11 . 12 . 13
“I must learn to love the fool in me–the one who feels too much, talks too much, takes too many chances, wins sometimes and loses often, lacks self-control, loves and hates, hurts and gets hurt, promises and breaks promises, laughs and cries. It alone protects me against that utterly self-controlled, masterful tyrant whom I also harbor and who would rob me of my human aliveness, humility, and dignity but for my Fool.”
― Theodore I. Rubin
Sunchoke Soup with Cracked Black Pepper
- 1 pound sunchokes, peeled and chopped
- 2 cups peeled, chopped potatoes
- 6 tablespoons olive oil or butter
- 2 sweet onions, chopped
- 4 medium cloves garlic
- Leaves from 2 sprigs thyme
- 9 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 1/2 cup whole milk (optional)
- 1/2 cup apple juice
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
Peel the sunchokes and the potatoes. Cut into dice-sized chunks.
Heat butter or oil in a heavy-bottomed large pot. Add onions, garlic, and thyme, and stir until the onions begin to brown. Add the broth. Stir. Then add potatoes and sunchokes. Cook covered for 5 minutes, then uncovered for 15 minutes until chokes and taters are softened. Add apple juice and lemon juice, cook for another 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in milk.
Working in batches, transfer the soup mixture to a blender, remove the middle-nob so that steam can escape and cover with a paper towel as to not burn yourself with soup splatters. Puree until smooth in batches, each time adding some of the butter to the blender. Serve with a healthy amount of fresh black pepper.
10 . 31 . 13
The coffee shop I find myself holed up in these days is a six-block walk from my house. I cross two one-way streets, then a busier intersection between a 24hr diner and a yoga studio. On my way home today I kicked up dead leaves that seem to suddenly have engulfed the sidewalk since Monday and considered calling my mom on speaker phone just so she could hear how pretty the crunching and swooshing sound was in the moment. I have a feeling she heard it, without the call. She usually does. Mom-thoughts generally lead to other gratitude thoughts, and today was no exception. Gratitude for friends who let me interrupt their work-day to speculate if the person sitting next to me is either a hit-man or private investigator based on the prolific mess of records, security camera footage, and license plate captures strewn about the table. Gratitude for the way the Universe ushered an amputee-veteran to my check-out line at Target yesterday while I was purchasing pimple-cream alongside halloween candy with even the slightest grudge against my otherwise perfectly functional body.
I heard an echo of crunching and swooshing behind me as I stopped to cross the last street before our house and looked over my shoulder to catch a glimpse of the situation. Just a teenage-girl carrying a violin case. We acknowledged each other and crossed in tandem when there was a break in the traffic. She carried on ahead of me, swinging her case down the walk and I watched her from our porch for a minute or so, tossing my keys between my palms before going inside. There is an unspoken language between women that had been expressed between us in crossing the street and I wondered if she even knew it had transpired or the power it holds. When I was her age I don’t think I did. We are stronger when we cross together. I was a wildly independent in my youth. The sort of, I-don’t-need-anyone-to-help-me, I-can-do-it-all-on-my-own, type. In those days I associated feminism with unbreakability and ferocity, reserving all my tenderness or vulnerability for those in my inner circle. My relationship to my own femininity (and femininity at large) in those angst-y teenage years has softened as I’ve aged. With each passing season I find myself coming closer to a place where I can honor my emotional expressiveness, impulse to nurture, and keen sensitivity as having equal value to my fiery determination, independence, and fearlessness. Today I actively seek crossing the street with another, not as a crutch, but as a way to understand the female species and learn my place and call within it.
I set down my backpack on the couch and thumbed through the mail before kicking off my shoes and heading upstairs to check on Shaun. He was at his desk, just as I had left him several hours ago, reading Supreme Court documents for a new film project while sports commentary played in the background. I hugged him from behind, and closed my eyes. Earlier in the day I had confessed to a friend that I felt like I had nothing profound or compelling to write about my life or the world these days in this space. I get to wake up next to my best friend, I am involved in challenging and fulfilling work, and my friendships bring me deep and profound joy. Am I possibly too content to write? Is that even a thing? Contentedness, what is this witchery? Is it possible? Can I only create art when I feel melancholy or restless or at dis-ease? If good writing is a product of emotional carnage then I might be wise to consider a new career path. I kid.
Along these lines, said friend reminded me that I’m a normal human living normal days, as we do, and that I have permission to set poignancy on the shelf every now and again. “Some days you’re just a girl living her life.” And I’m cognitively very aware of this truth. Anyone who knows me will assure you I’m TEAM REAL-LIFE. And, even though the work I’m most proud of is born from some less-than-awesome mental states, the less-dramatic and emotionally stable days are the ones I like best and know you do too. The ones with walks and thoughts of pimples and hit-men and femininity and questions if I should go to therapy and if we should buy a second car and why my sweater smells like curry and when there will be enough snow to snowshoe and if brie or camembert cheese is a better accompaniment to squash and flaky crust.
And so it goes. This is my life, and I’m just happy to be in it.
Butternut Squash and Brie Galette
For the pastry:
- 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup ice water
In a bowl, mix the flour with the sugar and salt. Using a pastry blender or your fingers, cut in half of the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Cut in the remaining butter. Pour in water then begin to mix and knead the dough until a ball forms and the mixture is no longer shaggy looking. Flatten the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
For the filling:
- 3-ish lb butternut squash
- 2 apples (honeycrisp, pink lady, or fuji)
- 2 cups brie cheese, rind removed
- olive oil
- fresh thyme
- 1 egg
Preheat oven to 400.’ Peel the squash. Cut 1/4 inch vertical wedges up to the rind. Halve discs. Place on a baking sheet and coat with olive oil, salt, and pepper. It’s okay if wedges overlap. Bake for 15-20 minutes until just softened and a little al dente in the thicker regions. Set aside and cool. With a mandolin or pairing knife, cut apples (with peel) into 1/4 inch slices. Set aside. Cut or tear brie into strips and chunks. Set aside.
On a floured work surface, roll the dough out into a 12-inch round. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Begin layering cooled squash, apples, cheese, and a bit of salt and pepper leaving a 1 1/2 inch border for folding it all up. Repeat until you run out of ingredients and can top with more cheese. Fold the border over your squash-apple-cheese tower pleating the edge to make it fit. Finish outside exposed dough with an egg wash. Bake for 30-40 minutes in the 400′ oven. Cut into wedges and serve warm.
09 . 17 . 13
“I am the pool of gold when sunset burns and dies ― you are my deepening skies; give me your stars to hold” ― Sara Teasdale
Shaun, there is no way to interpret the language of this heart. Our story is my favorite secret. After a summer to meditate and celebrate this next season, I think it’s cool we let the internets in on the news.
I can’t wait to hold you, weep with you, laugh with you, fight with you, thrive with you, unfold with you every day for the rest of my life. This. This love. This time. I love this crazy, complex bond on our best and worst days. I hope we never stop changing. I hope we never stop growing, shedding, breaking, and billowing into new parts of each other, new parts of ourselves. This love with you has been the best and most challenging thing I’ve ever done; and, after all these years (eight! can you believe it?), there is still nothing I am more proud of. Without you I am a shadow version of myself, and every day by your side, I am learning to be a better human, a better friend, and a better partner. I love you. I LOVE YOU SO MUCH. Here’s to conscious commitment. Here’s to the freaking miracle that we’re here, now. Here’s to all the years and lines and thrills we have still to earn and learn. What do you say? Meet me in June next year, by that mountain we love with all of our friends? I’ll wear a white dress, and hand you my whole heart.
Hey friends, we’re getting married.
When we were in Mexico, I had enchiladas with mole every night. Not joking. I’ve taken Rick Bayless’s recipe from the Mexican State dinner in 2010 and did a bit of tinkering to make you a cliff notes version. I can see you rolling your eyes at me now… MOLE, KELSEY? A bajillion ingredients, I know, but I promise you it’s worth it and when it’s all said and done you’ll have loads of leftovers and can flex your muscles and proudly say, “I AM WOMAN! I MADE MOLE!”
Oaxacan Black Mole
- 10 medium chihualces (Oaxacan) chiles
- 6 medium (about 2 ounces) dried ancho chiles
- 6 dried chipotle chiles
- 1/2 cup coconut oil
- 1 cup white onion, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1/2 cup sesame seeds
- 1/3 cup unskinned or Spanish peanuts
- 1/3 cup unskinned almonds
- About 10 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
- 14 oz can whole peeled tomatoes, strained
- 2 slices stale bread, toasted until very dark
- 1/4 teaspoon cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- A scant teaspoon oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 ripe banana
- 1/2 cup (about 3 ounces) finely chopped chocolate (75% cocoa content)
- Salt, about 1 tablespoon depending on the saltiness of the broth
- Sugar, about 1/4 cup (or a little more)
- small flour tortillas
- sour cream
- shredded chicken breast (or grilled veggies)
Step 1: Soak chiles in boiling water for 30 minutes. In a large dutch oven, melt coconut oil and sauté onion and garlic until they begin to brown and caramelize – about 20 minutes.
Step 2: While the onion and garlic are doing their jig, preheat the oven to 350.’ Spread nuts and sesame seeds on a baking sheet with parchment paper. When the oven is to temp, roast the nuts for 12 minutes or until golden. Place nuts and seeds in a blender along with 1 1/2 cups of the broth and blend to as smooth a puree as you can. Transfer to a small bowl.
Step 3: Without rinsing the blender, combine the canned tomatoes with another 1/2 cup of the broth and puree. Pour into another bowl. Again, without rinsing the blender, combine the roasted onion and garlic with the toasted bread, cloves, black pepper, cinnamon, oregano, thyme, banana and 3/4 cup broth. Blend to a smooth puree and pour into a small bowl. Finally, without rinsing the blender, scoop in half of the chiles, measure in 1/2 cup of the soaking liquid, blend to a smooth puree, then pour into another bowl. Repeat with the remaining chiles and another 1/2 cup of the soaking liquid.
Step 4: From four purees, you have your mole. In the same dutch oven you used for the onions and garlic, heat 3 tablespoons of coconut oil and set over medium-high heat. When very hot, add the tomato puree and stir and scrape (a flat-sided wooden spatula works well here) for 15 to 20 minutes until reduced, thick as tomato paste, and very dark (it’ll be the color of cinnamon stick and may be sticking to the pot in places). Add the nut puree and continue the stirring and scraping until reduced, thick and dark again, about 8 minutes. Then, as you guessed it, add the banana-spice puree and stir and scrape for another 7 or 8 minutes as the whole thing simmers back down to a thick mass about the same color it was before you added this one. Add the chile puree, stir well and let reduce over medium-low heat until very thick and almost black, about 30 minutes, stirring regularly. Stir in the remaining broth and the chocolate, partially cover and simmer gently for about an hour, for all the flavors to come together. Season with salt and sugar.
Step 5: In batches in a loosely covered blender, puree the sauce until as smooth as possible. Return the mole to the same pot and heat it to a simmer. For enchiladas, fill 3 small tortillas with chicken or vegetables (if vegetarian preference). Lay on a plate, then drown them in a hefty spoonful of mole, top with sour cream and cilantro leaves.
07 . 24 . 13
“I’m not telling you to make the world better, because I don’t think that progress is necessarily part of the package. I’m just telling you to live in it. Not just to endure it, not just to suffer it, not just to pass through it, but to live in it. To look at it. To try to get the picture. To live recklessly. To take chances. To make your own work and take pride in it. To seize the moment. And if you ask me why you should bother to do that, I could tell you that the grave’s a fine and private place, but none I think do there embrace. Nor do they sing there, or write, or argue, or see the tidal bore on the Amazon, or touch their children. And that’s what there is to do and get it while you can and good luck at it.”
– Joan Didion
Pizza On The Grill
Dough adapted from Artisan Bread in 5
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups + 2 Tbsp lukewarm water
- 2 teaspoons yeast
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup packed fresh parsley
- 1 cup packed fresh basil
- 1 clove garlic
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 3 or 4 pints assorted cherry tomatoes, halved
- 12 oz. fresh burrata
Using Zoe’s “dump and stir” method for the dough, first combine liquids, salt, and yeast in the basin of a large bowl. Give it a good whisk until the water is murky. Pour in flour and stir together, add a touch of oil if it feels too dry. Using your hands, form a large ball of dough and set back in the bowl. Cover and let rise for 1-2 hours.
Meanwhile, prepare the herb pesto in a food processor or blender simply by tossing all the ingredients together and pulsing until ingredients are liquified. Set near the grill with the burrata and sliced tomatoes for easy assembly.
Heat your grill on medium-high heat. Dip a towel in olive or other neutral oil and grease the grates. When the thermostat reaches 425′, it’s game time. Punch down dough after rising, divide into two pieces and knead in a bit of flour. Roll out one ball with a pin or press by using your hands. For a thinner crust, gently take dough into hands and, using the backs of your palm and knuckles, tug at the edges until dough thins.
Transfer dough to a cookie sheet for easy trasport (I learned on the second go). Quickly “fling” dough onto the hot grates and cover for 4-5 minutes, checking frequently to make sure the bottom is barely browning, not burning. Using the same cookie sheet, scoop up half cooked dough and flip. Reduce heat of the grill to low. Dress the pizza with generous amounts of pesto, tomatoes, and torn burrata. Cook for another 5 minutes until edges are browning and the cheese is melty.
With your second ball of dough, repeat with leftover toppings or give this or this recipe a whirl.
We’re heading to Alaska again in 12 days. Remember this? It is positively my most favorite place on earth.
Come and follow along on Instagram.
05 . 23 . 13
We need more storms. The garden loves it and so does my spirit. When dark clouds build out West over the mountains I put a kettle on for afternoon coffee, throw open all the downstairs windows, and ready my reading chair with a book. Elizabeth Gilbert shared once in a TED talk how early cultures believed they had a genius, “a divine spirit that came from a distant and unknowable source,” that waited to pounce on people with “moments of brilliance… showing them new ways of doing things, bestowing new songs to their ears.” Gilbert described how the poet Ruth Stone often could look out, standing on the farm, and see a poem come barreling toward her over the landscape. It was chasing her, and she had to get up and run, as fast as she could, back to the house before it passed through her, blowing onward to find another poet. Ideas don’t always come sweeping over me with genius or brilliance or poetry, but I have found that if I sit and be present to a good storm, the thunder can shake loose new perspective in my heart that I usually need urgently, badly. Like Ruth, I have to be diligent and be waiting in the ready to capture that perspective fully.
And so, last week, I found myself wrapped in an old blanket in my reading nook, and tried surrendering to the energy of the storm. I was distracted about an earlier email from a reader that had left me unsettled and self-conscious about where I find myself pivoting from in this point of life. I know she meant well, truly, but her advice was somewhat bruising. I acknowledge and accept that by publishing parts of my life for the world to read, I make myself open to judgement and critique — both of which happen so rarely I feel silly even bringing it up — but it does reflect on the tricky business of having a blog. We, as writers, may feel a distinct and coherent story building month to month, year to year, but most often what our readers experience are “al a carte” moments, snippets of this phase and that. We, me, you, don’t always get the full picture. We can’t. And that’s okay. It’s not supposed to work like that. All that we are and all we believe cannot be packaged and delivered consistently in 1,000 words or less, so we chapter it all out, and continue, in earnest, to practice non-attachment and patience with those we invite into our lives (and living online spaces) — lives that are very much in-progress and under construction. This experience, of course, is magnified 10x in the flesh with strangers and friends and those we share toothpaste. But anyway…
My point in sharing this singular, harmless experience with a reader is to spotlight how, gulp, I too sometimes walk dangerously into the book of someone elses life, mid-chapter, and assume a level of authority or perspective based on the information I think I’m bearing witness to. Por ejemplo… Shaun and I have friends who have recently separated after a year of marriage and honestly I’ve been terribly hung up about it. Not about the divorce at large — as I don’t believe destinies or soulmates to be fixed things — but just about the loss on an energetic level for all of us young folk in love, angsty, and in becoming. There is a sense of sadness and realization on the whole, in life, not all good fights can be won… and it kinda blows. I look at these friends falling apart and see ALL of us falling apart, as we do, as we grow as individuals and in partnership and community. “No!!!” This was my knee-jerk reaction. ”Don’t let it break! WORK like fucking hell, friends! Relationships are hard!” It wasn’t until shaking the dust of that earlier email that I really realized how my consternation about the situation is entirely related to my own heart, my own struggles, and how when I look at these two beautiful people, wishing so desperately that “it all” could be fixed, I’m really just seeing the ways I want to fix myself. A bit of nemesism, really. And we do this, as humans, so often. We try to fix people as we would like to fix ourselves. We see our own lives mirrored back to us in the lives and choices and pain of others. We want them to be okay, we NEED them to be okay so we can be okay, too.
We see only what we see. Every day we get the opportunity to observe and take part in the lives of others, in the middle of their perfect and un-perfect chapters, with our opinions, often well-intentioned, knowing only what we know. I think it’s important, every single day, to try and step back and ask ourselves how much of our experiences with others are projections of our own desires, expectations, attachments. We have to remember that nothing needs fixing. We were put here to love, and that’s pretty much it.
So here’s what I’m thinking. Let’s all make a pact and try, really hard, to check our attachments at the door when experiencing the journey of another. It’s going to be hard. I know. Especially because half the time we don’t even know we’re caught up in the first place. Let’s try not to fill in the gaps for them. Not try to play out the before and after. Let’s just be with people, where they are, and love them, without judgement. Let’s be real with ourselves and recognize when and how and why we get caught up in the compulsion to mend. That’s where the genius is, people. Storm or not. Let it barrel on.
Grilled Carrots over Lentils with Horseradish Yogurt Sauce
- 2 bunches spring carrots, stems reserved for garnish
- 1 1/2 cups french lentils
- 1/2 cup carrot greens, chopped
- 1 large handful baby spinach
- 1 handful parsley, chopped
- 1/2 cup chives, minced
- 1 shallot, minced
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- salt/pepper to taste
Horseradish Yogurt Sauce
- 1 1/2 cup full fat yogurt
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tbsp (or more) grated fresh horseradish
- dash of salt
Bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Cook lentils until al dente, nearly 20 minutes. Rinse and set aside.
Rinse the carrots and remove stems. Toss with olive oil and salt. Roast on the grill or under the broiler until blackened and soft through the center (10-20 minutes, depending). Set aside.
In a medium bowl, stir together yogurt and lemon juice. Grate garlic and peeled horseradish root on a microplane grater over the yogurt. Add a dash of salt then taste. Do you need more horseradish? If you’re like me, you like the kick and will need to add more. Cover and keep in the fridge until you’re ready to serve.
In a large mixing bowl, toss together cooled lentils, olive oil, spinach, parsley, chives, carrot greens, shallot, and salt/pepper. Distribute the lentil salad on a serving platter and top with grilled carrots. Fetch sauce from the fridge and drizzle yogurt generously over the carrots. Garnish with carrot greens.
(Serves a crowd)