The blog has been sleeping, in a state of early winter hibernation these past few weeks. But on the other side of the screen things have been brewing, dreams being wrung out and filled back up, taking wing. A new year symbolizes a blank canvas, and while ultimately it is nothing but a new set of dated pages in the same life, it offers a chance to reflect on the past 12 months—their blessings, trials, successes, and struggles—and then to give oneself the freedom to boldly move forward without judgment into a new season, believing that the days to come are filled with potential.
I began my own process of reflection and planning sometime back in early or mid December—it feels like so long ago now—and have given my heart the time and space it’s needed to make sense of the thoughts and ideas about the writing life that have been bubbling to the surface and challenging me to take notice: ideas bold and brave and utterly surprising; a challenge to turn all my creative and professional pursuits on their heads and shake them out to see what happens; an urge to stop the inward battle between the typical shoulds and expectations of today’s professional writing life and the musts of my own.
I have rarely picked up the pen to write and have neglected the camera over the past few weeks. The timing has not been right. It’s as if the words and visual compositions inside of me have urged me to wait, to let the creativity rest and ponder. Christmas meals with family and New Year’s celebrations with friends have punctuated the stillness, along with deep heart searching to uncover my ultimate priorities and goals for this moment in life and check my past progresses against them. Rather than planning and documenting recipes and meals for the blog I have cooked solely for the purpose of feeding my loved ones well. I have savored time spent alongside them in the kitchen and at the dining room, the camera serving only to take a few snapshots for the sake of memories.
And now a week into the new year I have come out ready to begin again, pursuing the same ultimate goals but with clarity and purpose, without the periphery work that I now realize is serving as a distraction. The words feel rusty but ready. The eyes are refreshed and prepared to look through the camera lens with a new vision. The heart? Well, that heart is almost overflowing with excitement for what is to come, grateful for the freedom to shake everything up and rediscover and declare its motivation and focus.
Rather than make resolutions, I set goals, dream dreams. They’re flexible, open to modification along the way, but they provide a vision for the year to come and direction for the days that make up that time. They give me a framework to work with, a sense of how I should use my time. Far too often this past year I found myself frustrated with the industry expectation of social media success and bogged down by the ever-growing email inboxes filled with too much clutter amidst the messages of true meaning. This year I’m committing to using social media as a necessary tool but never letting it steal from time better spent elsewhere in my writing life. As for email? I’m taming it, slowly but surely, and hope that in good time I will have freed up that space to be used for enriching communication—and that includes my own responsiveness, as I can’t tell you how many emails I have left unanswered, despite my best efforts, throughout the years. As I’ve learned from Emily Ley and Lara Casey—a couple of entrepreneurs and moms with hearts for encouraging others to live rich, meaning-filled lives, and whose planners and goal-setting tools I love—a little structure, evaluation, and planning can go a long way in freeing up time and space so that we can focus on what matters most. For me, that’s my family, friends, faith, and writing dreams. I’m looking forward to what 2014 holds and am trying to savor each and every day as it unfolds.
Lemon-Scented Riskrem (Rice Cream) with Raspberry Sauce
While Norwegian riskrem is very much a Christmas tradition in my family and for many others, I’m going to be bold and say I see no reason why it shouldn’t be brought to the table on other occasions as well. As I have worked to recreate some of my late Grandma Agny’s recipes over the years, riskrem is the first that I succeeded at. Now that I’m comfortable with the recipe, I feel free to tweak it, adding various amounts of sugar and cream and even modifying the flavors. This one–with the zest of a lemon–is fresh and not too sweet, while maintaining the delicate nature that I love so much about the dessert. Enjoy!
1 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Arborio rice
2 cups whole milk
1/4 cup sugar plus 3-4 tablespoons
Seeds from a vanilla bean
Zest from one lemon
1 1/4 cups cream
12-ounce bag frozen raspberries, defrosted
Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan and stir in the salt. Add rice and simmer, covered, about 20 minutes until the rice absorbs the water.
Add the milk, 1/4 cup sugar, vanilla seeds, and about half of the lemon zest and stir to combine. Bring almost, but not quite, to a boil, stirring occasionally, and cover, simmering until the rice has plumped with the milk and the pudding has thickened. Taste at some point and add more lemon zest if you wish–it should taste a little stronger here than you’d like in the finished dessert, since you’ll be folding in whipped cream at the end. Remove from the heat and let chill thoroughly.
When ready to serve, whip the cream with one to three tablespoons of the remaining sugar, depending on how sweet you like your riskrem–the pudding that’s a base is only moderately sweet. Starting with 3/4 of a cup, begin to fold the cream into the pudding, adjusting the amount until you have a consistency you like.
Make the sauce by pureeing the raspberries with a tablespoon of sugar. Pour raspberry sauce over each portion of riskrem and serve.