I knew we were in the final stretch today while in the market I picked up a bag of garbanzo bean flour and actually hesitated, wondering, will I be able to use all of this by the end of May? As I write this, Shaun is taking pictures of a surfboard and an old printer for craigslist. At the front door there is a bankers box of pots, glasses, and towels for goodwill that we’ve somehow accumulated over the past few years. Books are stacked for sorting, graduation announcements strewn about the table waiting for stamps.
By now it’s probably a good time to tell; we’re moving to Colorado. The Mountains are calling. We’re going where our heart is, not where we think it “should” be. And that feels so darn great. Many of you have been trying to trace our steps since January, and I should give you all gold stars for your patience as I danced around in circles making and un-making up my mind. Brooklyn? DC? Portland? San Francisco? Denver? It has been a long, tiresome, soul-stretching process. Shaun and I honored it, and each other, by digging through the thicket privately. But there is more…
… since (most of) the whirlwind has subsided, it’s time to let everyone in again. We’re going to Colorado, and in a way you’re coming too (!!). To that, I have to stop and say thank you. Your love, encouragement, and wisdom has enriched my life in more ways than I could possibly put into words. This whole blog thing completely blows my mind. I’ve probably been more vulnerable with you, in this space, than I have ever been with some of the people I call friends in real life. How is that? How does that happen? I think I’m still figuring it all out. Thank you for coming into my life with your unique perspective and light, week after week, and thank you for letting me into yours.
This is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart. I carry your heart, I carry it in my heart. (e.e cummings)
Here’s the thing. If you have an hour to kill on Sunday afternoon, try the pasta yourself. But because I love you, because I carry your heart with me in my heart, I urge you to take some shorcuts here. How do I put this lightly, gluten free pasta is… frustrating to work with. Time. Patience. Practice. I set out to make fettucine, but failed miserably. Determined to not let the dough go to waste I made bows, instead. The first batch was too thick, but on second go, I got a great size and texture. If you’re feeling gutsy, try it. I love the nutty taste of chickpea pasta, but I think whole wheat spaghetti, brown rice shells, or any other type of pasta would go brilliantly with the lemony, herby peas.
Chickpea Bow Tie Pasta with Spring Peas
2 cups garbanzo bean (chickpea) flour
1 tsp salt
2-3 tbsp water
1 lb shelled peas
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lg. lemon, juice and zest
basil, large handful
mint, large handful
1/4 cup olive oil
optional: roasted pumpkin seeds, parmasean
For the pasta, add the flour to a large bowl, making a well in the middle for the eggs. Crack eggs and slowly begin to whisk with a fork, incorporating the flour until you get a shaggy ball. Add a little water to pull together the scraps. Turn out onto a ULTRA floured surface (on the first go, I went straight onto the cutting board, bad idea, second go, I used an old silicon mat underneath the flour to prevent sticking). Roll out until 1-2 mm thickness. Cut vertical strips, 1/2 inch thick, then cut horizontally every 2 inches until you have made small rectangles. They should look like stubby, short sticks of gum. Pinch at the center of rectangle on the long-side to create the bow. Set aside. Repeat. Bring large pot of water to boil. Cook in small batches for 2-4 minutes.
Place shelled peas into a heavy pan. Add minced or grated garlic and the olive oil. Saute for 5-7 minutes. Tear or roughly chop up the basil and mint, add to peas. Stir to coat for for 1-2 minutes. Add zest of the lemon and the juice just before you toss in the cooked pasta. Finish with a bit of salt, roasted pumpkin seeds, and if you’re into cheese, a bit of fresh parmesan.
“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”
“What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?”
“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully.
“It’s the same thing,” he said.
Broiled Asparagus, a Poached Egg, and Charred Spring Onion and Garlic over Grits
1 cup coarse grits (polenta)
1 bundle (about a pound) asparagus
3 spring onions
2 stalks spring garlic
Lemon juice, lemon zest
olive oil / butter
Combine 1 cup grits with 5 cups cold water in a heavy, deep pot. Bring to a boil, toss in a bit of salt and reduce to simmer for 45 minutes, stirring very frequently and adding water and oil/butter to your liking. Meanwhile, prep asparagus on baking sheet. Coat with olive oil, salt, pepper and zest of 1 lemon. Broil on the top rack for no more than 5 minutes. Remove asparagus from pan and set aside. Slice the white and light green portion of both garlic and onions and toss in leftover olive oil from the asparagus on the baking sheet. Squeeze the juice of the fully zested lemon over the garlic and onions. Add a bit more oil if you feel necessary. Return to the broiler, and check every 2 minutes to make sure they don’t burn. Pull them out when they have a nice brown char on the edges. Set aside.
Prepare the water for poaching the eggs in a deep pan. Once things come to a boil, it’s time to start prepping the serving bowls with the warm grits and asparagus. 1-ish cup of the grits, followed by half of the asparagus… bring bowls/plates over to the stove for easy transfer of the eggs.
I have recently adopted this bangin’ poaching technique, thanks to Bon Appetit: when the water has just come to a boil, create a vortex in the center by whisking a fork in a counter-clockwise direction. Once you’ve gotten up enough speed, set down the fork and quickly crack the egg into the middle of the whirlpool you’ve created. Now just watch. Seriously. Magic is happening. Cook for 4 minutes.
Place finished egg on top of the asparagus, and pile on a generous handful of charred onions/garlic.
The rope that tethers me to this place, this time, is growing thinner with each day approaching the big move (42, who’s counting). Things feel different, everywhere. My running route, the struggle to find parking on campus, our favorite restaurants, the farmers market, even the beach. It’s as if my mind has begun the emotional preparations for a new normal by disassociating from the old. More frequently now I find myself caught in the ordinary moments with a feeling of being there, but not really there in the ways I once was.
I drive through parts of town and see the places I lost myself, the places I really found myself. I see Shaun and I, younger, and the memories made in our relentless itch for growth and exploration. Everywhere there is a cacophony of light and dark, joy and pain, laughter and tears. It feels sorta supernatural. Hard to describe.
Standing at the edge of the shore this morning, I looked up to the clouds barreling across the sky after the good storm we had the past few days and felt an extraordinary sense of gratitude for the time, for the place — for all that it gave, for all that it took away. Four years have come and gone. I’m a different person now. I hope a better one. And it’s time. Time to let new faces and new seasons to teach me more about myself, more about the world.
The strawberries will be missed, California. But I’m so ready for new adventures.
Strawberry Basil Scones
2 ½ cups flour (I used a GF blend)
2 tbsp turbinado sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
½ cup cold coconut oil or butter, cut into chunks
1 + cup chopped fresh strawberries
2 tbsp minced basil
½ cup full fat coconut milk
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a large bowl stir together the dry ingredients. Scoop out or cut in butter or coconut oil. Stir in minced basil and hulled, and quartered strawberries. In a medium bowl stir together eggs and the milk. (Cream, half and half, or regular milk would work here too.) Add egg mixture to flour mixture in one pour. Stir together until completely moistened, using your hands when necessary.
Turn out onto a parchment covered baking sheet. Press into a 1” thick circle. Cut into 8 wedges. Brush with extra milk and sprinkle with sugar. If you use butter instead of coconut oil, place baking sheet with cut wedges in the freezer for up to 20 minutes before baking. It will make them magically fluffier and more scone-y. Bake for 15-20 minutes, depending. Finish with a good dollop of local honey or clotted cream.
When I start a copywriting assignment with a new client, the most important question I ask to get to know them is “where are you, what are you doing, and who are you with when you most feel like yourself?” They often smile, get a little quiet, and start to tell a story. Somewhere they visited, Saturday rituals at home… little details that reveal their personality and perspective. It’s more anthropological experimentation than it is helpful writing tool. Often, how they answer this question is entirely different than the manner in which they answer all the others. They haven’t prepared for this sort of prompt, so they have a chance to share in their sincerest form. How interesting is it that?
Using the exercise on myself, I become overwhelmed with a deep and exhilarating sense of peace and understanding as I am instantly transported to a time and space where things were just as they should be. When I find myself drifting off course or am sorting through serious life decisions, I try to practice this mediation. It has a funny way of bringing my head and heart back into alignment when the wires get crossed or cut. I’ve recently come to think of it as my “happiness compass.” Ultimately, when we are able to live out the truest, most authentic versions of ourselves, we can be the most happy.
I think so often we get caught up in creating an idea of happiness that we look too far outward, forward to things and elaborate ideas that will slingshot us out of a current state of fatigue, frustration, fear, etc. While I totally think happiness is something you can and should work to manifest, in times of uncertainty, it is best guided by the reminders living inside us all.Memories can’t provide direct answers for our troubles, but the process of remembering may lull the voices, our own and otherwise, that may be pulling/pushing us into a direction that leaves us feeling unsettled. It creates space for us to truly consider all that we know to be true, trust all that is yet to be taught, and go forward with a sense of empowerment to just be. It brings everything back to center. There may be chaos, there may be distraction, there may be consternation… but in our own answer, there can be stillness. And that is enough.
So I ask you this question, today…
Where are you, what are you doing, and who are you with when you most feel like yourself?”
Close your eyes. Listen. Let those places, people, spaces wash over you and fill you with love and light.
Feel free to shred, julienne, or dice anything your heart desires for these guys — spring rolls are incredibly versatile. I’ve mixed soft greens, crisp cabbage, and creamy avocado to diversify the texture. Add or subtract herbs as desired. Play with the sauce to your liking too, I spotted it in the magazine and knew it had potential.
And… get this: Happyolks has a free app for iPhone. Um, What!? Speaking of things that remind us who we really are, my incredible/handsome/kind little brother spent the semester in one of his engineering courses developing it for us. Hugs to Austin for his hard work. Download it from the App Store and check for updates and new features as the year progresses.
Submerge a single spring roll wrapper in a bowl of hot water until completely pliable, about 15 seconds. Remove, and gently set on a flat surface. Layer with cabbage, escarole, avocado, and herbs. Construct a roll like a burrito; start with the bottom and cover the horizontal line of veggies. Fold in both sides and press to seal. Roll up tightly to the top and seal the edge. Set aside. Repeat.
For the sauce “Place all ingredients plus 1/4 cup water in a resealable container. Cover and shake vigorously until well combined.”
What’s a paraben? Shaun asked me last week as he began to sort through the footage from the Sprout shoot. I’m about as low-tech as it gets in the beauty and skincare realm (yeah, I use coconut oil as shaving cream) but I know that parabens are not welcome in my bathroom. I thought about how to explain and realized that, actually, I have NO idea what a paraben actually is. My response: I know it’s bad for our health and the environment and that’s why we should use the natural stuff, and, err, stuff like yeah, it’s just bad.
So, in my own deficient understanding to the nasties of mainstream hair de-frizzifiers and face creams, I thought, hmm… I bet there are a lot of people who feel the same way about the “new” language about food that dangles from posters and is tagged on egg cartons throughout the grocery store. I sorta have a hunch that most people hear and see and recognize trending terms without knowing what they truly, fully mean. There is so much vernacular thrown around these days in the movement toward greater food consciousness and I think can get pretty intimidating for the layperson who is trying to figure out what is “healthy.”
So here’s the skinny… I’ve compiled a baker’s dozen of popular labels/terms to help you navigate the supermarket, and to combat any misperception you may find in dialogue with family and friends. Oh, and it’s kinda a long list. Totally geeked-out over this. I don’t expect you to read through the whole thing; maybe poke around, pick a term, and take it with you knowing this post will be here to help on an as-need basis.
Fair Trade: Products that bear a Fair Trade logo come from farmers and workers who are justly compensated. Fair Trade USA, the most popular organization to label goods like sugar, coffee, bananas, grains, etc. helps farmers in developing countries build sustainable businesses that positively influence their communities. Fair Trade labeling indicates that the product has been grown, harvested, and produced within a disadvantaged international community that is taking ownership of the free market. Check out these sick videos to learn more here, and here, as well as this NY Times article that critiques the practice.
All Natural: Marketing ploy, all the way. The FDA actually has no definition for what “natural” actually means, so companies are free to label things “natural” as long as they don’t contain synthetic substances. Let’s compare a box of Cheerios to say, a sweet potato. Which one is actually natural? Well, the FDA says both. You shouldn’t buy into that logic. Food labeling expert Urvashi Rangan says, “the natural claim is one of the most vague and misleading green claims that we see out on the marketplace.” Check out this 90 sec clip featuring Marion Nestle on the “All-Natural” scam.
Cage-Free: Unfortunately, this label conjures a vision of chickens dancing about in an open green pasture eating worms and loving life when, in reality, cage-free just designates that chickens were not raised in high-density battery cages. According to Good.is, “By U.S. Department of Agriculture standards, hens that lay certified organic eggs must be given access to the outdoors. But even for this more-stringent label, there are no specifications on time and duration of outdoor access. Some “organic” producers might get their birds outside once or twice in the animals’ lives. It’s a misleading practice that goes against everything that “cage-free” and “organic” ideals were created to represent.”
GMO / Non-GMO: A genetically modified organism (GMO) or genetically engineered organism (GEO) is an organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques. These techniques, generally known as recombinant DNA technology, use DNA molecules from different sources, which are combined into one molecule to create a new set of genes that enhance desired traits such as increased resistance to herbicides, cold extreme temperatures, pests, disease, and drought. Right now, the FDA does not regulate or label GE incidence in food so where you see a Non-GMO label, it has been verified through a third-party audit. Check out this mega James Bond-esque video that explains more, and find out more about the push to label GE foods from the “Just Label It” campaign.
Gluten-Free: Gluten is a protein that results when the proteins gliadin and glutenin join together with starch in the seed of grass-related grains such as wheat, rye, barley, durum, graham, semolina, spelt, farro, and kamut. Products labeled “gluten-free” mean it does not contain any gluten and is made with alternative grains such as rice, buckwheat, quinoa, sorghum, millet, and teff, or no grains at all. Gluten tends to cause inflammation in the gut that many people are sensitive to. In extreme cases where there is total gluten intolerance, a person may have Celiac Disease. The US Dept. of Health and Human Services estimates that 1 in 22 are affected. Check in with Gluten Free Girl for an amazing list of resources and further reading.
rBST: Recombinant bovine growth hormone (also known as rBGH) is a genetically engineered drug produced by the Monsanto Corporation. It’s injected into dairy cows to induce them to increase milk production. About 1 in 5 US cows are given this hormone since it was approved by the FDA in 1993. rBST is linked to increased occurrence of mastitis a “persistent, inflammatory reaction of the udder tissue” and can cause hormonal disturbances in humans who consume the milk from treated cows. Check out this short interview with Dr. Jenny Pompilio of the Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility to hear a more in depth explanation.
BPA / BPA-Free: Bisphenol-A is a plastic and resin ingredient used to line metal food and drink cans, and it’s a main building block for polycarbonate (PC) plastics. Even at low doses, Bisphenol A has been linked to cancer, birth defects, miscarriages, obesity, and insulin resistance, which can lead to Type II diabetes. Refer to the Environmental Working Group report on BPA for more information. Look for cans labeled BPA-free like Eden Organics and re-usable water bottles made of steel like Klean Kanteen.
Organic: The USDA Organic label means produce and other ingredients are grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms, or ionizing radiation. Animals that produce meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products do not take antibiotics or growth hormones. The USDA National Organic Program (NOP) defines organic as follows: “[crops] are produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations. Before a product can be labeled “organic,” a Government-approved certifier inspects the farm where the food is grown to make sure the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards.” USDA certification is often arduous and expensive, meaning small farms that adhere to organic standards sometimes cannot afford to follow one or a few of the USDA’s arbitrary guidelines. Talk to your farmers at the farmers market and ask about their practices.
Pasteurized: I think most people know what this means, but I put it on the list only because when I first moved to San Diego I was grocery shopping and overheard a few college kids debating what pasteurized meant in the dairy aisle. A girl about my age proclaimed, “pasteurized means they get to walk around in a pasture and eat grass.” No, I’m not joking. She really said that. Pasteurization is actually the process of heating food to a set temperature for a set amount of time and cooling it to slow spoilage and reduce microbial growth in the food.
Wild Caught / Sustainably Farmed: You’ll find labels like this at the seafood counter. Wild Caught may seem pretty self explanatory, but turns out that the modes of “catch in the wild” can be pretty brutal. In some cases fishing methods such as dynamiting reefs, high-seas bottom-trawling, and drift nets are used in the open ocean. On the bright side, ”wild-caught can also encompass more desirable lower-impact techniques, such as hand-lines, divers, or the use of pots or traps” according to the Huffington Post. Because of over-harvesting and pollution, a new technique of fish-farming is booming. Farmed fish generally gets a bad rap (and for good reason, some farms feed their salmon corn… um, yeah?) but Seafood Watch has done the hard work for you in compiling updated lists of what seafood is best for the environment and your health. Check out their super-awesome smartphone App or print a nifty guide tailored to your region and stick it in your wallet.
CSA / Local: Local is relative to the distance between food producers and consumers. “Local” labeling often identifies when certain products are grown, or produced within an 100-mile radius of purchase. Traditionally, Community Supported Agriculture programs require membership to a certain farm where individuals buy a share of the farm at the beginning of the growing season to “provide farmers with up-front capital to grown and manage the farm in exchange for weekly delivery of fresh, seasonal produce.” Today, farms also collaborate with local co-operatives where consumers can find seasonal goods within a supermarket-like setting. See more on the changing nature of the CSA via NPR.
This recipe was created for the Wisconsin Cheese Council and their quirky-cute “Grilled Cheese Academy.” Check out the video how-to of this sandwich and the creations of Sara Forte / Sprouted Kitchen and Ashley Rodriguez / Not Without Salt here. Shaun shot the footage, which as then edited by an outside party. **We were compensated for the creation of this recipe, which, is a mega-helpful contribution to the post-grad piggy bank.
Grilled Carrot + Carrot Green Pesto + Asiago Grilled Cheese
1 bunch farmers carrots, greens attached
1/2 – 3/4 cup shaved asiago (rBST free!)
1/4 cup olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
2 cloves garlic
salt/pepper to taste
4-6 1/2″ slices of sourdough boule
Butter, ghee, or olive oil for the pan/bread
Preheat the oven for 450.’ Remove the greens from the carrots and reserve for later use. Place on a heavy baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Cook for 20 minutes until they just begin to brown and blister. For the carrot top pesto, place washed greens in the basin of a food processor with the blade attachment. Combine olive oil, garlic, and the juice of one lemon. Blitz until smooth, adding a little olive oil if it feels too “pulp-y.” Shave the cheese super thin, set aside.
Warm a shallow, heavy pan over medium heat while you prepare the sandwiches. Butter one side of each slice of bread. Lay flat and layer with cheese, then pesto, then 4-5 grilled carrots. It’s okay if the stems stick out. Finish with another layer of cheese, if desired, and the other slice of bread. Place in the pan and grill on each side for 2-4 minutes until browned as you prefer. Cut in half. Repeat. Enjoy.