Beef Wellington Day!

Standard

 

Reflection

Today is beef wellington day!

It became beef wellington day four or five years ago when my husband and I decided to try and make beef wellington. The thing about such a dish is that it is a bit time consuming. There is searing, resting, wrapping, chilling, more wrapping, then more chilling. Then, there is baking and a final resting. It’s a multi-step process that isn’t difficult just fussy.

The other thing about beef wellington is, it’s expensive. There is a beef loin and prosciutto. You don’t want to skimp on the mustard or mushrooms. And if you’re going to all this work you should make tasty sides, have good dessert, and nice wine.

All-in-all beef wellington is quite the affair. So, after we made it the first year and discovered its magic along with its hefty price tag. We agreed that we would make it once a year on or very near to January 14th-the first day we ever made it, and beef wellington day was born.

Given that January 14th fell on a Tuesday, we celebrated beef wellington day a bit early this year. It was a scrumptious day as always. We learned new things about the process like we do every year. It’s hard to remember your mental notes when it’s been a whole year since you did something last. But we still managed to remember and even make improvements.

This year I also made the classic English dessert of sticky toffee pudding to round out this year’s culinary event. I have to say it was a triumph!

January used to be my least favorite time of year. But these days it’s actually a time of year I look forward to, as my husband and I spend the snowy, cold weekends cooking up old favorites and trying new dishes. I remember when we first tried beef wellington. I didn’t think it was going to be worth all the fuss, but I was wrong. It’s why we celebrate it once a year and continue to try new things even if we aren’t 100 percent sure because we have found ourselves surprised on numerous occasions.  And these experiments lead to things like beef wellington day being born.

So even if you aren’t into cooking maybe January 14th can be a day to just try something new in life and see what happens!

The Aims of 2020

Standard

new-years-resolutions

We have eaten the Christmas cookies and drunk the New Year’s champagne and now it is time to set forth aspirations for a better you.

I admit that I’m one of those annoying people who sets goals and more often then not I complete them. I’m also one of those bubbly, cheerful morning people that the general population wishes to murder on sight. However, I’m a good baker and share my creations and thus I’m give a pass to keep smiling and live to see another day.

Anyway, last year I didn’t complete as many of my goals as usual, but I realized I had set goals for the sake of setting goals.  When this happens the motivational drive to accomplish said goals doesn’t really exist, and when this happens there isn’t much hope.

I have discovered when I set goals. I can usual tell in my gut if my heart’s really in it or not. If it’s not, then the goal needs to be redefined or removed altogether.  Because for me goals need to have purpose, for instance last year, I made goals to crochet leg warmers and a sweater. I accomplished neither because what purpose did crocheting leg warmers or a sweater have to me?  They didn’t.  They were just empty to dos. And I knew this as soon as I wrote them down. I knew they weren’t going to get done.

This year I’ve attempted to be more purposeful.  I’ve chosen to try to do things that have a deeper purpose or get me out of my comfort zone.

I have a whole list of baking things I want to try, and I’ve made them my baking to-dos/goals for 2020 because they are technical and scare the bejeezus out of me.  A mirror glaze cake is nothing to sneeze at, but it’s going to push me as a baker out of my comfort zone, and I need that.

I have also listed things I just generally don’t like to do but that need to be done such as: go to the dentist. Bah! I hate the dentist more than anything. Yet, I haven’t gone in nearly two years, and I just need to get it done.  It’s easy thing to do, but if I don’t put it on the list. I won’t do it.

I’m looking forward to the New Year, and I feel motivated for the things that I’ve put on my yearly list. I think 2020 is going to be a great year full of fun things and good work.  Here’s hoping we still feel this way in June.

2019: A Review

Standard

my-mission

We have come to the end of another year. It’s hard to believe that we have closed the book on the second decade of the 21st Century, but here we are. I did not meet as many goals as I have in years past, but I accomplished many things that I didn’t anticipate. Nevertheless, it has been a good year, and I’m proud of my successes and forever grateful for my new experiences. Here is a quick look at the year:

  • I read a record 83 books.
  • I ran more miles than ever before coming in at 703.
  • I signed up for a marathon for which I’m currently training.
  • I ran three-half marathons in two different states.
  • I did training runs in two foreign countries (Portugal and Spain)
  • My husband and I visited three new countries (Morocco, Portugal, & Spain)
  • I became a dog mom.
  • I re-started an old blog (This very one.)
  • I wrote and published approximately 104 blog posts between this blog and my book blog.
  • I became a published writer. I believe I wrote 10 articles as a freelance writer this year.
  • I successfully made a roulade, pita bread, and a genoise cake.
  • My husband and I re-modeled our bathroom.
  • We got a new stove and dishwasher.
  • I wrote morning pages approximately three times a week for the entire year.
  • I paid off four student loans
  • I met my savings goal.
  • I received a raise.
  • I consistently kept up with my French practice for the entire year.
  • I started two journals but finished four because of morning pages.
  • I learned I have more patience than I thought.

And…

  • My husband and I have kept a much cleaner house (strangely, large dogs make you a better housekeeper)

It has been an amazing year, and I’m excited to see what 2020 has in store for me. My husband and I have big travel plans. My reading list is extensive as ever. I’m striving everyday to become a writer. I have my motivation and drive amped to get this year started off right. It’s going to be grand, and I’m jubilant to see where it takes me.

The Baking Snag

Standard

Flour

I have recently posted my detestation of waste particularly of food.  This poses a bit of a snag when you’re a hobbyist baker. If I stuck to baking cookies, brownies, basic cakes, this wouldn’t be a problem.  But if you up the ante, it is inevitable that there will be flops that end up inedible and in the bin.

I am proud to say that thus far that hasn’t happened too often, but I fear that it will every time I put something in the oven. Every single solitary time I bake my husband hears me say: “I’m not sure if this is going to turn out.” At this point, he laughs and shakes his head. He isn’t bothered that it might end up in the bin. He is of the “it happens” philosophy.  He also never thinks it’s actually going to and thus far he’s been nearly 100 percent, correct.

This does not lessen my fear, and I’m starting to get pickier and pickier. I made pumpernickel bread a couple of weeks ago, and it doesn’t stand up to the Paul Hollywood jam your finger in it to see if it bounces back test. It needed to be kneaded more. My husband still thought the bread was splendid. I’m disappointed in myself for rushing the process and not kneading it enough.

Generally, I am a good baker. I understand the basics and have a fairly good idea when something is amiss, but that doesn’t mean that something won’t tank in the eleventh hour.  But baking is good for me to try and let go. To learn to be kinder to myself when stuff doesn’t go well and give myself a bit more credit when it does.

There is something about baking that for me is quite therapeutic. It gives me space to experiment, practice, and learn with in the confines of a recipe.  Other types of creation are too open and overwhelm me with fear and stress me out to a deterring degree. Baking is a nice balance especially items that require a little technique and finesse.

I also must remember throwing a way a badly concocted cake is different than rotten apples.  The apples I just neglected to eat while the cake was a thoughtful culmination that didn’t quite hack it. One ended up there out of laziness and other ended up there out a taking a risk and doing my best in the moment and failing.  These are different things entirely. Perhaps I shouldn’t be so concerned with what ends up in the bin but why.

The Birthday

Standard

Birthday

I’m nonchalant about my birthday, but as a December birthday I spent numerous birthdays attending Christmas concerts and holiday parties. I’m used to sharing the celebration with the anticipated arrival of the big JC.

I think some find my blasé attitude about my birthday upsetting or sad, but I like things quiet where I can just relax and feel grateful for another year. I don’t like hoopla around the day; it makes me squeamish.

But despite how I view the day, I will without fail receive a voicemail from my parents. They call me every year on my way to work, so I usually don’t notice my phone vibrating and thus it goes to voicemail. But nevertheless, they proceed to sing Happy Birthday together loud and proud. At this point, I know what the voicemail contains and yet every year I can’t help but grin.

My husband will sing just as loudly to me at 6 o’clock in the morning but his preferred version is the:

Happy Birthday to You
You live in a zoo
You look like a monkey
And you smell like one too

He also sends me flowers. A dedicated group of friends/family will send me wishes through a variety of medium. A couple of them might insist on going out for a drink. And while I act all cool about it, I am grateful that I have a bunch of people that make the day rememberable. To them: I say thank you and look forward to another action-packed year.

Cheers!

Three Sketchy Bananas

Standard

raw-veggies-are-healthier_1

I stare at the three questionable looking bananas sitting in the fruit bowl on my counter. They are too mushy to consume, but they are not rotten. However, a quick inventory of my freezer indicates I have already too many frozen bananas awaiting use in smoothies.

I stand there in mental anguish. I detest wasting food. Earlier in the day, I had done a happy dance when I realized that I could use the extra potato with the brussels sprouts for a veggie medley, and a quick nuke and puree of a two-and-a-half-week-old sweet potato could be used in the dog’s food as a good nutritious treat.

But what is one to do with three sketchy bananas? One I could choke down as an afternoon snack. Two and I could make some banana bread, but three??

It had only been the week previously when my friend Kelsey and I had gotten together and made a variety of pumpkin goodies.  We do a great pumpkin baking extravaganza each fall. Every year we try a few new recipes.  This year we had the winner of winners- pumpkin oatmeal cream pies that were divine.  And a complete flop, pumpkin coffee cake which after a few bites ended up in the bin.

I bake often and was perturbed that good coffee cake had alluded me, so I wondered if there was a banana coffee cake recipe.  Google informed me in less than two seconds that there absolutely was and that three bananas were required for such an endeavor. I was gleeful because I would have another go to conquer coffee cake, and I would use up my rapidly deteriorating bananas.

Every week the food I purchase and I have a contest to see if I can manage to make use of everything before the food decides to bite the dust.  Things like apples, cottage cheese, eggs, juice, meat- get eaten up because I only buy what I need for the week. Other things are a bit tricky. Carrots come in bags and I don’t usually need all of them, but I could eat them as a healthy snack, but let’s be honest between a pumpkin bar and carrots which do you think is going to win.

The good news is carrots last for a while and when I realize they may be headed south my husband and I cook the rest of them for the evening veggie with butter and maple syrup- so much for health food.

But then there are things like packets of fresh herbs and stock. Fresh herbs do taste better so when certain recipes call for them, I get some.  But I can’t just buy a sprig of rosemary. I have to buy the whole box-packet thingy that has way more than I need, same usually goes for stock. I need more than just a can, so I upgrade to the bigger box and then find myself with tons leftover. I try to use it in rice, but it’s hard to remember and keep track that I need to do it buy such and such a date.

However, when I plan, and the stars align just right so I can use all the extra stuff from the week previous, I feel ridiculously happy and accomplished.

I’m generally not a wasteful person. My husband has had to yell at me to throw away socks that I’ve had for five years and have two holes in the toes and one in the heal. I don’t upgrade when the thing I have is working perfectly fine. Hence the reason, I’m still using first generation wireless headphones to run and $6 sports sun glasses that my husband finds somewhere beyond unattractive just shy of repulsive.

My snow-maggeon coat. I only yank out in blizzards and extreme sub-artic temperatures. I’ve owned since I middle school. In fact, I used it to go snowboarding with my husband a couple of years ago. When I got my ski-lift tag to put on the zipper, I had to spend 10 minutes getting the last ski lift tag off which was from my 6th grade ski field trip- I’m not shitting you. Just as I reminder, I turn 32 next Monday.

I’m bad for the economy, but I’m good for the environment? You win some; you lose some.  But some food can’t just be stuffed into a closet until the next snowstorm. I find the prospect of using it before it expires challenging and so satisfying when met.

P.S. The banana coffee cake was a dashing success.

The Feat with my Feet

Standard

Medals

I spend most of my Saturday mornings running. These days I usually run about eight to ten miles. When I started running in 2016, I never thought I would run that far let alone five half-marathons and eventually decide that I had it in me to a marathon. Fingers crossed for April 2020.

In the Spring of 2017, my best friend convinced me to do a 10k while she did the half. I took training serious probably a little too serious. The race experience wasn’t great. The race we were running had grown greatly in popularity, so there were tons of people. The course was crazy congested from nearly start to finish for those running the 10k.

Nevertheless, I finished the race, got my medal, and, at the time, I didn’t plan on running other races. I just didn’t know if it was for me. When we got home my medal ended up on a table and then at the bottom of a box a few months later when we moved.

The house we moved into needed some TLC so unpacking look a really long time, over a year to get all the boxes out of storage and closets. In the meantime, I had come around to the idea of doing races again. I had actually run a half and another 10k and a couple of smaller races.

All the medals ended up in a box and as I was going through the box with my first medal and several of my others, my husband asked what I was going to do with them. I shrugged and mentioned my intention to get rid of them. I didn’t run for medals.

This response appalled him.  He said they were something to be proud of and he promptly grabbed them and hung them on a shelf in his closet. He indicated that if I didn’t want them. He did. I was shocked and moved by his response.

I kept running races and kept on hanging my medals in his closet. He said we should get something to display them on. I again was nonchalant about it.  I was glad that he had rescued my medals, but I didn’t need a place to display them.

He joked that he would get the display for him and have it say, “This is why my wife’s ass is so nice.” I burst out laughing. I think he was hoping to get me mad, so I would participate in finding a display. He wasn’t expecting me to find the proposal funny.

In the end, he persisted and after scouring the internet and asking me a million questions of what I liked and didn’t like. He (and I) finally settled on this one. The quote seemed quite fitting. I admit it is nice to see them. I’m glad he kept them for me, and I’m glad that he wouldn’t give up getting me to realize that all the miles and hard work I’ve put in is something to be proud of.