Let’s start the beginning of a new year and new blog with something sweet! Not only sweet tasting, but sweet as in deeds. Don’t get me wrong – when it comes to sweetness, I can’t think of many desserts that fit the bill better than baklava (and this baklava is amazing). But more important than that is something that happened to me the other day that I feel a need to share with you.
My children recently started seeing a new pediatrician. A few days ago, my daughter, Erin, needed to go to the doctor again. In addition to Erin needing to see her, I needed to get a message to her regarding a previous conversation we’d had. However, her doctor was out that day. To nutshell this, while we were waiting for Erin to be seen, I wrote a note to be given to her doctor. While writing this note, my original intention was to focus solely on our previous conversation. Nothing more, nothing less. However, it got me thinking. I wanted her know how happy we are that she is our children’s doctor and how great she is, not only as a doctor but also as person.
Here’s where I hesitated – my children haven’t been seeing her for years or months – she’s not an old family friend and I highly doubt our name is a household name in her household. We don’t know her well enough and she doesn’t know us well enough. Well, well enough for what? A compliment? I mean after all, you don’t need to know a person to pay a compliment, right? I was thinking how to phrase it without it sounding… weird (for lack of a better term). In this note should I write, “I’m so glad my children are seeing you now!” or “You are wonderful!”, “thank you for being so thorough!” “we’re so happy with you!” Yes, yes, yes and yes to all of it! In hindsight, there’s nothing wrong with stating any of it. I wrote the note and added a complimentary side note and handed it to her husband (who happens to be the other doctor) to give to her, and I let him know how happy we are with his wife being our children’s pediatrician. It felt good to hand him the note and to pass on a positive remark about his wife.
So why am I writing this? To pay it forward. Let someone know that their efforts are noticed and to keep up the good work. After all, it feels great to get a compliment. It feels even better when that compliment is well deserved. Because all too often in life, we, as a society, are quick to comment or complain about something or to someone about a negative circumstance. “I want to talk to your supervisor”. “I want the number and address to your complaint department”. Sound familiar? Yes, sometimes the situation warrants it. After all, I admit I’m guilty of it, too. From here on out, I’ve made the decision to change that about myself. When someone does something good or when they go above and beyond the scope of their duty, let them know it! If it’s work related, tell their manager how valuable they are. We need to start voicing our compliments to the proper authorities, too.
All too often we, as a society, are so quick to complain. Let’s be quick to compliment! This is a lesson I will instill in my children. Think of how it felt when someone complimented you for something. Pay it forward! It’ll make someone’s day a little brighter, a little sweeter. And now that you added sweetness to someone else’s day, add a little to yours! Speaking of sweeter, let’s get started on that baklava!
Don’t be intimidated by this! It’s so easy – really! When I first considered making this, I thought to myself, this is really involved… but I was pleasantly surprised! All I ask is that you read the steps all the way through first before starting this. There’s some prep work involved, but assembling it is so easy.
Preheat oven to 350℉ (177℃).
First, brush melted butter on a 9×13 baking dish (I use a glass dish).
Second step – building layers. To start layering the baklava, start by placing 3 sheets of dough in the bottom of the prepared dish.
For the middle layers, use two sheets of dough and repeat the layering process until nut mixture is finished. Remember to keep the damp cloth over the phyllo dough. For the final layer, use 5 or six sheets of dough.
Now, for cutting the baklava. This is where I used to have the most trouble when I first learned how to make this, because I was taught to brush butter on each layer of dough as I went along. The problem with this is when it comes time to cut the baklava, the top layers of the thin dough brushed with butter would stick to my fingers and the knife as I cut, making things difficult!
The easier way to do this, is to cut the baklava first, and then slowly and carefully pour the melted butter over the top.
It’s important to use a sharp knife. First cut in half lengthwise all the way through. Make two more cuts lengthwise, ending in four long rows. Next, cut diagonally corner to corner. You should have approximately nine diagonal rows.
Bake in preheated oven approximately 50 minutes until golden brown.
While this is baking, make the syrup. Timing is important, because as soon as the baklava comes out of the oven, you’ll need to pour the syrup over it.
To make the syrup: Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan, while stirring, bring to simmer. Stir in honey, vanilla, lemon zest. Reduce heat to low for approximately 20-25 minutes, and keep uncovered.
- 1 ½ cup (225g) chopped pecans
- 1 ½ cup (225g)chopped walnuts
- 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 16oz. pkg. (454g) phyllo dough sheets
- 1 cup (240g) butter, melted (use only butter, not margarine)
- 1 cup (200g) granulated white sugar
- 1 cup (240ml) water
- ½ cup (170 g) honey
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
- Preheat oven to 350℉ (177℃) .
- In a large bowl, combine chopped nuts and cinnamon. Set aside.
- Carefully unroll the phyllo dough and cut it to fit the dish. To prevent dough from drying out and cracking, keep a slightly damp cloth over the dough throughout the assembling process.
- Brush melted butter on a 9x13 baking dish (I use a glass dish).
- Start by placing 3 sheets of dough in the bottom of the prepared dish.
- Evenly sprinkle approximately 6 tablespoons of nut mixture on top.
- To layer the baklava, repeat steps 5 and 6 only using two sheets of dough instead of the initial 3 for all the middle layers until nut mixture is finished. Use remaining 5 or 6 sheets of dough for the final layer.
- Using a sharp knife, cut in half lengthwise all the way through. Make two more cuts lengthwise, ending in four long rows. Next, cut 9 diagonal rows.
- Carefully pour melted butter over top.
- Bake uncovered in preheated oven approximately 50 minutes until golden brown.
- Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan. Bring to simmer while stirring.
- Stir in honey, vanilla, lemon zest. Reduce heat to low for approximately 20-25 minutes.