Wednesday, 6 August 2008
To choose or not to choose . . .
“The greatest gift that God in His bounty made in creation, and the most conformable to His goodness, and that which He prizes the most, was the freedom of the will, with which the creatures with intelligence, they all and they alone, were and are endowed.” ~Dante Alighieri , The Divine Comedy, “Paradiso”, vs. 19
Life is full of choices. Sometimes we make good choices and sometimes we make bad choices . . . but there are always ones to make, and they are always our own to make . . .
When we make good and wise choices, the end result is usually a positive one, for all actions have consequences. When we make bad choices, then we normally reap negative benefits, and sometimes very long reaching consequences.
Often, we get in the way of other people’s poor choices, which is unfortunate. Such as times when someone decides to squeeze their car into a too small parking space next to ours and just happens to scrape the side of our car on their way in, and then again on their way out when they see what they have done, and go to find another place to hide their mistake, or just leave altogether. (this has happened to us twice now, very frustrating) Not fair, I know, but it’s unfortunately the price we pay for having free will, and the freedom to choose for ourselves.
I reckon it’s a beautiful gift from God, the right to choose, and it’s not something I would relish living without.
When I wake up in the morning I can choose to get up right away, or to languish under the covers and doze for a bit longer. Being the early bird that I am, I always choose to get up right away. There’s so much of the day ahead to explore and experience, and I don’t want to miss a minute of it! That means that, by the end of the day, my energy is definitely flagging and I fall asleep in front of the telly more often than not, but, my oh my, I’ve usually had a full and rewarding day up to that point.
When I go to do something, either for myself or for others, I can choose to do the very best that I know how to do, or I can be lazy and only do a half job of it. Experience has shown me that any job worth doing, is worth doing to the best of my ability, for anything less than my best has consequences that I am just not willing to live with , and usually just creates more work for me in the long run anyways.
I can choose to look at the glass as half empty or as half full. Personally, I choose to always look at it as being half full. That way I don’t miss out on any of the blessings and un-expected pleasures along the way. Being positive has never cost me anything, but it surely has given me a great many benefits and rewards in return.
I can choose to put only good things into my body, such as healthy fruits, vegetables, lean meats and whole grain breads and cereals, or I can fill it up with junk food and empty calories. We all know that the first choice is the better choice, for how many of us are having to now reap the benefits of having made the wrong choice and are now struggling to take off all those extra pounds or suffering the consequences of those poor choices, such as . . . ill health, high blood pressure, etc. Experience once again has taught me that that extra piece of pie, or bag of crisps is not really worth the price I will have to pay in the long run for the short term pleasure I get.
Today I can choose to be happy, or I can choose to be sad. For me, I choose to be happy. Into each life, rain does and must fall. I am no different than anyone else. I have my own fair share of disappointments and heart aches. Life has it’s ups and downs. Despair and sadness touches each one of us at one time or another. The difference is all in how we, as individuals, choose to handle it. We can give in to it, and let it conquer us, or we can choose to rise above it and come out the victor in the end. The choice is ours to make. Each cloud does have a silver lining and we can find it, if we only look. There will be some lesson learned, some hidden blessing discovered. Sometimes God’s greatest answers come in what we see as unanswered prayers, and sometimes we learn more from losing than we ever would have from winning . . .
What a lovely evening I had last night. I had some of the ladies from my church over for our cooking club. It's not something that we have every month, but every couple of months or so. We always have such a good time with each other. Last night we made pastry. We used an old recipe that I have had for a long time in my big blue binder, for a *No Fail Pastry*. I think I got it from off of a "Tenderflake" lard carton many years ago. Each one of us ended up with enough pastry to make five single crust pies that we can store in our freezer to take out when the mood hits us, and we had a good laugh along the way, especially since we used the two knife method to cut the fat into our flour instead of pastry blenders, and had a darn good "work out" in doing so! I had to turn the fan on so we could cool down! We didn't actually cook any of it, but I did have a taster that I had prepared yesterday afternoon. After all our efforts it went down really well . . .
*Coconut Cream Pie*
Makes 1 9-inch pie
This has always been one of my favourite pies. My mother, like a lot of mothers, always used to use a packet of a cook and serve Jello coconut pudding mix to make hers, but, like most things, homemade from scratch is always infinitely better . . . Once you try this version, you'll never reach for that little cardboard box again!
1 cup of white sugar
5 TBS plain flour
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup cold milk
1 1/2 cups milk, scalded
3 egg yolks, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp coconut extract (optional, but I like the extra coconut flavour it gives)
1 TBS butter
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1 pre-baked 9-inch pie crust
For the Meringue:
3 egg whites
6 TBS sugar
Blend the sugar, flour and salt together, along with the 1/4 cup of cold milk in a medium saucepan. Mix well together. Gradually blend in the scalded milk, stirring constantly. Cook over medium low heat, stirring, until it thickens. Remove the pan from the heat.
Temper the egg yolks by whisking a bit of the hot mixture into them. Whisk the tempered egg yolks back into the hot mixture. Return the pan to the heat and continue to cook, stirring, for a further 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the vanilla and coconut (if using) extracts, and the butter. Stir in the flaked coconut. Let cool until just warm, then pour it into the baked crust.
Make a meringue by eating the egg whites until foamy. Continue to beat until stiff, gradually beating in the sugar a tablespoonful at a time. Spread over top of the cooled coconut filling, covering it right to the inner edges of the crust. Using the back of a metal spoon, lightly tap it on top all over, creating lovely little spikes. Bake in a pre-heated 180*C/350*F oven for 10 minutes or so until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and cool completely before cutting into slices to serve. (Using a wet knife makes cutting through the meringue easier as it doesn't stick to the knife.)