Cookbook Resolution Complete

The calendar year is rapidly coming to a close, and just in the nick of time I finished up one of my 2017 resolutions: to prepare at least one new recipe from each of my cookbooks. 

I’ve loved this resolution, for a few reasons:

  1. I enjoy cooking but don’t necessarily spend a lot of time doing it.  There are so many ways to fill up free time and sometimes I end up frittering away my days off with cleaning, running errands, and getting sucked into social media and the blogosphere. This goal pushed me to spend at least a few hours every few weekends doing something that I consistently find fun and gratifying.
  2. Using the things that I own feels good.  I tend to feel inclined to declutter — to get ride of clothes I don’t wear, dishes I don’t use, or books that I don’t consult — but I’ve always resisted purging my cookbook collection; actually referring to the books has helped me justify keeping them…which makes me happy, because I love my shelf of cookbooks.
  3. Speaking of that shelf, I like physical books, period.  I like the way their glossy covers feel, I like flipping through the pages, and I like seeing a book propped open on my kitchen counter.  Pinterest and cooks.com are great sources for recipes, but it’s the tangible attributes of books that make my apartment feel cozy and homey, and this resolution gave me the chance to experience the glory of a book. 
  4. Growing and learning are so satisfying, and I have to work harder to make these things happen than I did when I was a student.  Trying new things — even just recipes — gives me that same thrill of growth that taking a class always provided. 

As I drink a glass of wine with my first ever pot roast tonight, I’ll toast to all the joy of cooking and of resolutions completed!

Human love

O Sapientia

It was from Joseph first I learned
of love. Like me he was dismayed.
How easily he could have turned
me from his house; but, unafraid,
he put me not away from him
(O God-sent angel, pray for him).
Thus through his love was Love obeyed.

The Child’s first cry came like a bell:
God’s Word aloud, God’s Word in deed.
The angel spoke: so it befell,
and Joseph with me in my need.
O Child whose father came from heaven,
to you another gift was given,
your earthly father chosen well.

With Joseph I was always warmed
and cherished. Even in the stable
I knew that I would not be harmed.
And, though above the angels swarmed,
man’s love it was that made me able
to bear God’s love, wild, formidable,
to bear God’s will, through me performed.

Madeleine L’Engle

For those of us who believe in God, we likely also believe that God is the giver of life, the ultimate source of being who breathes us into existence and sustains our lives from one moment to the next.

But a belief in a life-creating and sustaining God doesn’t preclude the fact that we rely on our fellow humans to make it from one day to the next. 

On a very basic level, our physical survival depends on the food grown by farmers, the medical attention offered by health care professionals, and the shelter provided by contractors, plumbers, electricians, and so on.  Equally important, our emotional and spiritual survival depends on the love and care we receive from our mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, spouses, friends, teachers, pastors, co-workers, and therapists, to name of a few of the vital sources of strength and hope that we turn to on a frequent basis.

I love this poem by Madeline L’Engle because, while honoring the supreme being, it captures the need we have for other humans:  “Though above the angels swarmed, / man’s love it was that made me able…”

The message this sends to me is two part:

1) The people who support us are precious, precious gifts.  In gratitude, may we turn to them and lean on their love in order to do what good we can while on this earth. 

2) We are beholden to each other.  May we be a gift from heaven to each other, by lightening one another’s loads, by warming and cherishing those we care for (and those we maybe don’t), and by putting others “not away” from us.  Even when we are dismayed like Joseph, may we choose to show love.

Fall 2017 Reading

Regardless of the official start dates of the four seasons, I’m one to consider December 1st the beginning of Winter, March 1st the start of Spring, June 1st the commencement of summer and September 1st the onset of Fall.  My mindset flips with the calendar page, and those first few weeks of the transition months are often the ones that feel most steeped in the glory of the new season. 

The magical swirl of winter is definitely in the air within our home, town, and the world-as-I-know-it-through-Instagram.  With twinkling lights on trees and temperatures that require a pom-pom hat, I’m ready to start a new column in my reading journal for Winter 2017/2018 Books.  But before then, a quick look back on what I read this Fall:

Fiction

The Fall of Lisa Bellow, Susan Perabo

The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood

The Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson, Bette Bao Lord

Non-Fiction

Bad Feminist, Roxanne Gay

Presence, Amy Cuddy

White Working Class: Overcoming Class Cluelessness in America, Joan Weber

I Feel Bad About My Neck and Other Thoughts on Being a Woman, Nora Ephron

Radical Spirit, Joan Chittister

I’d recommend all of my fall reads, actually.  A few thoughts:

The Fall of Lisa Bellow (a book club read) is forgettable but was enjoyable in the moment, in the page-turning way any book laced with mystery is. 

The Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson was a re-read from my childhood and had me in tears with the poignancy that I’m sure was lost on my eight-year-old self.  Reading it also brought back cozy memories of having it read to me by my mom as I waited for the school bus. 

Presence left me with some definitive take-aways — posture matters! — and I seriously am noticing the effect that sitting up straighter, speaking more slowly, and keeping my arms uncrossed has on my feelings of empowerment in work settings. 

I read White Working Class as part of my effort to understand how and why President Trump was elected (along with Plutocracy, Hillbilly Elegy, and Atlas Shrugged) and, at the risk of sounding totally heavy-handed, this short little book transformed my thinking by helping me see how class clueless I am.  In the way great books, people and programs do, it opened me up to the other and helped me see how I am part of the problem and what I need to change about myself.  I especially recommend this book for all people in my socio-political-age demorgraphic. 

I laughed my head off through I Feel Bad About My Neck, and for added reading pleasure, I’d suggest listening to the audio book, which is read by the author.  She knows just when to pause and crescendo for all the extra effect. 

Radical Spirit has me on a Joan Chittister kick.  The book is a practical guide in which Chittister walks her readers through the Rule of St. Benedict’s chapter on humility.  What I appreciated most about the book is that Chittister doesn’t shy away from suggesting active lifestyle changes that probably most readers need to make to live more humbly, authentically and freely. 

Photo by Alfons Morales on Unsplash