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.
01 . 20 . 13
The mouse is dead. I repeat, the mouse that has occupied my kitchen for the past four months has finally cycled into another existence, hopefully as a squirrel or more savory varmint far away from this address. A few nights ago Shaun and I were laying in bed, almost asleep, when we were startled by the sound of crinkling, crackling, and nibbling in the office. The office, I’m telling you, which is upstairs and about a million Shaun-sized paces from the kitchen. I jumped out of bed and barreled down the hall in my underwear, shaking my hands in the air hollering “Mark my words, this is it! (expletives) This is your last night!” I reloaded and repositioned every trap in the living room, dining room, and kitchen with gobs of peanut butter and brie (as it was suggested, a Happyolks mouse might have advanced taste). At work the next day I got a two word text message from Shaun around 3 pm, “Got him,” two glorious day-making words, and I proceeded to gloat to every co-worker who had been following my persistent rodent woes since October. Do not cross a girl chasing a mouse in her underwear. She means business.
You see, it’s finally a new year now. 2013 started on January 17th here in Denver. I have conquered the mouse and I am quite certain that I will now be able to conquer anything that the year has in store. Broke as as joke? Psh, What else is new. Pimples and wrinkles? BRING IT. Stolen bike? These legs are good to walk, skip, and run. I went to bed that night, in a mouse-less house, struck with sudden desires to learn to drive a stick shift, take a self defense class, ask to be compensated for my work, and generally be more spontaneous and kick-butt. Heck, I thought, if I can kill the smartest mouse in the history of mice, I can probably take a stab at croissants, tamales, mole, merengue, kombucha, and other seemingly terrifying cooking projects with style.
So… in the three days since the mouse was evicted I got a nose ring, dropped three grand on airfare to Chile, and made tamales, with kale and apples, which, for the record, are totally not hard and you should try immediately. You will feel like Joan of Arc and go on to make crazy-wonderful and empowered decisions in your day and year.
Kale, Apple, Ancho Chili Tamales
- 4 cups Masa Harina
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tbsp mexican oregano
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 3 cups warm water
- 1 cup melted coconut oil
- 2 bunches lacinato (dinasaur) kale
- 3 cups shredded mixed mexican cheese
- 1 fuji apple, small dice
- 1 large sweet onion, chopped
- 1 cup cilantro, chopped
- 1 fresh jalapeno, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2-4 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp ancho chili powder
- 1 tsp chipotle powder
- 1 tsp sea salt
- Juice of one lime
- 20 dried corn husks
- Sauce from here.
First thing is first, submerge corn husks in a deep bowl with boiling water and allow to soften for 30 minutes to 1 hour. I use a heavy jar of coconut oil to keep the husks from floating. In a large bowl combine masa, baking powder, oregano, and salt. Mix together warm water and melted coconut oil and pour over masa mixture, stirring until a dough forms. Set aside and cover.
In a large cast iron or heavy skillet, saute onions and garlic in olive oil until translucent but not browned. Add the ancho and chipotle powders and the juice of the lime. Stir and let simmer. Remove spines of the kale and roughly tear leaves into the onion mixture on the stove. Stir in apples, fresh jalapeno and salt. Cook until the kale is wilted and apples are tender. Remove from heat, mix in cheese to melt.
For the assembly of the tamales, create an assembly line of bowls with the masa, husks, and filling. Place one softened husk on the cutting board or counter and fill with dough. I didn’t measure, but I’d estimate I used +/- a 1/2 cup of masa mixture per tamale. Press dough into the face of the husk leaving an inch or so dead space around the perimeter. It doesn’t have to be pretty. Don’t sweat it. Spoon a bit of the cheesy kale mixture into the center of the masa platform you’ve created. I think I used more like 1/3 cup of filling per tamale. None of them are the same size or shape, just go with it. Wrap like you would a book-shaped gift, fold over the right side then the left, overlapping the edges. Flip up the bottom tail and place seam-side down on a plate. Repeat until you have filled 15-20 tamales, depending on how full you stuff them.
To steam the tamales I used a large pot with the pasta-colander attachment, although I have read and heard about steaming racks that can be placed in caserole dishes and the like. I imagine you could easily use a pop-out vegetable steamer in a deep pot or even a rice cooker, too. Place all the tamales in the basin of the vessel with the seam sides down. Cook for 45 minutes.
01 . 05 . 13
We lounged on the couch all day on the first. No crisp morning run and green juice to follow. No, we just laid there, me curled in tie-dye and yoga pants, you in the flannel with the pink stain on the pocket from where your sharpie exploded in the spring. We ordered bad pizza and watched the new Bourne flick until it got dark and the streetlights out front turned on. You looked at me and reached for my hand at one point with a new look, one I haven’t seen you wear before, it said holy-shit-what-a-freaking-year. I felt the same thing but didn’t say anything. I took your hand and smiled. What a freaking year was right.
This picture has been the screen saver on my phone since it was taken in January of last year. We were home for my holiday break and everything that stood before us seemed bursting and bright, albeit completely undefined. I had one semester of school left and we intended to foster a few more dogs, run a few triathalons, and move. Move somewhere. Anywhere. Away from California, preferably, but we weren’t picky yet. You wanted snow, and I wanted interesting people. We were both undaunted by any of it until the spring. Crap. You mean we actually have to decide, now? New York, Denver, DC? I interviewed in Brooklyn while you filmed Sprout and we crunched the numbers. I wanted the job, but hated the city. Flying home I remember trying to summon every ounce of wisdom Paulo Coelho or Mary Oliver or Oprah would promise me I had inside to turn our sails the right way.
May came quick. I didn’t get the job in Brooklyn, thankfully, and DC got put on the shelf for later. I passed French 3 and marched to Pomp and Circumstance wearing a cap without a tassel or permanent address. We said goodbye to the ocean the next morning and hit the road. Alaska first. Big fish. Deep introspection. Hours of Mexican train dominos and the very best company. I didn’t know I could love so much outside of my own kin until your grandparents. I sold my car and we camped along I-80 until a flat tire parked us in front of the duplex in Denver that we now call home. You built me a garden, I learned about marmots and bears, mountains and altitude became our new addiction. We made fast friends. You traveled a lot for work, I missed you terribly.
At the end of the summer I got a “real” job and things changed, again, as they do. For the first time in my life I understood what exhaustion looked and felt like — you saw it in my eyes and in my distance. In the bowels of it all I met people, saw things, felt things that I didn’t even know myself capable. Things were hard. It felt like someone took our little snow globe and glued it to the ceiling, everything looked misshaped and backwards and we held each other upside down like that, so tight, shocked, stunned by it all. We were both free and trapped. Happy, but terrified. Bright eyed and blistered. There were mornings like the one after the first snow, we ran far and fast, in silence, our legs red and tingly from the cold, or that night of the Ben Howard show where I wondered if I was getting closer to or even further from myself, closer to or further away from you. It was a free fall. We made questionable choices, spoke important truths, and held on for dear life as the time and place tested all that we were, are, and will be.
I looked at the picture of us today, the one on my screen saver of you and me and Buddy, a whole year later, a year older and stronger, and see the best parts of it all. We were so happy. So darn certain that despite the hardship, heartache, and the dramatic changes that lay before us, our love would kick it all in the pants. I look at that picture and I want to go back and tell those two kids that, yeah, it’s gonna be a crazy road, CRAZY TOWN, but keep believing, keep going, because your love will kick life in the pants and guess what, IT TOTALLY DID. Sitting on the yellow couch with you eating pizza a year later, seven years later, really, I’m so glad we postponed our resolutions a day to just give thanks. We made it. It was our hardest and best year. For all the obvious and secret reasons I love you. I love you so much. I love what we do, I love what we believe, I love how fucking hard we work to make this relationship right. Here’s to you and to 2013. Here’s to the mountains we’ve climbed and the many more before us. We’ve got this.
Made a little money playing in the bars
With two beat up drums and two old guitars
From the Crescent City to the Great Salt Lake
It ain’t what you got, it’s what you make
When the road got rough and the wheels all broke
Couldn’t take more then we could tow
Making something out of nothing with a scratcher and our hope
With two old guitars like a shovel and a rope
Rock of Ages, cleave for me
Let me hide myself in Thee
Now I understand
On better terms since Birmingham
Shovels and Rope
Shaved Cauliflower Salad
Adapted slightly from Bon Appetit, 2012
- 1/2 head of a large cauliflower
- 1 medium sized radicchio, cored
- 6 inner celery stalks with leaves
- 1/4 cup chives
- 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
- 1/2 cup honey glazed walnuts
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- Juice of 2 lemons
- Juice of 1 orange
- 1 tsp water
- 4-5 medjool dates, pitted
Break out your mandoline and shave the cauliflower as thin as the setting allows. Shave the radicchio by hand with a sharp knife. Place in a mixing bowl. Remove celery leaves and toss into the bowl. Cut the remaining stalks into thin matchsticks and add to the mix. Add parsley leaves and chopped chives.
For the dressing, combine all ingredients in a high-powered blender and puree until smooth. Mix with the veggies and add lemon zest or more citrus juice and salt to your liking.
For the walnuts, preheat the oven to 350.’ Massage walnuts with honey and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 10 + minutes or until just toasty. Comine with salad mixture and serve at room temperature.
12 . 02 . 12
When the moon is out and fog hugs the city limits, the trails of airplanes — the steam, smoke, whatever it is they leave behind — appears black against the night sky. Have you seen this before? It’s stunning. Haunting.
Driving home from the movies a few nights ago, I motioned to Shaun to pull over and look at the moon in this state, the way the black line lingering up there in the sky divided it in two. We parked the car in front a dark driveway and stared, silently. “Do you think it’s an asteroid headed for Earth?” I asked. Shaun laughed, “I think it’s a plane, and, I think you’re beautiful.”
It is December now, and I am reminded by the twinkling lights on houses that guide my bike rides home at night that life can be messy and confusing and still be knock-your-socks-off-magnificent. My life is so abundant, fuller and richer than any young woman could possibly deserve in a lifetime. Tough days seem selfish, trite, ignorant. I wake some nights gasping for breath, stunned at my blessings and overwhelmed with a sense of duty to repay the world with duplicate affection for all it has given me.
A new friend asked me the other day, “seems like you’e working too hard at this stuff, is it all worth fighting for?” The answer was (and is) YES. Yes and always yes. The good is always worth fighting for. There isn’t much I feel like I know for sure about this world but this, fighting for the good stuff, I can assure. The moments parked in front of dark driveways discussing asteroids and planes and the moon and love and life and death and who we are and why we’re here and how desperately we just want to do it right – these moments will always be worth fighting for.
Sweet Potato Samosas (baked, not fried!)
Adapted from Saveur
- 1½ cups flour
- 8 tsps water or buttermilk
- 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 sweet onion, minced
- 2 tbsp. minced cilantro
- 1 (1″) piece ginger, peeled and minced
- juice of 3 fresh lemons
- ½ tsp. ground coriander
- 1 tsp. garam masala
- ½ tsp. ground cumin
- ⅛ tsp. cayenne
- 2 medium sweet potatoes cut into ¼” cubes
- 2-3 cups veggie stock
- sea salt, to taste
- 3½ cups tightly packed cilantro leaves, finely chopped
- 1 cup tightly packed mint leaves, finely chopped
- 3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- ¾ cup greek yogurt
- salt to taste
Preheat the oven for 450.’ In a large bowl with measured flour, cut in shavings of butter using a paring knife. Rub together flour and butter until the dough becomes crumbly. Add in water or buttermilk and mix with hands until the dough starts coming together. Transfer to a floured surface and knead until elastic. Cover and set aside.
For the filling: Heat oil in a skillet over then add onion, and cook until lightly browned. Add sweet potatoes and 1 cup of broth and let simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add lemon juice, coriander, garam masala, cumin, cayenne, salt and a cup more of broth. Simmer for another 10 minutes until potatoes soften, adding more stock as needed as the liquid evaporates. Remove from heat to cool.
Divide dough into 10 golf-ball sized rounds and cover with a towel. On a lightly floured work surface using a rolling pin, roll 1 dough ball into a 6″ round. Cut in half. Here’s the part I’m going to quote from Saveur, the instructions are just too good: “Gather straight edges of 1 half-round together, overlapping them by ¼” to form a cone; moisten seam with water and press to seal. Spoon 1 heaping tbsp. filling into cone. Moisten inside of top edge of cone with water, press edges together to close top of cone, and pinch along top ¼” of seam to completely seal filling in dough cone. Pleat length of seam by folding over about ¼” of the dough and pinching it together in about ½” increments. Repeat process with remaining dough and filling to make 20 pastries total. Set filled pastries aside.”
Bake Samosas for 15 minutes on one side, turn and bake for another 5. Remove when both sides are lightly browned.
For the chutney: Place cilantro, mint, lemon juice, and yogurt in a blender. Purée until smooth.