The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched.
They must be felt with the heart.
Today I’m writing from a local coffee shop. I’m eating a spectacularly underwhelming muffin and drinking a tasty but seriously overpriced cup of coffee. I’m an ‘infrequenter’ of coffee shops, but today I’m paying for the ambiance. There are no dishes stacked precariously on a drying rack; if there is a stash of kids toys here, I don’t see them and none has gotten underfoot yet; I’m not sitting on clumps of dried oatmeal; and Evelyn isn’t drinking toilet water with a straw she pulled out of the bathroom garbage as I chase Annabelle around the house trying to comb her hair (true story). The recipe for this post has been ready for quite some time, but I’ve been experiencing writer’s block of the worst kind. My sidebar tells me I’ve revised this post 18 times so far which is puzzling because aside from what you’ve already read, the page is entirely blank.
The problem isn’t a lack of inspiration, but rather, too much inspiration. And much like my home, my car, and well, everything else I can think of, my thoughts have been disorganized lately. Too much disorganized inspiration…ooph. I want to do and be and make everything. But when I try to do and be and make everything, I end up doing and being and making little more than a big mess. So today after I dropped Annabelle off at school and she threw her arms around my neck and kissed my lips and told me she loved me (and I had a mom moment), I brought Evelyn to playschool so I could have two hours to reset. Forty minutes in and I feel like new. It’s amazing what an oatmeal-less chair can do for a case of writer’s block.
Aside from this rare mediocre-muffin-eating and overpriced-coffee-drinking experience, my mom is usually my go-to “reset button”. She has a way of reminding me to focus on what matters, faith and family, without actually telling me to do so. When I take her unspoken advice, I find I’m my best version of me. Thank you, mom! My mom has four grown children who live in Maryland, Illinois, Montana, and (because of a military assignment) Japan. She’s also the full time caretaker of my two youngest brothers, Steve and Tom, who have Down syndrome and still live at home so she knows a thing or two about the chaos of motherhood. You know the superhero Wonder Woman? She was inspired by my mom…minus the spandex and giant boobs.
As if being a wife, mom, caretaker (and I do mean CAREtaker), and superhero weren’t enough, she recently created an amazing resource for her fellow caretakers. It’s called The Upside of Downs. (Please feel free to check it out. It costs nothing, but there’s so much to be gained.) She designed it to be “a gathering place for all who care for someone, of any age, who has special needs.” “It’s a place to share, to learn, [and] to find fellowship as you journey along.” She’s amazing. And she does it all with boundless energy and joy. Have I mentioned she’s amazing? Anyway, it’s been a few days since I’ve called her to “reset” because I know she’s eyeballs deep in work. I think that’s why I’ve been so scatter-brained.
Thanks to the The Upside of Downs, I was reminded that October is National Down Syndrome Awareness Month. As I sit in the relative peace of this coffee shop, I’m reflecting on the impact Steve and Tom have had on my life–it’s immeasurable–and the way they inspire me on a daily basis from several hundred miles away. Steve and Tom are 20 and 18 now, no longer the little boys they were when I left home in 2005. In my mind’s eye they’ll always be kids though, no matter how much time passes. I’m not entirely sure why my brain continues to preserve their youth, but my guess is that it has something to do with their incorruptible innocence.
Abbey Moore Photography//abbeymoore.net
It’s that innocence combined with their unconditional love that I’m most blissfully aware of. I’m aware of the Down syndrome too, but that’s secondary. When I get overwhelmed by daily life, particularly stories reported by the news and the current political situation, I often think of Steve and Tom and I’m quickly reminded of what humankind can be.
As their older sister I’ve always tried to protect, inspire, and teach them. I’ve done those things throughout their lives here and there, but when I really think about it, they’re the ones who do those things for me day in and day out without fail. Thank you God for blessing me with my brothers.
Unlike me, this ham & Gruyere galettzel with caramelized onions succeeds at being everything. Throw a couple fried eggs on top and it’s breakfast. Put a slice in a brown paper sack with an apple–lunch. Serve it alongside a salad and you’ve got yourself dinner. The pretzel dough ingredients were adapted from this recipe on Food.com but everything else is my own. I did try to boil the entire round of dough, but take a look at the steam burns on my arms and you’ll understand why I abandoned that method. This version isn’t quite as pretzely, but it’s pretty damn good. Feel free to change up the fillings. Sauerkraut and pastrami anyone? Steak and roasted peppers? Find (or organize) your inspiration and get cooking 🙂
- Pretzel dough:
- ⅔ cup / 158 mL Warm water (about 110 degrees)
- 1 tablespoon Milk
- 1¼ teaspoons Active dry yeast
- 2½ tablespoons Brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon Melted unsalted butter
- ¼ teaspoon Kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
- 1 cup / 152 g All-purpose flour
- 1 cup / 120 g Rye flour
- 1 Egg + 1 tablespoon water (for egg wash)
- 1 Large onion, halved and thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon Olive oil
- 1 tablespoon Unsalted butter
- ¼ teaspoon Kosher salt
- 6 oz / 180 g Thinly sliced deli ham, best quality
- ¾ cup / 55 g Gruyère cheese, shredded
- For the pretzel dough:
- Combine the warm water, milk and yeast in a large bowl. Let stand for 5 minutes. Add brown sugar, melted butter, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Swirl to combine. Add flours and stir with a wooden spoon until all ingredients are combined. Turn dough out on a lightly floured surface and knead for 5-7 minutes or until the dough is pliable and no longer sticky. Add a bit more flour as you go if the dough sticks. Alternatively, you can mix the dough in a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment on medium low speed for 5 minutes.
- Form dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise at room temperature for 1 hour. The dough can be used immediately, or for best results refrigerated overnight.
- Meanwhile caramelize the onions. Melt the butter with the olive oil over medium low heat in a heavy bottom skillet, preferably cast iron. Add the onions and the salt and cook for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally. The onions are done when they're completely brown and some are beginning to crisp. If the onions are browning too quickly, or appear to be burning, lower the temperature.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Dump dough onto a lightly floured surface. Roll dough into a 13 inch circle and transfer it to a parchment lined baking sheet. Arrange the caramelized onions over the dough, leaving a 1-1/2 inch border. Sprinkle half the cheese over the onions and arrange the ham over top of the cheese. Sprinkle the ham with the remaining cheese. Fold the edges of the dough up so they overlap slightly (see photo). Mix one egg with 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl and brush the edges of the dough with the egg wash. Sprinkle the edges lightly with Kosher salt. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the edges are deeply brown and the cheese is melted. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving. The galette is best served hot or warm with a side of dijon- or honey- mustard.