Tag Archive: Spinach

  1. As to fix

    68 Comments

    Grilled Carrots with Horseradish Yogurt Sauce over Lentils Happyolks-8 Grilled Carrots with Horseradish Yogurt Sauce over Lentils Happyolks_1

    We need more storms. The garden loves it and so does my spirit. When dark clouds build out West over the mountains I put a kettle on for afternoon coffee, throw open all the downstairs windows, and ready my reading chair with a book. Elizabeth Gilbert shared once in a TED talk how early cultures believed they had a genius, “a divine spirit that came from a distant and unknowable source,” that waited to pounce on people with “moments of brilliance… showing them new ways of doing things, bestowing new songs to their ears.” Gilbert described how the poet Ruth Stone often could look out, standing on the farm, and see a poem come barreling toward her over the landscape. It was chasing her, and she had to get up and run, as fast as she could, back to the house before it passed through her, blowing onward to find another poet. Ideas don’t always come sweeping over me with genius or brilliance or poetry, but I have found that if I sit and be present to a good storm, the thunder can shake loose new perspective in my heart that I usually need urgently, badly. Like Ruth, I have to be diligent and be waiting in the ready to capture that perspective fully.

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    And so, last week, I found myself  wrapped in an old blanket in my reading nook, and tried surrendering to the energy of the storm. I was distracted about an earlier email from a reader that had left me unsettled and self-conscious about where I find myself pivoting from in this point of life. I know she meant well, truly, but her advice was somewhat bruising. I acknowledge and accept that by publishing parts of my life for the world to read, I make myself open to judgement and critique — both of which happen so rarely I feel silly even bringing it up — but it does reflect on the tricky business of having a blog. We, as writers, may feel a distinct and coherent story building month to month, year to year, but most often what our readers experience are “al a carte” moments, snippets of this phase and that. We, me, you, don’t always get the full picture. We can’t. And that’s okay. It’s not supposed to work like that. All that we are and all we believe cannot be packaged and delivered consistently in 1,000 words or less, so we chapter it all out, and continue, in earnest, to practice non-attachment and patience with those we invite into our lives (and living online spaces) — lives that are very much in-progress and under construction. This experience, of course, is magnified 10x in the flesh with strangers and friends and those we share toothpaste. But anyway…

    Grilled Carrots with Horseradish Yogurt Sauce over Lentils Happyolks-12
    Grilled Carrots with Horseradish Yogurt Sauce over Lentils Happyolks-16

    My point in sharing this singular, harmless experience with a reader is to spotlight how, gulp, I too sometimes walk dangerously into the book of someone elses life, mid-chapter, and assume a level of authority or perspective based on the information I think I’m bearing witness to. Por ejemplo… Shaun and I have friends who have recently separated after a year of marriage and honestly I’ve been terribly hung up about it. Not about the divorce at large — as I don’t believe destinies or soulmates to be fixed things — but just about the loss on an energetic level for all of us young folk in love, angsty, and in becoming. There is a sense of sadness and realization on the whole, in life, not all good fights can be won… and it kinda blows. I look at these friends falling apart and see ALL of us falling apart, as we do, as we grow as individuals and in partnership and community. “No!!!” This was my knee-jerk reaction. ”Don’t let it break! WORK like fucking hell, friends! Relationships are hard!” It wasn’t until shaking the dust of that earlier email that I really realized how my consternation about the situation is entirely related to my own heart, my own struggles, and how when I look at these two beautiful people, wishing so desperately that “it all” could be fixed, I’m really just seeing the ways I want to fix myself. A bit of nemesism, really. And we do this, as humans, so often. We try to fix people as we would like to fix ourselves. We see our own lives mirrored back to us in the lives and choices and pain of others. We want them to be okay, we NEED them to be okay so we can be okay, too.

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    We see only what we see. Every day we get the opportunity to observe and take part in the lives of others, in the middle of their perfect and un-perfect chapters, with our opinions, often well-intentioned, knowing only what we know. I think it’s important, every single day, to try and step back and ask ourselves how much of our experiences with others are projections of our own desires, expectations, attachments. We have to remember that nothing needs fixing. We were put here to love, and that’s pretty much it.

    So here’s what I’m thinking. Let’s all make a pact and try, really hard, to check our attachments at the door when experiencing the journey of another. It’s going to be hard. I know. Especially because half the time we don’t even know we’re caught up in the first place. Let’s try not to fill in the gaps for them. Not try to play out the before and after. Let’s just be with people, where they are, and love them, without judgement. Let’s be real with ourselves and recognize when and how and why we get caught up in the compulsion to mend. That’s where the genius is, people. Storm or not. Let it barrel on.

    Grilled Carrots with Horseradish Yogurt Sauce over Lentils Happyolks-26 Grilled Carrots with Horseradish Yogurt Sauce over Lentils Happyolks-27 Grilled Carrots with Horseradish Yogurt Sauce over Lentils Happyolks-28

    Grilled Carrots over Lentils with Horseradish Yogurt Sauce 

    • 2 bunches spring carrots, stems reserved for garnish
    • 1 1/2 cups french lentils 
    • 1/2 cup carrot greens, chopped
    • 1 large handful baby spinach
    • 1 handful parsley, chopped
    • 1/2 cup chives, minced
    • 1 shallot, minced
    • 3 tbsp olive oil
    • salt/pepper to taste

     

    Horseradish Yogurt Sauce

    • 1 1/2 cup full fat yogurt
    • juice of 1/2 lemon
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 3 tbsp (or more) grated fresh horseradish
    • dash of salt

    Bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Cook lentils until al dente, nearly 20 minutes. Rinse and set aside.

    Rinse the carrots and remove stems. Toss with olive oil and salt. Roast on the grill or under the broiler until blackened and soft through the center (10-20 minutes, depending). Set aside.

    In a medium bowl, stir together yogurt and lemon juice. Grate garlic and peeled horseradish root on a microplane grater over the yogurt. Add a dash of salt then taste. Do you need more horseradish? If you’re like me, you like the kick and will need to add more. Cover and keep in the fridge until you’re ready to serve.

    In a large mixing bowl, toss together cooled lentils, olive oil, spinach, parsley, chives, carrot greens, shallot, and salt/pepper. Distribute the lentil salad on a serving platter and top with grilled carrots. Fetch sauce from the fridge and drizzle yogurt generously over the carrots. Garnish with carrot greens.

    (Serves a crowd)

    Grilled Carrots with Horseradish Yogurt Sauce over Lentils Happyolks-29 Grilled Carrots with Horseradish Yogurt Sauce over Lentils Happyolks-31 Grilled Carrots with Horseradish Yogurt Sauce over Lentils Happyolks-36 Grilled Carrots with Horseradish Yogurt Sauce over Lentils Happyolks-38

  2. Crumbs on the Floor

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    Back in the kitchen again; things are well with my soul. There are no pressing questions that need attending, no decisions that need making. I answer only to the boil, simmer, crackle, melt. From where I prepare vegetables I can see children with kazoos across the yard and I can hear the new neighbors moving furniture upstairs. I wiggle my toes on the linoleum and I can feel a few breadcrumbs leftover from before Christmas. It’s good to be here, good to be home.

    January has lived up to it’s reputation. Turbulence. Upheaval. Shifting. Stirring. The boozy eve of the new year has long since passed, but it wasn’t until today that it felt like the glass ball actually stopped dropping. I fell in love (or lust?) with a new city on the first, my intuition took a sabbatical around the third and by the thirteenth (until, well, yesterday) I was scrambling on the floor searching for my good sense. New places, new faces, and new ideas shook me in ways that were at once thrilling and dislocating. A strong under-toe of emotion leeched at my ankles. Panic set in. Suddenly I found myself clinging to things in the temporal world to validate and repair the disequilibrium I felt at my center.

    Who are you? What will you do? And, where are you going? 

    I held on. I pushed away from the ledge. I wrote. I forgot. I remembered. On the plane home I let it rush in. We (humans) can be so hard ourselves when we get off track. We fight those ugly parts of our being so fervently without stopping to look at the mess and think about it before cleaning it up. I’m generally in the “one foot in front of the other” camp of life wisdom, but sometimes it’s okay not to move at all. Just sit. Kneel. Stand in the kitchen with breadcrumbs on the floor. Just be there. Just swim in it for a little. See what comes up.

    It may take a day, three, or a whole lunar cycle. It settles. I promise.

    Sweet Potato, Curry, and Quinoa (in a bowl) 

    Serves 2-4 (we’re hungry folk)

    • 1 cup fair trade quinoa
    • 4 medium sweet potatoes
    • 1 large red onion
    • 1/4 cup ghee (clarified butter)
    • large handful of spinach
    • 1 cup vegetable or chicken broth
    • 1/4 cup currants
    • 1 clove garlic
    • fresh ginger
    • 1/4 cup curry powder of choice
    • 1 tsp sea salt

    Scrub potatoes. With skins on, cut into 1″ cubes and lay out on a baking sheet. Toss with a bit of oil and salt. Bake at 475′ for 20 minutes. Combine two cups of water to one cup of quinoa (remember to rinse first!) in a medium pot and bring to a boil. Cook for 12-15 minutes until water is fully absorbed. Remove from heat.

    Roughly chop red onion and saute in a large saucepan with the ghee until softened. Add minced garlic and grated ginger to the onions and saute for a bit longer, adding stock if it seems to stick to the pan. Remove from heat. Add sweet potatoes when they are just beginning to brown and crisp on the edges. Add a cup of stock and the curry powder, stirring to coat. Let simmer for 5-10 minutes, adding stock, a bit of ghee, and some salt to develop flavor. Add some well chopped spinach and toss to barely wilt.

    Serve over a bed of quinoa with a sprinkling (or more) of currants.

  3. A Seat at the Table

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    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.

  4. Love Your Mother, Earth

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    Happy Earth Day, everyone (April 22)! Shaun and I will be spending the afternoon volunteering at the Balboa Park Earth Fair with Plant With Purpose, a non-governmental organization that uses environmental restoration to create sustainable economic development in the third world. Environmental degradation effects everyone, especially the poor. Plant With Purpose believes that restoring the relationship between people and the environment in areas plagued by deforestation and extractive international economic models is key to resolving many of the world’s social, economic, and environmental problems.

    While Plant With Purpose’s work is exclusively international, I think their mission applies just as importantly here at home. If we can restore the relationship between the protection of the planet and human well-being then maybe reversing issues like global warming will become more of a priority.

    Some of my colleagues in the environmental politics realm tend to look down upon the “little things add up to make a difference” hypothesis. While I agree that the gravity of the world’s fundamental environmental conditions cannot be alleviated by recycling or turning off the water when you brush your teeth, I do believe that these small behavioral changes can lead to greater and more impactful changes into the future. A person who has never run a day in their life isn’t about sign up for a Marathon on a whim, right? I can feel their scathing looks now. Time is running out! I know! But if it’s all or nothing, I’d rather have some than nothing at all.

    Because I don’t expect you to sell your car, live without electricity, and forgo showering in the next week… here is a compiled list of things you can realistically start with today and carry on into the future to show your mother Earth you care every time you cook, eat, and clean up the mess you made after. 

    1. Replace all plastics (cups, tupperware, baggies) with glass or wood. “Two classes of chemicals from plastic are of serious concern for human health: bisphenol-A or BPA, and additives used in the synthesis of plastics, which are known as phthalates. BPA is a basic building block of polycarbonate plastics, such as those used for bottled water, food packaging and other items. BPA is a synthetic estrogen and commonly used to strengthen plastic and line food cans.” Scientists have linked it, though not conclusively, to everything from breast cancer to obesity, from attention deficit disorder to genital abnormalities in boys and girls alike. I love mason jars for their versatility and ease of cleaning.

    2. Ditch your non-stick cookware. According to tests commissioned by Environmental Working Group, in the two to five minutes that cookware coated with Teflon is heating on a conventional stovetop, temperatures can exceed to the point that the coating breaks apart and emits toxic particles and gases. At various temperatures these coatings can release at least six toxic gases, including two carcinogens.

    3. Replace toxic chemical cleaners with natural alternatives. Ingesting ammonia, bleach, chlorine… no thank you. Check out Real Simple’s 66 All-Natural Cleaning Solutions article for more on how to use lemon, baking soda, vinegar, even vodka(!)  to clean and disinfect.

    4. BYOB: Bring Your Own Bag. Preaching to the choir on this one I’m sure. But wait! I know those Whole Foods bags designed by Sheryl Crow are pretty, but recent research shows that after multiple uses, resuable bags have become breeding grounds for bacteria and food-borne illness. Use canvas and throw them in a hot wash with your dish towels every week. 

    5. Look for the “9.” Check the numbered stickers on fruits and veggies. If they start with #9, your produce is organic, meaning it’s grown pesticide-free. Producing and distributing takes 5.5 gallons of fossil fuels per acre.

    6. Better yet, BUY LOCAL! Supporting local farmers is one of the best things you can do for the community, and your health. Knowing where your food comes from and who it’s cultivated by connects you to the earth and the way you approach food in a whole new way. Conventional food production and distribution requires a tremendous amount of energy— yet for all the energy we put into our food system, we don’t get very much out. A 2002 study from the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health estimated that, using our current system, three calories of energy were needed to create one calorie of edible food.  Studies that include transporting food estimates that it takes an average of seven to ten calories of input energy to produce one calorie of food. Yikes! Check out my “8 reasons to eat local” here.

    7. Fill your freezer with newspaper or frozen water bottles, and wait until leftovers are completely cooled before saving in the fridge. This reduces stress on the freezer to maintain a cold climate and reduces energy costs. Allowing leftovers to cool before putting them in the fridge also reduces energy use.

    8. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and get creative. Overall reduction to the consumption of disposable goods means less trash in landfills and oceans, and more money for meaningful activities with friends and family. If you’re addicted to almond butter, think of all the glass jars you’d have to store leftovers, flours, and grains. Check with your local health food store if they’ll let you bring them into the store and fill with items from the bulk aisle. Have fun with it!


    Here’s my go-to take on the infamous green smoothie. Perfect for mornings on the run and after a good workout.  Green, green, green… just in time for Earth Day. I play around with a variety of protein/spectrum powders. I like MediClear Plus, Nutribiotic, and Amazing Grass. What are your favorites?

    • 2-3 cups packed spinach or kale
    • 1 cup of frozen strawberries
    • 1/4 cup banana
    • 3/4 cup of plain pumpkin puree
    • 1 serving of protein/vitamin supplement
    • Almond milk or filtered water until you reach your desired consistency

    Blend. Pour. Enjoy.

    Be kind to the earth, be kind to your body, love, forgive, and be happy.

  5. Spaghetti Squash ‘Casserole’

    2 Comments

    Today was cold, windy, and intermittently drizzly. Shaun and I walked around Balboa Park and got a chuckle passing people bundled in knee-length coats, fuzzy scarves, and beanies. Anything under 60 is an excuse to break out the snow gear here in San Diego. Today’s people watching  resuscitated  the little details of  extreme temperatures from my travels abroad that you can’t see in the pictures. Hiking the Great Wall of China in jeans and sneakers at sub-zero temps was cold. So cold. No like, coldest I’ve ever been in my life, cold. I didn’t see anyone wearing UGGs on the Great Wall. In fact, the only people I see wearing UGGs anywhere is Southern California. Hmmm… something wrong with this picture. 55’ in San Diego is warm enough for a walk without a down comforter, but I’ll concede that it was brisk enough for cooking up something cozy and homey for supper.

    I’ve had this big ‘ole spaghetti squash taking up all the space in my fruit bowl since Tuesday, and tonight some inspiration finally came upon me. This is sort of my take on a “casserole…” a term I sort of hate, because for some reason I always think of tuna and some creepy creamy sauce with peas. This is nothing even close to a traditional casserole, but its layers baked together resemble the classification.

    This recipe serves two people, but can easily be doubled.

    • 1 big bundle of spinach
    • ½ medium yellow onion, finely chopped
    • 4 cloves garlic, minced
    • ¼ cup basil, chopped
    • 1 tbsp olive oil
    • 1 can plum tomatoes
    • 1 medium sized spaghetti squash
    • olive oil for brushing
    • 2 eggs

    Preheat oven to 425’

    First things first, give the squash a good whack lengthwise. Scoop out the insides, and rub some olive oil on the flesh. Prepare a cookie sheet by lining it with parchment paper. Flip the squash halves flesh side down hard side up, and send ‘em to the oven for 45 (+) minutes.

    In the meantime prepare your spinach, onions, garlic, and basil and set in a bowl to the side. Time wise, this dish takes a bit longer than most, but it’s just because the squash needs time to loosen up. When there is about 10 minutes left on the timer for the squash, heat a large skillet with olive oil and toss in the bowl of spinach, etc. sauté and remove from heat before the spinach turns too dark.

    Remove the spaghetti squash from the oven when the outside gives a bit when you press it with your finger. Switch your oven to broil mode, high. While you let the squash cool for a sec, spoon a hearty layer of sautéed mixture to the bottom of a grotto dish or medium sized ramekin. Next, spoon out one large plum tomato from the can with a generous amount of tomato liquid atop of the spinach mixture. Scoop out the stringy squash with a fork, and allocate between the two dishes filling them to the top.

    Now, here’s the final task: crack one egg over the squash, sprinkle with a little herbamere or salt. Place the dishes back on the cookie sheet and off they go back into the oven.  Timing at this point is tricky; we want to cook the egg but still keep it a bit runny in the middle. Let it cook for about 5 minutes, then check every 30 seconds or so thereafter because the eggs are super volatile under the broiler. Use your intuition.

    Viola. Dinner. The grottos or ramekins will be extremely hot, so serve with caution. We enjoyed our “casserole” with a warmed multigrain loaf. Enjoy!

    P.S… didn’t Shaun’s pictures turn out great on these?

Let's get in Touch

I wish I could make coffee dates with you all. In the meantime, feel free to drop me a line with questions, comments, concerns, or just to say Hi. I like that. There is nothing more uplifting than an email from a a fresh contact or kindred spirit.

I can be reached through this contact form and at happyolks [at] gmail [dot] com.