11 . 07 . 12
There is a freight train of words and unfinished sentences inside me, pressing against my chest. It’s past midnight. I sit in the dark at Shaun’s desk wearing his black coat with the hole on the right arm. My feet are cold and I have to be at work in four hours but I feel like if I don’t write, right now, I will continue to feel paralyzed by the quicksand that has become of my brain. I stopped trying to be perfect a few months ago and in the absence of it’s restraint there is now this hole, a vacuum for new ideas, new people, and new experiences to flood its place. Everyone (myself included) talks about how liberating it is to follow your bliss, let go, be free, and to abandon expectations, but what nobody talks about is how fucking insane it can make you feel in the process. There are moments, like earlier tonight, when I am brushing my teeth or folding laundry when and I have to look down at my hands or touch my sacrum to remind myself that I’m still here. I’m still Kelsey. It’s borderline-terrifying when you look in the mirror and can’t recognize the person looking back at you. I’ve done so much thinking over the past few months that I swear to God it’s like I thought myself away from and out of my body.
There is a bench outside of my workplace that I spend most of my breaks. You’ll find me there these days watching people pass on their bikes, listening to the howls of the pool table at the bar across the street. It is my designated non-thinking bench. Really, it’s come to this. A place for fifteen minutes of peace from my own existence. Don’t think. Just sit. Just be. Just breathe here. Of course this non-thinking rule lasts for a whole minute until my phone blinks and reminds me that I have avoided more than a half-dozen phone calls from family and friends whose love and patience I probably don’t deserve right now. I remember the pile of bills and payment warnings from mid-summer blood tests sitting on my desk, a half-emptied suitcase from my last trip home, and the $13.00 library fine that restricts the release of my college diploma. These are all just things. Little things. Little things that mirror my high-speed chase away from all the calm, away from what could actually help me reach a finish line, a resolution, or at least a reset button. Avoid. Avoid. Avoid. Is it possible that I’m cultivating a mess in my temporal, phsyical world just to match or trump the spiritual warfare that’s going on within? Yes. Probably. Crazy. Who does that? Crazy people. Break out the DSM-IV, Mom.
I met a woman the other day at a party. I was immediately drawn to her energy because she held herself with the kind of ease and confidence that I have so often craved to make constant in my own state of being. You know these kind of women, or, at least, the idea of these kind of women. The kind who wear old jeans and whispy bohemian blouses with their perfectly messy hair. They practice yoga, are genuinely kind to everyone, unflustered by common commotion of human existence, and ready at a moments notice to jump into the ocean completely naked. You know exactly who I’m talking about, right? There are these that come in and out of our lives that we see and know and think, God, you make it look so easy. Anyway. This woman. At the party. I listened to her talk and watched her move and realized that I WAS her. All those things I saw that felt so far away in that moment lived inside of me, too. The utter madness and dislocation I feel when I look in the mirror is part of the same woman who laughs until she nearly pees her pants, cries when lady bugs land on her arms, travels fearlessly through foreign lands, gives amazing hugs, believes love will change the world, eats cake for dinner, and sings Julie Andrews ballads at the top of mountains so even the goats can hear just how happy she is to be alive. Anyway, I’m realizing that I don’t crave being her, the woman at the party, I crave being more of myself.
I’ve been cooking. A lot, actually, through all of “this.” I’ve made chocolate chip cookies four times from the same recipe and tried, at each go, to melt with that same buttery pot of comfort back into my own skin. I got closer every time, you see. Really. I should probably keep making them.
All of this. These words. These midnight ramblings might be (probably are?) best kept locked in a folder on my desktop for a later date. Something I can look back on when I’m wise and gray and think, whoa girl, that was a dark place. But I’m going to release them here. Be free, words. Be free, mess. This is what a mess looks like, if you weren’t sure yet. I imagine you have had, seen, or felt, or dug through your own and had a panic moment somewhere in the process that you were straight up bat-shit crazy. You’re not. Well maybe you are, but we all are. You’re human. We’ve got this brain, a million sets of choices and paths to take and a thousand different ways to imagine what it will, can, or should all look like. I’ve gotta believe we all go through this, these WHO AM I, WHAT AM I DOING HERE, WHY AM I ALWAYS GETTING IN MY OWN WAY cycles of questioning. I’m standing at the brink of 23 and part of me thinks it would be crazier if I wasn’t experiencing some sort of existential reckoning. Right? Right.
I’m in it. Here. Now. Perfectly okay and perfectly not. I will come back to me. I will. I imagine I’ll be grabbing the mail one day and look up to the sky, feel the sun on my face, and see it all so clearly. Until then, I’ll be here, holding fast like an anchor in the storm and facing forward to all that this place has to teach me.
Butternut Squash and Farro with Honey Harissa Dressing
Adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook (and hey, guess what, I’m giving away a copy on facebook!)
- 1 medium-sized butternut squash, peeled and cut into small cubes
- 1 1/12 cup uncooked farro
- 6 cups vegetable or chicken stock
- 1 honeycrisp apple, unpeeled and diced
- 1/2 cup pine nuts
- Lug of olive oil
- 1 small shallot, minced
- 1/4 cup Italian parsley, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp mint, julienned
- 1 Lemon, juiced
- 1 lime, juiced
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tsp honey
- 1 tsp cumin
- 2 tsp harissa powder
Preheat the oven to 400.’ Start with the squash. Peel and prep and cube the dude and lay out flat onto a well loved baking sheet with a douse of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes or more until the edges are just browned. Meanwhile, bring the veggie or chicken stock to a boil in a medium-sized pot. Add the farro, cover, and let simmer for 30 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated. Strain and set aside for later.
For the dressing, combine liquids first: olive oil, citrus juices, and honey. Stir in cumin and harissa vigorously before adding the shallot and herbs. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine cooked farro, roasted squash, pine nuts, and the freshly diced apple. Cover with dressing and gently toss before serving.
08 . 28 . 12
An immediacy of regret ricocheted off of every hard surface in the house last week after we accidently clicked “publish” instead of “preview” for the eggplant stack post. An (extremely) rough draft of bubbling thoughts suddenly live, sent to 3000+ inboxes around the world. My heart sank. I wanted to chase after every visitor and beg, “Hey, wait! That’s not what I meant to say!” After reading your kind comments and emails I felt the need to briefly clarify, for my own sake, that I have no desire to leave this space. I have dedicated so much of my soul and time to this adventure with the explicit purpose of reaching, teaching, learning, and growing into the world. Growing into myself. Sharing stories and semblances of a journey to honor the one we each take, individually, every day and the one we share together as human beings. My “lingering concern,” as I so phrased it, about what Happyolks provides is more a matter of how I can use it better. How can I take this utility, this vessel, and infuse it with more light, deeper purpose, and greater authenticity. That is my work. And, I will very much keep working.
But, let’s move on. What I really want to talk about today is Mudita. Have you heard the term before? Mudita is sanskrit for the Buddhist vision of joy, more specifically sympathetic joy. Sympathetic joy, or appreciative joy as it’s also translated, is the pleasure and happiness experienced in delighting in other people’s well-being and good fortune. When you genuinely feel gladness for anothers success, the cultivated energy will uplift your own spirit and change the way you live and experience the world. My levels of sympathetic joy have been through the freaking roof lately. Friends and family are starting careers, opening new chapters, changing course, tackling big projects, getting married, having children. My heart feels so swollen with love and eagerness for these folks. The Mudita, sympathetic joy, I have cultivated in witnessing their lives and their passages has elevated my days in more ways than I could possibly describe.
Within this beautiful mess of joy, The Sprouted Kitchen Cookbook. The culmination of years of hard work and soul-stretching has brought the world another beautiful artifact of love and passion. I am inspired. I am captivated. I am overwhelmed with happiness for this enormous success. You did it, Sara and Hugh. You really did it. Here’s our gathering, a gathering you both helped make. It is one instance, one night, where the world became a little better because of your grace and dedication. Congratulations, friends. Enjoy the ride! Recipes from film:
Sweet Corn Ceviche
Papaya and Red Quinoa Salad with Mexican Caesar Dressing
Chipotle and Apple Turkey Burgers
*** Music: Old Mythologies by The Barr Brothers. Purchase album here.
** Cookbook giveaway ran 8/28 – 9/7 and is now closed, thank you for all your kind comments.
07 . 09 . 12
Summer storms are a new indulgence for me. Cozied in a reading chair by our front window I tend to my journal and a cup of cold tea. Torrents of rain bear down on the front walk and I visualize a release of stagnant memories, ideas, and beliefs being carried down the road with the leaves to the storm drain. Shaun is in the Domincan Republic, filming, and I sit alone, silent at my perch, letting the explosive energy of the passing thunder reverberate in my bones.
Thoughts pass, yet nothing lingers. I experience an excess of calm amidst the raging weather and am reminded, again, of my smallness. I am a speck of matter and energy in this massive, bursting earthplane of people, places and dreams.
During my months living at sea, I used to spend hours gazing upon the open ocean, begging the waves to teach me their humility and sense of time. Years later, in this chair and the throes of a summer storm, no begging is needed. I am both humbled and grateful for the gift of an unrushed hour to my afternoon. Tears form, then a smile. For the first time in a long time, I actually believe it will all be okay.
Tomorrow my morning walk will smell of fresh ideas, resolve, and renewed opportunity, the rain will have cleansed the world of todays mistakes and made space for all that can, and will, come next. Exhale.
// july 6
Cherry, Lentil, Fennel Salad
- 1/2 lb red cherries, pitted and halved
- 1 small bulbs fennel, shaved
- 4-5 small red beets, chopped
- 1/2 cup de puy lentils
- 2 giant handfuls of baby greens (kale, chard, etc.)
- 1 ripe avocado
- 1 tbsp fresh basil, julienned
- 1 tbsp fresh mint, julienned
- 1/4 cup shallot, minced
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted
- salt/pepper on hand
I’m going to make these instructions short and sweet, a salad is as salad does folks. Boil lentils for 20 minutes. Remove. Rinse. Cool. Set aside. Steam sliced beets for 10 minutes. Rinse. Cool. Set aside. Finely slice fennel and place in a small bowl. Douse with salt and massage with hands. Let sit for 10 minutes, rinse, drain. Pit cherries. Set aside. Toast pumpkin seed under the broiler for 2-5 minutes until lightly browned. Set aside.
In a large bowl combine basil, mint, shallot, olive oil, and lemon juice. Stir. Pile in cherries, softened fennel, steamed beets, and lentils. Stir to coat. Cut in Avocado. Toss with greens (probably should use your hands to get everything good and mixed/coated). Top with seeds, salt, pepper.
** Sharley and Caroline, this one’s for you ladies. Thank you for sharing your kindness and light with me last week.
06 . 27 . 12
We have a backyard now, how cool is that? Shaun built me raised beds and I planted winter squash early last week, probably too many, but we’ll get there when we get there. Every morning I sit in the sun on an old red adirondack that the last tenant left behind and watch over blossoms and the beneficials as they do their good work. I’m bonding with the squash, seeing phases of my life in them. So eager, reaching their awkward arms to the sky. They want to grow up so fast. Every day I am astounded at their progress. So proud. Like a parent, I suppose. Worrying about the sun and the birds, trying not to smother them, let them just do their thing.
Just like the plants, I am reminded, the power within (within me, within us all) grows stronger with each new day. Keep watering. Keep nurturing. That’s it. I’ll be patient, trust that good things will come to fruit in the near future. In the meantime I will celebrate the small triumphs, fend off the bad bugs, and just soak up the time given to me. It’s summer, folks, let’s try not over think things too much. Take the time (make the time) to ride bikes, call your mom, take a hike, figure out the grill, play dominos, sing in the shower, drink beer at the ball game, laugh at yourself, be nice, and eat lots and lots of stone fruit.
Apricot Mint Couscous
- 2 cups Israeli cous cous
- 1 lb ripe apricots
- 1/4 cup minced shallot
- 1/4 cup green onion
- 1 large handful italian parsley, chopped
- 20+ mint leaves, julienned
- 1/4 tsp minced fresh jalepeno
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup olive oil
Save energy and spare your kitchen from extra heat in the summer by preparing your cous cous using this method. Bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Stir in dry cous cous. Cover and kill the flame. Let cook for 12-15 minutes. Strain, rinse with cold water, and let sit to dry while you prepare the rest.
In a large bowl, combine minced shallot, finely sliced green onion (white and light green parts only), parsley, and mint. Carefully remove the seeds from the jalepeno and mince as fine as you can. I used 1/4 tsp, but add as much as you like to amp up the heat. WASH HANDS and surfaces, immediately. It only takes one time rubbing your nose without a wash to remember this tip. Add pepper to the mixture. Slice the apricots in crescents with a paring knife over the bowl (8-10 wedges per fruit). Squeeze lemon juice over the fruit before stirring. Add olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Finally, mix in the cous cous to completely coat. Serve at room temperature.
03 . 26 . 12
We sat on the runway together this morning, looking out the window to a city that doesn’t yet feel like home but beckons us both in ways we don’t really understand yet. Deep breath. Is this it? Is this the next step? The “what ifs” the “yeah, buts” drown out the emergency evacuation tutorial and screaming children behind us. Inside I feel ashamed of my insecurities around the whole thing, but I try to remind that these feeling are, in fact, quite normal. It occurs to me somewhere between Baltimore and Chicago that whatever happens, wherever we go from here, the fact that we’ll be going, doing, succeeding, and failing together is enough to keep me from losing my lunch.
When I find myself in moments of relative panic, I bring together all the absurdly supportive people in my life into vision, and borrow some of their love and light to lock-up the monkey that has become of my mind. This weekend especially, I think of Shaun. I love that despite the fact we’ve been together for six+ years, Shaun still says things that surprise the heck out of me. Little phrases that come out of nowhere that make me find him even more charming than when we first met. “Let’s winterize this place,” he exclaimed last week, slapping his hands together and going on a window-locking spree around the apartment. Sweet nothings aren’t much for me. He knows better than to buy roses from South America. I feel more connected when we’re both sitting at the kitchen island in our sweaty running garb eating eggs and avocado and scratching out budgets for the big road-trip come June on a water-warped legal pad. Shaun only buys red sharpies for some reason, and when he holds the cap in his mouth, adjudicating that we’ll need a cooler in the car for my homemade nut milk and allocating funds for fresh vegetables along the way, I know there is no one on this planet who I would want to climb a mountain or jump the cliff with.
We (humans, partners, friends, family) take turns carrying each other, cheering each other on along the journey. We prop each other up when things feel soggy, sick, or scary. I think most of the time, we don’t even know we’re doing it for one another either. When you become so close, so connected to someone it’s like the dance starts happening on its own and the very nature of our being can be enough to shed light, comfort, or set straight. Seeing Shaun hunched over Southwest Soduku, oddly, does just that for me. When we’re open to it, the innoncence and predictability of what might appear quite mundane can be enough to tickle us pink and shake away the dark parts of the big mystery. Our future destinations and any call to action seems so vast and unknown, except for each other. There will be great changes, but there will be great love. When everything feels like it doesn’t make sense, there will be red sharpies, and we will have one another to hold and tease and carry each other through. Exhale. It’s going to be a great ride.
Before deciding on this recipe for a blog post this week, I had no idea that I would be consuming so many potatoes over the next few days after. In fact, every amazing dinner and rich conversation that we spent with Shaun’s brother Cody and his love, Michelle, involved some variation on the nightshade. So it seems this post turns into my ‘ode to the potato and how it somehow became the conduit for so much good energy, so much love. Heidi uses mustard, tarragon, capers, parsley and a few other goodies in the original recipe. This may be a watered-down rendition, but delicious nonetheless.
Broccoli Gribriche Adapted from Super Natural Everyday
- 1 lb broccoli florets
- 1 lb fingerling potatoes
- 1 sweet onion
- 4 eggs, hard boiled
- 2 shallots
- 3 lemons
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 5 tbsp olive oil, divided
- 1 tsp red wine vinegar
- salt/pepper to taste
Preheat the oven for 400.’ Rinse and dry the fingerlings. Place on a heavy baking sheet and massage with olive oil and the minced garlic to fully coat. Roast in the oven for about 30 minutes. Halfway through the cooking process, toss broccoli with a bit more olive oil and lay flat onto another heavy baking sheet. Slice 2 lemons to 1/4″ thickness and lay on top of the broccoli. Sprinkle with salt/pepper and roast on the lower rack of the oven until they begin to brown 10-15 minutes. Remove both potatoes and broccoli from the oven and allow to cool for 5-ish minutes.
Saute the onions until browned and set aside to cool. Mash hardboiled eggs roughly in a large bowl with minced shallot, 3 tbsp olive oil, and the vinegar. Toss in the broccoli, potatoes, roasted lemon slices, and the caramelized onions. Stir to coat evenly. Squeeze the juice of the third lemon over the top, and add a pinch more of sea salt.