During my recent travels I checked into the hotel, changed into my workout clothes and headed to the gym. It was all relatively standard, nothing out of the ordinary until I deviated from my music mix and took a detour into a podcast. There was a time that I was practically a podcast jockey, bouncing from story to story, but I think I eventually burned out from the binge. I took a long podcast hiatus and then boom, here I am back at it. I am craving a good story. I somehow needed to kick-start my creativity and not feel like I’ve abandoned my sacred space; the perfect mash-up of cooking and blogging. For weeks I’ve wanted to frolic in my kitchen, yet I was just too tapped out. Things are always busy. But I wondered if busy was still good. I did a self-diagnosis. Maybe I am suffering from a general malaise.
My attention turned towards my day job. There are a lot of aspects of my job that I covet, the people, the company itself, the mental stimulation. But there is an aspect of the job that is not gratifying. I’ve always reached for the stars and worked hard to get there. Yet somehow I am suddenly going nowhere, a cog in the wheel, and it shocked me back to reality.
How had I managed to let myself slide into being complacent, and why have I allowed it to happen? I’ve always been the type of person to take great pride in my career, giving 110% to my job. That hasn’t changed. I am good at what I do, but I am not having fun in my work. It isn’t holding my attention. I’ve tried to trick myself into finding other things to keep me motivated, reaching out to those I thought might be able to see that I am capable of more; but somehow that just isn’t happening. I’ve gone invisible, and I hate it. That’s not to say that I am an unhappy person. I have a goal – to find at least one smile in every day and show someone that I care (above all, my family).
Now, what was that podcast about? That’s the funny thing. It was about identifying a super power…if you had one. The podcast itself was peculiar, ergo entertaining. If you could choose your super power – invisibility or flying then which would it be? Oddly enough, most females seemed to choose invisibility. That left me scratching my head because I’ve always thought flying or transporting oneself from point A to point B would be much more exciting than being invisible. And well that brings me back to work; I am no longer ‘flying’ and I also don’t want to sunset my career and go invisible, so my options are numbered.
If I can’t currently be or achieve what I want to be then I have to think carefully. I know in my heart that I have a big decision to make. I want to fly high, I want to be motivated every day to be the career person that is respected and considered to be the perfect blend of smart, dedicated, compassionate and valued with a hint of badass. I want to be appreciated for my merits and to be considered for those special projects. I rebuff my invisibility; here’s to fearlessness and turning desires into reality. Here’s to fostering my inner spark that drives me to do all of the things I love. And now let’s to getting back to blogging.
To kick off my new found gumption, I’ve created a recipe that in itself is reaching into the next season. I guess my other superpower, in addition to flying, would be that I am a Dessert Inventress. Yes, it is something that defines me more often than it should, but who can’t embrace their inner sweet tooth?! I subscribe to the theory that every meal should have dessert and appetizers as an option.
In many ways this latest creation is a sweet salute to the late-summer pear season as we cheer on the arrival of the heavily spiced fall season, embrace the days of less day light and get cozy nesting in our surroundings. I wouldn’t dare refer to this dessert as fancy, however don’t underestimate its wow-factor. I made it a bit whimsical using a ravioli cutter on the puff pastry to make the pears resemble ‘alta moda’ for my fashionistas! The taste is on par with Ginny’s baked apples, and the preparation leaves your house smelling like fall.
6 medium size pears
4 cups water
2 cups sugar
1 cup honey (great way to use up hardened honey)
1 lemon, washed and quartered, seeds removed
3 cinnamon sticks
8 whole cloves
1 tsp vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean
1-2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 egg, lightly beaten
vanilla ice cream, optional
Core pears from bottom, leaving stems in tact, seeds removed. Peel pears leaving ¼ inch boarder of skin at the base of the pear.
In a large sauce pan, combine the water, sugar, honey, lemon, cinnamon sticks, and cloves. If using the vanilla bean, split in half and scrape out seeds; add beans and seeds to the mixture or the vanilla extract. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat and place pears on their sides in an uncovered saucepan to poach. Basting occasionally. After 8 minutes, turn pears over and cook for another 8 minutes; continue basting occasionally.
Remove pears and set aside to cool slightly. Strain and reserve 2 cups of poaching liquid. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Unfold the puff pastry on a slightly floured surface. Using a ravoli cutter, or a knife, cut into ½-inch wide strips. Brush each strip lightly with egg. Starting at the bottom of a pear, wrap pastry strip around the pear, adding additional strips until the pear is completely wrapped in pastry. Repeat with remaining pears and puff pastry.
Transfer to parchment paper lined baking dish. Bake pears on the middle or lower shelf until golden brown and fragrant. Approximately 25-30 minutes.
In large sauce pan, bring reserved poaching liquid to a vigorous boil. Cook about 10 minutes until liquid is thick and syrupy. Place pears on a dessert platter or individual dessert plates and generously drizzle with syrup. Serve warm. (Vanilla ice cream could be delicious with these treats too!)