Our family has always enjoyed a bit of pandemonium on Christmas Eve. This year was no different. The girlies, aka my nieces, came over around four. We cooked together, chatted, laughed and got caught up. In spite of sharing a bottle of prosecco, no one lost a finger. For me, it was a special time; one I look forward to every year. After a few hours, the rest of the family arrived. The noise and hub bub increased, wine was poured, hors d’oeuvres were passed and, eventually, dinner was served.
It was over dinner that Emily, at least I think it was Emily – it could have been Kaela, introduced us to a new game. Well, not exactly a game, it’s a cross between an icebreaker (something we definitely don’t need) and a moment for reflection (something we could all use.) Perhaps you’ve heard of it – Roses, Thorns and Buds.
One by one, we went around the table. We each shared a Rose, a highlight of the past year. We shared a Thorn, a challenge or difficulty from the last twelve months. Finally, we shared the Buds – something we’re looking forward to in 2019. With twenty-somethings, a nonagenarian and everything in between, our joys, sorrows and hopes are nothing if not diverse.
Our family’s Roses included a college graduation. There is nothing like a rite of passage to mark a year as special. But for some of us, the year’s Rose was nothing more – and nothing less – than being together. Talking, laughing, walking, cooking – everyday, ordinary stuff made special by being together. As for the Thorns, they were far from everyday and indeed painful. 2018 brought a distressing assortment of illness and death.
At least some of the Buds were not hard to guess. One of the girlies is heading to South America for an epic bicycle trip. Another will soon be on her way to Ireland for a semester abroad. Our most senior member can’t wait to fly south for the winter. As for me, I look forward to getting my ankle back in shape. (The break is healed but the hard work towards full mobility is still in my future.)
As we head into the new year, it occurs to me that regular reflection on the good, the painful and the good-to-come is not a bad thing. Perhaps, we should all consider gathering our Roses, Thorns and Buds not once a year but with some regularity. After all, looking back over a full year can be a bit daunting. Embracing simple joys throughout the year, both experienced and anticipated, may give us strength during difficult times.
I’m pretty sure I can’t handle a daily round of Roses, Thorns and Buds. However, once a week might work. Perhaps, it could be a New Year’s resolution. Before you shout NO due to the logistics of a weekly family dinner, please realize – you don’t need to gather one and all. These reflections can be just as meaningful when done with an audience of one, perhaps more so.
I’m guessing these weekly bests, worsts and expectations will rarely be monumental. The beauty of these observations is in the wonder and appreciation of the everyday. For those of us with family and friends scattered around the globe, a Rose might be a newsy email from afar. A Thorn would be a cold rain that thwarts a day on the ski slopes. As for a Bud, how about making plans to once again see Mary Poppins on the silver screen.
Wishing you only the best in 2019 and bon appétit!
Quinoa & Lentil Pilaf with Roasted Broccolini
For a healthy New Year, try adding more whole grains, legumes and greens to your diet. It’s a delicious way to a fit new you. Enjoy!
1 onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/3 cups lentils
3-4 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
About 2 quarts chicken or vegetable stock or broth
1 1/2 cups quinoa
About 2 pounds broccolini or broccoli, trimmed and cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
Pick through the lentils and remove any stones. Put the lentils in a fine mesh sieve, rinse well with cold water and drain.
Lightly coat a saucepan with olive oil and heat over medium, add the onion and carrot, season with salt and pepper and sauté until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for 2-3 minutes more. Add the lentils, thyme, bay leaf and 6 cups stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer, stirring once or twice, for about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, put the quinoa in a fine mesh sieve, rinse well with cold water and drain. Add the quinoa to the lentils and raise the heat to return a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and, adding more stock if necessary, cook for about 20 minutes or until the lentils and quinoa are tender.
While the lentils and quinoa simmer, put the broccolini on 1-2 large rimmed baking sheet(s), drizzle with enough olive oil to lightly coat, sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss to combine. Spread the broccolini in a single layer and roast at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes. Give the broccolini a toss and spread again in a single layer, sprinkle with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and return to the oven for 5-10 minutes. Remove the broccolini from the oven, sprinkle with the zest of 1 lemon, drizzle with the juice of 1/2 lemon and toss to combine.
Remove the lentils and quinoa from the heat, add the chopped parsley, drizzle with the remaining lemon juice and toss to combine.
Spoon the lentils and quinoa into a deep serving platter or individual shallow bowls, top with broccolini, sprinkle with pine nuts and serve.
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One Year Ago – Sweet Potato Polenta
Two Years Ago – Spicy Shrimp Chowder
Three Years Ago – Dhal (Lentils) with Roasted Cauliflower
Four Years Ago – Spiced Chai
Five Years Ago – Roasted Cauliflower, Radicchio & Arugula Salad
Six Years Ago – Old Fashioned Pot Roast
Seven Years Ago – Pasta from the Pantry
Eight Years Ago – Tartiflette – An Alpine Casserole with Cheese & Potatoes
Nine Years Ago – Four Cheese Lasagna Bolognese with Spinach
Ten Years Ago – Curried Chicken and Lentil Soup
Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!
What are your New Year’s resolutions? Feel free to share!
Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2019