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

to go on


I can’t go on. I’ll go on. – Samuel Beckett

We were headed back from the coast last weekend and I had been admiring the views and the changing season when I looked out and realized it is September(!) and I suddenly saw not the slow slide of summer into fall but the trajectory of my life these last few months. I realized that I have been so busy feeling my way through this year that I haven’t been able to truly see the world around me, much like that summer I was in Ireland for the second round and one of my co-interns spent so much of her time capturing the experience on her camera that she never stopped to appreciate the views beyond her lens. When I look up and out, it is so easy to feel and see the change in season right now, and as we drove back into town last weekend, there was a bittersweet sadness hanging in the air. This and the last few posts have reflected that bittersweet vibe, as I’ve been sharing bigger matters that have sat heavy with me this year.




One of these is whether I’m even writing a food blog anymore. I have always had more of an interest in talking about life in this space than in hyper-focusing on the food. Over the course of the last few months, I’d like to think I’ve been doing more of that and through the process become more honest in sharing the bigger things that matter. As I’ve done so, I have contemplated moving away from sharing food at all because it often doesn’t seem to go with the message I’m conveying. I think about my readers too. What do you want from this space? Why do you come here? How much is too much information? And I think about why I began the site, to share life and food.

Food is important to me. I love learning about it. I love talking about it. I really like helping others with it. And if you are newer here, if you read back to this post, you’ll see the making and partaking in food is so much more to me than finding peace through this year’s challenges or in fueling life on the run. All my interests, joys, and even problems circulate and intersect in and around food. And though I’ll chatter your ear off in actual conversation until you politely ask me to shut up about it, I don’t particularly enjoy writing about food in this space anymore.




In a recent conversation with a friend, the topic of my eating disorder and food came up and I shared, It’s not about the food. Just like every person has his or her tools or mediums with which to create a life (or destroy it), my strengths–and also weaknesses–are both food and words. Like my eating disorder, this space seems to be about food but is also not about food.

Inevitably, I have opted to continue with the recipe sharing because when I talk about the highs and lows of life here, I share the meals that feed my soul through the process, recipes that hold meaning not because they have this or that ingredient in or out, not because of any label or food trend but because they are simply feeding me through this life. I’ve considered deleting posts which I think are silly now or old recipes that I no longer partake in, but those too are all part of my experience. Those meals, like the more recent ones, fed me through those ventures into becoming the better person I am today. For that alone, I want to have them recorded.




In this transition of seasons, I too feel as if I’m wading through a big life transition. As I take a deeper and bigger-picture look at my trajectory, as I sort through my life and organize my thoughts around the point of this space, I want to share with both the readers who have held on for the long haul and those that are just jumping in, the basic reason for this blog hasn’t particularly changed. It is a space where I can use my creative tools to share real life more honestly; to go on, when a part of me is actually afraid to share what I really feel, is afraid to move into life’s changing seasons, is often frustrated and saying simply, I cannot go on.




When I am standing fearfully on one of life’s cliffs, not ready to jump yet somehow poised for whatever the next adventure brings, when I am at the point where I begin to question everything, when my mind wants to give up and fight like hell simultaneously, that is when I know I am right where I need to be. I will get through this changing season and I’ll be better for the challenge with which it came. I will be glad too that I was willing to share the experience here, rather than waffling on about some random ingredient.

After all, isn’t this life little more than the accumulation of these daily lessons and joys, of conversations and meals good and bad, of being vulnerable, of putting plans into action and seeing hard work pay off, or spinning wheels in useless worrying which we can’t seem to move on from, until, for whatever reason, we do?




Two-Tone Fennel + Pistachio Zucchini Bread 

This zucchini bread has been a work in progress for many years and I’ve held off on publishing because every recipe, like the most vulnerable blog posts, is not quite ready to share. Originally adapted from a Cook’s Illustrated recipe, it has taken on a life of its own with the switch to quinoa, brown rice, and almond flours, two types of summer squash, fennel seeds, and pistachios. It is the type of recipe that feels right in this (nearly there) return to cooler days and comforting foods season, and it’s likely my last bout with zucchini this summer. My plants have been producing steadily since mid-June and they’re telling me their time has nearly come. Onwards!

1 lb. zucchini and yellow summer squash, (about 2 medium or 3 small)

2 Tbs. ground flax seeds

6 Tbs. hot water

1 cup  sugar

1 cup quinoa flour

3/4 cup brown rice flour

1/2 cup almond flour

1/4 cup tapioca starch

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

2 tsp. fennel seeds

1/4 cup plain non-dairy yogurt (I used unsweetened coconut)

1 Tbs. apple cider vinegar

3 Tbs. coconut oil

1/4 cup raw pistachios, chopped

  • Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Oil and flour the bottom and sides of a 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan.
  • Shred the mixture of zucchini and yellow squash on the large holes of a box grater and then transfer to a fine-mesh strainer set over a bowl. Allow to drain for 20-30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, mix the ground flax seeds with the hot water in a small dish and set aside to form a thick slurry.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk the flours, baking powder and soda, salt, cinnamon, allspice, fennel seeds, half the pistachios, and 1/2 cup sugar together. Set aside.
  • After the zucchini has drained, squeeze it dry between several layers of paper towels. Mix the dried zucchini with the yogurt and apple cider vinegar in a small bowl. Set aside.
  • Beat the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and coconut oil with a whisk in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add the flax slurry and incorporate well. Add half the flour mixture and half the zucchini mixture and mix until just incorporated. Add the remaining flour and zucchini and mix once more until the mixture just comes together.
  • Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan and sprinkle the top with the remaining pistachios. Bake until the loaf is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few crumbs attached, about 55 minutes. Cool the bread in the pan for 10-15 minutes, then tranfer the loaf to a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature, or once cool, slide into the fridge for a day or two, as the flavors really develop overnight.

Beneath the surface, a manifesto.




Years ago in the thick of my disordered eating days, I regularly frequented a forum on the Runner’s World site in which runners would post their daily meals. I participated a bit, but I mainly monitored what these people ate and compared my own meals to theirs. It was a terrible habit that led to nothing good. There were a few runners in other forum topics that deemed this “Nutrition and Weight Loss” forum a breeding ground for all the eating disorders to proliferate. To an extent, I agreed, as there were many runners recovering from and/or struggling with eating disorders who collected their meals there and I could see it was mostly a terrible place for me to frequent.

I’m remembering this now as I reflect on my seemingly lifelong troubled relationship with food, my body, control, and ultimately comparison. When I wrote a few months ago about my eating disorder and the idea of restriction, I shared that I have no food rules, no off-limits items (other than gluten and dairy for allergen reasons), no black and whites. I meant what I wrote.

But I need to air out a big elephant looming in the room which I get asked about, weekly. I had a hamburger in May at my niece’s birthday party, a bit of pork loin the weekend before at my in-laws, and a short handful of meals with meat since at the homes of friends and family, and even at our own table as William had been requesting that I cook a roast for weeks and I recently gave in. I didn’t necessarily feel like eating any of those meals but not wanting to be the weird, offensive one, hungry and standing out eating only fruits and vegetables, I partook. Some of those meaty bites were just fine when I stopped thinking about them, but in others I actually had to coach myself through eating.

Way before I began my disordered eating, I had issues with meat and beef in particular. Being raised on a ranch, my parents making their livelihood in cattle, beef is what is and has always been for dinner. Being the oddball in my family from the get-go, I never really developed a taste for it. Ground beef in particular has always been a struggle and there were many meals that became ordeals growing up. In my family, it was protocol to sit at the table until the plate and glass were empty. I inevitably always got to the end of the hamburger gravy and the milk in my glass, only when I had drained all the tears, spent all my stubborn rage, and finally plugged my nose and got on with it.

Throughout the years since, I’ve gone through phases of eating and barely eating meat. I attempted to be vegetarian during the days when I was avoiding foods with substantial fat and calories. Along with a few other foods, I put all meat into an off-limits category, with the idea that if I cut out an entire food group, I would not eat as much. Later, I left the country a couple times and rarely ate it because it was expensive. In the year that William and I lived apart, I barely ever cooked it. During the periods when I either actively or passively ate less meat, I did not miss it. Most of the times that it was reintroduced, it was because it was just there, our cultural norm, or I thought it was needed for a balanced diet. It was also the first food group that I was commanded to add back in to gain weight and for this reason alone, it will likely always have a lot of stigma attached.

For whatever reason in the last 18 months or so, along with the onslought of refiguring myself out that I’ve been dealing with, the idea of meat has become more of an issue again. Like when I was young, I’ve stopped enjoying the flavor and texture. A couple of months ago, I started noticing my reaction to when people ask me if I eat it, as they often do. I was emphatically answering yes, as in oh yes, definitely, of course; just not too often as I really like vegetables. I have been saying this as if I’m pleading with them to accept me as not that weird. Lately, I’ve been taking a back seat mentally in these dialogues, watching my thoughts and cataloging what is going on. After further reflection and digging beneath the surface, these experiences have me realizing a few things:

I realize that when people don’t like a food, they usually don’t make a big deal out of it. They just don’t eat it. And when they are allergic or intolerant to something, they don’t treat it as if it’s a nasty disability to be hidden. I tend to do both because I fear being an inconvenience and different. (Ironically, I have a giant individualistic streak and I like being the one doing my own thing.) I’ve spoken to William often about this and he always tells me, Look, there are foods I don’t like. And I don’t eat them. It’s okay if you don’t like meat. Just don’t eat it. His words are incredibly encouraging because I’m the one who decides what we eat most evenings and I’m especially thankful he’s okay with (mostly) foregoing it nightly and can enjoy it at meals we don’t share, or on days when he or we eat out. I am aware more than ever of where my mind goes in desiring to create “rules” to live by, to make me feel like I’m somehow in control of my circumstances. I have needed both to continue testing out meat periodically to see what the deal is mentally, and to hear William’s affirmations. More than the still-lurking-beneath-the-surface-fear of many social situations with food, I fear fixating on foods and unnecessarily labeling them good or bad. Doing so was the primary characteristic of my disordered eating days and I have no desire to retrace that path again.

Several months ago, I started reading Gena Hemshaw’s Green Recovery Stories on her blog, Choosing Raw. Gena is vegan and the green recovery stories are shared by women who have healed their relationship with food and recovered from eating disorders by adopting a vegan lifestyle. Mostly, their reasons center around reaching beyond themselves to find compassion for animals. I grew up showing and raising animals for meat and still feel substantially connected with the farming and ranching community. This closeness to the source of my food has me feeling differently than most of the ladies on Gena’s blog.

After reading many of the stories, however, I realize that I did find a similar eating lifestyle which ended up being a direct route to the beginning of healing my struggle with food. In the throes of this messed up relationship, when I feared every kind of fat and sugar and food of caloric significance, I recognized how distant I had become from the producers. Having grown up on a ranch and studying agriculture as a degree, this pained me but I could not seem to get out of it. At some point in my junior year of college, when I set out to expand my horizons by learning as much as I could about the different types of food production and farming methods, I learned of Alice Waters and Slow Food. A transition began. Shortly thereafter, I left the country and while abroad, the process was expedited due to the farm-tour-type classes and experiences I took, and the significance and national pride in eating local food that I witnessed in much of Ireland’s traditional eating patterns. After returning home and finishing school, I took the entirety of the monetary graduation gift I received from my grandparents and I went off to a cooking-farm-school for a week in remote, northeast Washington. I picked up a girl I’d met via email on the way and we carpooled the nine-hour drive, getting to know each other over Indie music and mutual interests in food and farming. That week–a week in which we began the day milking the goats, harvesting the produce for breakfast, making cheese and wood-fired, slow-fermented sourdough bread among other things–stabilized much of the healing process that had begun with learning the philosophy of Alice Waters and experiencing Ireland’s food culture.




Growing food is incredibly difficult work. I admire all farmers. But the more I learned about all types of food production, the more I resonated with biodynamic and sustainable agriculture. It made absolute sense to me that the truly exceptional farmers focus on the soil and let the soil feed their crops. This was a slow and gradual learning process and as such, my diet and lifestyle habits changed quite gradually. The more I learned about and respected the process of food production, the more I have steered towards eating whole, minimally processed, and sustainable, organic, locally-produced foods. Making what the land around me can produce in each season the bulk of what is on my plate has been central to healing this broken relationship and can be summarized into one word: consciousness. The more farms of all types that I got my feet and eyes and hands on and into, the more I read of this book and then slowly over-hauled my diet, the better my relationship with food and my body became. I began to change my paradigm of “never” foods. I could sit down to a meal and eat without a thought for calories or nutrients or where on my body that food was going to end up. I instead focused on the flavor and on the process of what it took to get it to my plate. How many hands helped in getting it to my table? What kind of life did those people live? Would I be proud to produce that kind of food if I were the farmer? If not, why was I then supporting it as an eater? Essentially, this is the ethos of Slow Food–eating food that is good, clean, and fair. Recognizing the finite resources we take for granted and the impact of every one of our consumerist choices, learning more about the connection between the microbes in our soil and in our bodies and their subsequent impact on our health–these learnings have had a powerful impact on my recovery process. There is now much more to my relationship with food than “what’s in it for me.” And so, my diet has ended up being more or less vegan without putting particular intentionality to it since being vegan is not my focus. The more I learn of myself, the more strongly I feel that I should not be eating meat right now. I do eat eggs on rare days when they sound good but I often bake without them because it is difficult–and I enjoy a good challenge. I like honey. I am constantly learning and adapting. I make exceptions.

When I shared a big piece of my history a few months ago, one of my best friends reached out to me about being able to process and share a tough experience. She told me I was inspiring to her and to many others. Her comment meant a lot because I don’t feel like my relationship with food is one that anyone I know can relate to or draw inspiration from. Most of the time, I feel like the black sheep at the party and I want to go hide in a corner or politely decline social situations involving food. I don’t think it should have to be this way. It is okay to have different ideas and different preferences. It is okay to be the one person in the room that is eschewing social norms for their own sake. In fact, these types of people are the change makers in our society that I’ve so often looked up to. I’m sharing all of this today because perhaps there is truth in my friend’s statement. Perhaps there is a little part of my experience that can be an inspiration and sharing can make someone else’s uneasy relationship with food and body image a little less messy than my own.

When I look at where I was years ago and where I am now, I am so incredibly grateful that I can largely enjoy days and weeks of meals with little guilt, few negative thoughts, and almost non-existent calorie counting, nutrient tallying, and labeling of good, bad, and off-limits items. I feel entirely comfortable going home to visit my parents, knowing they will be supportive in whatever decisions I make and whether or not they agree. I’m also able to take eating day by day, loosening up a little and being less in control, and developing significantly less anxiety when eating meals prepared by others, especially when they are not the meals I would make for myself.

At the end of the day, I love food. I love conviviality, I love cooking for and sharing meals with others. I loved them before I ever knew what a calorie or a nutrient or a “superfood” was. I also really dislike hiding. Getting this all down makes me realize I’m incredibly close to being able to eat exclusively on my own terms, to care less about what other people think–and stop comparing–to just eat what makes me feel satisfied, roll with the phases life brings, and live a little.

Perhaps sharing my experience is not what was meant by the being-an-inspiration comment from my friend. Regardless, I think we can all be a little better off for caring less about normalcy and fitting in and more for being true to the one person we get to live with constantly–ourselves.


Tomatoes, Basil + Peaches, on Toast. serves 2-3

This is the simplest of summery dishes, which can be thrown together in a flash and enjoyed with some sort of protein to make a full meal. We are getting nearly to the end of the peach season here, but if you can find tree and vine-ripe peaches and tomatoes from a local source, the difference is magical — and worth the wait until next season once they are gone! 

1 peach, thinly sliced

2 large juicy tomatoes, sliced

a small handful of basil leaves, finely diced

a pinch of salt and ground black pepper

1 1/2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil

1 1/2 Tbs. balsalmic vinegar

whole-grain, gluten-free bread, toasted (or good slices of whatever you prefer)

  • Combine the sliced peach and tomates with the basil in a large bowl.
  • Measure in the balsamic and olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.
  • Stir to combine, and then spoon atop, crusty toasted bread.

Roasted Zucchini + Tarragon Soup


I have a loose policy that for every new purchase of clothing or books that comes in, at least the same number of clothes or books must go out, to be sold or donated. I generally purchase only books that will be used over and over again and I tend to check out those of interest at the library first, renewing them repeatedly until the library decides it is time to give another person a turn. Then– often–I won’t purchase the book, thinking someday instead, and I’ll get back in the hold queue and repeat the process until it is practically my personal copy anyway.


Somewhere in between being a teenager with aspirations of growing up to live in a giant house and drive a fancy vehicle, I veered sharply in the other direction and wound up aiming for minimalism instead. Clutter and “things” make me cranky. Whenever relatives call and ask if we would like an item they are getting rid of, I default to no. If the item is used only once a year or so, it is no longer worth the space and headache.


Yet, I fail daily in keeping clutter to a minimum. I leave stacks of books in every room. Despite my library-tendencies, there are three fairly large and overflowing bookshelves in our small apartment and nearly all of them ‘belong’ to me. When I take a giant stack in to sell, I purchase two more with the profit instead of taking the change. There are clothes, too, in the closet which have not been worn in years, and in the kitchen, I aspire to make simple meals, letting the flavor and the freshness of our garden produce shine through. And then I go and make every meal (every meal folks!) overly time-consuming, with something like five or more steps and at least one appliance/gadget for each one. I almost went to culinary school. Twice. Given my affinity for recipes that should require several sous-chefs and an industrial dishwasher to boot, one would think I actually did. And if you can’t tell, I tend to overcomplicate just about every little thing I turn my focus onto.


I’ve been attempting (and struggling with) less steps and ingredients in meals lately, and mentally beating myself up about it. After listening to the most recent Pure Green Podcast episode, I realize I resonate so greatly with Jonathan MacKay’s style of cooking and food philosophy. Jonathan, the food editor at Pure Green Magazine, says,

I like food to be simple and complex at the same time. Complex because the textures and flavors are layered, but simple because they are practical to make and easy.

Listening to Jonathan share this and many more valuable tidbits made me realize I need to take a deep breath and stop trying so damn hard–in all aspects of life. It is okay–and often essential–for there to be many steps to make a great meal. It is okay for there to be a tension between leading a simple life and a complex one. It is okay to have more than I need, but infinitely less than I desire. It is just fine to embrace clutter and at the same time, strive to minimalize the accumulation of things.



Roasted Zucchini + Tarragon Soup, serves 4-6
This zucchini soup is a double-remake of an old family favorite. I’ve revamped the original to make a simple gluten-free and vegan version that has a tangy cashew cream stirred into the end to round out the flavors and provide healthy fats. True to me, I added another step by roasting the zucchini rather than simply cooking it on the stovetop until soft. The result adds a nice complexity that is well worth it and makes for a soup which rivals my memories of the original. This soup is a great way to use up larger zucchini that have gotten out of hand, and fits right in with the August Recipe Redux theme of getting ‘back to the dinner table’ after the busy summer season. Growing up, we tended to slurp zucchini soup all summer long, but since this summer has been such a cooker, I’ve had little inclination for soup until now. I know we’ve at least a month left of true summer, but the winding down of longer days and the gear-up for school starting in a couple weeks makes it feel as if the season is basically over. We are nearly into my favorite time of year when all the late-summer harvests are colliding with the onslought of fall flavors, but until then, I’m holding onto these slower summer days and enjoying the bounty they bring. 
12 cups chopped zucchini
3 cups vegetable broth
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1 large onion, chopped
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. fresh tarragon, minced
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours
1-3 Tbs. water
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
  1. In a large baking dish, toss together the chopped zucchini, garlic, and onion. Roast until soft at 400 degrees F, about 30-40 minutes. Remove from oven and cool slightly.
  2. In a large pot on the stovetop, bring vegetable broth to a simmer. Slide roasted vegetables into the broth, add salt, tarragon, and pepper, and simmer for about 10-15 minutes, to allow the flavors to meld slightly.
  3. Transfer squash mixture to a blender and blend in batches until smooth. Return to the pot and bring back up to a low simmer.
  4. Drain the soaked cashews and puree with lemon juice and water in a food processor until completely smooth. Add enough water so the mixture is slightly thinner than paste consistency.
  5. Stir the cashew cream into the zucchini soup, taste, adjust seasonings as necessary, and enjoy!

Summer Socca, Grains of Sand



Saturday night I stood in the ocean, letting the frigid Pacific rush at my toes and then tug with an invisible powerful force back into the sea. I watched that tide pull a million grains of sand from their resting place, scattering them back into the depths and I thought, My life is sand. And then a silent whisper, Let it go.

I stood there until time seemed to stop, and then gently, finally, I let the tide pull and scatter and let land my intentions to become what they will.




Afterwards, William and I shared bento bowls at a little hole-in-the-wall with ‘world beat cuisine,’ live music, and skulls and wisdom inked in crayon across the walls. We sat at the bar which was really a table with the waitress sifting through orders a half-arms-length from me, and I shared–with tears welling to the corners of my eyes and fingers desperately hugging a cup of ginger tea: I wish I had a timeline. That’s the hardest thing. If I just knew that I’d feel better in three weeks or three months or three years, it would be easier. The unknowing, what even tomorrow will bring, is challenging. My entire life, I’ve had a plan; I’ve had a timeline. It is terrifying to have intentions without all the usual signs that I’m moving toward them.




Recently, I fell apart in my doctor’s office. She asked how I was doing and as I tearily told her about my anxiety and the fear, indecision, unknowing, and how I’m used to having my life figured out and put together, she calmly responded in her sincerest voice, Oh, Rebecca, you have it sooo together. 

At the time, I couldn’t see what she meant. I couldn’t see that even being able to recognize the internal and external chaos and responding to it –healthfully– is having it together, is being on the right track.




Eleven months ago, I had a message come very firmly in prayer: The lesson is in the unknowing. I thought about that message for weeks and months afterwards, trying to wrap my head around what it meant for me, as if it were a foreign code to be deciphered. I’ve lived that message daily in all the months since, and as I stood in the ocean Saturday night, I was reminded that letting go has to happen repeatedly, daily, until doing so becomes inherent as the grains of sand letting the water scatter them back into the ocean.




When you begin to pay attention — I mean center your attention, turn off the chattering mind, get present and really tune in to your environment — you begin to realize that even the tiniest observations, events and exchanges can carry meaning…To put things in perspective, I don’t have enough fingers and toes to count the number of times I have found myself in a metaphorical canoe without a paddle – unsure where I was being directed and just surrendering to the current, present and open to what might come downriver and proceeding only on intuition, instinct and faith…It’s always and without fail exactly where I am meant to be. I know this to be true because every time I peer into my rear view, it always adds up. Good or bad, the math is inevitably perfect.      – Rich Roll




Summer Socca with Grilled Eggplant, Smashed Tomatoes, Olives + Basil, makes 2/serves 4

When I’m feeling all out of sorts, one of the ways I get grounded is by spending time in either the garden or at the Saturday market, ‘talking shop’ with my favorite farmers, and then subsequently cooking up a delicious meal with the results of the bounty. The speckled eggplant above is the Listada de Gandia, a French heirloom. Socca too, is a French ‘pancake,’ made of chickpea flour. It is infinitely simple and serves as a perfect base for grilled summer vegetables. Toss together a little salad of greens, a light dressing, and perhaps a fistful of cooked grains to round out the meal. 


1 cup chickpea flour

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

a dash or two of black pepper

1 cup water

olive oil, to coat the pan


Garlic-Basil Oil:

1/4 cup olive oil

3 large cloves garlic, minced

2 Tbs. minced fresh basil



2 small eggplants, sliced into thick rounds

4-6 large tomatoes

14-16 Kalamata olives, diced

2 Tbs. chopped fresh basil

Sea salt

  • In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper, and then water. Whisk until you have a smooth batter. Set aside while you make the basil oil.
  • In a small dish, combine the olive oil, garlic, and basil.
  • Heat an indoor grill (or outdoor grill, if you have one and a grill basket for the vegetables.)
  • Rub the whole tomatoes with a light coating of the olive-basil oil, and set them on the grill whole. Cook until they are soft and slightly charred. Remove and set aside to cool for a few minutes. With fingers or a pastry brush, lightly brush the oil mixture on each side of the eggplant rounds. Grill for about 4 minutes and then flip and grill the other side, until slightly soft. Remove and once slightly cool, cut each round into quarters.
  • Tear or lightly chop the tomatoes into smaller chunks and set them in a fine-mesh strainer in the sink to drain lightly, if they are quite watery.
  • Heat a large skillet on the stove over medium heat and lightly brush the bottom with oil. Pour in half of the socca batter and tilt the pan to distribute it evenly. Cook for about five minutes, until the bottom is browned and comes away easily from the pan, and then flip to do the same on the other side. Repeat with the remaining socca batter.
  • Remove the socca to a serving platter, brush the bottom with the remaining garlic-basil oil mixture, making sure the basil and garlic are distributed evenly, and then top with the eggplant, tomatoes, olives, and remaining basil. Sprinkle lightly with coarse sea salt and serve.

The Pittsburgh Salad


The summer before my senior year of college, I took a leadership class required for my degree. Our main text was The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and from it we created a personal mission statement as one of our first assignments. I created a poster-size version of my mission statement at the time and I’ve since carted it around from home to home, always finding a special place to make it visible. This morning, the poster fell off the wall and I picked it up, re-read those words and realized, despite the distance of years, I would not change a single thing about the mission I crafted for myself that summer.


I was gently reminded in re-reading that no matter my fears and unknowns, if I’m living my mission, I’m on the right track.

  • Listen to God. Live His plan.
  • Be active. Think healthy.
  • Cherish family. Do small acts to support positive, loving relationships.
  • Be a role model. Help others to achieve personal success.
  • Be a supportive and giving friend.
  • Appreciate nature. Do small tasks to ensure long-term ecological health.
  • Live in the moment. Right now. Enjoy it!


Have you created a personal mission statement? If so, what is on it?


The Pittsburgh Salad, serves 2 as a main dish

Last week, I was in Pittsburgh for a nutrition educators’ conference. It was the first time I had traveled long distance in years, spending several days with neither car nor kitchen, and I wondered how I would find the food options given my dietary constraints and vegetable-heavy tendencies. Within a few blocks of the conference, I discovered not one but two AMAZING salad bars. Normally, when I envision a salad bar, I think of Subway without bread–iceburg or romaine lettuce concoctions with pale tomatoes, dry shredded carrots, processed meats, and sketchy dressings. This was not the case. There were a gajillion freshly prepped and creative toppings to fit all sorts of eating preferences and lonnng lines out the door around lunch time. I found myself returning three days in a row because I only wanted to eat these salads. Without further going on about my hippy-dippy affinity for kale, quinoa, and beets, I’ve reconjured a variation of my favorite Pittsburgh Salad. Enjoy!

2 cups chopped kale

2 cups mixed greens

1/2 cup cooked and cooled quinoa

1/2 cup finely diced raw beets

1 medium yellow zucchini, chopped small

1 medium carrot, shredded

Grilled Tofu (below)

1/4 cup Honeyed + Spiced Pecans (below)

2-3 Tbs. Honey-Basil Balsamic Vinaigrette (below)

  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the greens, quinoa, beets, shredded carrots, grilled tofu, and pecans.
  • While the grill is still warm from the tofu, toss the chopped yellow squash in the container that the tofu marinated in, gently moisten with the remaining marinade, and slide onto the grill. Cook until just beginning to soften, about 4-5 minutes. Remove from the grill and toss in the salad bowl with the remaining ingredients.
  • Toss the salad ingredients with the desired amount of vinaigrette and serve.

Grilled Tofu

6-7 oz. extra firm tofu

1 1/2 tsp. apple cider vinegar

3/4 tsp. honey

1 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika oil (or  use a mild-flavored oil and a dash of smoked paprika)

  • Wrap the tofu block in several sheets of paper towels and set on a cutting board near a sink. Stack several heavy objects on top to press the extra water out, and let sit for 30-45 minutes.
  • Unwrap the tofu and cut into 1-inch cubes.
  • In a glass container with a lid or tupperware, gently mix the vinegar, honey and oil. Toss the tofu cubes into the marinade, close the lid, and shake to coat. Marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  • Heat a stovetop grill, slide tofu cubes on, and close the lid. Grill until char marks begin to form, about 4-5 minutes. Quickly turn the cubes to grill the other side and cook for 3-4 minutes more.

Honeyed + Spiced Pecans

1 1/2 cups raw pecans

1/4 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. black pepper

pinch of cayenne powder

pinch of dried thyme

1 1/2 tsp. olive oil

1 tsp. honey

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread pecans on a large baking pan and roast until fragrant, about 10-12 minutes. Remove from the oven to cool slightly.
  • In a small bowl, combine salt, thyme, pepper and cayenne.
  • In the baking pan, drizzle the pecans with oil and honey and toss well to coat completely. Sprinkle with the spice mixture and toss again.

Honey-Basil Balsamic Vinaigrette

1 Tbs. honey

2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar

1 Tbs. whole-grain mustard

1 Tbs. finely diced fresh basil

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

  • Combine all the dressing ingredients in a small container and shake to mix thoroughly.


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