Tag Archive: Onion

  1. Carrot Habanero Hot Sauce


    Happyolks | Carrot Habanero Hot Sauce

    I have a piece in the new issue of Darling Magazine this month. I was asked to write a rosy-cheeked take on family dinners––their evolution from youth to adulthood, tradition, nostalgia, how the act of gathering around a table “transcends the act of dining as a means to an end.” I was feeling OK but not awesome about my rough draft when I submitted it in December, then: Christmas. We hosted my family at our new place. It snowed. I planned a few elaborate meals because, you know, food is love, and on the second night, before anyone took their second bite of potato tarragon galette, my brother and I were in a shouting match over my request that he not text at the dinner table. He got defensive. I called him an asshole. He got up and left. My mom cried, dad got quiet. Shaun tried to mediate.

    It was ugly. But, it was real. More often than not, the meals we get to share with family and friends do not take on the convivial, alluring nature we see promoted across blogs and boutique media. It’s easy to set a beautifully-styled farm table and encourage meaningful, open-hearted dialogue and then CONVENIENTLY disregard that meaningful, open-hearted dialogue is, by nature of our human-ness, a fucking mess most of the time. The mess doesn’t sell.

    Happyolks | Carrot Habanero Hot Sauce Happyolks | Carrot Habanero Hot Sauce Happyolks | Carrot Habanero Hot Sauce

    There is nothing precious about our dinner table. It is, and has been, a mighty kickstand for the hardest and heartiest conversations in our lives. Sure, we’ve made many memorable, effortless, joy-filled moments around our table over the years, like that one night we stayed up late on a weeknight braiding challah and eating boozy french toast with a friend who kicked her dude to the curb. The time Cody and Emily stopped over before Corbyn and Caroline’s wedding with the kids and Shaun poured a bowl of tomato soup for Ev’s “Mr. Shark,” which he proceeded to splash all over his clean pajamas and Mr. Shark. And yet, for every uncomplicated and tender occasion we’ve experienced at the table with loved ones, there have been at least a dozen gritty, soul-obliterating instances that preceded it. Like New Years Eve of 2012 when Shaun and I ate buttered toast before The Lumineers show at the Ogden, contemplating if we’d even do 2013 together as a couple, or the night before our wedding that we ate bad pizza together on the floor, holding each other, laughing, crying, wishing we would have just eloped like we’d wanted all along.

    Here’s my addendum to the story that was actually published: family dinner is where we do the work. And when I say family I mean our biological families, friend families or otherwise. And when I say table,  I mean the couch or the barstools or the floor or the porch or the car. Wherever we eat, wherever we are forced to stop and reckon with the day or our lives or our relationships with one another in the presence of food: we go to work. We take something that is hard and make it easy, or take something that is easy and royally overcomplicate it. We wrestle, together, with what Anne Lamott calls “the three most terrible truths of our existence: that we are so ruined, and so loved, and in charge of so little.” It’s the angst and heat and sticky stuff that comes with the work that builds real, long-lasting commitment and goodness in our lives. We need to get better at celebrating THAT.

    Happyolks | Carrot Habanero Hot Sauce Happyolks | Carrot Habanero Hot Sauce Happyolks | Carrot Habanero Hot Sauce Happyolks | Carrot Habanero Hot Sauce Happyolks | Carrot Habanero Hot Sauce
    I struck my match, she poured out her gasoline.
    We burn now. All the time. ― Tarryn Fisher

    Happyolks | Carrot Habanero Hot Sauce Happyolks | Carrot Habanero Hot Sauce

    Carrot Habanero Hot Sauce (aka Honeymoon Heat) (aka SUPER SPICY)

    Adapted from my friends Corbyn and Caroline who discovered a love of carrot based hot sauces while honeymooning in Belize last year. This recipe makes about 6 quarts of hot sauce. Yes! You read that right 6 qts. I felt like there was really no sense in making a small batch when so many friends go through sriracha so quickly. You can easily halve, quarter, or further divide the recipe to make a smaller portion with the same result. 

    • 15 garlic cloves, unpeeled
    • 2 cups peeled, chopped carrot
    • 4 medium sweet yellow onions, chopped
    • 30 medium habanero chiles, stemmed
    • 3 cups white vinegar
    • ¼ cup salt
    • ¼ cup sugar
    • Juice of 6-8 limes


    Roast the garlic in a skillet over medium heat, turning regularly until soft and blackened in spots, 10 to 15 minutes.

    In the same pot, combine the carrot, onion and habanero chiles with the vinegar, 3 cups water, salt and sugar. Partially cover and simmer over medium-low heat until the carrots are thoroughly tender, about 20 minutes. Blend until smooth. Thin with a lime juice and more water if the sauce seems too thick. Taste and add salt as preferred. Store in glass jars in the fridge.

    Happyolks | Carrot Habanero Hot Sauce

  2. Answer It


    Thai Carrot Soup from www.happyolks.com

    I stood there, in the cold of the morning, hunched over the kitchen sink with my hands gripping the counters ledge watching the leaves fall and collect on the deck. Trying to count my breaths, I silently beg each one to play it’s reverse card and go back to the tree, the life-force, that created it earlier in the spring. They do not stop. With each yellow sliver that drops, I feel myself being pulled down to the ground with them. Pieces of my heart and understanding lay there, wilting, disentigrating back to the earth. I wished for Autumn all summer long — for it’s first snow, cold sheets, fires in the living room. Now that it’s here, I’m not sure I’m ready to dig through the “basement” for all that needs supporting it. Things have settled, and suddenly the stillness I asked for has arrived with a pretty bow and a painful but necessary awareness to all that has really taken place from January to October.

    I’ve highlighted and bookmarked Tiny Beautiful Things to shreds during this phase. Is it a phase? Can we call it that when it hasn’t yet passed? Anyway, Cheryl Strayed’s words are both comfort and a total slap in the face right now. In one particular letter, a young woman writes to Cheryl asking “WTF, WTF, WTF?” She responds in sharing the bone chilling history of sexual abuse from her father’s father and how she came to realize that pressing against the wound, tackling it straight on, was the only way to get a grip on her life. She ends her response to the young woman, “Ask better questions, sweet pea. The fuck is your life. Answer it.”

    I share this passage not because I stood there staring at the leaves thinking, like the young woman who wrote Cheryl, “WTF, WTF, WTF.” But I realize that the leaves falling is my life. I need to answer it. Simple as that. I need to ask better questions about the why. Ask questions that shed light on what needs adjusting. So you’re feeling like “x” you’re acting like “y” and it’s causing a sour, hollow feeling in your gut. It’s not WTF. It’s your life. Dig deeper. Lean in. Throw yourself down the basement stairs and scavenge for as much as you can. You’re going to need all of it, everything you got, to make it to winter. 

    Thai Carrot Soup from www.happyolks.com

    Thai Carrot Soup

    • 3 sweet onions
    • 3 cloves garlic
    • 2 tsp grated ginger
    • 2 tsp red chili flakes
    • 3 spoonfuls coconut oil
    • 2 tbsp cumin
    • dash of nutmeg
    • 2 stalks lemongrass, finely chopped
    • 1.5 lbs carrots, peeled and chopped
    • 1 can full fat coconut milk
    • 5-6 cups chicken broth
    • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
    • 3 tsp salt
    • 4-5 thai chiles, de-seeded
    • handful fresh basil
    • 3 limes, juiced

    In a large pot or dutch oven, saute roughly chopped onions with grated garlic, ginger, red chili flakes, and coconut oil until softened but not terribly browned. Add apple cider vinegar to deglaze the pot. Add cumin, nutmeg, lemongrass, and carrots. Stir to coat. Add coconut milk and the broth. Combine. Simmer on low with a lid for 30-40 minutes or until the carrots are completely softened.

    Pour contents of pot into a high-powered blender in small batches with the fresh thai chiles. Blend until completely pureed. Add water or stock to adjust the thickness. Pour into individual bowls and top with juice of fresh lime and chopped basil.

    Thai Carrot Soup from www.happyolks.com

  3. Happiness is a Crock of Beans


    Between Kansas and Colorado there is a hand painted sign on a train depot by the side of Highway 70 that reads “Happiness is a Crock of Beans.”  We passed it a few years ago on the pilgrimage from Florida back to California after Shaun’s graduation. It felt so affirming at the time. I scribbled it on the back of a receipt and shoved it in my wallet, saving it. Savoring it.

    Turns out, if I have learned much about happiness in the three years since that road trip, it has probably been precisely that it’s all just a crock of beans. It’s simple. Unfussy. It lacks elaborate construction or planning. Just a crock of beans. You get where I’m going with the metaphor, right? I have experienced more joy and collected the best memories in the simple presence of a cup of coffee, deck of cards, and a few good friends and family than in the throws of any other world-class adventure – and believe me, I’ve been spoiled with more than my fair share of them. We move so fast sometimes trying to get from point A to point B in order to become more successful, get more done, and be more “happy” that we forget that all we really need to be content is an old rocker on the back porch with the dog, a glass of wine, and a hand to hold.

    We all have our crock of beans, right? Those moments, those things that force us to slow down and really feel satiated by the goodness in our lives. They’re always there, waiting for us to see them, to have a good soak in them. As I begin to lay the stones for the next chapter in my life, I try and recall my own “crock of bean” moments of times past to help guide the little bits of the path that I actually have control over. Where were you? What were you doing? Who was there? If I can answer these questions with honesty, I know they will not lead me astray.

    This is a perfect light dish for this unseasonably warm winter. Crispy raw celery and onions with a peppery kick from the cress reminds of sandals in spring. Do yourself a favor and use dried beans if you can manage. They taste leaps and bounds better plus there’s no risk of BPA from those pesky cans. I used Garbanzo, Great Northern, and Cranberry Beans, but use what you have. Skip black and pinto varieties.

    Mixed Bean Salad 

    • 6 cups soaked and cooked beans
    • 6-8 stalks celery
    • 1 cup thinly sliced red onion
    • 1 head watercress
    • 3 lemons
    • 1/2 cup olive oil
    • salt/pepper to taste
    Combine soaked/cooked/cooled beans in a large bowl. Set aside. In a food processor with the blade attachment, run the celery through to finely slice. Use a mandoline or a sharp knife to cut the onion. I used nearly the whole onion, but I listed one cup. Adjust to your preference. Rinse and roughly chop the cress, remove and toss the roots and stems. Add the veg. to the bowl of beans. Stir together with olive oil, juice of three good lemons, and season to taste with a few grinds of sea salt and black pepper. Let rest in the fridge for about 30 minutes to develop a deeper flavor. 
  4. A Seat at the Table


    My parents never arranged a separate kid’s table and a grown-ups table during holiday meals. The youngsters ate what the adults ate and participated in the same rituals of passing the biscuits, hoarding the gravy, and holding each others warm, eager hands in gratitude for another meal, another year in good health and humor.

    Such a simple act of inclusion, a seat at the table. An act of affirmation, really… You, yes you, young one, have a unique and important way of looking at the world.  There is so much to be grateful for during the holidays, but a seat at the table has been a gift I’ve probably undervalued until lately.

    Respect was a reciprocal value in my house growing up – give respect, receive respect. Our opinions and perspectives were encouraged but more importantly, my parents invited us to the table and then they listened. They had enough respect to sit with us and walk alongside us in our crazy ideas. I know better now, as I’ve aged, that some people never get a seat at the table, no matter how old they are. I get it now. I’ve been on the outside, I’ve seen and felt what it’s like for youth to be dismissed as naïveté. Even now when I don’t get “a seat at the table” (figuratively speaking) I remember this. I give thanks for this. What a gift it is to for people to take us seriously.

    Thanksgiving has come and gone, but the table is there at every moment of each day to sit, stand, walk beside someone and give them room and respect to speak their truth. Through the rest of the year who will you invite to a seat at the table? Invite them. Just sit there. Really look at them. Hear their story. Reach out to the younger folk in your clan too – see them, affirm them. They’ll remember.

    This turned out to be much more festive than I first anticipated while wandering the aisles at the market today. I imagine it would make a great holiday side, but an even better weeknight meal turned sack-lunch. If kale isn’t your idea of a party dish, try spinach instead.

    Pomegranate + Kale + Pearl Onion Orzo 

    • 1 large bunch of kale (or two, if you’re a go-getter)
    • 2 pomegranates
    • 2 cups pearl onions
    • 2 shallot bulbs
    • 2 1/2 cups orzo

    Olive Oil + Orange + Honey Dressing

    • 1/3 cup good olive oil
    • 1 tsp sea salt
    • juice of 1/2 an orange
    • 1 tsp raw honey

    Bring 2 medium-large pots to a boil with a bit of salt. In the first pot, boil pearl onions for 7-10 minutes. Remove, allow to cool, then remove skins. Set aside. For the second pot, boil orzo with a splash of olive oil for 5-7 minutes or until tender. Remove, strain, but do not rinse.

    Break open pomegranates one at a time, massaging out the seeds into a large bowl. Pick out the little white fibrous bits as you go along. This  can be a bit messy for the first time pomegranate handler, wear an apron! Alternatively, you could purchase pom. seeds in the produce section of your grocery. Once finished, return to the onions. to remove skins, cut off the bottom stem portion and peel the rest with your fingers. Cut in half and toss with the seeds in the big bowl. Finely dice the shallots and stir with the seeds and onions.

    Rinse out the onion pot and bring another bit of water to heat. Remove kale leaves from the tough spine and chop until very small bits. Not quite a mince, but a good chop. When the water is almost to a boil, immerse the kale and blanch for no more than 1 minute. Remove, strain the water, and toss with the pomegranate, onions, and so forth.

    Slowly stir in cooked orzo, 1 cup at a time. Prepare the dressing by whisking together the olive oil, salt, orange juice (a little pulp is great too), and the honey. Pour over the entire bowl and stir again to coat. Let sit for 15 minutes before serving.

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