Barbecue

strawberry ricotta bruschetta

I loved my mother's Tupperware containers growing up. I can still remember the tiny blue one she used to serve us ice cream in, and the tops that fit just perfectly always intrigued me. I don't know why, but I still love holding a sealed container upside down and marvel at how a simple lid stops gravity from doing its job.

The blue container had a pink companion piece, and the sight of those only meant good things, like ice cream, jello or a homemade cinnamon sugar butter mixture. In fancy culinary terms, we'd call it a compound butter. I doubt my mother knew that's what she was making, as she swirled the softened butter together with the fragrant spice and sweet sugar. The house smelled sinfully good, as a pat melted across a crisp slice of bread just after it popped from the toaster.

It's quite an easy concoction to make on your own, so I was curious when I heard Land O'Lakes had a new cinnamon sugar buttery spread on the market. Since it has been my butter of choice for baking for a long time, I raised my virtual hand a few weeks ago to take on a project to develop a recipe using the spread, along with a few other bloggers—we're all posting a recipe this week which will be featured on the Betty Crocker website, for which we're also being paid.

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cocoa-spice rubbed ribs

The last 8 weeks have been an exploration. I'm amazed how much we really can learn about ourselves if we dig deep beneath the surface. It's like opening a watch and seeing all the moving parts, in an effort to see what makes us tick.

I've learned I'm stronger than I sometimes give myself credit for being.

I've learned as hectic as my life is on daily basis, I love it—even when Virginia is full-on tantrum mode.

I've learned my relationship with food is an ever-changing one. It's not solely about the immediate gratification of taste. It is about living in harmony with our mind and body.

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giving thanks (and some seriously delicious ribs)

I'm not supposed to be writing this post right now. I have a ton of work to finish and so desperately want to make time for a walk in this beautiful town tomorrow morning. I'm in Healdsburg, CA with a group of amazing food bloggers and journalists learning all about charcoal and barbecue, thanks to the graciousness of Kingsford Charcoal. But that's not the real reason I'm posting tonight (I promise to talk more about 'cue and coal in a few days)

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Being surrounded by truly talented people who are also like minded about community and caring for others (Diane took up a collection to tip the band), laughing with new friends Jen, Brooke and finally getting to meet the wonderful Denise and Lenny, has reminded me how thankful I need to be everyday. Yes, it's a tough economy, and the juggle of motherhood and a career is a challenging, delicate balance, but I'm blessed with more than a lot of other people out there. And, so I leave you with this one thought. Take just one minute each and everyday to remind yourself about the positive things in your life. I'll bet they make the annoying little things going wrong at any given moment seem even pretty insignificant. Rather than just celebrating the good times during this holiday season we're about to enter, cherish the little moments that happen every day.

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