Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Solstice Cleaning= Warm Proscuitto Balsamic Dressing

It seems our lovely spring sunshine has been superseded by summer rain, which has given me an itch to clean our house. After spending too much time indoors with winter that whole spring cleaning concept was thrown out the window when spring ushered in warm, sunny days. I have officially renamed it to Solstice cleaning (decluttering, donating, deep cleaning..didn't mean for them all to start with a 'd.'). What I love about a thorough clean is an inner desire to bake and cook everything from scratch. I'm not quite sure why the two are connected, but I do have a hunch. As my hands clean every surface within our home, it stirs up the desire to use my hands to make a home cooked meal. Plus, I know as I clean our home and make a meal, it's a loving way to bless my family.

It especially blesses Ben, which makes me feel great that I can put these practical skills to use to lavish upon him. His love language is acts of service. He is able to relax at home when vertical surfaces aren't cluttered. Now, we both know this isn't capable the majority of the time due to having a two year old running around, I at least try (even if it's one day a week without clutter). Aside from cleaning, being able to come home to a cooked meal is really lovely. I remember when we both worked outside the home and came home to an empty stove top, UGGHH! He works so hard for our family, which makes me want to bless him with this love.

As you know from earlier posts, we celebrated our 7 year anniversary and a week later was Father's day. We have been together for 11 years total and I am truly thankful that he is my husband and my girl's father. He loves us unconditionally. He is quick to speak a patient filled grace into my life. There are so many things about him that make me proud to call him my husband, but one story comes to mind. He has to take an insurance class for his work (he's a financial adviser), which can be done via four-10 hour a day class or study on his own. He was of course going to do the study on his own, because he is a self-starter type of person and could easily get it done in 15 hours. However, he found out that he would have to sign an affidavit stating that he did study 40 hours before he took the test. Then, (which is why I love him) he realized in good conscience he would have to study 40 hours if he was going to sign the document.

It may seem like something so obtuse, some might even call it legalistic, but I would argue that it's completely opposite. It's because of his integrity and work ethic (something we could use a little more of in the financial world), which drive him to do what is right. His integrity, commitment, and work ethic have spoken multitudes to me over the past 11 years. Ben is a man who sticks to his word. He has gently encouraged me (mainly by action than word) how to worship in my work. Whether that was my studies in school, my job before children, and even now as I stay home. I have asked myself how is what I'm doing worship to the Lord? Ben's middle name is Micah, which suits him well reflecting on Micah 6:8, "He has shown thee, oh man, what is good and what the Lord requires of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God."

Warm Proscuitto Balsamic Dressing over Greens with Goat cheese & dried cherries

For the dressing:

5 slices of proscuitto, cut into 1/2 inch squares
2-3 Tablespoons water
4 Tablespoons Olive oil
1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar
3 Tablespoons minced shallot
1 Tablespoon minced garlic

Heat skillet over medium heat and add proscuitto. Stirring occasionally, until proscuitto gets crisp. Add the water to loosen some of the bits & flavoring. Take off heat. Remove cooked proscuitto to plate and try to keep as much of the juices in the skillet. Add the olive oil to skillet with the proscuitto drippings. In a small bowl or cup, add the balsamic vinegar, shallot, & garlic. Stir together and then add to skillet. Mix together and return skillet to medium-low heat while stirring. Stir for about 1-2 minutes then spoon into a cup with spout (or whatever you have). The original recipe called for bacon, which rendered more fat than the proscuitto. As a result, the cooked proscuitto drippings are minimal and doesn't do as well of a job as an emulsifier in the dressing. So, it is best to spoon the dressing on your salad, or mix the dressing and pour quickly thereafter.

Take your greens, add an ounce of crumbled goat cheese (crumble it yourself), a tablespoon of proscuitto and a handful of dried cherries. Top with dressing and enjoy with a nectarine & glass of wine or water. (if you have some dark chocolate eat that afterwards)

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