Full Home, Full Heart

Why, hello Tuesday night. When did you get here?

Anyone else feel like the week is just flying? I mean, I know yesterday was just Monday, but people, tomorrow is Wednesday. And if you’re on the East Coast, like me, tomorrow is less than three hours away. Oy.

Last night, BF and I had a few people over for Torah study. There was talking, laughter, food, more talking, more food, and our friend’s daughter lying on our apartment floor, contentedly boasting, “I’m stuffed!” Though no real Torah study occurred, we talked Judaism, we talked G-d, and we ate. That’s usually Jewish enough for me!

I mentioned in my last post that one of our friends has a gluten and dairy intolerance, and how I was excited to be able to cook for her. The menu was, if I may say, awesome:

…and, of course, a delicious bottle of wine, courtesy our lovely guests.

I wish I had snapped pictures, but as our guests came early before any of the food was even remotely done, I didn’t want to be cooking and snapping pictures and attempting to converse, so you’ll have to imagine all the delicious food. My friends don’t know I blog, and I feel like there are better ways to introduce this fact versus “Oh hi so nice to see you SNAP SNAP I love that coat SNAP dinner is almost SNAP ready just a minute SNAP SNAP SNAP.”

If you ever need anything to lift your mood, I suggest good food with good friends. Even the not-so-great things turn out great: I completely botched half my batch of cookies, but friend’s daughter ate it all herself, grabbing a spoon and scraping the pan clean. Come to think of it, that may be why she was lying on the floor…hmm.

It was a great testament to the fact that food with restrictions (allergies, intolerance, kosher needs, dietary preferences) is not the end all of delicious food. Sometimes it takes a bit of work, a little ingenuity, and some patience, but everyone around may table last night – some carnivores, some vegetarians, some kosher, some with allergies – left full and happy.

Cooking for people with food allergies or special needs? A few tips:

  1. Ask and never assume – usually, people with special eating needs, whether through choice or necessity, will not be shy in telling you what they need, but in the event they don’t, ASK. Some vegetarians will eat fish, some won’t; some allergies can handle a bit of cross-contamination, some can’t. The point is that it’s highly individualized, so ask, ask, ask. If you do it mindfully, and while making sure you’re taking the other person’s needs into account, it’s an act of love.
  2. Try out a few dishes – before you cook for your friend for the first time, try out your possible dishes beforehand to work out any kinks. This is really true for any and all meals, but especially so for people with special food needs – it can be harder to throw up your hands and say “Oh, I’ll just get a pizza!” with gluten and dairy issues.
  3. Vary your offerings – have lots of different things to please a variety of palettes. You don’t need to break the bank by any means, but having small amounts of many different foods means you’re more likely to hit on someone’s “yum!” spot.
  4. Relax! – At the end of the day, you’re doing a labor of love for someone you love. There have been many a dinner where I had virtually nothing to eat, but at the end of the day, it was really the company that mattered more. Food, while delicious and something I love, feeds us, but our relationships are what truly sustain us. When it is all said and done, focus more on your friends and having a good time – there is always more food, but time with each other is what it’s really about.

Tonight, I’m eating leftovers, attempting real Torah study (my brand spankin’ new one just came in today!) and barricading myself in, as they’re forecasting snow tonight. Huzzah!

Sorry again for the no picture thing. Here to make it up to you is my cat:

Add "Recycling Basket" to the "List of things Eva believes we bought for her, but really didn't"

Have a great night, all!

Check!

Woke up feeling refreshed, amazed at my continued existence, and the ability to experience this gift of life?

Check.

Fed the cat, brewed some tea, spent some leisurely time reading other blogs?

Check.

Made dessert for my dinner party while folding two day old laundry on a conference call planning a major presentation, kissing BF good morning and goodbye while scraping burnt egg from a pan and realizing that my first dessert attempt sucked terribly and I had to make a new one pronto?

That's a face you want to wake up to every morning.

Oof! And check.

I wanted to try a twist on a pumpkin cake for my dinner tonight, so I attempted to create my own recipe: mini pumpkin cakes with chocolate chips.

They looked great, they tasted great, they smelled great…

…and they would make great rock replacements. I texted BF at work and asked “Does anyone need a paperweight? Or a doorstop? I have 24.”

Needless to say, I was bummed. My morning filled with little “checks” suddenly had a big fat empty space where “make delicious revolutionary dessert” was supposed to be marked off. In hindsight, had I put “make rocks” or “invent industrial strength weight,” I would have checked those off with a flourish.

Normally, I would have hidden this failure entirely. I would have pretended as if perfectly tasting (and weighing) baked goods simply fly out of my kitchen at warp speed on a regular basis. I would have skimmed over this mishap in favor of broadcasting, loud and clear, a new, successful recipe. But today, in honor of embracing the experience of life, all the experiences, including failure, I’m sharing it with you.

I did manage to make a good dessert, and share it with my friends. It was not fancy. It was not whipped up with ease from gourmet items just lying around my kitchen. It was chocolate chip cookies.

I wish I could give you the recipe, but that belongs to Robin Robinson, and can be found in her book 1,000 Vegan Recipes, which I talked about here. What I can give you, however, is the best recipe I’ve found for dealing with those moments of unexpected results, of less than stellar outcomes. Of, quite simply, failure.

Oy to Joy

Ingredients:

  • A sense of humor
  • Forgiveness
  • Acceptance
  • Laughter
  • Bravery
  • Gumption

Directions:

  1. Admit that you failed. Accept that it happened, that it happened before, and will happen again. It’s okay – and all a part of the process!
  2. Forgive yourself. No one is perfect. That’s the beauty of life.
  3. Laugh at yourself when you deserve it. Mix with a generous sense of humor, and the failure can turn into an enjoyable experience (much like, dare I say, this blog post?)
  4. Go forward with bravery. Have the gumption to try again tomorrow. Or, if your dinner party is in a few hours, now!

Behind every mountain of success lies a valley filled with failures. But without those failures, reaching the top of the mountain wouldn’t be as sweet.

The chocolate chip cookies were simple and delicious. On their own, they’re perfect: slightly sweet, chocolatey, and very chewy. But they’re at their best when shared with company. And really, isn’t the point of all good food, the very best part of slaving over a hot oven and millions of mixing bowls, is getting to share it with those you love?

That’s something I’ll check on my list.

With all that being said, I don’t plan on deviating from my cookbooks for awhile 🙂

 

Had an amazing day where I experienced life to the fullest, enjoyed each moment for what it was, and was in awe of all the wonderful things I can be grateful for – friends, food, and love?

Check.

——-

Whew! It’s been a couple o’ serious posts up in here. Let’s try something lighter tomorrow, shall we? Current forecasts indicate that Joy will be making vegan pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving…stay tuned!

No Lie

Sometimes, I am full of exaggerations and jokes. Today, I am not. No lie.

1. I had three readers visit my page! Three! Welcome! And I thank you by not posting for two days. I am a jerk (and I wish I was lying).

2.BF is still sick. Very, very sick. We spent 3 1/2 hours at the clinic on Monday, and he is on bed rest until further notice.

3. In an effort to make BF Feel better, I made Potato Leek Soup.

Spud buds - stripped of their dignity

Leeky love

Unfortunately, it wasn’t that remarkable, and you should be happy that I forgot to write down the recipe. Fortunately, BF has no taste buds at the moment, and he thought it was delicious (and I accused him of lying…bad girlfriend).

4. In an effort to make up to my co-workers that I had to throw my responsibilities out the window for a day, I made them cookies. Delicious, chewy, chocolatey cookies.

No lie.

Joy’s “I’m Really Sorry, Co-workers” Cookies (AKA Peanut Butter Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies)

I don't have a picture of the finished cookies...but here's the finished PLATE. That good, people.

Makes 14 – 20 small sized cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp. + 2 tsp. applesauce (can use an oil like canola, as well, depending on your preferences)
  • 1 Tbsp. peanut butter (or another type of nut butter)
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 c. flour
  • 1/3 c. cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 – 1/2 c. vegan chocolate chips (depending on how chocolatey you want them!)
  • 2/3 to 1 c. soy milk (you can use regular milk as well – just be aware that the cookies will no longer be vegan or parve if you do)

Favorite PB. No hydrogenated oils - just peanuts and salt!

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly grease a baking pan and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the applesauce (or oil), peanut butter, sugar, and vanilla extract. Mix until smooth.
  3. In a separate large bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry – the dough will be crumbly and you’ll be doubting my sanity. It’s ok – I promise!
  5. Add the milk to the dough 1/3 c. at a time. Depending on the ingredients you used, you may need more or less milk. You know you’ve hit the right consistency when the dough can be easily scooped using a fork or spoon, but is NOT runny.
  6. Now comes the exciting part – fold in your chocolate chips.

    Makes life worth living

  7. Scoop dough by the spoonful onto your baking sheet. Bake 15 – 18 minutes, until cookie tops have set. Remove and allow to cook thoroughly before transferring to storage*

*You can skip this last part if transferring cookies directly to mouth 🙂

The cookies were a hit with the coworkers, and I hope they are for you, too. Or maybe you three lovely people who clicked over to check me out? (Hint, hint)

The rest of this week will, hopefully, not be so crazy. I’ll do my best to be back with more posts, jokes, and perhaps even a non-cookie recipe. There will also be an awwww-inspiring post coming along this weekend. So stick around! I can say that, whether three or three hundred readers, I’ll always do my best for you.

And that’s no lie.