Friday, April 22, 2011

We Have Everything We Need (and another recipe)

One (small!)geoduck=Abundance!
I toyed with calling this post "Abundance" because that is what I have been receiving lately. 30 pounds of geoduck (pronounced "gooey-duck") and horseclams dropped into our laps yersteday, I have been harvesting and drying foraged nettles like crazy, and a friend met me at her door the other day with a huge bundle of rhubarb from her garden.

And then there's the people. The wonderful group of women blogging about doing GAPS Intro, my old friends on Facebook, my local friends, and my amazing family. Support comes in subtle as well as overt ways--a joke, a comment on my blog, the offer to take our youngest for a day. It all helps to smooth the rough edges in my days.

And then there's living in our own corner of Eden. Today was almost painfully sunny and clear, with the insistent energy of leaves and blossoms forcing their way into the world. Gorgeous. Surrounded by mountains yet covered with snow, evergreen forests and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Suffice it to say that people come here on vacation and we get to live here.  On a boat. With a hot tub. As the kids would say, for reals.

Still, I am one of those women who frets. I worry about the kids and their choices, my husband traveling, the economy, our health, earthquakes...  I can always find something to worry about.

Which is why, some years ago when things were tight, when we had six kids at home, one in college and the seemingly limited resources of one income, we created the mantra "we have everything we need." Because we do. We have love and creativity and even luck. We have essentially healthy, totally gifted kids. NINE of them. Who else is that lucky? We have skills and the smarts to use them. We have great siblings and parents who love us, despite our quirks.

We have everything we need. Truly. And with that, we have some responsibilities. We have to do the work to utilize what comes our way. As a matter of fact, we have to first recognize that which is coming to us. That's not always so easy, especially if I have a dour attitude.

I remember wanting a particular chair for our old boat. I was trying to accommodate our large family, but wasn't going to spend any money on this. I left the boat on an errand with the thought "today I am going to find the chair." Well, about 10 minutes later I saw a trash pile by the side of the road. Wouldn't you know, The Chair was sitting there, waiting for me. Along with a pair of vintage curtains with Moby Dick, Ahab and the crew--one of which I used to cover that chair's new cushion. The other is still with us, as the curtain for The Bosun's cabin.

I know that sounds a bit hokey, like The Secret or something. That's not what I mean though. The thing is, we pass by all sorts of opportunities every day. Making something happen is often as not a matter of just grabbing that thing/idea/situation that's flying by at light speed. That's why we have to stay focused, and also to remember to be grateful for what we have. Many is the day that I remind myself to give some things up in order to make room for the abundance that comes our way. That might mean donating clothes, helping someone out (that is, giving up time), or ceding my side of an argument (ok, that's hard, but I do try!) If I feel lacking, needy, grasping, well--I am stuck and nothing good will come from that (as The Captain is fond of reminding us).

I have spent the last two days working with our abundance. I canned stock, rhubarb and clams (both geoduck and horse). I made marshmallows, nut brittle and truffles.  I look into the hold and feel rich, secure, and appreciative of all we have. We have everything we need. I have the right tools to feed my family, to preserve what we forage, buy, receive. I have the skills to do that, and the wit to learn new ones as necessary.

I love holidays for the rituals, the joy, the fun they bring to our lives, the excuse to eat with friends and family. Passover is a thanksgiving of sorts, a time to be thank-ful for our situation, whatever it is. My ancestors took what little they had and fled tyranny. And yet, they had everything they needed--each other, divine protection and their freedom. Maybe we tell that story each year to remind ourselves to appreciate what we have, even in our more trying days.

Perhaps I need this reminder more often. We have everything we need. We just need to open our eyes.


I was asked to share my nut brittle recipe, so here it is, with the same note as yesterday: I have been making this so long that I can't trace its origins. If it's your recipe, do let me know.

Nut Brittle


3/4 lb unsalted butter (unless you want salted caramel, a legitimate choice)
1 cup of honey (doesn't need to be raw--you are making caramel!)
2 cups of chopped or slivered nuts, previously soaked and crisped (as in NT's crispy nuts)

Jelly roll or other flat pan, lined with parchment and buttered
Largish saucepan
Candy thermometer


~Measure the nuts and set aside.

~Put honey and butter in the pan, affix the thermometer, set over medium/high heat.
~Watch the caramel carefully, it goes slowly at first, but can burn easily toward the end. You may have to stir the bottom to avoid burning and sticking at that point.
~When the caramel reaches 300 degrees, take it off the heat, stir in the nuts, and pour into the prepared pan. Even it all out and set in a cool place or the refrigerator.
~When it is hard, crack it into small pieces (you can pick it up and smash it on the pan--great for those frustrating days--or whack it with a mallet a few times, or any combination you choose. Refrigerate the pieces, they will get sticky if left out.
~Save some for me!


Michael & Sue said...

Hi! I'm so enjoying your writings! You are gifted in expressing beautifully your thoughts...I especially enjoyed this post today. Oh, if only we all could really see that we do have everything we need, we would all be a lot more content. Thank you for the reminder to see my life today as abundant. Blessings over you!

Doug Kresl said...

Great post Justine. 30 pounds of geoduck is abundance to say the least! So many people routinely focus on what they don't have instead of appreciating what they do have. It is easy to take for granted the things that seem routine and just part of daily life. However, for too many around the world, what we consider routine would be a miracle: safe water, electricity, a police force that actually responds to calls for help, schools, libraries, etc. Yes, there is always room for improvement, but staying in a state of gratitude, makes one much more humble and appreciative for all the good they have in life.

Justine Raphael said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Justine Raphael said...

Sue--Thank you so much! I am always thrilled when what I write (partially for myself, to keep myself accountable!) helps others.

Doug--yes, true abundance in all ways! We so often overlook some of those "routine" blessings! The apartment we lived in in Miami was about 1300 square feet, with a tiny yard. There were nine of us, but in certain areas in Miami, and in other countries, that space would have housed four or five families. And 5 of us live very comfortably in about 350 square feet on the boat.

We have everything we need!

Magda said...

Thanks for the recipe - I was the 'Anonymous' that asked. I forgot to sign my post!!

Justine Raphael said...

You are welcome Magda! Thanks for asking...

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