Seattle and Whole Grains

Everything about home was magic. Soul lifting, heart warming, beautiful magic. For nine days I didn’t have to worry about money, about the hound, about my job… about anything. I spilled my guts to my mom, and took comfort in her warm home and understanding eyes. I laughed with my stepmom and dad as we climbed up a mountain, surrounded by tall pines bowed with snow. Christmas eve I did the yearly raid of my grandma’s closet, collecting yet another pair of shoes.

355924877401482529_2573928I shimmied. I shook. I saw all those friends of mine that have claimed parts of my heart. We got starry-eyed off of peach/vodka drinks (dangerous) and I ended the night exclaiming that I “couldn’t feel my face”. Piggy back rides turned into dance parties turned into taking swigs of whiskey straight out of the bottle. Being around those people makes my heart swell to good Grinch levels.

Needless to say, coming home (do I call it that yet?) was difficult. It was heavy and hard. I spent the majority of my plane ride over thinking all of the things that would be missing when I touched down in Texas. How all that I loved was back up in that beautiful city. But I told myself that Texas is worth it. I haven’t even scratched the surface of this fascinating town. This place hasn’t found the corners of my soul. I haven’t given it the chance.

So yes. I did cry a few tears that first night back. I cuddled the hound a little too hard. I felt sorry for myself a little too much. But I got over it. I spent my 26th birthday (oh yeah… that happened) alone, reorganizing my life and making a home for myself. My sister and brother-in-law took me to a fancy dinner. My co-workers surprised me with cupcakes (which my dog decided to treat himself to… four of them, mind you) and sang me happy birthday. My best friend back home sent me this picture. BEST BIRTHDAY PRESENT. Then, I agreed to go out with co-workers on New Years Eve, when I would have probably ended up going to bed around 10, giving the hound a smooch on the nose. Oh! And I got offered a big girl job, with the whole package included.

358773387646767365_240755803It was a pretty great “Welcome back to Texas.”

I found myself in the kitchen yesterday. The hound at his proper post, waiting for the tiniest shred of sweet potato. I hummed a First Aid Kit song to myself as I made myself a big dish of roasted vegetables over brown rice. I felt a surge of happiness. It was brief, and it was accompanied with a pang of homesickness. But it was there.

And then do it all with a goddamn smile

So, I am planting roots. I am.

Roasted Vegetables with Whole Grains

From: My brain

  • 15 brussels sprouts, washed and cut in half
  • 1 sweet potato, cut into small pieces
  • 4 kale leaves, washed, de-stemmed and cut into bit size pieces
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp nutritional yeast
  • Salt and pepper to taste

This is a super simple recipe, and is my go to for many a dinner. Turn the oven on to 400 degrees F. Toss your brussels sprouts and sweet potato in olive oil and salt and pepper. You can sprinkle in some extra nutritional yeast if you want (which I always want). Once the oven is warm, roast the brussels and sweet potato for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. You will want to roast for about 40 minutes, and you’ll want to throw in the kale (which you can toss with a light amount of olive oil and salt and pepper as well) for the last 15 minutes, that way they will get crispy but not burnt. While the veggies are roasting, start your grains. I did brown rice. You can throw all of this over any grain, my go to is usually quinoa, as it will give you some extra protein. You can learn ALL about grains (and how to cook them) from this 101 cookbooks article– I go to her blog for most everything. Cook your grains, and when your veggies are done, remove them from the oven. Then toss your veggies over your grain, top with 1 tsp of nutritional yeast and enjoy. This is a quick(ish) and warming meal. It will probably become your go-to, or it should be added to your “what should I make for dinner” solution.

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Wheat Berries and Bliss

On my bike ride home the other day I saw a firefly.

For me, a baby of the pacific northwest, this was a reason to squeal. Instead, I simply smiled and sent out a silent blessing to the warm evening, my bare, bug-bitten legs and the fact that it is mid October and I was wearing shorts.

Man oh man people, I am so overwhelmingly happy.

When I get this joyful- like I’m going to bubble over-I want to create in the kitchen. Crafting recipes and working with food is my idea of perfection. Having only two days off this month, I plan on spending them in my garden, at the farmer’s market and in the kitchen. I have visions of vegan walnut banana muffins, cinnamon granola and shiitake udon soup.

Yesterday at work my daily recipe for the store was a tilapia dish with an arugula salad. The whole vegan(ish) thing left the tilapia out of my evening meal plan, but I can never turn down fresh, local arugula. Walking through the store I got inspired by the beets and decided to do a fall wheat berry salad.

The day before yesterday I found my bliss in fireflies.

Yesterday it was wheat berries and sipping whiskey in a dark bar with a boy I fancy.

Seek it out, and I guarantee it will be there.

Fall Wheat Berry Salad

Adapted from my brain

  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 1 bunch of beets
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2-3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup wheat berries
  • 5-6 cups fresh arugula
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (for the dressing)
  • A little less than 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste

You will first want to start your wheat berries. To make this process faster, soak them overnight. I didn’t do this, and I knew it was going to take forever to cook them. Put the wheat berries in a pot over low/medium heat and cook. Forever. It really only took a little over an hour, but that is basically an eternity when you are hungry.

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees and chop up your sweet potatoes and beets. I did balsamic roasted beets because it appears I wanted vinegar in every single dish… Also, because it is so freaking delicious. To make the balsamic roasted beets, toss them with 2 tbsp olive oil and 2-3 tbsp of vinegar and sprinkle with salt and pepper. I did the sweet potatoes and beets on different trays because I wasn’t sure how balsamic roasted sweet potatoes would taste. Do whatever tickles your fancy. I tossed the sweet potatoes in the remaining 1 tbsp of olive oil and also sprinkled with salt and pepper. You will want to let these cook for about 40-45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

While all of those things are cooking, wash your arugula and set aside.

The next step is to make the dressing, which means you mix the 1/4 cup oil with the less than 1/4 cup vinegar, pop in the chopped garlic and salt and pepper and call it good. This will make more than you need for the dish, but who doesn’t love left over salad dressing?

Once everything is done roasting and cooking, mix the vegetables with the wheat berries and let cool. Then, toss in some salad dressing (to taste) and spoon over the arugula.

Tastes like fall in a bowl.

 

 

Neglect

I haven’t been paying enough attention to writing in this blog… I blame my schedule.

Fate has dealt me a pretty sweet hand in the last few weeks (let’s be real, it has dealt me a sweet hand for the last few months) and I am now getting paid to write about food. I wasn’t sure that was ever going to happen, but it is and even though it is only my first week on the job, I am blissfully happy.

I spend my morning searching through the grocery store (check us out), picking out ingredients and then planning recipes. My required hours fly by because all I want to do is look, think, and write about food. (like kale… mmmmm)

This new job (combined with the yoga studio) does have me working about 60 hours a week, which can get sticky.

Sticky for my mental health, sticky for my relationships with people, sticky for that whole “exercising” thing… Just overall, there is a whole lot of potential for being a hot mess.

Lucky for me, I have a fantastic boy and a fantastic sister to keep me in line.

The boy keeps me in line by always making my tired ass laugh with witty sarcasm and not letting  me complain about being tired. He reminds me that I chose this crazy schedule and I better realize how damned lucky I am.

Noted.

My sister keeps me in line by being my best friend AND my soon-to-be running partner. Nothing like a run at 9:45 pm after working eleven hours, am I right?

So all of these things, this great balancing act I have created for myself, has left little time to blog. This week, I even failed at making food… what?! WHERE ARE MY PRIORITIES? Thank goodness for that boy that lets me be stupid possessive about my kitchen while simultaneously cooking me dinner. Ha.

I’m difficult.

The boy successfully made this soup from Sprouted Kitchen (I may or may not send him 12 emails a day with ideas of food we can eat, places we can go, beer we can drink.) A harsh critic when it comes to his own cooking, he didn’t think the lentils were cooked enough.

I ate it so fast the top of my mouth was burned for a few days.

I’d give soup (and him) a gold star

Spiced Lentil Soup with Coconut Milk

From Sprouted Kitchen

I’m not going to lie to you, I copied her word for word as I didn’t cook the meal, the boy did. And I’m pretty sure he stuck to Sara’s directions. Thank goodness I have blogs like Sprouted Kitchen to pass on to everyone I meet.

1 1/2 cup lentils, rinsed (green suggested)

4 cups low sodium vegetable broth

1 1/2 tsp. tumeric OR curry powder

2 tsp. dried thyme or 1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves

1 Tbsp. coconut oil

1 large yellow onion, diced

2 stalks lemongrass, outer layer removed, lower portion finely minced

1 tsp. sea salt, plus more to taste

1/2 tsp. cardamom

1/2 tsp. cinnamon pinch of red pepper flakes to taste

pinch of fresh grated nutmeg

1 1/4 cup coconut milk (use full fat, just believe me)

3 Tbsp. lemon, lime or orange juice

a few handfuls of swiss chard, spinach or kale

1 cup flake coconut, toasted (optional)

chopped cilantro, for garnish (optional)

Add the rinsed lentils, broth, thyme and tumeric or curry powder to a large pot. Bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes.

While the lentils cook, heat the coconut oil in a pan. Add the onion and saute until just browned. Add the lemongrass, salt, cardamom, cinnamon, pinch of red pepper flakes and some fresh ground nutmeg and saute another minute. Add the onion mixture to the lentils and stir, keeping the heat on a low simmer.

Add the coconut milk and greens and simmer another five minutes, stirring occasionally until just wilted. Taste for salt and spice and add as you prefer. Finish with the citrus juice and serve warm with toasted coconut flakes and cilantro on top.

 

 

Fall

Fall is my favorite season.

The only fall that I have ever known is the one filled with honeycrisp apples the size of my head and my family’s annual trip to the pumpkin patch. It is the fall that is filled with blue rain boots and roasted pumpkin seeds. It is the gathering of friends over new soup recipes and pulling out my overly baggy sweaters.

That is the fall I know.

Yesterday I found myself in shorts and a tank top. Swerving through the flat streets of Austin on my red bicycle. Trying to keep up with a boy who makes biking look like a cake walk. It felt like summer. Warm air and the sound of crickets. Firemen playing catch outside the station.

This is the fall I will get used to.

Until I do find my rhythm with this Texas season, I will make soup. I will sit in front of the air conditioner with my baggy sweater. I will pretend the leaves are changing and that somewhere in this big old state there is a pumpkin patch with my name on it.

Chickpea Stew with Olive Oil Fried Eggs

adapted from Bon Appetit

3 tbsp olive oil, divided throughout the recipe

4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

8 cups spinach

salt and pepper

1 cup chopped red pepper

1 tsp cumin

1/4 tsp smoked chipotle (the recipe called for paprika, I had none… the chipotle tasted like heaven, do whatever floats your boat)

2 15-oz cans of chickpeas, rinsed

5 canned whole tomatoes, crushed

3 cups vegetable broth

4 eggs

  • Heat 1 tbsp oil in a cast iron over medium heat. When oil is hot add 1 garlic clove. Stir until the garlic starts to turn brown and add spinach to the pot. Toss to coat and season with salt and pepper. Cook the spinach until it has just wilted but is still bright green, about two to three minutes. Remove the garlic and spinach and set aside.
  • The magazine recommends wiping out the pan. I did no such thing. Woops.
  • Heat the remaining olive oil (I used less than 2 tbsp… there were still remnants, and it cut down on the fat content of the dish). When oil is hot add remaining garlic and the red pepper. Add the cumin and the chipotle, cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the chickpeas and tomatoes; stir to coat and let cook for about 10 minutes, until the chickpeas start to brown.
  • Add 3 cups of broth and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 20 minutes. Occasionally mash a chickpea or two to show it who’s boss, and to make the mixture a stew like consistency. After the 20 minutes, fold in the spinach and simmer for another 10 minutes. If it is too thick, add more broth 1/4 cup at a time. I didn’t do this, as I like my stew to be REALLY thick. Just a matter of preference.
  • Spoon all of this goodness into a bowl and cook your eggs. I just used the remaining oil that was in the cast iron, and cooked for medium low heat, covering the eggs with a little bit of water to cook evenly. I like my eggs sunny side up with a runny yolk, but do whatever floats your boat. The olive oil makes the edges nice and crispy, which is delicious with the stew. Yum.
  • Serve the stew in bright bowls and top with an egg.

* I made some homemade wheat bread with this recipe because every stew needs hearty bread. If you have the 2 hours that it takes to make bread, go for it. We may or may not have eaten two loaves in two days… Homemade bread is just that delicious.