Focus, Please

Standing at the stove this morning, I was struck by the centering that happened as I stirred the gravy bubbling away in my granny's iron skillet.  So many memories of standing at similar stoves, laughter in the background, the smell of coffee and breakfast cooking, the tactile pleasure of the scrape of the spoon on the bottom of the skillet as the grease and flour roux was pushed and pulled to create the magic that would cover hot biscuits shortly.  In the conjuring of spoon against skillet, all of the past came calling, making my spine straighter with the history that pushed through my hands in a silent benediction; an offering of flour and salt to the women gone before me in exchange for the peace and love that good food brings.  The details of the chaos of daily life slip away as the present is honed into a big picture remember-who-you-are-and where-you-come-from moment.  That was the second one of those this week. 

The other arrived just in time in a phone conversation with my momma as I vented about work frustrations.  The chaos that is a result from folks being in over their heads and nervous about outcomes is easy to buy into.  Anxiety is a mighty powerful group drug.  It is hard, sometimes, to do the right thing.  It is harder when you feel you are standing alone in that, battling what the crowd perceives as an "easier fix".  My frustration leads to a short temper and certainly a lack of patience.

But I was gifted with a moment of clarity in that phone call with my momma as I actually said out loud what legacy I wanted to leave.  The chaos of the moment was replaced by a focus on what the big picture goal is.   It allowed the anxiety of the details (and my woeful lack of control over them) to fall away as I remembered all that I have actually accomplished in the eleven years there and why I continue do what I do.  Clarity is a good thing.  Stay in your lane, people.  Focus, please.

Christmas drag is all up (to the extent I am committing to drag this year) and the house smells divine with greenery, oranges, and spices on as many surfaces as I can cover.  Yesterday my mom and sis and I pretended to do some Christmas baking.  I actually made Peanut Butter Balls this year (or Buckeyes if you are from that part of the country) in a flashback of retro Christmas goodies.  There is a reason they are a classic.

Peanut Butter Balls 
(or Buckeyes)
adapted from Sammie Brian

1 stick melted butter
2 cups creamy peanut butter *
1 1/3 cups powdered sugar *
3 cups rice krispies

16 ounces good dark/semi sweet chocolate
2 Tbs vegetable shortening

Combine butter, peanut butter, sugar, and Rice Krispies in a bowl with your hands.  Form into small balls and place on wax paper.  

Melt chocolate and shortening in a double boiler, stirring until smooth and glossy.  Remove from flame, keeping bowl over warm water while you work.

Dip peanut butter balls in melted chocolate, coating entire ball.  Place on parchment or wax paper lined cookie sheets.  Cool completely in refrigerator.  Store in airtight container or freeze in freezer bags.

*I will remind you that your food is only as good as the ingredients that you use.  In this case, I used organic butter, peanut butter, and even the confectioner's sugar because the regular powdered sugar tastes so metallic to me.  I also used fair trade chocolate.  Good chocolate makes up for a multitude of sins- both in baking and life.  Keep that in mind as you shop.

That crazy, stress inducing season called, "THE HOLIDAYS" is marching on and on.  I am in a better space this year as we have lots and lots and lots of visitors coming in for Christmas.  I love guests, especially overnight guests.  The relaxed pace that comes from knowing no one has to get into a car and leave soon makes for the best lingering conversations over extended dinners, the most decadent cocktail indulgences, and the most luxurious mornings of coffee.  It is a proper (and favorite) way to spoil guests, in my opinion.   The first of them begins next weekend and continues through the New Year.  We can't wait.

In the meantime, we will be menu planning some glorious and gorgeous food and drink in front of the fire and finishing off Christmas lists.  Stop by for a cocktail and share your favorite Christmas goodies if you have time.

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