Peace in Disagreements

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This holiday season turned out to be a lot more stressful than I remember other years having been. This year involved a lot of discussion. And such discussions led to disagreements. Getting together during the rise of omicron led those in our family to ask a lot of questions:

  • What’s safe?
  • What isn’t safe?
  • Should we still be worrying about all this?
  • Should we test people before gathering?
  • When should we test?
  • Whom should we test?
  • Where can we get tests?
  • Are rapid tests reliable for the omicron variant?
  • Has anyone been exposed?
  • What day did you get exposed?
  • Who’s vaccinated?
  • Who’s been boosted?
  • What is the best venue for our gathering?
  • What are we serving, from a food perspective? (just kidding…..I didn’t ask that, but I was certainly wondering!)

Here’s the thing: questions are great. Questions can lead to answers. Answers can bring knowledge. Sometimes answers bring comfort. But when family is involved, things can get dicey. Because we love our family members. And while we want what’s best for everyone, we can disagree about what’s best.

Because we’re different. We have different opinions. We have different beliefs. And some of us, like, ahem, little old me, don’t always have an answer.

I’m not a scientist, a medical professional, an epidemiologist, a politician, a religious leader, or much of an authority on anything except soup (Truly, people, I make a mean soup. Come over any time!)

To say I cried a little this Christmas season would be an understatement. I cried, I yelled, I lost sleep. I let my confusion, fear, and disappointment in disappointing others RULE. I don’t like when people disagree. Former ultimate people-pleaser speak: I just want us all to get along!!!

Finding peace in this headspace was a challenge.

So, what did I do?

I let it go.

I said, ok, we disagree, and that’s ok. It has to be ok. This is what we need right now. The path is disagreement. If God wanted us to agree all the time, we would have been all the same. Which, if I were choosing, I would have made all of us Oprah. (I know, I know: agree to disagree….but I love Oprah. I also love Sonia Sotomayor. I could have gone with that choice, too, since she has the work ethic of a god.)

I breathed. I baked. I cooked. I tried to do the things I love to do and kept going.

And you know what? I found my way back to peace. I always find my way after a little time and effort.

What brought you peace this week? Share the peace?

Peace in Cauliflower Rice

There’s a veggie with the word “flower” in its name: no wonder I love you so!

All the people in my family enjoy cauliflower, so I’m always on the prowl for a new way to cook it.

First off, I’d like to say that I never heard of cauliflower rice before. I assumed it entailed chopping up some cauliflower. Make it small like rice, right?

Assumption confirmed.

There is nothing special here. Cauliflower rice is just super small, food processed rice. I used a good old fashioned knife and took out all past aggressions on one head. It was kinda messy but ultimately easy and glorious.

Then I found this cute recipe on the Primavera Kitchen blog site and thought, ok this looks easy enough.

Truth: it was a little watery— but don’t worry, Primavera Kitchen blogger, Olivia. This was not because I followed the recipe correctly. I added too much stock because I think I read the lines wrong or assumed, “this looks like it could use more stock.”

Nope. Wrong. I was wrong.

Then, the recipe says to add soy sauce to taste. Well, who does that? What does it mean? It means I will add too much or too little. In today’s episode, I didn’t put enough. So, that’s ok, but probably I’d use a full 2 tablespoons next time.

My usual go-to when something isn’t salty enough is to add parm. I didn’t do that tonight but wonder if there is a different cauliflower rice recipe in the world that includes parm. That is a likely objective next time I’m recipe browsing.

All said, I paired this dish with chicken and Hubs ate two servings. A note to my unbeknownst reader: Hubs says he’s off carbs for a few weeks, so he could have eaten more of this than was originally served to him because he was hungry. Or at least hungrier than usual.

I thought the dish was awesome. I remain about 70% sure I overcooked it by about 3 minutes. I’d love to blame the children for that one, but everyone was oddly avoiding my cooking endeavors— which meant a peaceful night for Mommy in the kitchen. So, it’s more likely that I got distracted by something, which (full disclosure) was probably the peppermint bark my neighbor left in the mailbox the other day. Thanks for that!!!

All said, I ate more of this dish than I probably needed to, but feel confident I consumed all dietary antioxidants required for the day. Amen to that. I feel more peaceful already.

What brought you peace this week? Share the peace!

Peace in Beef Bourguignon

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I love Ina Garten. She is my favorite chef and while I don’t buy any cook books for the house, I have three of hers. (Make It Ahead is my favorite book, simply for the practicality of it. BRAVO, Ms. Garten, BRAVO.) The cookbooks have mostly been gifted, and they are gifts that have kept on giving. I think Ina has three new books I haven’t even purchased. How time flies.

Every year at Christmastime, I sit down with my Ina books and choose between her recipes, deciding what my family might like and what I can actually handle from a somewhat beginner’s cooking perspective. This year, I thought a Beef Bourguignon would be awesome. It sounded rich, hearty, savory, and kind of Christmasy for reasons I can’t describe.

I got into my head that I would make the dish, but then I completely forgot to snap a photo of the recipe or hark back to it from my phone once I made it to the grocery store.

So, what usually happens is EXACTLY what happened: when I sat down to start cooking, I was missing about half the ingredients:

  • cognac
  • red wine
  • pearl onions
  • beef broth

Wow, Mommy, way to go, I thought.

But I had beef, carrots, chicken stock, mushrooms, thyme, tomato paste, and salt and pepper. When I did the math, there were more ingredients that HAD in the house than those I DIDN’T. Talk about the pot being half full! I decided to go for it and cook the dish, not necessarily half-assing it, but half-correctly making it.

Someone told me once that the BEST inventions are actually mistakes, so WHY NOT ENCOURAGE A MISTAKE?!!?!?!?

I didn’t light the kitchen on fire with Cognac like Jennifer Garner nearly did. But I made maybe a beef stew sort of thing that was delicious. It awarded me some peaceful time in the kitchen: chopping, stirring, simmering, and tasting along the way. I was thrilled to have a dutch oven for the process and plan to try the recipe again with more of the correct ingredients. Note: the dutch oven was also a gift that keeps on giving. I use it for all my soups, meatballs, stews, and more. It is a staple in my house I’m so thankful for (wink: you know who you are!)

What brought you peace this week? Share the peace!

Peace at the Bryn Coed

My favorite tree is just on the side of this photo! Even her bare branches are quite beautiful.

With warmer weather this December, our little family has managed to spend a fair share of our holiday week outside.

Instead of snow we’ve got rain and fog.

“The clouds are low and spread!” LM2 shouts from his view in the backseat. Our own meteorologist seems to know more than the Alexa App these days. I treasure his observations and choice of words.

Wednesday we made it to the Bryn Coed, a preserve close to our house that boasts many beautiful trees, but one in particular that is estimated to be between 100-150 years old.

Hubs downloaded a geocaching app, handed over his cell and let the kids run free while we enjoyed the hike around the preserve. Like little treasure hunters, my kids were SPRINTING toward dirty, crusty, rusty coffee cans hidden in the woods, following a little green dot on the screen.

This was the most peaceful thing we’ve done all week. I love the Bryn Coed in and of itself, but to have the kids completely amused and thrilled by a race toward hidden treats was icing on the cake.

If you haven’t checked out geocaching or this beautiful preserve, I recommend either or. It feels like that Time Travelers Wife movie, where something is left behind for others to discover. Once you hold the find in your hands, we can only wonder about those to discover the caches before us. It’s an inspired little practice. It was fun and silly and interesting and made for a peaceful afternoon.

What brought you peace this week? Share the peace!