Fortitude and squash


What does it mean to have fortitude??

What does it have to do with food? With body image? Do you have it?

I have used this word twice today. First when describing the admiration I have for a friend’s fortitude to finish her half marathons. Second I used it as a rebuttal of my son’s description of me being stubborn. I like to think I persevere. I keep my focus. I had a wonderful comment from a friend of a friend, that I was calm and showed much grace in the face of impending calamity.

The back story:

I have just finished a marathon week in the kitchen. I was in the cafe all week, only had Sunday off. I had a special event to cater Tuesday that was short notice and in addition to the HUGE weekend I was using any down time in the cafe to prep for: a 300 person dinner party plus a HUGE event that would bring approx. 1000 people through the museum during which the cafe was to be open.

my full cafe

The week was long, at times I was short fused, but I hope I kept most of that bottled up and instead displayed professional etiquette. The week ended with a HUGELY successful dinner. Lot’s of compliments all around.

my amazing crew! I am 5th from the right, top row

Where did I display fortitude?? Well, I had contracted one part of my menu out. I had a friend who owns a local restaurant agree to take my recipe and grill my chicken for me. This was in addition to the pork loins I was doing as well as all the side dishes and appetizers. I had one person lined up to pick up the order of 300 chicken breasts by 4:30. He showed up to the party empty-handed. My heart skipped a beat when I asked if he had the chicken and he said,


I regained a regular heart rhythm when he said a friend of my boss was going to pick it up. The dinner was to begin at 5:00pm. with appetizers.

 5:30 has arrived and I am starting to wonder about the chicken. We are gearing up to plate and set up the dinner buffet. My boss’s friend arrives, we exchange hellos and hugs, and I asked if she had the chicken by chance. The look that crossed her face took my breath away and my heart fell to my feet. She had forgotten. On the outside I kept my cool. I did not want to ruin her evening, nor make her feel bad in any way. I smiled, hugged her, told her it was okay, no big deal, we’ll figure it out. I left her and took a deep breath to explain to my boss that dinner would be about 30 min, late.

happy party guests

In the end, we got the chicken through some masterful, most likely law breaking, speedy driving by a friend’s son and dinner was a success. My goal was not to upset my boss’s dear friend and ruin such a spectacular night for her nor myself. I kept cool, I stayed focused, and reaped the rewards. The day after, my friend who is a friend of the mother of the son who rescued us (follow that??) told me that her friend said I was very calm and displayed grace in the face of what could have been disaster. How cool is it to hear second-hand that you are graceful?? Calm and collected?? Made me feel good.

the successful dinner spread, the squash salad is just above the rolls, recipe to follow;

How can I channel this into my body image?? Well, by keeping my focus on the end result: loving myself just as I am, by making good choices. By not letting a mishap, (gorging on pizza or chocolate or missing 3 weeks of workouts because I am WAAAYY too busy) something that seems like impending failure (like the missing chicken for 300) distract me, derail me, become an excuse to give up and throw in the towel. What happens when we persevere? We have grace, we are calm, we have an amazing success to share. Mine: I HAVE missed 3 weeks of regular workouts, I HAVE had pizza for dinner twice in one week, yet, I still weigh the same, my clothes still fit and people I haven’t seen in a few months think I am still losing weight and compliment me…..This week marks the beginning of a bit of regularity in my schedule and I will re-focus and get back on track.

How about you? Do you have any instances when you showed fortitude, that you can share and inspire others to not give up??

Here’s the recipe for the amazing Shaved Summer Squash Salad with prosciutto Crisps. People were talking about this salad the next day in the cafe:

(the recipe serves 220, so just take the cues of the ingredients and use it for inspiration for your own version…squash season is upon us after all…)

inspired from the June 2011 Cooking Light magazine

50 med. zucchini

25 med. yellow squash

25 cups thinly sliced fresh mint

3 qts of olive oil

30 lemons

30 TBSP of lemon juice

Black pepper to taste

10 lbs of prosciutto (you could easily use bacon for same effect)

12.5 cups of feta

salt: use your own discretion:

1. shave the zucchini and squash into thin strips with a vegetable peeler. Discard the seeds (the yellow squash will be a challenge with the seeds, just shave until your reach the seeds).  Place the squash in a bowl and toss with salt.

2. combine mint and next 4 ingredients, through pepper, in a small bowl. Pour over squash and toss.

3. Heat a non-stick skillet over med. heat and saute the prosciutto for 2 minutes or until crisp.

4. put salad on serving platter and top with feta and sprinkle with prosciutto.

You could say that zucchini squash would be a perfect mascot for fortitude: it keeps producing and producing and producing, even in the face of gardeners and housewives and neighbors cursing it, locking their car door against the friendly drive by squash distributors in the neighborhood. How much “Amish friendship bread” can one person, one family handle anyway??? You can depend on the zucchini to keep up its end of the bargain, to persevere…… 

bon appetite!


About wannebechef

I am a mom of 3 home schooled kids, wife of 19 years, head chef/manager of cafe and a personal chef and event planner.
This entry was posted in cooking, culinary skills at home, dieting, food, improving body image, recipes, squash, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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