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.
Winter Comfort Food
I intended on baking holiday cookies to share with you today, but when I sat down to brainstorm all I could think about, truly, was the morning porridge I've been making and how that's really what I wanted to send you away with. The holiday season always seems to zoom on by at its own clip with little regard for how most of us wish it would just slow down, and this year feels like no exception. We got our tree last week and I've been making a point to sit in the living room and admire the twinkle as much as possible. I have lofty goals of snowflakes and gingerbread men and stringing cranberries and popcorn, but I'm also trying to get comfortable with the fact that everything may not get done, and that sitting amongst the twinkle is really the most important. That and a warm breakfast before the day spins into gear. This multi-grain porridge has proved to be a saving grace on busy weekday mornings, and it reheats beautifully so I've been making a big pot and bringing it to work with some extra chopped almonds and fresh pomegranate seeds. While cookies are certainly on the horizon, I think I'll have this recipe to thank for getting us through the busy days ahead.
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).
If I asked you about what you like to cook at home when the week gets busy, I'm willing to bet it might be something simple. While there are countless websites and blogs and innumerable resources to find any kind of recipe we may crave, it's often the simple, repetitive dishes that we've either grown up with or come to love that call to us when cooking (or life in general) seems overwhelming or when we're feeling depleted. While my go-to is typically breakfast burritos or whole grain bowls, this Curried Cauliflower Couscous with Chickpeas and Chard would make one very fine, very doable house meal on rotation. The adaptations are endless, and its made from largely pantry ingredients. I never thought I'd hop on the cauliflower "rice" bandwagon, but I have to say after making it a few times, I get the hype.
People describe raising young kids as a particular season in life. I hadn't heard this until we had a baby, but it brought me a lot of comfort when I'd start to let my mind wander, late at night between feedings, to fears that we'd never travel internationally again or have a sit-down meal in our dining room. Would I ever eat a cardamom bun in Sweden? Soak in Iceland? I loved the heck out of our tiny Oliver, but man what had we done?! Friends would swoop in and reassure us that this was just a season, a blip in the big picture of it all. They promised we'd likely not even remember walking around the house in circles singing made-up songs while eating freezer burritos at odd hours of the day (or night). And it's true.
Oliver is turning two next month, and those all-encompassing baby days feel like a different time, a different Us. In many ways, dare I say it, Toddlerhood actually feels a bit harder. Lately Oliver has become extremely opinionated about what he will and will not wear -- and he enforces these opinions with fervor. Don't get near the kid with a button-down shirt. This week at least. He's obsessed with his rain boots and if it were up to him, he'd keep them on at all times, especially during meals. He insists on ketchup with everything (I created a damn monster), has learned the word "trash" and insists on throwing found items away on his own that really, truly are not trash. I came to pick him up from daycare the other day and he was randomly wearing a bike helmet -- his teacher mentioned he'd had it on most of the day and really, really didn't want to take it off. The kid has FEELINGS. I love that about him, and wouldn't want it any other way. But, man it's also exhausting.
We recently had our favorite day of married life yet. When I tell you what it consisted of, you may worry or chuckle. Sundays used to be sacred in our house in the sense that it was our one day off together. We'd often read the paper, get a slice of quiche at Cafe Besalu, or take walks around Greenlake or Discovery Park. But now Sundays are generally when I work the farmers market for Marge Granola, and Sam helps me set up and take down each week, so they've taken on a very different feel, one more of work than leisure. So a few months ago, after mildly panicking that we no longer had any routines or days off, we reclaimed Saturdays as 'the new Sunday' and last weekend set the bar pretty high. The day began really cold: in the high 20's and graduated, eventually, to the 30's. We decided it'd be nice to just stay inside; Sam had a little work to do and some letters to write. He had a few articles he'd been wanting to read. And I'd been thinking about this lasagna recipe, so I puttered around the kitchen roasting squash and slicing garlic. The afternoon ticked on slowly. Sam made us baked eggs for a late lunch and I tried unsuccessfully to nap. I think it was the calmest we'd both felt in a long time. I'm lucky to have found a man who loves spending time at home as much as I do. While we both love going out to see friends, traveling, and having people over to our place, we also gain the most, I'd say, by doing simple things around the house -- straightening up, making a meal. organizing records or books or photos. Especially in this season of cold temperatures and early-darkening skies, it's what I crave the most. And last Saturday closed in the best of ways: we opened a bottle of "wedding wine" (thanks to my neurosis and fear we'd run out, we over-ordered wine when planning for our wedding) and dug into generous slices of this very special vegetarian lasagna, a hearty layered affair with caramelized onions, a sage-flecked tofu ricotta and a simple, savory butternut squash purée.