When was the last time you took a chance on a lead, something that more or less fell into your lap, that made you feel equally terrified and excited? Not the small everyday turns of fortune -- coffee conversation that has you jotting next steps and "what now?" I'm talking about whopping "Are You Kidding" moments you just can't refuse.
This happened to me a year ago. I gave a talk called "We Go Where We Need To Go" to some 150 people at Denver's Temple Micah during a Yom Kippur service. The message: grasp at faith however it comes. The talk went well and I barely remember meeting a woman in the audience named Vicky Collins, for whom my delivery and the overall message seemed to resonate. Two days later, Vicky emailed me, asking if I ever wanted to host a cooking show. Now that's faith working in its own clever way since I was born a foodie (seriously, I was named after the Nancy Lynn Bakeries in Bridgeport, CT), have grown to be a passionate cook and yes, have forever dreamed of becoming a Food Network star. For me, food is the bridge to life.
Crazy as this idea seemed, Vicky's email had me high as the stars. She is after all, an award-winning filmmaker and TV producer with her own production company. So, after a year of meeting to develop the Tasting Life Project, we filmed a pilot yesterday -- actually two episodes. Vicky brought in her friend and colleague Mike Billingsley of Action TV and by 8:30 a.m. my kitchen was turned into a studio. Lights. Cameras. Action. It was sweet chaos. We brought in two special guests: former first lady of Colorado Frances Owens and Ginny Jordan, psychotherapist, author of the brave new memoir Clear Cut and co-founder of Bead for Life.
Comfort food is what helps Frances Owens deal with important transitions -- the wild ride of politics and transitions she is making in her professional and personal life. Together we dished on life in Colorado, the calling she feels as a community leader and dinners at the White House. Together, we prepared hearty, white chicken chili and jalepeno cornbread. Yum. Ginny Jordan brought beautiful leeks from her garden that I added to an asparagus tomato frittata. She's rightfully health-conscious today and avoids gluten -- the perfect opportunity to serve THE BEST gluten-free blueberry muffins. Ginny and I cooked together while chatting about all the rituals associated with food, and the many ways preparing meals and sharing them with loved ones sustain us. In her case, buying peaches and preparing peaches and cream for her family helped everyone heal during an especially rough time in her cancer recovery.
You'll have to thank the Gluten Free Goddess for the Sour Cream Blueberry Muffin recipe.
2 large free-range organic eggs
1/2 cup extra light olive oil
1 1/4 cup (packed) organic light brown sugar
2 teaspoons bourbon vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
2 cups Pamela's Ultimate Baking and Pancake Mix
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
1 heaping cup fresh or frozen organic blueberries (not thawed, if using frozen)
Preheat oven to 375ºF. Line a 12-muffin pan with paper liners.
In a mixing bowl beat the eggs, oil, brown sugar, vanilla and yogurt till smooth.
Add the baking mix and beat until a batter forms.
Add the pecans and blueberries, stirring in gently.
Spoon the batter into the cups. I used all the batter for twelve; I like my muffins as big as possible.
Bake in the center of the oven for about 25 minutes, until golden and dry in the center. Note: If using fresh blueberries instead of frozen, cut back the baking time to about 20 minutes.
Cool on a wire rack very briefly, then tip the muffins out of the pan and place them on a wire rack to continue cooling (this way, they don't get soggy).
As for me....I've learned a thing or two about Tasting Life in all its bounty over the years. Beginning with this simple wisdom: when life hands you an opportunity, dive into it as if you were eating the very last muffin on earth.