"It’s easy (and good) to celebrate the high points in life: a new job, an engagement, a baby, a birthday - but it’s even more special to celebrate with a friend in the in-between moments, for no other reason than the mere fact that they exist and are loved.” - Anna Watson Carl
I’m going to Sonoma County in California for a wedding this week. I. Can’t. Wait. I am so happy I am able to celebrate the couple in person. I’m staying with a dear friend for a few days, and one of my bests that moved to Los Angeles is flying up for a girls’ wine country weekend. I rarely see these 4 people because of the map that divides our coasts. Northern California is one of my favorite parts of the United States. It is going to be such dreamy little trip.
Here’s what’s tricky: I have not even stepped on a plane yet and I'm already sad that the 5 days might go too quickly. I’ve begun to make up stories that I won’t have enough time with everyone or get to eat where I want to eat and see what I want to see. In my mind, I’m already back home, sad, and missing them. I make myself crazy with stories and negative forecasting sometimes. Do you ever do that? I’m a salesman and I’m my best customer. I can talk myself out of anything and sell myself on the most useless ideas and thoughts.
This is what I’m learning though; emotions only last a few moments, it’s the stories that we are attached to that linger. We sustain these emotions by how much value we’ve placed on our stories. If we keep playing the story over and over in our minds, whatever emotion it is infused with, that feeling is going to seep in deeply. That goes with being happy and sad too. If we keep reliving/retelling the joyous experiences, we can stay in a pleasant state of mind. If we continue to rehash/complain about the notsogreat stuff, the crappy feelings are going to stick around. Good or bad, the stories create a problem because they are getting in the way of the present moment. They are keeping us from what is real and what is happening right now.
I know, I know, everyone’s goal is to stay present. Why all the fuss? For me, staying present (which is super hard to do) keeps me true. It gives authenticity to what I’m feeling, thinking, and doing. Committing to the here and now guarantees that I don’t miss anything. That is my quest for the week ahead, not to miss a thing. I will look my friends in the eyes and BE with them. Laughing, dancing, visiting wineries, hiking, dining, witnessing, sharing. And when the week is over and I travel home with my good memories, I might be sad, but that is okay, that means I felt something real.
I have my fair share of high points to celebrate, whether I am cooking for a client or throwing one of my own parties, my kitchen can really turn it out. But more often than not, I am in-between. Waiting for the next big thing. My housemate and I have gotten pretty good at honoring the everyday when it comes to food. We cook for one another and have an imaginary restaurant that we create recipes for (okay, we have to try to stay present but we have to still dream…) This sandwich is one of our ‘best sellers’ on the menu.
Bacon Lettuce Tomato Sandwich
(sweet and spicy bacon, fried green tomatoes, with Alabama white sauce)
Sweet and Spicy Bacon
4 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
Rounded 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
Rounded 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 lb thick-cut bacon (about 12 slices)
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.
Stir together brown sugar, cayenne, and black pepper in a small bowl.
Arrange bacon slices in 1 layer (not overlapping) on rack of a large broiler pan. Bake 10 minutes. Turn slices over and coat evenly and generously with spiced sugar. Continue baking until bacon is crisp and deep golden, 10-15 minutes more (check bacon every 5 minutes so sugar doesn't burn). Transfer to paper towels to drain. Let them cool so the hot sugar doesn't burn your fingers or mouth!
Fried Green Tomatoes
2 large green tomatoes, sliced 1/2” thick
1/2 cup flour
1 egg beaten
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup corn meal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Combine the cornmeal and seasonings, set aside. Mix the buttermilk into the egg. Set aside. Dredge the tomatoes in the flour, fully coat them with the egg mixture, and then a final dredge into the cornmeal. Heat the oil in a skillet. Once heated, gently place tomatoes in oil. Shallow fry the tomatoes 1 minute on each side or until golden. Cook until the coating gets a bit crispy but not to where the tomatoes become mushy. Drain on paper towels or a rack, sprinkle with salt.
Alabama White Sauce
1 cup mayonaise
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon Tabasco
1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste
Mix everything together, season with salt and pepper
Toast bread and spread with sauce. Stack on butter lettuce leaves, sweet and spicy bacon, and the fried green tomatoes.
Thank you to Cheryl Stockton of Stockshot Photography for capturing this amazing sandwich. (I still owe you one!)