There isn't anything wrong with improvement, kicking a bad habit, tackling some elusive new challenge, or throwing away all those mismatched socks in the house...but maybe perhaps just not all at the same time. I admit I have at times tried to bite off more than I could chew, thinking I can add just one more thing, taking things to the "next level" (Confession, I recently purchased everything needed to teach myself calligraphy..it's still sitting untouched). But I've come to the realization, I just can't do it all. I admire those people who can do it all (although I'm not exactly sure I've met them personally) but if their out there and hey if your one of them then "well done".
Somewhere along the way my identity has been linked in an unhealthy way with accomplishment and her mean and actually kinda bossy step-sister approval. "Honestly who doesn't want to be more awesome?" they keep telling me. "You, just need to do more...write more, Instagram more, cook more, work out more, make more money, cure cancer, stop world hunger..." this list could go on. This confession is probably more for me than you, because it reminds me that this life is actually challenging and sometimes I am good at it and sometimes not so good. But most assuredly I know that when I feel most confident in what I see as success or even failure God will still love me, His love is not conditional on my performance. Thank You Lord!
If your anything like me and you begin to feel the pressure towards "AWESOMENESS" and believing the lie that "It's easy, you just have to be very, very good at everything, is that so hard?" know that it's time to get quiet and to tell those voices to take a "time out!"
When I get quiet, and when I listen to God's very still small voice in my heart, and pay attention to what makes me feel alive, joyful, and in my place (as opposed to displaced) it almost never revolves around being awesome.
it looks more like being present.
caring for my family.
being there for my friends.
being in my kitchen.
No one would see me in these places and say "she is really being awesome at chopping that onion." My happiest, best moments are beautiful and meaningful and life-giving but none of them require a high level of achievement.
What's interesting is that when I spend time and effort toward being more awesome at All The Things, it doesn't even deliver. Because there is always another level of success, another phase of accomplishment to reach for, another person still "ahead" of me, another mountain to climb.
Meanwhile, there are these other things, these people and quiet places and loved ones and laughter, and at it's best, the level I need to maintain for them is average, yet they bring great happiness. These things won't end up on a resume, but they put me at peace. There are these other things, and none of them will impress in the slightest, but they bring me home to myself and to Jesus.
For those of you who don't get sucked into the terror of Being More Awesome, God bless and please keep reminding us panicky, paranoid types that ALL WILL BE WELL AND JUST RELAX AND BREATHE. For those of you who can relate to what I'm sayin', let's just say among ourselves that we will silence the bossy, mean voices telling us to BE MORE AWESOME and instead we will obey other nudges, the ones that lead us to love and life and peace and generosity and God and people and rest and gratitude.
If you need a little quiet, and stillness, maybe it's time to go small. Listen to God and see where He tells you to go and say YES, even if that place turns out to be your own kitchen, or porch, or your own people, because sometimes the best journeys are the short ones.
If you need a little nudge in this area here is your chance to get into the kitchen and spend some quiet moments creating a perfect dish. A low and slow amazingly delicious Short Rib Ragu, dare I say those who taste it will probably think your "awesome".-s
An Awesome Short Rib Ragu with an equally awesome soft parmigiano polenta
5-6 pounds bone-in short ribs
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 Tbsp tomato paste (I like to use the kind in the tube)
1 tbsp. anchovy paste (don't omit this even if you think it's gross)
1/2 bottle bold red (I like using a Cabernet)
14 ounces whole tomatoes in juice
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
3-4 dashes Worcestershire sauce
1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
1 bouquet garni of fresh thyme, oregano and rosemary, 2 bay leaves (a bouquet garni is a few sprigs of each herb wrapped in a little bundle tied with cooking twine)
chicken stock (approx. 4 cups)
chopped fresh parsley, garnish
soft parmigiano polenta
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups water
1 bay leaf
1 cup long cooking polenta
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano
1/4 cup mascarpone cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Soak dried mushrooms in 2 cups boiling water.
Season both sides of the short ribs with salt and pepper. Heat a heavy, large pot over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add the olive oil and the short ribs (do not crowd) and sear them on all sides; don't worry about cooking the short ribs completely, you just want a nice deep brown color on all sides. Take the short ribs out of the pan and set aside. Add the onion, carrots, and celery and cook until soft. Add garlic and stir until fragrant.
Add the tomato paste, anchovy paste and stir vigorously until caramelized, about 2-3 minutes. Then add red wine to deglaze the pan and cook until the liquid is reduced by half. Add tomatoes, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, mushrooms and soaking liquid (minus the last 1/4 inch to keep sediment out of the pot), plus the bouqet garni.
Add ribs to pot and fill with chicken stock until ribs are nearly covered. Bring liquid to a boil, then cover tightly and braise in the oven for at least 3 hours or until the ribs are fall-apart tender.
Remove ribs from the liquid and set aside until cool enough to handle. Remove bay leaves and discard. While ribs cool, puree the braising liquid with an immersion blender (or in batches in a blender, take care not to fill more than half-way, for risk of it going all over you and the kitchen). Set over medium-low heat to reduce if the sauce seems thin. When the ribs have cooled down, discard bones and large pieces of fat, then shred the beef and return it to the pot. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature, skimming any large pools of fat from the surface.
Refrigerate overnight. The next day, remove additional fat from the surface before reheating. Serve over polenta, and top with chopped parsley.
Soft Parmigiano Polenta
In a medium size saucepan, bring the milk, water and bay leaf to a boil. Season generously with salt. When it has reached a boil, slowly whisk in the polenta in small sprinkles. Once all the polenta has been incorporated, reduce heat to medium and immediately switch over to stirring with a wooden spoon. Cook the polenta for 30 to 40 minutes, adding water if the polenta becomes too thick to loosen it up.
When the polenta is thoroughly cooked, it should look creamy but not feel gritty on your tongue. Remove it from the heat and stir in the Parmigiano and mascarpone. Serve it immediately, or place a sheet of plastic wrap right on the surface of the polenta to prevent a skin from forming on the top.
To reheat: Add a little water to the polenta and heat over low to medium heat stirring constantly to prevent burning.