It has been 120 days since my maternal Grandmother passed away. It was an experience I anticipated to endure someday, but I couldn’t have known just how acutely it would affect me. In our phone calls the weeks before her passing she would mix up her facts, ask the same questions over again, and although I knew they were typical, even necessary marks, for her mortal end, it was difficult to see her once sharp witted mind become dull; and I could tell it frustrated and bothered her. Despite it, she always laughed that beautifully jovial laugh and ended our conversation with her sincere expressions of love. I knew she cared about me and my family, loving us entirely.
I guess it’s typical, when someone loses a person they love, that their thoughts settle on memories, looking back at the legacy the person created through seemingly unimpressive daily patterns. Then those who live on look forward to their own legacy and the seedlings of what their own rhythms and habits are becoming. I am not only looking forward to the life I have yet to live, but how it will influence and affect my own children. I think about the person my grandmother was; the courage she had to live the life she wanted that brought her eternal happiness, and how her example of optimism, fierce loyalty to those she loved, and never forgetting to say I love you or laugh have changed me. She was an example of faith and steadfastness, not without flaws, but she was kind to everyone she met. Often her temper and pride got the better of her, and she always had a deep love for delicious food. Both, I inherited with the genes that skipped my mother’s generation.
Time is cyclical. A fact not only apparent in the seasons and in the turning of the day, but in human lives. However, I believe there is another dimension. Not only does human lives repeat themselves in its basic round of existence, but if we properly turn to look at the lives lived before, and increase upon those lessons learned, we can turn that cycle into a spiral upward, always increasing in love and knowledge. A life lived unshared is wasted if not lived for others to benefit.
Life continues on after death, but not as we know it now. It does get better. Though I believe we don’t have to wait until then to make it so.
Pears en Croute
inspired by this italian recipe
for the pâte brissée (barely changed from Martha Stewart)
1 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
1 cup toasted white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup unsalted butter (or coconut oil) chilled and cut into small pieces
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water
for the pears and filling
8 pears, peeled and hollowed out
1/4 to 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
3/4 cup walnuts
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Prepare the pâte brisée
Sift the flours, salt and sugar.
Cut the butter into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter or fork (or pulse in food processor) until crumbly.
Slowly pour in a couple Tablespoons of the ice water and mix with a wooden spoon (or process) until the mixture comes together but isn’t wet or sticky. If the dough is crumbly when you pinch at it, add another Tablespoon of water until you have the correct texture.
Divide dough in half, flatten into two discs, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
Bake the pears
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Hollow out pears by cutting a circle around the core on the bottom side of the pear, then spooning out the core. If your pears are ripe, it should remove easily.
Combine brown sugar, honey, walnuts and nutmeg in a bowl, set aside.
Fill each peeled and hollow pear with a few Tablespoons of the sugar nut mixture then carefully set, bottom side down, in greased or parchment lined baking dishes.* If some filling falls out, just tuck it back in.
Roll out pastry dough to 1/4 inch thick (you may need to bring it out a few minutes before to thaw).
Cut long strips, about 1/2 to 1 inch in width. Starting at the top of the pear, wrap the pear with the pastry, slowly turning and overlapping about a third of the strip, being sure (as the italian recipe translated) “not to let any part be discovered”. You can blossom out the pastry by gently opening up the top parts of the pastry strips with your fingertips, but I decided against it to make it a little easier.
Bake for 18 – 20 minutes.
Serve warm with a dusting of powdered sugar or vanilla whipped cream with a pinch of nutmeg. Or maybe with a bit of vanilla ice cream.
*It is easiest if each pear has its own dish. You can set all the dishes on one baking sheet to make transferring in and out of the oven easier.