the blessings of friends

I had an amazing day today shared with my good friend Heather.  A trip to Stratford for a shop and lunch.  We never know what sort of trouble we will get into as we let the day unfold.  Growing up, my mother once said to me that she never worried about us (my brothers and I) when we went out, because she liked our friends.  What she implied was that You know your children by the friends they keep. 

It would appear on paper that I am most awesome because of the friends I keep:)…like a good pair of shoes that make jeans look good, I look better because of the quality of friends I have.  I like the fact that I don’t have an army of friends, but a handful that have my back.  They are gifted, intelligent, funny, dedicated and beautiful.  They also love me, and for that I am grateful.  It can be weeks, months or years between our visits and we immediately fall into our rhythms of stories, laughter and sometimes, tears.

Heather and I had a couple of teary moments today, which were really quite lovely.  There exists such beauty between friends that have known each other for a long time.  Heather has always had my back.  When I was going through a tough time a couple of years ago, after the explosion, it was Heather that answered my SOS.  There wasn’t even a pause from her, when I asked her to spend a couple of days away with me at our chalet.  That weekend was pivotal in my healing.  One friend, pulling the other up.

I am writing this blog because of two people: my doctor and Heather.  I have a head injury that I am still recovering from and writing helps on many levels.  So I took the advice of my doctor to write, and the advice of Heather to blog.  It takes me a couple of hours to write this short blog, not because I don’t know what I want to say, but that it takes a while for me to be able to get it from my head to my fingertips to the screen.

I have memory problems sometimes (last night I didn’t know where my cutlery drawer was), and I may use an incorrect word…or stop mid thought, forgetting where I am.  Here is the beauty of being vulnerable, and it only happens if you are with the right people:

It is one of the blessings of old friends, that you can afford to be stupid with them.
–Ralph Waldo Emerson

So here’s to all those friends out there that let each other be stupid:)

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friends, souflees and grace

When we moved back into our home after the explosion,  the first people that we invited out were our dear friends Scott and Mary Jo.  I was still not in the best of shape, but wanted to bring some normalcy to our lives and much needed laughs.  I wanted our dinner to be special, so I chose one of my all-time favorite recipes; “Twice Baked goats cheese Souflee”.  I served it on top of a bed of fresh greens with a simple vinaigrette.  It takes no more that 15 minutes to prepare and it is a winner.  Chef Chris Squire of London developed this one.  I have included a “post-script” at the end of this post to sum up the evenings blessings.

2 TBSP unsalted butter
4 TBSP hazelnuts, finely chopped

5 TBSP bread crumbs
3 TBSP all purpose flour
2/3 cup milk
2 egg yolks
1/2 pound chevre
salt and pepper to taste
8 egg whites
1TBSP lemon juice

1. Butter eight ramikens
2. Combine the finely chopped(or grind them) hazelnuts with the bread crumbs and coat the ramikens
3. Melt the butter in a saucepan.  Add the flour to make a roux(thickening agent) and cook for 2 minutes.   Add the milk and whisk to combine.
4.Remove the mixture from the heat and beat in the egg yolks…it will take on a nice glossy sheen

5.Add 3/4 of the cheese mixture and season with salt and pepper

6.Beat the egg whites with the lemon juice and gently fold into the mixture.
7.Half fill the ramikens.  Sprinkle the remaining goats cheese over the mixture.  Cover with the remaining souflee mixture.

8.Bake in bain marie(hot water bath) at 375 for 10-15 min…until risen and a light brown top forms.  Remove from oven, cool and un-mold….just take your time, use a knife to loosen and spatula to lift out.
9. You can either refrigerate to use the next day or, pop back in the oven and cook for another 5 minutes..it will rise again in the oven.  Serve on a bed of greens.  Enjoy!

Substitutions: you can substitute almonds for hazelnuts and other cheese like blue or cheddar.  This recipe is best served as a light lunch.  For dinner I like to serve it with grilled lemon chicken.

GRACE
We had a great dinner with Scott and Mary Jo, but it never occurred to me to offer anything else to eat; there were no hors d’oeuvres, nothing to accompany the soufflees!  Not even any dessert!  Many months later,  as my brain started re-booting, I realized that they certainly would have gone home hungry. Grace, that night, our hands held and heads bowed, delivered not so much for the food before us, though that is always a blessing; but Grace, that night, revealed by the presence of our friends.