Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Murphy & Emmanuel

When everything is going happily and smoothly, you can expect Murphy's law to suddenly come into effect at the worst possible moment. Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.





Our honeymoon was breathtaking. Full of love, full of fun and full of action.
We had an amazing time in San Francisco; got a little drunk (the classy way) in Napa Valley while hot-air-ballooning over the vineyards at dawn; partied in Vegas while admiring the majestic strip; and, after a short 10-hour stay back in Montreal, were on our way to the Caribbean to relax with our feet in the sand and cold drinks in our hands. From Vegas, we took a flight back to San Francisco, then flew to Dallas and finally, came to Montreal. Once we landed in San Francisco, we only had 55 minutes to get on our Dallas flight. If we missed that flight, we would miss our flight to the Caribbean as well. This is when Murphy's law kicked in...

Knowing that having less than an hour between flights was quite risky, we took precautionary measures by travelling only with carry-on luggage and by downloading our boarding passes on our phones for the flight leaving for Dallas. 

So... what can go wrong? A lot of things!


Murphy 1 - Newlyweds 0: Our first flight was delayed-- suddenly, the 55 minutes ticked down to 50 minutes... then 45 minutes.. then 40 minutes. 

Murphy 2 - Newlyweds 0: We finally landed and were obviously pretty eager to debark from the plane; however, Murphy scored again. Turns out the airplane was not well ''parked'' so we had to wait another 5-6 minutes until the jet bridge was well-aligned with the door of the plane. 35 minutes left...

Murphy 3 - Newlyweds 0: When it was finally time, we grabbed our carry-on luggage and ran out like contestants on The Amazing Race. As we were running and looking for our gate, we came across another one of Murphy's tricks: the gate of our next flight (that was in about 30 minutes) was at another terminal. What does that mean? We had to go through security AGAIN! As we were approaching security, we met HIM! We could hear his high-pitched and nasal voice from several meters away. He was a short and slim middle-aged man likely of Filipino origin. He was wearing an ill-fitted burgundy suit jacket, dark pants with a big walky-talky hanging by the side and big, old-fashioned glasses with a silver frame. He was the bodily equivalent of Murphy's law; he was EMMANUEL!

Murphy/Emmanuel 4 -  Newlyweds 0: Every once in a while, you meet someone whose sole purpose in life seems to be to ruin yours. Emmanuel's job was to check travelers' tickets and to ensure that their carry-on luggage were of appropriate size before going through security. We had been on multiple flights with the same carry-on luggage and nobody had a problem with the size... nobody except, inevitably, Emmanuel. 

Yes, our bags were somewhat big (especially with the beautiful beach towels I got from Vegas!) but we were trying to explain to him that we had been on other flights with these bags before and that our next flight was to leave soon. He did not care. His high pitched voice got even higher as he told us that he was doing his job and that we had to check our bags in at the counter. As we arrived at the counter, the woman behind it told us that it is too late to check anything in for our flight. 

We ran back to Emmanuel and told him that he had to let us through with our luggage because we could not check our bags in. He pointed at the small compartment in which our suitcases were supposed to fit and kept repeating in his continuously-elevating voice "I have to do my job! There are cameras everywhere. I will call security if you try to pass!". He was clutching on to his walky-talky when he was mentioning the word "security".

Mr. A and I had now reached levels of stress that we did not know existed. Some *beep* words were uttered as we opened our suitcases and started emptying its contents and stuffing whatever we could in my purse and wrapping other things in my beautiful beach towels. 

We zipped up our bags, made it fit in the compartment and uttered a few more not-so-classy choice words to Emmanuel as we made our way to the next step.

Murphy 4 - Newlyweds 1 (YES!): Luckily, after hearing us and seeing our stress, many kind travelers let us pass before them in the queue. Finally, our streak of bad luck seemed to be ending. Just a few more steps before we could be on our plane.

Murphy 5 - Newlyweds 1: Spoke too soon. Murphy played another one of his cards when it was time to show our boarding passes. As mentioned, we only had electronic boarding passes on our phones and (surprise surprise!), the scanner was not reading them. We spent another 5-6 minutes in front of the absent-minded agents who were looking at us in a very dull and unimpressed way. It seemed like they did not have an ounce of sympathy or urgency in them.

Finally, with the help of some very kind fellow travelers, we zapped our boarding passes. We zoomed through the following security steps and, with our shoes still halfway on, it was time to sprint. 

I felt like we were running at such a speed that could put Usain Bolt to shame. We arrived at the gate mere minutes before the plane took off. Still somewhat trembling, sweating and holding giant, stuffed beach towels, we made it to our seats while telling eachother "Never again!" 

As stressful as this all was and as unforgiving Murphy and his law can be... THE NEWLYWEDS WON!

Our first meal on our honeymoon was lunch at the Hog Island Oyster Company in the Ferry building. Fresh oysters, warm clam chowder and comforting grilled cheese. The grilled cheese was completely different than the others I have tasted. The bread had a delicious crunch and the gooey center was filled with melted, sharp cheesy goodness. Perfect meal for a windy and chilly day. 


Hog Island Oyster Co.


Grilled Cheese (Hog Island Oyster Company style!)
*recipe from Leite's Culinaria
yield: 4 sandwiches

Ingredients
- 2 tbsp butter, room temperature
- 8 thick slices of sourdough bread
- 4 ounces Fromage Blanc cheese
- 4 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated
- 4 ounces Cheddar cheese , grated
- 4 ounces Havarti cheese, grated

Directions

1. Butter one side of each slice of bread. Place 4 slices (butter side down) on a board and spread the fromage blanc on the plain side. Top each of these with the Gruyère, Cheddar and Havarti cheeses. 
2. Heat a large skillet for about 2 minutes. place 1 or 2 sandwiches in the pan, cover and cook for 3-4 minutes (until golden brown). Turn the sandwiches and press on them firmly with a spatula. Cook for another 3-4 minutes. 
3. Remove from the pan and let cool for a few minutes (if you can!). Slice diagonally and serve.





Wednesday, October 01, 2014

The Wife

When I was young, I used to think that, as per tradition, I would get married and would leave my father's house with a dowry on my wedding day. I used to tell myself that there aren't too many incredibly special moments in life and I wouldn't want to deprive myself of the joy and excitement that came with starting a new life after getting married. 


Those thoughts changed a short while before Mr. A and I started living together in June 2012. We were living as husband and wife long before we said "I do". Of course, I knew that I would be exuding happiness on my wedding day but, in the back of my mind, I would wonder just how excited of a bride I would be considering that, once the celebrations were over, Mr. A and I would go back to the same house and live the same life we were living for the past few years. 

Our Magical Day! ©

Nothing could have prepared me for the delicious cocktail of emotions that came my way on our special day. A very powerful and comforting feeling rushes through you when you are surrounded by people who have come from near, from far (and from even farther!) who are full-heartedly and sincerely happy to celebrate your love and your union. 

As the champagne bottles were popped and high heels were swapped for dancing shoes, the day flew by like a magical dream full of smiles, laughter, tears of joy and with overwhelmingly humbling feelings of love and wonderfully foreign and exponentially-growing levels of jubilance. 

With smiles on our faces, love in our hearts and slightly tanner skin, we're back. Back home, back to our happy life and back to reality. Still drunk off that delicious cocktail of emotions, forever grateful for the presence of the wonderful people who joined in the celebrations and for the precious memories that will eternally be engraved in our hearts. The Prep Wife is now an official Wife... and is slowly polishing her skills as a Prep-Mom!


Mr. A and The (Prep) Wife! ©

Thursday, August 28, 2014

50 Shades of Brown

There are those mornings when you wake up feeling relaxed, energized and ready to take on the ups and downs of the day. And then there are other mornings... Mornings when morning comes too soon; when your snooze button rudely interrupts your dreams 10 times before you finally surrender and crawl out of bed; mornings when your eyelids refuse to let go of one another and mornings that are simply not complete without many cups of coffee and its wonderfully delicious shades of brown.

I've had a lot of those mornings lately. At one point, first thing in the morning, one of my colleagues asked me "Are you ok? Are you sick?" No, I was not sick... I was exhausted.

Up until recently, I never hit the snooze button when it was time to wake up. Once I was up, I was up. Now, I count the number of times I hit snooze and between each hit, I start rationalizing with my sleeping-self.

Tania, if you wake up now, you'll have time to exercise, shower, have coffee, breakfast and catch a recorded episode of Will & Grace.
*SNOOZE* 
Tania, if you wake up now, you'll still have time to exercise, shower, have a quick breakfast and watch half a Will & Grace episode... probably no time for a full cup of coffee.... who needs a full cup anyway?
*SNOOZE* 
Tania! You can still exercise and shower; coffee is definitely out of the question but you can have a quick bite and watch a few minutes of Will & Grace... I don't need to watch a full episode; I know them all by heart anyway.
*SNOOZE* 
Tania!! Just get up. Breakfast will be on the run. No time for anything. Just get up and go!! Thank goodness there is a coffee machine at work.

Nobody told me how laborious this wedding planning business would be. I am not complaining at all; I am enjoying every single most seconds of it. Wedding planning is not difficult; you just have to be organized. The difficult part is making sure that all other aspects of your life (like work... or blogging!!(haven't exactly passed with flying colors here)) stay afloat. Honestly, don't employers know how time consuming planning a wedding is? I say, just like parental leave, there should be a plan-your-wedding-leave!

It is now crunch time!! My mind is racing on all the things that need to be done and, in turn, I feel like Mr. A and I are racing against the clock. 8 days and dozen of cups and shades of coffee to go... still so tired but so grateful and excited.

Coffee comes in all many shades and shapes. Here's an amazing recipe for Mexican Coffee Granita. Beautiful brown crystals of frozen coffee. Yum!

Mexican Coffee Granita

Ingredients
- 2 cups strong black coffee or espresso (lukewarm)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons coffee liqueur
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 3/4-1 tsp ground cinnamon

Directions
1- Combine all ingredients and stir until the sugar dissolves.
2- Poor the mixture in a pan and place it in the freezer.
3- Scrape and fluff the mixture with a fork every 30 minutes for about 3-4 hours until it is thoroughly frozen.
*Serve with sweetened whipped cream if desired. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Babies, Birthdays & under-Beds

If you have read my older blog posts, you probably remember the one where I explained how, since my mid-teens (even before I met Mr. A), I had been collecting random objects that I liked and would need for my future home. I had drinking glasses, a vast variety of kitchen utensils, table runners (that were out of style by the time Mr. A and I moved), candle holders, frying pans, etc. For years, I would keep everything under my bed while impatiently waiting for my knight in shining armor to sweep me off my feet and give me a home in which I could put everything I had collected over the years. That blog post was "Under the Bed" and you can read it at the following link: http://www.theprepwife.com/2013/10/under-bed.html. 

I went to Toys'R'us a few days ago to find a gift for the first birthday of my cousin's incredibly adorable twin boys. Yes, twins! I changed my first diaper and it was wonderful! I love babies. Crazily enough, every time there is a diaper to be changed... 



As I stepped into Toys'R'us, I felt like I had just landed in a new country and was asked to find my way without a map. Basically, I was lost and clueless. I strolled through the aisles quickly scanning the toys and stopping in front of anything that said "12 months and above". 

Without much success, I found myself in the clothing section of the store. I think the feeling I had in that department was close to the feeling that the 5-year-old-Me had when entering Toys'R'us. Surrounded by everything in miniature, the under-the-bed-Tania/my inner-prep-mom started to surface. I gawked at the tiny pajamas and socks that would look wonderful on the baby that I don't have yet! I told myself "I have to buy them! I have to stock up! They are so small. They won't take up any space!". Imagining Mr. A's reaction to my coming home with baby clothes (it would have probably been a mix between happiness, confusion and a slight dose of fear), my logical side eventually kicked in and I left the store only buying gifts for the twins.

Either way, very disappointingly (or perhaps thankfully), our bed is very low and there is not a lot of space to hide things under it... and I have already filled all the cupboards and closets of our house to (almost) full capacity. So I either have to resist buying tiny pajamas or find a house with bigger closets. I'll resist for now.

Because no birthday is complete without cake, here's a recipe for a classic Victoria Sponge Cake from the Queen of Cake: Peggy Porschen. I've baked with Peggy's recipes countless times and trust me when I say they NEVER disappoint. 

I know the recipe seems long but it's a lot easier than it looks.

Glorious Victoria Cake

Recipe from Boutique Baking by Peggy Porschen 

Makes one 15cm (6in) round cake, serving 8–12 slices

Glorious Victoria (peggyporschen.com)

Ingredients

For the sponge:
- 200g unsalted butter, softened
- 200g caster sugar
- Pinch of salt
- Seeds of ½ vanilla pod
- 4 medium eggs
- 200g self-raising flour

For the sugar syrup:
- 150ml water
- 150g caster sugar
- Scraped vanilla pod

For the buttercream filling:
- 300g unsalted butter, softened
- 300g icing sugar, sifted
- Pinch of salt
- Seeds of ½ vanilla pod
- Small amount of pink food paste color
- 3 tbsp any good-quality raspberry jam

Equipment
Three 15cm (6in) round sandwich tins
Cake leveller or large serrated knife
Non-slip turntable
Flat disc to place on top of the turntable 
 (Peggy uses the loose base of a 30cm (12in) springform cake tin)
15cm (6in) round cake card
Metal side scraper
Two plastic piping bags
Medium star piping nozzle
Plain round 4mm (¼in) piping nozzle

Directions
Bake the sponges one day ahead of serving. Make the sugar syrup whilst baking the sponges. Prepare the buttercream filling and assemble and decorate the cake on the day of serving.

Preheat the oven to 175°C/350F.

Prepare the sandwich tins by greasing and lining them with greaseproof paper.

To make the sponge
Place the butter, sugar, salt and vanilla seeds in a mixing bowl and cream together until pale and fluffy.

Beat the eggs lightly in another bowl and slowly add to the butter mixture while whisking quickly. If the mixture starts to separate or curdle, stop adding the egg and beat in 2–3 tablespoons of the flour. This will rebind the batter.

Once all the egg has been added and combined with the butter mixture, sift in the flour and stir until the batter is just combined. This will ensure the sponges stay light and fluffy.

Divide the batter evenly between the sandwich tins. If you find it difficult to measure by eye, use your kitchen scales to weigh out the amount of sponge mixture for each tin.

Bake for 15–20 minutes, depending on your oven. If you are using deeper cake tins, the sponges will take longer to cook.

The sponges are cooked when the sides are beginning to shrink away from the edges of the tins and the tops are golden brown and spring back to the touch. If in doubt, insert a clean knife or wooden skewer into the centre of each sponge; it should come out clean.

To make the sugar syrup
While the sponges are baking, prepare the sugar syrup for soaking.

Place the water, caster sugar and vanilla pod into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer until all the sugar crystals have dissolved. Set aside to cool down slightly. Discard the vanilla pod.

Once the sponges are baked, let them rest for about 10 minutes outside of the oven. Using a pastry brush, soak the tops of the sponges with vanilla bean sugar syrup while they are still warm; this allows the syrup to be absorbed faster.

Once just warm, run a knife all the way round the sides of the tins, remove the sponges from the tins and leave to cool completely on a wire cooling rack.

Once cool, wrap the sponges in cling film and then rest them overnight at room temperature. This will ensure that all the moisture is sealed in and the sponges firm up to the perfect texture for trimming and layering. When trimmed too soon after baking, the sponges tend to crumble and may even break into pieces.

To make the buttercream filling
Place the butter, icing sugar, salt and vanilla seeds into a mixing bowl and cream together until very pale and fluffy.

Add a small amount of pink food colour to the mixture and stir through until combined and the buttercream is a pastel shade.

To assemble the cake
Trim and sandwich together the three sponge layers using one layer of buttercream filling and one layer of raspberry jam, and the vanilla sugar syrup for soaking.

With the remaining buttercream filling, cover or mask the top and sides of the cake.

To decorate
Place the cake either on to a cakestand or on top of the turntable covered with a piece of greaseproof paper.

Place a star nozzle into a plastic piping bag and fill with a generous amount of the remaining buttercream. Place a round nozzle into another plastic piping bag and fill with a small amount of the remaining buttercream.

Divide the top of the cake into eight equal segments. Using the star nozzle, pipe a ring of C-scrolls around the circumference, revolving the turntable as necessary. Next, pipe a shell from the middle of each C-scroll towards the centre.

Where all eight shells meet, pipe a rosette on top at the centre of the cake top. Using the round nozzle, pipe a small dot between each shell.

Using the star nozzle, pipe eight fleur de lys evenly around the sides at the top edge, with a single upside-down shell underneath at the bottom edge.

To finish, pipe a small dot between the fleur de lys and shell. If the cake has been placed on greaseproof paper, chill until the piped dots are set before transferring to a cakestand.

Serve the cake at room temperature. This cake is best enjoyed within 3 days of baking, but it can last for up to 1 week.

Glorious Victoria (peggyporschen.com)

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Brunner

We had a lovely Brunner last weekend.

Brunner is the meal you have when you have planned a brunch for 1:00pm but realize that the Wimbeldon finals are on TV so you push it to 2:00pm. You then realize that the game is getting longer than expected so you push it again to 2:45pm. Finally, you make it to the restaurant at 2:44pm with your stomach singing the feed-me-now chant because you refused to eat a decent breakfast to leave room for the delicious hollandaise sauce-drenched goodies to come. You sit and wait for the fashionably late while chugging down coffee to stop the stomach-chanting that is quickly turning into stomach-chanting-and-dancing. At last, the "fashionable" arrive and a big plate of calorific goodness is placed in front of you at almost 4:00pm. You think to yourself "I got this!" and attack.

Starving, you suddenly feel like you have the special talent of unhinging your jaw and start hoovering up the food on your plate (and a little off your neighbor's plate). A little more than halfway through your giant meal, feeling like an abundantly stuffed Thanksgiving turkey, you notice that your now silenced stomach chants will turn to stomach pains if you keep eating. Nevertheless, you keep picking at the remaining food on your plate thinking you should take one more bite because it would be a sin to waste such scrumptiousness. (Thankfully, Mr. A gladly volunteered to help me clear my plate.) 

That, my friends, is a Brunner. Brunch that is of such wonderfully epic proportions and deliciousness that it automatically and unintentionally turns into dinner as well. 



Liquid gold

We went to L'Avenue on Mont-Royal; a magical place where Mr. A and I once enthusiastically waited in line for at least 45 minutes in -15 degrees of winter cold (remember those days?); where liquid gold (aka REAL maple syrup) flows in abundance and where the food is as enchanting as the bathrooms.

L'Avenue - Bathroom!

Because my eyes radar in on anything on the menu that has goat cheese, I had the Mr. Séguin: Eggs Benedict with goat cheese, sauteed mushrooms & spinach... and it was well worth the wait.


The Mr. Séguin


If you're a sucker for hollandaise sauce like me, here's the simplest recipe e.v.e.r. It is from Julia Child so you know it's good. All it takes is a blender, a few ingredients and less than 5 minutes.

Julia Child's Blender Hollandaise Sauce

Ingredients
- 3 egg yolks
- 1/4 tsp salt
- a pinch of pepper
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter (melted)

Directions
1- Place the egg yolks, salt, pepper and lemon juice in a blender and blend for 5 seconds at top speed.
2- Uncover the blender and (still on top speed) add the melted butter in a thin stream.
3- Season to taste. You're done! Serve immediately or place the jar in lukewarm (not hot!) water to keep it from solidifying. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Living in an Illusion

I noticed that most of my thoughts revolve purely on what's next or what was. I wake up and start mentally breaking down my day; I go to work and think about what I can do or where I can go during lunch; during lunch, I think about my afternoon at work; at work again, I think about what I can cook that evening; cooking, I think about what I can watch on TV later; watching TV, I think about what I can do that would be better than TV (write a grocery list? make a list of must-have songs for the wedding? make a list of people I would like to invite for supper?) or if I could have done or said something differently during the day; right this moment, while blogging, I thought about who I could call to say hello to (I just took a break to call someone). Even on weekends, as soon as my eyes are open, I am on my feet and many things are on my mind. What can I do? What can I cook? What can I buy? Who can I see? Who can I call? At night, when I put my head on my pillow, my mind is rarely at rest but is instead retracing the steps of the day or is thinking about the future. Am I on the right path? What can I do to improve myself? Have I accomplished enough? What can I do to earn more money? What can I do to reach the next level?

I live in the past, in the future, in an illusion...and it's exhausting.




I have been asking myself why we (I know I'm not the only one!) think this way. Where is the end of this vicious chain of thoughts and questioning? What is wrong with the "now" I am in? Why can't I just enjoy the moment, acknowledge what I have achieved and just be content? Is it because I am not happy with the "now"? Perhaps. (What!? A bride-to-be who is not happy?)


Let me explain...

We live in a society that praises productivity, ambition and goals for all the wrong reasons. Of course, I am not saying that wandering aimlessly through life without goals and ambition is a good thing. I am saying that we are brainwashed to believe that ambition is the chase of money, status, power, fame, etc. Ambition should first and foremost be the chase of happy experiences and happy "nows". 

We are kicking our goals further and further and trying to put our "happy-nows" on standby for "happy-tomorrows". We can all make more money and have more power and more fame so how do you know when/if you have reached your goal? How do you know when it's time to open your bottle of "standby-happy-nows"? Let me tell you something: you can never open your bottle of "standby-happy-nows"; in fact, there is no bottle. All you have is your "now" that you choose to make happy or unhappy; or you have the illusion of "happy-tomorrows". 

Once again, I'll mention that I am not promoting a life without goals, without ambition, without motivation and without dreams. Like many of you out there, I want to improve, I want to be healthier, I want to learn more, I want to reach the next level in my career (a few extra bucks would not hurt!), etc. 

However, many of us have put the happiness of our "nows" too far down on our priority lists. Everybody, wake up from your illusion and stay ambitious about being happy and enjoying life. Appreciate all that you have and all that you have accomplished and live your life happily in your "now", not in some "maybe-happy-tomorrow"!





One food that ALWAYS made me happy as a child (and still does as an adult!) is Chocolate Salami!

Here's the quick and oh-so-simple recipe.

Chocolate Salami

Ingredients

- 250g tea biscuits (like Maria cookies), coarsely crushed 
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 2 egg yolks (fresh!)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup cocoa powder 

- 1 tsp vanilla extract (or a nice splash of liqueur such as cognac or Grand Marnier for the adults)
- optional: Any kind of nuts (approximately 3oz)
- optional: Powdered sugar for decoration 

Directions

1- Coarsely crush the cookies.
2- Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar.
3- In a big bowl, melt the butter (in microwave or bain-marie).
4- To this bowl, add the cocoa, sugar-egg yolk mixture and vanilla (or liqueur). Mix together, Add crushed cookies and mix until combined.
5- Transfer the bowl to the fridge to firm up for 15-20 minutes (not longer or else your mixture will be too hard)
6- Lay out a piece of plastic wrap big enough to hold the mixture. Transfer the slightly firm/chilled mixture to the plastic wrap and shape into a log.
7- Wrap the salami log by folding the plastic wrap upon itself, twist the sides, wrap this in aluminum foil or grease paper and refrigerate overnight (or about 6-8 hours).
8- Roll the Chocolate Salami in powdered sugar to give it more of a "salami" look
9- Slice and enjoy!



Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Ripples

I think I'm a kind person. I'm definitely not Mother Teresa but I'm a big fan of acts of kindness (even if they are very small acts) and friendliness. I give a helping hand when I see someone in need; if the person behind me at the checkout counter in the supermarket has a few items, I'll let him/her take my spot; I'll hold a door or an elevator; I'll start a casual conversation when in a waiting room, etc. I sometimes receive kindness and smiles in return... I also receive strange looks and discomfort.





                          
A few weeks ago, I went to give a deposit to one of our wedding vendors. This vendor's office was only a few steps away from his niece's store where she sells lovely clothes and accessories for women. We walked the few steps to the store where he introduced me to her, thanked me for the deposit then went about his day. After chatting with the shop owner for about 15 minutes, I told her that I would come back another day to shop.

As we were saying our goodbyes, she told me to pick something from the store as a gift from her uncle/the vendor. With a smile on my face and confusion in my eyes, I couldn't help but ask her Why!? She let out a small laugh and started showing me different items. My mind started racing and I started asking myself many different things: Is this a prank? Did the vendor look legitimate? Would he take off with my deposit? What's the catch? Why would she just give me something? Am I being swindled? 

After rationalizing the situation in my head, I realized that I had thought too hard. The answer was clear... I was dealing with nice people who were simply being kind and friendly!

As I left the store with my freebie-goodie (a beautiful Beeswax candle in a floral teacup), I could not pinpoint what I was feeling. On one hand, at the sight their generosity, I had a soothing feeling of comfort and reassurance. On the other hand, somewhat ashamed, I asked myself "isn't it sad?". Isn't it sad that our reaction to generosity is apprehension; we mistake politeness for flirtation and we question kindness' intention?

I bet the vendor I dealt with and his niece thought that all they did was give a little gift. They did much more than that- they created ripples of kindness. Every little thing we do goes out into the world like a ripple and affects another action and another person.



Cast a good stone...

Be kind to your body as well. Here is an extremely healthy, vitamin-packed Gazpacho recipe that is perfect for the hot summer days to come!

Gazpacho
yield: 4 servings
recipe adapted from realsimple.com

Ingredients

  • - 2 1/2 pounds tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • - 3 small cloves garlic, peeled
  • - 1/2 small sweet onion, roughly chopped
  • - 2 red bell peppers, roughly chopped
  • - 1 pound English cucumbers, peeled and roughly chopped
  • - 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • - salt and black pepper
  • Garnish
  • - 3 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
  • - 1 cup fresh corn kernels 
  • - 4 tablespoons fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • - 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • - crusty bread (optional)

Directions


1- Working in batches, place the tomatoes, garlic, onion, bell peppers, and cucumbers in a food processor and pulse until almost pureed.

2- Transfer to a large bowl and stir in the lemon juice, a pinch of salt and dash of pepper.

3- Ladle the soup into individual bowls and top with the goat cheese, corn, and cilantro.

4- Drizzle with the olive oil and serve with the crusty bread (if using).