18. Try a New Dish

It feels so good to start crossing things off the list. I get a warm + fuzzy sensation in my heart as black ink soaks into the page, checking off the completed box. Okay, maybe that feeling has more to do with being in love and less to do with the list. Moving on...

18. Try a New Dish || sarahesh.blogspot.com

Number 18: Try a New Dish. I know I've mentioned it before on the blog, or perhaps it was my Instagram feed, either way, working in the kitchen is not my first love. I do it out of necessity; my family needs to eat. I prepare simple, healthy meals. Anything that takes more than 30 minutes of hands on time is ridiculous and doesn't often happen.

Two years ago, newly married, and overly ambitious, I searched Pinterest for recipe ideas that I was sure to make. One, among many, was Jamaican Patties. 

A popular lunch or snack item, these are a pastry pocket filled with curried beef, chicken or veggies. Often they are served with delicious coco bread. When I lived in Jamaica, this was something I ate often. It was affordable and oh so good! 

On Saturday, as I was searching my recipe pin board for something new and challenging to make, I noticed way at the bottom of the board the link for those Jamaican Patties. That was the one. I opened the link, browsed the ingredients, and went shopping for the only item I didn't have in my pantry - vegetable shortening. Everything else was on hand. 

I prepared the pastry dough. As that was chilling in the fridge, I mixed the meat filling. Like always, I did not stick to the recipe. It called for ground beef; I used venison and black beans instead. I also added hot sauce and a bit more curry seasoning. The salt was eliminated, and Italian seasoning was sprinkled in. After taste testing the mixture several times, it was finally perfect. 

The dough was rolled out into small circles, the meat mixture was spread over half of it, and then I folded the dough over to form a pocket and crimped the edges with a fork. After brushing each pastry with the egg wash, the tray was placed in the oven and the magic began.

Scents can be nostalgic. Smelling the curry wafting through my kitchen as the pastries baked brought back so many precious memories of that warm sunny island in the West Indies. A little bit of homesickness washed over me.

The timer beeped; I pulled the tray out of the oven and a squeal of delight probably escaped my lips. The patties looked perfect! Let me tell you folks, they did not disappoint! The crust was flaky and the filling burst with flavor. I opted to serve them with a spinach salad instead of coco bread. It was healthier and it meant less time in the kitchen. Win. Win.

I'm not sure why it took me two years and a birthday list to complete these, but I am so glad I finally tried. This is a recipe I will keep on file and use again, although it won't be on a regular basis, simply because it took well over thirty minutes to prepare and, as you already know, I just don't do that. 

You can find that amazing recipe, along with many other Jamaican gems here. Try it folks, you will be so glad you did.


23 before 24

23 Before 24 || sarahesh.blogspot.com

Inspired, as always, by my sister, Kate, I came up with a 23 before 24 list. In short, this is a list of 23 goals that I would like to accomplish before I turn 24. Unlike a bucket list, I want these goals to be specific and realistic. I want some of them to be fun and free, but I would like most to be challenging and grow me as a wife, a mom, a daughter, a sister, and a friend.

As I accomplish each of these goals, I plan to blog about it...

So here it goes:

1. Record daily things I am grateful for
Because a thankful, contented spirit requires cultivating with intention.

2. Blog once per week for the next year

3. Visit an elderly person (who isn't a relative)
There is so much wisdom to be gained from those who journeyed before us. Honor them; respect them; befriend them; learn from them.

4. Donate blood
This is something I've attempted before, but because of all of the traveling I did as a teen, I never was considered safe enough to donate blood. It has been about two years since I was out of the United States (other than Canada) so I am going to try again.

5. Learn basic floral arrangement
To stop and smell the roses.

6. Participate in one group workout with an instructor
I enjoy challenging myself physically, solo. A little group competition would be good for this introvert-ish soul.

7. Take up gardening
To become more like my mom.

8. Visit a new state
Or province or country.

9. Make French macaroons
I've never had one... I don't even know if they are good. But I have heard they are daunting and require precision. I am not precise; this will not be easy. 

10. Read twelve non-fiction books
This should be fairly easy.

11. Write 52 love notes to one man

12. Break my long distance run record
Once upon a time I was planning to run a full marathon, and someday I will. But this year I just need to run at least 16 miles. 

13. Learn about and use my SLR camera
A great photographer once said, "The best camera is the one you use." But I say, "Move over iPhone. You ain't got nothing on a Canon." Hello Sarah. Practice what you preach. That camera is getting dusty.

14. Hand write a note to someone who inspires me

15. Learn to knit or crochet and make a scarf

16. Bike around Seneca Lake
I've relayed raced those 77.7 miles twice. Now it's time to bike it as well.  

17. Take a personal retreat
Whether a day, a long weekend, or a week, some personal time would be refreshing. 

18. Try a new dish
Hello Pakistani restaurant, here I come! ... oh wait, you mean I actually have to prepare it?

19. Go hunting
Archery, muzzleloader or thrift shopping. All three count. Yes they do.

20. Explore downtown Rochester

21. Take dancing lessons with my man
As a rule, most Mennonites and Baptists don't dance very well. (Folks, we need all the help we can get.) Besides, it would be a fun couple of date nights. 

22. Make fresh mozzarella from scratch
Again, to become more like my mom.

23. Go paddle boarding
I live in the Finger Lakes region of New York. There is water all around me... let's make good use of it and try something new, shall we?


A Tribute to Ev

It was such an honor to be asked to share memories of my friendship with Ev at his funeral yesterday. The service was a beautiful memorial to a life lived with passion and love for people and for God. To know Ev, to be his friend since childhood, was a blessing. He is sorely missed - but the fact that he is with the Father and is completely well is glory. 

A Tribute to Ev || sarahesh.blogspot.com

Dear Ev,

I wish I would have been asked to share memories of our childhood at your wedding reception or thirtieth birthday party. Reminiscing those years with you, both of us digging up childhood antics and reliving them together would be my choice. I want to hear the stories from your point of view too.

Our friendship started 22 years ago - with our parents being such close friends, it was only natural that we, too, would be friends.

I remember a time where you and I weren't quite cool enough to keep up with our older brothers, so when they deserted us, we started our own club. I was the bossy president and you were the member who had to pay an initiation fee. You obliged. However, willingly? I'm not sure.

We spent countless hours out in the hay loft of that dairy barn. We built forts among the hay bales, complete with tunnels and dead ends and booby traps. We played cops and robbers, freeze tag, and broom sock out there. Burying each other in the soybeans, freshly harvested, still in the grain wagon and walking through those cow pies, soft and warm, letting the smelly contents squish between our toes was pure bliss. I think I even convinced you that mud puddles taste sort of like chocolate milk if you are thirsty enough. The kitchen tap was a good 200 yards away, and we were so dehydrated that we wouldn't have made it that far.

Summers were spent swimming in the pond, playing king of the raft or having diving and flipping competitions with our brothers. We would beg our moms to let us go out before lunch, and as soon as lunch was over we would be begging to go out again. The thirty minutes we had to wait so our food would settle before swimming was an eternity in our ten year old minds.

In the winter we were back on the pond, although this time we were bundled up and playing hockey on the ice.

One summer day I was at your house when you got home from school. You were going to ride in the combine with your dad and invited me along. Climbing into the cab barefoot, I somehow managed to pinch my big toe in the door, immediately the nail turned black and eventually fell off. You were so worried about me and kept asking if I was okay.

I could go on and on with memories of those carefree days, of "night out" every other Friday, where you and your siblings would come to my house or vice verse, so that our parents could enjoy a date night without the trouble of finding a babysitter, of biking the Outlet trail on Sunday afternoons, of riding the four wheeler at full speed through the fields.

Peers would tease you about me, and you were quick to tell them that I was a girl and I was a friend, but I was not your girlfriend.

Our friendship did change as we reached our teenage years. While we no longer did everything together, we still hung out with the same group of friends and saw each other often. You had such a quirky sense of humor and could always make me laugh. You also had a very caring heart and put effort into relationships. To many of us, you were a very close friend.

As we got back to your house after riding in the combine that day I pinched my toe, you proudly told your older brothers that I was the bravest girl you knew, because even though it hurt like crazy, I didn't cry at all. Ev, today I am trying so hard to be brave, but the pain of losing you, my closest childhood friend, is so much greater than anything I have ever experienced physically and the tears won't stop coming no matter how hard I try to hold them back.

Your life has been such an inspiration to me. You lived those 22 years with passion and energy, and I wish I would have told you how much I admire you before you were gone. Because of you, I want to grow in relationships; because of you, I want live more fully.

I love you. I miss you.