I found out that our new house was a done deal when I was at work. In the moment, I was thrilled and hugging basically everyone that entered my line of sight. The sorta stress-y negotiation bit was behind us and whoa! We would have a house soon. When my shift was done, I drove home down all of the empty country roads. I was getting ready for bed when I started feeling choked up and teary eyed. It wasn’t because of barely-containable elation either. I was overwhelmed at the thought that my life would be completely different, that the change in my day-to-day would be so great. Renovation projects would replace weekends away. Savings plans for anticipated future expenses would take precedence over any sort of prolonged travel (and certainly over a new pair of ankle boots). Our new, but seriously very old, home would demand some priority rearrangement.
That overwhelmed feeling washed away soon enough, pretty much right after a cry-fest where I told my mom that I didn’t want to “live like a gross hobo” because our creaky character home was going to bleed us dry. Everyone has assured me that these things take time and that it’s insane to try and tackle everything at once. I’m slowly beginning to accept their advice.
We got the keys last week and I’ve been working on the absolute terror of a garden/yard with my mom every day while the weather’s decent. We’ve made progress on the two years of wild neglect out there. There’s an ex-pond feature buried under piles of rocks, tarp and dirt. Grubs in the grass. Weeds that come up to my neck. Trees and shrubs so out of control. Lots of half-baked plans that need cleaning up and a fresh start. My mom is a serious badass, so we’re getting there.
There was a giant yew in front of one of the dining room windows. The house is starved for natural light and this thing was in ugly shape, so the plan was to take it down–maybe with the help of a professional. There were bees lightly buzzing around this thing when we rolled up to it one morning, so the possibility of a nest forming had entered the picture. So my mom starts trimming it down. The bees are stirring/swarming a bit more. Then she started laying into it with a hacksaw and a THIS ENDS NOW kinda vibe. I’m keeping busy cleaning up the branches when a bee lands right on my hand. Feeling the buzzz and seeing it’s little wing flicks, I yelped and leaped away, waving my hands around.
At this point my mother had sawed the entire thing down, glanced only slightly shamefully at my wussy ass, pointed a finger straight at my face, and said “You need to toughen up.” Real casual with the life lesson there! ;)
This soup is only slightly related to the backbreaking insanity that I just described. It’s cooled off a bit, so the thought of hot soup and a crust of bread after some time spent outdoors is rather appealing. I love fennel with leeks and apples in a salad situation, all sprinkled with toasted + chopped walnuts, so I thought a warm version of that might feel just right. Turmeric is kind of an anti-bad-vibe shield for inflammation of all kinds, so a hefty spoonful of that went in for my achy muscles. It dyes the soup mustard-yellow, which is kind of cheerful in its own special way. I pre-toast the walnuts in the pan, simmer them along with the veg and purée them into the soup itself. Insane toasty walnut flavour comes through with all of the leeks, fennel and lightly sweet apple and makes the whole thing a touch creamier. Kinda awesome.
leek, fennel, apple + walnut soup with turmeric
notes: Have you cooked with turmeric before? Be careful, friends. It dyes any and all things bright, acid yellow–LIKE FOREVER.
2 tbsp grapeseed oil
3 leeks, white + light green parts chopped (discard green tops or use them for stock)
4 sprigs of thyme, leaves minced
1 fennel bulb, cored and chopped (reserve a few fronds for garnish)
1 medium apple, peeled, cored + chopped
1-2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 cup walnut halves, toasted
salt + pepper
4 cups vegetable stock
fresh black pepper
reserved fennel fronds
more toasty walnuts
Heat the grapeseed oil in a large soup pot over medium. Add the chopped leeks and thyme. Stir and sauté the leeks until they are a bit soft, about 4 minutes. Add the chopped fennel and apples. Stir everything up a bit. Add the turmeric and stir to coat all of the vegetables evenly. Sauté the vegetables until the fennel is starting to soften, another 4 minutes. Add the walnuts and stir them in. Season the whole thing with salt and pepper. Add the vegetable stock and stir.
Bring the pot to a boil and simmer until all of the vegetables/apples are very soft, about 12-15 minutes. Remove the soup from the heat. Carefully blend the mixture in batches until totally smooth. Check the soup for seasoning and adjust accordingly. Bring the puréed soup to a boil and serve hot with drizzles of maple syrup, fresh black pepper, fennel fronds and more toasted walnuts.
I had huge plans to do a 4-5 day juice feast/fast this week, I was almost treating it like no big thang. I’ve done it before and it felt like my body was kind of hankering for it. “We have tons of greens in the garden and a tree full of apples. I’ll only need a couple things. It’ll be sooooo easy.” I had ramped up my consumption of raw fruit and veg in order to ease into it and then… it was the weekend.
Lots of driving around with Mark for new house stuff, lining all the things and services up, road snacks + coffees, thoughts of demolishing the kitchen completely and follow-up, dread-tinged thoughts of assembling IKEA cabinets with an Alan key and hopefully a beer nearby, stressing about the heap of things to move and the mere existence of the heaps of things. I’ve purchased a preparatory economy-sized bag of chia seeds, a party box of wine glasses, various hydrangeas, and a new food processor. We still don’t have a bed. Packing up your life and moving onto a new thing. Throwing work into the mix and all of those other weird things like trying to get an adequate amount of sleep. It’s a lot. One week from today until it’s really real. Five days of liquified vegetables have to wait.
And, kind of hilariously, I’ve been beating myself up over it. Every snack and meal has been inwardly justified by a need to build up some energy stores (or whatever you’re building up when you’ve been eating hella chocolate-covered raisins). We managed to get a lot of things checked off the list over the weekend, but there was still plenty of salty snack eating while we marathoned The League on the couch. Oh, and that night I came home way past my usual dinner time after spending a whole day road-snacking and made myself a huge bowl of pasta and promptly went to sleep afterward. Totally not my style. Totally was thinking about my dashed plans for juicy-ness, mostly guilt-tripping myself over it and not getting any closer to that “Whooo-ey, so detoxed and vibe-y” feeling.
All of that stuff is so dumb though. It’s just life happening at the pace of life. Sure, a juice fast might help me rule the world a little bit more, but knowing when and how to prioritize certain things is going to keep me in a better spot long-term. So I stopped believing my own bullshit and started focusing on being here and being completely okay with being right here. This article from Kate Bartolotta, guys. Pro tip: read it.
I ate something like this when we were in NY (along with, yes, lots of excellent green juices). It was a little starter/small plate, but it was easily my favourite thing of the whole trip. Just perfectly steamed cauliflower with a super refined coconut-milk curry sauce at the base of the plate and crunchy bits on top. I knew I could fix that up with ease at home and add a few personal preference-driven changes. I bust up the romanesco into large-ish pieces and roast them for a bit of golden crust. I fix up the curry sauce portion like I normally would, but strain it out to keep it easy on the eating front. The pieces are bathed in that rich, fragrant, and lightly golden sauce. As you cut them up, you can kind of drag the pieces through the curry sauce, maybe throw some cooked grain into the mix if you like. Anyway, it’s easy and warming. Total feel-good eats for right now.
roasted romanesco curry with lemongrass + marcona almonds
serves: 3-4 as a main + maybe 6ish as a side?
notes: If you decide to steam this for that more pure + virtuous vibe, place them in your steamer basket and let ’em go for about 9-11 minutes. Remove them from the basket and give the pieces a nice sprinkle of salt and pepper before you pour the sauce around.
1 head of romanesco, busted up into large-ish pieces and florets
grapeseed, coconut or other heat-tolerant oil
salt + pepper
decent knob of coconut oil
1 sliced shallot or 1/4 cup sliced red onion
1 mild hot pepper, halved + seeded
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled + sliced
peel of 1 lime (remove as much pith as you can)
handful of cilantro stems
1 piece of lemongrass, bashed up a bit with your knife
1-2 tsp ground turmeric
1 can of full fat coconut milk
2 tsp coconut sugar
big handful of marcona almonds
+ cooked quinoa/rice/millet for serving
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment and place the romanesco pieces on top. Brush all of them with oil and sprinkle salt + pepper on all of the pieces evenly. Roast the romanesco in the oven for about 25-35 minutes, or until lightly golden brown.
While the romanesco is roasting, start making the curry sauce-y bit. Heat the coconut oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots/red onions and sauté them until soft and translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the hot pepper and ginger. Stir it about. Add the lime peels, cilantro stems, lemongrass and turmeric. Sauté and stir the whole mix for a few minutes to cook out the raw-ness of the turmeric. Pour in the coconut milk and stir to evenly mix the turmeric throughout. Stir in the coconut sugar. Bring the sauce to a boil and then simmer it for about 10 minutes. Season the whole thing to your liking and then strain out all of the chunky bits.
To serve, arrange the roasted romanesco on a serving platter or individual plates. Pour the curry sauce around the florets. Garnish with the marcona almonds and chopped cilantro. Serve with cooked grains if you wish.
We’re going to New York this weekend! Just a tiny sliver of a thought about that makes my insides glow. The first trip Mark and I ever took as an item was to that fine city in late September. We were visiting a new friend along with our bestest friend, seeing the last Pavement show (probably) ever, staying at a guy’s apartment in Bushwick that had jeans in the freezer and an Opening Ceremony replica of Max’s wolf suit from Where The Wild Things Are hanging in the bedroom. I got to eat every and any high-vibe food I could have ever dreamed of. We visited the Museum of Natural History, leaned back and said “WHOOOOOAA!!!” every time we entered a room with a different prehistoric skeleton. In the LES Whole Foods, I convinced him that I knew my shit to the utmost when it comes to building a salad (“It’s like a vegetable sundae!!”)(#shithippiessay). Surrounded by awesome at all hours, plenty of cheap wine enjoyed on rooftops and the handsomest dude as my co-adventurer. Those are big rays of warm, neon light that shine through my memory.
We’ve visited a few times since. I always come back crazy-inspired in ways that I didn’t even know were lurking below my standard level of awareness. Although our relationship has progressed and changed in ways that are obvious after 3 years, I know we’ll be closer and in tune to each other’s quirks a little bit more come Monday. That stuff excites me. A cookie sandwich at Babycakes is pretty rad, but understanding my main squeeze just a tiny bit more, through a sneaky travel osmosis energy exchange, is about a million times more thrilling.
And here’s something he grew to understand about me right quick, no mysterious knowledge transfer through the cosmos needed: I fall into bouts of hangry-ness with frightening ease–especially on the road. If I can’t get a wholesome snack when I need it, I’m kind of a jerk. Mark is simultaneously patient and eager to point out that I’m being a HUGE baby. It’s just the approach needed to help me move towards the endgame. That guy. He gets me.
So for all of you hangry peeps (I salute you), I made a healthy snack today. I love a good granola bar in terms of concept. They frequently disappoint in execution. Lots of sugar, soy protein isolate, weird things, hard-ass dried fruit, chocolate that doesn’t taste like chocolate if you close your eyes. I had to tackle this project myself. Banana bread is this undeniably cozy, early-fall thing to me and I managed to fix some up on the weekend. I thought about using that flavour base for a granola bar, relying on the bananas for some sweetness and binding power. It totally worked! These are super easy to fix up, I promise. I just used whatever nuts and seeds I had around with some pinches of cinnamon and sea salt. The chocolate drizzling is very key. Also, I incorporated caramel-y brown rice syrup for extra stick-together powers, because you know what good granolas do? They stick together :)
Big hugs to all of you this week. xoxo
vegan + GF banana bread granola bars recipe
serves: makes 16 bars
notes: In retrospect, my bananas could have been riper–just sayin’. Also, I blend the bananas up with all of the other liquid components for MAXIMUM integration. Totally an optional step. You could just mash them up real nice and whisk the other wet ingredients in for simplicity. I find whole nuts make for harder-to-cut finished bars–chop ’em small-ish. Lastly, I’ll add that this is more of a soft/chewy granola bar as opposed to a crispy/crunchy vibe. Maybe try toasting your oats in a 350 oven for 10 minutes or so before stirring them into the bar mixture to help with crunchiness.
3 way-way ripe, regulation-sized bananas, peeled
3 tbsp almond butter (any nut or seed butter you love will do)
1/4 cup brown rice syrup
1-2 tbsp maple syrup (optional!)
1 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil + extra for greasing the pan
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
3 cups rolled oats (make sure they’re certified GF if need be)
1 1/4 cup chopped nuts + seeds (I used toasted hazelnuts, raw walnuts + black sesame seeds)
1/4-1/2 cup chopped dried fruit/dairy-free chocolate chips/cacao nibs (I went with chippers + cacao nibs)
1/2 cup dairy-free chocolate chips
splash of almond milk
1 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8×11″ or an 8×12″ pan with coconut oil. Lay a piece of parchment into the pan (with overhang on the sides) and grease that with more coconut oil. Set aside.
In a blender or food processor, combine the bananas, almond butter, brown rice syrup, maple syrup, coconut oil, cinnamon and sea salt. Pulse or blend until a homogenous and creamy mixture is achieved. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the oats, chopped nuts, seeds, chocolate chips etc. Stir to mix. Add the creamy banana mixture and stir until thoroughly combined. Scrape the granola bar mix into the prepared pan. Smooth the mix out, pressing down with a flat surface (measuring cup, spatula) until the mix has evenly filled the pan. Bake the bars for 40 minutes or until golden on the edges/top. Remove from the oven and allow to cool thoroughly on a rack.
Once completely cool, lift the bars out of the pan with the overhanging parchment onto a cutting board. If you still feel residual heat emitting from the bars, allow them to cool down on the rack some more. Once ready, cut the slab right down the middle lengthwise. From here, cut the two halves into 8 bars each.
In a double boiler/non-reactive pan set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, combine the chocolate drizzle ingredients. Stir constantly with a spatula until chocolate is melted and a sauce forms. Drizzle over the cut granola bars. Refrigerate bars until chocolate is solidified, about 30 minutes. Keep the bars in a sealed container for about a week.
Superfoods! These things are being pimped out everywhere I go lately. I’ve been frequenting a certain home furnishings discount chain, just to see what I can pick up for our new place and you know something? They have a superfoods section in their little food aisle with the fancy oils, vinegars, salts and preserves. On any given trip there’s mulberries, sprouted quinoa, goji berries, chia + hemp seeds and on and on. A local grocery store has a shelf above the low-boy refrigeration display with bee pollen, spirulina, extra virgin coconut oil, flax powder, sea buckthorn juice, and E3 Live; all right next to the jello puddings and cream cheese. Even our Costco store has a big selection of organic, very nutrient dense pantry and fresh foods now. Kind of amazing when you stop to think about it.
We went on a short little getaway to the Finger Lakes-ish area of New York State this past weekend. It was beautiful in plenty of outright ways: the density of trees, the quaintness of the restoration, the views from up high, the sunshine that wasn’t too balmy and all of that. There were some unexpected bits of wonder too. We traipsed all through a deserted downtown core with beautiful old buildings on a Sunday night. We walked and walked, meandered through a kind of sketchy bit with a quick pace, saw this huge waterfall, the river, a grassy valley where there had been dwellers, a cozy bar in total darkness lit up by orbs of deep red. The air was heavy with a certain kind of energy that I can hardly describe.
There are so many new things coming up for us and all of the usual big ideas. Dining room configurations, a minimalist bedroom that still feels cozy, how we’ll make a dishwasher part of our new kitchen, all of the things we’ll have to give up, all of the things we stand to gain, everything that will become possible in that new light and space. I’m on pins and needles for it, but when my friend asked me how moving preparations were going, my answer followed a “They aren’t.” kinda vibe. I’m thrilled and bursting with pointed intentions, but the crazy can wait. This is a warm, glow-y pocket of time that I want to savour a bit.
So there’s been some purchase-less trips to Ikea (not counting the cinnamon bun that I wolfed down and got all over my face while we examined cabinet options in the showroom–Mark just looked at me and laughed), some antique store hops (fuelling my enamelware love) and a visit to my new favourite place: a clearance/auction house out in the sticks. We got the comfy/rustic chair of our dreams there last week (currently wrapped in a mattress bag in Mark’s garage wooo-ey). Soon it’ll be coming together in ways we would never expect.
In the meantime, there’s the everyday surprises. Before we started on the drive back home on Monday, we hit a local grocery store that had this whole juice bar thing set up. Amazing! And there was a tea counter where I got a delicious matcha latte made with coconut milk. So surprising and wonderful. I overheard an employee talking to a customer about the virtues of chia seeds. There were umpteen-million types of kale and apples available for purchase. I was flitting around without direction, just so excited by the availability of honest and good food! The approach and overall environment was so inspiring. I had this vague concept of an everyday superfood kind of salad formulating. Just a bunch of very nutritious, but still very accessible, foods together with some extra flavour and texture elements thrown in. Massaged kale and broccoli makes up the base with a bunch of other vibrant vegetables that we’ve been digging up. There’s a coriander-spiced + omega-pumped seedy mix on top, blueberry ginger vinaigrette, tons of lime, puffed quinoa, avocado and Himalayan salt.
So yeah, lots of things on the unfold. I’ll be here waiting and planning, belly full of salad duh :)
the everyday superfood salad recipe
notes: I throw some ground coriander in with the seeds, but any spice you’re into would be great. This salad can definitely hang for a few hours if you keep the blueberry dressing off until you’re ready to serve. And a note on the blueberry dressing: the flavour isn’t like a liquified pie filling with ginger. There’s a fresh and tart quality to it. If you want more a more pronounced blueberry-ness, I would suggest cooking the berries down in a saucepan with the maple syrup for a bit before you blend up the dressing.
1 bunch of kale, leaves chopped kinda small
1 broccoli branch/segment, florets finely chopped
juice of 1 lime
salt and pepper (I used Himalayan pink salt–any old salt is fine)
1 small beet (red or golden or striped), thinly sliced
1 carrot, thinly sliced
1 ripe avocado, peeled + sliced
1-2 sprigs of basil, chopped
handful of blueberries
blueberry ginger dressing ingredients:
heaped 1/4 cup blueberries
1/2 inch piece of ginger, peeled + chopped
2 tbsp raw apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp maple syrup
big splash of water
salt + pepper
1/4 cup oil (grapeseed or extra virgin olive oil)
omega seed sprinkle ingredients:
handful sunflower seeds
handful pumpkin seeds
1-2 tbsp flax seeds
1-2 tbsp chia seeds
1-2 tbsp hemp seeds
handful of puffed quinoa (or puffed millet, brown rice etc)
pinch of ground coriander
pinch of salt
In a large bowl, massage the kale and chopped broccoli with the lime juice, salt and pepper. Keep massaging until the leaves seem a bit more tender. Taste a leaf for seasoning, adjust and set aside. Chop and prep all of the other salad ingredients and set aside.
Make the dressing: combine all of the ingredients in a blender and blend on high until you have a creamy and unified mixture. Check for seasoning and sweetness, adjust and set aside.
In a medium sauté pan, combine all of the omega seed sprinkle ingredients over medium heat. Stir them around here and there until they smell toasty and the coriander is a bit more prominent. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
Arrange the massaged kale and broccoli on your serving plate. Top the greens with the beets, carrots, avocado, chopped basil, and blueberries. Season the whole thing with salt and pepper again. Stir up the dressing (it should have thickened a bit) and drizzle it all over the top and garnish the salad with the omega seed sprinkle. Serve it up!