06 . 11 . 13
“If you are divided from your body, you are also divided from the body of the world. Which then appears to be other than you, separate from you, rather from the living continuum to which you belong.” — Eve Ensler
This theme, that of the body and women, and our constant attempts to correct or control what is lacking of our physical selves and in our lives has come up in too many conversations lately. With dear friends, young and old, wise our chats have led to, among many things, some variation of the question: why, when everything feels out of control, do we sometimes turn on our bodies? In some last ditch effort to keep things together, we, women, often become these punishing, masterful tyrants, who live secretly in the shadows of our self-consciousness and inadequacy and restrict and pinch and squeeze and shudder at all that our bodies lack. In the name of health, deprive ourselves of the joy we deserve and mask the deep disequilibrium in the vessel we inhabit. As Eve says, we are then divided. Our bodies become an object to fix, and then too does the world. The world is not an object. Your body is not an object.
I read something in an Oprah Magazine on a flight home from college a few years ago that still haunts me. There was this featurette on women in their 60′s and 70′s espousing the joys of finally coming into their own skin in their later decades. It featured a photo series of women, beautiful, eyes closed, laughing, wind blowing in their wavy grey hair. They all looked so happy, genuinely, finally, happy. I was happy for them, too. I also felt like I was going to throw up. The idea that I, and all women my age, might spend the next 40 years of our lives unhappy with and at war against our bodies was terrifying. I tore out the pages of the spread and stuffed them in a textbook tucked in the seat-back pouch, closed my eyes and thought, “I don’t want to wait that long… I can’t wait that long” What if I don’t even get that long? I mean, how dare I waste this time? No way, no how. Self-love is not a rite of passage,not something we are entitled to only after years of suffering.
I’m not entirely sure where I’m going with all of this, but I’m not trying to stand on a soap box to convince you to love your body — there are women leading that call-to-action with much greater poeticism and punch than I ever could. Of course, if I were sitting on the back porch with you tomorrow night, I’d promise you and plead, with deep conviction and sincerity, that you are the most powerful and beautiful creature on the planet. Yet I do want to tell you one thing: go outside. Get out in the sunshine and warm air and away from the noise of the city and your routine and let your limbs take you places and show you parts of the earth and the living continuum to which you belong. The closer you get to nature, the harder it will be to hate your body. You belong to these places. They will remind you of your goodness and beauty and strength that you may have forgotten lives in you. It takes nearly four hours to summit 3,800 feet of a mountain like one we filmed above. As the altitude increases, our pace tempers and at each pause for oxygen, I stand filled with so much gratitude for what my body is, for what it does, for how hard it works to bring me to these places. Here, in the wildest parts of the earth, I know in my heart I lack nothing. Every maddening, dark thought or ill will I have felt towards myself in the past is dismissed and deep love and care fills the vacuum it left behind. You may not need to climb to 14,000 feet to find this peace. Maybe you’d like to learn to hula hoop, swim backstroke in a lake, train for a 5k fun run. I don’t care. Something. Move. Breathe. Look out and look in. Watch how much your body allows you to do and feel. Give thanks. Be kind. Let’s not wait until we’re 70 to feel good about the vessel we landed to change the world from. There is freedom in appreciation given.
Adapted from Nicole Spiridakis, for NPR Kitchen Window
Folks, this is killer. For what this cobbler lacks in beauty it makes up ten-fold in taste, especially after a full day on the move. Not much mise en place when it comes to camp cooking, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Any summer fruit combination will do. I had strawberries and rhubarb on hand for this trip. I imagine peaches, plums, cherries, or blackberries will be fantastic as they come into season this summer.
- 2 lbs strawberries, hulled and halved
- 2 stalks rhubarb, sliced
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3 cups flour (I used pastry)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 2 cups buttermilk
At home: Mix together the dry ingredients, except sugar, and place in a bag or tupperware. Pack sugar separately. Measure out the buttermilk and transfer to a small container.
In camp: Set up the fire and place a grill about 4 inches above the flame. If you forget a grate (oops) create a rock formation to protect the iron from direct flame. Cut the fruit into chunks and toss with the sugar. Add the fruit to a heavy, cast-iron 5-quart Dutch oven or a deep cast-iron skillet.
For the biscuits, place the pre-mixed dry ingredients in a bowl. Cut the butter into the flour mixture until the butter is the size of small peas. Stir in the buttermilk, just until the batter comes together.
Drop dollops of the dough in an even layer over the fruit. Cover the Dutch oven and put the cobbler over the fire pit. Cook until the biscuits are cooked all the way through, about 30 minutes.
05 . 01 . 13
“And I asked myself about the present: how wide it was, how deep it was, how much was mine to keep.”
― Kurt Vonnegut
Kurt, I asked myself the same question this morning. I poured myself some coffee, looked at my squash and tomato starts on the kitchen counter, safe from the snow coming down more violently than usual outside, and thought for a moment that all of the present — the deep, the shallow, the long, the short, the good, the bad, the snow, the sun — is all mine, and ours, to keep.
Whole Wheat Belgian Waffles with Mascarpone, Thyme, and Strawberries
- 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1 cup warm water
- 3 cups whole wheat flour
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 cup milk or milk alternative
- 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
- 2 large eggs, separated
- 1 orange, zest and juice
- 1 pint fresh strawberries
- 20 springs fresh thyme
- 1-2 cups mascarpone cheese
- 1/3 cup honey, plus more for finishing
Melt butter over low heat in a small saucepan, set aside. In a small bowl, mix and dissolve the yeast. In a larger bowl, combine salt and flour. Whisk together the yeast-water, milk, butter, egg yolks, and honey and combine with the dry ingredients. In another small bowl, beat the egg whites (like a crazy woman) until frothy. Fold into batter with 1/2 cup mascarpone, zest of half the orange, and leaves of 10 springs of thyme. Set aside, covered, for 10-20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200′. Turn on your waffle iron to medium-high heat. As it warms, cut strawberries into slices or quarters in a bowl. Mix with extra honey, the remaining thyme, and the juice and zest of your small orange. Set aside.
Grease your heated iron with butter or coconut oil. Pour a heaping cup of the batter and cook until golden and crispy on the outer edges. Transfer waffles to the oven to keep warm and repeat with remaining batter. To serve, smear with marscapone and top with a heap of gussied strawberries and a drizzle of honey.
12 . 15 . 12
My favorite view in Colorado can be seen through our North-facing upstairs bathroom window. In the morning, when it has snowed overnight, I sit on the counter and press my left cheek against the cold pane to watch the colors change to the East as the sun rises over white roofs and lawns. Snow, I have discovered recently, has the same sort of reverent, sweeping effect on my spirit that the ocean once had. It is snowing now as I write this from the bathroom and if I’m lucky it will stick through the morning. Shaun is on a work trip for a few days and seeing that I have the day off tomorrow, and to myself, I will make a pilgrammage to the park and make snow angels again along the running path for the walkers and runners and lovers. They are strangers whose lives I will never know yet somehow always know. For the beautiful, radiant young souls who were taken from this earthplane too soon, I will lay my head back in the snow, next to my angels, your sweet too young angels, and look to the sky to say thank-you a million times for my full and undeserving life. I will blow out my candles for each of you next week with tears in my eyes for every painful, awkward, surprising, perfect moment I have been given and you have been robbed.
“I closed the box and put it in a closet.
There is no real way to deal with everything we lose.”
― Joan Didion, Where I Was From
Persimmon Oatmeal Cookies
From Margie, the mother of my childhood friend, Kelly, who grew persimmons and made the most marvelous and memorable cookies. Thank you, Margie, for graciously sharing this recipe with me and the world. Adapted from “Use and Enjoy the California Persimmon” University of California Cooperative Extension, El Dorado County.
1 ½ cups Whole Wheat Flour
1 cup Brown Sugar
½ Teaspoon Baking soda
1 Teaspoon Salt
¼ Teaspoon Nutmeg
¾ Teaspoon Cinnamon
½ Teaspoon Cloves
¾ cup butter
1 Cup Hachiya Persimmon chunks
1 ¾ cup Rolled Oats
½ cup chopped pecans
Sift together flour, sugar, soda, salt, nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon into mixing bowl. Cut in butter. Add egg, persimmon pulp, rolled oats, and nuts. Beat until thoroughly blended.Drop by teaspoonfuls, about 1 ½ inches apart on ungreased cookie pans. Bake in a moderately hot oven (350F) about 15 minutes.
09 . 10 . 12
We’re scraping together some semblances of rhythm and routine around these parts. Week to week, there is almost nothing that resembles our old life in San Diego let alone the day we cut a check for the new lease. I just rolled the dice in June and haven’t stopped throwing them up to the sky since. There have been a few Sunday mornings reading the Times, cutting out articles that inspire over a hearty breakfast and a few cups of coffee, but haven’t exactly found that same sort of grounding consistency of days past that puts our souls at ease. No complaints, none at all. Just an observation. All summer long we’ve bounced around the country and this new place rounding up jobs and memories. Not busy, just full. I might be maxing out on stimulation here, the months of activity and new-ness since our move is starting to catch up with me I think. I feel it in my knees. I see it under my eyes. I anticipate (I hope) that when Autumn arrives at the end of the month we will have found or created some balance for our weeks.
There was time for a bit of cake this weekend. Oh, and a glacier. That was nice.
And so were your comments from the last post. Boy, just floating on all that love and good energy. Thanks guys.
- 2 cups Gluten Free or AP Flour
- 1 cup Almond Meal
- 3 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- pinch of salt
- 6 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups sucunat sugar
- 1 cup melted, lukewarm coconut oil
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
- 1 cup canned light coconut milk
- 2 baskets green figs
- 2 cups cream cheese
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- juice of 2-3 lemons
dairy free option
- 2 cups soaked cashews
- 1/2 + cup coconut milk
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 drop almond extract
- 1/2 cup brown rice syrup or Grade B maple syrup
- juice of one lemon
Preheat oven to 350′ F. In a medium bowl combine flour, almond meal, baking powder, cinnamon, a salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, lightly beat 6 eggs until just broken up. Add sugar, coconut oil, vanilla, almond extract, and coconut milk one item at a time, mixing lightly between each addition, until combined. Fold in flour mixture to liquid one cup at a time, stirring lightly until just blended. Grease bundt pan with coconut oil or butter, dusting with flour to coat and prevent sticking. Pour in batter slowly and distribute evenly. Bake for 45-55 minutes until it passes the toothpick test. Let the cake cool for 30 minutes before trying to remove. TRUST.
Cut fresh figs in quarters or halves, toss with sugar. Set aside.
For the cream cheese frosting, beat blocks of cream cheese in a stand mixer for 2-3 minutes. As it begins to smooth out, add powdered sugar (I make my own in my blender using turbinado sugar), vanilla, and lemon juice. Beat together. Taste. Does it need more lemon? More sugar? Adjust to taste. If you’d like to achieve the drippy look on the bundt cake, add a bit of coconut milk or water to thin.
Cashew frosting: use this technique, but add vanilla, almond extract, maple syrup while blending or after straining.
Pour frosting into a piping bag, or, as I did, into a large ziploc bag with a hole cut in the corner. Drizzle generously over the bundt. Top with sugared figs.
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.