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.
Healthy Comfort Food
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.
I just finished washing out Oliver's lunchbox and laying it out to dry for the weekend. My favorite time of day is (finally) here: the quiet of the evening when I can actually talk to Sam about our day or sit and reflect on my own thoughts after the inevitable dance party or band practice that precedes the bedtime routine lately. Before becoming pregnant for the second time, I'd have had a glass of wine with the back door propped open right about now -- these days though, I have sparkling water or occasionally take a sip from one of Sam's hard ciders. Except now the back door's closed and we even turned on the heat for the first time yesterday. The racing to water the lawn and clean the grill have been replaced by cozier dinners at home and longer baths in the evening. You blink and it's the first day of fall.
I'd heard from many friends that buying a house wasn't for the faint of heart. But I always shrugged it off, figuring I probably kept better files or was more organized and, really, how hard could it be? Well, I've started (and stopped) writing this post a good fifteen times which may indicate something. BUT! First thing's first: we bought a house! I think! I'm pretty sure! We're still waiting for some tax transcripts to come through and barring any hiccough with that, we'll be moving out of our beloved craftsman in a few weeks and down the block to a great, brick Tudor house that we wanted the second we laid eyes on it. The only problem: it seemed everyone else in Seattle had also laid eyes on it, and wanted it equally as much. I'm not really sure why the homeowner chose us in the end. Our offer actually wasn't the highest, but apparently there were some issues with a few of them. We wrote a letter introducing ourselves and describing why we'd be the best candidates and why we were so drawn to the house; we have a really wonderful broker who pulled out all the stops, and after sifting through 10 offers and spending a number of hours deliberating, they ended up going with ours. We were at a friend's book event at the time when Sam showed me the text from our broker and I kind of just collapsed into his arms. We were both in ecstatic denial (wait, is this real?! Did we just buy a house?) and celebrated by getting chicken salad and potato salad from the neighborhood grocery store and eating it, dazed, on our living room floor. Potato salad never tasted so good.
If your house is anything like ours, last week wasn't our most inspired in terms of cooking. We're all suffering from the post-election blues -- the sole upside being Oliver's decision to sleep-in until 7 am for the first time in many, many months; I think he's trying to tell us that pulling the covers over our heads and hibernating for awhile is ok. It's half-convincing. For much of the week, instead of cooking, there'd been takeout pizza and canned soup before, at week's end, I decided it was time to pour a glass of wine and get back into the kitchen. I was craving something hearty and comforting that we could eat for a few days. Something that wouldn't remind me too much of Thanksgiving because, frankly, I can't quite gather the steam to start planning for that yet. It was time for a big bowl of chili.
Porridge is not the sexiest of breakfasts, it's true. It doesn't have a stylish name like strata or shakshuka, and it doesn't have perfectly domed tops like your favorite fruity muffin. It doesn't crumble into delightful bits like a good scone nor does it fall into buttery shards like a well-made croissant. But when you wake up and it's 17 degrees outside (as it has been, give or take a few, for the last week), there's nothing that satisfies like a bowl of porridge or oatmeal. It's warm and hearty and can be made sweet or savory with any number of toppings. The problem? Over the years, it's gotten a bad rap as gluey or gummy or just downright boring or dutiful -- and it's because not everyone knows the secrets to making a great pot of warm morning cereal. So let's talk porridge (also: my cookbook comes out this month! So let's take a peek inside, shall we?)