04 . 15 . 12
Strawberry Basil Scones
The rope that tethers me to this place, this time, is growing thinner with each day approaching the big move (42, who’s counting). Things feel different, everywhere. My running route, the struggle to find parking on campus, our favorite restaurants, the farmers market, even the beach. It’s as if my mind has begun the emotional preparations for a new normal by disassociating from the old. More frequently now I find myself caught in the ordinary moments with a feeling of being there, but not really there in the ways I once was.
I drive through parts of town and see the places I lost myself, the places I really found myself. I see Shaun and I, younger, and the memories made in our relentless itch for growth and exploration. Everywhere there is a cacophony of light and dark, joy and pain, laughter and tears. It feels sorta supernatural. Hard to describe.
Standing at the edge of the shore this morning, I looked up to the clouds barreling across the sky after the good storm we had the past few days and felt an extraordinary sense of gratitude for the time, for the place — for all that it gave, for all that it took away. Four years have come and gone. I’m a different person now. I hope a better one. And it’s time. Time to let new faces and new seasons to teach me more about myself, more about the world.
The strawberries will be missed, California. But I’m so ready for new adventures.
- 2 ½ cups flour (I used a GF blend)
- 2 tbsp turbinado sugar
tbsp baking powder
- ½ cup cold coconut oil or butter, cut into chunks
- 1 + cup chopped fresh strawberries
tbsp minced basil
- ½ cup full fat coconut milk
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a large bowl stir together the dry ingredients. Scoop out or cut in butter or coconut oil. Stir in minced basil and hulled, and quartered strawberries. In a medium bowl stir together eggs and the milk. (Cream, half and half, or regular milk would work here too.) Add egg mixture to flour mixture in one pour. Stir together until completely moistened, using your hands when necessary.
Turn out onto a parchment covered baking sheet. Press into a 1” thick circle. Cut into 8 wedges. Brush with extra milk and sprinkle with sugar. If you use butter instead of coconut oil, place baking sheet with cut wedges in the freezer for up to 20 minutes before baking. It will make them magically fluffier and more scone-y. Bake for 15-20 minutes, depending. Finish with a good dollop of local honey or clotted cream.
04 . 09 . 12
When I start a copywriting assignment with a new client, the most important question I ask to get to know them is “where are you, what are you doing, and who are you with when you most feel like yourself?” They often smile, get a little quiet, and start to tell a story. Somewhere they visited, Saturday rituals at home… little details that reveal their personality and perspective. It’s more anthropological experimentation than it is helpful writing tool. Often, how they answer this question is entirely different than the manner in which they answer all the others. They haven’t prepared for this sort of prompt, so they have a chance to share in their sincerest form. How interesting is it that?
Using the exercise on myself, I become overwhelmed with a deep and exhilarating sense of peace and understanding as I am instantly transported to a time and space where things were just as they should be. When I find myself drifting off course or am sorting through serious life decisions, I try to practice this mediation. It has a funny way of bringing my head and heart back into alignment when the wires get crossed or cut. I’ve recently come to think of it as my “happiness compass.” Ultimately, when we are able to live out the truest, most authentic versions of ourselves, we can be the most happy.
I think so often we get caught up in creating an idea of happiness that we look too far outward, forward to things and elaborate ideas that will slingshot us out of a current state of fatigue, frustration, fear, etc. While I totally think happiness is something you can and should work to manifest, in times of uncertainty, it is best guided by the reminders living inside us all. Memories can’t provide direct answers for our troubles, but the process of remembering may lull the voices, our own and otherwise, that may be pulling/pushing us into a direction that leaves us feeling unsettled. It creates space for us to truly consider all that we know to be true, trust all that is yet to be taught, and go forward with a sense of empowerment to just be. It brings everything back to center. There may be chaos, there may be distraction, there may be consternation… but in our own answer, there can be stillness. And that is enough.
So I ask you this question, today…
Where are you, what are you doing, and who are you with when you most feel like yourself?”
Close your eyes. Listen. Let those places, people, spaces wash over you and fill you with love and light.
Feel free to shred, julienne, or dice anything your heart desires for these guys — spring rolls are incredibly versatile. I’ve mixed soft greens, crisp cabbage, and creamy avocado to diversify the texture. Add or subtract herbs as desired. Play with the sauce to your liking too, I spotted it in the magazine and knew it had potential.
And… get this: Happyolks has a free app for iPhone. Um, What!? Speaking of things that remind us who we really are, my incredible/handsome/kind little brother spent the semester in one of his engineering courses developing it for us. Hugs to Austin for his hard work. Download it from the App Store and check for updates and new features as the year progresses.
Spring-y Spring Rolls
- 1 dozen medium rice paper sheets
- 1 head napa cabbage, shredded
- 3 cups escarole (or soft lettuce), shredded
- 2 cups micro basil
- 2 cups whole mint leaves
- 3 avocados, segmented
Carrot Ginger Miso Sauce - adapted from Bon Appetit
- 2 tbsp miso paste
- 1/4 cup minced spring onion
- 6 tbsp olive oil
- 2-3 tbsp finely grated carrot
- 2-3 tbsp finely grated ginger
- 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
- t tsp rice wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp honey (brown rice syrup for vegans)
- juice of one lemon
- sprinkle of salt
Submerge a single spring roll wrapper in a bowl of hot water until completely pliable, about 15 seconds. Remove, and gently set on a flat surface. Layer with cabbage, escarole, avocado, and herbs. Construct a roll like a burrito; start with the bottom and cover the horizontal line of veggies. Fold in both sides and press to seal. Roll up tightly to the top and seal the edge. Set aside. Repeat.
For the sauce “Place all ingredients plus 1/4 cup water in a resealable container. Cover and shake vigorously until well combined.”
03 . 11 . 12
“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.”
Jack Kerouac, On The Road
These ginger cookies are for you, you with the fire in your belly. For you who has a burning thing inside your being that says “you must create, you must go, you must love, you must dive head first, you must stand up, you must be brave, you must not be afraid to fail.”
Feed and surround yourself with the fuel that lights up your soul. People. Places. Things. Thoughts. Torch it all. It’s the one true thing you really have to offer this world. Don’t let others put it out. But more importantly, don’t get in your own way by worrying what others will think of that brain you were given, that heart that beats loudly in your chest, that burning thing you’ve cultivated and believed in. Throw it out and set it all aflame. Watch it glow. Watch it spread. Watch it change this world.
Ginger Oat Cookies
slightly adapted from Jude Blereau
- 1/2 cup dried dates, chopped
- 3 cups rolled oats
- 3/4 cup cooked oatmeal
- 1/2 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped
- 1/2 cup glacé (crystalized) ginger, chopped
- 1/2 cup coconut oil
- 1/4 cup brown rice syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 eggs
Preheat the oven for 350.’ Cook the oatmeal on a stovetop first 1/2 cup of oats to 1 cup water. Set aside, let cool. Soak the dates in 1/4 of extra hot water, and mash with a fork. Add the vanilla to the date paste when room temp.
In a large bowl, combine oats, oatmeal, nuts, and ginger. Add mashed up dates/vanilla as well as the coconut oil, brown rice syrup, and eggs. Mix together with your hands until well combined and coated. Mixture will feel wet and not overly sticky. Shape into balls and place onto a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Bake for 15-20 minutes until lightly browned on the edges and top.
More on the cake-y side than in cookie camp. I think these would make excellent morning-0n-the-run bars if pressed into a 8×8 pan and cut into squares.
02 . 06 . 12
Even after all this time,
the Sun never says to the Earth,
“you owe me.”
Look what happens with a love like that.
It lights the whole sky.
The words can’t quite come together for this one. Better not to force it. Alas, there is cake. Beet Cake. A bit more on the earthy side then carrots are to carrot cake, the beet variety with the added texture of the seeds and sweetened with brown rice syrup makes a more lasting impression than the former. Add a drizzle of the orange-poppy glaze to make it dessert, or enjoy plain with coffee in the morning. Red beets immediately stain the batter, but once baked you’ll cut into a fabulous rainbow assortment of color and texture.
Beet, Seed, and Blood Orange Cake
Adapted from Tender by Nigel Slater
- 1 3/4 cups gluten free flour blend
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- scant tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 3/4 cup walnut oil
- 1 cup brown rice syrup
- 3 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups raw red beets, shredded
- juice of 1 blood orange
- 1/2 cup golden raisins
- 1/2 cup mixed seeds (flax, sunflower, pumpkin)
Blood Orange, Poppy Seed Glaze
- 1/4 cup brown rice syrup
- juice of 1 blood orange
- poppy seeds
Preheat the oven to 350′ and prepare a loaf pan with oil and line with parchment. Set aside. In a large bowl, beat together the oil and brown rice syrup. Mix in the eggs one at a time. Grate the beets and fold into the mixture, adding the blood orange juice, seeds, and raisins accordingly. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. Slowly fold into the wet ingredients. Pour the mixture into the loaf pan and bake for 55-60 minutes. Test with a toothpick around 50 min to test for doneness. Let cool for 15-20 minutes before serving.
For the glaze, simply mix together brown rice syrup, juice and a bit of zest of a blood orange, and a few shakes of poppy seeds in a small jar. Set in the fridge while the cake bakes to serve chilled and thickened later.
01 . 02 . 12
Greetings from Washington DC! I’ll be here for the better part of January for a presidential politics seminar; dress pants and heavy coats are the name of the game and my food adventures will be limited, unfortunately. A few months ago I asked a few of my favorite food bloggers from around the web to help share their talents in this space during my absence. Each contributor has been so generous and kind with their time and talents, honestly their gifts floor me.
Today’s guest post is from Sarah, of The Yellow House. You can read more about the where the name originated on her about page, but Sarah describes that her blog is about living well in a way that’s unfussy (sign me up, now). She’s a prolific writer, sharing stories and recipes in her space with an understated sophistication and ease. She speaks to me. I think she’ll speak to you too, as Sarah provides the kind of room for reflection and consideration that, to me, make a blog meaningful. Plus, anyone who has the gumption to go on a hike with a ceramic mug of coffee is a woman I’d like to call friend. Okay, enough of me. Thank you, Sarah, for sharing your talents and wisdom here on Happyolks….
(more…) «Guest Post from “The Yellow House”»
As I write this, New Year’s Eve approaches. I find myself thinking a lot about gathering friends and family into my home and what it’s all really about. I’ve come to a conclusion: we’re simultaneously too serious and too flippant about entertaining.
Our priorities are misplaced. On one hand, there are material goods and preparation to worry about: the menu, the drinks, cleaning the house—-these seem to occupy most of our time and energy. On the other hand, there are the immaterial aspects of a gathering—the camaraderie, the forks clinking on plates, the laughter. These we spend no time preparing for—rather, we expect them to just happen. Usually, of course, they do. But somehow, I really doubt that there’s a direct link between amount of time and money spent preparing menus and wine and the level of laughter at a dinner party.
This is not to deride the planned menus and the wine —- I like those very much. It strikes me, though, that some of my best “gatherings” have been impromptu late night affairs, sitting cross-legged on the kitchen floor with cheap beer, the ends of a loaf of bread, and some butter and pesto. The laughter and the camaraderie were there, but the menu planning was notably absent.
But I am guilty, perhaps more than most, of focusing over-much on these material aspects of gathering, convinced that my hospitality and love and welcome are best conveyed through abundant food and seamless presentation.
The flipside of all this is that we fail to take seriously the simple act of gathering people in, of welcoming them to our home, of the opportunity that entertaining implies. In 2012, I’m going to try and relish the facilitative role of gathering. Less stress over the details, and more emphasis on what a privilege it is to be surrounded by friends. Good things happen when you bring people together for the sole purpose of enjoying each other—whether or not you include all the trimmings.
Goat cheese toasts with yellow split pea spread
Created, photographed, and shared by Sarah of The Yellow House
Stress-free gatherings are well-complemented by simple finger foods like this. Constructing the toasts is also a good job to give to guests to keep hands busy, bringing the gathering into the kitchen.
- A crusty baguette
- 1 cup dry yellow split peas, picked through and any dirt or pebbles removed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 6-8 ounces soft goat cheese (if you find herbed chevre, that works well here)
- Black pepper
In a saucepan, bring the yellow split peas and 1 1/2 cups water to a boil. Cover and reduce to a simmer. Stir occasionally, cooking 20-30 minutes until split peas are very tender. If they need more water, add it and cook longer until they’ve cooked through. Remove from heat.
Slice the baguette into 1/4-inch slices. Arrange the slices on a cookie sheet and toast them under the broiler until golden brown. Keep a close eye on them because bread under the broiler can go from golden to burnt in a minute (guess what? I scorched mine a little and it still tasted good! You can see it in the photos. So it’s okay. Stress-free, yes?) Remove toasts from oven.
Add olive oil and kosher salt to the split peas and stir with a wooden spoon, mashing a bit to the desired consistency. I left mine pretty chunky, but this could become much smoother depending on your preferences.
On each toast, spread a layer of goat cheese. Then, top with the split pea spread and black pepper. Variations on this are endless—use lentils instead of split peas, or top with a garnish like microgreens or chives.