My husband spent his summers staying at his grandparents’ cabin in Eagle Harbor, MI and one of his fondest memories is eating the giant pasties served at Toni’s Country Kitchen in Calumet. It was one of the first places we went to eat when we vacationed in Eagle Harbor. I was one of the few Iowans I knew who knew about pasties, because my Mom made them growing up. When we were growing up we used chunks of pork and beef, but I gave in and started adding some ground meat after I had Toni’s. I don’t really like hamburger, so I use ground pork.
I’ve kind of avoided posting a recipe because well, I don’t really have precise measurements for the filling. I just kind of throw it together but I can post a specific dough recipe that works well for pasties.
2 scant cups of flour
4 oz butter
1/4 tsp mustard powder
2-4 tbsp water
Mix the flour and mustard powder. Cut the butter into the flour and add the water until you have a nice elastic dough. The consistency isn’t quite like pie crust, it is the same recipe I use for my sausage rolls.
I mix the meat and vegetables together, like a meatloaf, before I put the pasties together. The ground meat holds the vegetables in place, which makes crimping the crust a little easier. The short video below gives you a little bit of history about the pasty and shows an alternative method of putting the pasties together by layering the ingredients.
Once you have them put together, bake them in an oven preheated to 400 degrees for 60 minutes.
In the past, I’ve jumped on the “choose a one-word theme for the year” bandwagon without much resolve. This year I will choose maitrī as my theme word for the year and I am taking it a little more seriously.
I am not a Buddhist but I played with the idea for awhile and did a lot of reading. I respect the practice immensely for the wisdom that many of its teachers put out into the world. The focus on groundlessness and hopelessness is a little bleak for me, at times. But there is a lot to be learned about compassion from the teachings.
My good friend, Renée , reminded of the book When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodran. (Isn’t it interesting how the Universe often speaks its wisdom to us through friends? ) All I really could recall about the book is Chodran defining the term maitrī as “loving-kindness towards oneself” and the importance of having a fearlessly compassionate attitude toward our own pain and that of others. I am sure I’ve shared both ideas with clients, many times.
I realized that I had I had forgotten a lot of what I had read, so I went poking through my notes from the books. As I skimmed the notes, a couple more quotes leapt off the pages and biffed me.
“It seems that, without clarity and honesty, we don’t progress. We just stay stuck in the same vicious cycle. But honesty without kindness makes us feel grim and mean, and pretty soon we start looking like we’ve been sucking on lemons. We become so caught up in introspection that we lose any contentment or gratitude we might have had…That’s why there’s so much emphasis on kindness.”~ Pema Chodran
“When we find ourselves in a situation in which our buttons are being pushed, we can choose to repress or act out, or we can choose to practice. If we can start to do the exchange, breathing in with the intention of keeping our hearts open to the embarrassment or fear or anger that we feel, then to our surprise we find that we are also open to what the other person is feeling. Open heart is open heart.” ~ Chögyam Trungpa
It is true what they say in Dune about fear being the mind-killer. Because despite knowing all this rationally, emotionally I had digressed to the point of choosing the first two options rather than engaging in any sort of compassionate understanding, over the last few years. That is not to say that there weren’t circumstances which justifiably caused me fear and anger. However, somewhere along the path, I let these emotions overwhelm me. I approached life with a closed heart because I felt like I had to protect myself. I may have been being honest in my assessments, but there was no kindness in my delivery.
It seems it is the ego’s default protective mechanism that when we feel guilt and shame about some wrong we have done another person, we vilify that person. We turn others into “the bad guy” because we don’t want to delve into our dark places. It makes it a lot easier to do this when you are being treated without loving compassion and feel abandoned by that person. In turn, the “bad guy” feels compelled to put up protective barriers and launch a counter offensive . It is a wicked cycle to fall into.
If I have learned anything over the last few months it is that you have to break away from this cycle. It leads to nothing good. Forgiving someone, without placing the burden of justification on them, is the first step. There is no bad guy; just people who need compassion and forgiveness.
Forgiving someone you love involves meeting them with an open heart, fearless compassion and setting aside your need to be “right”. Forgiving yourself involves all of that and practicing loving-kindness towards yourself. It is my recent experience that it is more difficult to forgive yourself than someone you love. I suppose that makes sense. Many people do not love themselves.
Which brings me back to the concept ofmaitrīwhich is a Sanskrit word that literally translates to benevolence, but has been imbued with deeper meaning by many teachers.
Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche explained maitrī as “unconditional friendliness and in particular unconditional friendliness to oneself. Thich Nhat Hanh explains maitrī as “the intention and capacity to offer joy and happiness” and tells us “we have to practise looking and listening deeply so that we know what to do and what not to do to make others happy.” I think either of these interpretations incorporate my intentions for the year.
Twelfth night has past and the holiday season is behind us. It is no surprise to long-time readers and others who know me when I go quiet during the deep of Winter. For me, it has always been a time to burrow into my hole and store up energy for busy months of the year. I venture out less and spend more time on household projects. Even the foods we eat are different. We brew rich broths and creamy beverages. We bake meals that warm and heal. I need this time of rebuilding and renewal to get through the rest of the year.
That has never been more true than this year. Autumn was stormy. The winds have calmed now and though shaken, I am still standing on my feet. Perhaps I am more rooted than I give myself credit for, sometimes. But nevertheless I am looking forward to some winter stillness.
January’s full moon brought the snow. It blanketed the landscape in a protective sea of white. I watched the snow fall and realized it was time to look inward; my instincts echoing the wise words Steve’s cousin recently shared:
Right now we’re entering into the time of deep waiting, of hibernation, of transformation. We’ve journeyed into the North on the shamanic wheel, which is the direction of endurance, of searching; the direction of the ancestors; the direction of stone and bone and Earth. It is the time for slowing down, the time for sitting in the darkness, lighting fires and singing songs and sharing meals. It is not the time for letting go; it is the time for holding on to one another. ~ Leslie Mills
I intend on doing as she advises this winter and that may be as much as I can offer in the way of a New Year’s resolution. I am going to spend the deep winter immersed in rebuilding the peace and warmth of my Tenlach* I want to plan garden projects and focus on the good things in store for us this year. I want to write inspiring words, create beautiful handicrafts, and bake wonderful food.
I think a steamed pudding is in our near future.
*Old Irish word for a hearth, or household, as in those who shared a hearth.
This year’s holiday letter for those whose snail mail addresses elude me.