Monthly Archives: August 2009

The Circle of Life…

What a whirlwind of a week it’s been. Has it been a week or two? It’s been about a week or two I think… well… to start the week, our families lost a dear, dear friend, our loving grandfather (my husband’s Grandpa McG). We were so very fortunate to have been able to spend some time with him these last few weeks. What a brave and kind man. Grandpa McG was a brilliant conversationalist who enjoyed American and World history. He sired seven beautiful children into this world and they in turn produced 10 amazing grandkids.

I was very blessed to have met and married his eldest grandchild, my husband Patrick; who in turn was raised by grandpa’s eldest daughter (and can I just say what a fine job she did in raising the most amazing man in the universe!!!) I am forever grateful to my special friend and second mom, not only for the gift of a lifetime in her son, but also for the years of blood, sweat, and tears, the years of boo boos, and playtime, and reading stories, the years of rebellion and crushes, and college, the years of creating a man who became an admirable husband and… are you ready for this? The father of our soon to be born child! Now that I am about to become a mom myself, it really has become so much more apparent how much our own mothers have done for us.

The circle of life…
My father had mentioned the timing of grandpa’s passing and the baby’s arrival was not a coincidence; and that maybe, perhaps, grandpa and baby high-fived on the way by… I love that image. I so wish that Grandpa McG had known that he was not only a great grandpa… but was also a… great-grandpa. But I like to think he knows now. Yes, he knows.

I have always felt that “The Universe is unfolding as it should….” which is to say try not to worry about or pray for what is or isn’t to come your way but do pray for the grace to accept what does. Hence our standard reply to curious do-gooders on the question of kids: “If it happens great! If it doesn’t, that’s cool too.” I think that attitude has served us very well through good times and through uncertain times. As a wise friend told us, things always have a way of working out for the best.

So… where do babies come from… Thailand?
No. Infact, we had actually discussed starting a family much earlier this year, but decided to hold off trying until late this summer once we found out the trip to Thailand was a go. So no, Virgina, babies do not come from Thailand, but something magical did happen on that trip. It was something in the saffron scented air, or the softly singing shores of Hua Hin that lulled us into the dreamy bliss of marriage and family. We couldn’t have asked for finer hosts than our aunts and cousins and their families. Every need was attended to, every comfort accounted for. And somewhere within the chats, the laughter, the road trips, the exhaustion, the stories, the frustrations, the sun, the love, the great food, the sand… something happened… something that called to my husband and I on a spiritual and emotional level… reaffirming to us the calling to start a family of our very own.

Sure enough a few weeks later, holy smokes – we’re expecting!!! Just like that. I didn’t think it would be that easy or happen that quickly. But it did! Who knew?! And how miraculous! We never thought this would happen to us. Not because we had any reason to think that it wouldn’t… it’s just with regards to natural family planning we never went out of our way to try to have a family… and wow! I mean you just think this is something that happens to other people! And here it is happening to us! Unreal! Our lives will be forever changed! Wait a second, our lives are forever changed! We now have our very own little friend on the way! Half me, half hubby and all awesome!

And so the next generation has begun… I sit here looking at the old photographs of our grandparents who have gone on before us, pictues of my Grandpa and Grandma P., my Grandpa G, and hubby’s Grandpa McG and Grandma McG (whom I sadly never got to meet)… but I wonder – how proud they must all be… and how affirming to know they are watching over us all. Wow. So exciting! So here we are, stay tuned for updates on all things maternal, poppa, and bebe related… this blog is going to get real interesting real soon!

Mwah!

XOxoOXox ❤>Ze Üdos

Advertisements

Honey French Toast with Honey Bütter


This weekend I made honey french toast with lashings of honey bütter… I came across this video from video mojo whilst researching the recipe for the best french toast ever. It was indeed delicious. The bread becomes a bit wet, however, but it works out in the end since there is no syrup used, just honey butter as the topping… (with a dusting of powdered sugar and a side of crisp bacon) terribly fattening and terribly delicioüs! We enjoyed it very much.

Enjoy!

XoxoOxoX ❤> Üdo
Recipe for honey french toast from watchmojo.com (on youtube)

Jülia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon…

Or as American say: Julia Child’s Beef BourginonServed atop Yukon Gold smashed potatoes and surrounded by sauteed spinach!

So delicious indeed. Bouef Bourgignon…Oh so very good!
Start off with your bacon larders (which have already been simmered in a quart or so of water then lightly browned and set aside (below) Next you brown the beef that’s been patted dry by hand ahead of time. (above)
Then you remove the beef with a slotted spoon and set on the side with the bacon…

Continue to brown your your stew beef (remember you must pat each piece dry first so it will brown properly)…


Toss the bacon and beef with flour, salt, pepper… then get started on your mushrooms and baby vidalias (below) separate recipe included in the link below for braising these…

You can find the baby vidalias in the frozen food section (Bird’s Eye) you want the plain frozen ones not the ones that are frozen in cream sauce…

Here you see (above) the Pinot Noir is added to the vidalia’s along with bay leaf, thyme, fresh parsley… you should probably make a little pouch of cheesecloth for the herbs…

Meanwhile 1 carrot and 1 full onion are sauteed in the bacon fat and olive oil… drain. You will add these to the bouef and bacon below… the vidalias and the button mushrooms are saved on the side to be served with the finished dish. Do not include the vidalias and button mushrooms with the combined ingredients in the bouef/bacon mixture.

Gently combine the carrot, the onion, the bouef & bacon, and toss with a bit of flour, salt, pepper… brown uncovered for 4 minutes to crisp up the beef. Stir. Brown again uncovered for 4 minutes…. (it makes more sense when you read the recipe below)

Take it out of oven and add the wine and the herbs…

Transfer this from your cooking pot to your corning ware dutch oven. Now, if you are lucky enough to have a cast iron dutch oven, use it. I don’t have one (yet) but if anyone would like to purchase that Martha Stewart blue one for me for Christmas I would be thrilled ::hint hint:: and the particular model of corning ware that I own, unfortunately, can not be used on the stove top so I just transferred everything from my cooking pot to the corning ware dutch oven when it was time to go into the oven…

And away it goes for a few hours… your finished mushrooms and onions (which you have prepared separately) are below… Keep these on the side until you are ready to serve your dish. When ready, you serve these on top of the bouef.

The finished onions (above) and mushrooms (below)…

And the loveliness when it was all complete!

Just heavenly. If you love to eat, this dish is for you! Succulent, decadent, and simply delightful on a crisp fall evening or even as a prize dish around the holidays. Do not deny yourself this culinary experience. It is one worth repeating!

Or in francais if you please…bare with me… my french so/so (not so good, but I try!)

Juste divinement. Si vous aimez manger, ce plat est pour vous ! Succulent, décadent, et simplement délicieux une soirée croquante de chute ou même comme plat professionnel autour des vacances. Ne vous refusez pas cette expérience culinaire. Elle est une intéressant la répétition !

Oui, oui, we went to see Julie & Julia this week… Naturally, I (along with 85% of the cooks in the audience) ran out this weekend and purchased the ingredients to make Julia Childs’ Bouef Bourgignon… hehe… Bravo to Julia and her signature dish! Want to try your hand at it? You won’t regret making this lovely french classic!

Here is a great *** link *** to a free PDF file of Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourgignon right out of her Mastering French Cooking cookbook…

Enjoy!

XoxOXoOX ❤>Udo

Check out this mademoiselle I found cooking up a storm!

Steaks, Cornbread, & Ooo La La!

This is the cornbread I made


It went deliciously with the steak and bernaise sauce
Instead of using milk in the cornbread recipe, I used probiotic yogurt



Ok, so I made the mother of all steak dinners last night. We needed a little mid-week ‘pick me up’ so we had a steak and champagne slümber party. Let me tell you this dinner was glorioüs! Just glorioüs. I’m salivating as I type this. Oh my. It was indeed delicious.

The hungry man ranked this whole getup as his number 1 all time favorite. It was just a really great cut of steak, some roasted baby new potatoes with roasted garlic, and I made a lücious Bearnaise sauce to dip the steak into.

Served with a side of warm homemade cornbread.

AHHHH!!! SOOOO GOOOOD!!!

It was an out of body experience, I’m tellng you.

::shivers::

So y’all know how to cook steak, and potatoes and roasted garlic is easy schmeezy. Ze little Bearnaise sauce however, vell, :snickers like a snooty chef: I vill tell you my secret.

Üdo’s Ooo La La! Bearnaise Saüce

This succulent sip of sassafrass usually calls for some white wine, egg, butter, tarragon, shallots, and chervil…. Me? I like to add a teensy bit of decadence to this slip of a sin by substituting Champagne for white wine (oh yes!) and a teensy bit of heavy cream (or soy milk). Right. Here’s now to do it…

  • 1.5 cups of melted country fresh cream butter
  • 4 egg yolks
  • a splash of lemon juice (to taste)
  • tarragon to taste (I used dried tarragon and usually a pinch or 1 tblspn)
  • parsely (again I used dried parsely and a pinch of it or 1 tblspn)
  • 2 small shallots chopped finely
  • ¼ cup of Champagne (or dry white wine if you prefer)
  • a grind of sweet sea salt
  • a grind of fresh black pepper

Using a double boiler (or if you don’t have one just be super careful and use low heat in a regular pot) beat ze egg yolks and ze lemon juice (making sure it emulsifies). You are simmering this mixture- do not boil… ever.. at all..

Now you slowly add the melted butter to ze eggs/lemon juice mixture. Add your sea salt, pepper, the tarragon, parsely, and the shallots. Whisk…

Now add the Champagne (or white wine). Whisk and remove from heat. The sauce will thicken a bit after sitting for a few minutes. If you need to thin it out, you can use melted butter or heavy cream (or even a bit of soy milk to give it a sweeter flavour). Enjoy!

Üdo’s Qüick and Easy Cornbread

1 and 1/4 cups of flour

3/4 cup of cornmeal

1/4 cup of sugar

2 tsp baking powder

a few grinds of sweet sea salt

a few grinds of freshly cracked black pepper

1/2 cup of probiotic yogurt mixed with 1/2 cup of water

1/4 cup of vegetable oil

1 egg

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease a bread pan with Crisco. Combine your dry ingredients and then stir in the yogurt/water mixture, oil, and egg mixing it until all the dry ingredients are moistened. Do not over mix. Pour batter into your greased pan. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until light golden brown. Serve warm with lashings of country fresh cream butter and strawberry jam. YUM.

Enjoy!

XOoXoOX ❤>Üdo

I was tumbling around the internet looking for a french inspired animation to add to this post and I found this delicate and lovely story called “Riba”. It’s about a little red fish (she reminded me of our Ruby) and a tall lanky cat. It’s just beautiful… Enjoy.



A meditation on mindfül perception…

My grandma – there’s no stopping her!
My granparents – young and in love:
Kat-er-een and Dom-oh-neek
Yipe! And I mean there’s no stopping her! Go Kate Go!
My grandma in her nursing uniform…
This fascinating lady can dance the tango & change a tire!

Heavy Heart
My heart is so heavy these past 8 days. I’ve had a hell of go at it the past week or two and on top of it my little Grandma S. was admitted to the ER last week with some breathing problems and gave us quite a scare with her ailing health. She is a trooper. She is pushing through both lung and uterine cancer but she’s still as spritely as ever. The little pixie.

I love my grandmother. My grandma Catherine is qüite the mysterious and unpredictable lady. She’s a forest fairy always making mischief wherever she goes. She’s a total delight. A complete ham. She’s a pisser, that’s for sure. And thinking of her when I am having a bad week gives me so much strength. Why? Well, for starters, she hasn’t exactly had an easy life. Yet she’s still standing. For everything she is and she isn’t – I can honestly say she’s aüthentic. You know I just think she’s awesome.

Wild Heart
But not everyone else always thought she was “awesome”. In fact, some people thought she was awful… different, strange, eccentric, and just not a very “good” person at times. She was a wildheart. She was a rebel. Heck, she was human. She had a mind of her own and the will of an ox. And… she was a redhead after all – which is only to say that it wasn’t too easy to fit in for most of her life right from the get go.

And what a character… this is not to say that my grandmother was a some kind of saint or one of those super loving and doting grandmothers or mothers; honestly- I didn’t have much of a relationship with her for most of my young life because she kept her distance from nearly everyone she was related to in order to pursue a life path in another direction. It wasn’t exactly Leave it to Beaver from what I gather. The world was a shaky place in the 1960s and there was a lot of crazy stuff going on in the world and a lot of crazy stuff going on in my grandmother’s life.

It wasn’t until later in life, when my own mother began caring for my grandmother that I really had a chance to get to know her. Turns out after all these years that my grandmother’s perceptions were just that- hers. The way she viewed the world was not necessarily the way the world was- but it was the way her world was. She felt isolated and alone. She felt hurt and misunderstood; all the while, everyone else felt the same things and nobody could understand why she alienated herself from their lives, why she moved so far away (both figuratively and literally)… Ahhh humans. Beautiful, complicated creatüres are we. Misunderstandings, mis-communications, different perceptions… what a frazzling time for my grandmother and her family.

Full Circle
It’s all water under the bridge now, a witchy brew of time, forgiveness, forgetfulness, and a pinch of old age is enough to cure most family relationships that have found a wayward path. Everything comes full circle eventually, the parents care for their children, the children grow up, get married, and they have children, the parents age, the children care for the parents and the cycle continues…

Time has a way of course correcting that which needs it most… if you let it. If you open your heart. For the short time that I do have my grandmother left on this planet, I am so grateful that we’ve become better friends. I wouldn’t trade any of it for anything. There’s nothing that means more to me than building authentic relationships. Not the ones that simple chit-chat and “hello, how are yous” are built on. The real deal. The kind of relationships that bring you peace when you feel ….. frazzled.

This Week Was Not For The Weak…
Can I even begin to tell you how frazzled I am this week? Do you ever feel like you’re just having a bad week? I mean really. I need to address some of the wackiness that’s been keeping me from posting lately…

My purse, wallet, keys, and cellphone (which is on its last legs) were lost in translation for 3 days (unknowingly locked in my husband’s trünk!), my credit card was stolen online and someone charged $16,000 worth of pharmaceutical drugs to my credit account, 20 of 25 of my husband’s coworkers were laid off from their job (my husband is hanging on by a thread until the end of August), my computer had a kernel panic and is no longer working… gone… no computer ::poof:: it’s gone – everything- honeymoon pictures, wedding pictures, family pictures all gone – just like that, the ATM machine ate my ATM card because I took too long doing something else before I realized I needed to get the card out of the machine, the contest entry code I drove 2 hours to Philadelphia to get for this Mad Men Casting Call isn’t working and now the site is closed down, my little betta fish (whom I cared for dearly) died, my grandmother was admitted to the hospital, we accidentally ran over (and either killed or greatly maimed) a raccoon after swerving and slamming on the brakes trying not to hit the poor thing, and I got wacked with a huge car repair bill after the car inspection said I need 4 new tires… blah, blah, blah… get some real problems, right? Really. It’s just hilarious.

::deep breath::

Is It Really That Bad? Count your blessings!
Life is unpredictable. Life is fleeting. Sometimes you need to put things in perspective. The best way to do that? Count your blessings!

Blessing # 1 – My amazingly loving and doting husband. How very long I waited to meet ‘the one’ and just when I wasn’t looking- there he was. Truly I count him as the ultimate blessing. I am so fortunate to have married my best friend and soul mate. (what a cutie! you should see this hunk!)

Blessing #2 – We both still have our jobs (fingers crossed) so let’s just go with that (yes impending unemployment does create so much pressure) but you know what? Great things have come from sudden unexpected life changes… so we’re just going to roll with it…for now…

Blessing # 3 – Grandma has lived a long and very full life and is thankfully not suffering,

Blessing # 4 – Attitude- you can choose to have a better attitude about this stuff… for example- I’m sure the raccoon and the fish are in heaven with St. Francis, the purse, credit cards, and cell phone are all replaceable and can be fixed, and hey-at least I have 4 new tires for the winter!

You know what else helps me to get perspective? It helps to take a look at world events to really get a glimpse of the big picture…

Believe me I know my past week is nothing compared to the life of the women being raped on a daily basis by the military in Congo or the millions of men, women, and children who suffer with HIV related illnesses around the world. Sometimes you just need to put things in perspectiveWebster‘s defines perspective as: to look through, to see clearly, the state of one’s ideas, the facts known to one.

But It’s Not Fair!
Going along this line of thinking my friend Maureen (who works in HR) shared a story with me awhile ago about some employees who were complaining about a focus group at work and how unfair it was that they had certain privileges etc, that the other employees did not. What the employees didn’t realize is that while the focus group did have certain privileges that the other employees did not, they also had more responsibilities than the other employees had. Which required the focus group to work longer hours, weekends, and to be accountable for other duties that the other employees had no idea about.

The moral of the story is that it was the perception of the other employees that made it seem “not fair”. “Perception is reality” is what Maureen said, and it’s so true.

A person’s perception truly is their reality. It may not be actual reality, or your reality, but it is in fact their own reality. So what is your perception? What are you currently perceiving when you look at the world, at others, at yourself? Is what you are perceiving peaceful, loving, warm, intelligent, creative?

Is what you are perceiving another opportunity for growth, another opportunity to evolve, another opportunity to begin a new friendship, another opportunity to stretch yourself in ways you never knew you could?

Or is what you are perceiving another wasted occasion to give rise to resentment, jealousy, mistrust, self-pity? Do you perceive problems and challenges as disappointments, as discouraging, and as if the world is against you?

We must be mindfül of what our perceptions are… because not one of us can truly know what another is experiencing. All we know is what we perceive… For what we see… depends mainly on what we look for.

What we see
depends mainly
on what we
look
for.

What are you looking for in others? In yourself? In life? In your challenges? In your bad week? Are you looking for the things that irk you? Are you looking for irritation, unrest, discomfort? Are you looking for another hurtful item to add to the laundry list of things going wrong? If you are, you’ve got a long, painful journey ahead of you.

When we seek out and keep track of the hurtful, stupid, ugly things that we perceive life to be throwing our way – we are reminded that these very things are shown to us through the mirror of the Üniverse. What we perceive of others is what is reflected back unto us. It is us.

Kindness and Wisdom
Growing up I had a lot of perceptions about my grandmother, I didn’t always think she was so wonderful you know. Ironically, it was my own mother, who helped me to change my perception of who my grandmother was. It was my mother who found forgiveness in her own heart for my grandmother and helped me to find it in mine. My mother is so many things to so many people… and she continues to be an inspiration of true kindness to me.

When you look at others, what are you looking for?
Are you looking for love, acceptance,
kindness, friendship… truth?
If you look for these things…
you will find them
even in the most unlikely of places
even
in the most
unlikely
of
people.



XoXOoxX ❤>Üdo

Elizabeth Gilbert – Nurturing Creativity

Elizabeth Gilbert, the aüthor of Eat Pray Love talks about nutüring creativity on TED…
Enjoy!

xOXoXO ❤>Üdo

Jenny’s not sick… she’s a dancer!

I’m so excited! The weather has been rather cool these past few days…. the Farmer’s Almanac has proven itself correct once again with its prediction of a cold, wet summer this year. Drats on that. But lucky me and you other Fall/Winter lovers…. for fall is indeed in the air! And fall means back-to-school! Back to school haircuts, back to school clothes, back to school excited feelings! Weeee!! This crisp weather has me very much looking forward to the end of August! Pretty soon those lovely green leaves will be turning into burning orange and firey red…

Thinking about August gets me thinking about school. I teach in higher education and I’m so looking forward to seeing my new freshmen students and to embracing my returning sophomores! So many of them searching for their gift. Their talent. Their genius. So excited to unearth that one secret gift they each have with which to change this world and leave it a better place. With my background in creative arts, it hardly makes sense that I would be teaching in a business school- but teach the business students I do, and part of what I teach is the joy that can be found in nurturing the creative self.

Which gets me to thinking… we seriously have to rethink the fundamental principles upon which we are educating our children… I’ve had several conversations with local teachers from elementary and secondary schools (with whom I am taking some graduate education courses with) and they quite agree that the public school system is seriously lacking in the 4th “R” … ART!

Don’t agree? Maybe this will change your mind… watch Ken Robinson give a 20 minute talk on the gift of the human imagination and the impact that our current education system is having on our future generations… Viva La Art! Here! Here!

Enjoy!

XOoxOXoX ❤>Üdo

Success is piece of mind attained only through self satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do the best of which you are capable. – John Wooden