Smoky Pear Tea Cakes



As it turns out, I am a giant nerd. I’ll gladly take an evening in with a good book just about any day. I take books to all family gatherings and long road trips. I have no problem sitting in a room full of people, disengaged from the small talk, reading. Like a true nerd, I love libraries and bookstores, and of course, good old-fashioned books.


Nerdism started early but back when I learned to read, I was a slow learner and had to go to Mrs. Ashcraft’s for special reading class. After Mrs. Ashcraft worked her magic, I was reading giant chapter books far beyond my grade level in a matter of weeks. To this day, reading is among my favorite pastimes. I still have little girl Jane Austen fantasies about long afternoons in the parlor with all my best gal pals reading and eating tea cakes. The one time this came even close to happening was last year in Victoria with William. We stayed at a B&B with a serious library, complete with fireplace, cozy chairs, a pot of English tea, and a good book. Those quiet mornings in the library were magical.


Back in reality, I’m often asked if I like to read. Though I’m open about my interest in books, I often share only the lighter things I’m reading when people ask–and it is a rare day when I snag more than 10 minutes or so at a time with a book. Since The Recipe Redux theme for this month is quick bread and I can think of no better time to enjoy a slice or two than on a slow weekend with tea and reading materials, I’m sharing all the good books I particularly enjoyed in the past year. If you are in need of a new one to read or cook from, or need gifting ideas for the holidays, read on. Or skip to making these smoky pear tea cakes and enjoy a slice over something from your own selection.


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When Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations on Voice, Terry Tempest Williams

This is the book I’ll gift to my former English-major friends. It is a memoir on Williams’ experience with her mother’s death and the resulting discovery of finding her voice. Of all the books in this list, it is the most beautiful and capturing to read.


Me and My Mate Jeffrey, Niall Breslin

Written by former professional rugby player and singer, Niall tells of his struggle with extreme anxiety disorder, how he kept the panic attacks and chronic insomnia a secret for 15 years, how it led him to give up on several careers, and ultimately to become a spokesperson leading the way for the discussion of mental health to be less stigmatized in our society. I can identify with much of Breslin’s mental struggles (though not how they present themselves) and his finding of endurance athletics and mindfulness to manage them. I can’t wait to see what happens when we as a society let go of the shame surrounding this topic and address it as we do other areas of health. I highly recommend this book to just about everyone.


The Five Elements of Self-Healing: Using Chinese Medicine for Maximum Immunity, Wellness, and Health, Jason Elias

I picked this one up at the library randomly and I’m glad I did. This book focuses heavily on addressing health from the standpoint of whichever Chinese Medicine element an individual identifies with most strongly. It also gives tools to balance oneself and delves deep into many common illnesses, starting with the most exterior (cold and flu) and moving to the most interior (diabetes and cancer). I’m super fascinated with Traditional Chinese Medicine and this was an easy to understand book that I will refer to again.


Between Heaven and Earth, Harriet Beinfield and The Web That Has No Weaver, Ted Kaptchuk

Both Between Heaven and Earth and The Web That Has No Weaver are great introductory texts that explain Traditional Chinese Medicine and bridge the gap between eastern and western medicine. I really enjoyed Between Heaven and Earth and am still making my way through The Web, but am adding it to the list anyway because I often find myself taking copious notes from it. I would definitely consider purchasing either of them to use as a reference when life gets chaotic.


Eating on the Wild Side, Jo Robinson

The premise of Eating on the Wild Side is that our modern foods have lost the rich nutrient content of their wild ancestors–and few of us are going to go gather wild herbs to eat every day to make up the difference. Instead, Robinson provides an exceptional resource on the most nutritious varieties of common fruits and vegetables, including how best to store and prepare them to ensure as many nutrients as possible actually arrive to our bodies. I took this book to work and made a handout for parents in our programs. My co-worker, who teachs a preschool parent-child health and nutrition class, says this is the number one handout that parents ask for and repeatedly refer to.


Lentil Underground, Liz Carlisle

This book is about a group of renegade farmers in Montana who eschewed the norms and started an organic lentil and bean farming revolution in an area that was typically conventional dryland wheat. I was able to listen to Liz Carlisle in person, as she and the farmer, David Oien, presented at my university a few months ago. The number one thing that stood out to me from this story was the sheer amount of work–double decade long lifework–that comes with eschewing the norm and following your dream. If you are at all interested in the food movement and sustainable farming systems, this is definitely one worth reading.


Running With Joy, Ryan Hall

I own this book and refer to it often for spiritual guidance. Essentially, it is Ryan Hall’s daily training journal as he prepared for the 2010 Boston Marathon. For me, it reads as a runner’s daily devotional. It’s a good one for gaining perspective on finding joy both in running and in life. 



Skippy Dies, Paul Murray

When it comes to fiction, I often look to the award winners and the books that are short-listed. This one is a weighty novel (600+ pages) about a boy at a Catholic boarding school. The title gives away what happens and Skippy dies right away within the first chapter. This is a captivating journey into the world of teenagers, drawing the reader into their often nonsensical thinking patterns and how the opposite sex can become an all-consuming obsession. Rife with humor, drama, backstabbing, teenage confusion, mental health problems, and of course death, this book reminded me of both what it was like to be a teenager, and how the teens I work with often view the world from a very different lens than my own. And finally–this book is exceptionally well written. Murray has a special kind of voice as only the most gifted writers do.


The Master, Colm Tóibín

Tóibín is an exceptionally talented writer and this novel is about the famous novelist, Henry James. I loved the imagery that took me into James’ life, and Tóibín was able to make the seemingly drab doings of a writer come alive. I also learned an amazing tactic both to navigate uncomfortable social settings and to view life as a writer does. If you haven’t read this or any of Tóibín’s other novels, I highly recommend him. His books are gold.


Ella Enchanted, Gail Carson Levine

One of my favorite pre-teen stories, I reread this one recently (again) and as always, loved it just as much as my 11-year-old self. This fun and easy remake of the Cinderella Story is actually a good one and is FAR better than the horrible movie that was made out of it.



Green Kitchen Travels, David Frenkiel

Written by Swedish and Danish couple David and Luise of the lovely blog, Green Kitchen Stories, this is the cookbook that most aligns with my style of cooking. Sometimes simple and easy, sometimes off-the-wall combinations of textures, ingredients and flavors, and often vividly colored. I have been cooking through this all year long. I like it even better than their first cookbook and refer to it often for both inspiration and to make recipes as-written. A word about their diet: David is vegetarian, Luise is health-minded. Together, they share recipes that are always both but can contain dairy, eggs, and gluten, but often do not. I find it super easy to sub these ingredients and have loved nearly every recipe I’ve tried.


Ard Bia Cookbook, Aoibheann MacNamara

This book, titled after its namesake restaurant, is lovely to simply leave on the coffee table because it is so beautifully put together. Whenever I read it, I want to cozy up in a lovely restaurant near the ocean on a dreary day and drink tea and watch the other customers leaf through newspapers and chat about scholarly things. The pantry section is my favorite part and leaves me super happy that a restaurant cookbook provides more than just recipes for meals. There are exotic seed and spice mixtures, infused oils and vinegars, chutneys, and the like.


The Sprouted Kitchen Bowl + Spoon, Sara Forte

I love just about every one of Sara’s bowl recipes, and I’ve tried TONS of them. There is no way I could choose a favorite, but the lentil-stuffed poblano chilies over a butternut mash which I had recently was particularly good. Sara cooks with a vegetable-heavy hand and when she includes cheese, it is often as topping and is never missed by us.


Whole Grain Mornings, Megan Gordon

This is a lovely brunch book that I’ve checked out from my local library for several months (more than once). I love the sheer variety of breakfasty options all arranged by season, and the fact that 90% of the recipes can instead be eaten either as dessert or dinner. If for no other reason, Megan’s recipes for granola are the BEST, which should hardly be surprising as she founded a granola business.


What good book are you reading? I always need more inspiration.




Smoky Pear Tea Cakes

We are enjoying Thanksgiving in eastern Oregon this year with my family. I can’t wait for a long weekend of cozy reading, hugging babies and toddlers, and catching up with the folks and relatives. Plus, I have a whole freezer of not quite good enough versions of this cake to hand over to my sugar-loving, thinks-he’s-sweets-deprived father, who will gobble it all up in no time. The trick with this cake is to find some good quality Lipsang Souchong tea which has a smoky flavor due to the leaves being dried over a fire. The pairing of the smoky tea and soft, ripe pears is subtle but prominent, especially when slightly warm. The smoke and sweet combo captures this time in the season perfectly. 

1 cup +  ~2 Tbs. boiling water
4 tsp. Lipsang Souchong tea leaves
2 Tbs. ground flax seed
6 Tbs. hot water
3/4 cup oat bran, certified gluten-free
1 1/2 cups gluten-free flour mix or flour of choice
3/4 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder 
3/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups cored and shredded soft pears (~ 2 medium)
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup canola oil
1 Tbs. pure vanilla extract
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Oil and flour four mini-loaf pans or one 9×5-inch loaf pan.
  • Bring about 1 1/2 cups water to a boil. Pour slightly more than 1 cup of it over the tea leaves and allow them to steep for a while.
  • In a small dish, whisk together the remaining 6 Tbs. hot water and ground flax seeds. Set aside to form a thick slurry.
  • In a large bowl, combine the oat bran, flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Mix well and set aside.
  • Grate the pears using the large holes of a box grater. Don’t include the core and seeds.
  • Strain the tea and pour 1 cup of it into a liquid measuring cup. Add the honey, oil, vanilla, pears, and flax mixture. Mix it all together thoroughly.
  • Pour the liquids into the dry mixture and stir the batter until just combined.
  • Fill the loaf pans equally and bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 35-40 minutes for mini loaves or 50-60 minutes for a large loaf.


Black Pepper + Pear Oats



Several years ago, I stayed with a few girlfriends at a B&B run by Agnes, who lives on a farm off the western edge of Ireland. From the moment we arrived we were fed quite well, including dinner, which was fresh caught from the ocean by her son. We had a proper Irish breakfast the next morning with the traditional white and black puddings, fried tomato and egg, thick slabs of brown bread, muesli, yogurt, and then pots of tea. After I was stuffed as could be, I slipped into the kitchen to ask Agnes a question. She was just tidying up and there, sitting at a tiny table away from the guests, was her farmer husband in his wool socks, tucking into a homely and simple bowl of porridge.


I immediately wished I could take all of my breakfast back, forget my friends, and sit at the table with him eating homely oats and chatting about the first frost date, how much rain we’ve received, the work that needs done before the storm, and other farmer things.




If ever I fed people food for a living instead of words and ideas, I would feed them porridge.

It is the meal I most closely associate with the term comfort food, and the one I’ll gladly eat any time of day but especially at the end of a long and discouraging one. It is the breakfast I always hope is fed to me when I stay at a friend or relative’s house, and at home in my own kitchen, it is the one I love to change throughout the seasons with all variations of grains, fruits, and flavors. I’m especially partial to thick-rolled oats but lately I’ve also been experimenting with various ratios of amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat, and polenta.






And then I always seem to return to oats. Perhaps this is because I grew up on its simplicity and homeliness, eating it slowly on nearly frosty mornings at the same table I have now, as I listened to my dad talk about the weather and other farmer things in his wool socks.



Black Pepper + Pear Oats, serves 2

I’ve made a variation of these black pepper and pear-infused oats nearly every morning for the past 60+ days–so it is high time to share. Feel free to experiment with the spices. Essentially, these are chai flavors here without the black tea. I add a touch more ginger and a bit less of the others and then another hefty pinch of black pepper at the end just because. A little wisp of blackstrap molasses stirred in gives it a little extra depth of flavor but this can be made much simpler and still succeed. Just try to use nice, soft pears and there will be no need for additional sweetener.

 2 cups water

1 cup thick-rolled oats

1-2 pears, depending on size

1/4 tsp. ginger

1/8 tsp. nutmeg

1/8 tsp. cardamom

1/8 tsp. ground black pepper

2-4 Tbs. ground flax seed

1/4-1/2 tsp. blackstrap molasses

  • In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Turn down to medium, and then stir in the oats and spices. While that begins to cook, slice and chop the pears into smallish pieces and then dump them into the pan and give the whole mixture another good stir. I tend to use the entire pear because it is all good–save the stem.
  • Let the pears and oats soften until nearly at your desired consistency, 10-15 minutes. Then stir in the ground flax and finish with a teeny measure of blackstap.
  • Pour into two bowls and serve.

a little update + all the goods


after months of telling all our friends + fam we’re moving an hour south where William works, we finally looked into moving, and now we’re looking into buying instead of renting. and so begins house-hunting! we’ll see how it goes. for now, I’m soaking up my favorite season in my favorite little city, embracing the rain (i love rain!), eating soup and roasted beets, getting good at toe yoga, practicing tree pose on the bosu ball (yikes/fun), and drinking copious cups of tea. links below to all the things that have filled me up. enjoy, if you’ve the mind.


Stop googling. Let’s Talk. 

Flapping My Wings. Reset Run.

Into the Storm.

A Typical Week of School Lunch For Kids in Paris vs. New York

There is so much focus on protein these days when most people are getting more than enough. But I love Gena Hamshaw’s 15 simple, affordable, and protein rich combinations of plant foods and her breakdown of grams and ounce equivalents. It is a good reminder when bombarded with all sorts of hype and hyperfocus on this nutrient that in a well-balanced diet, protein really should not be a problem, even when there are no meats and dairy products included.

Anne’s article on How to Get Rid of Sugar Cravings.  My summary: sleep, eat (enough) early and often. I used to reallly struggle with #2, as I was always in a restriction mindset and the end of the day was miserable. Now, my mid-day meal is generally the largest of the day or at least equal in size to dinner and sugar (or carbs in general) cravings are no longer an issue.

I’m a big proponent of addressing illness/disease through diet. I like this thought-provoking article on addressing depression, particularly the addition of healthy DHA and EPA omega-3 fats. For me personally, when I look at my health over the long-term (mid-teen to now), I can see that my mind got a lot stronger when I started taking omega-3s daily–or perhaps it was the addition of Vitamin D? I added both at the same time!

And, personalities. I LOVE personality tests, both for myself and others. I’ve been re-reading StrengthsFinder, Strengths-Based Leadership, and taking all sorts of Myers Briggs tests (always with the same result). I find personality tests especially helpful when going back to the basics with questions of what do I really want and how do I want to make it happen? Plus, this fun, artsy book is a good one if you’re at a crossroads in life.


In between lots of improv meals, I’ve been loosely following and putting my own spin on recipes from cookbooks this fall.

Smoky Beet Burgers — the bestest veggie burgers

Pomegranate + Hazelnut Moroccan Grain Salad

Walnut + Chocolate Chili, Green Kitchen Travels 

Sweet Potato + Eggplant MoussakaGreen Kitchen Travels

Autumn Panzanella Salad, Small Plates & Sweet Treats

Veggie + Soba (Stir Fry) with Mapled TofuSK Bowl and Spoon

Lentil + Mushroom Stuffed Peppers over Butternut Mash, SK Bowl and Spoon

Roasted Parsnip and Apple Soup, Small Plates & Sweet Treats

Red Kuri Squash + Spinach Tortilla , Small Plates & Sweet Treats

Butternut Squash + Quince Soup

Parsnip Carrot Cake Oats

Pomegranate + Hazelnut Moroccan Grain Salad



There was once a man who had a fig tree growing in his vineyard. He went looking for figs on it but found none. So he said to his gardener, ‘Look for three years I have been coming here looking for figs on this fig tree, and I haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it go on using up the soil? But the gardener answered, ‘Leave it alone, sir, just one more year. I will dig around it and put in some fertilizer. Then if the tree bears figs next year, so much the better; if not, then you can have it cut down.’

    – Luke 13:6-9


I have a plain black journal which I cart around for all things spiritual. It is a book riddled with inspirational sayings from homilies, scripture, from the girls in my prayer group, and messages I hear from prayer. I doubt the journal could be useful to anyone aside from me as it’s got thought-segments scattered randomly and the same phrases scribbled repeatedly throughout. Months ago, Father Ignacio stated, God is not like Amazon Prime. We have to wait, in one of his homilies. It is a phrase which has taken up considerable real estate these past few weeks.


As is usual when I need to work on something, signs appear from all sorts of corners with the same message. For the last couple weeks, I have had several reminders on perspective, of thinking about whose lens I am looking through, of being able to see my life as Jesus sees it, through His vision, and of rewriting the story I tell myself. Consistently at church, I hear the message to ask God the way and He will use you. I have been increasingly frustrated as I’ve been asking for guidance for months and (telling myself) I hear nothing. I sat for an hour this week and had an internal fight with God. Why are you not speaking to me?, I silently yelled. What do you want me to do? And then the quietest, softest answer:  Have patience. Trust in me. My immediate reaction was to act as if I hadn’t heard anything. Instead, I responded, but WHAT do you want me to DO!? Trusting and being patient sounds a lot like sitting around doing nothing when all I want is for my fig tree to be bearing figs.


I then came home and complained to William about the experience, of asking for guidance daily and hearing nothing, of being frustrated because He refuses to speak to me. William’s response was, perhaps you’re not looking at the situation the right way. Perhaps when you think nothing is happening, it is because His answer is not what YOU THINK it should be.


I can be incredibly stubborn. I ask for guidance but I only want to hear an affirmation that what I want is what I should want–is what I should be working on and is going to happen according to my schedule. I want clear, easily discernable boxes to check in a linear pattern marking the way forward. I want to know the daily labor will produce the desired results. I find it extremely difficult to entertain the possibility that He is answering and doing something in my life when it doesn’t look exactly like what I expect it to.


I look to my journal. His message to trust and have patience is written clearly, week after week, right next to the reminders about Amazon Prime. When I turn the pages back and see the same words time and again, I realize He’s been there responding all along. It is time to stop being frustrated and trust. It is time to rewrite the story I tell myself. I need to stop looking at my life as an unbearing fig tree. I need to spend less mental energy tearing it down and more of it in adding fertilizer.


God is not like Amazon Prime. We have to wait.



Moroccan Grain Salad with Pomegranates + Hazelnuts, adapted from Green Kitchen Travels

I pulled the last two eggplants from their stems the other morning. It was a beautiful morning to be in the sunshine, to pull the last of the season’s purple jewels from their life cord, to traipse around in my mud boots after months of heat and dry ground. It poured rain the day before and since and the ground has been soft. Most of the summer vegetables are finally done. This salad is a snapshot of the present season, a mix of old and new. Combined with those last two eggplants, roasted sweet onions and handfuls of parsley and mint, there are this season’s hazelnuts and the seeds of a pomegranate tossed in. I made this salad for the first time over the Labor Day holiday for our family reunion. That first version was slightly different with a couple zucchini sliced into rounds and roasted. It was a big hit and I promised to share the recipe. Now that summer is well and truly over, I’ve thought about how to carry this salad’s flavors into the autumn and holiday season as it would do nicely as a side during a celebration meal. I’m picking up a load of winter squash this weekend and I imagine some roasted delicata or kabocha squash would make for an even tastier mixture paired with the cinnamon-infused grains, herbs, pomegranates and hazelnuts. 

1 large or 2 medium eggplants

1 medium onion

2 Tbs. olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

1 garlic clove, crushed


1 cup equal parts quinoa and millet (or all of either one)

2 cups water

3/4 tsp. cinnamon

juice of 1/2 a lemon

a handful of mint leaves

a handful of parsley

1/4 cup raisins

1 pomegranate, deseeded

1/2 cup toasted and coursely chopped hazelnuts

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Chop the eggplants and onion into small pieces. Place them on a large baking pan and drizzle with a small dose of oil. Sprinkle with salt and roast in the oven until soft and slightly burned around the edges, about 15 minutes. Remove the vegetables from the oven and place in a large serving bowl. Add the olive oil and garlic and set aside.
  • Meanwhile, cook the quinoa and millet. Place the grains in a small saucepan and add the measured water, cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat immediately, and cover. Cook for 15-20 minutes until the water is absorbed.
  • To assemble the salad, place the cooked grains in the bowl with the roasted vegetables. Add the lemon juice, herbs, raisins, pomegranate seeds, and chopped hazelnuts. Give everything a good stir to evenly mix. Serve at room temperature or warm slightly.


Sprouted Buckwheat Granola



I listened to a disgruntled parent on the phone yesterday. Because she was disgruntled about something completely unrelated to me, she was quite open with the details of her discontent.


I listened to a couple teachers rant last week. In what started as a discussion of what I could do for their students, our meeting soon became what I could do for them in that moment, to be a good ear.


I listen to students in my high school group share their insecurities almost every Wednesday and Friday. Their fears and self-doubts are usually thrown into the middle of sentences so subtly that if I weren’t paying close attention, I might miss them.


When I was teaching, I regularly had students come into my classroom to sit and talk at me before or after school, to share their tough lives beyond the school walls, to ask me personal questions that I wanted to feel comfortable enough to answer sincerely because I knew they needed an adult to look up to and have their back.




These are not isolated incidents. From day to day, I listen to people share feelings of frustration, of isolation, of shame. Certainly, not everything I listen to is negative. I hear plenty of good experiences and fun stories too. But I hear the tough ones more loudly. Sometimes in those circumstances, I offer my input. More often, I prefer to listen or ask a question or two to keep from having the conversation come back on me, to swirl back around to how I am doing.




I remember growing up that it was often stated to me, no one likes a complainer. No one wants to hear the negativity. And I think that is true. But we also need someone to hear us, especially on the days that don’t go so well. In my own home, I’m often told that I’m not a good listener. I cringe each time I hear that statement and I immediatly wonder how, if I’m so terrible at listening to the one that loves and knows me best, can anyone else feel like I’m good enough to confide in?


We so often want to shut out the negativity, to cut off the complainers mid-vent because we know just how to fix their crazy, mental, nutty lives. I am a complete victim of this in my own home. I flap my wings all over William’s sharing like a distraught mother bird and I manage to cut him off mid-sentence repeatedly with unhelpful questions because if I’m busy focusing on fixing him there is less room in my crazy brain to focus on what is wrong with me.


When I take a step back and give myself a break, just as I so often give everyone else one, I realize we are all just trying to figure out how to live and be and manage ourselves in this experience we’re given. And many of us are struggling daily through life’s heap to peel back enough layers—in a conversation, in a relationship, in ourselves—to find the voice that is ours.


Each one of us has one. Each voice is distinct and has something to say. Each voice deserves to be heard. But it requires the act of listening. 

– Terry Tempest Williams, When Women Were Birds




Sprouted Buckwheat Granola

Chalk it up to roots that run real deep to the British Isles, but I’m in the habit of enjoying teatime around 4pm as often as possible, complete with a hot cuppa and snacks, and all the better if there is good company and conversation to be had. Growing up, I always ate a bowl of cereal as a snack on days I came home right after school. To this day, I favor crunchy cereals and fruit rather than the traditional mid-afternoon sweets. Today just happens to be National Nut Day. I’m not acutally sure if the day is meant to celebrate all the nutters like me, or if its more of a day to enjoy eating nuts, but the Recipe Redux is celebrating with a nutty theme this month. So it was timely that my garden-neighbor handed me a big box of fresh-off-his-tree walnuts last week. I contemplated making all sorts of elaborate walnut concoctions. But then it was teatime and I was out of crunchy cereal. So I made granola.

This sprouted buckwheat granola is inspired by a completely raw, sprouted one that I purchase in tiny amounts at my local co-op as a treat. Sprouting seeds, nuts, and grains helps them to release enzyme inhibitors which make them more difficult to digest their beneficial nutrients and makes them more nutritious to eat. Making sprouted granola in a food dehydrator is the best way to make sure those released nutrients are still around in the final product. I do not have a food dehydrator though so I baked my batch in the oven at the lowest possible setting overnight. If you want to add a little honey or maple syrup in the mixing process to sweeten this up a touch more, go ahead. I find the applesauce and raisins to be lightly sweet enough.

2 cups raw buckwheat groats

2 cups puffed millet

1 cup raw walnuts

1 cup raw pumpkin seeds

3/4 cup applesauce

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. salt

1 cup raisins

  • Soak the buckwheat in a large dish for 6-8 hours or overnight. Drain and rinse well until the water runs clear and all the slime is gone. Drain thoroughly. Return the buckwheat to a large jar and cover with cheesecloth, a thin towel, or paper towel, and set upside down. Rinse at least twice per day until it just starts sprouting, about 1-2 days. Meanwhile, soak the nuts and the seeds in a jar for 4-6 hours. Rinse and drain them thoroughly.
  • On a large baking pan, pour out and mix the slightly sprouted buckwheat, soaked and rinsed walnuts and pumpkin seeds along with the remaining ingredients, except for the raisins.
  • Set the pan in the oven at the lowest possible temperature setting and allow to dry overnight for 6-8 hours. Remove from the oven, cool to room temperature, and then stir in the raisins.


Early-Autumn Notes



After the blast of heat that lasted most of the summer round these parts, these early autumn sun-and-rain days are a welcome relief. My garden is still going strong with tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and summer herbs, but the fall crops, (fennel! parsnips! celeriac!) are also starting to grow more vigorously as the weather cools. My favorite old-timer apple man is back at the market with his tasting knife and stories about each heirloom variety, the students are back in this college town, and we’re full on into football season. Much is happening and I can’t wait to share updates as more foundations are laid. For now, there are links that I’ve been collecting for weeks. They are good ones and worth reading, listening to, eating, and sharing. Enjoy!



Getting comfortable with the mystery = my current life goal.

I’ve been receiving Taylor and Dorothy’s Good Food Jobs newsletters for years. Each week, they offer an insightful message that usually hits me right where I’m at in the process of life. No need to be searching for a job, or even care particularly about good food to gain from their wise words. One of my recent favorites has some great parting thoughts: May you experience the intensity of both pleasure and pain, surrounded by a community of people that understand and support you.

Many of us who work on a farm choose an agricultural career not because we want to hit the dirt with hoes, but because we love to eat amazing food.- A lovely and brief discussion on vegetable biodiversity from one of my favorite farms.

Marian Nestle is my favorite guru in all things food politics. She has been sharing about industry-funded studies for a number of months now, and finally came across a couple studies that do not favor the sponsors’ interests. This is a controversial topic in the nutrition science realm, and one that is not likely to be going away.

A SUPER interesting article on the gut microbiome’s role in mental disorders, and the idea that introducing a pathological bacterium into the gut will cause a change in behavior. Fascinating area of research!

Another (v interesting) microbiome article.



Listening to:

One of the best podcast episodes I’ve listened to recently on running and owning your journey.

My very favorite Rich Roll Podcast episode so far. I have never struggled with alcohol, and I still resonated greatly with his story, particularly in his description of how easily one can relapse into old self-sabotaging patterns, as if with a snap of the fingers, all the hard work can come undone instantly.

Bressie (an Irish musician and former rugby player), who I stupidly opted not to go see when he was playing in the UCD pub while on study abroad, gave a great talk (and an entertaining one too!) about his mental health challenges and the shame/hidden nature of it. His book about “Jeffrey” is now out and I cannot wait to read it.



Chermoula Eggplant with Middle-Eastern Millet Salad from Jerusalem

Mung Bean Stew on a Budget

Late-Summer Abundance Bowl

Asian Tacos with Hoisin Slaw from The Sprouted Kitchen

Roasted Fingerling Potato Salad + Herby Black Quinoa

Soba Noodles with Eggplant + Mango from Plenty

Eggplant + Sweet Potato Curry

Two-Tone Zucchini Bread with Fennel + Pistachios

Apple + Oat Scones from Green Kitchen Travels

Apricot + Pistachio Granola from Whole-Grain Mornings

resourceful hands, all-the-greens interchangeable pesto



I vividly remember mornings at my grandparents in the north, my dad’s parents, who we visited less regularly growing up. Specifically, I remember mashed-potato cakes in the morning for breakfast, their perfect fluffy rounds composed of leftover mash from the night before. There was something special about the resourcefulness of meals at my grandparents–how my dad and grandpa had trout on summer mornings, freshly caught in a pre-breakfast fishing trip to the creek, how the milk and eggs came from their cow and chickens, and how my grandma’s large garden to the back of the house sustained them long past their garden season.


In those days, we ate fairly similarly at home. But I had more respect for the ingredients that went into meals at my grandparents–even when I still hated the milk, refused to go near the trout, and was just as picky an eater there as at home.


Though I may not have wanted to partake in some of the foods that made up my grandparents’ lifestyle, in that pre-teen phase of wonderment, I loved sitting in the corner chair at the tiny table tucked into the kitchen, watching my grandma turn random assortments into a meal, listening to my grandpa spin yarns about his neighbors, his fingers cozied around his coffee cup, my dad nodding along.


In those early years before computers or smartphones or big screens to numb the mind and overwhelm the senses, I learned the art of quiet observation in small corners of rooms with the adults. In those rooms, where there is nary a sibling or cousin or similarly-aged friend in my memory, I watched, listened, and learned. I have always been fascinated by hands and it is the hands that I vividly remember, making it all happen. Hands flipping the potato cakes in the frying pan, the grease popping and squeaking. The hands swirling and lifting the coffee cup and setting it down again. The hands bringing in the basket of just-gathered eggs. The hands that helped mine push the creaky old elevator button leading to the farmhouse basement for another jar of jam. In observing those wiser hands throughout those early years, I like to think I learned to appreciate resourcefulness, of using what was had, and turning near-waste into something worth having.


I am not so naïve as to think the resourceful way of life practiced by my grandparents and parents then was born out of an extreme desire for some romantic farmy lifestyle. It was a way of life because it was what they knew, it was what they had, and it was how they (and we) survived economically.


William and I mutually agreed to forego gifting each other at many holidays over these past few years and we had to gently explain to friends and relatives why we were not willing to purchase certain items that might have seemed basic. But we didn’t scrap on our willingness to really pay the people who engage in the hardest of hand work to feed us. I am more willing to spend on food than these people I learned from, but I still hold tightly to their lessons on resourcefulness. I choose more expensive produce without complaint–but I damn well better try to use the whole vegetable. I like to think this comes as a result of all those quiet, watchful learnings growing up until it has become simply what I do–and every item we throw away goes somewhere.


When faced with carrot tops, radish or turnip greens, and other random herbs, I’ve spent the last few years finding ways to make them useful. My mom and grandma have chickens to eat their vegetable scraps. I have an ancient–but still working–food processor.


And that is how freezer-containers full of eclectic pesto combinations happened.




All-the-Greens Interchangable Pesto, adapted from Gena Hamshaw

The Recipe Redux theme this month is freezer meals. Whenever I have more greens or herbs than I know what to do with, I turn them into pesto and toss the container in the freezer. This recipe is one of my favorites because it is so versatile and I can make it using whatever I have. It also makes for a simple and quick meal. Our standard busy day go-to is spaghetti with pesto, but I’ve swirled it into grain bowls, spooned it atop toasts and pizza crusts, and even thinned it out to make a quick and tasty dressing for green salad. Try a few different combinations. Use up those herbs and greens. 

  • 2 cups tightly packed greens (radish/kale/parsley/cilantro/basil/mint/turnip/etc.)
  • 1/2 cup nuts or seeds, toasted
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (large flake) or 2 tsp. powder
  •  ground black pepper, smoked paprika, or red pepper flakes, to taste
  1. Place the greens, nuts or seeds, and garlic in a food processor. Pulse to combine until the mixture becomes a rough paste.
  2. Turn the motor on and drizzle in the olive oil and water. Add the salt, lemon juice, and nutritional yeast, and pulse a few more times to combine.
  3. Add the optional spices to give it a different flavor spin.
My favorite combinations thus far:
  • Carrot Tops, Sunflower Seeds + Smoked Paprika
  • Basil + Pumpkin Seeds
  • Radish Greens + Almonds
  • Mint, Cashews + Green Chile


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