Honey-Roasted Rhubarb and Favorites, Lately

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Hey friends, it’s been a hot minute. I’ve recently had an epiphany about ‘keeping the main thing the main thing,’ and for me right now, that’s successfully taking care of myself through peak weeks of marathon training, and then balancing summer term of grad school with my newish job, in that order. Everything else has been largely set aside for now unless it fits into the above. Which means I’ve made variations of chocolate walnut banana bread for three weeks in a row as end of the week baking therapy, made a lot of lovely but quick meals, taken significantly more restful moments and reincorporated naps into my life, but also haven’t done much else or shared here.

Below are a few favorites from the last couple weeks and months, and a lovely quick recipe for honey-roasted rhubarb, which tastes great as an add-in to a seasonal green salad, stirred through morning porridge, or simply spooned alongside some nice yogurt.

 

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to read: 
Plant Spirit Totems by Bloom Post
Eat Up! by Ruby Tandoh
Long days but learning so much in all my classes

to eat, drink, and imbibe:
Ginger-Turmeric Kombucha
Strawberries, and cardamom. also, rhubarb.
Flower Essences by Sophia Rose

to listen: 
Medicine Stories Podcast, but especially the episode with Sajah Popham (#17)
Lauren and Jesse’s new podcast, which is great for all sorts of life advice, but especially for athletes with questions.
Nicole Antoinette’s discussion with pro-runner Collier Lawrence. So much good stuff including goals, suicide prevention, and more.
A good pathophysiology review of the (lots of science!) involved in depression, for all you fellow science nerds.

to pause in awe and simply take in:
Early morning sunshine, through the leaves
Gifts from a lifetime friend who lives on the other side of the world

 

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Honey-Roasted Rhubarb
When adding the finished rhubarb to a seasonal salad, I find it goes great with a mix of delicate and hardier greens, and alongside early season snow or snap peas, pea shoots, toasted walnuts or hazelnuts, and a light vinaigrette dressing. That’s just one variation of how this can be incorporated into a savory meal, and partly why I tend to err on the side of less honey, to let rhubarb’s natural sour-tart flavor shine through. 

1 lb. rhubarb, sliced into 1-inch slices
1-2 Tbs. honey, as preferred

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Scatter the rhubarb in a single layer in a large baking tray, then drizzle over the honey, and gently mix it all together.
  • Bake for 20 minutes or until the rhubarb is tender, giving it a stir halfway through. The rhubarb pieces should keep their shape rather than cook all the way down.
  • Leave to cool slightly before serving.
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Broccoli, Raisin + Sunflower Salad

Broccoli, Raisin + Sunflower Salad

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I’ve had a whole line of early summer recipes to share, which I tested on repeat until getting just right. Inevitably I never got around to photographing and sharing, and then the ingredients in question were past their season and the moment was gone.

Sigh.

It’s been that sort of summer. I’ve been trying to just go with it.

 

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The Recipe Redux challenged us to Beat the Heat with the Slow Cooker/Instant Pot/Pressure Cooker this month instead of turning on the oven or stovetop. But the god’s honest truth? I wiped out//not invited in as many appliances as I can, in the name of less clutter, open space, and more peace of mind. So I don’t have too many kitchen appliances to cook with in lieu of the oven and stove, save our tiny countertop grill.

And also, If you read my last post about eating more soup in the summer (a practice that is still going strong), you’ll know I’m okay with a little summer heat. I’ve been delving more into eating in the way that serves me best these last few years and warm, cooked foods are generally better for me. Our climate is also fairly mild and I’m enjoying being outside as much as possible in this season; the warm days are particularly pleasing. Chameleoning, I call it.

I worked outside in the shade for most of the day earlier this week, and though it was easily in the low 80’s, I had a long-sleeve on for most of it. Later, at a meeting in an unairconditioned house, I put those longsleeves back on and was super comfortable while around the table, everyone else was in shortsleeves and tank tops. The sameish story is true when I work from home, until the end of the day when William walks in the door and must-have-fan/AC. In the evenings, I don my sweaters and socks!

So super cold person here. And summer is my season.

 

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But to keep with the theme for this month, I did turn off the oven/stovetop and I made one of my favorite broccoli salads. It’s a rendition of that mayonnaise, bacon, and sugar-infused potluck dish I remember from summers long ago, but this is one I actually enjoy eating.

Plus, it’s keeping the broccoli forest in my backyard in check!

Paired with easy grilled tofu and some slices of rustic whole-grain bread, or whatever else you’ve got on hand and sounds nice, it’s a dish for these warmer summer evenings.

 

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Broccoli, Raisin, and Sunflower Salad, serves 3-4
I’ve been growing Apollo Broccoli from Territorial Seeds for the last couple years and this variety is a broccoli cross, which has tender side shoots/sprouts that grow continuously from May through December. It looks extra leafy because when harvested and used fresh, the tender buds, stems, and leaves are all sweet and delicious. Make this with the broccoli you have available, but try to limit the from garden/farm/store-to-plate timeframe because some of broccoli’s best nutrients are depleted rapidly by light, heat, and long-storage!

a big bunch of fresh broccoli
1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds, toasted*
1/4 cup raisins
1/2 cup plain, unsweetened coconut yogurt
1/2 tsp. sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

  • Cut the broccoli florets and stalks into small, bite-sized pieces. Place them in a big serving bowl along with the raisins, toasted seeds, yogurt, and salt and pepper. Use your hands or a large spoon to mix everything until the broccoli is coated with yogurt to your liking.
  • Serve right away along with the sides/mains of your choice.

* To toast your seeds, put them in a small saute pan over medium-low and heat until just beginning to smell toasty and turn golden, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat and stir into this salad.

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Creamy Fennel Soup with Honey + Thyme

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Near the end of my spring term, my biochemistry professor began a week on both an uplifting and cynical note: he encouraged us not to stress about the class or final too much and then relayed the stark truth that we never know what the next day will bring and we should make the most of enjoying the present. I could tell from the weeks previous that something was happening in his personal life that was challenging, and though he shared only a hint beyond that particular day, his words really stirred me.

 

I’ve shared only a little of it here, but in the past couple years I’ve been going through somewhat of a personal growing up/life upheaval. Above all, I guess I’m slowly learning to simplify and downsize what I accomplish in a day and opt for a little less stress and “striving to.” I’m also working on letting go of a manic hold on the future and just let it happen. My mantra of High Intention, Low Attachment, one I learned from a Running on Om podcast, is one I have to remind myself daily. In the spare moments I have now, I’ve been trying to take it all in with all my senses: the colors, the scents, the sounds, and yes, the flavors.

 

I can for sure say I fail as much as I succeed, but I think it’s a growing up kind of pursuit that I need in the way that only big life challenges can ask of us.

 

One way I’ve been achieving more of living in the moment is by moving many meals outside. The other is by working with the freshest produce, whether it’s from our own garden, harvested right before dinner, or from local farms. We are truly spoiled in this season and getting to walk outside and harvest a basket of something different each day has me being reminded that being able to do so was both a major priority for William and I, and that we are so privileged to do so. It is a privilege I do not take for granted.

 

Wherever you’re at in this season within the grand scheme of things, whether everything is wonderful or larger struggles have come your way, I hope you take a little moment to stop and look around, and find simple joy in the process.

 

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Creamy Fennel Soup with Honey + Thyme, serves 4-5
Soup might seem an ironic thing to eat in this warm season, but energetically, it is helpful to our bodies to be heated mildly so we can use our internal thermostat to self-regulate back to a comfortable state. It is much less harsh and draining than eating very cold foods, like ice cream or large helpings of cold melon, to cool down quickly. For this reason I think, I tend to favor light soups more in the summer than in other seasons. This one, with its emphasis on fennel, is quite light and simple. The flavor of the fennel really shines through, and there is just a sweet hint of the honey and thyme with each bite. You’ll want to serve it as starter or on days when only a light meal is preferred. As I note in the directions, taste and adjust flavors at the end. Depending on preference, you might want to add more or less salt, honey, lemon, or even cashew butter. 

1/2 tsp. coconut oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
3 large fennel bulbs, diced
1 tsp. dried thyme
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups vegetable broth or water
3/4 cup cooked white beans or garbanzos
1 tsp. salt + more to taste
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
juice from 1/2 a lemon
2 Tbs. cashew butter
2 tsp. honey

  • Melt the oil over a medium heat in a large pot. Add in the diced onions, celery, fennel, and thyme. Cover the pot and cook for 15 minutes, until the vegetables have softened but haven’t yet browned. Add a splash or two of water as needed.
  • Add in the garlic and cook, uncovered, for about a minute more. Add in the beans, then pour in the broth or water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes.
  • When the soup is done simmering, pour it into a blender in batches, to bring it to a smooth puree. On the last batch, spoon in the cashew butter and puree in.
  • Add all the now pureed soup back into the pot and then bring up to a simmer again. Add the lemon juice, salt and black pepper, and honey. Taste to check for seasoning and adjust as needed. You might find it needs more salt, pepper, lemon juice, or honey. Add a small amount of whatever it needs until it tastes balance and “right.” You’ll know and it will be lovely.
  • Ladle into bowls, and serve with warm bread as desired.