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.
08 . 02 . 12
I am in constant awe of your timing and how you always seem to bring people into (and out of) my life with such explicit purpose. I feel moved and changed and inspired by so many souls in ways that I cannot yet put into words. Thank you.
That’s all for now.
Banana Hemp Granola
- 3-4 ish cups thick-cut, old-fashioned oats
- 1 cup hemp seeds
- 2 ripe bananas
- 1/2 cup coconut oil
- 1/3 cup grade b maple syrup
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- pinch of sea salt
Here’s a quick and dirty way to make ultra-clumpy granola: stand mixer. I discovered the technique on a rushed morning while juggling fifteen balls before for a camping trip to the mountains. Mix together all wet ingredients and bananas until you get a thick, chunky liquid. Add oats and let the machine run on medium-high for a few minutes before adding the hemp seeds. Scrape the sides as needed until everything is well-coated and clumping.
Turn out and spread granola onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes at 400′ F. Check at around 20 minutes and turn over with a spatula or wooden spoon to evenly brown everything up. Let cool for 30 minutes before storing. We enjoyed it camping fireside with greek yogurt the next day.
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.