Archive: Feb 2012

  1. Looking in

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    Shaun hates it when I leave the blinds open when we’re eating dinner. People are watching, he jokes, it’s weird. For the most part I don’t mind if people are watching, we’re all watching something, waiting for something interesting to happen. Waiting to feel connected.

    Looking in, we find relief to see ourselves reflected in the habit and nuance of another. We see something that reminds us that we’re not alone. We’re not crazy. We get to be heroes for a brief moment, anonymously validating that small thing, that big thing, that thing that didn’t make any sense. Real heroism doesn’t involve fancy acrobatics. It’s surviving. We keep going. We keep laughing. We keep working. We’re still here and that is something to look at.

    Writing is like that. We leave the blinds open a little and share pieces of our humanity, that, hopefully, reaches a reader and holds them, even for a second, and whispers: you’re not alone. We write to liberate ideas and experience, we write to discover ourselves. We read to be validated we’re not crazy, we read to feel connected to something bigger than ourselves. There’s like this dance between the two that helps us not turn into a puddle on the floor. It’s amazing that a simple string of words can give us that connection, feed that longing for intimacy.

    Everyone leaves their blinds open, figuratively speaking. Looking out, looking in, walking down the street, sitting at the stoplight. It’s not just in the writing, it’s everywhere. “It” being that messenger, that thing that speaks to the core of you and honors exactly where you’re at along the journey. Keep looking. The teachers, the validators, the writing is all right there in the window if you’re looking in.

    Late Winter Salad adapted/inspired from Ottelenghi’s PLENTY 

    • 1 head cabbage (I used local green cone cabbage)
    • 2 heads radicchio
    • 1/2 cup dill, minced
    • 3 cara-cara oranges
    • 1 cup dried red sour cherries
    • juice of 1 lemon
    • 1/2 cup olive oil
    • salt/pepper
    In a food processor with the blade fitting, blitz the cabbage and radicchio to a fine shred. Dump into a large bowl. Sprinkle with a bit of salt to wilt a little. Mince fresh dill and toss into the bowl with the cherries. In a small bowl combine olive oil and lemon juice, mix together, then pour over the mixture. Toss together. Segment the oranges by removing the skin and pulp and cutting out slices between the fiber skins. The Kitchn has a great tutorial for segmenting citrus here. Lightly toss the salad with oranges and add a little more salt/pepper to taste.

  2. Blessed are the Flexible

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    Last week was a mess of skipped beats. I don’t know if there was something going on with the moon or if my tightrope is undergoing some growing pains, but man alive. Unanswered voicemail. Empty gas tank. Wrong books. Forgotten homework. Burned oatmeal. Molding oranges. Tardy client meetings. Parking tickets. Toothpaste explosions. I seriously was banging my head against the keys trying to write something wise, eloquent for the Beet Cake. Nothing.

    When we threw Tex, our new foster in the tub this morning after a long, wet walk through the park I couldn’t help but laugh as I watched a million little hairs fling from his back and cling to the walls and fresh towels. Oh dear. In the next few days I’m sure I’ll spot some white wisps stuck on the mirror and chuckle again at the beautiful absurdity of it all. Pure goodness. Pure madness.

    Weeks like these keep me humble. They keep me loose. Learning how to ride a bike with a rusty chain is the whole point of being young. You can’t really afford a new one but you make it work. You just keep peddling. Shaun and I have a pretzel shaped magnet on the fridge that reads: “blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape.” It’s especially appreciated in times like these. I love how we both try to hold each other up to this standard when the circus rolls into town, announced or otherwise. He dragged me out in yoga pants, NorthFace hoodie, top knot, and rubber wellies at 9 pm to hit a bucket of balls on the fairway Saturday night and I tell you what, I’ve never felt more silly and more perfectly human. It was great.

    Embrace the skipped beats. Life is nothing, boring at best, without them.

    This weekend we took Sprouted Kitchen’s mini calzones for a spin, adding butternut squash, and lemon zest. So, so good. The fact that on my calendar I have “meetup / Sara (SK)” marked for friday makes me think that I’m on track to one day do lunch with Oprah Winfrey. Sara has been a constant source of inspiration as I’ve built and grown into this space. Her grace and encouragement has meant more than I think she may ever really realize.

    Keep Reading for Recipe…

    For more Happyolks videos, see 1, 2, and 3

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  3. Beet, Seed, and Blood Orange Cake

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     Even after all this time,

    the Sun never says to the Earth,

    “you owe me.” 

    Look what happens with a love like that.

    It lights the whole sky.

    – Hafiz

    The words can’t quite come together for this one. Better not to force it. Alas, there is cake. Beet Cake. A bit more on the earthy side then carrots are to carrot cake, the beet variety with the added texture of the seeds and sweetened with brown rice syrup makes a more lasting impression than the former. Add a drizzle of the orange-poppy glaze to make it dessert, or enjoy plain with coffee in the morning. Red beets immediately stain the batter, but once baked you’ll cut into a fabulous rainbow assortment of color and texture.

    Beet, Seed, and Blood Orange Cake 

    Adapted from Tender by Nigel Slater

    • 1 3/4 cups gluten free flour blend
    • 1/2 tsp baking soda
    • scant tsp baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
    • 3/4 cup walnut oil
    • 1 cup brown rice syrup
    • 3 eggs
    • 1 1/2 cups raw red beets, shredded
    • juice of 1 blood orange
    • 1/2 cup golden raisins
    • 1/2 cup mixed seeds (flax, sunflower, pumpkin)

    Blood Orange, Poppy Seed Glaze

    • 1/4 cup brown rice syrup
    • juice of 1 blood orange
    • poppy seeds

    Preheat the oven to 350′ and prepare a loaf pan with oil and line with parchment. Set aside. In a large bowl, beat together the oil and brown rice syrup. Mix in the eggs one at a time. Grate the beets and fold into the mixture, adding the blood orange juice, seeds, and raisins accordingly. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. Slowly fold into the wet ingredients. Pour the mixture into the loaf pan and bake for 55-60 minutes. Test with a toothpick around 50 min to test for doneness. Let cool for 15-20 minutes before serving.

    For the glaze, simply mix together brown rice syrup, juice and a bit of zest of a blood orange, and a few shakes of poppy seeds in a small jar. Set in the fridge while the cake bakes to serve chilled and thickened later.

  4. Happiness is a Crock of Beans

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    Between Kansas and Colorado there is a hand painted sign on a train depot by the side of Highway 70 that reads “Happiness is a Crock of Beans.”  We passed it a few years ago on the pilgrimage from Florida back to California after Shaun’s graduation. It felt so affirming at the time. I scribbled it on the back of a receipt and shoved it in my wallet, saving it. Savoring it.

    Turns out, if I have learned much about happiness in the three years since that road trip, it has probably been precisely that it’s all just a crock of beans. It’s simple. Unfussy. It lacks elaborate construction or planning. Just a crock of beans. You get where I’m going with the metaphor, right? I have experienced more joy and collected the best memories in the simple presence of a cup of coffee, deck of cards, and a few good friends and family than in the throws of any other world-class adventure – and believe me, I’ve been spoiled with more than my fair share of them. We move so fast sometimes trying to get from point A to point B in order to become more successful, get more done, and be more “happy” that we forget that all we really need to be content is an old rocker on the back porch with the dog, a glass of wine, and a hand to hold.

    We all have our crock of beans, right? Those moments, those things that force us to slow down and really feel satiated by the goodness in our lives. They’re always there, waiting for us to see them, to have a good soak in them. As I begin to lay the stones for the next chapter in my life, I try and recall my own “crock of bean” moments of times past to help guide the little bits of the path that I actually have control over. Where were you? What were you doing? Who was there? If I can answer these questions with honesty, I know they will not lead me astray.

    This is a perfect light dish for this unseasonably warm winter. Crispy raw celery and onions with a peppery kick from the cress reminds of sandals in spring. Do yourself a favor and use dried beans if you can manage. They taste leaps and bounds better plus there’s no risk of BPA from those pesky cans. I used Garbanzo, Great Northern, and Cranberry Beans, but use what you have. Skip black and pinto varieties.

    Mixed Bean Salad 

    • 6 cups soaked and cooked beans
    • 6-8 stalks celery
    • 1 cup thinly sliced red onion
    • 1 head watercress
    • 3 lemons
    • 1/2 cup olive oil
    • salt/pepper to taste
    Combine soaked/cooked/cooled beans in a large bowl. Set aside. In a food processor with the blade attachment, run the celery through to finely slice. Use a mandoline or a sharp knife to cut the onion. I used nearly the whole onion, but I listed one cup. Adjust to your preference. Rinse and roughly chop the cress, remove and toss the roots and stems. Add the veg. to the bowl of beans. Stir together with olive oil, juice of three good lemons, and season to taste with a few grinds of sea salt and black pepper. Let rest in the fridge for about 30 minutes to develop a deeper flavor. 

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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.