cauliflower soup

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It’s chilly and crisp and autumnal and I love it. I love soup all times of the year, but particularly as the days get shorter and the air gets cooler. There’s a reason why you’re supposed to eat soup when you’re sick, or sad, or grieving. It is comfort food at its finest, literally imparting warmth and nourishment to the body to trickle out into the spirit.

I suppose I’m particularly nostalgic about soup at the moment because just a few days ago I watched a man wrap up my beloved Le Creuset in packing paper and tape and put it in a box to be shipped across the ocean. It was a weird feeling, to watch strangers handle all of my possessions and feel little to no attachment to them. Slowly but surely my house got emptier and emptier until there were only a few things left. The piano. The sofa. My Le Creuset. It was at this point that I started to get a little sad.

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Have I told you the story of the Le Creuset? It’s a good one. I’ve wanted a piece of the classic cookware for years. Years. I can’t even disintangle my thoughts to a time in which I didn’t feel that I would finally be a real cook once I had my own. I read Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness, a beautiful memoir by Alexandra Fuller about coming back to her childhood home in Zimbabwe to deal with her aging parents and haunted memory, in which the author’s mother has a full set of Le Creuset cookware that makes its permanent home in their outdoor kitchen, the bright orange enamel glinting in the sun and unmarred by time.

But the price. Oh goodness. The Le Creuset French oven is an investment, a classic piece that will last a lifetime and then some, but STILL. There was no way I was going to get one of my own any time soon, nor would I be callous enough to ask for one as a wedding gift. And yet.

One day my industrious mother called me from a flea market, hardly able to contain her excitement. She had found a vintage Le Creuset oven in classic orange for less than $100 and had managed to talk the dealer down to almost half of that price, and she was bringing it to me that weekend. To give to me. For me to use forever and ever and ever.

And since then it has been my absolute favorite piece of kitchen equipment. It is a versatile workhorse: I’ve used it to make everything from homemade sourdough bread to every kind of soup and braised stew. It adds cheer to my stovetop, the pot’s permanent home, and every time I use it I think about how it came to me. Through patience and love and a whole lot of bargaining power, and it embues everything I cook in it with a little of that magic.

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Savory Cauliflower Soup

1 qt. homemade broth

1 large head of cauliflower

1 medium pattypan squash

1 large onion

2 Tbsp. coconut oil or lard

3-5 cloves garlic

2 tsp. salt

fresh black pepper

1-2 Tbsp. fish sauce

2 Tbsp. coconut aminos

dash of smoked paprika for garnish

Melt the lard in a large, heavy-bottomed pan. Meanwhile, slice the onion and crush the garlic; set aside. Once the fat has melted, add in the sliced onions and cook until golden brown, about 10 minutes — this doesn’t caramelize the onions but it does get the process started and, thus, imparts more flavor. To this, add the crushed garlic, salt, pepper, coconut aminos and fish sauce. Cook until fragrant, about a minute.

Dice the pattypan squash and the cauliflower and add to the pot. Turn the heat up to medium-high and pour in homemade broth. Stir everything together and bring to a boil before covering and simmering until the vegetables are tender. Adjust seasoning to taste.

Remove the still-chunky soup from the stove to cool a bit before processing in a blender. The soup should be smooth and creamy, free of lumps, and still plenty hot. Return pot to heat if necessary. Serve with a pinch of smoked paprika and a garnish of fresh tarragon, parsley or whatever other herbs are handy.

baklava ice cream pie

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This is not a typical Monday morning recipe. This is not a typical October recipe (no pumpkin — sorry folks!). This really isn’t a “typical” anything, but I like it and I’m feeling celebratory, so here goes.

Last week was one hell of a week. I’m currently recovering from some hybrid cold thing, brought on by lack of sleep and traveling and a couple gluten bombs that threw my immune system out of whack, but so many wonderful things happened that I have to do what I normally don’t do: a diary-esque, recap post. Welcome to a little peek into my life!

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On Monday we had our first round of movers come. I wasn’t sure when exactly they were going to arrive, so I spent all day on alert, doing last-minute packing and waiting for that big truck to pull into my driveway. Eventually two nice guys started packing up a third of our belongings and I mainly tried to stay out of their way as they assembled boxes, wrapped dishes, and hauled bikes and vacuum cleaners out the front door. We later heard that our shipment weighed 888 lbs. WHOA.

After the movers left, Andrew and I cleaned up and went over to our friends’ house for an extraordinary dinner and a screening of the series finale of Breaking Bad. Grace and Tom have been wonderful friends to host us every week for the last season of our favorite show — together, we’d all hunker down in the living room with snacks and drinks and collectively gasp at Walter White’s latest schemes. This time was a little more special, as it was not only the last episode ever but also our last day to spend with our friends. They were leaving the next day to move to Alaska, and so we combined all sorts of endings and goodbyes into one evening, complete with a 12-boy chicken curry dinner that was out of this world. A bittersweet night.

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On Tuesday morning I packed a little bag and drove my Honda Civic to Dallas, where I met my parents for lunch. They had agreed to bring their truck to the city to haul a few Ikea items I wanted to purchase, plus drive me back home after I left my car at the shipping facility. We are one month out from our Hawaiian move, and we want our car to arrive about the same time that we do. Interestingly enough, they put the vehicles on a semi, drive it to LA, and then scoot the cars across the ocean to a port in Honolulu. Wicked.

Lunch with my parents was wonderful. I hadn’t seen them for a couple of months, and as always it was a blast spending time with them and catching up in person. We navigated Ikea for the perfect bed frame and a new bookshelf, then lugged the boxes back to the suburbs to our cousins’ house for dinner and beer and conversation and a good night’s rest.

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We were up early the next morning. I needed to vacuum out the interior of my car, wipe down the surfaces and give it a good scrub on the outside before I dropped it off at the shipment center. In addition to having miles and miles of paperwork, your car has to be empty, pristine, and with no more than a quarter tank of gas. I was a little stress ball all the way up until they took my keys, nervous that I was missing something or that I had left a crucial piece of the puzzle back at home, four hours away.

Thankfully, everything went off without a hitch and — bonus! — I even saw our friends Grace and Tom as they were dropping off their car to get shipped, mere hours before they flew out to the Great White North! It was so sweet to get to hug them one last time.

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From there the Robertson clan loaded up into the truck and began our trek back to my house, making only one pit stop at World Market for some goodies — chocolate, a couple make-your-own six-packs, and some perfect floor cushions. The drive was long and flat and boring, and my dad was a trooper to drive us the whole way. We made it back in the early evening, got everyone’s stuff unloaded, and commenced dinner plans.

Instead of staying in our small, partially disassembled home, my parents found a little condo to rent for the duration of their stay — it was definitely the MVP of the trip. With a couple extra bedrooms, comfy couches and ESPN2, a kitchen and a grill, we spent most of our time relaxing there. On Wednesday night we grilled steaks and watched a movie, and on their last night there we had our own little tailgate party to watch the Razorbacks play Florida State over a meal of homemade pork ribs.

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On Thursday, my parents and I bopped around town while Andrew was at work, visiting some little shops, the local water lily garden and running a few errands. Eventually my mom and I dropped my dad back off at the house so we could go for mani/pedis — what a treat! When we returned, my sleepy dad was in the same place we had left him, watching Despicable Me on television. That’s when you know you’re on a vacation!

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On Friday I dropped Andrew off at work early in the morning and headed straight to a friend’s apartment to meet their movers. Said friend had to move to his next assignment before he could get his packers schedules, and so I was filling in for him to supervise, sign papers, and generally get in the movers’ way while they did their jobs. It was a long day, to say the least, and at the end I was wiped. But I had some incredible events to look forward to — that evening Andrew and I took my parents out to our favorite (and the nicest, by far) restaurant in town for a four-course meal and a bottle of wine. From the amuse bouche right down the decadent desserts, we enjoyed gourmet food and great conversation, basically like we always do but in a fancy setting. Afterwards we went out to see a late movie, and decided on GRAVITY, shown in 3D. It was intense. This movie is less of an action flick and more of a psychological thriller, with little dialogue but amazing special effects. Sandra Bullock shone in her role as the survivor struggling to hold on to hope, and through it all the audience was privy to staggering views of Earth from space. I recommend it.

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Saturday morning was brunch by me — we had cherry-tarragon sausages, scrambled eggs, chocolate zucchini bread, coffee and OJ — followed by a field trip out to the Eola Schoolhouse Restaurant & Brewery.   This is one of those quirky places that we like to take all of our friends, and my parents in particular were no exception. They loved it. We sampled craft beers and greasy onion rings, listened to a couple of old guys play Merle Haggard songs on the guitar, and took in the vast expanse of farmland plains around us.

We got home in time to put in a batch of pork ribs and settle down for the pre-game show. While we waited for the game to start, my mom and I took a field trip to Ulta for new mascara and to Sam’s Club for a temporary military membership for me. Did you know that Sam’s Club is offering free membership to military members during the government shutdown? It’s a wonderful gift they’re offering while most commissaries are closed to ensure service members and their families have access to quality groceries at good prices. I for one am thankful for it. Meanwhile, the Razorbacks put up a good fight in the first half, but the last half was disappointing. I don’t want to talk about it.

So I had an amazing, exhausting, stressful, relaxing, full and precious week.

What have you been up to lately? If you haven’t already, I suggest you celebrate the big and the little things with some pie or some ice cream or — better yet — an ice cream pie. Yeah, sure, maybe it’s starting to get cool around your parts, and the leaves are turning and the days are getting shorter, and you might say that this isn’t an appropriate time for ice cream. To which I would reply: It is always an appropriate time for ice cream.

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Baklava Ice Cream Pie

Crust:

1 c. medjool dates, chopped

½ c. raw pistachios

3 Tbsp. olive oil

½ c. chopped assorted nuts (I used Nutcase Crunch)

¼ tsp. sea salt

Remove pits from 10-12 dates and pulse into a fine paste in a food processor, adding a little olive oil to keep things moist. Combine with nuts, salt and remaining olive oil in food processor and blend until uniform. Press the mixture into a pie pan greased with olive oil, and reserve in the freezer until ice cream is finished.

Ice cream:

50 oz. (4 cans) coconut milk

3 Tbsp. grass-fed gelatin

6 eggs, divided

1 c. honey

2 tsp. orange blossom water

2 Tbsp. amaretto

1 c. raw cashews

8 oz. water

In a saucepan, whisk together coconut milk, egg yolks, gelatin, honey and bring to a low boil, stirring continuously. Remove from heat to cool. Meanwhile, whip egg whites to stiff peaks, adding orange blossom water. Fold gently into custard mixture and remove to fridge to cool, overnight if possible.

Soak cashews in water for at least 30 minutes before blending in a high-speed blender with the cooled custard mixture. Add the amaretto before pouring into ice cream maker. (I used some of the tips Zenbelly offered in her recent post on making dairy-free gelato. Genius!)

Once ice cream has thickened, spread a layer evenly into the prepared crust and reserve to the freezer to harden. Drizzle with honey and toasted pistachios before serving.

herbed [activated] almonds

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Water, a dash of salt, a pound of raw almonds, twenty-four hours. This simple equation is all is takes to transform something ordinary into something incredibly delicious and nourishing. By harnessing — and in this case, by encouraging — the force of nature upon a little seed, we unlock vast potential, almost as if a door has been opened and a flood of energy unleashed. Sound a little trippy? Embrace your inner hippie and come along on a biochemical nutritional geekery magic carpet ride with me.

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Almonds, on their own, seem like a healthy snack. In their raw form they are free of roasting oils and seasonings that would never be found in nature — BBQ or wasabi almonds, anyone? — and seem to be the best choice, as any wellness magazine would tell you. But in reality, almonds contain a host of warriors that fight against digestion and mineral absorption when consumed raw, and can cause more harm to the body than good.

I first learned about the chemical makeup of almonds (and most other nuts and seeds) from the nutritional tome Nourishing Traditionsif you haven’t picked up a copy for yourself, I suggest that you do. I learned about the anti-nutrient contained in nuts and seeds that exist to protect the reproductive potential of the plant. Phytatic acid is what prevents much of the digestion of almonds and hinders the absorption of minerals in the body, often encouraging digestive upset, mineral deficiencies and a whole host of other problems, potentially leading to leaky gut and autoimmune disorders.

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Take a difference perspective: if you were a plant, you would want to protect your DNA-containing embryo that would help your species propogate. It’s the same reason why fowl protect their eggs and wheat kernels are so difficult to digest without some form of processing. The organism needs those seeds to survive in order for the organism’s lineage to survive.

It doesn’t only happen with wheat and almonds — when birds eat berries they are able to fully digest the fruit, but the seed of the blackberry or blueberry they just consumed passes whole through their digestive system and is spread across the country through their waste. This is one of the ingenious mechanisms of biochemistry that allows plants and animals to work together, synergistically.

So if we take into account the anti-nutrients contained in almonds and why those anti-nutrients exist, should we even eat almonds and other nuts in the first place? Yes, I contend, but in small doses, and with proper preparation.

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There is a process — called soaking, sprouting or “activating” — that helps to neutralize the harmful phytic acid and make the minerals within an almond more bio-available (meaning, our bodies can absorb them better). By soaking nuts overnight in clean water with a pinch of salt, we activate the almond’s growing response and thereby “turn off” the production of harmful phytic acid. Think of it this way: the almond has been on the defensive, trying to protect itself and its genetic material for the future. But now, under the right circumstances, it is being encouraged to grow, to start a sprout, and to eventually produce more almonds. In this “safe place,” it no longer needs phytic acid to protect itself, but now can use all of its resources — resources that are nutritious to the human body — to propagate.

This is certainly more time-intensive than eating raw almonds straight out of a package, but it is worth it in the long run to reap the health benefits and negate the detriments of phytic acid on the body. Plus, by soaking/sprouting/activating the almonds, you open up a whole new flavor profile and an opportunity to customize. With my typical recipe, I soak and dehydrate almonds without the addition of spices, but this time I created an autumn-inspired mix with sea salt, dried rosemary, and a little extra time in the oven to promote a roasted, toasted flavor.

Look at this as one big science experiment and have fun with it — that’s half the reason why we get into the kitchen in the first place, to tinker and to play.

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Salted Rosemary [Activated] Almonds

1 lb. raw almonds

2 quarts water

dash of sea salt (or an acidic medium like apple cider vinegar)

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. sea salt

1-2 Tbsp. dried rosemary

Soak the raw almonds overnight in fresh water with a dash of salt or apple cider vinegar. This helps to begin the sprouting (or “activating”) process that removes many of the phytates and other anti-nutrients contained in the nut which prevent digestion and adequate mineral absorption.

After soaking, drain and rinse the raw almonds, shaking as much water off as possible. In a large bowl, toss the almonds with olive oil, salt and dried rosemary to coat. Spread on a lined baking sheet and leave in the oven for at least 12 hours at 170 degrees — the almonds are adequately dehydrated when they are crunchy and have a slightly sweet, toasted flavor.

Try other flavors and combinations:

smoked paprika + cayenne + garlic salt

pumpkin pie spice + maple syrup

cumin + chili powder + lime zest

oregano + tomato paste + olive oil + sea salt

honey + sea salt + sesame seeds

ginger + turmeric + honey

garam masala + sea salt

whole30: in conclusion

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My Whole30 challenged ended on Monday. Although I wasn’t 100% percent compliant for all of my Whole30 (I mentioned those rogue cookies), I was gluten-, dairy-, grain-, legume- and alcohol-free for 30 days.

I feel lighter, clearer and more in touch with both how I react to food and what triggers my cravings. I’ve lost a couple inches around my waist and feel more capable in the gym and on the trails. My sleep has been excellent, my skin is clearing up, and I no longer feel attachment to the treats I was dreaming about ten days ago. My mood has been more stable and PMS symptoms haven’t been so severe. I’ve had more energy and more of a positive outlook.

It wasn’t easy. There were a few times when I thought that I should just quit in the middle — what’s the point of this silly challenge? — but in the end I’m glad I stuck it out and made the full 30 days. Now I can see the other side of the coin, that in reality it also wasn’t that hard. Again, although I wasn’t “paleo perfect,” I feel an immense sense of accomplishment for sticking with something for an entire month. Doing a Whole30 is certainly about your health and the food you put in your mouth, but more than that I think it’s an exercise in discipline and self-control. Much like a spiritual fast, it represents the denial of momentary pleasure for a long-term payoff.

That being said, I find myself in more of a relaxed mental state now that the 30 days are over. I started to feel a little crazy, trapped with in the confines of the “rules,” and it made me greedy and grabby. I’m hoping I can transition back into normalcy without the mental restrictions yet while still maintaining the good habits I learned in the month.

I learned that I am addicted to sugar. I crave something sweet in the afternoons, in the evenings, or I reach for a treat whenever things get tough. I did not slay the sugar dragon during this Whole30; in fact, it may have gotten worse while doing this challenge as I wasn’t “allowed” sugar and therefore sought out more natural alternatives at every turn.

I learned that I am a stress-muncher and a mindless eater, and it is far too easy for me to disappear a bag of plantain chips without even realizing it while watching an episode of Parks & Rec. When I’m worried or anxious or busy or on a deadline, I grab handful after handful of whatever is lying around, and in devouring it I pay no attention to satiety or taste. The action of snacking is soothing, for some reason, and that quieting is all I pursue.

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I don’t snack because I’m hungry, usually. I snack because I’m bored, lonely, sad, anxious, annoyed, or have too much to do and don’t know where to start. I’m using physical inputs to try and satisfy a larger emotional need, and that, my friends, is where disordered eating comes into play. Challenges like the Whole30 are a great litmus test, removing us from our comfort zone and applying pressure and sting to see what kind of person comes out on the other end.

I found that I stopped missing breakfast treats like pancakes and waffles, and I feel my best eating a ton of veggies. Out of all of my sugary demons, dark chocolate was still what I missed the most. I think that’s okay. But, the cherry on top was how much I lamented my lost cocktails and glasses of wine.

Making a new cocktail every week or so was a fun ritual that Andrew and I would enjoy together — that, or picking out a bottle of wine and having a glass with dinner. Across the month we had several social occasions in which we’d meet friends at a bar or have drinks with food at a cookout or a movie night. It was surprisingly easy to navigate these situations, as I declared myself the designated driver and made sure to bring a bottle of kombucha with me for sipping. The fizz and the gentle sweetness helped me feel like I wasn’t missing out on the drinking. Now, I can tell that I run lighter without alcohol in my system, and I certainly sleep better without it. I don’t miss beer and would prefer not to drink it anymore. But all that to say: I’m looking forward to my next Maker’s Mark on the rocks, a gin & tonic, or a dirty martini sometime this weekend.

My post-Whole30 plan is this: keep going. Continue to avoid grains, gluten, dairy, legumes and sugar. Seek moderation in my dark chocolate indulgences. Have a cocktail once in a while. Celebrate Andrew’s upcoming birthday with homemade brownies. Relax. Settle into a rhythm. Congratulate myself on a job well done.

And then have a handful of my favorite snack, completely guilt-free. Yum.

it has to get worse before it gets better

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Yesterday was the worst day in the history of my Whole30. I woke up after dreaming about buying dozens of treats from a cupcake-and-donut shop — btw, who runs a cupcake AND donut shop?? — and stumbled out of bed with the faint taste of cinnamon roll cupcake on my tongue. Mistake number one.

Then I proceeded to go for a run for the first time in a couple of months, after which I was very hungry and couldn’t seem to get full. I made a green smoothie, ate some eggs, ran some errands, came home for lunch, and continued to feel munchy. So down goes a small bag of plantain chips, crunch crunch crunch…

Which wasn’t so bad. But then I embarked on a massive baking mission to feed several friends and community members, in which I made three dozen applejack molasses cookies and three batches of cornbread. I ended up tasting a cookie out of each batch, and then probably a couple more for good measure. At this point, it’s all a blur. (But it is a good thing I taste-tested because I left the eggs out of one batch. Oops.)

That left me feeling sluggish and guilty, two of my least favorite feelings. That, compounded by a terribly unsuccessful dinner out at a restaurant, made for one grumpy mess of me.

My sweet husband drove us out to a bar & grill out on the lake we’d heard about and had wanted to try. It was going to be one of the first date nights out we’d had in a long time because we’re watching our budget and trying to save money by eating at home exclusively. There were some potentially Whole30-friendly options on the menu: burgers ordered without the bun, kebobs, salads. I got a grilled chicken breast topped with avocado and pico, with two vegetable sides. I thought I was safe. Little did I know that the grill cooks were actually the same people that made my cafeteria lunches from yesteryear — at least, that’s what it tasted like. Frozen, chemical-y chicken with some weird spice mixture (I swear I detected MSG), frozen steamed carrots with the texture of styrofoam, and “pico” that was actually canned corn with a couple of mealy tomatoes thrown in. I just couldn’t eat it. Insert pouty child rendition of “yucky” here.

How fitting that all of this transpired on Whole30 Day 18, the same day that I quit the challenge on my last go ’round. The forces that be were out to break me yesterday, but I’m back on my feet and ready to break this bronc today.

than to receive

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I mentioned earlier this week that over the weekend our neighbor left a big box of bread on our doorstep as a gift. I’ve been thinking about that gesture all week, what it meant for him, what it means for me, and what it means when I read “It is better to give than to receive.” 

Our neighbors aren’t wealthy, by any means. At any one time there are five to seven people living in that house, with two travel trailers parked in the back yard and at least eight dogs barking through the fence. There are a couple of decomposing vehicles, waiting for a little love and repair, sinking into the dust of the driveway. They buy their bread in bulk from the discount bakery and put most of it in a deep freezer to preserve throughout the month.

We aren’t wealthy, either. We’re living off of one paycheck, augmented by sporadic bursts of income from my [freelance] end of the deal. We shop at the commissary, we put money into savings as often as possible, we rarely go out and we buy secondhand. But we have no debt from school or car payments, no crushing loans or credit card responsibilities, and we live comfortably.

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Lately I’ve been thinking about our neighbors when I bring home a big bag of groceries or when I shop at the farmer’s market. The luxury of it all. How is it okay that I’m in my kitchen, cooking macadamia-encrusted cod, while less than fifteen feet away they’re waiting on this month’s disability check? How it it okay that I can choose not to eat grains and sugar and instead buy fresh veggies and some grass-fed meats and eggs from a farmer when they subsist on Subway and Stripes?

I’m living in my own little world and it is insular and protected against the reality of poverty, of hunger, of financial security. What am I doing to alleviate those pressures on the world around me?

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So much is going on in my head and my heart. I’m reading Acts and Galations. “Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows.” (Gal. 5:14 MSG) My world is in a tailspin, thanks very much to Jen Hatmaker and her revolutionary book, 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess. (More about this later.) I’m in the middle of inventory-ing our home to prepare for our move and I’m facing the sheer magnitude of how much stuff we have. All good, beautiful things that we need and use. And all of this to say — we have been given so much, and what are we giving in response?

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I’m thinking about the national socio-economic divide that is displayed in the microcosm of my little neighborhood, my home next to my neighbor’s, and how much that relates to Dr. King’s revolutionary “I Have A Dream” speech we celebrated yesterday. I’m thinking about radical generosity — I am not thinking about socialism or political reform — and how Jesus loved and gave to the least, how Paul worked for what he needed and lived with what he could carry.

I’m struggling to make sense of it all and how it works realistically in my life. How do I give and serve without perpetuating the endless cycle of poverty? It’s the same question I face every time a homeless person asks for spare change: How is this going to help you? Does it make any difference in the long run?

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Heavy stuff for a post about enchiladas. I made these with equal parts joy and creativity combined with a good dose of solemnity, with one eye out the kitchen window to where that little ramshackle house sat. I’m trying my hardest to figure out what place I have in this mess. How to start small but make a big difference. How to get out of my comfort zone. How to shake up my concepts of service and generosity and love.

So far I haven’t accomplished much by way of revelation, and so far these ramblings have very little direction, but I’m leaning into the tension and looking for opportunities to act. To show that I care enough. To give. For it is far better to do that than to receive.

All of this from a box of bread.

SONY DSCVegetable Enchiladas with Salsa Fresca

6-9 med. plantain tortillas (or corn tortillas if you’d prefer)

1 med. butternut squash

2 med. pattypan squash

4 garlic cloves, crushed

2 Tbsp. lard or coconut oil

sea salt + black pepper

1 c. homemade broth

1/2 c. coconut milk

1 tsp. smoked paprika

pinch of cayenne

Incredibly, all of this produce came from my farmers market — except for the plantains, that is. Those were dirt cheap from our commissary. I don’t think anyone else knows what to do with them so I’m counting myself lucky that they even exist in west Texas. 

Begin by making your plantain tortillas or, if you’re short on time or prefer the flavor of masa harina, use small prepared corn tortillas. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a large skillet, melt 2 Tbsp. of lard. Peel and de-seed the butternut squash and dice into small cubes. This will go into the skillet first, with a generous pinch of salt, to brown and soften. Once squash is tender, remove half of the amount from the skillet and set aside for the sauce. Add in diced pattypan squash and crushed garlic, plus a little more salt and pepper. Saute until all is tender.

Meanwhile, make the enchilada sauce: in a food processor, combine reserved butternut squash, broth, paprika, cayenne and coconut milk. Blitz until smooth and season to taste.

Begin filling the tortillas with a scoop of the squash mixture and roll into little enchiladas. Fill a 9×11″ glass baking pan with the enchilada rolls — or, if you’re lazy like I was, layer the tortillas with the squash, stacking it up flat. Top with all of the enchilada sauce and bake until tortillas are starting to crisp and sauce is bubbling, about 20 minutes.

Serve with a big scoop of this salsa fresca:

Pomegranate-Sungold Salsa Fresca

2 qt. sungold tomatoes

1 med. pink pomegranate, seeded

1 lg. bunch cilantro, chopped

1 lime, juiced

1/4 red onion, sliced thin

In a bowl, combine halved tomatoes, pomegranate seeds, cilantro, lime juice, and paper-thin red onion slices with a pinch of salt. Toss to combine and let marinate while the enchiladas are baking.

a cheater’s tale

Whole30 day 12 and I miss ice cream. I also miss dark chocolate, red wine, gin & tonics, and my favorite movie-watching snack: Glutino pretzels and Enjoy life chocolate chips.

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On Sunday I baked a cake from scratch for a friend’s birthday — a gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free creation that took most of the morning and an extra pair of hands to execute, with two types of frosting. We delivered the cake and I had a piece in celebration with said friend and — you know what? — NO ONE DIED. The world, also, continued to orbit the sun and turn on its axis. I’m all for total compliance on a program like the Whole30. I don’t believe in “everything in moderation.” And I still felt great about that cake.

You know what else I feel great about? Cramming as many vegetables as possible into my day. Not having to weigh the pros and cons of having a cocktail after dinner or a handful of dark chocolate squares. Aiming for nutrient density. Not thinking all that much about what I’m eating. Is it a fruit? Mine. Is it a vegetable? Get in my belly. Is it high quality meat, simply prepared? Dinnertime.

I’m still eating my favorite zucchini soup for lunch every day and making eggs for most breakfasts, but lately I’ve been making these nonstop and I urge you to do the same. And yes, I’ve also been making this: a play on the “apple pie a la mode pudding” you might have seen in my last Whole30 recap and at Paleo Magazine. I contest that nearly everything can be turned into ice cream if you want it badly enough. And boy, do I ever.

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Apple Pie A La Mode Ice Cream

1 can full-fat coconut milk

1 pastured egg yolk

1 Tbsp. grass-fed gelatin

3-5 apples

1 Tbsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. nutmeg

1 tsp. vanilla extract

pinch of salt

In a medium saucepan, bring the coconut milk and apples to a boil and then lower to a quiet simmer for 30 minutes. If you forget about it and walk away for the better part of an hour, the flavor will be all that much more concentrated. If you’re not concerned with your sugar intake or would prefer more of a treat, include more apples or simply add in a half cup of maple syrup while on the stove.

Once the apples are soft, remove the mixture from the heat. Stir in spices, vanilla, egg yolks and gelatin. Let cool before pureeing in a food processor or blender. Cover and chill in the fridge for an hour or two, or until it is no longer warm. Warm custard makes for impossible ice cream.

Pour the cooled mixture into your ice cream machine and let it work its magic for 25 minutes or so, or until the custard has thickened to your liking. Eat all of it, immediately, with the cool white drops streaming down your forearm.

Or, if you’re of the patient variety, let the ice cream harden in the fridge for 30-45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. If you’re not on the Whole30 bandwagon, top this baby with applejack molasses cookies and/or oatmeal butterscotch cookies for the ultimate yum factor. I won’t be jealous. (<< lying)