Friday, 12 September 2008
Bloom where you're planted
“And the day came when the risk (it took) to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
For years I resisted change because I was afraid that growth was always a painful process. I guess it had seemed that most of the lessons I had learned in life, and my opportunities to grow had always been accompanied with a lot of agro and misery. It suddenly occurred to me though that in resisting change and growth, I was also wasting a lot of time, creative energy and emotion. Things that could be better spent on other things.
Why does change come with such difficulty? Why do we allow ourselves to become stuck in ruts? I think the greatest stumbling block to freeing ourselves from these chains is fear. Fear of change, fear of stepping out into the unknown, fear of judgement, fear of failure . . . In giving in to our fear I think we fail ourselves. I think we prevent ourselves from becoming and being the best that we can be. The whole reason for our presence here on earth is to grow and stretch, and to become the best that we can be. We cannot do that without expanding our boundaries.
There is a scripture that says that in our weakness we are made strong. Who has not heard the story of the old man and the butterfly. An old man was once watching a butterfly struggle to emerge from it’s cocoon. As he watched it struggle frantically in it’s cocoon to free itself, he began to feel sorry for it. It was working so hard, and seemingly getting nowhere. He thought to help it a bit by taking a pair of scissors and cutting it free. When he had done, so the butterfly lay there limp and unable to fly. In his eagerness to help, the man had missed the great secret to a butterfly’s strength, for it is in the struggle to free itself from the cocoon that the butterfly strengthens it’s wings enough to be able to actually fly.
And so it is with life. It is through the struggles and the agonies we suffer that we too are made strong and beautiful. It is in the growth that we learn and evolve and become what we were truly sent here to become. Change is not always bad. We need to exercise our wings and break free from our cocoons. It truly is a good thing.
It's not too late in the year to do this . . . yet, if you can, try to find one perfect rosebud in your garden or at a flower shop, if need be. Pick it and place it in a small vase on your desk or night table. Watch it bloom. “Each blade of grass has it’s Angel that bends over it and whispers, “Grow, grow.”’ We are likewise blessed. Let us listen to it’s voice and bloom where we are planted.
Over here in the UK, friday nights is fish and chips night. All over the country, in each and every town and city you will find little shops called Chippies. These little shops don't only sell fish and chips. They also sell burgers, pies, sausages, kebabs, etc. For the most part you can't eat in them. They consist of a long counter with a glass window that you can look through and see the finished chips, fish and other foods ( for the most part high in calories and fat!) and you queue up in front of that counter and wait your turn to be able to put your order in. The worker will scoop out a large portion of chips onto several sheets of clean newsprint, and then place a nice lovely big piece of battered fish on top of them. "Do you want salt and vinegar?" will be the next question, and then, if you say yes, salt and lovely malt vinegar will be liberally sprinkled over all. It then gets wrapped up tightly and handed over the counter as you hand over your money. When I first came over here, some 8 years ago, you could get a lovely huge piece of fish and a portion of chips for less than 3 pounds. It's somewhat doubled in price since then.
On Friday night, the queue for the chippie will oft times go right out the doorway and on to the street, so you want to make sure you get there early if you don't want to wait overly long! I have solved the problem of both queuing and exorbitant price . . . once in a while, I treat us and I make our own . . .
Originally the batter on fish was only added to help protect the fish, and keep it moist during cooking. A few hundred years ago the batter would be broken off and discarded before eating the fish. I cannot imagine throwing away the batter on my fish, it's one of the best parts. This batter is exceptional, crisp and light and encasing (when properly cooked) delicious and moist fish. I cut my fish into smaller pieces for ease of handling.
cooking oil for frying
1 cup flour plus 1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg, beaten to mix
1 cup of beer
2 pounds of white fish fillets (cod, hake or haddock)
(Cut into pieces around 1 1/2 by 3 inches)
Heat the oven to about 120*C/250*F. Cover a cookie sheet with paper towels and top with a wire rack. Place in the oven.
Heat about 3" of oil to approximately 365° in a medium sized pot.
Meanwhile, mix the 1 cup of flour with the salt in bowl. Whisk in egg to combine, and then slowly add the beer, whisking continually.
Place another wire rack over some wax paper on the counter. Coat the pieces of fish lightly with flour, shaking off any excess, then dip then into the batter, coating them well. Place them on the wire rack on the counter to dry. If I have enough batter, I will dip them again once the first coating of batter dries, just prior to cooking.
Place fish pieces, two at a time into the hot oil. Cook until the fish is done and the crust is lightly golden, about 4 minutes for 3/4-inch thick fillets. Remove the cooked fish with a slotted spoon and keep warm in the oven over the wire rack, while you cook the remainder of the fish. Repeat until all your fish is cooked.
Serve hot with chips and tartar sauce. (I usually make my own oven chips by slicing some baking potatoes into wedges, with the skins still on, and tossing them together with some cooking oil and salt and pepper. I then bake them in a very hot oven for about 20 minutes until nicely browned and crisp. You can then turn the temperature down on the oven and keep them warm, along with your fish as it cooks)
*Horseradish Tartar Sauce*
Makes approx 4 servings
Once you taste this you'll never eat tartar sauce from a squeeze bottle or jar again. This is the best.
1 stalk of celery, chopped fine
2 TBS finely chopped cornichons
1 TBS prepared horseradish
2 TBS coarsely chopped flat leaf parsley
1/2 tsp dry mustard powder
6 TBS good quality mayonnaise
1 tsp lemon juice
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl, mixing well together. Serve with fish. If not using right away, cover and chill in the refrigerator. I always like to make this a few hours ahead of time in order for the flavours to really meld well together.