Sunday, November 22, 2009

One Prayer of Gratitude and Two Recipes

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Here is my favorite quotation about gratitude. It's by Meister Eckhart:
If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, "thank you," that would suffice.

I am grateful for so much and for so many people in my life. Most especially, I'm grateful for my family. The photo above is of my grand-nephew, Skyler. Babies are a constant wonderment. This little guy has awesome power because he can always make people smile!

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You know, when we focus on what we have, not what we want, our eyes open to our good fortune. Behavioral scientists have discovered that people overestimate the amount of happiness aquisition of any "thing" will bring them. So we move through life relentlessly trying to possess this and that, hoping we'll find elusive joy...and it's only that: elusive.

I once heard a motivational speaker tell a story about a man and his wife who had struggled to build a beautiful house on a farm. They lived there for years in contentment until a tornado destroyed the building. In the aftermath, the man and his wife walked the site, viewing the destruction. The woman was crying but the man was smiling. She asked him, "What's wrong with you? Don't you care that we've lost all this?" And he said, "I'm gladder than sadder. Gladder that I had the years of enjoyment than sadder for my loss."

This Thanksgiving, I will try to be gladder than sadder. I've lost my mother this year, and we sold the house where we raised our son. But I'm gladder that I was by my mother's side when she needed me, gladder that my sisters and I could pull together and lean on each other, gladder that I have good memories and a strong family--and as for the house? A house is just an edifice for storing good memories. I have a new home, and with every day I add a new memory to my mental album.

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Meanwhile, here are a couple of recipes to share--and I hope some of you will send in your recipes as well! We had such a great response last week to our Writing Clinic that all of us plan to do it again soon. So, stay tuned!

Apple Tarte Tatin

I actually attended a Cordon Bleu class when we lived in England. I kept waiting for one of the chefs to come toss me out! But no one did, so I took a lot of notes. I've made this, and it's a glorious desert. When you tell people it came from the famous Cordon Bleu, their eyes light up!

1 sheet 8 x 8 inch puff pastry thawed or pie crust rolled flat

8 apples

2 T. fresh lemon juice

1 T. butter

1 T. sugar (or more. More sugar is always better, IMHO)

4 T. water

For topping--

4 oz. sugar

2 T. butter

Roll the pastry to 1/4 inch thick.

Peel, core the apples, slice into quarters or so, toss in a bowl with lemon juice.

Place 1 T. sugar in cast iron skillet, pour in sugar in an even layer. Put on stove at medium heat. Don't touch until this turns golden brown, then stire in butter and pour all into an 8" round baking pan. Place apples tightly in pan. Brush with melted 4 0z. butter and sprinkle with sugar. Bake 30 minutes at 375 degrees.

Remove from oven. Place puff pastry on top and tuck in around. Cook another 30 minutes. Allow to cool to room temp. Run a knife around the outside. Flip onto serving plate. Serve with ice cream.

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Persian Spaghetti

Tired of turkey? Or do you need a pre-holiday meal for your guests? This is an excellent way to stretch a small amount of meat. Don't let the spices scare you. The finished mix is a wonderful savory meal. A college friend who married a man from Iran dreamed this up. I find it a lovely comfort food when the cold weather approaches.

one box of spaghetti (whole wheat)

1/2 pound of hamburger

1/2 large onion

2 cloves garlic

one small can sliced mushrooms

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. tumeric

3 pinches of nutmeg

1 can of tomato paste

butter or margarine

Start water boiling for spaghetti. (I like the whole wheat pasta because it's more chewy.)

Put in pasta when water is boiling. You can try 1/2 a box and later up the amount of pasta if you wish. (It depends on the amount of "sauce" pasta ratio you prefer!)

Meanwhile, brown 1/2 pound of hamburger with 1/2 chopped large onion and drain. Add one clove of garlic, crushed, if desired. (You can do without the garlic if you're a vampire.) Add one drained small can of sliced mushrooms, if desired. Add 1/4 tsp. cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. turmeric and three pinches of nutmeg. Stir in one small can of tomato paste. Mix together well. Add the hamburger and tomato paste "sauce" to the drained pasta. You want to try to coat the pasta with the mixture, but the mixture will be dry as opposed to wet sauces. Serve in a bowl with a heaping tsp. of butter on top. (Or more butter!) Yum.


Camille Minichino said...

Nice thoughts to start the week, Joanna.

On the recipes -- too complicated for me! Any time I see the words "peel," "roll out," "skillet" -- I tune out. So now you know the level of my cooking skills.

Tomorrow I'll share a one bowl, one stir recipe!

[But I definitely want to eat yours!]

Betty Hechtman said...

You've had a tough year. It' good that you can focus on the positives.

The Persian Spaghetti looks interesting. I might try it without the meat.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Camille, I understand. Actually the apple tart looks worse (in terms of effort) than it is. And Betty, I bet if you added more mushrooms or Quorm, this would work just as well as including the hamburger.

Linda O. Johnston said...

Your attitude rocks, Joanna!
Regarding the recipes, well, my skills these days are even less than Camille claims hers are. The recipes do sound excellent, though. Maybe I'll make sure a good friend who loves to cook checks out Killer Hobbies this week!