05 . 23 . 13
We need more storms. The garden loves it and so does my spirit. When dark clouds build out West over the mountains I put a kettle on for afternoon coffee, throw open all the downstairs windows, and ready my reading chair with a book. Elizabeth Gilbert shared once in a TED talk how early cultures believed they had a genius, “a divine spirit that came from a distant and unknowable source,” that waited to pounce on people with “moments of brilliance… showing them new ways of doing things, bestowing new songs to their ears.” Gilbert described how the poet Ruth Stone often could look out, standing on the farm, and see a poem come barreling toward her over the landscape. It was chasing her, and she had to get up and run, as fast as she could, back to the house before it passed through her, blowing onward to find another poet. Ideas don’t always come sweeping over me with genius or brilliance or poetry, but I have found that if I sit and be present to a good storm, the thunder can shake loose new perspective in my heart that I usually need urgently, badly. Like Ruth, I have to be diligent and be waiting in the ready to capture that perspective fully.
And so, last week, I found myself wrapped in an old blanket in my reading nook, and tried surrendering to the energy of the storm. I was distracted about an earlier email from a reader that had left me unsettled and self-conscious about where I find myself pivoting from in this point of life. I know she meant well, truly, but her advice was somewhat bruising. I acknowledge and accept that by publishing parts of my life for the world to read, I make myself open to judgement and critique — both of which happen so rarely I feel silly even bringing it up — but it does reflect on the tricky business of having a blog. We, as writers, may feel a distinct and coherent story building month to month, year to year, but most often what our readers experience are “al a carte” moments, snippets of this phase and that. We, me, you, don’t always get the full picture. We can’t. And that’s okay. It’s not supposed to work like that. All that we are and all we believe cannot be packaged and delivered consistently in 1,000 words or less, so we chapter it all out, and continue, in earnest, to practice non-attachment and patience with those we invite into our lives (and living online spaces) — lives that are very much in-progress and under construction. This experience, of course, is magnified 10x in the flesh with strangers and friends and those we share toothpaste. But anyway…
My point in sharing this singular, harmless experience with a reader is to spotlight how, gulp, I too sometimes walk dangerously into the book of someone elses life, mid-chapter, and assume a level of authority or perspective based on the information I think I’m bearing witness to. Por ejemplo… Shaun and I have friends who have recently separated after a year of marriage and honestly I’ve been terribly hung up about it. Not about the divorce at large — as I don’t believe destinies or soulmates to be fixed things — but just about the loss on an energetic level for all of us young folk in love, angsty, and in becoming. There is a sense of sadness and realization on the whole, in life, not all good fights can be won… and it kinda blows. I look at these friends falling apart and see ALL of us falling apart, as we do, as we grow as individuals and in partnership and community. “No!!!” This was my knee-jerk reaction. ”Don’t let it break! WORK like fucking hell, friends! Relationships are hard!” It wasn’t until shaking the dust of that earlier email that I really realized how my consternation about the situation is entirely related to my own heart, my own struggles, and how when I look at these two beautiful people, wishing so desperately that “it all” could be fixed, I’m really just seeing the ways I want to fix myself. And we do this, as humans, so often. We try to fix people as we would like to fix ourselves. We see our own lives mirrored back to us in the lives and choices and pain of others. We want them to be okay, we NEED them to be okay so we can be okay, too.
We see only what we see. Every day we get the opportunity to observe and take part in the lives of others, in the middle of their perfect and un-perfect chapters, with our opinions, often well-intentioned, knowing only what we know. I think it’s important, every single day, to try and step back and ask ourselves how much of our experiences with others are projections of our own desires, expectations, attachments. We have to remember that nothing needs fixing. We were put here to love, and that’s pretty much it.
So here’s what I’m thinking. Let’s all make a pact and try, really hard, to check our attachments at the door when experiencing the journey of another. It’s going to be hard. I know. Especially because half the time we don’t even know we’re caught up in the first place. Let’s try not to fill in the gaps for them. Not try to play out the before and after. Let’s just be with people, where they are, and love them, without judgement. Let’s be real with ourselves and recognize when and how and why we get caught up in the compulsion to mend. That’s where the genius is, people. Storm or not. Let it barrel on.
Grilled Carrots over Lentils with Horseradish Yogurt Sauce
- 2 bunches spring carrots, stems reserved for garnish
- 1 1/2 cups french lentils
- 1/2 cup carrot greens, chopped
- 1 large handful baby spinach
- 1 handful parsley, chopped
- 1/2 cup chives, minced
- 1 shallot, minced
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- salt/pepper to taste
Horseradish Yogurt Sauce
- 1 1/2 cup full fat yogurt
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tbsp (or more) grated fresh horseradish
- dash of salt
Bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Cook lentils until al dente, nearly 20 minutes. Rinse and set aside.
Rinse the carrots and remove stems. Toss with olive oil and salt. Roast on the grill or under the broiler until blackened and soft through the center (10-20 minutes, depending). Set aside.
In a medium bowl, stir together yogurt and lemon juice. Grate garlic and peeled horseradish root on a microplane grater over the yogurt. Add a dash of salt then taste. Do you need more horseradish? If you’re like me, you like the kick and will need to add more. Cover and keep in the fridge until you’re ready to serve.
In a large mixing bowl, toss together cooled lentils, olive oil, spinach, parsley, chives, carrot greens, shallot, and salt/pepper. Distribute the lentil salad on a serving platter and top with grilled carrots. Fetch sauce from the fridge and drizzle yogurt generously over the carrots. Garnish with carrot greens.
(Serves a crowd)
05 . 13 . 13
In the past two weeks, I’ve dedicated a few hours each day to writing in a rotation of coffee shops around town and if you were to take a peek at my journal you will find mostly crossed out grocery lists, the start of a blog post on how to eat for day hikes at altitude, and instructions (for whom I have no idea) about how to not be a jerk-shopper at Whole Foods (put your cell phone away and take your sunglasses off, people). Mostly what happens during this designated writing time though is me, pretending to look busy, drinking five-buck pour-over, watching people come and go for three hours. Like right now, for instance. The girl who has been typing feverishly next to me with ombred purple hair just stepped outside to smoke a cigarette. She is wearing leg warmers and hiking boots and I’m pretty sure she’s the owner of the orange Vespa locked up to the tree on the corner of Broadway and West Ellsworth. How many cigarettes does she normally smoke? Is she a writer, too? Is she breaking up with her girlfriend who is researching peacebuilding in Bosnia? These are things I wonder about.
I feel like I slipped up a few weeks ago telling you all that I’m going to call myself a writer to strangers at the DMV, as if at 23 I have ARRIVED at my true calling. Writing, hopefully, will be the product of the many lives and many shoes I try on while I’m here on this planet. In fact, I think if I spent the rest of my life, let alone the next six months, sitting in cafes like this one, watching people, trying to beat words and wisdom out of my heart, I would be doing a massive disservice to the planet. Massive disservice insofar that my writing would be shallow and express only partial truths because I would not living a life (for me) interesting and/or challenging enough to know whole truths. I suppose we never really get at the whole of it, but I want to feel at least like I’m scratching back the wallpaper to find what lived underneath in a lifetime before me. I want to cannonball into environments and work that teaches me more about love and loss and integrity and hard work and passion and freedom and bliss. I want to see people, really see people. I want to come alongside and cry with them in their darkest hours, I want to balter with them drunk in the streets for no other reason than to celebrate that we have legs and arms and lungs that let us really move things in this world. I want to be around people who are bold enough to take me by the collar and set me straight when I’m being unreasonable. I want to be around people who are just blowing up with creativity and courage. These things, that work, those people will make me a writer.
Susan Sontag was quoted once describing that she became a writer because “what I really wanted was every kind of life, and the writer’s life seemed the most inclusive.” To me, this is poetry. It is poetry and permission to just buy the shoes and leap into every nook and cranny of the human experience you feel moved to explore. It looks at the multi-passionate person and says, “why yes, you may do and have it all, dear one.” I’m realizing more and more right now that I should stop asking questions like “what on earth do I want to really do with my life?” and start asking questions like “when are you going to start doing these great things with your life?” I’ve got the list. I’ve got the tools. I’m still idling. I just feel like I need a minute to let my engines cool before I make moves to conquer the world. I’d like to become a midwife. I’d like to buy a Westphalia, decorate it with prayer flags, and drive around Kansas with Shaun looking for tornados. I’d like to open a vegetarian cafe here in Denver. I’d like to move to Alaska and build a B&B between Homer and the Kenai Peninsula I’d like to work as a deck hand on a scientific expedition to Antarctica. I’d like to create backpacking food that is healthy AND filling. My degree in International Politics will be handy for one thing, and that is helping communicate and explain foreign affairs and the common thread of humanity to the people I meet in gas stations, airports, and diners along the way.
Anyway. My friend Rudy reminded me the other day that, no no, I’m anything but idling. I can’t really tell you where I’m going, but I can tell you who I am, and how I’m different than before, and that’s the best kind of start there may be. Over the next few months I will be zig-zagging across the country celebrating relationships in all shades and the kinetic energy surrounding around every wedding, brunch date, graduation, and genuine embrace is deepening my understanding of self and the world. Maybe there is no job more important for me right now than loving the ones I’m with. Life is short, but it’s also long. There’s no rush in choosing. Until then, I am a person who writes things. I am a person who sometimes sits in cafes in the afternoon daydreaming biographies of strangers. I like to set my goals out on a table like pretty and wacky Tarot cards, rearranging them in order to match the thump of my heart that day. I am a person who says no to publishers about writing a book because there is just way way WAY too much to do before engaging in any such activity. Sorry guys. You don’t want me yet. You think you do, but you don’t. I think I need to hang out with the purple-haired vespa-girl, deliver babies, climb K2, channel my inner Helen Hunt, and learn to like capers first.
Shaun and I haven’t been home at the same time for a bit, so there isn’t a recipe or photo-set for you this week. I have, however enjoyed making and eating too much of the following: Strawberry Cornmeal Loaf (fan-freaking-tastic with creme fraiche), Avocado Asparagus Tartines, Vanilla Bean Roasted Rhubarb, this Cioppino with fresh loot brought home from Seattle, Fava Bean Toasts, Collards and Quinoa with Sorrel Sauce, and this Kentucky Bourbon Cake. Plus, how good does THIS look from Bon Appetempt? It’s next on the list.
Murr -Ma (verb) | to walk around in the water searching for something with your feet.
05 . 01 . 13
“And I asked myself about the present: how wide it was, how deep it was, how much was mine to keep.”
― Kurt Vonnegut
Kurt, I asked myself the same question this morning. I poured myself some coffee, looked at my squash and tomato starts on the kitchen counter, safe from the snow coming down more violently than usual outside, and thought for a moment that all of the present — the deep, the shallow, the long, the short, the good, the bad, the snow, the sun — is all mine, and ours, to keep.
Whole Wheat Belgian Waffles with Mascarpone, Thyme, and Strawberries
- 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1 cup warm water
- 3 cups whole wheat flour
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 cup milk or milk alternative
- 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
- 2 large eggs, separated
- 1 orange, zest and juice
- 1 pint fresh strawberries
- 20 springs fresh thyme
- 1-2 cups mascarpone cheese
- 1/3 cup honey, plus more for finishing
Melt butter over low heat in a small saucepan, set aside. In a small bowl, mix and dissolve the yeast. In a larger bowl, combine salt and flour. Whisk together the yeast-water, milk, butter, egg yolks, and honey and combine with the dry ingredients. In another small bowl, beat the egg whites (like a crazy woman) until frothy. Fold into batter with 1/2 cup mascarpone, zest of half the orange, and leaves of 10 springs of thyme. Set aside, covered, for 10-20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200′. Turn on your waffle iron to medium-high heat. As it warms, cut strawberries into slices or quarters in a bowl. Mix with extra honey, the remaining thyme, and the juice and zest of your small orange. Set aside.
Grease your heated iron with butter or coconut oil. Pour a heaping cup of the batter and cook until golden and crispy on the outer edges. Transfer waffles to the oven to keep warm and repeat with remaining batter. To serve, smear with marscapone and top with a heap of gussied strawberries and a drizzle of honey.
04 . 14 . 13
I saw your comment come through last week on my lunch break and I haven’t stopped thinking about you since. When asked, you shared that you intend stand in your truth this year by holding fast to the understanding that you don’t need to have your whole life after college completely planned out, that you can just take it step by step. Oh Sarah, I wish I could stand sideline giving high-fives and waving my pom-pom’s about to cheer you on through this phase and in this truth. A year ago I stood in some version of your shoes, looking ahead to the future with confidence and eagerness and a whole lot of WHOA, WHAT NOW swirling in my belly. As you begin to close this big chapter of your life, here is what I want you to know… you’re not alone. This month and every month henceforth there will be women graduating college, giving birth to their first children, changing jobs, moving to different countries, suffering great loss, celebrating small victories, and will be, in sum, simultaneously in the process of discovering the person they are meant to become, the work they are here to do on this planet, and what in the heck it’s all going to look like.
The truth is, plan or not, the next year of your life, and life after college at large, will look nothing and everything like you could possibly imagine. I had trouble sleeping the night before we started our trek in Patagonia last month so I got out of bed before dawn and sat on the floor in the powder-blue tiled bathroom of Maria’s Hostel, cutting my nails, counting and reflecting upon the memories and mistakes of the past year. I leaned against the door and stared at the fluorescent light overhead and wondered what God was thinking in that moment. Silence. Taped next to the sink a printed sign “no lave la ropa – do not wash the clothes.” I had to laugh. If someone would have told me a year ago that I would be sitting on the floor of a bathroom in Chile in the kind of mental, physical, spiritual state I found myself experiencing, I would have thought they were out of their freaking mind. This is to say, the next year will be more outrageously beautiful and thrilling and fulfilling than you could hope. It will also challenge you to dig in to the deepest, most sacred parts of your soul to stay true to who you are and to fight through all sorts of exhaustion, loneliness, and missed turns.
You will meet many teachers. Some of them will come to you carrying the light. They are the universe’s way of telling you that you are powerful and beautiful and full of so much potential. They will hold you up like buoys when you get tired during the big swim. They will usher and encourage you to see and take paths that will help you stretch and grow and develop into the woman you’re meant to become. Some teachers will come into your life throwing big punches, they are, what an old friend used to call “the darkies.” They will make you wrestle with your idea of right and wrong and good and bad and test you, persistently, to hold on to yourself. You will duck and miss the blows most days but sometimes you’ll forget about the hook shot and you’ll be on your back seeing stars. It’s okay. This is all part of it. The toughest teachers will be the ones that look like they’re carrying the light, but are carrying something else. They will present you with some pretty sweet sounding opportunities and lifestyles. There will be a split-second lightning bolt feeling you’ll get in your chest when you first meet these teachers that sets you at dis-ease. Latch on to that! Remember this feeling. It is your intuition whispering to stay centered, stay true. Dig into those deep reserves of strength and surround yourself with those who love you unconditionally. They’ll remind you to not take the bait.
Try new things. Put yourself in environments and situations that push on the tender spots of your heart. Look hard. Listen hard. Watch the way people live and love. Be an observer of everything around you and all that you feel. When you are paying attention, the right paths and the “plan” for which you were put here to charge will be revealed to you. Try to block out the noise of “shoulds” that society or your tribe has prescribed for you. It’s your journey. Write it in YOUR pretty colors. As for a career, you very well may find yourself graduating with a degree in International Politics or Advanced Mathematics and taking a job at a grocery store stuffing tortellini in plastic cups for ten bucks an hour. It’s okay. That phase will be part of your becoming. In those places you will learn the dignity of hard work, the true meaning of community, and expand the breadth of your compassion for all people and all things.
You will laugh a lot. There will be days when all it takes for the wind to blow across your face a certain way and you will be moved to tears with gratitude for all that is. You will cry a lot. There will be nights where the questions and the confusion and the unknown will completely swallow you whole. You will make great choices, you will make really shitty choices. They all matter. When you find yourself in situations or relationships or places that in your gut you know to be pulling you away from who you are, find the courage to leave them. When you find yourself in situations or relationships or places that you know in your gut to be right and whole, find the courage to stay. Even if you’re scared to death. Joan Didion says, “we have to choose the places we don’t walk away from.” Sometimes it will be easier to run than it is to stay. It’s up to you.
If you want to see the world, do it. Nothing is stopping you. Go out and hear the bells ring on steps of Spanish Cathedrals, meditate in a Shinto temple, offer flowers and your secrets to the River Ganges, ride a bike in the rain through the farms of central Vietnam. If you feel called to go then go. You must. Remember too, though, that you don’t need to fling yourself across the globe to shift your perspective. A new place doesn’t change your life. You change your life. You will, at every moment of the next year, have the extraordinary gift of choice to redirect your sails. I will not look back on the past year and see our pilgrimage to Patagonia as the catalyst for closing chapters and starting new ones. I will see a girl sitting in the shower, weeks before mountains and rivers and glaciars with no tears left to cry, letting the water rush over her shoulders and taking the responsibility, FINALLY holding herself accountable, and deciding that she wanted things to be different in her life. Once I truly believed myself capable, a million answers to the million questions I had asked for months on end seemed to appear on the tub ledge, mine for the taking and making. Patagonia didn’t give me that. I gave me that. And you can, and will, too.
I quit my grocery store gig when I got back from Chile, almost a year after leaving San Diego and playing my first hand. I am grateful for what was, but time that I set intentions in my heart and to the people I love to be a better partner, better friend, and to set free alllll the lessons and teachers and triumphs and setbacks to make space for new ones. My truth, today, is different than it was last year and I know it will be different in six months, a year, and every year for the rest of my life but like you, I know that I can take it all step by step. Today if I meet someone at a coffee shop or the lobby of the DMV and they ask me what I “do” I will say I am a writer. I have no idea what that means, really, at least in the tangible sense, but I know just saying it out loud will help manifest my truth. I know that when you are brave and you are honoring of yourself and others, the world gets all sneaky and wonderful on you, wrapping you up in it’s arms to celebrate and support you to keep on. Hold on to those moments. Lap them up. Roll around in them and know that YOUR plan, and the kind of earnestness and passion it will take to discover, is perfect.
Go get ‘em Sarah. You’re right, you don’t need your life planned out after college. Stand in your truth and know that I am here, we are ALL here, doing cartwheels for you and the journey ahead.
Roasted Spring Vegetable Quinoa Salad
- 1 ½ cups quinoa (dry)
- 6 small beets
- 6 radish bulbs
- 1 large head fennel, fronds reserved
- 1 bunch parsley, roughly chopped
- 1 small red onion, diced
- ¼ cup minced chives
- 4-6 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 plump lemons
- ½ cup + 3 tbsp olive oil
- salt & pepper to taste
Bring 3 cups and a few extra tablespoons of water to a boil. Cook quinoa over medium heat for 15-18 minutes or until water is absorbed and the seed has germinated. Set aside to cool.
Preheat the oven to 400.’ Rigorously wash the beets and radishes, as you will not be peeling them before roasting. Remove grimy tops and cut beets and radishes into fourths, then sixths or 8ths. You want large-ish, yet bit sized wedges. Cut fennel bulb in a similar fashion, top to bottom. Toss wedges of radish, beets, and fennel together with olive oil and salt in a parchment lined sheet pan. Roast in the oven for 20-30 minutes, turning veggies over to brown and soften on all sides.
In a large mixing bowl, combine chopped parsley, chives, diced red onion with cooled quinoa. In a small jar prepare the dressing by combining ½ cup olive oil, juice of 3 whole lemons, salt, pepper, and minced garlic cloves. Shake to combine.
Add roasted vegetables to the quinoa mixture. Stir in dressing to coat. Garnish with sprinkling of fennel fronds to finish.
To my complete amazement, Happyolks has been selected this year as a finalist in Saveur Magazine’s Food Blog Awards in the Best Cooking Blog category. It is humbling, thrilling, and outrageously affirming to stand next to friends and mentors in this. Truly. If you like an underdog story, head over and cast your vote for us by Friday, April 19.
04 . 09 . 13
“Everything is so alive, that I can be alive. Without moving I can see it all. In your life I see everything that lives.”
― Pablo Neruda
These puppies are adapted slightly from The Longevity Kitchen, the latest release from Rebecca Katz — one of the kindest, most authoritative voices in health and wellness I know. You’ve seen me cook from The Cancer Fighting Kitchen and One Bite at a Time over the years, and I’m just thrilled to share her third nourishing gift to the world. The Longevity Kitchen is packed with healthful, accesible recipes to help readers combat chronic disease and lead healthier, happier lives. It may not get the blogger pony-show like Vegetable Literacy (which is amazing, too), but it is of equal importance and measure in our conversations on cherishing the good things growing and how they heal us inside and out.
Rebecca wrote “stand in your truth, Kelsey” in the front pages of the copy she sent me while I was away in Chile. It is a prayer that has permeated and punctuated my days lately as I begin to make significant changes in my life. With that… I’m giving away one copy of The Longevity Kitchen to a reader who can tell me how they plan to stand in their truth this week, this month, or this year.
Nori Rolls with Edamame Wasabi Spread
- 8 sheets toasted nori
- 1 peeled daikon radish
- 1 cucumber
- 1 cup sunflower sprouts
- 1 small mango
- 2 small avocados
- 24 sprigs mint
- handful cilantro
- (optional) 6 oz smoked wild salmon OR tofu
- 2 cups edamame
- 2 + teaspoons wasabi powder
- 2-4 limes
- 8 sprigs of cilantro
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- dash of water
- sea salt
To start, prep all of your veggies and working ingredients. Julienne the cucumbers and radish. Thinly slice the avocados and mango. Peel apart salmon, or cut tofu into 1 inch by 2 cm strips if you’re making these vegan. Create an assembly line of the proteins, veggies, and herbs then begin to prep the edamame wasabi spread.
In the bowl of a food processer blitz together the edamame, wasabi powder (adjust measurements to match your affinity), lime juice, olive oil, water, and sea salt. Mixture should be just barely chunky, but not a total paste.
Place nori sheet on a clean work surface. Spread 1/4 cup of the edamame spread onto the sheet leaving a bit of uncovered nori for grip while wrapping. At the bottom edge of the spread facing you, begin to build your roll, filling it with strips of cucumber, radish, mango, salmon or tofu, avocado, and topping with bits of sprouts, mint, and fresh cilantro. Wrap with your hands from the bottom around the filling until completely sealed. If you use an excessive amount of spread, like me, you won’t need to seal the edge shut with water and your finger. Cut each roll into 8 pieces with a super sharp knife. Repeat.