Beatitudes of my life

Being grateful for everything in my life…. no matter what…

Why do we want “Perfect”? August 21, 2013

Filed under: Blessings,Life Balance,Random Thoughts — beatitudesofmylife @ 11:42 am
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This has been on my mind a lot lately… why do we expect things to be “perfect” in our most imperfect lives?  My priest often reminds us (and I’m paraphrasing here) that God loves us, even in our imperfection, as He is the only one that is truly perfect.   Is it because of our true imperfections that we continually strive for perfection and are frustrated when we find flaws or blemishes in our lives?  When did “perfect” become the pinnacle of our life’s focus… and why are we not striving to create full, blemished, original, and unique lives?  Wouldn’t it be more satisfying to create interesting lives rather than ones that are “perfect”?

To-me-you-are-perfect

Who deems that something, or someone, is “perfect” anyway… and why would we want something to be perfect… an exact replica of something else, faithfully reproducing the original… corresponding to an ideal standard or abstract concept… entirely without blemish, fault or defect…   It certainly doesn’t interest me in the least.

In my job as an Event Coordinator, I have a lot of people striving to make things “perfect”… as if anything less is not acceptable.  I believe that perfection is certainly something toward which you can aspire, but I also believe that it shouldn’t be your ultimate goal or the final word on success or failure in an endeavor.   Events such as weddings and receptions have so many variables over which there is little or no control.  Expecting everything to go “perfectly” and according to plan can be a little beyond the scope of one’s ability, but that’s not to say that working toward that goal isn’t without its merits.  Following a plan, and rolling with any necessary deviations, can be incredibly satisfying, especially if the end result is a positive and fun experience.  The result of a wedding/reception in which a few things strayed from the written plan is one that will carry the couple into a future with their own unique story.  Being able to see three brothers come together to walk their sister down the aisle, when before they had only expected two to show, is a beautiful story.  Telling the tale of the three adorable nephews happily running down the aisle, instead of carefully walking together in front of the bride, is a beautiful story.  Hearing of a joy-filled 3-year old flower girl twirling and dancing during an angelic wedding solo, simply because she’d always been taught to dance when she hears exquisite music, is a beautiful story.

The same holds true, in my humble opinion, throughout life in general.  I’ve been tuned to The Food Network a lot lately and it seems that the most prevalent word with TV Cook-hosts is “perfect”.   I know there are times for following directions to the letter… my husband would fervently remind me that “NATOPS  is written in blood” and those directions are followed, without fail, for a reason, but I always believe there are times when a looser following of directives can provide a unique and enjoyable experience.  Flying an airplane is NOT one of those times, but I know we’ve all experienced situations that needed “tweaking” or adjusting to attain an acceptable outcome.  Isn’t that where we find the most unexpected blessings?

keep-calm-cuz-nobody-s-perfectIn many aspects of my life, I like to use directions as “guidelines” instead of instructions  (I like to use “The Force” when I cook) but it seems to me that life just becomes a little more interesting if there’s a little bit of the unexpected.   Seek out a unique way to handle a problem.  Look for alternatives to that vision of perfection.  Try and come up with a cleaner, simpler way to solve that complicated issue.   You may find that the “tried and true” way to proceed has been thwarted and the only acceptable thing to do is “punt”.  If you can accept this new version of reality, you may find an even better way to attain your goal, whether it be a new way to get from Point A to Point B or a new recipe for dinner.

True perfection, my friends, is entirely over-rated.  Seek the unexpected… look toward the unique… embrace the unusual… and allow for your world to accept a few flaws.  You may find your life all the richer for it.

I wish you imperfection… in all its glory.  It’s a beautiful thing!

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From the Bottom of a Wine Bottle August 7, 2012

Filed under: Cooking,VA Wine — beatitudesofmylife @ 11:19 am
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I’ve just started another blog.  This one will be focused on wine, recipes, tastings, etc… all the things that people have been asking me about for the past year, but I’ve dismissed as something that was either too involved or would take up too much time.

After much thought, I decided that this was something I wanted to do.  I’m not going to link the winery where I work at this point, nor will I link their twitter account.  I just want to post some information that I’ve been collecting over the past few years… and hopefully de-mystify “wine” in general.  I hope people will consider following this new blog and sharing it with others.  The address is:

fromthebottomofawinebottle.wordpress.com

Thanks for taking a moment to check it out…

 

A Post-Valentine Menu February 15, 2012

A few months ago, I was asked to write an article and create four recipes, using wines from the Heart of Virginia Wine Trail wineries, that would be sent out with the February VA Wine Lovers e-newsletter.  I got to work on both very quickly and soon had an upbeat article to accompany my recipes (AND photos) of food suggestions for a soup, salad, dinner, and dessert to make for Valentine’s Day.  Imagine my disappointment when the e-newsletter was posted without the article… and missing an important piece of one of the recipes.  Sheesh!  In light of this frustration, I decided to simply post my efforts here, for all to enjoy.

USE VIRGINIA WINE FOR YOUR VALENTINE!

Let’s face it… it’s easy to go to a store to pick up chocolates and a card for your sweetheart for Valentine’s Day.  It’s what many people will do this February 14th.  A more personal idea is to make a meal for your special one instead… and here are some suggestions, using wines from the wineries on the Heart of Virginia Wine Trail.

Start with a deliciously wintery soup…. a Butternut Squash Crab Bisque.   Even if you delete the crab, this bisque has a delicate, slightly sweet flavor that combines well with the James River Cellars Vidal Blanc wine used in this recipe.

For your main course, I suggest making a light Salad and an Italian Pot Roast.   A simple salad of chopped romaine, dried cranberries, and toasted slivered almonds compliments the white wine vinaigrette, using Lake Anna Totally White wine and becomes the perfect introduction to a simple dinner.  If you cannot find Lake Anna’s wine, any dry or semi-sweet white wine will do.  Something crisp will pair well with the mixture of berries and nuts, so I’d suggest James River Cellars Chardonnay (or even a grocery store brand).   The Italian Pot Roast is hearty and homey… a meal that can be made in the oven OR crock pot. This one pairs well with mashed potatoes to warm you up from the inside out, using Grayhaven Sojourn wine.   I’ve made this recipe with James River Cellars’ Cabernet Franc and it’s equally good with a Cabernet Sauvignon or a Mertitage (word rhymes with “heritage”).  Any dry, heavy red wine will do.

Plan to end your special evening with a wonderfully decadent dessert.  Cooper Vineyard makes a Noche wine that yields a lovely reduction which you can make days ahead to top a light cake and make it incredibly special.  Pictured is a sponge cake, topped with fresh berries and drizzled with this richly sweet treat.  A sprinkle of powdered sugar just adds a touch of “snow” to this Valentine dessert.  I’ve also made this sponge cake and topped the berries with Cool Whip before drizzling the reduction to make the effect that much more dramatic.  It’s absolutely stunning.  Add some chocolates and you’ve got the perfect meal.

Since you’ve been so kind as to read all this, I’ll also include the recipes here.  I hope you enjoy trying these simple and timeless recipes as much as I did creating them.  As Julia Child would have said… “Bon Appetit!”

Butternut Squash Crab Bisque (with James River Cellars Vidal Blanc wine)

½ onion, diced

1t olive oil

1 ½ c Vidal Blanc (semi-dry white wine)

1 ½ c chicken or vegetable stock (or water with 2 bouillon packets)

1 butternut squash (peeled and cubed, approximately 4 cups)

1t dried marjoram

1 t Old Bay seasonings

Cracked black pepper, to taste

½ recipe Crab Dip **

  1. In large saucepan, sauté onions in oil until translucent.  Add liquid, squash and seasonings to onions. Bring to a boil and cook 20 minutes or until squash is very tender.
  2. Puree squash in pan with stick blender (can also use blender or food processor in batches) until smooth.
  3. Add crab dip and heat through but do not allow to boil.

Note:  This recipe can be a tad sweet.  Feel free to add more Old Bay or some Tabasco for a bit of heat.

**Crab Dip Recipe:

1 block cream cheese

1 stick butter

1 lb crab meat (I prefer lump crabmeat)

1T parsley

1t Old Bay seasoning (to taste)

Melt in butter and cream cheese in double boiler, add remaining ingredients and serve warm with crackers.  I like to heat this in the oven for 20 minutes to get it a bit bubbly.

White Wine Vinaigrette (with Lake Anna Totally White Wine)

2T Semi-dry White Wine (suggested:  Lake Anna Totally White)

2T lemon juice

½ t honey

1 T agave nectar

½ t mustard

½ t salt

¼ t freshly ground pepper

¼ c extra virgin olive oil

Mix all ingredients together and serve over a salad of crisp romaine, craisins, and toasted slivered almonds.

Italian Pot Roast (with Grayhaven Sojourn wine)   

Ingredients:

2 ½-pound London broil

1 t salt

½ t pepper

1 t extra virgin olive oil

2 onions, sliced or chopped

½ -pound fresh mushrooms, sliced

4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes

1t dried basil

½ cup dry red wine (Suggested: Grayhaven Sojourn, a blend of Touriga and Cabernet Franc)

Directions:

  1. Cut beef into large chunks, then sprinkle with ½ t salt and ¼ t pepper.  Heat oil in large stock pot over medium high heat and cook until browned, about 6 minutes.
  2. Remove beef.  Add onions, mushrooms and garlic to pot.  Cook, stirring occasionally until the vegetables begin to brown and soften, about 6-7 minutes. Add tomatoes, basil and wine along with remaining salt and pepper.  Cook until mixture begins to thicken, about 5-6 minutes.  Replace the beef in the stock pot and place in oven, at 250 degrees.  Cook for 4-5 hours.
  3. Remove beef once fork-tender and keep warm.  Cook all remaining ingredients on stovetop until thickened, 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Serve beef and sauce with mashed potatoes and a crisp, green salad.

Note:  Can use Crock pot and cook on high for 4-5 hours OR on low for 6-8 hours

Noche Chocolate Reduction (with Cooper’s Noche wine)

Bottle of Cooper’s Vineyard Noche Chocolate wine

1/8-1/4 c sugar

1T butter

Simmer wine in a saucepan over medium low heat until reduced by half.  Add sugar and butter and allow to reduce again.  You’ll know it’s reduced enough when the spatula leaves a slight wake when drawn across the bottom of the saucepan.

This is lovely when served with a sponge cake topped with fruit.  Would also be yummy over ice cream.

Cheers!

 

 
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