Sunday, January 22, 2012

Game Day Imposters

If your team is in a Divisional Championship game today, then this day feels a little like Christmas eve or the night before you leave to go on a vacation.  You are excited; there is the optimism that comes from possibilities that are not yet realized, and hopes not yet dashed.    The NY Giants, despite their mediocre regular season performance, are in the playoffs--and today are one win away from going to the big dance.  The last time we were there was 2008 when we again beat the odds and won against Goliath (aka as the New England Patriots).   The Giants always do better as the underdogs--it seems to reinforce our long-won reputation as being the down-in-the dirt, scrappy kid who, while unrefined, has a heart as big as the city itself.  It all smacks of an afterschool special, doesn't it? :) 

 The part that strikes me, though, is how great it feels to be in a place where naysayers were sure you wouldn't be. I recognize this feeling on a personal level, I bet many of you do too.  While it feels great, there is a nagging little voice that sits on you shoulder and says "you're not supposed to be here, you're an better be careful or everyone will realize that you don't belong here.."  That insidious voice can follow us and even bring us down at the moment when it is our turn to shine.  It's been called the "Imposter Syndrome" in psychological literature, and it is very real.  I worry that the some of rookie members of the Giants team will succumb to that voice today and forget all that they really did to get where they are.   That concern, coupled with gentle reminders that I do belong where I am, has at times failed me.  I bet it has failed you, too.

When I talk to friends and colleagues, I am always amazed at how prevalent the 'imposter syndrome' is among us, and this particularly true among women.  It's a phenomenon, really, that so many of us feel that we are in places where we don't deserve to be.  For me, today, it's finishing my doctorate.  I've done everything that needs to be done, I've jumped through all the hoops, passed all the checkpoints and now I'm faced with the dissertation.  I've been stuck here for too long because, frankly, I can't see how I actually got here.  Standing from this vantage point is has been much too easy to forget all of the trials: the papers, the exams, the hours, the sacrifices-- all of it, that I had to overcome to get to this point.  I know that it may not make sense to anyone who isn't me, but something about preparing for today's game reminded me that, just as the Giants have earned their place here, so have I.  Chances are, so have you too.   So today, my wish for you, for me (and the Giants) is that we each take some time to look back, recognize and then value all the ways we overcame odds to be where we are today. 
Glazed 'Pressure Cooker" Ribs (recipe at the end)

Oh, and because this blog is really about the intersection of food with our lives, these special days require some special food.   Unusual or special dishes remind us that this day or this occasion requires special tribute.  I think the lesson is really in the celebration itself:  the game has not been won, yet we choose to make this day special because of the journey it took to get here.  This is something we need to consider doing for ourselves: we need to not just celebrate the attainment of a goal, but also carve out time to celebrate the journey it took to get there.

Rustic Apple Pies

Asian Glazed Ribs from the Pressure Cooker

Glaze (for 2-3 Lbs of Pork Ribs with bones)
1c Orange Marmalade (or Apricot Jam)
1/2c Hoisin Sauce
2tbs Soy Sauce
2 tsp Sesame Oil
2 tsp Garlic Paste or Garlic Powder
1 tsp Ginger Paste, Fresh Grated or Powder (I like the paste that comes in the tube!)
2 tsp Lemon Grass
2 tsp Oyster Sauce
Chili flakes or chili oil if you like some heat.

Mix all of the glaze ingredients in a medium size bowl and adjust to taste. The amounts are really pliable meaning that you should make the sauce taste the way you like it.  You may like a little more ginger, or more's up to you. 

Cover each rib liberally, on both sides, with the glaze and then wrap them all together in aluminum foil--you want this to be as water tight as possible.  Put 1-2 cups of water in the bottom of your pressure cooker.  (If your pressure cooker has a little rack to help keep the food out of the liquid, use it). Put the well-wrapped ribs into the pressure cooker. Set the cooker to High Pressure for 40-minutes . When the cooker is done, allow it to cool down naturally (rather then letting the steam out manually).  NOTE: boneless ribs will take a little less time.

Your ribs will not be crispy, but they will be tender.  If you want to crisp up the outside, once you've removed the ribs from the pressure cooker, unwrap the foil and pop them under the broiler for a few minutes.  Either way they are DELICIOUS!

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