Saturday Sun 11.04.2023

Created by Laura Wright
A head-on shot shows a whippet chihuahua mix dog lounging in a dog bed in the sun. Her paw is sticking out of the bed.

Welcome to the first weekend of the prime holiday season. Apparently people who put their decorations up earlier are happier according to science, so I might give it a go and start this weekend. We’re also popping in to a special flower and veg market, hopefully going for a hike with the dogs, and yes, continuing with the Fall cleanup of our yard. It truly never ends, but I don’t mind. It helps me feel a bit more connected to the seasonal rhythms.

I kicked off a little Sides-Giving recipe fest this week, starting with my vegan stuffing and sweet potato gratin (and leading up to Canadian Thanksgiving, we had olive oil mashed potatoes, roasted Brussels sprouts with smoky almonds, and twice baked sweet potatoes with chili & lime). There’s more to come and my vegan holiday recipe roundup is always here for you–with lots of main courses, salads, appetizers, and a few treats as well.

I hope that you’re well and taking care out there. Sending all my love ♥️. Here’s the usual selection of reads and links for the week below.

5 Things I’m Reading:

  1. Parallax Press, the publishing imprint founded by Thich Nhat Hanh, has made 3 titles in a Resources for Peace collection available as free eBook downloads for the month of November. I’m starting with Learning True Love: Buddhism in a Time of War.
  2. The Family Recipes That Live On in Cemeteries
  3. Can cooking and gardening at school inspire better nutrition? Ask these kids
  4. Don’t Shut Down Your Anger. Channel It.
  5. Can a social media “pigfluencer” turn people off bacon?

5 Things I’m Enjoying:

  1. Might have teared up watching this old dog fetch a newspaper
  2. This episode of the Dear Headspace podcast: Support in Challenging Times, with Dora (I’m a big fan of Dora’s meditations on the Headspace app and her presence on Instagram also)
  3. Yoga For When You Are Feeling Unmotivated
  4. Visualizations of our lifespan is a huge reality check
  5. A few weeks ago, I had simultaneous rosacea and eczema episodes brought about by an allergic reaction to a face cream that I had zero issues with previously (and also a too-hot bath). My face was so red, hot, scaly, swollen, and just painful for about a week. My eyes would swell at night, which was a bit concerning also. When I tell you that Weleda’s Deep Moisture Facial Balm saved me, I am not exaggerating. I’m using it as my face cream exclusively now. For my sensitive-skinned folks that need extra moisture this time of year, I cannot recommend it enough.

5 Questions:

  1. Will you do a gift guide this year?
    I’m not sure! I have avoided this in the past because I’m not a fan of the sometimes excessive and possibly unintentional consumerism that happens around the holidays. But I also recognize that there are situations and traditions that call for gifts. And sometimes it is just fun and considerate to give gifts to our loved ones! I feel like I could come up with about 10 solid cooking things that really do make life better in the kitchen. Let me know in the comments if this is of interest!
  2. How’s your sleeping/not sleeping going?
    It’s going a lot better lately, despite the busier season and all that’s happening in our world. I am steady with getting my outdoor exercise every day, not eating any later than 7-8pm, not looking at screens after 8ish, and all of the other simple things that help. I’ve added two supplements in the last couple months that I think are quite effective for me. Thorne’s Stress Balance in the morning and Gaia’s Adrenal Health Nightly Restore after dinner. Of course, always check in with your medical/health practitioner to see what’s right for you!
  3. What is your favourite Fall dinner recipe of all time?
    I’m embarrassed to say, but it’s one that I don’t have on the blog yet. It’s a roasted butternut (or honey nut) squash risotto with some smoked paprika, roasted garlic, shallots, and miso for depth. And of course I finish it with a teeny squeeze of lemon and vegan parmesan. Let me know in the comments if you’d like me to post it!
  4. What are your favourite things to do outside of work?
    Right now I’m reading a lot of Tibetan Buddhist works and just studying Buddhism as a whole. I love Robert Thurman’s podcast, books, and the video resources from Tibet House. I also enjoy a lot of very chill and wholesome stuff like board games, practicing bread baking (related to my work oops), amateur gardening, hiking, and yoga.
  5. Would you ever open a restaurant?
    Never, never, never. I’ve worked in enough of them to know that running one is not for me. It consumes your entire life! And honestly, even working in one is not for me anymore I don’t think. At one time I really liked the go, go, go urgency of restaurant life. But my partner and I would be on opposite schedules and towards the end of my time doing that work, I generally came home absolutely wiped and miserable. Sometimes I forget all that and it’s easy to romanticize the idea of it, especially with shows like the The Bear and Chef’s Table. But it’s not for me at this stage of my life.
An up close, head-on shot shows a jack russell/hound mix dog sleeping in the sun with their head resting on the edge of a dog bed.


  • Claudia

    Can’t wait to see the butternut squash risotto recipe on your blog!!!

  • Ali

    Very intrigued by the risotto recipe! It’s one of my favorite dishes to really “wow” friends and family, even though I find them easy ;)

    Not sure if you’ve addressed this before and apologies if so! But I’m curious about how you came up with the name “The First Mess.” It’s so fantastic and I’m wondering if there’s a story there.

    Thank you for all you do!

    • Kerstin

      I would like to know what it actually means. I’m not a native speaker so it doesn’t make any sense to me.
      And yes!yes!yes! regarding the risotto recipe :)
      I love your blog and your recipes, all your work makes me happy! Thank you!

      • Laura Wright

        Hi Ali and Kerstin!
        The First Mess comes from a piece of writing by MFK Fisher where she refers to “the first mess” of peas in the springtime :)

  • Christopher

    Bring on your rasted squash risotto recipe, please! Sounds great. Also, in the pics of your sweet potato stew recipe (which; we plan to make for dinner tonight, you have a
    pic of a delicious-looking naan-like bread…is that something you made for which you have a recipe?/ 8) Thanks!

    • Laura Wright

      Hi Christopher!
      I get asked about that flatbread all the time haha. I thought I had flatbread on hand to photograph with the stew that day, but I had forgot to buy it. So I took some pizza dough out of my fridge, rolled it out into discs, and fried it in oil in a skillet. That’s the flatbread that you see in the photos :)

  • Amanda

    I would definitely be interested in your gift guide & risotto recipe! :)
    I’m with you on excessive consumerism and I’m interested in intentional purchases to make life easier, healthier and more enjoyable in the kitchen!

  • Ula

    Laura, it goes without saying – we would absolutely love if you shared your fall risotto recipe! :)

  • Simon

    Are you still happy with your Nama J2?

    • Laura Wright

      Hi Simon,
      I love it so much. I’ve had Breville and Omega juicers in the past, but the J2 surpasses them both. The best thing about it is that you can load up the machine with your produce and it will feed into the juicing portion on its own. I will have a special discount code for Nama juicers over black friday weekend if you’re in the market for one ;)

  • Tiffany

    I would love to see the squash risotto up on the blog! It sounds divine

  • Chelsea

    I would love it if you shared the risotto recipe!

    I’m interested in your gift guide. Also would like to know what other ideas you do for gifts instead of material items? I too feel uneasy about filling houses with more stuff.

    • Laura Wright

      I have a couple ideas for homemade gifts! I’ll see if I can get them posted in time ;)

  • Heidi

    One item/brand you have mentioned that you love/use is Earlywood utensils. I just purchased a few things for my adult son for the holidays! Love the quality & co already! Thank you!

  • Paige

    Thanks, as always for a calm, thoughtful post. Yes, please, to the risotto recipe and gift guide. I’m making your mushroom asparagus orzo tonight. It’s a fan favourite.

  • Diane

    Hi Laura,
    I always look forward to reading your Saturday/Sunday posts. An enthusiastic yes to the risotto recipe. Some recipe ideas I would love to see are meals that you can slow cook in a pot in the oven. I plan on doing a lot of cross country skiing this winter. The idea of putting something in the oven before leaving, and coming back to a delicious meal on a cold winter’s day, really appeals to me. If you have any ideas on these kinds of dinners that could simmer for 2 to 3 hours in the oven, would be amazing. Thank you for all that you do

  • Sarah Fabian

    Hi Laura, thanks for sharing. The article about the recipes etched on gravestones is really touching. Initially I was surprised that I never encountered one, then I realized there’s only 10 in the world. Who know cool whip was that popular?! …besides the mere existence of the 1950s classic ambrosia recipe… lol. Have a great weekend.

  • Melanie

    Your posts are always so interesting and thoughtful, thank you. A gift guide would be interesting but it could also focus more on good recipes to make and give as gifts. Another recipe related question, would you mind suggesting a few straight forward recipes that hold up well in the fridge and others that freeze well to make and gift to a family expecting a new baby in the next couple of months. Oh, and thanks for the face cream recommendation. Take care and be well. Melanie

  • cheri

    Yes on the risotto recipe, please.

  • Wendy

    Hi – I have a couple things to say. First is that I really enjoy the pictures you post of your dogs. I can’t say why; you are just good at capturing them being dogs. Next is that I found this to be an expectational Saturday Sun post. You shared some very heart felt content; Resources for Peace, the school teaching kids garden to kitchen, Dora (my favorite “Headspacer” – I didn’t realize she had an IG account), yoga when you are feeling unmotivated, sleep and the gift giving guide. Thank you for sharing so much!
    Yes – I am interesting in the risotto recipe.
    Yes – I would love a food gift giving guide of inexpensive, possibly homemade gifts to give.
    Thank you for all that you share. I am very grateful.

    • Laura Wright

      Thank you for this kind comment, Wendy! Be well :)

  • Amy

    Thank you for the wonderful roundup. Sorry to hear about your skin. I have sensitive skin so I know how reactions can be! I am also a yes for gift guide and risotto recipe. That life one also got me – just turned 41 so could be under 50 ocean dips left. That makes me reevaluate! Thinking about how often I eat certain foods brings alot of joy though! My job is grant related and includes supporting farm to school programs so cool to see that article and reach going! Enjoy your weekend!

  • deb

    And yes please to that risotto recipe!

    Oh, and “700 more chances for pizza” was pretty great. I’m older than that author so it’s more like 600, but still. Oddly comforting framing. Each day counts, each action, each slice.

  • deb

    My family (the adults) stopped doing gifts many years ago. We don’t need or want anything, only time together. My partners’ family, though, has a deep tradition of gifts and it stresses me out. These folks are so kind but very much adults and this year I’m going homemade. Jars of granola or a fry soup or quick bread mix. Now I just need to figure out how to tell them not to get me anything. Or if they do insist, request a charitable donation somewhere. I don’t need another skillet or cutting board or tea towel. Lovely gifts, all because they know I cook, but I don’t have space for more physically or mentally. Let’s break bread and give hugs. That’s enough!

    • Laura Wright

      I am with you all the way! Homemade gifts, if any, and beautiful meals together is all I need this time of year :)

  • Barbara

    Yes! Please post your squash risotto recipe.

  • Jodie

    I agree with John-yes to ‘gift guide’ and squash recipe. I’m starting to think/stress about holiday buying, so thanks for the link to the adrenal support supplement – needing that! You posted a link to Earlywood in Montana a few weeks back. Their work is beautiful and would make for great gifts for cooks!

  • Barb

    Ha! Yes, agree with you about running a restaurant. Been there done that.
    Yes, please post the roasted butternut squash risotto recipe. I love making risottos!

  • John

    Totally with you on the (over)consumerism aspect of this season. But I love the idea of home-made food/drinks to give as presents so if you feel like publishing some ideas I would love that

    Also “yes” to the butternut squash recipe that you haven’t shared yet : )

    • Laura Wright

      Hi John!
      I have a couple homemade gift ideas. I’ll try to get them up in time here :)