07 . 17 . 13
When I was in Vegas a few months ago for the Saveur Awards, I got a ride from the airport with a female cab driver with rose tinted aviators and a turquoise manicure. She sang along, shamelessly, to “I’ve Got You, Babe” as we zoomed along the desert highway and looked back just once in her rearview mirror to say “honey, if you can tell me who sings this… ride’s on me.” I drew a blank. She laughed. Really? I was so embarrassed. Sonny and Cher. I thought about that one year we went as Sonny and Cher to our Sadie Hawkins dance in 2005, I burned the song to a CD to play in the car and we sang it ourselves in the parking lot near the swimming pool at our High School.
The same song was playing yesterday when I stopped for breakfast at a cafe in San Luis Obispo. It was Saturday. Couples in workout gear moseyed in and woke up over coffee and acai bowls. Oh, California. A familiar scene and characters that Shaun and I could have lived out had we never left. I carry a Colorado driver’s license now and and am taking in the California coastline alone as a visitor. Campsites were full the two nights prior so I slept in the cab of my borrowed truck parked in a hotel lot away from the lights. This was a whole new level of vagabonding. I had a hard time falling asleep and my mind began racing with questions of the legality of my makeshift homestead. Squinting with one eye open on my side, I googled “is sleeping in your car legal?” on my phone which led to a series of other searches for murder records in Pismo Beach, the addresses and pictures of registered sex offenders within five miles of where I was parked. I closed my eyes, said a little prayer, and didn’t wake again until 5:54 am. I lunged over the console to the drivers seat and peeled out for the beach.
They say we’re young and we don’t know,
we won’t find out until we grow.
Well I don’t know if all that’s true,
You’ve got me and baby I’ve got you.
It’s funny how much has changed since we took turns with those lyrics in our costumes. Shaun and I started our relationship fighting the dogma that we were too young to “get it.” Truth is after all these years I don’t know if I’ve “gotten it” any more than I did then. We grow up. Time wears on our idealism, the ego plays its hand, we lose our perspective, we hurt each other intentionally and not. This is the human experience, in relationship, really. We try, we fail, we work, we regroup. I loved us then, I love us more now, despite the ways time has blemished our story. I’m sitting on a cliff watching the waves crash on the rocks in Half Moon Bay right now, journaling. A wise friend’s ashes were spread here many years ago… he was, and I think still probably is, Shaun’s and my fiercest cheerleader. I haven’t cried this hard in years. We haven’t always done it right, Hayden, but we’re still here. I wish you could see this love, now. I hope you’d be proud.
I drove to my brother’s place in silence later that night with the windows down. The sun was just beginning to retire and there was that sort of glow about the road that made my life feel oddly cinematic. I had gone back through When Women Were Birds over the course of the trip, transcribing passages to my journal and hashing them out in the mornings from my sleeping bag. It rested in the passenger seat atop musky beach towels, a half eaten loaf of bread, and a pile of seagull feathers I started collecting in Santa Monica. In the distance I could see a flight of birds moving up the coast along the road, I admired them for a few seconds until I realized they were flying straight toward me. Drifting. Drifting. Drifting. Yet was sudden. A single bird did not follow the the others and slammed into my windshield like a bullseye. I screamed and watched, horrified, in the rearview mirror as it bounced to the ground and other cars passed over her grave. I looked at the book and the feathers in the passenger seat and felt like I couldn’t breathe. WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN??!!? I felt like in accidentally killing the bird, I had betrayed every intimacy with Terry Tempest Williams’ words and thoughts on women and birds over the past month. It was hard not to to feel auspicious or look for symbology. Why did the bird stray from her friends? I have so many questions. I should write Ms. Williams a letter. Maybe it’s not time for it all to make sense yet…
They say we’re young and we don’t know,
we won’t find out until we grow.
Well I don’t know if all that’s true,
You’ve got me and baby I’ve got you.
I’m finally home in Denver. It feels right and good, I’m finding out, as I grow.
Inspired by the menu of a swanky bar in Los Angeles that friends Mike and Mel took us to a few weeks ago. I like a cocktail that’s a real kick in the pants, this one takes first prize.
Recipe for a single cocktail. Increase quantities as necessary for your guests.
- 2 oz (1 shot) tequila reposado
- 4 oz (2 shots) ginger beer
- 4 oz guava juice
- 4-6 round slivers of fresh jalapeño
In a cocktail shaker combine liquids, a few slivers of jalapeño, and a few cubes of ice. Shake. Pour over glass filled with ice. Garnish with more jalapeño.
06 . 11 . 13
“If you are divided from your body, you are also divided from the body of the world. Which then appears to be other than you, separate from you, rather from the living continuum to which you belong.” — Eve Ensler
This theme, that of the body and women, and our constant attempts to correct or control what is lacking of our physical selves and in our lives has come up in too many conversations lately. With dear friends, young and old, wise our chats have led to, among many things, some variation of the question: why, when everything feels out of control, do we sometimes turn on our bodies? In some last ditch effort to keep things together, we, women, often become these punishing, masterful tyrants, who live secretly in the shadows of our self-consciousness and inadequacy and restrict and pinch and squeeze and shudder at all that our bodies lack. In the name of health, deprive ourselves of the joy we deserve and mask the deep disequilibrium in the vessel we inhabit. As Eve says, we are then divided. Our bodies become an object to fix, and then too does the world. The world is not an object. Your body is not an object.
I read something in an Oprah Magazine on a flight home from college a few years ago that still haunts me. There was this featurette on women in their 60′s and 70′s espousing the joys of finally coming into their own skin in their later decades. It featured a photo series of women, beautiful, eyes closed, laughing, wind blowing in their wavy grey hair. They all looked so happy, genuinely, finally, happy. I was happy for them, too. I also felt like I was going to throw up. The idea that I, and all women my age, might spend the next 40 years of our lives unhappy with and at war against our bodies was terrifying. I tore out the pages of the spread and stuffed them in a textbook tucked in the seat-back pouch, closed my eyes and thought, “I don’t want to wait that long… I can’t wait that long” What if I don’t even get that long? I mean, how dare I waste this time? No way, no how. Self-love is not a rite of passage,not something we are entitled to only after years of suffering.
I’m not entirely sure where I’m going with all of this, but I’m not trying to stand on a soap box to convince you to love your body — there are women leading that call-to-action with much greater poeticism and punch than I ever could. Of course, if I were sitting on the back porch with you tomorrow night, I’d promise you and plead, with deep conviction and sincerity, that you are the most powerful and beautiful creature on the planet. Yet I do want to tell you one thing: go outside. Get out in the sunshine and warm air and away from the noise of the city and your routine and let your limbs take you places and show you parts of the earth and the living continuum to which you belong. The closer you get to nature, the harder it will be to hate your body. You belong to these places. They will remind you of your goodness and beauty and strength that you may have forgotten lives in you. It takes nearly four hours to summit 3,800 feet of a mountain like one we filmed above. As the altitude increases, our pace tempers and at each pause for oxygen, I stand filled with so much gratitude for what my body is, for what it does, for how hard it works to bring me to these places. Here, in the wildest parts of the earth, I know in my heart I lack nothing. Every maddening, dark thought or ill will I have felt towards myself in the past is dismissed and deep love and care fills the vacuum it left behind. You may not need to climb to 14,000 feet to find this peace. Maybe you’d like to learn to hula hoop, swim backstroke in a lake, train for a 5k fun run. I don’t care. Something. Move. Breathe. Look out and look in. Watch how much your body allows you to do and feel. Give thanks. Be kind. Let’s not wait until we’re 70 to feel good about the vessel we landed to change the world from. There is freedom in appreciation given.
Adapted from Nicole Spiridakis, for NPR Kitchen Window
Folks, this is killer. For what this cobbler lacks in beauty it makes up ten-fold in taste, especially after a full day on the move. Not much mise en place when it comes to camp cooking, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Any summer fruit combination will do. I had strawberries and rhubarb on hand for this trip. I imagine peaches, plums, cherries, or blackberries will be fantastic as they come into season this summer.
- 2 lbs strawberries, hulled and halved
- 2 stalks rhubarb, sliced
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3 cups flour (I used pastry)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 2 cups buttermilk
At home: Mix together the dry ingredients, except sugar, and place in a bag or tupperware. Pack sugar separately. Measure out the buttermilk and transfer to a small container.
In camp: Set up the fire and place a grill about 4 inches above the flame. If you forget a grate (oops) create a rock formation to protect the iron from direct flame. Cut the fruit into chunks and toss with the sugar. Add the fruit to a heavy, cast-iron 5-quart Dutch oven or a deep cast-iron skillet.
For the biscuits, place the pre-mixed dry ingredients in a bowl. Cut the butter into the flour mixture until the butter is the size of small peas. Stir in the buttermilk, just until the batter comes together.
Drop dollops of the dough in an even layer over the fruit. Cover the Dutch oven and put the cobbler over the fire pit. Cook until the biscuits are cooked all the way through, about 30 minutes.
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.
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.