comforting red flannel hash

comforting red flannel hash

img_0977

 

And so it goes. A brand new year. If you have experienced anything like the collective, 2016 was a tough one. The excitement for new goals, resolutions, and the prospect of being better and different is all around us. Honestly though, there were a lot of exceptionally good happenings in the last year too and I’m not so quick to wish it all away.

Even so, I went home for Christmas week to my parents and I admit I ate more than I’d have liked. Not too much, but more than “enough.” More cookies, more servings, more mindless chomping to fill a void I didn’t realize existed until I was there, in it.

 

img_0973img_0987

 

And here we are back at it.

We’ve been a whole year now in our new house. I’ll call it new even though it’s the oldest on our street by far and we’ve been here all these months. It still feels new and not quite a home just yet. There’s a blank wall in the living room still, waiting for the right photo, a total lack of rugs on cold tile floors, and the dog fence and house in the back I want torn out. There’s talk though of a kitty–even as there’s the one of us that’s extremely allergic. Let’s just never mind that for now.

Yet we’ve made the place our own in small ways that feel significant. I’ve had food to eat growing since last February and even as I keep kicking myself now for not putting in more of an effort at a winter garden, there are leeks, greens, and roots to be harvested yet, we just finished the last of the Brussels sprouts, and we sat down to a NYE meal that was largely from our own back yard. Small gains that mean a lot.

 

img_1022

 

What do you eat in this new season of reset to get back on track? I tend to forego the cleanses, green juice/smoothies, and cold salads, and just focus on what sounds good. This time of year, that means gently warmed greens that grow through the winter like kale and collards, roasted or steamed roots including beets, parsnips, carrots and the like, warming spices (cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, rosemary, sage, nutmeg and cloves!), hot drinks, and squash.

Lots of squash. I eat it in my oatmeal often, and spoon little cupfuls of plain roasted puree in between or to round out meals because that’s how I like it best. I know. I know. William curls his nose and tells me so.

 

img_1019

 

Comforting Red Flannel Hash, serves 4-6
1 pound potatoes (2-3 medium), diced into 1-inch pieces
1 pound sweet potatoes (1-2 medium), diced into 1-inch pieces
1 pound red beets (3 medium), diced into 1-inch pieces
1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive or coconut oil
1 large onion, medium-diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
sea salt and black pepper, to taste
2 Tbs. each minced parsley and fresh dill or 1 tsp. dried dill
add-ins such as tempeh, diced greens, etc.

  1. Steam the potatoes and sweet potatoes in a steamer basket set in a pot of simmering water, covered, until it is fork tender, which will take about 12-15 minutes. Drain, remove, and repeat the same steaming process with the beets.

  2. Meanwhile, heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high and add in the oil. Cook the onion until it is translucent.

  3. Then stir in the garlic, potatoes, and beets and season them with salt and pepper. Flatten the vegetables with the back of a spatula to compact them a bit. Cook the hash until it is brown and a little crispy on the bottom. Stir occasionally, and once the bottom is nice and crispy, flip it over to crisp up on the other side. Once the whole mixture is browned to your desired consistency, sprinkle over the herbs, and serve or stir in the add-ins, as desired.

 

toasted oat porridge with chamomile, walnuts + spiced apples

toasted oat porridge with chamomile, walnuts + spiced apples

img_1092

Everything is connected here…the soil feeds the plants that feed us. We are merely the walking, talking result of that connection.
– Lora Lea Misterly

 

I tend to share the same old stories here, I’m sure, but one of the big turning points in my relationship with food was marked by my visit to Quillasascut Farm School back in 2009. The week of cooking, harvesting, and gathering with like-minded young folk was put on as part of a Slow Food Youth workshop. I was the only “experienced” farm girl among the participants, and I was chosen in part because I come from a conventional agriculture background while the teachings and discussions were in line with Slow Food’s philosophy of food that is good, clean, and fair. At the time, I had just wrapped up spending 18 days straight working wheat harvest which entailed driving a combine for 12 hours a day across soil that was essentially devoid of life–save that wheat. The experience was a good one and I worked for a great family but I was beginning to put the pieces of our food and health systems together.

 

img_1105

 

I don’t think the week at Quillasascut changed any of my viewpoints on food necessarily, but through it I was able to move away from hyper-focusing on what any one food was doing to me individually and instead look at it from a broader lens, taking into consideration the communal and ecological connections to what I was eating. I was able to move away from thinking of myself as just an eater and realized I play a vital part in this connection within our vast food system. When I began to take into consideration and participate in more of the story behind my food, where did it grow, in what conditions, by who, were the people that grew it compensated fairly?, what role do I play?, I stopped worrying so much about the things that do not matter, i.e. exactly how many calories are in my meals, how I can control my body, etc., and just eat with joy, mindfully. To be sure, I’ve had a volatile last few years in terms of my relationship to food and body image, but each time I begin to overthink and hyper analyze, I’m usually brought back into better relationship by refocusing on the communal and broader connection aspects of eating.

 

img_1054

 

This month, The Recipe Redux challenged us to pull out one of our cookbooks and share a reduxed recipe. In similar, past challenges, I have shared recipes from my favorite blogger family. This year, I instead pulled down Quillasascut’s cookbook, Chefs on the Farm. 

The book is beautiful, and though many of the recipes bring back warm memories since they are ones myself and the workshop participants made there with chef Karen Jurgensen, the book contains much more than recipes. Each season is marked with a reflection by farmer Lora Lea or her husband Rick about life on the farm as well as knowledge of sustainability practices that can be incorporated, no matter the location, or lack of farm.

 

img_1049

 

Today’s recipe is adapted from a chamomile porridge in the Winter section of Chefs on the Farm. Both chamomile and oats have relaxing properties that soothe the nerves and set us up for a more grounded day. Chamomile is also useful for soothing an anxious, hyped-up, or perhaps overworked stomach and digestive system, which may be needed this time of year. Along with omega-3 rich toasted walnuts, the oats and chamomile combine to make a truly delightful and nourishing breakfast option during this holiday season. Enjoy the combination on its own, or if you’ve the mind, make a quick spiced apple compote to serve alongside. If unable to track down bulk chamomile, break open a packet of tea. Enjoy!

 

Toasted Oat Porridge with Chamomile, Walnuts + Spiced Apples, serves 1
1/2 cup old-fashioned or thick rolled oats, gluten free if necessary
1 cup water
1 Tbs. dried chamomile flowers
dash of sea salt
1 small apple, diced
dash of cinnamon and ginger
1-2 Tbs. walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped

  • Toast the oats in a skillet over medium-high heat, just until they become fragrant. This step is optional but it will lead to a richer, toasty oat flavor.
  • Then, in a small saucepan, bring 1 cup water to a boil and add in the toasted oats, chamomile, and a dash of sea salt. Cook for 5-10 minutes, depending on the cut of your oats and desired consistency.
  • While the oats are cooking, combine the diced apple, spices, and a splash of water in a small saucepan. Bring them to a good simmer and cook just long enough for the apple to soften and the liquid to form a slight syrup.
  • Remove the oats to a bowl, pour over the spiced apples, and top with toasted and chopped walnuts.

recipe-redux-linky-logo

Blackberry Hazelnut Butter Oatmeal

Blackberry Hazelnut Butter Oatmeal

IMG_4594

 

I had a realization yesterday over my morning bowl of oats about how I have spent so much of my life worrying and anxious about the future and so little of it enjoying the day, the experience, and the moment. I have nothing positive to show for all the time spent on those worries. For the past few weeks, when anxiety and racing, circling thoughts start to grip me, as they often do, I’ve tried to take more of a noticing approach, and on some days, can consciously catch myself before my mind jumps in to the chaos, take a couple slow deep breaths, and remind myself the only thing I need to do is direct all of my attention into focusing on the task at hand.

In a similar way, I’ve also been working on eating with mindfulness more often, especially in the morning over porridge. I tend to be a floor person and spend the majority of my “down” time at home on the floor instead of in a chair or the couch. I really enjoy eating my porridge on the floor, sitting cross-legged in front of the big window in our main room, as I watch the morning grow brighter or with the sun warming my face. When I sit and eat slowly without distractions, looking out at the trees and watching the neighbor cats, I begin to experience the connection again, to taste the subtle sweetness and richness of the berries, the texture of the oats, and the hint of hazelnuts. I miss the subtle flavors when I eat it mindlessly while multi-tasking or when in an anxious “what’s next/what if” state of mind.

We enjoyed a wine tasting/sampling at a friend’s party over the weekend and we savored and made notes on six different rosé wines, trying to guess the country, price range, and style. I rarely drink and when I do it’s often in small amounts at social occasions like these, but I really appreciate the act of tasting wine or cider in this way, slowly, with a focus on the whole process:  tasting the beginning, middle, and ending notes and picking out the subtle hints of flowers, of cherries, of chocolate, etc.

Good food has complexity and deep flavors much like good wine or cider does–especially this time of year. Why don’t we appreciate it in the same way more often?

With my intention (again) this week being to focus on the task at hand, I’m going to put more emphasis on extending mindfulness to eating the meals I get to enjoy–and try to return to just eating each time my mind darts off in another in the future direction again.

 

IMG_4596

 

Blackberry Hazelnut Butter Oatmeal, makes 1 bowl

1 cup water

1/2 cup old-fashioned oats, gluten free if necessary

1 cup blackberries or boysenberries

1/2-1 Tbs. hazelnut butter, to taste

dash of salt

dash of cinnamon, if desired

sweetener of choice, if needed

  • In a small saucepan over high heat, bring the water to a boil. Pour in the oats, give the pan a gentle shake to distribute them in the water, and then turn to medium low.
  • Cook until almost done, about five minutes, and then stir in the berries.
  • Allow the berries to either meld completely in and cook down a bit, which will take a few minutes longer and have more of a jammy texture, or simply let them heat just a bit without breaking down.
  • Stir in the hazelnut butter, salt and cinnamon and heat just a minute or so longer.
  • Remove from the heat, allow to sit a moment to develop more flavor and pour into a serving bowl. Depending on the berries, top with your sweetener of choice as needed.