Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Fan Tails and Perfection

I recently saw a post by a well known blogger.  I read the post and how perfection should be strived for all the time.  What really struck a cord in me when I read her post was the part when she said she is very critical of herself and others when perfection is not achieved.  This was a such a diving point for me jump off in thought for the better part of today.  Don't a lot of us seek perfection and criticize ourselves or others?   You see, if you really think about it, I mean really think about it, everything and I mean everything that is created is perfect.  It really is.  Let's take a step back and look at that.

I grew up with a major perfectionist, my Dad.  Let me tell you, my father can create the most amazing work you have ever seen.  While he had a bunch of jobs all his life he really never specifically narrowed his path.  He had his own business selling things for construction and he did well.  We had food on the table and a roof over our heads.  My Mom also worked to support us.  But what my Father really excelled at was his hobby of wood working or fashioning devices to make life easier or working easier.  He really is resourceful and clever.  The only problem was that when one of us kids worked with him, or tried to, he would take over our projects because you see it had to be perfect.  It wasnt the process, it was the end result.  He took it upon himself to make sure we had something perfect when all was said and done.  In the process he left us feeling inadequate. 

Don't get me wrong.  I am not putting down perfection (or my Father for that matter). Perfection is something we all should strive for. It is what motors us forward.  What propels us to create better products, better lives, better everything.  All I am saying that in this process, let's not forget to commend ourselves for the process. Even people in process- maybe just the process of learning that process is just as important as end result. (Maybe even more important).  That process is beautiful.  It is the learning.  It is the journey.

Next time you see something that is not perfect.  Ask yourself what is it about that imperfection that bothers me?  Is it something I can make better?  Is it something that makes me think about things because it is imperfect?  Is it something that will make me live my life differently?

Take for example a child with Down's Syndrome.  Is that child imperfect because he or she is not like you and me? What can they bring about in the lives around them that would otherwise not be there? What do they teach us by their very existence? 

You, yes you, are perfect.  All that you do is perfect.  It is perfectly the way that it is suppose to be. It is perfectly a part of a process, both at a personal level and a spiritual or cosmic level. Now isn't that beautiful?

(And just so you know I am not putting that blogger down by any means.  That would be totally defeating my purpose here.  Because I learned something from her process that she talked about in her post.  I want to thank her for giving me the opportunity to think about perfection and process.)

The process for making fantails:

1. Roll dough. Use a little flour if you need to.

2. Cut into 12 inch by 6 inch strips or whatever your little heart desires.

3. Cut into squares, dividing equally. Remember process, not perfection. They will still taste great, I swear!

4. Brush some butter over top and then layer the squares and pinch at the bottom.

5. Place in a muffin pan. When you place the little stack it will flip around a bit.  You can play with it a little to make them how you want them to be but dont get too crazy about it because they will find their way once they start baking.

Buttermilk Fantails
adapted from this recipe from Gourmet

1 stick unsalted butter, melted, divided (you may even use less)
2 teaspoons active dry yeast (from a 1/4-oz package)
1/4 cup warm water (105–115°F)
1 tablespoon honey
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 cup well-shaken buttermilk

Butter muffin cups with 1 Tbsp melted butter.

Stir together yeast, warm water, and honey in a large bowl and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. (Also known as proofing the yeast.)

Mix flour, salt, buttermilk, and 6 Tbsp melted butter into yeast mixture with a wooden spoon until dough forms. Bringing dough together until it is smooth and soft.  Continue kneading on a floured surface for about 8 minutes. Form dough into a ball and place in a greased bowl. Cover and let rise for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Degas or punch the dough and with a sharp knife or a bench scraper divide in half. Roll out one half of dough. Cover one half. I found that I did not need any flour because the dough was pliable and smooth- not at all sticky.   Roll out the dough you are working with into a 12 inch long piece that is about 6 inches high.  Brush dough with some butter and cut into 6 equal strips. Stack strips, buttered sides up, and cut crosswise into 6 equal pieces. Turn each piece on a side and put into a muffin cup. Make more rolls with remaining dough in same manner. Separate outer layers of each roll to fan outward. Cover rolls and let rise at warm room temperature until doubled and dough fills cups, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

I always put my dough in my microwave that is above my stove.  There are no drafts and it gets the heat rising up from the oven because I always end up making myself tea at some point.  The rise goes so much faster from the steamy heat.

Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in middle. Bake rolls until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Brush tops with butter, then transfer rolls to a rack and cool a bit.


kat said...

Knitting, sewing & crafting have taught me to appreciate things that aren't "perfect" we now call those little mistakes or weirdnesses "design choices"

Mary said...

Food for thought can often be better than the real thing. I really enjoyed your post this morning, Lori. It was a great way to start the day.

Taste of Beirut said...

Very interesting read Lori. Love the result though.

Audax said...

Lori now that is some philosophy - there is a school of philosophical thought called process philosophy and it seems that you have caught the essence of that philosophy extremely well in your posting. You have shown very profound thinking. Anybody reading this would pause to consider how the process (the journey) is just as important as the result. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

La Table De Nana said...

Your fantails are perfect:)

As for the rest.. It's so hard to decide.. to strive for try and make others proud of us..or to accept ourselves as we are.
I think the latter is best ..still ..learning..sharing..and trying to become kinder..
This is a great post..I am going to peek more thoroughly:)
You write so well!!

Katy ~ said...

One would have to describe what perfection is, I do not think it exists and pursuit is futile and defeating. Personal excellence, well that's different, to accept its limitations in oneself and in others.

In the meantime, excellent fantails. Do you know I never knew how they were made? i leaned something cool today. Now that's excellent!!

Ingrid said...

I really like this post. It definitely has me thinking. I have to say that I'm a perfectionist and can relate to your father with regards to his dealings with you. (I'm going to work on letting go. I didn't see that before.)

I do think perfection needs to be strived for. I know I push my children to be the best they can be. I don't want them to get comfortable and accept mediocracy because it's easier. I don't want them to be afraid of hard work and failure. Too often I was so wrapped up in perfection and then was afraid of the hard work and chance of failure.

AnyWAAAY, I could go on but won't...thanks again for the post. I think I have lots to think about it and some fantails.