I will say this with comfort and clarity because I know I’m not alone: it’s surprisingly easy to get overwhelmed by life on a regular basis–the wonderful parts, but also (womp womp) the more stress-inducing bits. We’re away for a bit on the east coast of Canada this week with my man’s family and all I could think about leading up to our departure was A) How much stuff I have to take care of before I get in the car with my duffel bag, snacks and camera, B) How much stuff I could be accomplishing if we weren’t going, and C)How realistic/possible it would be to get some work done while we’re ON vacation. I swear I can’t be the only person who thinks this way. In the same moment, there is a pull of necessity from the natural world calling for release, but also the thoughts of deadlines, career, and the “How will we ever get ahead of it all?” questions that shore up in the weaker moments.
Some of my plans got all messed up last week, my schedule was thrown off, there was a very scary thunderstorm, I didn’t see Mark for a few days because of the “passing ships in the night” quality of our conflicting work schedules sometimes, my dining table was a mess of recipes to be shot, food props, fibreglass door brochures, and just stuff that needed my attention. I think I ate too much sugar and drank mostly coffee. There’s still messes around every corner of our yard as we try to get it ALL together this summer (but it’s August already!). Then I dropped my phone so good that it was un-readable/jagged edged. And on and on. In the middle of one of my daily marathon list-making sessions, I texted this to Mark: “I feel like I’m paddling really hard and not getting anywhere.”
My tendency, when there’s probably too much going on and I’m asking the big life questions, is to go inward a bit and figure out why it’s all happening. I get stuck in my own head is another way to put it. It takes a while for inspiration, in the form of human interaction, something I’ve read/seen, or a moment of intentional quietude, to pull me up back into life and living. I’m a worrier and an over-thinker to the end–just how I operate. But I had a very relaxed contractor/landscaping/handyperson-type at my old house the one morning, just as the sky was darkening something fierce for another round of rain. He was giving me an estimate on a new deck and shelter structure, and we were talking about what a mess the yard had been before we lived here. The drops were puttering around and he calmly said something about being able to see past the the frustrating/messy/uncontrollable aspects of less desirable situations because he had the work/life experience to know that it all works out in the end. Pretty much exactly what I needed to hear, even if he was just talking about some outdoor livin’.
As we continue to get our bearings on this life and some of the seemingly fresh things it’s been throwing at/graciously handing to us, I think we get a bit more confident leaning into the “Everything’s going to be alright” mentality. And not in a way that leaves it all to the fates. We’re learning and grasping and nodding our heads YES because we have a clearer sightline on human capability. I still make decisions on a whim and overcommit myself 98 percent of the time, but I feel stronger in putting my head down and getting to the work in a more intelligent way than ever before. If this is maturity/getting old/full-tilt-boogie-level adulthood, sign me up.
In addition to seeing ahead and finally realizing some human potential, I’ve been coming up with cooler recipe ideas and just making better things in general. It’s amazing when thoughts from certain sometimes stress-filled life moments stream colour and inspiration into your everyday needs. Of course I didn’t invent collard wraps, but dang if I didn’t just try them for the first time recently and absolutely love them. My first exposure to the collard-as-wrap was in Sara’s book actually, and I was immediately pulled in by her emphasis on avoiding the “hippie mush” problem when fixing them up. Actually, just the expression “hippie mush” was enough to catch my interest. Anyway, this version has some highly varied textures and lots of delicious and summery bits from the tomatoes and basil. Marinated and charred tempeh, chickpea mash, a little sundried tomato flecked quinoa, maybe a balsamic drizzle here and there. It’s lots of plant-powered protein in a little leafy package. A good travelling snack for when you need a big boost if I do say so myself.
So I’m off to re-charge the batteries on that eastern shore. Catch ya next week or perhaps on Instagram in the meantime? :) Big love, all.
super powered tomato + basil collard wraps
notes: Like any decent burrito or wrap-type thing, overstuffing these will lead to failure/messes everywhere. If you’re transporting them, I would recommend securing with toothpicks before you go anywhere, just so there aren’t any surprises at your destination.
1 block of tempeh, cut into half inch strips
1 chili, sliced
4-5 sprigs of basil, divided
splash of red wine vinegar
1 shallot, peeled and sliced
salt + pepper
1/2 cup quinoa
handful of sundried tomatoes (not the oil-packed ones), small dice
2 cups cooked chickpeas
2-3 tbsp tomato sauce
8 large collard leaves
2 ripe tomatoes, sliced (or 1/2 pint of grape tomatoes halved)
balsamic glaze/reduction (optional!)
In a shallow dish, place the tempeh pieces, sliced chili, 2-3 tablespoons of chopped basil, the red wine vinegar, sliced shallot and a good glug of olive oil. Season the mix with salt and pepper and toss to coat the tempeh. Cover and set aside for 20 minutes.
Combine the quinoa with 1 cup of water and a fat pinch of salt in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring the quinoa to a boil and simmer until all water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Scrape quinoa into a medium mixing bowl and allow to cool.
Once cool, to the quinoa add a glug of olive oil, 2-3 tbsp chopped basil, the diced sundried tomatoes, and some salt and pepper. Toss to combine.
In a shallow dish, mash the chickpeas with the tomato sauce, salt, pepper and a splash of olive oil. You want a mixture that kind of holds together but also a few whole chickpeas too. Set aside.
Heat a grill to high and place the marinated tempeh slices on the grates. Grill both sides until char marks appear, about 4 minutes per side.
To make the collard wraps, start by laying one collard leaf down on a cutting board so that it’s on a horizontal orientation. Lay another collard leaf on top, overlapping the stem ends considerably. You should have an almost solid rectangular-ish sheet of collard green now. It almost looks like a very chunky figure 8. Spoon some of the chickpea mash into the middle, pressing it down. Lay two tempeh slices on top of the chickpea mash. Then place some sliced tomato on top of the tempeh. Place a few slices of tomato and whole leaves of basil on top. Finish with a drizzle of balsamic glaze if you like. Pull up the long side of the collard wrap and fold it over the filling. Bring in the short sides as if you were making a burrito. Then roll the whole thing until you’ve sealed the wrap.
Repeat this process with remaining ingredients. Secure wraps with toothpicks if necessary. Slice wraps in half to serve.