasure cooking for and with you this year.  Here’s to many more!  Cheers!

 

 

 

 

 

My GPS Guardian Angel

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Patricia Wells – Monday Lunch

I have flown for over 8 hours, been on a train from Paris to Avignon and rented a Fiat that I am driving to Vaison la Romaine.  Not only am I unsavy on technological stuff but I don’t speak any french.  I am really just now getting comfortable saying Bon jour and Merci.  So when I set up the GPS to guide me 40 miles to this beautiful place that I can’t pronounce, I was a little frazzled.  I just began doing everything the GPS said to do.  She directed me in with no problems.  She even spoke english!  I am forever grateful GPS Angel.

When I say, I hope I make it back home in two weeks, I really hope to be coming home.   If for some reason I am not home when I should be, please know I am lost.  Please call reinforcements.  I must look like a deer in headlights but frankly, I don’t give a damn.  I am having the best time and meeting some of the most wonderful people.  This experience has already surpassed what I could have imagined.  Tonight, I dined with 10 of the most amazing people from all over the United States, Canada and France.  Patricia and Walter Wells are two of the most down to earth people I’ve ever met but yet they exude brilliance and authenticity.  I want to absorb every word they speak like a sponge.  I love the fact that they are teaching these cooking classes as a team.  Both of them used to be journalists which I also find so magnificent.  Another one of my own aspirations that one day I will write something worth reading.  HA!   For now, I will do it for fun!

One of the things we all have in common here at Patricia’s  is the love of great food.   And, we get to sit under the Provençal Stars with a breeze of the Mistral and bottles of fabulous wine and talk about how we all came to this one spot in Chantanduc.  One of the students said what I was thinking – “it is like our souls have known one another and came here to congregate under the stars”.  This whole experience really is spectacular.

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Selfie in the Fiat

I personally wish that I could freeze frame moments because I don’t want to forget or miss any of this experience.  It is more than I could have wished.  I am super proud to say, I am doing it even though I have doubted my decision.  I have felt I couldn’t afford it, that I couldn’t get away from the girls, that I couldn’t leave my cooking in the states.  The list was long but I didn’t listen to the nah sayer in my mind (and some who said it to me) because I am doing it.

I can’t imagine how foolish I look here in Vaison la Romaine trying to pronounce anything in French.   But everyone has been so helpful and kind.  A father even hopped on his daughter’s bike as his family was walking and he led me to the driveway of Patricia’s home.  Her driveway is almost a mile long.  And, don’t believe a word people say about snobby french.  They may be in Paris but they aren’t here in Vaison la Romain.  Again, warm hearts all around.

I want all the Mom’s and women that may be reading this to please give yourself something wonderful.  Whether it is a trip by yourself for a weekend, a week trip with your significant other, a two-week trip with your children, a month summer trip with all the family.  This trip took three years to make happen and the planning and anticipation of the trip was just as much fun as the trip.  I know I am a better mother and person for it.  Not to mention, a better cook.  Here’s to saying  “Life is too short, I am doing this!”   Au Revoir!

 

 

Whispers That are Hard to Ignore

The Best Staff Ever!

The Best Catering Team

I knew that 2014 was going to be a great and exciting year, but I had no idea it was going to be this good so early on.  We had a wonderful wedding that we catered on the 4th.  I love catering weddings.  I love it down to the smallest things.  They can be so intimate and it is, by far, one of the most important times in someone’s life.  It is such an honor to be asked and trusted  to help someone make their special day so wonderful.  Everyone enjoyed the food immensely and came back for seconds and thirds at the buffet.  One gentleman said he hadn’t had food at an event this good in a long time.  I was on cloud nine.  The very night the wedding was over, I received another email from a bride wanting to meet about catering her wedding.

It finally feels like I am back on track.  When I lived in Charleston I had a whisper in my ear to go to culinary school at Johnson and Whales.  I was not only accepted but asked to join an advanced program.  I was thrilled and scared.  The fear overruled the thrilled.  I ended up giving it up and moving to Athens, GA.  I was young and didn’t know my strength or courage, yet.   I didn’t fight for it.  I easily gave it up because if I had tried, I might have failed.  My young ego didn’t want to be seen as a failure.  Failure doesn’t scare me anymore and neither does what people think of me.  Lord knows, I have failed at many things up to this point.  However, I have learned failure is not trying.  You never fail from trying because you gain knowledge.   Maybe the knowledge is “I don’t want to do that again”.  Sometimes God, the Universe, whatever you want to call it, has had to push me.  I look back on experiences and think, that hurt, but it was the best thing that could have happened.  We all have that whisper in our ear that urges us to go forward in our lives.  It takes courage, strength and being patient.  I don’t think patient was in my vocabulary until this journey began.  Now, I say it with almost most every breath.

I have dreamed of going to cooking school for many, many years.  I have had my eye set on one particular place in France for over three years.  Patricia Wells has cooking classes that she offers in Paris and Provence.  I wrote the name of the school on a sticky note three years ago.  I wanted to see it when I thought about spending money on something else, like shoes.  I stuck it right next to my computer.  I turned down many vacations with girlfriends because I knew that I wanted to put that money towards this trip that I truly desired.  Now it is coming into fruition.

I am more than elated to write, I am going on that trip to France to take a week long cooking class.  I am not going with anyone- just me, my passion and love for food.  Yes, it scares me.  What if my pipes burst again from some cold snap and I need to spend money on that?  What if someone gets sick?   What if, everyone that loves me and knows me supports me to go?   What if everything works out beautifully?  I’ll never know unless I go.  I am excited for the challenge of learning another language, of being in another country and finally doing it.  I am following my dream and nothing feels better than that.  It is never to late to follow anything your passionate about.  Well, unless your dead and then it is probably too late.  It wasn’t the right time for me to go to school in Charleston.  I had a toddler and a 6 week old baby.  At the time, I was living that dream and wouldn’t trade that for any cooking school in France.  Timing is everything and there are whispers for that too.  We know when the time is right because everything feels right and we can no longer sit still doing nothing about it.

Today, I want to share my Lentil Soup Recipe.  Every time I make it, there seems to be a whisper of France.  While we are making it, let’s turn on Edith Piaf and we will feel like we are already in lovely Paris.

Ingredients

1 cup french green lentils

Whole onion diced

3 cloves garlic minced

3 large carrots, peeled and chopped

2 celery stems, chopped

baby portabella mushrooms chopped (1 cup)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 16oz can of diced tomatoes

6 cups water or broth

1 rind of parmesan cheese

Directions

Sauté your onion, carrots, celery, and garlic in olive oil until slightly soft- about 5 minutes.  Add your lentils, tomatoes, broth or water, and parmesan cheese rind.  Simmer this for around 30 minutes.  Salt and pepper to taste.  The parmesan gives a meaty flavor so if you don’t have broth, you really don’t need it.  The flavors are excellent and the soup is very rustic, delicious, healthy and simple.  Double the recipe and have some during the week.  It only gets better as it sits.

I hope that after you chop your vegetables, you can simmer your soup, and smell all that goodness fill your home.  Then, curl up with a good book or magazine and start to dream.  Winter is for being still and dreaming, and letting go of any past pains.  Spring will be here soon enough, and those new buds will be coming up.  Sitting still is sometimes uncomfortable for me because I like to go and I love the warm sun.  Winter can be depressing and cold!  However, keeping still for a few moments can give us the opportunity to dream.  Then we can plan out those dreams.  And then, we can live them.  Here’s to living every one of our dreams in due time!  Bon Voyage!

me