Who were you trying to be 20 years ago? What were your dreams? Who were your peers and teachers? With whom were you in love? Big questions for a Monday morning, I know. I’ve spent the past few days swimming in a soup of the past, working backwards to find answers to those questions. I’m normally focused on the present, but I really want to give value to who I was, the me who got me to where I am now. Perhaps peeling back the layers of the past will help me get to where I want to go from here.
In the inventory of my 20 year history, most of that time was spent in New York City. The calendar pages were filled with life changing relationships and opportunities. Big love and big heartbreak. Great success and great failure. Friends and relatives have died, friends and relatives have moved away. New treasured relationships have developed, and unplanned doors opened and took me in new directions. Life just keeps going and delivers what and who we need to continue our journey of becoming our best self.
20 years ago, I was living in a hotel boarding house for women on 34th Street in Manhattan and I spent a great deal of my time with a friend named Seth. We met in a production of A Little Night Music; I was Petra to his Henrik. We became fast friends. We were even roommates in two different apartments. Seth was a strong glue that helped hold the parts of Lisa Adams together as I was a growing artist in a new city.
Seth moved to Los Angeles seven years ago but was in town visiting this weekend. It was such a sweet reunion. We talked a lot about who we were trying to be 20 years ago. We held magnifying glasses up to the people we are now. Praise, scrutiny, denial, truth, lies, and reality. We uncovered it all. I made a big discovery during our long talks.
Let’s return to the opening question. Who were you trying to be 20 years ago? Peel back a few layers and see what went down. Perhaps a marriage, a pregnancy, or a promotion occurred. Joy bringing events that might not have been in your initial vision. Or maybe an affair happened, an addiction surfaced, you got divorced, you lost your job, or the loss of a loved one came into play during that time. Joy thieving events that might not have been in your initial vision.
All of those events, happy or sad, produced emotions that were very real. They inspired actions that were very real. They changed our course, but they didn’t change who we were trying to be. Being gifted joy, or robbed of it, doesn’t define who we are. Those are just circumstances. As I held up the magnifying glass with Seth, dissecting our past, I was relieved to discover who I wanted to be 20 years ago is exactly who I’m trying to be today. I wanted to be my best self and that’s what I’m aiming for now. What is my best self? Being kind, courageous and loving. Period. The end. Not a published author, not a food personality on television, not wealthy, not a sought after voice talent, not a wife, not a mother. I mean, YES, all of those circumstances might be lovely, but they have no value if I cannot accomplish them while being kind, courageous and loving, right?
I baked layers and layers of phyllo dough with big beautiful New York State apples inside as a tribute to my friend Seth and our time in New York City together.
These baked apples are so impressive, yet incredibly easy. Cinnamon and apples pair so nicely together. These are like little Autumnal dessert presents waiting to be opened at the end of a meal.
Phyllo Baked Apples
Combine: 1/3 cup chopped pistachio nuts, 1/3 cup dried cranberries, 2 tablespoons raw brown sugar, 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon.
Combine 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon. Peel and remove the cores of 4 apples. Drizzle them with lemon juice to keep them from turning brown. Roll them in the cinnamon sugar mixture.
Combine 1/4 cup unseasoned breadcrumbs, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon. Lay out a sheet of phyllo dough, brush it with melted butter and dust it with the breadcrumb mixture. Add 2 more layers of phyllo, melted butter, and breadcrumb dusting.
Cut the stack in half and place one apple in the center. Fill the center with as much of the cranberry mixture as you can with some overflowing at the top. Gather the corners of the phyllo dough to form a purse, completely enclosing the apple. Brush with more melted butter and dust with any remaining cinnamon sugar.
Repeat with the other apples. Bake at 350 F degrees until golden. Remove from oven, let cool. drizzle with honey and sprinkle confectioners sugar on top.