In every recipe, there is usually one special ingredient. I do not mean the necessary ingredients, like flour or sugar or salt or eggs. I also do not mean the catalysts like baking powder or baking soda. I mean the thing like vanilla extract. Chocolate chip cookies required vanilla extract. It is like trying to make a proper martini without an olive. Today I made a special stock pile of one such ingredient. When a recipe calls for the zest of one orange, it is usually the wrong time of year and oranges are out of season. While you can buy dried orange zest on the spice aisle at the supermarket, it is not an equivalent substitution. When I made the blueberry scones last weekend, I had to buy a whole bag of oranges when all I needed was one. I tried to cut up the oranges to put in lunches on Monday and discovered they were drying inside and basically inedible. Indeed, it is not orange season. I am sure these California navels have been sitting in a warehouse for months before making it to my Publix.
So, today I took the zest off all these oranges and packed it for the freezer. Now I have zest for months. The oranges went to my compost pile.
Life too has those special ingredients. For a robust life, for vitality and balance, for contentment and fulfillment….there are the equivalents of orange zest, pecans and almond extract. For every life, that special ingredient may be different. For some it is music. For another, it may be gardening. One man may require travel while another requires prayer. One woman may need to be a mother while another trains to be an Olympic athlete. The real trick is that no one hands us the recipe for our life’s fulfillment on the day we are born. We have to kinda wing it, like a tipsy but brilliant Julia Child……whipping up a masterpiece by the seat of our pants. But, being a master requires practice and experimentation and many mistake. And even a master cannot keep a souffle from falling or a bottle of wine turning to vinegar. The very best planned banquet still has the obnoxious, drunken Uncle Richard who eats too much, talks too loud and pinches your mother-in-law’s ass. So, searching for that one special ingredient can be a life’s pursuit.