I feel like I’ve only just gotten used to writing “2013” in the blank line next to the word “date” on any given paper requiring one. Where has the year gone? I have a mixed bag of emotions on this, as on one hand, I look at the upcoming year as a completely blank slate, ready and willing to receive me and whatever new growth will accompany; yet on the other hand, if I’m to be honest, I feel like I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of where I was hoping to be, what I was hoping to be doing, etc., etc., in regards to this almost-over year at hand. Forgive me for sounding a little melancholy; I really don’t mean to be. While my heart is excited at the prospects that the upcoming year holds, it also mourns that the story is over for this one, and it’s taking a sweet second for the introspection to turn into optimistic wishes for the new year that is just about at hand. But the wishes are there. And though in a way I feel like I’m bidding adieu to those things that I had seemingly just gotten familiar with in 2013, as if some death has occurred, 2014 will be the perfect space in which to continue to cultivate my hunger for a continuously renewed life — a life that is conducive to gaining wisdom, a life full of vulnerability, and one of exploration of who I was meant to grow into one day. And that is the meaning of what it is to live, and so I open my eyes widely and look ahead.
Courage is the quality that I am most hopeful for in the new year. It is at the bases of everything that any of us do of any real meaning; it is the foundational core of any connection, or any display of compassion — of any sharing — that any of us chose to endeavor upon. I also long to be more vulnerable, more honest, to share what is happening in the moment, and to find a way to communicate that even more clearly. Another of my desires is to continue learning what it means to be a good “guest” at this table of life and let God be the host. Life is a banquet after all, isn’t it? We must take the bitter dishes with the sweet. And finally, I hope to continue to strive to become the person that I, myself, admire, and to be a contributor to the light that gives life. Those are my desires for this next year. A tall order that I suspect I’ll only begin to scratch the surface of in this upcoming year, once again, with some divine luck.
May you have a wonderful, reflective and growth-filled new year in 2014, dear reader. May you look inward to what you already have within you, and strengthen that before looking outward to what is fleeting and short-lived. May you enjoy being a receptive guest, yourself, and be brave enough to taste what is put on the plate in front of you — sweet, savory, bitter or even bland. And may we all have that quiet desire in our heart for the courage to be vulnerable, to share our stories with one another, and to care even when it is difficult to. For when we finally arrive at the realization that we actually can’t do any of those things on our own, then perhaps we’ll develop a prayer in our heart for help. And only then can we really begin.
See you in the New Year, friends… Hugs & kisses.
Taste what’s good and pass it on.
Tipsy New Year’s Eve Amaretto “Midnight Kiss” Parfait with Vanilla Pound Cake, Chocolate Ganache Sauce and Amaretto-Spiked Whipped Cream
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(Makes 4-6 parfaits, depending on the size of the “vessel”)
• Amaretto-Spiked Whipped Cream (recipe below)
• ½ loaf vanilla pound cake (about 8 ounces), cut into small cubes
• 4 tablespoons amaretto (almond liqueur)
• Chocolate Ganache Sauce (recipe below)
• Dark chocolate, for “curl” garnish
• Silver or gold edible sprinkles, for garnish (optional)
-Place the glass snifters in a row in front of you.
-To the bottom of each glass, pipe in about 2 tablespoons worth of the Amaretto-Spiked Whipped Cream as a base; next, add in about a heaping ¼ cup of the cubed pound cake, and drizzle over the cake about 1 ½ teaspoons worth of the amaretto.
-Next, drizzle in about 2-3 tablespoons worth of the Chocolate Ganache Sauce over the cake cubes, and then pipe in about 3 tablespoons worth of the Amaretto-Spiked Whipped Cream.
-Repeat the process with another layer of cubed cake, amaretto and Chocolate Ganache Sauce, and finish with a generous amount of the Amaretto-Spiked Whipped Cream; shave some chocolate over top for garnish, and lightly dust with silver or gold edible sprinkles; chill until ready to serve.
Chocolate Ganache Sauce ingredients:
• 6 ounces low-fat milk
• ½ cup sugar
• ½ cup cocoa powder
• ¼ cup agave nectar
• 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
• Pinch salt
• 2 tablespoons butter
-Place all ingredients through the semi-sweet chocolate into a saucepan or small pot, and stir to combine; set the saucepan/pot over medium heat, and stirring with a rubber spatula all the while to keep the chocolate from scorching to the bottom, bring the mixture to a gentle simmer until all the ingredients are melted and well-blended.
-Off the heat, add in the small pinch of salt and the butter, and stir to combine until the butter is completely melted and blended in.
-Strain the chocolate sauce into a measuring cup with a spout for more convenient pouring during assembly, and allow it to cool at room temperature until slightly thickened.*
(*If you are making this sauce ahead of time and plan on using it within a couple of days, you can store it, covered, at room temperature; but to keep any leftovers for an extended period of time, store in the fridge and gently re-heat the sauce just until it becomes pourable, as needed.)
Amaretto-Spiked Whipped Cream ingredients:
• 16 fluid oz whipping cream, cold
• 6 tablespoons powdered sugar
• ½ teaspoon almond extract
• 4 tablespoons amaretto liquor
-Add the whipping cream into the bowl of a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, and begin to whip the cream on medium-high.
-Once the cream begins to thicken, sprinkle in the powdered sugar, and continue to whip for another 15-30 seconds or so, until further thickened; next, add in the almond extract and the amaretto liquor, and finish whipping until stiff peaks form.
-Place the Amaretto-Spiked Whipped Cream into a piping bag fitted with a tip, or a large ziplock bag with the corner cut off, and keep in fridge until ready to use.