Archive: Sep 2011

  1. Fits and Starts + Chard, White Bean & Tamarind Stew

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    Fall arrives in fits and starts in here in San Diego. Friday was a tease with its grey skies, cool breeze, and invitation for thinking books and black coffee. Sun, shorts, and summer squash on Sunday — September keeps us wanting. My creative process follows suit. Ideas come and go, passing through me before I have time to bottle them up or at least find a working pen.

    I bought a sketchbook at the end of summer, it was on sale at the art store and at the time I had these great intentions of writing everyday; “creativity for creativity’s sake.” I was inspired by a recent feature Shaun and I had collaborated on about a new friend, colleague who encouraged “artists need to be creative for the sake of it, not for work, but because it’s who you are.” Agree. So does Julia Cameron, who insists on a practice of writing every day, among other things, to “recover creativity, as it is the natural expression and direction of life.” It’s been three weeks, and that sketchbook is barely filled with the caught inspiration, captured realizations, or daydreams like I envisioned.

    I love, and fully one hundred and fifty percent believe in the practice of “creativity for creativity’s sake,” but as Elizabeth Gilbert, writer, says in her ’09 TED Talk, it can’t always account for “the utter maddening capriciousness of the creative process, a process which everyone who has ever tried to make something knows doesn’t behave rationally, and sometimes seems downright paranormal.”

    Case in point, Shaun and I saw Bon Iver this past weekend, and in the middle of a solo set the creative rain comes like a flood and I have nowhere to put it in the dark, musty auditorium. Vernon is singing, I am completely in the present moment, engrossed, emotional, and the ideas come a’knocking. WTF, creativity? I needed you a few days ago. I can’t deal with you right now.

    We have to be okay with that. Part of being creative for creativity’s sake is not documenting it, saving it for later, making it a practice. Let it just be. A thing that comes, at random, irrationally, and reminds you that it’s there and that it will come back because it always does . Let the creativity just be there for the sake of it, even if it’s stuck in your head or heart and can’t be rendered “useful.” Perhaps this is the extended meaning of being creative for the sake of it. Feeling it. Enjoying it. Not having to go anywhere with it. Just letting it affirm our sometimes maddening humanness.

    Fall will come in San Diego. Eventually. It will fake us out for a while. And it may feel inconvenient when it does make an appearance because we’ll be wearing shorts and sandals. But heck. Let it come when it does. The sketchbook will be there, and if it doesn’t get love everyday, there will be times later when I’ll be glad I have all the extra pages. I think. I hope.

    White Bean, Tamarind, Chard Stew with several adaptions from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Chickpea Stew in Plenty 

    • 4 tbsp seedless tamarind pulp
    • 1 bunch (stalks and leaves) Swiss chard
    • 2 tsp coriander seeds, ground
    • 3 tsp caraway seeds
    • 1 large onion, chopped
    • 2 tbsp olive oil
    • 2 lbs roma or plum tomatoes
    • 2 1/2 cups water
    • 2 tbsp honey
    • 2 tsp cumin
    • 2 cups freshly cooked cannelli beans
    • handful of fresh cilantro
    • salt and pepper to taste
    • 2 cups short-grain brown rice, cooked with a tsp of olive oil
    Soak dry beans overnight, and cook for 45 minutes before you plan to get started. Alternatively, you could use canned, but I discourage it – BPA, the same stuff we’re on the watch for in water bottles is found in tin can linings. While you’re cooking the beans, put on the rice too.
    Okay, now we can start. Whist the tamarind with 3 tbsp of water until it dissolves into a paste. Set aside. Place chopped onion and caraway seeds in a large pan with olive oil and saute on medium heat for 10 minutes. Add tomatoes, water, honey, beans, ground coriander, cumin, chard, and a bit of salt and pepper. Strain the tamarind water through a fine mesh strainer over the pan. Bring to a slight boil, then reduce heat, cover, and let simmer for 30 minutes. If you like a more soup-y stew, add a bit more water. If you prefer a thicker stew, remove the lid to let the steam evaporate. Add salt and pepper to taste.
    When you’re ready to serve, spoon rice into a shallow bowl, creating crater in the center. Put a ladle or two over the rice, and top with fresh cilantro.

  2. Here and There, Surprises

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    You’re probably thinking, didn’t we just see a new post from this girl? Yes. Two posts in one week. They say the busier you get the more you get done, right? We created this video to help Megan at The Fresh Exchange celebrate the surprise announcement of her new creative venture (today! see more here).  Megan is awesome — someone I would like to call friend in real life sometime soon, she’s a young seeker too.

    As I’ve shared in our “contact” drop down, before starting this blog I was admittedly anti social-media. People need people, not computers. Nothing replaces real human connection and relationships, but I’ve learned over the past year that social networks, blogs, and digital media actually do bring people closer together. This space has served as reinforcement to my fundamental belief that we are not alone; there are thousands of people who share similar passions, interests, and goals. Together, we can be better, do better, and inspire new ideas and new ways to look at the world.

    If you’re a creative, blogger, or just looking for new friends, hop on over to The Fresh Exchange  for a bit of inspiration and the recipe to these sweet and spicy macaroons adapted from Rebecca Katz in the Cancer Fighting Kitchen.

  3. Seeking

    22 Comments

    I should start thinking up some creative responses to the question I’ve been getting lately, “what are your plans for the future?” It would be so liberating to ditch the glossy answer and say something unexpected  like “I want to be a good friend,” or “I’d like to learn to play the guitar.” Although a few years ago I would have had told you exactly what I’d be doing after I graduate, today the plans are looking a lot more fluid. And to be honest, I kinda like it.  I’m a seeker; a person who is in a constant state of inquiry and exploration of self and the world around me. My formal education will end soon but the search won’t stop when I have a fancy diploma to hang on the wall. I’ll find something good that may lead to something else that’s good, leaving myself open to new plans, places, and people. Maybe I should tell people my plans are “to keep seeking.” 

    Everyone is a seeker in his or her own way, I think. We are concerned about understanding people, place, time, experience and will exert at least some degree of effort trying to develop that understanding further. We seek truth, in many different forms – greater truth, simple truth, and other truths individual to our unique human experience. In the process, we are constantly absorbing ideas, information, and energy to process, accept, reject, or reconsider later. Seeking is both incredibly exciting and exhausting. Throughout the course of our lives, we will find ourselves confident in and frustrated with the vast amounts of input we try so hard to process.

    I’ll try and get to the point. For most seekers, the more we begin to see of the world and the more information and experiences we collect in the pursuit of truth, the more we realize just how little of a clue we have at all about what “it all” means. If this sounds cryptic, it’s not meant to be.  I guess I’m just trying to elaborate on that catchy chorus of that Michael Franti radio hit “it seems like everywhere I go / the more I see / the less I know.” We seek to seek. To learn, grow, change habits, try new things. We don’t shouldn’t seek just to find answers. There are no concrete answers. Unless you’re into math I guess. Insight comes in waves and the sets roll in larger at some points in our lives than others. The “answers” are glimmers, flashes, and wonderings that are arrive then disappear for us to find again later.

    We’re not supposed to get “it.” And this time I’m being deliberately vague. “It” is the different thing we each seek from our unique view of the world at a single moment. If there were an instructional manual to seeking, I would say this should be the first order of business to address. You won’t always understand, and that’s okay. Second order of business then is to not be afraid. Don’t be afraid of the things you don’t understand. This is true for all things, be they about the future, health, relationships, culture, religion, etc. It is our animal instinct to resist the things that we aren’t familiar with. Fight that. Fight it with every fiber of your being. I’m not talking about intuition. Keep that flame a’glowin’ but try hard to embrace those things you don’t understand, seek them more, for it is in these areas that we resist that we most likely still need to develop our purpose.

    Let’s keep seeking.

    Warm Green Millet Salad 

    Inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi’s Green Couscous in Plenty. (He is basically a genius)

    • 1 cup millet  (or couscous)
    • 3 cups vegetable stock
    • 1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
    • 1 tbsp olive oil
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 1 tsp cumin
    • 1 cup shelled pistachios, chopped
    • 1 carton green figs
    • 4-5 cups baby arugula
    • 1 head italian parsley
    • 1 head cilantro
    • 1/4 cup tarragon
    • 1/4 cup mint
    • 1/4 + cup olive oil
    Place the millet in a saucepan with the vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and let simmer for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, fry the onion in olive oil on medium heat until golden and soft. Add the salt and cumin, mix well, and move around the onions over high heat until just browned. Set aside.

    For the “green” part of this dish, prepare the herb paste by placing all four herb greens and the olive oil into a food processor and blitz until smooth. Add this to the cooked millet, and mix together well with a fork to fluff it up. Add the cooked onion, pistachios, figs, and arugula and mix until consistent. Add a little salt and pepper to taste. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

Let's get in Touch

I wish I could make coffee dates with you all. In the meantime, feel free to drop me a line with questions, comments, concerns, or just to say Hi. I like that. There is nothing more uplifting than an email from a a fresh contact or kindred spirit.

I can be reached through this contact form and at happyolks [at] gmail [dot] com.