“Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering, ‘it will be happier’…”
~ Alfred Lord Tennyson
I like the idea of hope smiling from the threshold. Such a joyful notion. Even the concept of hope smiling, seems itself, designed to elevate our happiness. Hope is so fundamental, so paramount.
Tennyson, Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom and one of the greatest poets of the Victorian era, wasn’t known for being particularly light-hearted or happy. Grief and death were themes that permeated both his personal life and his work. Hope was the thing that gave him balance. Hope lured him on.
Hope has to be the single best thing that each New Year’s brings us. A fresh start. A chance to put our misfortunes, our grief, and our sorrows to rest. Hope helps us re-evaluate our lives, live more purposefully. To move forward in honorable, useful, compassionate ways. It gives us the opportunity to start again – a new shot at happiness.
That’s why New Year’s resolutions are so important. Don’t scoff. Cast aside your skepticism, cynicism, doubt, scorn, disdain, sarcasm, and contempt. Throw away all that negativity.
Today on the threshold of a New Year, I’m optimistically making resolutions. Lots of them. A whole ‘to-do’ list of hope-filled resolutions that include:
- Making charitable donations and buying extras for the food bank
- Reading more
- Cooking more for others
- Taking night classes in conversational Spanish
- Committing a single poem to memory
- Traveling to places near and far. To Montreal, Mexico, England, France, Spain, Australia, Lake Superior. “You know how it is. Sometimes we plan a trip to one place, but something takes us to another.” ~ Rumi
- Doing more yoga, more walking, hiking, running
- Actually getting my kayak into the water instead of just talking about it, and
- Following my heart.
I’m looking forward to bidding farewell to 2014 – a year of massive upheaval in my life. And I’ve started as I mean to continue, by getting into my kitchen – one of the great ongoing sources of happiness in my life – and making this savoury cheese, bacon and caramelized onion tart. This rich dish uses very little meat, packs a huge flavour punch, and the combination of fried onion and bacon will make your house smell like heaven. It pairs perfectly with a salad of mixed organic greens and a white wine – perhaps an off-dry Riesling.
Ricotta, Caramelized Onion, and Bacon Tart
- 6 slices of thickly sliced butcher shop bacon
- 4 medium-sized onions, diced (I used a combination of red and yellow onions)
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1-2 tbsp olive oil (may not be necessary depending on how fatty your bacon is)
- 300 grams ricotta cheese
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 cup grated sharp cheese (I used a combination of asiago, old cheddar and Parmesan)
- salt and pepper
- pastry for a 9 inch flan, pie, or Quiche dish
Begin by frying the bacon until the bacon is browned but not over-cooked. (It will be cooked again when the tart bakes). Remove the bacon from the pan and set to cool before chopping. Meanwhile, add the diced onion to the bacon fat and cook over medium heat until the onion begins to brown, adding olive oil as necessary. Once the onions are lightly browned, add the balsamic vinegar and keep cooking until the onions are completely caramelized – about 20-25 minutes in total.
While the onions are cooking, roll out the pastry and line the flan dish. Mix together the ricotta and beaten egg. Add the grated cheese and season generously with salt and pepper. Spread the cheese mixture onto the pastry.
Next add the caramelized onions, and finally top with the cooked, chopped bacon.
Bake at 350 deg F for 25-30 minutes or until pastry is browned. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.