With the Thanksgiving holiday fast approaching, my soul begins to sense a wonderful opportunity to reflect and become filled with gratitude over all of those precious and amazing gifts that I have in my life.
When we’re in the midst of challenges, or when we’re simply running on what seems like fumes as we navigate through all of the must-do’s in our daily lives, it can be all too easy to place focus on what is uncomfortable, or what makes us stressed or overwhelmed.
There never seems to be a shortage of problems in life, or of things that need our attention that only seem to deplete our mental, physical and spiritual reserves; those, somehow, always seem to be there in abundance.
But in between those moments of challenge are those beautiful little jewels that shimmer and glisten in an almost unassuming way, that make life so very deliciously amazing and beautiful to experience; and those are what I want to remember and reflect upon, and what I want to be thankful for in this special and inspiring season.
Just thinking back on certain moments in life when I’ve felt vulnerable or troubled, all that I really needed was a soft place to lay my head, or a tender ear to hear me out.
All that my heart longed for was a connection, and to be understood and treated gently.
And so I’m grateful to my husband for his amazing love, wisdom and availability, and his desire to be the best husband he can be for me; for offering me that soft place to rest when I desperately need it, or to remind me of who I really am, and to fix my eyes on my Creator who made me in that unique and special way.
And when I’m wanting nothing more in a certain moment than to be a daughter, I’m grateful for my wonderful parents that have always shown such amazing love and support, such kindness, mercy and selflessness, and have provided me a place to go when it’s guidance that I’m seeking, and that special kind of unconditional love that a parent gives so very well.
I’m so very thankful for my son, who offers me the vessel of his being-ness to fill with so much of the nurture that I have to give, and who’s very presence makes me happy and fills me with pride and joy, and utter amazement at the miracle of life that he most exquisitely is.
And then I am reminded of my precious extended family that keeps us in their prayers; and of the wonderful people that are my clients that show me such beautiful tenderness and support through their glowing spirits, such that I have never experienced previously in a work environment; and to the casual friendships that I’ve made at the various stops that I make throughout my week for work, or for personal errands, that always seem to have a genuine smile and sweet, friendly disposition at the ready.
Those are just a tiny handful of shimmering gems that my heart fills with gratitude over when I consider them.
And the beauty of it is that they’re people, not things.
They are real, living connections.
So for this special upcoming holiday of Thanksgiving, may we all step back, for just a moment at least, and reflect upon who and what we have that makes our life that much brighter, or that much more special.
May the challenges of our lives evaporate for just a little while, and be replaced with the heart-warming feeling of gratitude, and of really seeing what is true and beautiful; and may we see what there really is of precious value that perhaps we’ve been overlooking, that buffers us a little during our moments of struggle.
Taste what’s good and pass it on.
Warm Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Apple-Smoked Bacon, Blue Cheese, Dried Cranberries and Pecans in Warm Bacon-Herb Vinaigrette
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Serves about 4
• 2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
• Canola oil
• Black pepper
• 12 ounces (about 10 strips) apple-smoked bacon, cooked crisp and chopped, with 2 tablespoons of the drippings reserved (*see note)
• ½ cup dried cranberries
• ½ cup blue cheese crumbles
• ¼ cup chopped pecans
• 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
• Warm Bacon-Herb Vinaigrette (recipe below)
(*I cooked my bacon in the oven at 400°, for 20-22 minutes, and then reserved 2 tablespoons of the drippings, and set them aside for the vinaigrette.)
-Preheat oven to 400°, and line a baking sheet with foil.
-Toss the cubed sweet potatoes with a couple of drizzles of the oil, plus a couple of pinches of salt and black pepper, and roast for about 20 minutes, or until tender; allow to cool slightly until warm.
-Turn the roasted sweet potatoes out into a large bowl, and add in the chopped bacon, cranberries, blue cheese, pecans and parsley; drizzle in some of the Warm Bacon-Herb Vinaigrette, toss to coat, and check to see if any additional salt and pepper is needed.
-Serve warm as a sweet potato side dish.
Warm Bacon-Herb Vinaigrette Ingredients:
• ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
• 2 tablespoons, heaping, honey
• 2 tablespoons reserved bacon drippings
• 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
• 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
• ½ teaspoon salt
• ¼ teaspoon black pepper
• ½ cup canola oil
-Add all of the ingredients up to and including the black pepper to the bowl of a food processor, and process until blended; with the processor running, drizzle in the oil until complete blended and emulsified.
-When ready to serve, pour the vinaigrette into a small sauce pan and very gently heat for about 30 seconds or so, just until warm; then, drizzle as much as you’d like over the sweet potato salad.