This past week involved a lot of time with file folders and receipts, readying and finishing tax documents. I’m a big fan of “clearing the decks” at home and at work: I try to get bills out right on time, generally hate clutter, love a Goodwill run to get rid of things we’re not using around the house — so a particular time of year that forces you to revisit all of the stressful financial and business questions that you thought you’d already put to bed? No thanks. At some point last year, my youngest sister got her first credit card and had some questions about how all of the interest, payments and rewards work. I spent some time trying to explain it to her and she ended the call by letting me know how truly overwhelming it is to be an adult. That’s generally how I feel about taxes.
So in between calls to my bookkeeper and filing receipts, I polished up on the fine skill of internet-puttering and cleaned up my Pinterest boards (both highly pressing tasks, obviously) and in doing so, realized I haven’t shared a list of inspiring links with you in awhile, so let’s do that today. And I thought it was high time I shared this special kale salad with you, too; I’ve been making a version of this salad for weeks now with whatever odds and ends we have in the fridge and it’s been the perfect refueling lunch. I actually start looking forward to eating it even as I’m drinking my morning coffee, despite knowing it will be many hours until I pull it all together. I think you’re going to like it.
I’m not sure about you, but the produce at our farmers market has been largely cabbage, kale, brussels sprouts and a few root vegetables. Hello, February. That being said, there’s a lot of different ways to get in on the February action, and I think this salad has much of the best our season has to offer: hearty kale; sweet little bits of apple; bright, snappy fennel; vibrant cabbage and parsley. At times I’ll swap in radishes for the apple or a big handful of grated carrots. I’ve been pondering adding citrus next time around. In other words, the salad is forgiving: whatever you’re most excited about that gets you out of the occasional seasonal doldrums is a good inclusion. The whole thing is tossed with a lemony tahini dressing that I’ve come to really love — and this version is topped with a Sunflower Crumble I just read about over on My New Roots.
This Sunflower Crumble has Winter Salad Game Changer written all over it. It’s a quick mash-up of sunflower seeds, coconut oil, nutritional yeast and a few spices all pulsed together in the food processor. While it has a slightly sweet fragrance from the coconut oil, it’s still largely savory and crunchy and wakes up a February salad brilliantly. We’ve also learned it’s pretty wonderful on toast, soft scrambled eggs or sprinkled on top of a creamy soup. I have a hunch it’d be wonderful on roasted vegetables, too. Thankfully the recipe for the Sprinkle yields more than you need for this salad so you can go wild with the stuff.
Now for a few links. I’m not as organized as I’d like to be with these lists, and perhaps some day I can come up with a more diligent schedule to share them with you. For now, I let them add up on one of my desktop Sticky Notes until I have enough to pass along. I hope you have a wonderful week, friends.
Oliver Sachs on Learning He Has Cancer
On Being Podcast with Mary Oliver
This beautiful splurge
Invisibilia (Our Computers, Ourselves)
This Baking Book (I want to visit!)
Broad City (If you like Girls … )
Amy Chaplin’s Oat Walnut Marmalade Squares
Time for a Portland road trip
New Tech City’s Bored and Brilliant Challenge (I’m ashamed to say I failed on Day 3).
My next sewing project
This salad is best eaten the day it’s made. If you wanted to prepare it in advance the day before, just wait to dice the apples and dress /sprinkle the salad until you’re ready to serve. If you don’t have coconut oil on hand for the Crumble, I suspect it would be just as delicious with olive oil, so feel free to experiment.
For the Dressing:
For the Sunflower Crumble:
For the Salad:
In a small bowl or mason jar, combine the shallot, lemon juice and apple cider vinegar. Allow to sit for 5 minutes before stirring mustard and tahini and whisking in the olive oil. Taste and season with with a pinch of salt. If the dressing seems to thick for your liking, feel free to whisk in a little more olive oil, 1 teaspoon at a time.
To make the crumble: In a large dry skillet, toast the sunflower seeds over medium heat, tossing often so they don’t burn, about 3-5 minutes. Remove fro heat and transfer the seeds to a large plate to cool completely. Place the seeds in a food processor with the remaining crumble ingredients and pulse several times to combine and chop up some of the seeds. Set aside.
Combine all of the salad ingredients into a very large salad bowl. Toss the salad with the dressing. Sprinkle a large handful of Sunflower Crumble on top and serve. Sprinkle additional crumble on top as desired. When dressed, salad is really best served the day it is made.
Glimpses of Spring
We returned home from San Francisco on New Years Eve just in time for dinner, and craving greens -- or anything other than baked goods and pizza (ohhhh San Francisco, how I love your bakeries. And citrus. And winter sunshine). Instead of driving straight home, we stopped at our co-op where I ran in for some arugula, an avocado, a bottle of Prosecco, and for the checkout guys to not-so-subtly mock the outlook of our New Years Eve: rousing party, eh? They looked to be in their mid-twenties and I figured I probably looked ancient to them, sad even. But really, there wasn't much sad (or rousing, to be fair) about our evening: putting Oliver to bed, opening up holiday cards and hanging them in the kitchen, and toasting the New Year with arugula, half a quesadilla and sparkling wine. It wasn't lavish. But it's what we both needed. (Or at least what we had to work with.) Since then, I've been more inspired to cook lots of "real" food versus all of the treats and appetizers and snacks the holidays always bring on. I made Julia Turshen's curried red lentils for the millionth time, a wintry whole grain salad with tuna and fennel, roasted potatoes, and this simple green minestrone that I've taken for lunch this week. Determined to fit as many seasonal vegetables into a bowl as humanly possible, I spooned a colorful pesto on top, as much for the reminder of warmer days to come as for the accent in the soup (and for the enjoyment later of slathering the leftover pesto on crusty bread).
It turns out shopping for wedding dresses is nothing like they make it appear in the movies. Or at least it hasn't been for me. Angels don't sing. Stars don't explode. Relatives don't cry. There isn't a sudden heart-stopping moment that this is, in fact, "the one." To be honest, I always knew that I wasn't the kind of gal for whom angels would sing or stars would explode but I did think I'd have some kind of moment where I could tell I'd found the best dress. Instead, my mom flew into town and we spent three (yes, three!!) days shopping for dresses, and since then I've been back to the stores we visited -- and I'm more undecided than ever. Tomorrow morning I'll return with my friend Keena to try and tie this business up once and for all. Cross your fingers.
When I was single and living alone in the Bay Area, I made virtually the same thing for dinner each night. I ate meals quickly while in front of the computer. Or even worse: the television. This most often included what I call "Mexican Pizzas" which were basically glorified quesadillas baked in the oven until crispy. Sometimes, if I was really feeling like cooking, I'd whip up a quick stir-fry with frozen vegetables from Trader Joe's or a mushroom frittata using pre-sliced mushrooms. Mostly, though, it was Mexican Pizzas -- a good four or five nights a week. Today, thankfully, dinner looks a lot different. Meals in general look a lot different. How would I explain that difference? I think that ultimately how we feel about our life colors how we choose to feed ourselves and the importance that we place on preparing our own meals.
Today was 75 degrees in Seattle and it seemed the whole city was out and about drinking iced coffee in tank tops and perhaps not working all that hard. When we have a hit of sunshine like this in April (or, really, any time of the year), we're all really good at making excuses to leave the office early -- or, simply, to "work from home." I just got back from LA last night, unpacked in a whirlwind this morning, and took Oliver to meet up with three friends from our parents group at the zoo. The only other time I'd been to the Seattle zoo was once with Sam a few years ago when we arrived thirty minutes before closing and ended up doing a whirlwind tour -- sprinting from the giraffes to the massive brown bear to the meerkat. The visit today was much different: we strolled slowly trying to avoid the spring break crowds and beating sun. I managed to only get one of Oliver's cheeks sunburned, and he even got in a decent nap. A success of an afternoon, I'd say. Coming home I realized we didn't have much in the fridge for lunch -- but thankfully there was a respectable stash of Le Croix (Le Croix season is back!) and a small bowl of this whole grain salad I made right before I left town. It's the kind of salad that's meant for this time of year: it pulls off colorful and fresh despite the fact that much of the true spring and summer produce isn't yet available. And for that reason, I make a few versions of it in early spring, often doubling the recipe so there's always the possibility of having a small bowl at 1 p.m. while the baby naps in the car seat, one cheek sunburned, windows and back door open -- a warm breeze creeping into the kitchen.
On Monday our little family of three is headed to the airport at 6 am to board our first with-baby cross-country trip. We'll be visiting Sam's family in New Jersey for a few days, then renting a car and driving over to meet up with my family at my mom's lake house in the Adirondacks. Sam's younger sister and her kids have yet to meet Oliver; my grandpa has yet to meet him, and Oliver has yet to take a dunk in a lake, see a firefly, or spend quality time with energetic dogs -- of which there will be three. A lot of firsts. This week my family has been madly texting, volunteering to make certain meals or sweets on assigned days while we're at the cabin and it got me thinking about really simple, effortless summer desserts -- in particular, ones that you can make while staying in a house with an unfamiliar kitchen and unfamiliar equipment and still do a pretty bang-up job. I think fruit crisp is just that thing.