I quit my job and went to Italy

I haven’t blogged in a while.

I’ve been pre-occupied for most of 2014…with deciding how and when to quit my job.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this.

But I did it…and I am free of the insurmountable amount of stress I was experiencing.

Six years ago I started to make plans to go to Italy.  Here’s the proof.

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Quitting my job and planning for Italy all happened in six weeks.

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Over the past year, I kept reading about fear, taking chances, freeing oneself from obstacles, being true to yourself, being closer to God, being more spiritual, and living the life you want. Reading the stories and tributes brought tears to my eyes. I knew I needed to make a change but felt stuck.

the cinque terre trail w/Bob

With the support of my dear husband, Bob, I was able to move forward.  My journey is told in what moved me in the pictures below.

Santa Maria Novella Church Florence

The beauty art and loving God.

the road less traveled

The trails.

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The pathways

stairs in Vernazza tower

The stairwells

doors in Vernazza

The doors

laundry in Volterra

The windows and clean laundry

bicycle in lucca

The ride

riding a bike in Lucca

The ride on cobblestone streets.

locks on the cinque terre trail

Locks of love.

view from Hotel Pasquale

The beauty of nature from my window.

If you are reading this and you’re stuck in your life: keep the faith, read, learn about yourself, pray, meditate, connect with colleagues and friends, and listen to life stories.

Keep Calm and Dream Big

Fear

Foreboding thoughts as I near the scale

Energetic efforts of yesterday brings hope

Angst fills me, the line creeps higher

Rue the day I hit fifty, its been a standstill since then, Argh!

the scale

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Trifecta

This was written for the Trifecta weekend challenge, which was to write exactly 33 words on FEAR and I made an acronym into a poem.  I have struggled with many fears my whole life. I have yet to overcome the fear of the scale.

Click on the tricycle to direct you to the Trifecta Blog website.

http://www.trifectawritingchallenge.com

Liebster Blog Award

Virginia Views was so kind to nominate The Fearless Cooking Club for the Liebster Blog Award.

She requested that we answer the following questions for her chosen bloggers

1)    If you could go anywhere in the world and stay for a month, where would you choose to go?

Australia because our son just moved there. Second choice would be Europe because I have never been there.

2)    What is your hobby?

Baking.

3)    What was your childhood dream?

To be a singer and a nurse. The nurse won out.

4)    What was the best gift you ever received?

A Christmas ornament, a fishing reel and a marriage proposal as one gift December 1985.

5)    What is your favorite movie?

Something’s Gotta Give, Wizard of Oz and Pride and Prejudice. If these movies are on TV I stop everything to watch them.

6)    Who is the person who inspired you the most?

I have been inspired by strong women: my three aunts – my father’s sisters and my nursing instructors. My aunts were all different- one never married but was the matriarch of the family; one married, had a family had a strong faith and I am her spitting image; and one had a professional career when it was rare for women to have one, married late in life and is the wise sage of the family.

My nursing instructors showed me how to be a caring person, be a strong woman leader and to face your fears.

7)    What is your favorite dessert?

Pure dark chocolate with orange square.

8)    What is your favorite quote?

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion it has taken place.” George Bernard Shaw

This quote ends all my email messages at work. Work email is where messages can be promoted to help a project move forward, but also be misinterpreted and cause rifts in team building. I pride myself in speaking the truth and keeping communication lines open.

9)    What do you do for relaxation?

Take a bubble bath.

10) What is your favorite remembered scent/smell from childhood?

Snickerdoodles baking

11) If you could be a character in a book, who would you choose to be?

This is tough because I really enjoy biographies of real people. Probably Julia Child because her life was so interesting. She serve in WWII where she met her husband Paul, she traveled the world, she learned to cook when women didn’t become chefs, and she was a late bloomer.

Thanks again for the nomination in the month of giving thanks 🙂

 

Parents are just people

Turner Classic Movies showed Splendor in the Grass the 1961 classic with Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty last night. I sat down and watched the whole movie. I was riveted to the tale of two teenagers who fall in love during Roaring Twenties and advent of the Stock Market crash. The financial state of the country from riches to rags and recovery mirrored the tale of these two sweethearts.

The couple, Bud and Deanie, are faced with how the fairy tale of  love fades and how heartbreak changes them. Deanie experiences an emotional breakdown when she and Bud are no longer a couple. It is uncomfortable for her friends and parents to witness and accept. Her mother nearly breaks down when the experts say that her daughter needs professional help. Mrs Loomis can’t believe that what is troubling her daughter can’t be fixed at home.

Near the end of the film, Deanie is speaking with her psychiatrist about whether she can handle seeing her parents again. On a previous visit her mother talked incessantly abouting wanting her little girl back home again. Deanie acknowledged she was not that little girl anymore. The psychiatrist then uttered, “Parents are just people”.  And that was the phrase that hit me smack in the eye.

I am almost an empty nester.  I haven’t been able to put my thoughts into words until I saw that movie last night. My son graduated from college a week ago. His growth into adulthood has been painful for the entire family. He has struggled with every part of studying, taking tests, caring for himself, and social relationships.  But he had grown in many aspects of his academia. 

He lived in the dorms and an apartment the first two years of college and then moved back home the last two. I didn’t want to be the bitch of a mother, but I was. I set my boundaries that he needed to do basic things to be living with his parents in our house. He rarely accomplished taking a shower using the soap; he never brushed his teeth; and rarely did his laundry. He was loud and brash, playing his video games late into the night  just a door away from our bedroom. His mantra to me was, “Whatever you tell me to do I am going to do the opposite”.

He will be moving within a week to start his new job in the next state and six hours away. He hasn’t written his thank you cards and he hasn’t made a “To Do” list. He has celebrated his graduation by lounging around and doing nothing for the past week. I don’t want to be the bitchy parent anymore. I have advised him of my boundaries. I am available until Friday and he will need to make an appointment if he needs my help before leaving. I am planning on going to a hotel or to my friend’s house for the weekend while he packs up.  I am not going to be yelled at because he can’t find anything. I refuse to have the expectation of helping him when he waits until the last minute to throw everything together.

No parent wishes to see their child struggle. It is innate to want to prevent the pain.  I don’t have super powers to make everything right anymore, because my son has not practiced his coping skills. I think my son has been mad at me because I don’t want to take care of him any more. He does a lousy job of taking care of himself. My daughter told me that I have done everything to try and teach him but he didn’t want to do it.

But parents are just people. The last several months I have tried to accept my son for who he is. Hot mess and all, it has been hard for me. I asked him to accept me for who I am. I, like him, want to be respected and loved just like everyone on the planet. And children grow up and they are just people too.  Best wishes to you my son.

Tres Leches Cake…The Fearless Cook bakes

I was in Super Walmart a couple of weeks ago, picking up odds and ends. I wandered over to the baking aisle and this cake mix caught my eye.  Tres Leches cake. I had only heard of it a couple of years ago when at a graduation party. Living in the Western U.S. for the past 25 years I have embraced the food, faith and history of the Latino-Mexican culture.  With Cinco de Mayo just a day away, I had to give it a try.

It has an interesting, but conflicting origin to its history. Many references remark that it gained popularity in Latin America as a recipe on the side of the sweetened condense milk and evaporated milk can. Other references site it’s origins to Nicaragua, Guatemala, Cuba, Puerto Rico and Mexico. 

It is a sponge cake. A regular baked cake, saturated with milky goodness – three milks to be exact. Evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk and whipping cream.

So, following the recipe is standard: yellow cake mix (1/4 C flour added for high altitude baking) eggs and water. Mix and pour into a 13 x 9 inch greased and floured baking pan. Bake then cool for 10 minutes.

Because I was following a cake mix, it called for 3 1/2 C milk that were mixed with a packet of powdered milk that turned into a syrup.

Poke holes in the cake about 1/2 inch apart. Then pour all that milk until the cake has soaked up every last bit of it.

Frost with whipped cream. Then decorate with fruit of any kind.

What did the Fearless Cook learn?

Lesson #1

After searching several websites I looked for an authentic recipe. I found the What’s Cooking America website to give a little history and a scratch recipe.  http://whatscookingamerica.net/History/Cakes/TresLechesCake.htm    The website was very helpful as the cake mix didn’t give a lot of direction on how to frost, decorate or serve the cake. I could easily have made this cake from scratch, but then I wouldn’t have gotten my post up for Cinco de Mayo!

Lesson #2

I was amazed at how milky it really was and the cake didn’t fall apart! I even drained off some of the milk as it overly saturated. And it was delicious. My husband wanted pie on Sunday night, so I bought him a pie and I made this cake. He skipped the pie and had two servings of the cake!

Lesson #3

One website showed a beautiful two layered Tres Leches cake. The “easy” recipe they touted was to bake two yellow cakes in 8″ round pans, stack together, poke holes through the cake and then pour the three milks in to soak. I don’t know how they got that cake to stand alone with all the milk in it and then whipped cream frosting and decorated. Oh well I guess I’ll have to give it a try.

Tener un gran día!

The Fearless Cook is sick of Italian Chicken

 The fourth Italian Chicken dish I challenged myself to make is Chicken Cacciatore. It is a traditional, country-type Italian stew with cut-up chicken pieces, garlic, wine and leftover vegetables.
 
 
Take 6-8 bone-in chicken thighs with skins on and braise with olive oil in a Dutch oven on the stove top. After braising for 5 minutes on each side, set aside and remove the skin. Remove all but 1 TBSP of oil from the Dutch oven.
 
 
For the sauce, saute one minced onion, 1 tsp salt, 4 minced garlic and 6 oz of diced portabello mushrooms until soft.
 
 

Add 1/2 C chicken broth, 14 oz can diced tomatoes, 1 1/2 C dry red wine, 1 TBSP flour. After cooking over medium heat bring to a simmer and add 1 tsp thyme,  1 tsp ground sage, and the rind of parmesan cheese.

Add all the chicken pieces into the stew, then place in a 300 degree oven for 30-40 minutes until the chicken is completely cooked. Remove the parmesan rind before serving. Pour the sauce over the chicken pieces and serve with a side of  fettucini or egg noodles.

What did the Fearless Cook learn?

Lesson #1

I don’t like red wine with chicken. It made the chicken meat red and such an unappealing color. The Chicken Marsala – my first Italian Chicken- was a little better because the chicken didn’t soak in the wine and tomato sauce. I took six pictures of the finished product and they all looked slimy and odd. I saved your eyes from viewing it.

Lesson #2

 The sauce was excellent, tasting like Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon. It just didn’t go with the chicken. I wanted to eat that sauce with some beef. The recipe mentioned an alternative way to making the dish substituting white for red wine, white for portabello mushrooms and tarrogon for the thyme. Maybe I would’ve like it better with white wine, but I doubt it.

Lesson #3

I was so organized making this dish. I read the recipe in advance, prepped all the ingredients, and worked through each step smoothly. But I doubt if I’ll ever make this dish again.

Italian Chicken Finale

I have a little bit of pride completing this challenge.  I have plenty of tasks on my plate these days (pun intended), but I remained focused, despite the craziness swirling around me.  Ta dah!

Ranking the Italian Chickens

Most Favorite?  Chicken Piccata – I loved the lemon and capers. Easy and light dish.

Family Favorite? Chicken Parmesan – It was so popular I made it twice during this challenge.

Least Favorite? Chicken Cacciatore – Are you surprised?