Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Four Agreements

My dear friend, Pia introduced me to the the Four Agreements this weekend. She lives her life by these four "rules". Four simple and powerful ideas from Mexican author and shamanic healer Don Miguel Ruiz's book The Four Agreements:

1. Be impeccable with your words: Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

(This really hit home with me. How often do I speak ill of myself or get caught up in office gossip...too often, I'd say!)

2. Don't take anything personally: Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering.

(Again, this is a huge one. If someone is having a bad day or not being kind, why do I think they might be mad at me?)

3. Don't make assumptions: Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

( know what they say about assuming ~ it makes an ass out of u and me!)

4. Always do your best: Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.

(Et, voila! Just what Mom always told me - just do your best!)

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Duck Confit

We buy a lot of this when in France. It is one of Frenchie's favs. We simply spread it over toasted baguette. On a side note: there is nothing better than frying your potatoes in duck fat! Per Wikepedia, Duck confit (French: confit de canard French pronunciation: ​[kɔ̃.fi d(ə) ka.naʁ]) is a French dish made with the leg of the duck. While it is made across France, it is seen as a speciality of Gascony. The confit is prepared in a centuries-old process of preservation that consists of salt curing a piece of meat (generally goose, duck, or pork) and then cooking it in its own fat. To prepare a confit, the meat is rubbed with salt, garlic, and sometimes herbs such as thyme, then covered and refrigerated for up to 36 hours. Salt-curing the meat acts as a preservative. Prior to cooking, the spices are rinsed from the meat, which is then patted dry. The meat is placed in a cooking dish deep enough to contain the meat and the rendered fat, and placed in an oven at a low temperature (76 – 135 degrees Celsius/170 – 275 Fahrenheit).[1][2] The meat is slowly poached at least until cooked, or until meltingly tender, generally four to ten hours. The meat and fat are then removed from the oven and left to cool. When cool, the meat can be transferred to a canning jar or other container and completely submerged in the fat. A sealed jar of duck confit may be kept in the refrigerator for up to six months, or several weeks if kept in a reusable plastic container. To maximise preservation if canning, the fat should top the meat by at least one inch. The cooking fat acts as both a seal and preservative and results in a very rich taste. Skipping the salt curing stage greatly reduces the shelf life of the confit. Confit is also sold in cans, which can be kept for several years. The flavourful fat from the confit may also be used in many other ways, as a frying medium for sautéed vegetables (e.g., green beans and garlic, wild or cultivated mushrooms), savory toasts, scrambled eggs or omelettes, and as an addition to shortcrust pastry for tarts and quiches. A classic recipe is to fry or grill the legs in a bit of the fat until they are well-browned and crisp, and use more of the fat to roast some potatoes and garlic as an accompaniment. The potatoes roasted in duck fat to accompany the crisped-up confit is called pommes de terre à la sarladaise. Another accompaniment is red cabbage slow-braised with apples and red wine. Duck confit is also a traditional ingredient in many versions of cassoulet.