Afternoon walks are my new thing. For about an hour each day, the dog and I take to the streets to stretch our legs and quiet the mind. One foot in front of the other; exhale. The simple act of unplugging to appreciate a bit of late sun with my curious friend has been such a tonic as of late. On most walks, I have a strict “no-thinking” policy. We over-thinkers need a break from time to time. No thinking, just being. When I pass walkers now in the car, I feel solidarity with them – sort of the way my dad feels when he spots another mini cooper on the road: I’m with you, I get you, keep walking woman!
Things have been exceptionally busy this month and for that I really can’t complain. A full plate of work and opportunity for growth is a gift, and I try not to take it for granted. I spend all day writing for other institutions and publications, so Happyolks is getting a bit of the short end these days. It’s okay. This is real life. We’re trying to strike the balance. The walks help; I highly recommend it (smile).
A few months ago we agreed to do a guest post for The Ravenous Couple, which you can find the recipe for the above photos on their site this Friday. They’re getting married! Love, light, and good ju ju to them.
Take a walk today; leave your thinking cap at home. Unless, of course, you live in the Midwest. In that case. Dance around your air-conditioned room to this video.
In my hometown, Summer didn’t start until Alice’s Fruit Stand opened. Trips to Alice’s on dry, hot California days with my Mom are among the highlights of my childhood food memories. Located just outside of town down a gravel road near the high school, a little white stand with a red roof and a giant orange peach atop was home to fresh from the garden summer produce.
I remember the dirty ceiling fans and the misters spewing sticky warm water across the foyer; I remember how the counters were littered with crates of cherries, apricots, heirloom tomatoes, sweet corn, and Alice’s infamous loaves of zucchini bread. We never left without ambrosia melon, and pounds upon pounds of summer sqaush, despite the fact that we had it coming out of our ears at home.
The woman who owned Alice’s (her name was not, surprisingly, Alice) and grew all of the produce nearby was warm, soft, and full of love and light. Wispy gray strands of hair escaped her braid matching her no-fuss, minimalist personality. Her hugs smelled like butter, and her enthusiasm kept people coming back summer after summer. She kept a wicker basket of recipe cards near the cashbox, and as customers paid for their produce she would encourage her renditions for whatever we happened to be buying.
Nobody left Alice’s without the Zucchini Cobbler pitch. Vegetables for dessert are a hard sell for most people, let alone an eight-year-old like me. “Trust me,” she’d say, “It tastes just like apple cobbler, and you won’t even know the difference.”
My mom had faith. She always has faith. With some added pressure to alleviate the stockpile of summer squash, we peeled, we chopped, and “cobbler-ed” our zucchini, just as Alice’s had ordered. The result? Perfection. The little card for this recipe remains a keepsake in my Mom’s recipe books.
I’ve given the original recipe a bit of a makeover with edits to the fat, amount of sugar, and grains. In short, Alice’s version is basically a 1:1:1 ratio of butter, flour, and zucchini. It was good, but… oh boy.
12 cups zucchini, peeled and chopped into quarters
1 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
¾ cup brown rice syrup (or raw sugar)
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
3 cups of gluten free oats, ground to a course flour in a food processor (or organic bakers flour)
¾ cup raw sugar
1 cup raw coconut oil (or cold butter)
1 tsp cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 375’. In large saucepan over medium heat, cook chopped zucchini in the lemon juice for 10-15 minutes. Add brown rice syrup, cinnamon, and nutmeg, and simmer for 1 minute longer.
For the crust: combine oats and sugar in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the oats become coarse flour. Pour into a large bowl, and stir in cinnamon. If you’re using coconut, crumble the oil and oat mixture with your hands. If you’re using butter, cut in until mixture resembles course crumbs.
Stir in 1/2 cup of crust into the zucchini mixture. Press 1/2 of remaining crust mixture into greased baking pan, spread zucchini over top, and crumble crust to just cover the zucchini. Sprinkle with cinnamon.
Bake for 35 minutes. Enjoy à la mode fresh from the oven, or allow to cool and fridge it for at least an hour. When I was a kid I loved it cold, and turns out I still do.
There is nothing more rewarding than watching the people you love come alive doing the things they’re passionate about in their work and play. Shaun competed in the San Diego International Triathlon last weekend, medaling in his age group with an old-school bike, worn out shoes, and a humble heart. As I clocked his transitions and watched him cross the finish, I was overwhelmed with pride and love for this man, my comrade, my best friend and all of his amazing qualities.
One of the things I love most about Shaun is that he says YES to life. Yes to the challenges, yes to the adventures, yes to the broke months, yes to the rich (er, relatively speaking) months, yes to giving his time, his love, and his energy to others indiscriminately and often. The biggest and most admirable “yes” has been in his commitment to making a career out of his strengths and passions. Many have viewed his path as challenging and unlikely; but his perseverance has ultimately led to success and happiness.
Shaun inspires me every day as living, breathing proof that anyone can thrive when they break with conventional thinking and embrace their dreams (not anyone else’s), even when they seem risky.
I don’t have enough hands to count the number of times I’ve had someone say to me: “Savor every last bit of college before the real world, you’ll never get this back.” These kinds of comments or warnings make me sad because they reflect on the dominant reality that many people are stuck doing things they don’t love, that they have no passion for, and are longing for (the distorted image of) their college experience when life was (seemingly) easy and carefree.
I’m going to say YES to real life. Every phase of it. As I enter my last year in college, I couldn’t be happier to take what these years have taught me and put them to the test. That’s the point, isn’t it? With this attitude, we both can reward each other by coming alive and doing the things we’re passionate about. Thanks for leaving footsteps on the “road less traveled by,” Shaun. I love you to the stars and back.
When it comes to vegetables, I’m really passionate about beets. No, but I’m serious. It’s taken some serious restraint to postpone another beet post on Happyolks. I was inspired by La Domestique’s “Beet Week” to share a recent recipe that is simple, light, and perfectly summer. I might add that this has made the absolute best brown-bag lunch to my internship this week, a tribute of sorts to Big Girls Small Kitchen and their upcoming brown-bag lunch feature. Say yes to the beets, people.
Say yes to the Fennel, Beet, and Peach Salad:
6 golden beets
2 large heads of fennel
2 large peaches or nectarines (yellow or white, your preference)
1 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
3-4 Tbs Olive Oil
2 tsp Salt, plus more to taste
Peel the beets and chop into fork friendly pieces. Fill a large stockpot with water, bring to a boil. Add the beets, and boil for 10-15 minutes or until tender.
While the beets are softening, remove the large stalks of the fennel and cut into quarters. Remove the tough middle. In a food processor (have you guessed this is my favorite kitchen tool?) with the slicing disc, run the fennel through to thinly slice. Scoop the sliced fennel into a large bowl and toss with 2 teaspoons of salt. Let sit for 10 + minutes to soften. Prepare the peaches or nectarines by chopping or slicing them to your liking. My peaches were super soft so I went the “chunk” route.
When the beets are tender, remove from their cooking liquid into a strainer and soak with cold water to stop the cooking process. When cooled and dry, return to the bowl of fennel and squeeze/pour the salty water that has now pooled at the bottom of bowl down the sink. Add the beets, and then the peaches. Stir in olive oil, apple cider vinegar, and a bit of pepper. Cover with tin foil and refrigerate for at least one hour before serving. Liven up with more salt and pepper if you like, and enjoy. :)