Tag Archive: summer

  1. Caramelized Fig Ice Cream

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    Happyolks | Caramelized Fig Ice Cream Happyolks | Caramelized Fig Ice Cream Happyolks | Caramelized Fig Ice Cream

    Dear friend,

    Many years ago I was on a flight from Boston to Dallas after the funeral. My heart was swollen with grief, my head pounded with rage and questions about loss. Sick and lonely, I sat in an aisle near the front of the plane and stared blankly at two stewardesses gossiping and locking, unlocking, locking cabinets in preparation for takeoff. A little girl lept, literally, across the threshold of the plane behind them. We made eye contact and I smiled at her. She was four years old, maybe five, I never can tell the ages of children. Turning back to her mom, then back to me, she bounded toward the corner of my seat and placed her tiny hands on my crossed knees and shouted “You are the most beautiful princess I have EVER SEEEEEEENNNN!!!” I began sobbing, instantly. I don’t remember anyone looking at me, the hot, soggy mess that I was. I don’t remember being embarrassed. I only remember feeling more peace, anguish, and assurance than I had ever previously known, or have perhaps known since.

    I share this with you, friend, because I know that little girl is looking for you right now. She is bounding down the aisles of your life to tell you, remind you, that despite your brokenness, you are a bright shining light in this world. You are worthy of joy and happiness. Despite your mistakes and wrong turns, you deserve the sun and the moon and all of the stars. The pain you feel, the questions that keep you up at night, the sadness you harbor, the wounds you hide for friends and colleagues — all of this, all of these things, will make sense one day. Not today. And that’s totally fine. It’s okay that things are not okay.

    If you lived here, I would hope to find you sitting on my front porch tomorrow evening as I returned from errands. I would hold you. I would hold you so tight. Then I would make you a grilled cheese sandwich and we might drink the good wine straight from the bottle and I would tell you about the little girl and the plane and how wonderfully fucked up and outrageously mind-blowing the Universe seemed in that moment. Because that’s what there is, you know. Madness and wonder. Joy and agony. Fear and freedom. All at once, all the time.

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    Remember that night in Beijing after we had that god-awful duck and saw a show at the Peking Opera house and it was so cold in the theater that we could barely feel our toes? We found a bathroom in a bar down the street at intermission and the insides of the stalls were completely covered in mirrors. Everywhere. Head to toe mirrors in front of us behind us, above us. We laughed hysterically and you asked me from the stall next door, “have I been drugged?!!” I sat with my pants at my ankles and laughed, “well, if you’ve been drugged, so have I.”

    We were in China. Sick and stuffed with duck and happiness. We were also in China, having no idea, really, where we were, and had found ourselves in a bathroom where it was impossible to NOT look at our tired, pale, puffy-faced, half-naked selves and wonder about the meaning of life. I remember blowing steam on the wall to my right and watching my reflection become hazy. I closed my eyes and prayed that we’d never forget who we were and how we felt in that moment. The magic. The hysteria. The total confrontation of self in the most bizarre and unknown circumstances. There was this feeling that the situation reflected upon how perfect and awkward and hilarious and terrifying the best and worst moments always are.

    I mean this in all seriousness. For you and me, girl, there will be times in our lives that will somehow all boil down to one vulnerable minute, sitting on the John, and really seeing ourselves… seeing ourselves, and coming to terms with what’s looking back. I think you’re upon one of those times. What do you see?

    Happyolks | Caramelized Fig Ice Cream Happyolks | Caramelized Fig Ice Cream

    Dear friend, I want you to know that you are the most beautiful princess I have ever seen. Your losses, regrets, sins, and secrets. Your exstacies, braveries, dreams, and triumphs. All of it, a masterpiece. Every last bit.

    Breathe in, breathe out. Dig deep. I love you.

    Happyolks | Caramelized Fig Ice Cream Happyolks | Caramelized Fig Ice Cream Happyolks | Caramelized Fig Ice Cream

    Caramelized Fig Ice Cream with Mascarpone and Honey Pecans

    • 1 1/2 cups milk
    • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
    • 1/2 cup mascarpone
    • 1/3 granulated sugar
    • 1/2 tsp pink salt
    • 2 egg yolks
    • 1 lb Black Mission Figs
    • 1 lemon, juiced
    • 1/2 cup brown sugar
    • 2 tbsp butter
    • 2-4 tbsp water
    • 1 cup honey roasted pecans, roughly chopped

     

    For the fig-swirl: Melt butter over medium heat in a saucepan. Add brown sugar and stir to dissolve. Halve all of the figs and toss in the saucepan with water and lemon juice. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until you have a chunky-jammy mixture. Add salt with one or two stirs, set aside and let cool completely.

    Ice cream: In a small pot over medium heat, combine milk, and granulated sugar until sugar is completely dissolved and the milk is just barely lukewarm. Whisk in the egg yolks. Set mixture in the fridge and wait until the fig mixture is cooled.

    Using an ice cream machine, pour liquids into the frozen basin and process according to manufacturer instructions, i.e., let spin and thicken for 20 minutes before adding mascarpone, fig jam mixture, and the nuts. Continue to process for +/- 10 minutes. Pour semi-frozen mixture into a pyrex dish or glass tupperware. Freeze for at least two hours before serving.

    No ice cream maker? The Kitchn can help with that.

    Happyolks | Caramelized Fig Ice Cream

  2. As to fix

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    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.

    Grilled Carrots with Horseradish Yogurt Sauce over Lentils Happyolks-2 Grilled Carrots with Horseradish Yogurt Sauce over Lentils Happyolks-6

    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)

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  3. Cherries + Fennel + Lentils

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    Summer storms are a new indulgence for me. Cozied in a reading chair by our front window I tend to my journal and a cup of cold tea. Torrents of rain bear down on the front walk and I visualize a release of stagnant memories, ideas, and beliefs being carried down the road with the leaves to the storm drain. Shaun is in the Domincan Republic, filming, and I sit alone, silent at my perch, letting the explosive energy of the passing thunder reverberate in my bones.

    Thoughts pass, yet nothing lingers. I experience an excess of calm amidst the raging weather and am reminded, again, of my smallness. I am a speck of matter and energy in this massive, bursting earthplane of people, places and dreams.

    During my months living at sea, I used to spend hours gazing upon the open ocean, begging the waves to teach me their humility and sense of time. Years later, in this chair and the throes of a summer storm, no begging is needed. I am both humbled and grateful for the gift of an unrushed hour to my afternoon. Tears form, then a smile. For the first time in a long time, I actually believe it will all be okay. 

    Tomorrow my morning walk will smell of fresh ideas, resolve, and renewed opportunity, the rain will have cleansed the world of todays mistakes and made space for all that can, and will, come next. Exhale.

    // july 6

    Cherry, Lentil, Fennel Salad 

    • 1/2 lb red cherries, pitted and halved
    • 1 small bulbs fennel, shaved
    • 4-5 small red beets, chopped
    • 1/2 cup de puy lentils
    • 2 giant handfuls of baby greens (kale, chard, etc.)
    • 1 ripe avocado
    • 1 tbsp fresh basil, julienned
    • 1 tbsp fresh mint, julienned
    • 1/4 cup shallot, minced
    • 1/4 cup olive oil
    • juice of 1 lemon
    • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted
    • salt/pepper on hand

    I’m going to make these instructions short and sweet, a salad is as salad does folks. Boil lentils for 20 minutes. Remove. Rinse. Cool. Set aside. Steam sliced beets for 10 minutes. Rinse. Cool. Set aside. Finely slice fennel and place in a small bowl. Douse with salt and massage with hands. Let sit for 10 minutes, rinse, drain. Pit cherries. Set aside. Toast pumpkin seed under the broiler for 2-5 minutes until lightly browned. Set aside.

    In a large bowl combine basil, mint, shallot, olive oil, and lemon juice. Stir. Pile in cherries, softened fennel, steamed beets, and lentils. Stir to coat. Cut in Avocado. Toss with greens (probably should use your hands to get everything good and mixed/coated). Top with seeds, salt, pepper.

     ** Sharley and Caroline, this one’s for you ladies. Thank you for sharing your kindness and light with me last week.

  4. Notes For Summer

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    We have a backyard now, how cool is that? Shaun built me raised beds and I planted winter squash early last week, probably too many, but we’ll get there when we get there. Every morning I sit in the sun on an old red adirondack that the last tenant left behind and watch over blossoms and the beneficials as they do their good work. I’m bonding with the squash, seeing phases of my life in them. So eager, reaching their awkward arms to the sky. They want to grow up so fast. Every day I am astounded at their progress. So proud. Like a parent, I suppose. Worrying about the sun and the birds, trying not to smother them, let them just do their thing.

    Just like the plants, I am reminded, the power within (within me, within us all) grows stronger with each new day. Keep watering. Keep nurturing. That’s it. I’ll be patient, trust that good things will come to fruit in the near future. In the meantime I will celebrate the small triumphs, fend off the bad bugs, and just soak up the time given to me. It’s summer, folks, let’s try not over think things too much. Take the time (make the time) to ride bikes, call your mom, take a hike, figure out the grill, play dominos, sing in the shower, drink beer at the ball game, laugh at yourself, be nice, and eat lots and lots of stone fruit.

    Apricot Mint Couscous 

    serves 2-4

    • 2 cups Israeli cous cous
    • 1 lb ripe apricots
    • 1/4 cup minced shallot
    • 1/4 cup green onion
    • 1 large handful italian parsley, chopped
    • 20+ mint leaves, julienned
    • 1/4 tsp minced fresh jalepeno
    • Juice of 1 lemon
    • 1/4 cup olive oil
    • salt/pepper

    Save energy and spare your kitchen from extra heat in the summer by preparing your cous cous using this method. Bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Stir in dry cous cous. Cover and kill the flame. Let cook for 12-15 minutes. Strain, rinse with cold water, and let sit to dry while you prepare the rest.

    In a large bowl, combine minced shallot, finely sliced green onion (white and light green parts only), parsley, and mint. Carefully remove the seeds  from the jalepeno and mince as fine as you can. I used 1/4 tsp, but add as much as you like to amp up the heat. WASH HANDS and surfaces, immediately. It only takes one time rubbing your nose without a wash to remember this tip. Add pepper to the mixture. Slice the apricots in crescents with a paring knife over the bowl (8-10 wedges per fruit). Squeeze lemon juice over the fruit before stirring. Add olive oil, salt, and pepper.

    Finally, mix in the cous cous to completely coat. Serve at room temperature.

  5. Buddy and Biscotti

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    May was a bit of a whirlwind. It was a month of late nights, long talks, hellos, goodbyes, surprises, tears, all the good things that make life worth living. Really living, the kind of feel-the-dirt-in-your-hands-as-you’re-planting-the-seeds living. May was the kind of month you look back on and think, ah what a masterpiece. Signing 6 before the date seemed like an eternity away at times, and while there have been many changes and stories that I wish I could share with some of you over a cup of coffee or a nice long walk, it all can be summed by this quote: “For all that has been, thanks. For all that will be, yes.” Ahh, yes. The weather is perfect and I’m looking forward with an open heart to find all that the summer has to teach us this year.


    The lessons will start with Buddy. The happy folks of Happyolks just got a little happier last week with the addition of our new foster pup (licking away above). He’s a total love and it’s safe to say we’ve already fallen hard for this Cocker Spaniel/Retriever (?) stray. His eight month-old puppy enthusiasm has already inspired a renewed lightness and energy about our days. A constant cuddler, bone hoarder, and first-class fetcher – we love sharing our roof and look forward to all the new things he too will share with us during our time together.

    It’s good to return to Happyolks, I know it’s been a while. Cooking and baking never went on a full hiatus, but the sharing did. I’ve been trying to find a good recipe to re-emerge from my break, and this one will do the trick. These biscotti are addicting. Careful. I experimented with two batches of different sugars, and thank goodness I have an internship with obliging staffers to rid the kitchen of the leftovers with. I tried the first time without white chocolate, but I think it adds another dimension so I’d highly recommend it.

    Cherry, Pistachio, and White Chocolate Biscotti — Inspired by My New Roots

    • 3 cups spelt flour
    • 1 tablespoon baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1 1/4 cups sugar
    • 3 eggs
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • Juice of 1/2 orange
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1 cup raw pistachios
    • 1 cup dried cherries or cranberries
    (optional) 3/4 cup of white chocolate chunks

    Preheat oven the 350. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.  In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, eggs, oil, and orange juice. Stir the sugar mixture into the flour mixture, add the nuts and dried cherries; mix with your hands.

    Shape the the dough to 3-4″ wide loafs, about 8-10″ long  and place on the cookie sheets. Bake for 25 minutes, remove and cool for 2-3 minutes before cutting the loaves into 1/2″ wide slices. Return to the baking sheets and pop back in the oven for 5 minutes to crisp. Enjoy with tea and a good book.

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.