Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Recipe for Disaster

Last week I chatted with a friend about the seeming perfection that can show up in the blogosphere.  It can look like so many women are domestic goddesses who do it all with a smile on their lips, love in their hearts, and no dust balls on their floors.  Blogs, to me, are my generation's Better Homes and Gardens.

Did you know that a recent study reveiled that many people feel depressed after spending a chunk of time on Facebook?  The reasoning is a person scans through photo after photo of the smiling faces and happy, fun times on another person's page and thinks, "Gee, her life looks amazing.  I wish that was my life.  My life is lame.  My kids have snotty noses and my kitchen counters are gross and my house smells like the litter box and I can't remember the last time I went somewhere fun and exciting.  This sucks!"

This is all obviously sub-conscious, but I have to admit that I've done it.  I bet we've all done it.

I've said before that I love blogging because it's like scrapbooking, except without the million trillion little pieces of paper and I don't need a dedicated workspace.  But here's the thing; when you scrapbook, do you include pictures of your messy kitchen?  What about pictures of the baby screaming for the millionth time after you've wiped her poor little runny nose again?  Do you even have a picture of that?  Probably not.  We don't necessarily want to chronicle those times, to pour over them and decorate their edges.  We would rather let those memories fade away.

The truth is, those rough spots define us just as much as those polished ones.  Those ugly moments, and our ability to find the beauty in them are obviously responsible for developing a depth of character and loveliness we would never achieve without them.  And while it's ok not to scrapbook the ugly stuff, it's also important to recognize that those moments are a part of the tapestry of everyone's lives, the brown and black and gray threads that lend extra boldness and beauty to the reds, golds and greens.

Our eyes spend more time fixated on the reds, golds and greens because they are lovely and exciting.  It should be that way.  If we stare instead only at the drabness, we will miss out on what is beautiful.  Beauty and joy deserve celebration, especially in the midst of difficulty.

This little space for my blog has blessed me in that way.  Here, I have a place to record the loveliness and joy of our lives in the midst of what has undoubtedly been tough year.  It's been a haven for me, a reminder of all that is good no matter what is happening.  I want my baby to be able to read this one day and know without a doubt how much utter joy we found in her.  Yet I realize it will mean that much more to her if she knows the whole story, and I've left out a lot of that story for the sake of focusing on our joy instead of our hardships.

You see, tonight I decided to make a recipe for dinner that I've made and loved before.  It was inspired from one of my favorite blogs, La Tartine Gourmande.  Bea is amazing; her recipes, her photography, her styling.  It's all exactly what I was talking about, that perfection that just makes you imagine that she dances around her kitchen in a spotless white apron and never spills anything and feeds her family beautiful meals on adorable plates four times a day.  In reality, I'm sure that just behind the camera is a messy kitchen, a toddler yelling about something, and a really normal mama food blogger who is really just doing what we all do; making messes, cleaning them up, loving on her family, chasing her passions, and getting up the next day to do it all over again.  I believe that behind every beautiful photograph you see on the internet, there's a woman who hasn't showered in a few days, or a pile of laundry that isn't done, or heap of garbage that needs to go out, or all of the above.  It's just not possible to have it together in every area of our lives, no matter how hard we may try. And even if we miraculously have it all together one day, we're such as heck not going to every day.  And you know what?  That's ok.

But I forget all of that a lot.  Like I said, I absolutely adore Bea's blog.  I've made quite a few of her recipes with mild success, and while never in my wildest dreams will my food ever look as lovely as hers, I somehow always seem to forget that.  Then I make it and I pull it out of the oven and feel all disappointed in myself.  Nne of my favorites and my families' favorites has become an adaptation of her root vegetable au gratin.  It is delicious, but it is a lot of work.  I'm convinced my family is going to ask me to make it again soon, then secretly laugh knowing that hands are going to fall off from exhaustion.  Root veggies are tough little buggers, and my knives are lame.

And so, I set off last Monday to make it.  It had been kind of a rough day, but I figured, "Why not?  I'll just make it."  I thought I would share with you my amazing recipe.  You know you want to try it!

Root Veggie Lasagna, adapted from Bea.

Sweet Potatoes
Yukon Gold Potatoes
Chicken Apple Sausage

Take the sausage out of the freezer to thaw.  Forget to do this about 8 days in a row.  Finally remember and take it out one morning.  Get out a pan, toss in a tiny bit of butter.  Dice the sausage and brown in the skillet.
This is what your kitchen should look like if you are
following my recipe right.

The artificial light and unwashed bottle are both key to this dish.

Start peeling and finely slicing the veggies.  Almost slice your finger approximately 123 times.  Regret the lack of sharp knives in your house.  Get veggie peelings all over your kitchen.  Get beet juice all over your kitchen.  Hear the baby crying.  Get her out of her crib and put her in her high chair.  Listen to her make nothing but the "I want attention mmmmmmmm" sound for the entire time you are chopping.  Give her a toy to make her stop.  Go back to slicing.  Pick up the dropped toy.  Go back to slicing.  Try another toy.  Go back to slicing.  Try a frozen chew ring.  Go back to slicing.  Actually slice your finger.  Get beet juice stain on your shirt, counter, and floor.  Ask the baby to please, for the love of God and country, to stop making the mmmmmmmmm sound.  Arrange the veggies you've been slicing for approximately your entire life in a 9x13 pan and start on the white sauce.
If your baby isn't mad, you're doing something wrong.

Is it weird that I actually love beets?

Can you tell that the veggies get increasingly less pretty
as you move down the line?

Add some chopped onion and garlic to the pan, but set the sausage aside.  Cook until soft, then add the milk.  Cook on low heat until it reduces.  Kick your stupid stove that never heats accurately and turn the heat all the way up.  Forget you turned the heat up and decide to give the baby, who is now crying, some peas.  Turn away from the stove for about 45 seconds.  Go back to the stove and find you over heated the milk, so it is now separated.  Resist the urge to throw everything over the backyard fence.  Melt some extra cheese in the sauce to try to make it better. 

Put the diced sausage on top of the veggies and pour over the weird-looking white sauce.  Sprinkle with cheese.  Cover with foil, place in the oven, and hope for the best.

Remove from the over after about an hour. Resist the urge to toss the whole thing down the garbage disposal.  Heave some into a bowl, plop on the couch, and eat.


Bea's version is breathtakingly beautiful.  I hope someday I can cool like her.  But you know what?  As much as I wanted to toss it, mine was kind of beautiful, too.


  1. Loved this entry~~~~Thanks for being "real"

    Love and hugs


  2. Anonymous11:35 PM

    Golly days, I love your version so much better because it more closely resembles my life! And yes, I just said golly days! Enjoy your lasagna Taylor!:)

  3. Anonymous8:48 AM

    If I made that recipe with a lame knife I would be cursing by the end too!

    If you ever happen to get a mandolin yours will look just as pretty as Bea's. I think that and a baby-sitter for an hour would put you into a temporary state of domestic bliss instead of torture.

  4. Anonymous1:29 PM

    Doesn't the "mmmm" sound DRIVE YOU INSANE? Ugh. I totally know. Also, the rows of veggies in that dish look absolutely beautiful. Also, it's nice to know that your adorable child isn't perfect because up until this post, I was certain she never cried, fussed or annoyed you. ;)



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