Thursday, February 13, 2014

A Valentine’s Day Recipe to Warm a Heart

 Opelle Glass Heart by Corning, "an heirloom" gift from my husband (1979)

How does it go so wrong some times?  Instead of loving and embracing the people we love most, we instead find ourselves embroiled in conflict, even shouting hard words that are completely opposite from the loving ones we are wanting to express.  The truth is that love sometimes means honest confrontation and disagreement that can escalate and look quite different than love.

That is the way my morning started. My youngest and I getting off on the "wrong foot" or perhaps it was the "right foot" but unresolved issues still hang heavy in the air. I want close and loving times and sometimes the communication needed for that to occur takes an opposite course.

It happened one week ago when she came to visit and it is happening again. Our conflict is acting like a sore that is festering and not going away, not healing. Who and what needs to change to restore tranquility, peace and harmony? Is the change up to her or me?  I do know from lots of experience that if I think change is needed on her part, it will only come in her time and not mine and with her recognizing the need and then deciding to do something about it. Meanwhile I need to change the only person I can: me.

What do I do when I meet an impasse, when communication breaks down due to my inability to clearly express what I need to say regarding a concern that is growing and not lessening?  I see a problem that she does not see or recognize as a problem, and may not for some time. I pray and sometimes ask a friend to say a prayer as well. I then decide to express my love by fixing her favorite dinner and hopefully she will see my efforts as my love trying to wrap around her.  I will also prepare the Valentine’s card and gift that I have for her so she can take it with her tonight.  It is small but will hopefully let her know that despite our conflict, I love her. This may take time as this morning my words seemed to say anything but that! She's not understanding that my concern and conflict are born of love. She just feels my pressure and non-acceptance of her about what appears to me to be issues that are NOT working well for her.

I am hoping that corn chowder and Valentine sweets with an offered silent prayer will open her heart to understanding what I am trying to communicate. I am continually reminded that love is not just sweetness but honesty spoken in love, commitment and patience.  It is a matter of will sometimes and not just a warm and sentimental feeling. Loving relationships are dynamic and can only grow with care and effort and weathering through the bad times as well as the good.

By evening my prayers were answered.  Both of us felt bad about the impasse and conflict and it seems that her favorite comfort food made a nice communion-sort of meal.  We visited and our words were softer and kinder.  We were both open to listening and hearing each other. Misunderstandings were clarified and forgiveness and love seems to reign again.

Happy Valentine’s Day to my readers. Hopefully it will be an ideal day of fun and celebrating, but if not, know that commitment and working to communicate more effectively is what real love entails and isn't always like a Hallmark holiday. If  this day or other days bring schisms, perhaps surprising your loved ones with a simple heart-warming soup will help to warm their hearts and facilitate good communication!

No Fail Corn Chowder- a recipe for even the most challenged of cooks

1) Fry 1 lb. Dakin Farms Bacon Ends (a special Vermont-made bacon). If you don't live in Vermont, perhaps you know of some other delicious smoked bacon? Crumble or cut into bite-sized pieces--then to put in large pot or roasting pan and set aside.
2) Dice 3-4-5 onions and saute in bacon fat and then add to the above pot. (My family loves onions, so for us, the more the better).
3) Peel and cut about 12 potatoes (more or less) into bite-sized pieces--Boil until thoroughly cooked, but not mushy and add to the above pot).
4) Drain and add to above pot  2-3 cans regular corn.
5) Add to pot: 2 cans creamed corn.
6) Add about 1 cup half and half  to pot. (optional--as may use whole milk, but half and half adds richness  to your soup).
7) Add whole milk (or skim)--to stretch to desired thickness. This soup can be stretched to fit a large family and unexpected guests.
9) Add salt to taste. (I don't salt a lot due to salt in bacon)
10) Add pepper to taste.
11) Cook in covered pot in oven of 325 degrees for about 30-60 minutes to allow flavors to blend.
12) Right before serving add Instant Mashed Potato Flakes to thicken as desired. (about a cup).

This is a hardy soup, guaranteed to become one of your family's favorites. It will warm their hearts and souls. This recipe feeds many or is enough for a second meal and is better the second time around! If you have grown children, like me, there is plenty for them to take home for their lunch the next day.

One of my favorite books that set me straight about love is Love and Will by Rollo May.  I am afraid I watched a few too many romantic movies and this book helped me understand that real love is different!

The hand-stenciled Post Office boxes below are our Valentine's Day tradition.  We post our cards to each other in them and add a few sweet treats as well.  It is a simple, and inexpensive way to celebrate our love for each matter how the day may find us, sweet or sour!
Our first hand-stenciled Valentine's Day Post Office Box

My oldest daughter's hand-stenciled Valentine's Day Box

My youngest daughter's hand-stenciled Valentines Day Box