"Happiness is not the absence of problems, it's the ability to deal with them."
Life is interesting. I get into a groove and everything seems to be going smoothly or in an understandable pattern and on a particular course and, bam, life slaps me across the face with a new direction. It's inevitable.
Chips and salsa, just like in a restaurant.
The makings of restaurant-style chili.
Cut up the vegetables for the blender, coring the romatoes and removing seeds and ribs from the jalapeno peppers.
Jack and I parboil the tomatoes and remove the skins.
Daphne and Jack mix the too-green salsa with the sautéed onions and garlic.
Don't get too comfortable thinking you know what is happening or how things or life will progress. It's impossible to predict. Believe me, I try. I have been to psychics and mediums in an effort to see the future. I would really like to know. But, I think the absence of knowing is what presents us with surprises or problems and allows us to make choices that reveal our true nature.
It's effortless to be a good person when life is easy. It's how you behave under pressure that reveals your character. People need problems in order to grow, to learn lessons, and to be a better person. How else can we evolve into kinder human beings?
When we say we like how things are going and we get comfortable or complacent with life the direction is bound to change. This has been my experience anyway. Last week, I said I didn't have any new year's resolutions. I wanted things to stay as they were life was balanced, blah, blah. blah. Well, I'm glad I threw that out there because I was not slapped but punched in the face with changes that needed to take place. Something was occurring that needed adjusting, and I will fix it. Now, resolution ideas are coming at me with full force. There will be big modifications made in my life.
Restaurant Style Salsa
12 medium tomatoes
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1 Anaheim pepper, seeded and chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 onions, diced
3 cloves garlic
1 can stewed diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
salt and pepper to taste
Cut the tomatoes in half. Remove the core. Place them skin side down in a pan with 1 inch of boiling water for five minutes. Strain and gently remove the skins. Place skinned tomatoes in a food processor with the peppers and cilantro. Mix well. In a large pan, heat olive oil. Saut the onions and garlic for ten minutes. Add tomato mixture. Add diced tomatoes and tomato paste. Add cumin. Salt and pepper to taste.
No, I am not going to fill you in on the details. There are other people involved and it's too personal. The point is that looking back at my life, I realize, every time I think life is great or that I won't get into another car accident or that life feels easy or that I have the perfect family, I'm about to learn another lesson. I should know that by now.
I do believe that we grow from challenges. Happiness increases when we are able to overcome obstacles. I'm fine with learning more and being confronted with difficult situations. It's uncomfortable but I come out of the situation learning more and feeling better in the end. I hope that is what is in store for me this time too.
On a lighter note, I decided to make restaurant-style salsa this week. Making the salsa turned out to be a tiny example of unforeseen obstacles and lessons learned. I love the salsa we eat at Mexican restaurants. In fact, I usually fill up on chips and salsa every time I visit a Mexican restaurant. I have never before made this type of salsa. I looked through a few recipes and decided I would do my own thing with what I learned. I figured I knew enough from what I read and from how much I had eaten to make a pretty good salsa. I went to the store and picked up everything I needed. I decided to double up on the peppers because I wanted it to be spicy and I love chili peppers. I came home and started getting everything ready.
Daphne picked up the camera and told me she would be my photographer. Jack came into the kitchen and helped with each step. I was having the best time. I love having the kids in the kitchen helping me cook. We turned on music, laughed, and took funny pictures. I wouldn't have changed a thing. We were all happy. Then, the salsa was finished. It was a horrible shade of green. It was not how restaurant style salsa looks. I wanted it to be red and beautiful.
Turns out, I put in way too much cilantro and green peppers. I threw in extra peppers and extra cilantro because I love them so much. I never thought it could make it taste or look worse. Well, it did. Oops. I thought everything was perfect. We were all having so much fun, my ingredients seemed right and then, bam. I made a big mistake. Shoot. I didn't think about the color or the balance. I didn't take the tomato to pepper ratio into consideration at all.
I decided not to care that it was getting late. I didn't panic because I hadn't even started the rest of the dinner. I wasn't upset because I was really hungry. Instead, we hopped in the car and headed to the store. We rolled down the windows and turned up the radio while singing loudly. We grabbed some dessert while we were there to have after the dinner, just for fun. I doubled up on tomatoes and got some canned tomatoes and tomato paste. We returned to finish the project. In the end, I fixed it. The salsa tasted and looked just like it does in the restaurants. I learned a valuable lesson. OK, maybe not the most valuable lesson to learn, but a lesson nonetheless. This time, the lesson was that too much of a good thing can be bad and that you can turn an irritating situation into something fun.