Sunday, January 30, 2011

Exercise #4: Discovering Unexpected Blessings

Exercise #4: Discovering Unexpected Blessings

Pick one thing in your life to do differently this week.  Maybe it's taking an alternate form of transportation, or trying out that discount store you keep driving past, or experimenting with a new recipe, making something from scratch that you would usually buy "pre-fabbed."  See if there are some unexpected blessings waiting for you when you shake up your life a little. 
This week was supposed to bring us some unexpected blessings, and the thing about unexpected blessings is that they are just that--unexpected.  Blessings you wouldn't have thought you would be getting by changing what you changed. 

Here's Anne's experience:
I have been needing a break from being Mommy 24/7, so I decided this week I'd finally schedule some "Me Time." Porter and I go over to G&G Curry's every week (usually Thursdays but this week it was Wednesday because I wasn't babysitting Reese) and we spend the day watching Port play and chatting. I've never asked them watch Porter without a "good" reason though (like a doctor or dentist appointment) and I felt embarrassed to just say, "Hey, I need to run away for a few hours." I did have some legitimate errands, so after Porter went down for his nap I asked Verna if it would be ok if I headed out to get my ring inspected and shop for a baby shower gift. No problem, of course. So I went to the Masseys Jeweler at the mall and left my ring to get cleaned while I wandered around not really looking at anything. Then I went to the grocery store for a super-duper sale item (which they were out of, of course). Then home to put things in the freezer... Then I decided I may as well vacuum and mop since it's soooo much easier without Porter underfoot. So I ended up just using my two hours doing errands and chores. It was pretty depressing. So I planned to go to a late movie that night after Port went to bed. Only I took too long at Target getting that shower gift beforehand and I got to the theater 10 minutes after the show started... and I really didn't want to sit in the theater alone anyway and not have anyone to discuss it with afterward.


Long story short, I did have Me Time, but it turned out that I used my time a lot differently than I thought I would. At first I was upset that I couldn't even figure out something fun to do by myself, but I shouldn't feel bad if a "break" to me is doing necessary housework unencumbered. It was still a nice change.
So there you go.  It would have been wonderful if Me Time had resulted in feeling free, having a blast, and coming out absolutely refreshed.  (I sure wish for her sake it had been!)  But it didn't.  The unexpected blessing was that Me Time was simply a nice change, being able to do some "necessary housework unencumbered."  And while it wasn't grand, I can imagine it was nice! 

This exercise was a little difficult for me to wrap my head around at first.  I could think of lots of things I wanted to change, but nothing that felt within the realm of possibility with how full my hands have felt with Lily and Max (and Isaiah and Katie, etc.).  Then I lowered my expectations a bit, and started thinking about things I used to do, before I was pregnant with Lily, that have been left behind somewhere.  Maybe instead of doing something completely new, I could do something I used to do and haven't done in a while.  I re-read the exercise, and of course, "experimenting with a new recipe" jumped out at me and then I looked at the dinner menu hanging on the fridge, I gave in to my first thought: I was going to try some new recipes.  It has been almost a full year since I did my last dinner challenge, and in that year we went from having a made-from-scratch dinner five nights a week to Adam cooking at least once and eating out three or four nights a week.  We've been slowly getting back into the routine of cooking (and eating) homemade dinners, but they've been pretty easy favorites, pretty blah.  So this week I made some new things.  Not all of them turned out yummy, but we did find a couple new favorites, so I'm going to share them with you! 

Hold your horses, I know you're anxious (at least I am, trust me these are yummy!), but first let me tell you what my unexpected blessing was this week.  It has to do with my relationship with Adam, and I didn't even realize it until we were talking at dinner tonight.  I cook for Adam.  I always have.  He is the inspiration behind my interest in making our dinners taste good.  Sure, there have been additions to my household, other mouths to feed and please, but his opinion is the one that matters to me.  I was telling him this tonight, and it dawned on me that that was the blessing I received this week: Adam loved the food I made. Well, not all of it, he's a tough critic.  But I did get some high praise from him this week.  And it made me feel pretty good.  Okay, it made me feel about like I did when I received my engraved Valedictorian watch when I graduated from high school: totally awesome.  Successful.  Something I don't feel...almost ever.  And that's an unexpected blessing. 

Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce and Coconut Rice
Special thanks to Kelie Stanclift, who made this for lunch one day and then graciously shared the recipe with me because I loved it so much!
I didn't take this picture...but ours looked like this. 
 Marinade:

2 pounds chicken, cut into thin strips
½ cup olive oil
1 tablespoon Garlic powder
1 tablespoon Curry powder
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
1 oz. Fish Sauce (I didn't have this on hand so I left it out)
Juice and zest of 1 lemon

Mix ingredients together and marinade chicken for at least 1 hour.  Skewer and grill on barbecue.  (I cooked mine on a couple of cookie sheets in a 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes--watch carefully, though!)

Peanut Sauce:
2 cloves minced Garlic
14 oz. Peanut Butter
12 oz. Soy sauce
8 oz. sugar
1 tablespoon Dry sherry
1 tablespoon chili oil blend
1 can coconut milk
1 tablespoon Red Curry Paste

Mix ingredients together in blender and heat over medium heat.  (This makes way more than what you need for the above chicken.  I halved it, and still had twice what I needed.  That's okay, it's in the fridge, awaiting our next batch!  You could also buy the peanut sauce premade.  But this recipe was excellent, Adam felt it made the dinner, and it made the house smell wonderful.)

Serve with Coconut Rice:

When cooking the rice substitute half the water with Coconut milk.  (I did this in my rice cooker, so easy peasy!  Next time I might use more coconut milk than water, it was a very mild coconut flavor.)
 
Chocolate Banana Bread
(found on allrecipes.com)
 
1 cup margarine, softened
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
6 bananas, mashed
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup lite sour cream
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease two 9x5 inch loaf pans.

2.In a large bowl, cream together margarine, sugar and eggs. Stir in bananas and vanilla. Sift in flour, baking soda and cocoa; mix well. Blend in sour cream and chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared pans.
3.Bake in preheated oven for 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into center of a loaf comes out clean.

I halved this recipe because we only had 4 bananas (I only used 3), but I sure wish I could have made the full recipe.  We are not big banana bread eaters (even cake and cookies often go stale before we eat an entire batch), but this was gone in a couple of hours.  I won't tell you how much of it I ate....

1 comment:

The Yoder's Four said...

Glad to know I'm not the only one who uses their "free" time to catch up on housework!

Those are yummy sounding recipes, by the way. I don't know how on earth I'd find time to cook with four kids!