A Hiatus

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Hello there,

I’m tired of starting off blog posts with an apology. I feel bad that I haven’t written in… 9 months…! It isn’t that I haven’t been cooking, I have. Regularly, I even have banana bread in the oven while I write this and I have a pretty good start on my garden this year. I guess the only way I can explain it is that I feel like I’ve outgrown this blog. I love it. It will always be a beloved project, it documents nearly 5 years of a life well lived. Ups and downs and complete turnarounds. Over 100 recipes. That’s practically a cookbook! But when I sit down to write these days, it isn’t about the magic of sugar and butter or the excitement over the arrival of spring vegetables. My writing focus and my drive to write has changed. In 2011 I was asked to be a part of a group called together to form a non-profit organization. Open Table Cooperative, while it sounds food related, is a movement within the Church of the Brethren that seeks to form a new, far-reaching progressive network within the denomination. We seek to help the church and its members grow and move forward with a unified heart, continuing the work of Jesus in a spirit of bold, visionary, inclusive love. I haven’t talked about it much here mostly because I haven’t been able to figure out how the two worlds come together. I never wanted to be one of those “Christian food bloggers” obsessed with couponing (my own stereotyping!) and evangelizing through recipes. That is SO not me and not who I will ever be, but my fear of being perceived as that kept the two projects separate. I have realized that I can’t sustain both projects. I need to let go of my self-inflicted guilt and responsibility to this blog so I can freely write again. These days my writing energy is going towards writing reflections (aka sermons), developing small group discussion around naming power and privilege within the church and planning large conferences. And even though the rewards don’t usually come in the form of fresh-baked cookies this writing feels good. And isn’t that what writing should do? Pour out of us and leave us elated and energetic? If any of this peaks an interest for you, you can find me over here; http://opentablecoop.org where I am regularly blogging about progressive theology as a queer Christian woman.

In the in-between while I figure out what I hope for this blog I have decided to start a photography project. 365 photographs. One a day, for one year. Documenting a year of life lived. I foresee this being a rather exciting year and I want a way to be able to savor it. Of course, I’ve created a blog to share all the photographs with anyone interested. If you’d like to savor this year with me you can see the photos on Wild Geese and Wool Socks, I will start May 1. (Curious about the name? Look here!) Real Food NW will stay here, all recipes intact and who knows maybe I’ll even be able to organize them, finally! Thank you for journeying with me and putting up with my inconsistency. I have a feeling Real Food NW may have a revived role in my life somewhere down the road.

What I’m Reading: End of Summer Edition

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I can’t seem to get my head and my body to work together this week. My body is exhausted and my head keeps getting distracted and then lost inside itself. As a result, I’ve been foggy all week. Sort of like I’ve been living life through a mud puddle. It’s been rainy too, summer rain, the kind where it is unusually muggy and then all of a sudden there are sheets of rain punctuated with claps of thunder and then rounded out by brilliant sunshine that reflects off the still wet surfaces. Very strange for Olympia.

This week I find myself reading about rest and the ever finicky balance of self-care and the need to accomplish.

My head keeps taking me deep into the “‘till death do us part” part of traditional wedding vows. I have the honor of walking with a dear friend and chosen family member as he watches his wife of nearly 65 years die. It is excruciatingly beautiful and deeply heart-wrenching. That kind of love has to be the most beautiful and heart-breaking thing ever. This week is heavy. This video touches on that kind of love. Have a tissue handy, it too is a beautiful heartbreaking story.

Love Poems from God has been my favorite poetry collections for a while now. I lost my copy a couple of years ago and yesterday I picked up another copy. I’m glad I have it again. The poems written by the likes of St. Francis of Assisi, Hafiz and St. Catherine of Siena are translated by Daniel Ladinsky. Some speak a truth that takes your breath away while some are down right hilarious.

“Our
union is like this:

You feel cold so I reach for a blanket to cover
our shivering feet.

A hunger comes into your body
so I run to my garden and start digging potatoes.

Ask for a few words of comfort and guidance and
I quickly kneel by your side offering you
a whole book as a
gift.

You ache with loneliness one night so much
you weep, and I say

here is a rope, tie it around me,
Hafiz will be your
companion for
life.”

This evening I get to have dinner down at the marina and listen to my sister and her friend make music and after a good yoga class this afternoon I think I’m ready to pull myself out of the mud puddle and enjoy the last bits of summer this weekend. My birthday is on Monday too, so I’m sure there will be much to enjoy this weekend. I hope you too can find moments of deep love and great joy.

Kale Salad

Something shifted this week. I’d like to think that is was because I found some words and started writing again. It feels good. I feel more like myself. I hope it sticks around. Last night I made dinner. Not really an exciting thing for a food blogger, but it has been a while. I was most excited about the main dish, a Spanish Potato Tortilla, but what tasted the best and I find myself scraping the dish clean and wanting more today is the kale salad. I even took a picture of my lunch for you.

kalesalad

See, raw kale strips, garlic bread crumbs, dried cranberries and blueberries with a little lemon juice, olive oil and parmesan cheese. So stinkin’ simple and yet something happens with the pepperiness of the kale and the sweetness of the blueberries and the saltiness of the garlic. I think I will make more tonight. It’s good the day you make it, but it’s even better the next day after a rest in the refrigerator over night. I feel a little silly bringing you kale after the homemade ice cream earlier this week. Please forgive me and then find yourself some kale.

Kale Salad

This salad is kind of based off this salad, but really only in the fact that they both have kale. Honestly, this recipe is more like a suggestion. Add nuts or seeds, add peaches instead of blueberries, whatever sounds good.

2 tablespoons course breadcrumbs (Panko or homemade)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 small garlic clove, finely chopped

1/2 a bunch of  lacinato (aka dinosaur/Tuscan) or purple kale (4-6 leaves)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
Juice from 1/2 a lemon
splash of white wine vinegar
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 fresh blueberries
1 ounce shredded parmesan cheese (about 1/4 cup)
salt & pepper to taste
pinch of sugar (optional)

Breadcrumbs

Over medium heat, lightly toast breadcrumbs, olive oil and garlic clove until fragrant and golden brown. Set aside to cool.

Salad

Wash and dry kale leaves, remove leaves from tough stem and thinly slice. You should have kale ribbons when you are done.

In a large bowl, toss kale, cranberries, blueberries, parmesan cheese, olive oil, lemon juice, splash of white wine vinegar. Toss to coat. Add salt and pepper and taste. If it is to tangy add a pinch of sugar or a bit more olive oil.

Allow to rest either at room temperature or in fridge for at least 10 minutes, longer if you can, even overnight in a sealed container.

Just before serving add breadcrumbs and toss to mix.

Homemade Ice Cream

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I started blogging in the summer of 2008. It was the summer between my undergrad and graduate program. I was home, not working very much, and I since I was reading lots of blogs I figured I could do it too. I started out writing about politics, life, books, and a little about food, but after the first few months I was writing more about food and not so much about anything else. Cooking, well really, learning to cook was a great distraction from the intensity of grad school. Don’t want to think about cataloging anymore, bake a cake of course! It worked perfectly. When I graduated I had a masters degree along with confidence in the kitchen and a love of cooking. Its been five years! So much life has happened in these five years, but none of it would have been as much fun without cooking.

The food and recipes in this blog have their own memories. The first gingerbread cake I baked in the upstairs apartment (the recipe is stuck on my old blog!). The Christmas tree was so big it took up the entire front windows. The chicken pot pies I made for my family when they came over for dinner, just for fun and how my dad sent me a photograph of my great-grandmother in her kitchen. Those pies I shared with my family around the table made me feel connected to many generations of family. The Stove-Top Ratatouille I made nearly two Septembers ago as I was feeling like everything was about to change. And the marble fudge pound cake was the first recipe I posted after everything did change.

This blog is a chronological timeline of the last five years of my life through the food I ate. I’m eating a lot of food these days, some I cook, some I don’t but I can’t seem to write about it. Somewhere deep inside I know why. Blog life and real life are often just fragments of each other. Slivers of truths and glimpses of reality. No one tells you how to live authentically in real life let alone in the ethos of the internet. We struggle to “find ourselves” in our daily lives and as the blank screen stares me down I can’t even begin to find the words to express who I have found myself to be.

Right after I made that ratatouille I finally realized that I am responsible for my own happiness. It seems like such a simple realization. Such a basic a concept and yet it has a monumental impact on the life we live and the lives around us. In the same moment that I realized that I was responsible for my own happiness I also realized that I wasn’t happy. Much to my own surprise this wasn’t a surprise to those whose opinion I value the most. Isn’t it always like that? It takes us so much longer to realize what the rest of the world already knows.

So, as I was making blueberry muffins I made the single biggest and hardest decision I’ve ever had to make. The blog post about blueberry muffins never made it to the blog, the words got lost. Instead I went to the ocean and then I changed my life. I left my house, my garden, my clematis in the backyard, my rosemary that wouldn’t grow and my new marriage and I created a life I am so very proud of. Not everything is perfect, I don’t cook as often as I should, my garden has weeds, my pants don’t fit and there is (and probably always will be) uncertainty. But I’m happy and the people whose opinion I value the most see it and they tell me that I look happy and they are proud of me too. Oh, and I have a flourishing rosemary plant.

I’ve made blueberry muffins several times since then and they have not had such a drastic impact, thank goodness. I don’t think I need to share the blueberry muffin recipe with you, within a fraction of a second a Google search will give you more blueberry muffin recipes than you could ever bake in a lifetime. Instead, I have ice cream. What’s the connection? My family has always made homemade ice cream. Every childhood birthday cake was accompanied by hand-churned vanilla ice cream. It was a simple gesture that meant so much love and happiness. I’ll be turning 27 soon surrounded by a life of happiness and love so it seemed appropriate to share some with you.

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Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

This recipe is simple and easy. You will need an ice cream freezer, one like this is what I use. Alternately there are attachments for Kitchen Aids or stand-alone electric kinds. I like the act of hand cranking. Also, I should mention that this recipe contains raw eggs. If you have you own chickens you probably don’t need to worry about such things. If you buy your eggs I would seek out home-raised eggs and avoid ones raised on large farms. The risk of salmonella is greatly reduced when you have happy and healthy chickens.

2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Seeds scraped from one vanilla pod

In a large bowl whisk eggs until they are light and fluffy. Add the sugar a little at a time and whisk until completely blended. Pour in cream, milk and vanilla and again whisk to blend. Add seeds from vanilla pod and give it one final good mix.

Chill the mixture in the refrigerator until ready to freeze.

Transfer mixture to ice cream maker and churn according to manufactures instructions.

Once it is set, put it in a freezer safe container and freeze until solid.

Enjoy with fresh fruit, chocolate sauce, birthday cake or all by itself.

What I’ve Been Reading, May Edition

North Head Lighthouse

Thank you! Your suggestions have been a big help. I’ve spent time this week browsing through blogs and recipes and making a “cook soon” list. We went to the store and bought the ingredients to have on hand to make the meals on the list and so far this week has been better. In the process I’ve even rediscovered some of my favorite recipes that I had forgotten about. It’s been good. I’ll start to share some to the recipes I made this week, but first I wanted to share a little link-love.

As I was planning the Mother’s Day dinner I would prepare I fell in love all over again with Canal House and their lovely quarterlies. Part cookbook, part photojournalism, part magazine it is simply lovely and the recipes will surely bring anyone out of a foodie writers block.

I’m eating these peanut butter cookies right now, except because I have a horrid nut allergy I substituted sunflower seed butter for the peanut butter. They are the perfect “peanut” butter cookie. Take that nut allergy. I even added chocolate chips to half the batch, pure genius.

This song has been on repeat for quite some time.

“I know I would have to search the whole wide world, until my feet hurt for a friend like you. And I don’t think anyone would pass ’cause I love you more think I could ever sing”

On our recent trip to Longbeach, WA I challenged myself to only take film photographs. Well, film and iPhone. I took three rolls and feel really confident in what I took, but I can’t find a place in town to get it developed. Kits Camera closed last year so I started taking film to Costco which miraculously even developed some black and white film up until recently apparently, when I took in my three rolls and they said they stopped developing film a bit ago. “Try Walgreens” was their reply to my shocked and devastated face. Crap! I guess it’s time to start mailing it off for development.

This blog post struck me so deeply I emailed the writer. I never do that, but I haven’t been able to stop thinking about her and her story and how our stories are the same in many ways. Sharing stories, isn’t that what blogging is all about after all.

Today is cold. Wet and cold, the worst kind. To top it off, I’m grumpy. But even my grumpies are nowhere near what the folks in Oklahoma or Texas are feeling these days. If you feel compelled to do something these guys provide childcare to disaster stricken families, because the kids man, they break my heart. Tonight we will have soup and grilled cheese and send love and hugs (in the form of money) to Oklahoma and Texas. I hope you are warm and dry and filled with love.

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