reflections and raclette

Resolutions are for suckers. Reflections are for the sentimental.

So I guess you can call me miss sensitive … because I’m about to get all sorts of reflective here.

Despite everything that happened in between, it seems (according to my personal journal) that I spent the beginning of 2020 just as I ended it: with Lilia fighting her nap, Jason having a bad back day, and multiple loads of laundry on the horizon.

It’s laughable because no matter the upheaval, these remain the constants in our lives.

Except there was upheaval. There was impossible turned possible. There were way too many tears to be healthy. There was stress and strain and regressions and regrets. It was hard. And I broke, a lot.

But I also triumphed.

I worked full-time while taking care of Lilia when schools shut down, all while enduring my brutal third trimester of pregnancy. I pivoted my birth plans once it was apparent that no one would be coming to help. I gave birth during a pandemic. I overcame a longer than average c-section recovery and a painfully annoying oversupply. I read nearly three times more books than anticipated. I installed a dishwasher. I constructed two greenhouses. I laid mulch and rocks and compost. I got better at washing and reusing plastic bags. I painted walls and built shelves. I made soap and perfected my pie crust. I put up all of our Christmas lights. I carried my son when he cried, I carried my daughter when she fell, and I carried husband from room to room when he couldn’t walk on his own.

I have to recite these memories — no matter how hard they are to recount — simply to remind myself of my own strength on yet another hard day. Another day when I feel sleep deprived and bone-tired exhausted. Another day when I’m tired of telling everyone around me “no” (and yes, that includes the dog). Another day when I’m not sure how I am supposed to do it all without help, without community, without a hug.

But as this past year has taught me, the way forward begins with a single step. Each painful step, each scream-inducing moment, each arduous day brings with it the opportunity to show our strength, to be mindful of our perspectives, and to never ever let go of our faith.

As the hymn goes: And whether our tomorrows / Be filled with good or ill / We’ll triumph through our sorrows / And rise to bless you still.

Because let’s face it — we’re not out of the muck yet. There are still baby teeth to grow and diapers to change. Accidents to clean and nightmares to comfort. Backs to mend and pain to manage. Friends to miss and masks to wear.

But we do so while also realizing how far we’ve come. Sure, naps, back pain, and laundry might be our universal truths in this chapter of life — but it’s what happens in the in between that shows us that we can do just about anything if we just take things one step at a time.

It also helps if there is coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.

Friends, we endured 2020. We may currently feel exhausted and exasperated as a result, but we can also feel empowered.

I for one cannot wait for the day when I can look back on it all and say, “Wow, I did that… and I never want to do it again.”


Raclette

Jason received a raclette grill for Christmas last year (2019) after enjoying so many iterations of it during our trips to Belgium. What is raclette you ask? Raclette is both a type of cheese and a cooking apparatus that resembles a small hibachi grill. It is, above all, a communal dining experience meant to be enjoyed with others.

Yet despite not being able to gather with friends and family as much as expected this year, we were still able to break out the raclette and drown our worries in melted cheese, grilled potatoes and vegetables, and homemade bread on several welcome occasions. We ate raclette in February with visiting friends, in July with the arrival of Jason’s mom, in September during Arleigh’s baptism weekend, and on a random weekday in December as a family. Somehow, this little European grill has become a theme of 2020 — teaching us that the best moments in life happen around a table. Maybe it’s with a plethora of loved ones or just with your partner and a couple of rowdy kiddos. It doesn’t matter as long as you’re together.

The good news is that you technically don’t need raclette cheese or a raclette grill to enjoy the raclette experience. If you’re cooking for yourself or don’t feel like springing for a raclette grill, a pan under the oven broiler will do just the trick. (That is what we did for years to satisfy our raclette cravings.) However, if you want to make it a real experience, we say go for the grill, as you’ll be able to spend hours enjoying one other’s company as everyone makes their own little morsels of melted deliciousness.

Ingredients:
  • A Variety of Cheese, sliced
    • Definitely try to locate Raclette at the local cheese shop if you can. We also like Emmental, Gruyere, Young Gouda, and English Cheddar (because that’s what Costco sells).
  • Potatoes, steamed and sliced
    • Preferably baby potatoes or gold potatoes.
  • Broccoli, steamed and chopped
    • This is essential if you desire another tray of raclette but don’t want to over-indulge in yet another batch of starchy potatoes under your rich melty cheese dish.
  • Your Choice of Accoutrements, including:
    • Prosciutto
    • Bacon
    • Sausage
    • Sliced onion
    • Sliced mushrooms
    • Sliced bell pepper
    • Sliced zucchini
    • Chopped walnuts
    • Olive oil
Instructions:
  • Preheat raclette grill at least 30 minutes before mealtime. This allows the top to get nice and hot.
  • Once heated, place potatoes, onion, mushroom, meats, and any other desired accoutrement on top to begin grilling.
  • Each person then prepares a small tray of their preferred cheese and accoutrements. Place the tray under the raclette burner to begin melting.
  • Once properly melted, pour hot liquid molten cheesy goodness on potatoes and broccoli.
  • Repeat, mixing and matching with all of the accoutrements as you wish.

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