About Onions, Folklore, Facts, and French

26 Jan

Onions

It is a rainy day in sunny Southern California and that makes me think about warm and comfy food. Amazingly, French Onion Soup keeps popping up into
my mind. The funny thing about French onion soup is that I haven’t always had such warm a fuzzy thoughts regarding it. As a matter of fact, my 8 yr old self didn’t want any part of it. I can remember having a terrible cold and my father, (who of course I idolized, I was daddy’s little girl), who I would make
great efforts to please, announced that onion had medicinal qualities and that some onion soup would be just the thing.

I decided that this was the time to draw a line in the sand and not one drop of the magic elixir passed my lips. However, my mumble, mumble, let’s just say older self does not agree. I guess that I am not alone in this change of heart toward the onion as I remember reading once, on the magazine they give you in the pocket of the seat in front of you on the plane, that in the US we consume approx 20 lbs of onions a year per person! That translates into 450 semi- truckloads of onions, at least that is what the National Onion Association says on their website http://onions-usa.org/all-about-onions/consumption.

The reason that this little-known fact stuck with me is because I read this while on my way home from visiting my mother for Mother’s Day where we had prepared a surprise brunch for the entire family that included, you guessed it, French Onion Soup along with Tortilla Soup, Waldorf Salad, and Caesar Salad.

All this came to mind recently as I read a post that talks about the folklore or maybe even an urban legend, surrounding onions and their medicinal properties. It is an interesting read especially since it is flu season. You can check it out here http://markraysolar.wordpress.com/ and decide how much is true and how much is wishful thinking.

For those of you who would like to try a little French Onion Soup right now, either because you love it or because you want to test my father’s theory, I have included this recipe that I found at http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/french_onion_soup/.

It is easy and well worth the time that it takes to create this golden brown treat and is much more cost-effective than ordering it in a restaurant. The secret here is to cook the onions to a golden brown, slowly, to help them release their sweetness. If you or those you are preparing this soup for have gluten-intolerance I suggest that you substitute Glutino Bagel Chips for the cruton of French bread , baguette, traditionally used to help support the melted golden cheese that rests on top. Or, you can do without it if you do not mind the possibility that the cheese might sink a bit.

Ingredients:

6 large red or yellow onions (I prefer yellow)

Olive oil

1/4 teaspoon pf sugar

2 cloves garlic, minced

8 cups of beef stock or chicken stock (I prefer beef), or a combination of the two (traditioanlly the soup is made with beef stock)

1/2 cup of dry vermouth or dry white wine (I prefer white wine)

1 bay leaf

1/4 teaspoon of dry thyme

salt and pepper

8 slices of toasted French bread (I prefer Glutino gluten-free bagel chips, no need to toast, for me, baguette for others)

1  1/2 cups of grated swiss Gruyere with a little grated Parmesan cheese ) I prefer very thin slices and sometimes use Muenster cheese)

Method

In a large saucepan, saute the onions in the olive oil on mendium high heat until well-browned, but not burned, about 30-40 minutes )or longer).  Add the sugar about 10 minutes into the process to help with the caramelization.

Onions cooking

Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute.  Add the stock, vermouth or wine, bay leaf, and thyme.  Cover partially and simmer until the flavors are well blended, about 30 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Discard the bay leaf.

onion soup pot

To serve you can either use individual oven-proof soup bowls of one large casserole dish (I prefer paper cups if the meal is informal and finish in the microwave making clean up easy).  Ladle the soup into the bowls of casserole dish.  Put in the broiler for 10 minutes at 350 degrees F, or until the cheese bubbles and is slightly browned (if you use the microwave removes when cheese melts, it will not brown).  Serve immediately.

onion soup cup

10 Jan

queenoffamilosity:

I could not resist sharing this post, from a favorite blogger, about writing…and so much more. Hope you enjoy it as much as did.

Originally posted on Courage 2 Create:

I was lying down the other day, thinking about this: the past is truly past.

Whatever upsets you about the past, if you just ruminate on the fact that this past event is truly over now, you might feel some relief almost immediately. This is because you’ll realize that the past doesn’t exist in any living, breathing, “organic” way today.

True: the past has left its footprints (and its misguided pathways) but the past itself is no longer here.

All you have is the present; and the present tense, as you well know, is the most urgent and exciting of all the tenses.

Past, Present, And Future Tenses

If an author chooses to tell his character’s story in the past sense, his character is immediately disempowered: she’s forced to live out a story that has already happened. Her fate is sealed and nothing can be changed. This is because…

View original 1,065 more words

We’re All On a Mission, But What Is It?

20 Nov

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It seems that we are all on a mission in life, but many of us don’t really know what that mission really is.  That is not a critical statement, just an observation.  I know this because I sometimes find myself asking the question that we all ask at one time or another,  “What the heck am I doing here.”

If you are like me you have likely asked this question more than once while dancing through the fog of child rearing.  I have actually wondered what it would be like if parents made a mission statement much like businesses, organizations, and even bloggers do to help focus and measure their direction.

I thought I would look around on the blogosphere and see if their was anyone else thinking about this and I found a wonderful description of why a mission statement for this purpose can make sense.  This link will get you to the blog that the quote that follows is taken from.  (I haven’t discovered yet  how to create a clip that links back to the original blog.  If any of you techies out there feel like doing your random act of kindness for today you could drop me a note about how it is done.)  http://mirajyoga.wordpress.com/2012/10/22/3-steps-to-discovering-your-lifes-mission/

“Your mission statement is there to give your actions a certain intention–an intention that emerged from a state of awareness and consciousness.  We know that we often act out of conditioned and learned behaviors and patterns that aren’t necessarily aligned with what we’re really about.”

That sounds familiar.  You wake up one day and wonder which day it was that you turned into your mother. Your thoughts spinning with “What did I just do?  My mother used to do that to me and I hated it.”  But really, what else do you know to do?  As they say in the military, when you are in a crisis, you fall back on your training.  For some of us that may not be in line with the direction we want to take with our children.

Most mission statements contain a goal as well as statements the guiding principles you will follow to get there.  So it seems that identifying your goal is the first step.   So you might say your mission is to raise responsible, loving children (or whatever your goal is).  Then you might say, through establishing appropriate boundaries, engaging with my children throughout the day, and showing that I love them even when we disagree.

But here comes the hard part, how are we going to accomplish this?  Kids don’t come with manuals and parents don’t always come with full toolboxes.  The funny thing is that the act of writing this down often begins the process of opening the path to discovering tools that can be helpful to accomplish your goal.  Once you have written down the idea that you want to establish, for example, appropriate boundaries, it becomes easy to start out on a journey to find new ways to do this.  You can start right here on WordPress.  Two wonderful resources that I have found here are Help4YourFamily http://help4yourfamily.com/2012/11/19/parent-affirmation-monday-empathic-11172012/ and Let Life In Practices http://letlifeinpractices.com/2012/04/16/9-ways-to-tell-your-children-that-you-love-them/#more-568 .

What little jewel of a technique, practice, or attitude have you found (and where did you find them) that has made a difference for your children, or for that matter any of your relationships?  Do share because I still have plenty of room in my toolbox to fill.

11 Sep

Had to reblog this. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

You Just Never Know. Sometimes Good Luck Shows Up Disguised as Bad Luck

9 Sep

Good luck disguised as bad luck?

The other day I found myself in a discussion about bad luck. A friend was talking about how sometimes it feels like things go against us and that we have a string of bad luck that makes things look less than hopeful.   I asked my friend if they had ever considered that sometimes good luck comes to us disguised as bad luck.  Sometimes, if we are patient, we will see that we were actually being saved from a far greater trial.

It made me think of a story I heard once, told to me as a Taoist tale.  I went to the internet to see if I could find it in order to share it here.  I found many different versions of the story and actually like this very American version.

As the story goes, there was once a farmer and his only son in the days just  before the Civil War. Having only one horse, the farmer and son worked long hard  days, sun up to sun down, just to get by, with nothing left to spare.

One day as the father and son plowed the fields, their horse got spooked and  ran off. The son was devastated; “What bad luck, now what will we do?”

The father replied; “Good luck, bad luck, too soon to tell.”

The father and son continued to work the farm. Then one day their horse comes  running back over the hill with 6 other horses. The son exclaimed, “What great  luck, now we have all the horses we’ll ever need!”

To which the farmer replied; “Good luck, bad luck, too soon to tell.”

The next day as the farmer and son were working with the horses, one  particularly difficult horse threw the son off his back and  broke his leg. The  son cried: “Oh father, I am so sorry, now you have to work the farm all by  yourself. What bad luck!”

Once again the father replied: “Good luck, bad luck, too soon to tell.”

Several days later the Civil War broke out and all the able-bodied young men  were sent off to war. The farmer’s son, having a broken leg, was forced to stay  at home.

After the leg had healed, the father had the only farm around with a son to  help and seven horses to boot. They worked the farm and prospered.

Good luck, bad luck. It’s too soon to tell.

Perhaps.

Good luck,  bad luck. It’s all in how you look at it.

Getting closer.

Good luck, bad luck. Depends on which one you choose and what you make of  it.

Bingo. Absolutely. Now you got it!

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/66578

http://ezinearticles.com/?Motivation:-Good-Luck-or-Bad-Luck,-Too-Soon-to-Tell&id=66578

Photo credit:

http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/Alphanumeric_Charact_g414-Number_13_Made_In_Daisy_Flower_p93099.html

Many times we are so busy focusing on what we have lost that we are unable to receive what it has allowed us to gain.

There is a nice short discussion you might enjoy that follows the story, just click the first link above to check it out.

Do you have a story about something that appeared to be bad luck that actually turned out to be a wonderful gift?

Cheesecake, Gluten-Free, Woo-Hoo!

7 Aug

Gluten-Free Cheesecake

 

About a year ago I discovered that I have a sensitivity to gluten.  That day my world changed.  At first it seemed that it had changed for the worse.  I could not imagine not enjoying a crusty piece of french bread, buttery pasta, or even a simple peanut butter and honey sandwich.  These were among the things I counted as real pleasures in my life.

As I waded into this new gluten-free world I began to discover that gluten is hidden in the most unlikely places.  Just about any processed food can contain gluten and it is not as simple as finding what type of food is likely to contain gluten, you must also check each brand.  I found this out one night after we had just finished eating.  My husband had done the grocery shopping and fixed dinner, I really am lucky in that way.  Then came the headache and soon after the other discomforts that I have now learned to recognize as my body’s reaction to gluten.

I couldn’t figure it out.  We had eaten nothing that had caused a reaction before.  Later that night, I was taking out the trash and noticed that the empty can of green enchilada sauce used in our chicken dish was a different brand than what I usually buy.  I pulled it out to take a look at the list of ingredients and there it was, gluten.  Oops.

However, I must say that this story demonstrates just how much my world has actually improved even without my favorite breads, pastas, and my this and thats.  I feel so much better now, most days I don’t miss them, at least not too much.

Having said that, you can just imagine that having a baked dessert can present a challenge.  So a year later, I am so thrilled to discover a recipe for cheesecake that has a gluten-free crust and does not use flour as a thickener in the filling.  I share it here for all of you who have gluten-sensitivity or children who benefit from eliminating gluten from their diets.  This is so good that everyone in the family can enjoy it, even those who do not need to restrict gluten.
One word of caution.  When using oats, some people with gluten sensitivities can have a reaction if the oats are processed in a facility that also processes  wheat.  There are gluten-free oats (labeled) available or you may want to just use the almonds and some almond meal in place of the oats.

Just a heads up, there were two things that I did not have handy that you will need for this recipe, cheesecloth and the wider heavy weight sheet of foil wrap.

Also, flavor and texture is best if cheesecake is refrigerated overnight.

Crust:

1 1/2 cup    Oats (gluten-free oats)

1/2 cup       Chopped almonds

1/3 cup       Brown sugar

1/3 cup       Butter – melted (5 1/2 Tbls)

Heat oven to 350°.

Grease 9″ spring form pan.

Combine all ingredients, mix well.  press firmly on bottom and 1 1/2 inches on the sides.  Bake 18 minutes.  Cool in refrigerator.

While crust is cooling make the filling.

Filling:

20 ozs.    Whole milk ricotta cheese, drained (2 1/2 cup)

1 – 8 oz    Cream cheese (at room temperature)

1 cup       Sugar

1 Tbls     Cornstarch

4               Large eggs, at room temperature

Zest of 1 Lemon

1 1/2 tsp Pure vanilla extract

To drain ricotta cheese:

Place ricotta cheese in strainer lined with cheesecloth and suspend over a bowl.  Cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

To make filling:

In large bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth, add ricotta cheese and sugar, beat until smooth.  Beat in cornstarch, add eggs one at a time beating about 30 seconds after each egg is added. Beat in lemon zest and vanilla.
Pour filling into cooled crust.  Use large sheet of foil wrap to wrap the outside of the spring form pan to protect the cheesecake in the water bath.
Place spring form pan in large roasting pan and pour enough hot water into the roasting pan to come about half way up the side of the spring form pan.

Bake for about an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes or until the top of the cheesecake is nicely browned and the center of cake moves slightly when the pan is gently giggled.

Remove from water bath and cool on a wire rack.  After cooling about an hour remove from spring form pan.  Cool in refrigerator 6-8 hours or overnight.

Enjoy!

A Story Of Two Monks

5 Aug

Photo credit   http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/Religion_g302-Thai_Monks_p37604.html

Recently I read a post through freshly pressed (I love freshly pressed) on 258 Days ’til 40: The Toll We Pay (For NOT Letting Go).   It is  about forgiveness and how it is really for the benefit of the one forgiving rather than the one forgiven.   She noted one of my favorite quotes “Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” (not really sure who first said this ),  and talks about releasing your anger and hurt and moving on to create a beautiful, peaceful future for yourself. It was thought provoking and reminded me of a story about two monks.

The story goes something like this.   Two monks are walking near a river and happen upon a woman who needs cross the river to get to her family. The woman can’t swim and is terrified that she will drown if she tries to cross the river. The first monk listens to the woman’s fears and says, then I will carry you across.  The second monk looks at the first monk sternly and reminds him that they are forbidden to touch women.  But  the  first monk decides that he is willing to go against the prohibition in order to help the women cross the river safely so that she can be with her family.   The first monk picks the woman up and carries her across the river to safety.  The other monk looked on disapprovingly.

The monks resumed their journey and as the day went on the second monk continued his disapproving comments toward the first monk regarding his carrying the woman across the river.  Finally, at  the end of the day the first monk turns to the second monk and says, you know I put the woman down hours ago at the river’s edge, but you are still carrying her.

I know that this is a hard-won lesson as many people  are taught that holding on to hurt and pain is a form of protection from or power over others.  They do not see it for the poison that it is and choose to continue to drink it.  This brings to mind another quote to think about if If you absolutely must feel that you are getting “revenge” for a wrong done to you.   “Living well is the best revenge”.  George Herbert

Do you have a way that helps you to forgive others and/or yourself?  I would love to hear about it.

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