Friday, October 30, 2009

Did You Know?

The temperature of butter is critical to the success of your recipes. Butter that is too soft makes greasy, spread-out cookies. The best way to ready butter for baking is to remove it from the refrigerator, cut it into 1/2 inch pieces, and beat it with a mixer until soft and smooth.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

New Beginnings

Tonight was the first chapter in what will hopefully be a long and delightful story; the kind you return to again and again because its familiarity is comforting and, though you know the ending, it's such a pleasant journey to take to get there that you don't mind the ride. Tonight was the first meeting of the cooking group "Babes a la Mode", a group of gals who are connected in various ways and who want to strengthen those relationships through food and good conversation. Some of us are married, some are not. Some of us are mothers, some are not. Some of us are career-women, some are not. But we're united in our love of all things delicious.

Tonight, I had the pleasure of hosting at my home. Our dinner consisted of a delicious "Nikki's Salad" brought by Nikki, stuffed sweet acorn squash brought Ashley, and cheesecake with peanut crust and chocolate sauce brought by Meili. The main dish, served by yours truly, was an Italian version of Shepherd's Pie, made with pasta as the topping and brought to you by Rachael Ray.

As I looked around the table at our meal, I was quite impressed at the variety of the dishes we had all brought. I was most nervous about the stuffed acorn squash (I knew I'd have no problem downing the cheesecake with chocolate sauce). You see, I don't like squash; never have. And the walnuts with which it was stuffed have never been my favorite; ever. I've always been the kid who picked the nuts out of all the desserts I'd ever been offered. But, in the spirit of trying new things, I said, "dish me up!" and dug in.

What I found surprised me. The squash was tasty; maybe even delicious. The texture was not what I had remembered. The way the sweetness of the apples and sugar combined together with the nuttiness of the walnuts to create a warm, sweet, hearty treat was utterly unexpected. As I ate bite after bite, I kept thinking to myself, "but I don't like squash! I don't like walnuts! I shouldn't like this at all!"

And yet, I did. Liked it so much that I ate it all. And am going to add it to my own recipe box.

Some days I surprise myself. I think I'm so sure of who I am, and what I like, and what I'm going to like, that I fail to take a step out of myself and try something new. I mean, just try it. It's like I'm scared that I won't be myself anymore if I change what I do, if I vary from what I thought was my reality. What I rediscovered tonight was that, though the sum of my past experiences makes me who I am today, they don't necessarily have to dictate who I will be tomorrow; that is up to me.

Bon Appetit