Samosas and Vulnerability

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the stars. Last week was the Perseid meteor shower. These showers recur each year when the earth passes through the debris trail of the Swift-Tuttle comet. Although I missed watching them fall, I have decided that I felt them—deep in my belly.

We are created from stardust, after all (hopelessly romantic if you ask me.)

The few days the comets were around us, things in my life felt heavy. Like I was pulling a large suitcase everywhere I went. The people around me were on edge, drama and negativity was created out of thin air, and I felt my teeth clench at simple things.

It was that kind of week.

As I wandered around in this haze of thick air, I found myself doing what I always do: over analyzing. Why was this happening? What did it stem from? Who could fix it? I deal with my natural anxiety and type-A personality by compartmentalizing and putting things into lists and boxes. Situation B was happening because I hadn’t put enough energy into List A. etc. etc. etc.

The wheels just keep spinning.

It was like a sigh of relief when my darling friend Jess said, “It’s the meteor shower. That’s why everything is off.” Just like that she had planted the conclusion in my head that the root cause of all of it was simply because we were passing through a cloud of space particles. For some reason this gave my heavy energy a purpose, a reason for existing.

So yes, I am going to let more of my feelings stem from whatever energy the universe has decided to give to me. Last week it was bizarre and heavy. This week feels more grounded. More centering. I found myself in yoga this morning, smiling as sweat ran in rivulets down my legs. The teacher had asked us to focus on something that we felt we had been ignoring. To tune into one word that would become our mantra for the hour. For her, it was playfulness. For me, it was vulnerability.

I think that for right now I am in a place of balance. A space of letting go and healing, with a few less walls and little bit more spontaneity seeping under my skin. I am trying to let emotions be what they are, nothing more, nothing less. Who said vulnerability has to be negative? Scary as all hell, absolutely… but so much is to be learned from allowing yourself to feel stripped down and taking ownership of whatever remains.

All of this self-realization because of a few falling stars—who knew?

For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again” – F. Scott Fitzgerald

Spring Samosas with Mint Chutney

The weather is so warm in Austin that my garden consists of basil, mint and rosemary. I also have neglected growing things, and will hopefully find some motivation to get my hands dirty soon. Until then, I will seek out recipes that use mint and basil. This one is a winner. The flavors in the samosas are amazing and I love that they are gluten free as I’ve recently discovered that my stomach is so much happier when I stay away from wheat. This recipe is adapted from My New Roots, which is basically one of my bibles.

Samosas

  • 8 rice paper wraps

Filling

  • 1 spoonful of coconut oil
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp. minced ginger
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • ½ cup unsalted, unroasted cashews
  • 3 medium carrots
  • 1 ½ cup green peas
  • ½ cup corn
  • 1 cup chickpeas
  • 2 cups baby spinach

Spices

  • ½ Tbsp cumin
  • 2 tsp mustard powder
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp coriander
  • ¼ tsp cardamom
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • dash of cayenne

Preheat oven to 400 degree F.

In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast cashews until lightly golden. Remove from heat, roughly chop and set aside. Dice the onion and carrots to about the size of the peas.

Heat the coconut oil in a frying pan and add the onion, spices and minced ginger. Cook for five minutes and then add in the garlic. Cook for a couple of minutes, then add in the carrots. Stir to coat with spices, cook for five minutes, add in the peas, corn and chickpeas. Remove from heat and stir in the spinach, coconut and cashews.

If you haven’t worked with rice paper here’s a short run down. Fill a flat bottomed bowl or shallow dish with a couple inches of water. One at a time, place the rice paper wrap in the water and let if soften. Usually, you’ll want to wait until they soften completely. However, because you’re baking them, you just want them to be pliable, otherwise they’ll split when they’re baking. Just leave them in there for a minute or so, and when you pull the paper out you still want to see the pattern on the surface.

After you remove them from the water, place it on a clean, flat surface. Using a sharp knife, slice the circle in half. On both halves spoon a generous heap of the delicious filling. Fold the bottom corner about a third of the way up the round side of the half, followed by the top corner to meet the base of the fold you just made—if that doesn’t make any sense to you, just make a triangle out of the paper and call it a day.

Repeat until you have 16 of these bad boys. Or, if you aren’t making them for a party or a giant family, just keep the extra filling in the fridge and make these bad boys for the next few days.

After you have put together all of your samosas, melt about a tablespoon of coconut oil in a small saucepan. Lightly brush the tops of the samosas with a tiny bit of oil. Put them in the oven for 10 minutes, remove and flip over to crisp on the other side. Bake for another 10 minutes until they are lightly browned and crisp. Remove and serve with the mint chutney (recipe below).

Mint Chutney

  • 2 cups firmly packed mint leaves (no stems)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 2 dates
  • Dash of cayenne pepper
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • Salt to taste

Wash the mint leaves to remove dirt, spin dry. In a food processor, pulse the garlic, ginger and cayenne to mince. Add in the dates, mint leaves, lime juice and olive oil. Blend on high until smooth and creamy. Add salt to taste. Add more olive oil to thin, if necessary.

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Pesto and Anniversaries

I have been in Austin for almost a year. As the months have gone by my hair has gotten shorter, all of my pants have become cut offs and Gertrude (that’s my bike) has become my best friend. The beginning of my time here was tough. Change has never been my forte, and although my sister was here, this place didn’t feel like home.

My heart was tethered fast to the mountains and coastline of Washington. It’s the place where I took my first steps, where I’ve held best friends for over a decade. Washington is where my grandma hosts Thanksgiving and Christmas, where I’ve left bits and pieces of my heart.  My first few months in Texas, I wore homesickness and nostalgia like a hat, a constant reminder of the comfort I had willingly left behind.

I came down here with the intention to will myself into a new person. Texas was my stepping-stone into shaping myself into a person that shed lingering jealousy, resentment and anxiety.  I looked to the Lone Star state as a refuge from all those mountains I had built out of mole hills. Washington, albeit my safety net and comfort, had left me wounded. I hobbled to Texas, hoping that I could sweat out all that had held me from happiness.

Thank the heavens that I found my stride. Back in December, I had it in my head that by August I would be loading up my Subaru and heading back into the grey and green. It was my every intention to stay in Texas for one year, get my “wiggles” out, and then return to normal.

Except normal isn’t a thing anymore. The place I left won’t be there when I go back. My people are growing, changing and shifting into their new roles in life… as they should. We are all figuring out what it means to be real adults—new jobs, new boys, new adventures.

The only constant thing in life is change, and although every part of my nesting self wants to deny it, there’s a momentous freedom in rolling with it.

Texas, with its warm air and wide sunsets has become my home. I have fallen for Austin, with its endless bike routes, swimming holes that make these 105 days tolerable and so many tacos it makes sense to eat them for every meal. This town has swallowed me up and enveloped me in the biggest, sweatiest hug.

I now dream of days riding my red bicycle on the east side, taking pictures when I feel inspired and eating popsicles by the train tracks. My future is my sister and I making cupcakes in the kitchen, walking the pups before the sun rises and watching her nanny boys grow into little men.

I’m here because I chose to start something new. I’m here because life felt hard, and now it doesn’t. I’m here because I goddamn want to be.

Amen to choices, change and new starts.

Garden Fresh Pesto

  • 2 cups firmly packed basil
  • ½ cup walnuts
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • Salt and pepper to taste

I got this recipe from Choosing Raw, one of those amazing food blogs I follow.

Put the basil, walnuts and garlic in a food processor and pulse to combine. Keep the motor running and drizzle the olive oil in a thin stream. Add in the salt, pepper, lemon and nutritional yeast and pulse until everything is combined. I ate mine with some quinoa pasta that I mixed with sun-dried tomatoes, spinach and kalamata olives. It was amazing. Vegan pesto… yes, please.

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