Oh hey there. I posted this on Instagram last year around this time and you know? I’m not as much of an absolutist on that front anymore. There WERE some big answers, but also some surprisingly mountainous questions put forth this year. All one big whirlwind now that I’m tracking back. I think when you get yourself in deep with that distracting, non-intentional mindset of “uuuugh so busy” you forget that you’re a real human accomplishing cool things and making mistakes along the way. It’s a satisfying way to live and whoa, it’s taken me a while to get there.
We settled more into home life, with some frustrations over the pace at which things seem to get done (that was predominantly on my end). I mostly realized that I need to make a sincere effort to relax and not worry so much. It’s okay if some walls are empty and I’m also not the most negligent person in the world if I buy Dawn dish soap out of last-minute necessity vs. Seventh Generation brand. I’ve just accepted the incompleteness and I repeatedly tell myself that I’m waiting for the right piece of art, effective ecologically-friendly product, piece of furniture, vibe etc. to just grab me/make sense at the time. Houses can be nice but homes are built up and filled over years. They’re also lived-in with rough edges.
My career changed quite a bit with certain opportunities that popped up this year. There are some really exciting things on the horizon for next year and quite frankly, I’m shaking in my boots. But also, I really can’t wait for it all to unfold and to just stretch my patience/abilities a bit. I barely work at the restaurant anymore, but I know in my heart of hearts that I could never totally give it up, no matter how much other stuff I have going on. That interaction and the necessary, frenzied sensation of things happening in real time is too important to me. Also, I got a test-batch sticky toffee pudding for dinner during my shift the other night and I mean, how could anyone pass on that?
So also, my eating patterns and scheduled exercise bouts were admittedly all over the place. In the interest of full disclosure and transparency, I think I’m actually in the worst shape I’ve been in for a while. I feel great in a day-to-day sense, but sometimes a few extra stairs has me feeling a little flushed in the cheeks. My sleep schedule has been especially wonky the last 6 months or so. I’m just going to chalk it up to irresponsible freelance scheduling and call it a day. I’ve read that some of the most productive and really well people build habits/routines around the start of their day as well as their winding down time. So! Some overhauling is necessary, but I’m not waiting until 2015 to get on that. I’m gonna drink some greens (with frozen pineapple, cinnamon, and fresh turmeric yummm) tomorrow morning and hopefully conquer my corner of the world by noon.
Lastly, I have a new guiding mantra for negotiating work and life: If it doesn’t add, it subtracts. Cue the power. Actually though? I stole that line from a chef I used to work for, and he was talking about filling out a scallop-centric appetizer. I do think that it speaks to building yourself up to the fullest potential, while also nodding in the direction of learning to say no. Mostly, I’m just in this thing of life to see, create, love and build something that feels/is bigger than just me alone. Having that basic idea in mind makes it a hundred times easier to cut away the bullshit. It’s seeped into my life with possessions too, so now I really can’t wait to read this book.
And today I made up a little recipe from an excellent book that is adding to my life big time. I think you’re all well-aware of how much I love The Flavor Bible, so when Karen and Andrew sent me their just-released Vegetarian Flavor Bible, it might be a touch predictable to say that I got lost in it for a few hours. A short rundown: this is a thorough examination of which naturally occurring flavours and foods combine best for delicious results. Under each alphabetized ingredient, there’s a list of other vegetables, proteins, spices, herbs, general flavour groupings etc. that just work with that ingredient. There are no definitive recipes, but it’s easily the most useful cookery book I own, and not just in a recipe-development sense. It’s waiting to be used when there’s scraps and dregs left in the crisper or when I have to satisfy a picky eater along with everyone else at the table. Where a traditional cookbook is more of a HOW, this is decidedly an adventure in WHY. It’s required reading for the plant-inclined as far as I’m concerned.
So when I looked under the section for carrots, I read cumin, coriander, citrus etc. and thought about mixing the gentle, sweet creaminess of roasted carrot into a dip with fiery harissa, savoury chickpeas, and fresh lemon. Totally delicious and easy results. The carrots and chickpeas make this so smooth and, combined with the harissa flavours, make it gorgeously bright orange. I love a textural, almost salad-ish mix on top of dips for visual interest and flavour contrast. With this one I did a little tart pomegranate, parsley, buttery pine nuts, and crispy, highly addictive roasted brussels sprout leaves. It’s recommended! (duh, captain obvious). Anyway, going to send this one off by wishing you all happy holidays and peaceful gathering :) Big hugs.
roasted carrot, chickpea + harissa dip recipe
print the recipe here!
serves: makes roughly 1 1/2 cups of dip
notes: I used about half a chili with the seeds, but please moderate the level of heat to your liking. Also, I kind of just threw harissa components into the food processor for this, but if you have some prepared harissa on hand, you could just spoon a couple hearty dabs of that into the food processor along with the carrots, chickpeas, tahini, lemon, salt and pepper. It’s even faster that way! :)
for the dip:
4-5 medium carrots, scrubbed
1/4 cup + 2 tsp olive oil, divided
salt + pepper
1 cup cooked chickpeas
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground caraway
1 fat clove of garlic, peeled + chopped rough
rough diced fresh chili, to taste (I used 1/2 of a standard red chili)
zest and juice of half a lemon
1 tsp tomato paste
2 tbsp tahini
garnishes to top the dip:
toasted pine nuts
crispy brussels sprout leaves (quarter brussels sprouts and try to separate the leaves, toss with oil, salt + pepper, then roast in a 400 degree F oven for 15 minutes or until crsipy and browned)
chopped flat leaf parsley
extra drizzles of olive oil
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a small baking sheet with parchment. Trim the ends off of the carrots and place them on the baking sheet. Toss the carrots with 2 teaspoons of the olive oil and some salt and pepper to taste. Slide the carrots into the oven and roast until tender and lightly browned on all sides, flipping them over at least once. This took about 25 minutes for me. Cool the carrots thoroughly.
Meanwhile, in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the “S” blade, add the cooked chickpeas, ground cumin, coriander, caraway, garlic, diced chili, lemon zest, lemon juice, tomato paste, tahini, salt, and pepper. Chop the carrots into smaller pieces and add them to the food processor as well. Pulse the mixture a few times until you have a coarse mixture. Scrape the bowl down with a spatula and put the food processor on “high” while you drizzle the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil into the bowl via the feed tube.
Once you have a smooth purée, check the dip for seasoning. Adjust the seasoning level to your liking and then scrape the dip into your serving vessel of choice. Top the dip with suggested garnishes and serve with crackers, endive leaves, rough cut veggies etc. (I heart Mary’s Crackers big time)