I wanted a perfect ending. I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle and end. Life is about not knowing, leaning into change, taking the moment and making the best of it without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity. – Gilda Radner
Barely adapted from newly released Green Kitchen Travelsby by David Frenkiel andLuise Vindahl. These two are some of the kindest, most genuine folks I’ve come to know in blog-land. Green Kitchen Travels is everything I want in a cookbook, and everything the world needs more of: sincerity, originality, and spunk.
2 large onions, peeled and halved
nub of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
4 cinnamon sticks
4 star anise
4 cardamom pods
1 tbsp coriander seeds
4 large carrots, peeled and chopped
1 fennel bulb, quartered, stalks removed
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tbsp shoyu or soy sauce
8 cups vegetable stock
1 head of bok choy, quartered
fresh thai basil
2 cups beansprouts
handful of limes, quartered
1 lb brown rice noodles
shaved sweet onion slices
Heat oven to 450.’ Place onions and ginger slices onto a baking tray and roast in the oven for 10 minutes until the edges are starting to brown. Place spices in a heavy-pot and dry roast until aromatic, stirring to prevent from burning. Add vegetable stock, shoyu, carrots, fennel, and roasted onions and ginger. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain soup base through a fine mesh strainer to remove vegetables and debris, then return strained broth to the pot and reheat. Cook noodles according to packet instructions. Prepare serving bowl(s) with cooked noodles, bok choy, beansprouts, onion, fresh herbs, and lime wedges. When ready to serve, pour over hot broth and serve immediately.
**The publisher is letting me give away a copy to one (1) Happyolks reader. Leave a comment with an active email address and I’ll notify a winner by next Tuesday.
I’ve had a word document open on my desktop for the past month. The ticker at the footer reads 6,201 words. Oy. Everyday for the past week I’ve tried to sit down, stand up, walk around with the laptop getting things sorted out. Music, no music. Pants, no pants. Wine, more wine. You know when you throw out your back and you find yourself inventing new yoga poses to get that darn thing to pop back into place? Yeah, that’s how I feel about writing right now. Just. Can’t. Quite. Get. There. The stuff sorta hurts to get out and then ends up looking like a mess on the page.
Then I sat down with a friend. She’s a writer. She gets it. She also has a 13 month old daughter and pumps out about twice the content I can in a week and I think to myself: Jesus, Kels, SHE HAS TO TAKE CARE OF ANOTHER LIVING CREATURE AND YOU CAN’T GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER. Anyway, we had this great chat about vulnerability, where it fits with the business of writing (and sharing that writing online) and how the word and concept makes us recoil a bit when we hear it tossed around so casually over coffee and cocktails. She said this, which I love: some secrets are worth keeping. Sometimes none of the words and thoughts and feelings we wrestle with need to see the light, and that’s okay. It takes guts to get vulnerable, i.e. share parts of ourselves that we fear will result in rejection. But guts for the sake of guts feels totally… disingenuous? It shows security, confidence to pump the brakes a bit, and decide, on our own terms, how and when and for whom we’ll strip down for.
I worry, sometimes, that my generation falsely associates vulnerability with sharing every moment tasted, every hurt suffered, every little nugget of wisdom that comes to us while washing our hair or taking out the trash. I feel like we relinquish a bit of our agency in doing so. We give up sacredness for the rush of affirmation –– I divulge, therefore I exist. We don’t get a chance to ever really feel something in a totally pure state without those feelings being tampered by the onlookers we willingly, or unwillingly, called to table. There is enough of that look-at-me-see-me-feel-my-heart-beat-but-don’t-actually-judge-me-or-tell-me-something-I-don’t-want-to-hear sorta thing on the internet and in the “real” world that we have to deal with.
So instead of trying to contort the ever-living crap of that diabolical mess of thoughts, I’m going to bank on what I know for sure: loosening the grip reveals new truths, and that space and distance do help us heal and sort through the things that weigh heavy on our hearts. It’s okay to let some things just be our own to ponder and wrestle.
Instead! Life update:
We’re moving. To the mountains. It feels right. We’ve grappled quietly with getting out of dodge leaving Denver since late spring, and upon our return from Bali it felt like all lights were flashing GREEN GREEN GREEN to manifest on that tug for migration. Seattle and Portland, Maine made the shortlist, but we’re not quite ready to say sayonara to these Rocky Mountains yet. We’re under contract on a little place west of Boulder that backs up onto a bit of woods –– we’ll sign and get the keys on Shaun’s 26th birthday. Wish us luck.
Concord Grape & Mint Sorbet
I finagled a few shortcuts to this killer recipe from Kimberley Hasselbrink’s recent release, Vibrant Food. After watching the food blog community reproduce the summer chapter online when the book first came out, I felt like I should wait to share this number when the leaves started changing and remind you that the fall, winter, and spring chapters of this book are equally impressive. I had the huge honor of recipe testing for Kimberley as Vibrant Food came together and I’m telling you, she, and these recipes, are total keepers. Oh, and, the recipe for harissa, on page 97, needs to be bottled and sold around the world. It’s the best I’ve ever had.
2 lbs fresh Concord grapes, stems removed
12 mint leaves
1/4 cup sugar
juice of 1 lime
Remove stems from grapes. Rinse. In the basin of a blender or food processor, combine grapes, mint leaves, sugar, and the juice of 1 lime. Puree the the mixture until all but a few specks of grape skin remain visible. Kimberly suggests straining the mixture through a fine mesh sieve or strainer, but I’m into the pulp. It’s up to you.
Churn the blended grapes in an ice cream maker for 25-30 minutes, until slightly frozen. The sorbet will still be soft. Pour into a freezer-safe container and freeze for three more hours to solidify.
“If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy, don’t hesitate. Give in to it. There are plenty of lives and whole towns destroyed or about to be. We are not wise, and not very often kind. And much can never be redeemed. Still life has some possibility left. Perhaps this is its way of fighting back, that sometimes something happened better than all the riches or power in the world. It could be anything, but very likely you notice it in the instant when love begins. Anyway, that’s often the case. Anyway, whatever it is, don’t be afraid of its plenty. Joy is not made to be a crumb. (Don’t Hesitate)”
― Mary Oliver, Swan: Poems and Prose Poems
Quick Pickled Vegetables over Herb-y Black Lentils
1 bunch tricolor radishes, quartered
1 cup pearl onions, halved
1 lb. baby carrots
2 cups cauliflower, broken into small pieces
1 bulb fennel, sliced
2 shallots, shaved
4 florets belgian endive, halved
4 cups white wine vinegar (or red wine, or rice)
4 cups water
1/4 cup mustard seeds
2 tbsp juniper berries
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp salt
To make the pickling liquid: Place water and vinegar in medium pot along with sugar, juniper berries, salt, and mustard seeds. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally to dissolve sugar and salt. Place cleaned and prepped raw vegetables into the liquid and submerge. Cover and let cool to room temperature, place in refrigerator for 1 hour. Extra vegetables can be kept for up to two months. They make for great accouterments in a Bloody Mary!
For the Lentil Salad…
4 cups cooked black lentils (about 1 pound, dry)
1 cup watercress leaves
1 cup parsley leaves
1 cup celery leaves
1/2 cup mint leaves
1/4 cup minced chives
2 lemons, juiced
1/4 cup olive oil
salt/pepper to taste
Cook lentils until al dente, about 30 minutes. Strain, rinse, and set aside. Mix with olive oil, lemon juice, and greens. Serve as a bed to the pickled vegetables. Dress with chives, serve cool, but not cold. Makes great leftovers for weekday lunches. Served mine today with lemon avocado aioli.