Chili and Lopez Island

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Once upon a time, when women were birds, there was the simple understanding that to sing at dawn and to sing at dusk was to heal the world through joy. The birds still remember what we have forgotten, that the world is meant to be celebrated – Terry Tempest Williams.

It is hard to explain Lopez Island.

To some people, it’s just another beautiful place in the Pacific Northwest. A tiny speck in a state already decorated in shades of green and grey, awe inspiring no matter if you’ve lived here for 30 years or are exploring for the first time. This tiny speck is where a large portion of my heart belongs.

For the past five years my best friends and I regroup on this island. For a few days we forget that we are adults with big decisions and real responsibilities. When we are on Lopez, all that matters is what time we’re going to get our morning coffee. These ladies have lived in my soul for a span of 10-28 years… They get me.

Last year, their dreams were of houses and babies. They’ve figured out half of the equation, and they’re now imagining little feet and sticky hands leaving pint-sized prints everywhere they look. Not wanting little ones of my own, I have gladly volunteered to take the title of Aunty C. Someday I will steal my nephew for a summer and show him how to build a fire and make the perfect s’more.

So much can change in five years. The first year, our dreams were to graduate college and figure out what it meant to be a real adult. It has been a beautiful shift towards a greater sense of self and the stability we needed to settle our hearts. Through all the moves, broken hearts, new loves, and careers, these ladies have been the constant thread. They have been my touchstone and my sounding board. I have seen them fall in love, get married, question their life plans, and I have witnessed them settle into their beautiful skin and embrace it.

This year we found ourselves on the very southwest tip of the island. We sat at the edge, in a quiet grace and thankfulness for each other. Celebrating the fact that we will always have people in our lives that understand us. The world is meant to be celebrated, and I wouldn’t want to do it without them.

Until next year, Lopez. It’s-Finally-Raining Chili

It has been a very warm summer. The grass was brown before July 15th, which is shocking and somewhat scary for our forever green state. We woke up to rain the last day on the island, and I couldn’t wait to get home and make chili. I haven’t had the desire to make soup in months, and all I wanted to do was nest and spend time in my kitchen. This will stick to your ribs and is delicious with some tortilla chips or cornbread.

  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 1 can garbanzo beans
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 bunch kale, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup water

Warm one tbsp. of coconut oil on medium high heat. Add in chopped onions and sauté for 5 minutes. Add in minced garlic and sauté for another 3 minutes. Add in all the beans + spices and water. Mix everything together and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn to low and let simmer for 5-10 minutes. Last but not least, add in the kale and let it wilt for another 3 minutes. Serve with some goat cheese and tortilla chips. Yum. Just all the goodness, perfect for a rainy summer day.

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Hot Hot Heat

Man oh man. Austin is hot.

People up in Seattle liked to remind me that it was hot down here. “It gets to be 100 degrees Chelsea! Can you handle it?!?!”

It may seem obvious that Texas is hot. These warnings came from my people. These are the people who know me. They know me well. They are privy to the fact that every time summer rolls around (Pacific Northwest summers to boot), I break out in a heat rash. Or I get a sunburn. Or I get heat stroke. Basically, I was made for temperate weather.

So all those who know and love me were concerned for my well-being with my somewhat irrational plan to up and move to Austin. I think they all thought I would just melt. Instantly. I would step out of my car in Austin and become a puddle on the ground.

I didn’t. I thought about it for a second, and then rallied like a champion.

Here is what you do to beat the heat in Texas:

– You drink your body weight in water. If I leave the house with out a water bottle I get a little bit panicky. Like how you feel when you leave behind your keys or your wallet. I may or may not carry around a jug of water that holds the amount of water you are supposed to drink in a day. I drink about three of them. HYDRATE!

– You swim. A lot. There is this place called Barton Springs down here, a place I highly recommend. It is a spring fed pool. It is huge. It is refreshing. It is like a little bit of heaven for these hades like days. We also spent a whole day floating down the river in inner tubes. Now if that isn’t summer, what is?

– You stay inside. This is a weird concept to me. You know you are a true Seattle-ite when you see  a sunny day and your mind INSTANTLY jumps to all the ways you can avoid being inside for the day. The difference is that in Texas it is sunny. A lot. So if you were to spend every day outside that was sunny, you would be spending 9 months of your life outside. Which sounds like a great plan, except 2-3 of those 9 months are days where the temperature creeps over 100 degrees and just meandering down the street leaves you drenched. So you stay inside. And write a blog. Or something.

– If you have a dog, you walk them EARLY in the morning and LATE at night. And they are still hot. And if you have a dog that is a HUGE goober and can’t seem to do anything normally, you will get irritated with the panting that sounds like a fighter jet. To combat said panting, you can soak a bandana in water, pop it in the freezer for a bit and then tie it around their neck. Not only do they look SUPER hip, but it cools down their body temperature. Win, win.

– You try to avoid making food that involves being around things that are warm. I have made a lot of salads (see below). Things that just involved chopping vegetables. Recipes that make giant batches so if the only energy you can muster is rolling off the couch and crawling to the fridge, you will have something to shove into your mouth, cutlery optional.

I have been here less than two weeks and this place is already starting to seep into my skin. I am coming down with a sort of routine. I am exploring and tasting and taking the city in. I am planting roots, one way or another, and making this hot, hot city a place of my own.

Wild Rice and Kale Salad

Adapted from Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook

1.5 cups wild rice

3 3/4 water

Pinch of sea salt

6 leaves of kale (your choice on which kind.)

red bell pepper

2.5 cups wild rice

1 bunch green onions

Grated carrots

Avocado (optional)

Dressing:

1/2 cup lemon juice

1/4 olive oil

1 tsp cumin

salt and pepper to taste.

Bring water, rice and salt to a boil in a 3 quart pot with the lid on. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and simmer for 50-55 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for about 30 minutes until you mix in the veggies.

Chop the kale, green onions, bell pepper and grate in the carrots. Mix all the veggies in with the cooled rice.

Prepare the dressing by mixing the lemon juice, olive oil, cumin and salt and pepper. Whisk together. Stir into veggies and rice.

Top with avocado for some delicious fat… mm. Avocado.

Raspberries and the Universe

My oh my, how the universe provides.

Things can be really stupid some days. Like those days that you step on a piece of glass at 4:30 in the morning, and then proceed to have a 1.5 hour commute to work. You can have those mornings where you are anticipating your morning iced coffee only to find it exploded all over you bag.

Those are the worst.

But then you have the days spent berry picking and gathering freckles on your face. The days where you catch up with old friends and stumble into something that might just shake up the entire foundation of who you are.

Those are the best.

With seven pounds of raspberries, I spent an afternoon canning. With a sun drenched hound dog at my feet and This American Life on the radio, I had a moment of perfection.

There are all kinds of changes in the air. At this point in time my world is saying, “Yeah, I got you. Go for it.”

And I am going to listen.

Raspberry Jam sweetened with Honey

Adapted from Mountain Mama Cooks

16 half pint jars (for those who haven’t canned, you can’t reuse the lids.. just the rings)

8 tsp Pomona’s Universal Pectin (because of the calcium powder, you don’t have to use an insane amount of sugar… just honey, so delish)

8 tsp calcium powder (follow directions on how to prepare the powder from the directions in the pectin box)

16 cups raspberries

6 tbsp lemon juice

3 tsp lemon zest

1.5-2 cups honey (Depends on how sweet you want it!)

  1. I use a canning pot, as it makes everything so much easier in my life. If you don’t have a canning pot, you can use a big soup pot and MacGyver a contraption that will work. I have friends that do that, I just bit the bullet and spent the $20. So happy I did, that bad boy is going everywhere with me.
  2. First things first. Sterilize. No one wants to get food poisoning from your jam. That would be the worst gift ever. The steps to sterilization are easy; fill your canning pot with enough water so the jars are covered by at least two inches oh H20. Bring this water to a boil—while the water (which takes forever) is coming to a boil, hand-wash the jars and lids with soap. Fill the jars with hot water so they won’t shatter when they are placed in boiling water. Boil those suckers for 10 minutes, and then leave them in there in the hot water while you prepare your jam. You will also place the lids in a little sauce pan and boil them, so they get nice and clean too.
  3. You will want to have the following things near you: a clean towel to lay out the jars. Tongs wrapped with rubber bands to grab the jars, or canning tongs if you have fancy pants. A ladle for filling the jars and a wet cloth or paper towel for wiping the rims of the jars. I also have a magnetic lid getter (that is the proper name for it… ?) because I don’t want to get my grimy hands all over the lids.
  4. To prepare the jam, wash the raspberries and put them in a pot. Spend some time mashing them with a potato masher, your hands, a contraption you made yourself.. whatever. I know some people who then run said raspberries through a sieve to reduce the amount of seeds. I say that is bull honky. Eat the seeds. They are cute and tiny and add some texture. After the berries are mashed, add the honey, lemon juice, lemon zest, pectin powder and calcium solution. Bring to a boil over high heat and stir for 1-2 minutes until the honey has dissolved. You can then remove it from the heat and start canning.
  5. You remove your hot jars from the pot, dumping the water back into the pot and bring the water in the pot back to a boil. Place the jars on the towel and ladle the jam into the jars, leaving ¼ inch at the top of the jar. Wipe the rims of the each jar, pop a lid on it and adjust the ring so it is just a finger tight. Then, place the jars BACK into the canning pot (where the water should be boiling again), lower those puppies in, making sure that they are covered by at least one inch of water. Bring it back to a boil and let them process in the hot bath for 10 minutes. Make sure the jars aren’t touching. I got cocky this year and put in ONE too many jars, which resulted in one jar breaking (NOOOOOOOO) because it got too frisky with the jar next to it.
  6. You then remove the jars, and don’t wiggle, jiggle or shake them for at least 12 hours. After 1 hour you can check to see if they lids have sealed by pressing on the center of the lid. If it can be pushed down, it means if hasn’t sealed—which is no big deal, just use that jar first and eat it up so it doesn’t go bad. All those that DID seal can be stored in a pantry or cupboard for about a year.

Yum. Summer in a jar all year-long.

 

Summer.

I think that we can all agree that summer is magical.

However, while a lot of people have to retreat indoors during the hottest of the summer months, Pacific Northwest summers are meant for spending every day outside. All summer long.

There is nothing more perfect than summer in Bellingham.

It is a city of subdued excitement (that is literally the city’s motto). It is nestled close to the bay, a stones throw away from the mountains and filled with people who smile at you on your morning walk. It is the place where there are miles of trails in your backyard, and people don’t believe in leashes.

Basically, it is a dream.

I will be spending a lot of time up there this summer, as I have dedicated the next two months to living a transient life. My home base will be my mom’s house, although a majority of my time will be spent living out of my car, and leaning on the kindness of friends and their available couches.

I have this friend in Bellingham who is simply delightful. She is one of my people. She has been in my life for over ten years. She is someone who knows me, understands my quirks, and says yes to yoga and long morning walks through the woods.

Plus, she is a dog person. As is her partner. I dig that.

I spent time with my family, I did yoga, I went hiking. My freckles came out in full force and I went to bed every night exhausted, sun kissed and happy. I drank IPA on the back porch of  The Green Frog, got my bear hug from the owner, and ate peanuts with a girl who rides a blue bicycle. We listened to blue grass and talked boys. We drove out to a farm where we met  a woman whose soul shone through her eyes. She led us to the back field and let us pick raspberries. We discussed what matters to us as our fingers became red with the juice of sun ripened berries.

We drank muddled strawberry beverages and I indulged in a fudgesicle every single day.

It was a reminiscent of those summers that her and I spent together all throughout junior high and high school, where we spent every single day together. Drinking diet coke and eating cheez-its on the front porch until we got too warm and ran through the sprinklers.

This weekend was a taste of how perfect summer can be. Of how it doesn’t ALL have to fade when you become an adult and things get redundant and dull. How we can all go now into summer.

With my new life plans fast approaching, I am going to take these next two months to do everything in my power to live.

Cashew Dream Cake

Adapted from My New Roots

This Fourth of July we made a menu that was (mostly) raw, vegan and gluten-free. It left us feeling satisfied but not heavy and everything was filled with flavor. We made a huge kale and cabbage slaw with maple glazed tempeh and our strawberry muddled cocktails. The star of the meal was the dream cashew cake, which was a recipe we found on My New Roots (you just can’t go wrong with her blog). My brother was convinced that we slipped cream cheese in there, and was dumbfounded to hear that is was completely raw, vegan AND gluten-free. NUTTY. (there are a lot of nuts in this recipe)

(We cut the filling in half and made it in a tart pan, we used the full crust recipe, and it turned out a little thin, but perfect for a small dessert after stuffing yourself with kale. Next up we plan on adding cocoa powder for the first layer… decadent.)

Ingredients:

Crust:

1/2 cup raw almonds

1/2 cup soft Medjool dates

¼ tsp. sea salt

Filling: (half this part if you are putting it in a tart pan, like we did)

1 ½ cups raw cashews, soaked for at least 5 hours, overnight is best (we used ½ the amount and only soaked for 3 hours, it still worked out just fine)

juice of 2 lemons

the seeds of 1 whole vanilla bean (or 1 tsp. alcohol-free vanilla extract)

1/3 cup raw coconut oil, melted

1/3 cup raw honey (solid or liquid.)(Vegans use agave nectar.)

1 cup raspberries (thaw completely if using frozen)

Directions:

1. Place nuts and dates in a food processor with sea salt and pulse to chop until they are to your desired fineness (process a finer crust longer than a chunky one). Test the crust by spooning out a small amount of mixture and rolling it in your hands. If the ingredients hold together, your crust is perfect. Scoop out crust mixture in a 7” spring-form pan (we used a tart pan with a removable bottom), and press firmly, making sure that the edges are well packed and that the base is relatively even throughout. Rinse food processor well.

2. Warm coconut oil and honey in a small saucepan on low heat until liquid. Whisk to combine.

3. In the most powerful food processor / blender you own (you decide which one has the most torque) place all filling ingredients (except raspberries) and blend on high until very smooth (this make take a couple of minutes so be patient).

4. Pour about 2/3 (just eyeball it, you can’t make a mistake!) of the mixture out onto the crust and smooth with a spatula. Add the raspberries to the remaining filling and blend on high until smooth. Pour onto the first layer of filling. Place in freezer until solid.

5. To serve, remove from freezer 30 minutes prior to eating. Run a smooth, sharp knife under hot water and cut into slices. Serve on its own, or with fresh fruit. Store leftovers in the freezer.