Thursday, December 14, 2017

Butter is a metaphor for me!

Hello again! This week I got the insane idea to make homemade chicken pot pie’s. Let me preface all of this by saying that I do not make pies. Twice I made peach pies with the peaches from the tree in the yard and they were terrible, I used pre-made store-bought crust. I can cook and bake practically anything on the planet but I have never wanted to make a pie. It’s not that I really dislike pie because pie is delicious but pie is not my first choice of dessert and for that reason I don’t feel any desire to bake a pie. That being said, I recently purchased the pampered chef miniature pie pan that makes for tiny pies- because... hello? Cute! I envision tiny kid size pies and far be it from me to impose my desire to NOT make pies on my poor innocent children. For someone who never makes pies I sure have a lot of pie making supplies. That’s what comes from years of being a pampered chef consultant earning new products for free. I have at least two- perhaps three- stoneware pie pans, and things like pastry blenders, piecrust shields, and mats to roll out my piecrust. I always told myself that someday when my kids got bigger I might actually want to master making pies. More for the old-fashioned/homesteading/canning aspect of things (which most of you know I’m crazy for) then for the actual idea of desiring pie. I love Keylime pie, I love cheesecake, I love French silk pie and lemon meringue pie... but folks let me tell you I love me a chicken pot pie! Marie callander is amazing.

My mom would always tell me there’s too much sodium in those frozen potpies, but man it’s the ultimate comfort food to me. So I thought what better way to use up that chicken breast I bought on clearance and scratch together ingredients I have at home then to make chicken pot pies? And really to make a homemade chicken pot pie needs a homemade crust, and in order to make a pie with things I have on hand it needs to be homemade crust. Plus I’ve had a lot of dietary issues in the last year with the removal of my gallbladder and discovering that I have a very hard time digesting grains that are not organic or chemical free, so using my own organic ingredients and chemical free flour makes a lot more sense than buying a piecrust. Plus in my mind there’s a difference between the type of piecrust that you should use for a sweet pie and the type of piecrust that you should use for a chicken pot pie. I want a flaky buttery crust for my chicken pot pie. So of course I have a piecrust recipe that is my moms, I’ve made it once or twice with her when I lived at her house, but I haven’t made my own piecrust ever in the history of me, nor have I made a pie with my own piecrust since living in my own house for the past 17 years. Mom‘s recipe is an oil crust and I wanted a flaky crust so of course I hit all recipes and found a flaky butter crust that is very highly rated. This is where we get down to the recipe that is a metaphor for me. (yes I’m getting to a point, amazing isn’t it?)

The recipe says that I should dice the cold butter. I’m all about butter and fresh eggs, I like to make everything with real butter or use real butter on everything... none of this margarine crap. Being December I have a large stock of butter in the fridge and freezer. Realizing I don’t have butter in the freezer is enough to cause me a panic attack (OK not really but you know what I mean, yes I’m allowed to joke about panic attacks because I literally do have them.)

So I decided to double the recipe because when it comes to a piecrust I don’t want to have “not enough“ and of course I’m making miniature pies and not one pie, so I’m not sure if I might need actually more crust  in the long run. I doubled the recipe which means I needed two sticks of butter - which of course I have -and I had been working this afternoon dicing carrots and celery for the recipe, and I had to go to the locker to get some frozen peas because all I had was canned and I was afraid the consistency would be too mushy. So anyway it’s perfectly quiet in my house because all of the kids are at school, the smallest one is at preschool and I have almost 2 full hours with which to get a jumpstart on these chicken pot pie‘s. Of course they’re going to actually be for tomorrow because the dough has to chill for four full hours. It looks like I really planned ahead but I’m really flying by the seat of my pants here. We have a Christmas program tonight for the preschoolers so dinner can’t be delayed beyond 5 PM at the latest. 

So here’s the metaphor for my life, I start out with these excellent intentions, I am going to dice the stick of butter and I get this whole stick of butter diced and I realize this seriously must’ve taken me 10 minutes. And I add this one stick of diced butter to my dry ingredients and I look at my watch and I think to myself, “that it’s 10 minutes of my life I will never get back.” Did it really take 10 minutes?? I don’t know but at first I wanted to say took 20, and I knew that was definitely not right, so I’m estimating, maybe it took four minutes but it seemed. like. it took. forever. So I look at that second stick of butter and I think well shit, do I really have to dice that second stick of butter that fine? My mind plays over how ridiculous this is, I decide I’m making an executive decision- I’m gonna get the shit done...  I look at the pastry blender and I think “I’m going to use that pastry blender to cut it all up into that dry mixture anyway so why the hell do I have to go through this excruciating dicing up a stick of butter. Nobody’s got time for that, I don’t have time for that, I love me some chicken pot pie but seriously I can do this better and I can do this faster.” So I literally slice the second stick of butter and throw it in the bowl and I look at that and I think to myself “man did I read that recipe and just take it too literally, or did the idiot who wrote this recipe really think it needed to be diced?” I grab my pastry blender, combine the ingredients in no time and I am moving ahead. Now granted the dough’s in the fridge chilling, at this point I have not actually rolled it out and I don’t know if it’s gonna work out. But what I do know in my head, is that I’m the kind of person who starts out wanting to do things “right“ and then after I think about it a little bit I realize that I have better things to do that I will find a way to do it my way which is generally quicker and more efficient and I get it done. 

This is a life skill. It’s an analytical skill. It’s a decision making skill and if you ask me it’s a leadership skill. I’m not tooting my own horn here, but it’s a skill that I’ve always had and I don’t know if I get it from my mom or my dad or from both of them but they have the ability to look at something and say “why are we doing it this way, when if we just did it this other way, it would take a lot less time and we would get the same and result or maybe even a better end result.” And there are a lot of people in life that don’t have that skill. There were people in life who are rule followers just because it’s the right thing to do. I don’t believe in following rules as much as I do believe in following the moral code, and being kind to other people, but always looking at something with a fresh pair of eyes and seeing if there’s a different way to do things.

I am two sticks of butter (there are definitely worse things to be) I started out trying to follow the rules and do as I was told and dicing things up into this perfect little cube, and then I thought “hell no. Life is short and I don’t have time for this.” The more I have lived life and the more kids I’ve had and the older I get I can look back and think of times that I wish I would have just done what I wanted and not what someone else expected. I live by a pretty strict moral code and I don’t ever let someone down on purpose. I juggle many Plates and I wear many hats and I try to do my very best. Society spends a lot of time telling us how we should do things. Society tells us how we should dress and how our house should look and they tell us what color her hair can be and whether not we can have tattoos or piercings. They tell us it’s not modest if you breast-feed in public and you’re crazy if you do cloth diapers. People think essential oils are voodoo and that having an interest in skills like canning and soap making are things for people who “have too much time on their hands.” I’ve been told I can’t work here unless I take my nose ring out. I’ve been told my skirt is too short when the same man hired me wearing that skirt... and the only reason the skirt looks too short is because the smock they gave me was two sizes too big and went clear past my knees, and made it look like I didn’t have any pants on! Some of those times I stood up for myself and some of those times I just followed the rules. As the working mom of a new baby, I was told by others what time I needed to be at dinner. I would get off work and rush to the daycare to pick up my daughter, rush home try to figure out how I was going to wash cloth diapers and wash and sanitize all of the breast pump parts and pack them up for the next day and still nurse the baby and be at dinner on time. I was a new mom and I let other people dictate how I was going to raise my child. I would literally have complete breakdowns and panic attacks over whether or not I could get to someone else’s dinner on time. I started seeing a counselor and the counselor told me that it was my life and I could do whatever I wanted. That was one of the most powerful revelations anyone has ever given me. When it came time to have our second child it was the thing that spurred me to become a stay at home mom. I knew that’s what I wanted, but every single EVERYTHING was telling me that I needed to go to work every day, even if I desperately missed my daughter, and that I needed to run around and try to be all of these places on someone else’s schedule. Everything everywhere was telling me that I should spend my entire paycheck on daycare and health insurance because that’s what everyone else does. When I realized that after having two kids it was actually going to cost me money to work, I knew that wasn’t the life I wanted. I could do without cable TV and new clothes and a whole lot of things just to be home with my kids and teach them, things like life skills. This is not a debate about whether it’s better to stay home or work. Everyone has different deep-seated personal thoughts and feelings about that decision and everyone is an individual person that has different needs. Growing up for me meant realizing that I could choose my own path. And even if that path was not perfect, and even if other people disagree with it, and even if it means making other people upset now and then because they don’t control me or my family, it’s important that I live and raise my kids the way that I want to. Nothing is more important than teaching my kids to be themselves and do what they want to do. Nothing is more important to me then embracing the silly, the goofy, the creative, the things that make you an individual. Nothing is more important than empowering my children to be themselves and to have self-confidence and did not take flak from other people. I believe it’s possible to care about others without caring about what others think. I believe it’s possible to follow a moral code and help others when ever possible without compromising your own sense of self. I believe I can be comfortable in my own skin, with my own body and my own size without needing to be diced into a tiny cube like everyone else. 

At the end of August I finally dyed my hair fantasy colors. When I was in high school, I used to spend lots of time coloring my hair (and my mom’s bathroom counter) with Kool-Aid. I’ve always loved bright colored hair but when I was younger I couldn’t hold down a job with colored hair. I mentioned before, I got my nose pierced when I was 17 and I often had to remove my nose ring for my job. My gift to myself for Mother’s Day after Marek was born was piercing my nose again. Something I always wanted but after a few years I had to take it out so that I could work. Something that the 17-year-old me got back again when she was 30. I’ve always wanted to have rainbow hair. I spent years talking myself out of it, Thinking about where I work or what group I volunteer with or what people I know who wouldn’t think it was proper. More and more people that I knew were starting to dye their hair colors and my daughter wanted to dye hers, and I thought, it’s my turn. I’m finally going to do whatever I want and I’m not going to worry. If an organization doesn’t want me as a volunteer because of the color of my hair, then I guess I wasn’t that important to them anyway. Actually what I found is a string of compliments from total strangers. Little girls who want to talk to me about how I chose the colors and what color they want their hair to be. A bonding experience for my daughter and myself as we spend a Saturday dying our hair and turning our own bathroom counters into splotchy purple and aquamarine artwork. Hopefully I’m teaching her at a young age that she can be who she wants to be. I don’t care if she has a mohawk or piercing or mermaid hair as long as she’s nice to other people and works hard for what she wants in life. 

Those two sticks of butter really got me thinking today. Life’s short. You do you.

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