Courage and Spring Rolls

I’ve come to realize that I fit into a lot of northwest stereotypes. I always knew this but it wasn’t until I moved down to Texas that they became so obvious. Physically speaking, I am a walking example of the PNW. I am pale and freckled, I wear flannels, I couldn’t pass off as “classy” unless I tried REALLY hard (yoga pants are just so comfortable, am I right?) and I am sure I would look ridiculous in a cowboy hat. I drive a Subaru, I own a black lab, I’ve owned more than one pair of chacos in my life and I carry my hiking boots around in my car, just in case I stumble into a mountain.

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My personality fits into that Seattle mold as well. I’m subdued, to the point where my friend down here told me, “you don’t need to smoke pot, you are already so mellow.” Thank you? I think? I am still finding it hard to meet stranger’s eyes on the street, which is a common practice down here. Everybody waves and smiles and says hello. I’m stuck in the mode of keeping my ear buds in, looking at the ground and shuffling by.

While this may seem antisocial and strange, it’s just how Seattleites are. If you were to walk around Greenlake in the summer (which is ass-to-elbows busy, everyday all day—we don’t see the sun often, remember?) most people ignore everyone around them. We all have places, things and people that we’re involved with, no need to chat with strangers.

All of this rambling is leading somewhere, I promise.

The other day my darling sister saw a boy in a coffee shop that was adorable. She texted me about it, that’s the kind of relationship we have. I told her to take a picture (I was JOKING), and give him my number. While she didn’t pass on my number, she did ask for his picture telling him that he was cute and she wanted to share it with me.

I would NEVER have the balls to do that, or at least not yet. Perhaps being in Texas for three years has made my sister courageous in a way that PNWers aren’t. She’s realized it isn’t all that scary to ask people for things, to meet their eye, to flirt when you want to and to go for it if you think you should. How am I supposed to move on if the only way I know how to catch someone’s eye is to look away when they try and smile at me?

Here’s my point: I need to go big, or go home. I need to put on my big girl pants, dress my face up with my biggest Texas smile and get out there. I need to flirt with the boy at the farmers market, I need to go out two steppin’ and ask a stranger to dance. I need to take my eggs out of this unattainable basket and live it up like the 20 something that I am.

Yee-haw folks, yee-fucking-haw.

Everything-but-the-Kitchen-Sink Spring Rolls

These have become my go to when I’m craving a healthy lunch. They’re full of veggies and will fill you up while not making you feel like dying. Win/win.

  • Spring roll rice papers (I got these in the asian food section of my grocery store)
  • ½ head of bok choy, washed and chopped into small chunks
  • ½ head of green cabbage, washed and chopped into small chunks
  • 3 carrots, shredded
  • 3 leaves of kale, de-stemmed and chopped into strips
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1” piece of ginger, grated
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • ½ avocado, sliced
  • 2 stalks of green onion, sliced
  • sprig of fresh basil
  • ¼ block of tofu, chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce

This is one of those super simple recipes. You can adjust it however you see fit, add different vegetables, take out other vegetables, whip up a peanut sauce for dipping purposes… Do whatever tickles your fancy.

Start my sautéing some veggies. Heat a pan over medium heat, and add in sesame oil. Sautee carrots and cabbage first, for about 3 minutes. Add in garlic and ginger and then add in your greens: bok choy and kale. Add in 1 Tbsp of soy sauce, and then add in your chopped up tofu. Let all of these flavors mingle for another 5 minutes or so, until everything is cooked evenly and your kitchen smells so delicious it hurts your face.

Prepare your rice papers by soaking them in water for 2-3 minutes for each sheet. They’ll become very fragile after soaking, so be gentle with them or they’ll rip. Take them out of the water and shake gently to remove excess water, lay flat on a clean plate and get to stuffing and rolling.

Spoon out some of your sautéed veggies and tofu and then place the green onion, avocado and basil on top. Fold the sides of the rice paper in, and roll like you’d roll a burrito. I just ate mine plain, without any dipping sauces but they’re also delicious with some homemade peanut sauce. Enjoy!

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Adulthood and Millet

I think its finally happened. I am finally a real adult. My besties are becoming real people, with real responsibility and real opportunities.  We’re all finding successes in different places- new jobs, new lovers, new engagements and the hint of having babies in the near future.  At my lowest of lows a few years ago I had convinced myself that I would never get here, I would never find my footing.

God knows I didn’t think it would be in Texas. My sister pointed out yesterday that our PNW raised parents should be proud because all three of their children have lived in Texas… Thank heavens?

If there is a higher something-or-other that exists they’re blessing me with my decision to pick up my life, shake off the Seattle dust and relocate to Austin. I have a job that I still find hard to explain, as it’s just that awesome. I am relishing in the sunshine almost every day, and I’ve come to realize that sun really DOES make you happier. This place is full of interesting, passionate young folks who want to change the world. I’m being swept up in their ambition, and it leaves me filled to the brim with hope.

Loneliness likes to rear its head and remind me that it exists (always). Being in a city without my group of friends and my family forces me to be okay with solitude. It forces me to learn more about myself.

Oh Texas, how much I’ve grown.

If and when I do return to that land of damp green comfort, I’ll be different. I’ll be less frenzied about making my life fit into a mold. I’ll return with more direction, and with a tendency to say y’all.

If I decide to return to the place where I’ve planted such deep roots, I will come back with a straighter spine, brighter eyes and a clearer picture of what happiness looks like.

Toasted Millet Salad with Arugula and Red Onion

I got this recipe from the Sprouted Kitchen cookbook that I just purchased (it’s so beautiful!) and seeing as I’m trying to get back on track and eat less like a kid in a candy store (it’s been bad), this salad fit the weekend lunch time bill. I think next time around I would use faro or wheat berries, as the millet wasn’t really my jam. All the flavors were delicious, but something about the texture of the millet didn’t do it for me. Do whatever your heart desires, it’ll hit the spot no matter what you do.

For salad:

  • ¾ cup millet
  • 1 1/3 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 cups arugula
  • 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 2  Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp white or balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For onions:

  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 bay leaf

Start by quick pickling your red onions. To do this, combine the apple cider vinegar, salt, sugar and cloves in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil. Once the sugar dissolves, remove from heat and add the chopped red onion. Let cool for 10 minutes, and then move to a glass jar and put in the fridge to expedite the process.

Now move onto the millet. In a large pan, toast the millet for 5 minutes on medium-high heat, stirring regularly. It should smell nutty and fragrant, after the five minutes have passed, add in the vegetable broth and bring to a rolling boil. Reduce to a simmer and cover, cooking for 15 minutes. After cooking, remove from heat and let cool.

After the millet is cool, toss in with the arugula, pine nuts, onions and dress with olive oil, white or balsamic vinegar and salt & pepper.

toastedmillet