01 . 09 . 14
It’s 2 am and I just ate the last piece of molasses cake leftover from the New Years Eve gathering we hosted a few days ago. I never saw anyone eat a slice, but the next morning I found the bundt half gone on it’s stand, covered by a dish towel. I like that people can expect a treat when they’re at the house. I’m often asked why I cook and my answer has evolved and simplified over time: to love, to nourish. It’s a small thing, on my list of big things, of ways to say I love you.
In any case, there is a vent beneath the counter that warms a patch of tile on the kitchen floor and I stood on it, camped out in my bare feet, eating, listening to the creaks of the house and sorting through a stack of mail beside me. I turn over what appears to be a credit card offer and start scribbling a shopping list. Cauliflower. Horseradish. Greens. Coffee beans (!). Chemex filters (!!!!!). Toothpaste. Chocolate chips. Goat’s Gouda. Dates.
I love January and it’s everyday-ness. I’m glad for a regular pulse again. The holidays are great but it’s the stillness that I crave at the end of it all. We took our little evergreen out to the curb promptly when we returned from California and I filled the house with white ranunculus and put my Dad’s Neil Young album, Harvest, on our new record player to fill the house with something… normal.
New Years resolutions have never been my bag. Not on the 1st, at least. I want to cover my ears, close my eyes, and shout la la la la la la la la la la la when “goals for 2014″ comes up in social conversations because here’s the deal: A new year starts whenever I say it starts. You guys know me, I’ll preach intentionality ’til I’m blue in the face, but, erase the numbers on the calendar and the year restarts fifty times, even one hundred times in 365 days, if we want it to. I like the idea of resolving and revising my life, intentions, goals, and boundaries throughout the entirety of the year. My blueprints look nothing like they did a month ago, and I’d wager they’ll look different next month. Without grandeur or pomp or circumstance, there are always occasions that beg a breaking down and rebuilding the foundation. Fate and free will do their dance, and we are presented with, or choose, change.
That’s the beauty of this human life we get to live here on planet earth. We get to revise. We get to shift lanes. We can stop what we’re doing at any point of the day, month, year and say hey, you know, I think I’m going to to try doing things differently from here out. We are constantly being called to look in and look out at they way we treat people, how we spend our time, how we think about ourselves, and the respect we show our bodies and our planet. Instead of cramming in all that self-reflection and goal setting for the sparkling brevity of a ball-drop, I’d ask you to consider celebrating a new year, a new you, whenever you can. And those days are worth celebrating. The Thursday in March where you wake up, put your feet on the floor, and say to yourself: today will be different, today I will… (fill in the blank)… that’s gold right there. There will be no confetti or champagne. But it will be perfect, and you did it all on your own.
Happy New Year, today, and every day.
Shiitake Bok Choy Dumplings
It’s cold out! If you live in a winter-y climate, skip the juice fast and feed your Qi with warming, nourishing foods. My acupuncturist, Anna, says it’s an order. For the wonton sheets… I could only get my hands on the itty-bitty variety, which, if you have fingers that aren’t on the dainty side like me, folding can be a bit of a challenge (albeit a worthy one). If you can find wrappers that are bigger, i.e. 3x3in, I’d suggest doubling the filling for this recipe.
- 25 wonton wrappers
- 4 bulbs bok choy
- 1/2 lb shiitake mushrooms
- 2 large carrots
- 1 inch nub ginger
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup minced chives
- 1 tsp orange zest
- 1 tbsp tamari or Braggs liquid aminos
- 2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
- + extra bok choy to line the steam basket
Orange Teriyaki Sauce
- 1/2 cup tamari
- 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
- 2 tsp water
- 2 tbsp orange juice
- 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 tsp minced garlic
- 1 tsp minced ginger
- 1 tsp orange zest
- 1 tsp cornstarch
Get the sauce out of the way: Combine ingredients (except for cornstarch and orange zest) in a saucepan on medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Stir in cornstarch and zest last then remove from heat.
For the dumpling filling: chop boy choy, shiitakes, chives and carrots into very small pieces. Using a microplane grater, shave garlic, ginger, and orange zest into the vegetables and mix together. Warm sesame oil over medium heat in a pot or sauté pan. Add vegetable mixture and the tamari and stir to soften for no more than 5 minutes. The veggies should be vibrant and al dente.
Assemble the dumplings by placing one sheet on a flat surface. With a bowl of water near your dominant hand, dip a finger or two in the water and wet the perimeter of the dumpling so when you fold it all up it will stick together. Place 1 heaping tablespoon of cooked filling in the center and fold together by adjoining the two opposite corners with a pinch and then repeating with the remaining corners, sealing the edges together as you go like a present. If your wonton wrappers are circular, you can see detailed instructions on how to assemble here. Repeat until all filling has been used.
Prepare your steaming mechanism (pot with steamer lined with bok choy or lettuce, ghetto white girl style like moi… or by using a real-deal bamboo steamer as seen here). When there is sufficient steam generated, place as many dumplings as you can fit without touching one another. Cook for 5-8 minutes.
Serve warm and dip as desired.
12 . 11 . 13
The table is set, and our glasses are full,
Though pieces go missing, may we still feel whole.
We’ll build new traditions in place of the old,
Life without revision will silence our souls.
Let the bells keep on ringing,
Making angels in the snow,
May the melody disarm us when the cracks begin to show.
Like the petals in our pockets, may we remember who we are,
Unconditionally cared for by those who share our broken heart.
– Ryan O’Neal
- Traditional Kimchi recipe from Food & Wine
- 2 cups ramen or soba noodles
- 1/2 cup sliced green onion
- 1 poached egg
- 2 cups quick broth
- – 4 cups water
- – 1 onion
- – 1/2 apple, sliced
- – 3 lemon slices
- – 1/4 cup sliced shallots
- – 5 garlic cloves
- – 1″ nub ginger
- – 1/2 cup kimchi
- – 3 tbsp miso paste
For the broth, mix together all ingredients (save for the miso) and simmer for 30 minutes. Mix in miso after 30 minutes and remove from heat. While the broth simmers, cook the noodles, slice the green onions, and poach an egg with your method of preference.
Combine Noodles, 1 heaping cup of kimchi, 1/2 cup green onions and pour over 2 cups of broth and top with egg.
** I quadrupled my batch of Kimchi and am letting it continue to ferment for New Years gifts, it makes 8 quarts if you’re wondering!
*** Special thanks to New West Knifeworks for sending me a collection of knives to try. They’re beautiful and if you’re going the gift-route for the holidays, I highly recommend this Wyoming based company.
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.