mushrooms + garbanzos on toast with cider + thyme

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Growing up, I showed horses and my favorite discipline was dressage. I remember quite distinctly at the end of each test, after the final bow, of letting all my breath out, feeling suddenly exhausted, and realizing I had forgotten to breathe, again.

 

I’ve been taking a break from running these past few weeks because of an injury and the process has me going a bit mental. I’ve been turning instead to yoga to get me through. Bittersweet that it is, I can see progress in the yoga. I feel the difference in certain postures, that I can go a few breaths deeper than before. More importantly, through it I’m finally learning how to breathe.

 

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The transition from running has opened up space, realizations. I’ve been using it to fill voids that I wish weren’t there, like a band-aid that isn’t fixing the problem but merely covering it up so it’s not so exposed. Problems and injuries don’t go away because of their band-aid. They go away because they’re given the other things necessary to heal: time, rest, honesty, fixing the underlying problem, giving up control to a higher power, breathing.

 

The truth is, I had an eating disorder. I used running, both physical running, and running away from the situation, to heal and band-aid the recovery. It was years ago and I long considered myself recovered, but there’s scar tissue; a lot of it. I’ve been tiptoeing around it for months, hoping the scars will sort themselves properly without too much mental muscle. It’s funny when I write it like that, how silly that sounds. Of course unaddressed issues don’t sort themselves without work.

 

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I know there is no miracle fix to cure me in a week and my mind does not have to be my enemy. I don’t have to hate the things it thinks, beat it up for not being good enough, punish and restrict my body to master control of it, or band-aid it to ignore the ugliness of the wound. I have no business comparing or wishing things weren’t the case. I have to work at acceptance, at forgiveness, at okay-ness, and just be kind. I’m practicing gratefulness, daily.

 

The thing of it is, I love the goddamn band-aid and the kick-ass feeling of accomplishment. Running is simply what I do so there is grieving here too.

 

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I’ve been praying a lot though this process. I’m motivated by achievement, by progress, by better, faster, another box checked. I have a tendency towards extremes, and there’s a fine line between achieving to be a better person and teetering off into unbalanced territory. Through yoga and prayer, I’m realizing I don’t always have to be achieving big things. Enjoyment doesn’t have to mean pushing so hard to go further, faster, better. Progress can stew together slowly, painfully slowly, and it’s alright to be cracked open, raw and exposed in the meantime. Just breathing.

 

Back to yoga. Each time I return to the mat I’m reminded how much tension I carry. Even though I’m not running, my muscles are so tightly wound up, my mind too, confused amidst the misaligned mental fibers. I’m reminded to return to the breath. Just breathe. Just breathe. Just breathe in and let it go.

 

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mushrooms and garbanzos on toast with cider and thyme, serves 2

This dish is special simply because it’s quick and comforting. The cider melds in with the mushrooms and garbanzos to make a sweet little savory gravy. I used hard cider and splurged on fancy shitake mushrooms from our local mushroomery. A cider-juice and any type of mushroom will work, though the nicer ones will result in a richer flavor. Choose a thick, rustic-type bread to hold up to the mushrooms and garbanzos. If you eat gluten-free and want to make your own, I recommend Jennifer Katzinger’s Gluten-Free and Vegan Bread. My favorite is the Quinoa Sandwich Loaf, shown here. Unlike most gluten-free bread, Jennifer’s recipes are predominately whole grain and use chia seeds instead of tons of eggs to bind the flours, resulting in a real-bread texture.

1 Tbs. canola oil

1 shallot, minced

1/2 pound shitake mushrooms, chopped small

1-2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed

splash of apple cider vinegar

1 cup cooked chickpeas or other small white beans

3/8 tsp. poultry seasoning or make it yourself

1/4 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. black pepper

1-1 1/2 cups hard apple cider

1 tsp. arrowroot starch

splash of water

2 thick slices bread, toasted

  • In a medium sauté pan, heat oil over medium high. Toss in the shallots and cook until they are soft and sizzling, 4-5 minutes.
  • Add in the mushrooms, thyme, and vinegar, and cook until the mushrooms start to soften.
  • Stir in the seasonings and chickpeas, and then pour in the cider.
  • Once the cider starts to bubble, turn it down to a low simmer, and cook until the cider is reduced by half to three-quarters, stirring occasionally.
  • In a small dish, whisk the arrowroot starch with a splash of water and then pour into the mushrooms and beans. Let cook another minute or so, until it thickens up.
  • Toast the bread, and then lay each slice on a plate or in a shallow bowl. Spoon the mushroom mixture atop and serve warm.
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Eggplant + Sweet Potato Curry with Coconut Milk

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It rained last night & all day today
so the lake I can’t quite see
over the tree line is pure frothy white.

There is mist everywhere
& I am alone in it.

The white light
burns my eyes, sears a holy purpose
in my human frame.

I’m setting out
on a new journey, ever faithful.
Early on, I walked away
from everything, from things I loved.

But now, when I come to the ocean,
as I know I will, foaming
like some impossible hell,
I won’t despair or surrender.

I’ll find a tree, growing from a crag
on the shore & I’ll cut it down
with the force of my loneliness.

There is the shape of a boat
hidden beneath the bark,
I know it.

So I’ll release it,
using my most tender memories
as tools. I’ll continue.

Nothing
will block my way.

– Nate Pritts, from “Mist Everywhere”

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We tend to eat curry fairly frequently, and it lends itself to being highly adaptable. I have a recipe that I’ve used in the past, but often choose a random one that looks good from the internet. Recently, I’ve been asked by a few friends if I can share a version that Will and I like, and in the interest of The Recipe Redux challenge of experimenting with spices this month, I decided the time has come to lay down a good base. By that, I mean the vegetables and protein can be changed up depending on the season, but this combination of coconut milk, spices, and sweet raisins will work for all sorts of variations. I’ve had a turmeric root hanging out in the freezer for a few months and finally decided to branch out and actually use it. I frequently use dried turmeric, but just like fresh ginger, fresh turmeric is easy to incorporate into recipes. I like to store both in the freezer as they can be used whenever necessary, and then use a micro-grater on them while still frozen. Fresh turmeric is not always available, so if not, the dried kind can be substituted instead.

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 Eggplant + Sweet Potato Curry with Coconut Milk, serves 4-6
1 1/2 Tbs. coconut or olive oil
3 leeks, cleaned and chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalepeño pepper, diced
2 medium sweet potatoes, chopped
1 large eggplant, chopped
1/8-1/4 tsp. cayenne powder (adjust according to taste)
3/4 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp.chili powder
3/4 tsp. coriander powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 Tbs. fresh turmeric, grated (or 1/2 tsp. dried)
1 Tbs. fresh ginger, grated
11 oz. light coconut milk
2 Tbs. lemon juice
2 cups cooked garbanzo beans
2 cups kale, chopped
1/4 cup raisins
fresh cilantro, to serve
cooked long grain brown rice, to serve

Directions:

In a large skillet over medium heat, warm oil, moving around the pan to coat the bottom evenly. Toss in leeks, garlic, sweet potato and jalepeño; stir; let cook for about 10-15 minutes, until sweet potato has become slightly soft. Stir in the eggplant and cook for 10 minutes longer, or until both eggplant and sweet potato are cooked through.

Once the veggies are tender, add the spices. Give them a minute or so to toast and then pour in the coconut milk, lemon juice, beans, kale, and raisins. Stir everything together and let the flavors meld for 5-10 minutes more. Adjust seasonings to taste, and enjoy with rice and cilantro.

Moroccan Eggplant Mini Galettes with Chickpeas + Harissa

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There’s a platter loaded with all the things I’ve been holding on to so tightly. I’ve got it in my outstretched arms, hoping the precariously balanced load won’t topple over before I can let it go. My fingers have been clenched so tightly around each item, grasping for control.

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As if brought in by the winds of seasonal change, this last month has come with significant doubt, mental upheaval, physical pain. It’s brought back past issues I thought were well behind me. All month, I have been holding fast to each day, fingers still entrenched in the managing, yet knowing there is something within trying to break free.

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Perfectly situated in this storm are the conversations I’ve been having. They are purely surface conversations and so ingrained are my answers that I toss them out before I think of how I truly want to respond. I’ve spent the better part of 27 years dishing out as little about myself as possible and I purposely avoid asking the tough questions of others because questioning too, might reveal too much. The conversations that haven’t been happening are more honest and they’re haunting me day and night, telling me I’ve got to start being more real.

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I had a moment in adoration a couple weeks ago, bulldozed by a message that broke me completely open, empty, crying, hanging on to a vision and His firm truth. That same message has been bouncing off the cavern walls in my mind ever since and each time doubt comes, the message is there, lurking in the background, telling me to trust the process.

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As I look at the platter, it’s contents are overwhelming. I hold out my arms as far as I can, shoving it further away. All it takes to let go is deciding. I don’t need to be in control anymore. Hand it over. Trust. The lesson is in the unknowing.

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Interspersed with all this internal struggle is the art of everyday living, and in that we’ve been eating these mini galettes. They are extra-spicy, sweet, and comfortable all in one. Our garden’s eggplants finally got ripe and the makings of this recipe have been in the back of my brain for months waiting oh-so-patiently for those plants to yield. The first batch had cayenne and a healthy dose of black pepper, and only jalepeños in the harissa, and it was a touch spicy without enough sweet balance. We threw in raisins because raisins-go-in-everything-round-these-parts, and ditched the cayenne and black pepper. Will complained they lost too much oompf, so the black pepper is back. Seriously, no, we don’t really need to eat black pepper, jalepeño, spicier-harissa and cayenne-infused pie. So we’ll just stick with the first three and it’s perfect. If you’re not such a spice-fan, ditch the jalepeño all-together, cut back on the black pepper, and if you’re purchasing harissa, taste it before adding the entire amount! Do make these though–or request an invite to dinner–because the time has come, both for eating rustic little Moroccan-inspired pastries and getting comfortable in the unknowing.

 
 
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Moroccan Eggplant Mini-Galettes with Chickpeas and Harissa, makes 8
1 Tbs. olive oil
2 small eggplants, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 2 1/4 cups)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 large onion, chopped
1 jalepeño, diced
2 cups cooked chickpeas
1/4 cup raisins 
1/2 cup dried apricots, diced
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. coriander
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup harissa
1 recipe Quinoa and Olive Oil Pastry
 
Quinoa and Olive Oil Pastry, adapted from “Small Plates and Sweet Treats”
1 cup brown rice flour, plus more for dusting
1 cup quinoa flour
2/3 cups almond flour
1/2 cup garbanzo-fava flour
2 tsp salt
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup water
 
For the pastry:
 
1. Combine the first six ingredients in a food processor. Pulse a couple of times to aerate the ingredients.  Add the olive oil and 1 cup cold water. Pulse until the dough comes together.
 
2. Transfer the dough to a work surface, knead it a couple of times and press it into a disk. Wrap in parchment paper, and refrigerate it for 30 minutes.
 

Make the filling:

1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook eggplant, garlic, jalepeño, and onion, stirring occasionally, until tender and slightly golden, about 8 minutes. Stir in the beans, raisins, apricots, and spices, and harissa. Taste to adjust seasoning, if necessary.

2. Divide the pastry dough into 8 equal pieces. Dust a work surface with brown rice flour and roll each piece into roughly an 8-inch circle. Spoon 3/4-1 cup filling into the center and pile the edges up around it, pinching it as you go. Transfer the galette to a baking pan, and follow the same process with the remaining 7 pieces.

3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Bake for about 10 minutes, and then turn the oven down to 350 degrees F. Cover the galettes as necessary with foil to prevent excessive browning and bake until done, about 20 more minutes. Let the galettes cool slightly before eating.
 
Harissa, adapted from “Jerusalem”
1 red sweet pepper
1/2 tsp. coriander
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. caraway seeds, toasted and ground in a spice grinder
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
3 cloves garlic, coarsley chopped
3 serrano chiles, coarsley chopped
1 1/2 tsp. tomato paste
2 Tbs. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. salt
 
For the harissa:
 
1. Place the pepper, on foil, under the broiler in the oven, turning it occasionally for about 10 minutes, until it is blackened on the outside and completely soft. Transfer to a cutting board and allow to cool. Peel the pepper and discard the skin and seeds.
 
2. Heat the olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat, and fry the onion, garlic, and chiles for 10-12 minutes until they start to become caramelized.
 
3. Now turn the sweet pepper, onion/hot pepper mixture, and remaining ingredients into a food processor. Blitz everything together until it becomes a smooth paste.