When the temperatures begin a tumble, which doesn't happen nearly enough here in Texas, I bring out my Dutch oven. Is there another piece of equipment that so clearly speaks comfort? I think not.
A Dutch oven is a cast iron roaster, The high-end ones are pricey, Le Creuset being a leader. I purchased mine at World Market for a fraction of the price. If you don't have one, any roasting pan will suffice.
On the weekends, when time is no issue, the braise may begin early in the day. Aromas tease and tempt for hours until we gather. During the week, we need something a little faster. Something that takes less time to prepare.
I've recently discovered a weekday alternative to a Sunday Roast Chicken. All the love and half the time: chicken splits. Maybe I am late to the game on this, but with some quick prep in the morning, you won't be late getting dinner on the table. Chicken splits are just as the name indicates: a chicken split in half. One breast, one thigh, one leg, one wing. Cutting the roast in half does the same for the cook time.
Here's what I do:
1) Prep root vegetables. I use carrots, parsnips, potatoes. Sometimes turnips. A quick peel and chop.
2) Slice onion, shallot, leeks, whatever you have.
3) Herbs-dried or fresh. I use an Herbs de Provence blend which can be purchased in bulk as a mix and is great with poultry, If you don't have it, use what you do have: tarragon, thyme, sage, parsley, marjoram, rosemary, lavender.
4) Toss veg and onion with a dash of lemon oil (or olive) and herbs, salt, pepper. Place in Dutch oven.
5) Season chicken splits with herbs, salt and pepper, baste with a bit more oil.. Set on top of veggies.
That's it. Now, if you have these, great, if not, no sweat. But, a few preserved lemons on top of the chicken knocks it over the top. Or slice fresh lemon. that works too. You could do it with Italian herbs and add tomatoes, oregano and olives, whatever you have and are in the mood for. That's the beauty of it. Quick, creative, and comforting.
When you're ready to bake, do so at 350 for about an hour or until internal temperature reaches 165. That will vary depending on the size. I roast with the lid off to get a nice golden skin on the chicken.
What are your go-to mid-week recipes for comfort?
I used to scoff at the term "empath." I didn't take it seriously. It felt airy, like something you couldn't measure (which, at the time, was unacceptable to the scientist in me).
The word is complicated. For many, it describes the experience of being a live wire: not having insulation between ones' own nervous system and those around you. As though the electricity pulsing down every nerve's dendrite could span the space between us and jump from one body to the next.
As I'm learning as I age, the things we scoff at often end up being more true than we'd ever guess.
This is a dangerous time for empaths. The word is alive with electricity. I can almost hear the hum in the air as I walk in a crowd. Our poor little nervous systems are turned on high and in full on fight/flight mode right now across the board. For those of us sensitive to that feeling in others, the experience of being in the world right now -- or our own offices -- is exhausting.
As an empath, your very being is like a river running. As you move, you collect things here and there. You gather them into you, they become a part of you for a while, until you find a place to lay them down.
You can dam the river to stop the collection, but then all that happens is what has been gathered sits, rots, and pollutes your being. Eventually, the dam breaks, and you are in worse straits than before.
The river can run faster, trying to outpace it all, but it only erodes the soil faster, pulling in more and more filth at a pace too fast to manage.
A river flows. It collects pieces of the world which may change it. It holds those pieces until it is time to lay them down.
So it is for the sensitive souls of this world. The empaths. The feelers. The Highly Sensitive People. The counselors. The healers. We must honor what we are. We must move slowly enough to care for ourselves; to have time to put down that which doesn't serve us.
In this time of such intensity, we must intentionally set aside time to care for ourselves. You must be intentional about who you are around -- what you pick up -- so that there is enough of you left for the next encounter, the next day, the next person.
I never claimed the name of empath before: I do now.
Lay down and rest. Gather up your strength. Surround yourself with love.
Honor yourself. You hold the world in you.
You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.
Stop now. Don't overthink it.
Who do you spend the most time with? Five people. Go.
Paint me a portrait of them. What do you admire about them? What do you loathe? What do you love? What do you dislike?
If you put them around you in a circle and tied a string from you to each one that represented a quality of theirs. Would you like those connections? Would the strings that bring you strength outweight those that weigh you down?
I first heard this quote in the context of exercise... your exercise regimen is related to that of those you hang out with.
Then I heard it in relation to drug resitivism. Get out clean, go home to druggie friends, end up a druggie friend.
We are who we associate with.
Stop now. Don't over think it.
What qualities do you want to be known for?
Who has those qualities?
How can you spend more time with those people?
We have to be intentional to become who we want to be. At some point in life it isn't about what courses we take, what degrees we have, what we do. At some point it's about how we live, who we are, who we choose to be.
Who do you choose to be? Do you have the community you need to be that person?
I'm lucky. I've intentionally created a community around me of amazing people. I was lucky early on to have good, wonderful friends around me who spread love, and humor, and strength. I held that in my heart as I went to college and then grad school and then graduated.
As an entreprenuer and business owner, I choose who I am around.
I can never give that up now that I've tasted it. I have amazing, bautiful people around me. An intentional community made up of those within my company at Launch Wellness and thse without. I am grateful every day for these people.
The best part? Good people are everywhere. You just have to seek them out. Let go of your fear of rejection, or your worry about perception, and introduce yourself. Say "hello." Drop them an email telling them what you like about them. Open your heart and amazing things will happen.
Pretty soon you'll be amazed by what surrounds you.
Pretty soon you'll be amazed by who you can become.
There is no better time to get out and enjoy the Texas Hill country than the spring. Winding along back roads and taking in the quilt of color in the fields, picnics under the oaks, a quick dip in the stream. Just west of Austin you can take in all of these pleasures and more. dotting 290, you'll not only find fields of red, yellow, and blue, you can find red, white, and pink. Wine, that is.
One of my favorite areas to visit is just west of Johnson City in Hye. There you'll find some of the best wines being made in Texas. Because they are growing in popularity, many tasting rooms are requiring reservations on the weekends. Many have live music, food for purchase, and plenty of room to relax.
Maybe you are making a spontaneous trip west or don't feel like packing any refreshments. Stop at Hye Market for one of their sandwiches or an bottle to bring home. In Hye, you'll find:
William Chris- While there make sure to try the Mourvedre and Enchante and sit in the oak grove for a spectacular sunset.
Lewis Cellars- Making wine well beyond his years, Doug Lewis is making beautiful whites and Rosé. Swimspot is a lighter style refreshment on a hot day.
Yates - Ron Yates has made wine for Spicewood for years before launching his own boutique line. I was impressed by all I tried at the opening.
Calais Winery- Hailing from his namesake in France, Benjamin Calais makes no fuss about the tasting room. He built it himself into the hill to make it as green as possible. But don't let that fool you. The wine is of the highest caliber. A great tasting experience.
Compass Rose Cellars- For views and a killer brunch, head to Compass Rose for bottomless mimosas in a low-key friendly atmosphere.
Zero 815 - The newest member of the Hye family. I've yet to try the wine, so let me know what you think.
Hye Meadow Winery- They are pouring wines from various regions with catchy names and a fantastic patio. Room for the kids to run.
Whether you begin your day with a tasting class or end it under the stars, be sure to say hello to Daniel Kelada at Vinovium Partners. They are négociants offering courses, keg wines, family events, and help planning your day in the Hill Country.