Self-Aware Baking

October 27, 2014 § Leave a comment

There’s an episode of Friends where Monica makes Christmas candy for her neighbors, and Chandler, in a moment of brilliance, questions her as to why she became a chef. “So people would like you”? he asks. Zing. She counters him right back, because, as we all know, Chandler’s jokes and one-liners serve a deeper purpose for him as well.

I’ve baked several good things lately, and I’ll admit to more than a passing familiarity with this fictional scene. I love to bake and enjoy what I’ve made, and sharing my experiments adds even more fulfillment to the mix. I like it when I’m proud of something I’ve made, and when others are enthusiastic as well.

IMG_5795But, in knowing myself more and more, sometimes my desire for people to like my scones/caramels/cookies turns into a need for their affirmation of me. It is a struggle, I confess, this wanting people to like me (and, moreover, to show it), and it’s been thrown into sharp relief as of late in specific relationships in my life. My desire for friendship and connection is genuine and good, but all too easily becomes what I’ve heard described as an “overdesire,” a self-centered interest. That’s a hard thing to admit, even more disappointing to realize that I’ve been struggling with versions of this same selfishness for most of my life. Yet, I am thankful for how God is using this in me. He is gentle in reminding me that I am accepted by him so that I can accept myself and I can accept others without burdening them to respond to me in a certain way.

IMG_5806I’ve been so wonderfully affirmed and loved by my parents, and that is one of the most defining characteristics of my relationship with them. And in turn, thankfully, their love reminds me of God’s love and encourages me to share that with others who have much the same need. Differently received or expressed than me, of course, just as tastes differ. As I made the pumpkin cookies below yesterday, I was still ruminating on all this, but maybe just slightly more so, I was happy to be in the kitchen, making something to share with people I am growing in friendship with. For once, I let the cookies be cookies and me be okay with me. IMG_5843


October 9, 2014 § Leave a comment

…Minus 1 (my dad couldn’t make it because he works too hard) on a trip last weekend to Auburn. My mom is a huge fan of the team and, well, anything Auburn related, and grew up there. We stayed with my grandfather and step-grandmother who still live in the house my mom grew up in. I love these beautiful people. memomandjosh auburn2014 joshmesherrygdad 2014

Thanks, Tennessee

September 28, 2014 § Leave a comment

“It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.” -Emerson

I gave a small wood plaque with this quote painted on it to my friend Alison who-knows-how-long-ago, and it brought a big smile to my face to see it hanging in her guest room last weekend. I’m sure it was there the last time I came, but I didn’t notice it in the same way. Alison and I weren’t particularly stupid together on this most-recent visit, but we’ve had plenty of adventures and silliness and spontaneity in our friendship. I pray for plenty more in the future. Watching her with her new son Hunter, I’m so excited for him and all the hilarity that awaits him in his childhood. Good food, too, once he graduates beyond oatmeal dust.

Speaking of which, in just 2 days time, Alison and I either whipped up or pursued some mighty tasty meals. French toast made from her homemade bread topped with fresh berries kicked off our Saturday, which ended with Alison handling her grill like she was born to do it. In between breakfast and dinner, the four of us had lunch at Cafe Rakka near their home. They’ve taken me here before, and every dish was fresh and spicy and plentiful. This time, I tried the Tandoori Chicken sandwich on what tasted like housemade pita, almost naan-like. IMG_5688We entertained the baby in between our delicious meals (or, is it more accurate to say he entertained us?).

IMG_5696After the munchkin went to bed, the grill got fired up and flank steak was grilled and fantastic pineapple salsa consumed. I brought a new cookbook from work for us to pour over and we watched a documentary about French pastry chefs. Clearly, we have a preferred pastime. Sunday it was quiche for breakfast followed by a performance of the musical “Once” at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center. I’d forgotten how much those songs resonate from when I saw the movie several years ago. Translating the story to stage had its awkward moments, but the music kept me mesmerized. IMG_5711

Afterwards we had to eat again so off to the 12 South neighborhood we hopped to try Epice, a Lebanese bistro Alison kept mentioning which very subtly clued me in that she really wanted to go there. My salmon dish, named Samak, introduced me to tarator, a sauce the waitress said was close to tzatziki which is now close to my heart. Cilantro roasted potatoes and the peasant salad I could’ve eaten two helpings of. I especially love eating out, and at new-to-me places, because not only do I get to experience new dishes, it also gives me ideas for techniques or spices to try later when I’m at home.  IMG_5712We polished this meal off with Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, because I always want to eat their ice cream. The Sweet Cream Biscuits and Peach jam flavor was as delightful as I’d hoped it would be. A simple weekend to visit a friend, but it filled me up in so many ways. The not-too-long drive afforded me beautiful scenery and a showy sunset, being face to face and heart to heart with an old friend gave me strength, and I left renewed. Thankful for constants even in the midst of life’s changes and the different stages we move into. Thankful for perseverance in friendship though the miles separate us.


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