Archive for September, 2013

September 29, 2013

The easiest chocolate topping ever!

Ever suddenly crave a bit of chocolate? Try this rich, creamy chocolate topping that you can whip up in about 10 minutes. You won’t need a candy thermometer or even a double boiler – it’s the easiest chocolate topping ever made from scratch! This sauce is liquid when it’s hot and soft, but firm at room temperature.

Rich, Creamy Chocolate Topping 

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1/2 cup sugar

1 tbsp salted butter

1 oz unsweetened baker’s chocolate, rough chopped

1/8 tsp salt

Place cream in skillet over low to medium low heat. Whisk in sugar until it dissolves. Add butter and keep stirring with whisk as you add the chocolate and allow it to melt. Let the mixture come to a boil. Whisk constantly keeping the thickening candy-sauce from sticking to the sides of the skillet. Cook for 5-8 minutes. The longer it cooks, the thicker it gets.

For a traditional treat, pour this smooth, rich, warm topping over strawberries or raspberries. Place the berries on a platter and pour the chocolate sauce over the ends for quick “dipped” berry effect. Once the chocolate has cooled, you’re ready to serve.

Enjoy combining contrasting bitter and sweet flavors? Arrange rectangular cubes of cold, medium yellow or sharp white cheddar cheese, approximately 1/4 inch thick and 2 – 2 1/2 inches long, on a serving dish and coat the bottom quarter of each with the chocolate sauce. Once the chocolate has cooled, it’s ready for a party.

chocolate sauce

Can’t decide if you’re craving salty or sweet? Drizzle the chocolate over some bite-size salty white corn tortilla chips and enjoy both in one bite. Take these to your next girlfriend get together and someone is sure to love you!

You can also top cupcakes, cereal bars, or banana splits with this decadent drizzle.

With its high sugar and fat content, I’d never recommend this for everyday consumption. On the other hand, it’s such a creamy rich delight that when you’re craving a bit of sweet or chocolate, you won’t have to eat much to feel satisfied.

What’s your favorite food to pair with chocolate? We’d love to give it a try!

Server card ad

 

September 22, 2013

One Step Toward Joy

The look of sheer joy on her face was priceless! My sister had just shot her first flying clay pigeon. It wasn’t the first time she shot a gun, or the first time she hit a target. It was the first time she let herself TRY to shoot a target that wasn’t stationary. Prior to yesterday, she referred to herself as the shooting challenged. She’d organize outings in the country for everyone to shoot, but limit herself to aiming at objects held by target holders.

Okay, before you get upset by the specifics of this post, please understand. We grew up on a farm in the South. Our father hunted quail on our farm. He taught us about gun safety because there were always guns in the house. In spite of this, neither of us ever shot a gun until we were adults. We were never included in the hunting because we were girls. Nonetheless, it feels perfectly normal to us to handle a 20 gauge or 12 gauge shotgun. We don’t have blood lust or killer instinct or a militant view about bearing arms. We’re just country girls who use guns the same way other athletes use a bat, a racquet, a golf club, or a hockey stick.

And guns and shooting really have nothing to do with the point of this post anyway. The point is derived from my observation of the joy of accomplishment I saw on my sister’s face and the process that led to that moment.

My sister just turned 43 and our cousin just turned 93. Both deserved a celebration, so yesterday Ben & I traveled a few hours to my mom’s house on the farm where I grew up. The weather was beautiful – clear, breezy, and about 70º. It was the perfect day to be outside.

Field

 

Thinking I was only joining my sister & her guests for a ride around the farm, I ended up at a makeshift shooting range carved out of the tall grass while Ben & I were making the drive. In the clearing, there was a basic target thrower, biodegradable targets, a single-shot 410 shotgun, a 12 gauge shotgun, and when we arrived 3 women, and one man. The competition began. When it was my sister’s turn, she easily broke some nearby stationary targets with the 410.

We switched to the 12 gauge. She was happy to shoot at the same target locations with this gun as well. I encouraged her to take a shot at a flying target. Her response was, “I can’t hit those. Haven’t you ever seen me try to hit a softball? It’s the same thing.” I’m not sure she’s tried to hit a softball in more than 20 years so I was struck by the statement. I pushed; she repeated that she couldn’t do it.

I recognized that she really believed what she was saying in spite of the fact that she’d never even TRIED. I took a few shots and missed on every single throw. I enticed her again to take a shot. As I reminded her, she couldn’t do any worse than I had just done. We started by having her leave the safety on and follow the target with the gun.

410On the first throw, she stood absolutely still. I assume she moved her eyes along with the movement of the bright orange disk, but her body did not move. It was almost as if she was frozen. I stepped in and gently reminded her that she would have to move her body along with her eyes for the sight on the gun to follow the target and I told her that I would give the “pull” command.

I said, “pull”. She followed the target’s movement with her upper body. One more time and she relaxed a bit. Now it was time to turn off the safety. Breathe, relax, follow, shoot. On the second round, she obliterated a target. It was a perfect shot. The look of joy and pride that washed across her was priceless!

And the effects lingered. She stood taller, excitedly told everybody when she got back to the house. And never again will she be able to say, “I can’t do that.” because she can, and she always could.

She had been preventing herself from the joy of experiencing the process by focusing on the end goal and projecting how bad she’d feel if she didn’t perform well. She imagined she’d feel the same way she felt on the softball field when she was a kid. This projection was preventing her from progressing from stationary to moving targets.

She couldn’t even see that there were steps in the process. She believed she had to pull the trigger as soon as she said, “pull”. This paralyzed her. She never realized she could just move her body in relation to the moving object or allow someone else to determine when the target was released. In fact, she was unable to see any options at all.

My sister is not alone. How often have you prevented yourself from joining a yoga class because you’re afraid you won’t be able to master every pose the first hour? How many times have you avoided a commitment to being gluten-free because you just can’t imagine NEVER eating another yeasty dinner roll?

However many times we choose the status quo rather than trying something different, we guarantee we’ll miss the sheer joy that can result from taking the first step in the process. Will every process result in joy? Maybe not immediately, but each step forward fills our internal bank with the courage, resilience, and confidence that makes the next step easier, and yes, I believe that ultimately it is the participating that brings us joy. And our joy brings others joy. Seeing that look on my sister’s face was my favorite moment of the day!

Have you ever experienced joy or exhilaration when you tried something you thought you couldn’t do? Would you encourage someone else to take that first step?

September 12, 2013

My Efficiency is Killing Me otherwise known as The Importance of Balance

My efficiency is killing me!

Huh? That’s a weird thought. Why did I have it, and what does it mean?

Doesn’t efficiency mean that I’m making the most progress in the least amount of time and with the least amount of effort? How can that be bad, much less deadly? Why do I keep feeling like it’s working against my long-term health?

Running two businesses and a household means my To Do list is long…always. I find that if I throw in a load of laundry and turn on the iron in the morning when I’m in the laundry room grabbing a towel for my shower, then I have saved myself two trips back to the laundry room. If I go to the post office before I go to my office, then I can get my bank deposit ready before a meeting that’s close to the bank. I’ve used less time, less gas, and done less driving. There’s no inherent problem with any of this. It allows me to move down the list quickly and be responsive to my customers. And, of course, the general premise is that I will be able to finish tasks quicker leaving more time for the fun, relaxation, and connection that improve my quality of life. But is that what’s really happening? Let’s take a look:

The problem comes when I finally recognize that I opted to finish 3 more emails, 4 purchase orders, and two more phone calls before I stopped for lunch, my lip is numb, my arm tingly, and I can’t think straight because my blood sugar has fallen. Other times, my bladder hurts because I’ve efficiently arranged my errands, but waited too long before trying to find a bathroom. My focus on being efficient in the moment is sometimes counterbalanced by my ineffectiveness later. It takes hours to fully recover from a severe sugar drop making everything I attempt in the meantime take longer and be more prone to error.

The focus that keeps my mind crunching on a computer problem until it’s solved or holds a task list in my head that’s more accurate than my written list also causes me to ignore my body’s signals. When I lead with my mind, my body and spirit often get out of balance. When I cannot clearly absorb the communication from my body and spirit, it becomes easier to make choices that are detrimental to my physical or emotional health. Even when I’m exhausted, I’ll may work late rather than take time to connect with a loved one. I’ll eat a carb heavy dinner like GF pizza or cereal and milk because it’s fast even though I know that I’ll have a headache and feel groggy the next morning…and all because I’m choosing to be efficient.

Family time

We face pressures in this fast-paced, accomplishment-focused culture that often pull us out of balance. We are then trained to believe that we can engage our intellect to conquer the resulting problems. Of course, these problems will not respond to intellectual cures. So we become more efficient, try harder, accomplish more and wonder why we don’t feel better.

Perhaps rather than suffer the detrimental effects of being efficient, I can focus more on just being…being present in the moment in body, mind, AND spirit. I know that it’s in this quiet balance that I find peace, strength, and healing. I know that it’s in such a state of being that thriving begins. Sounds like it should be as easy as relaxing, but it’s not easy for me. How about for you?

 

 

Image from freedigitalimages.com contributor Ambro

September 5, 2013

Is Gluten-Free Sexy?

Is gluten-free sexy? I like to think so. Now you can find out for yourself!

For those of you who are single, gluten-free, and looking for love, there’s a niche dating site that will let you explore the answer to this question. The site, GlutenFreeSingles.comTM, launched July 24, 2013.

Gluten Free Singles

So far, the membership seems to be skewed toward those under 40, but there is at least one member in her 70s and there seems to be a decent male to female ratio. Many of the early joiners appear to live on the West Coast of the US. A recent visit showed a membership of about 1400 – 1500, but I’m sure it’s growing every day so today these demographics may prove to be inaccurate.

Like the typical dating site, this one allows you to choose the type of relationship you want including “friends” which leads me to wonder why there’s not a whole different set of menus and searches within the site that would allow a woman to develop a community of single female gluten-free friends who are looking for love, but not looking to date other women. The search feature does allow you to view all members at the same time, both male and female, so I guess you can do the sorting on your own, I would just prefer a bit more robustness in the query options.

For those who are shy about disclosing dietary limitations or have encountered dates who are less than accommodating, this site will be sure to lessen some getting acquainted anxiety. It will also give you inherent common ground for conversation in the beginning. Of course, it won’t provide a guarantee that down the road you and a new match will automatically be on the same page regarding diet. Our individual personalities, sensibilities, and preferences remain alive and well even when we’ve given up gluten.

And that’s the exciting part. Even within a niche, the possibilities are endless. That feels good to me because I like lots of options. How about you? Do you like the idea of a gluten-free dating site? If so, let us know why.

 

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”