There are a few adaptable, staple meals that we eat on repeat. One of them involves roasted potatoes + whatever other vegetable is in-season. This week's summery variation took advantage of tomatoes + peppers from our garden as well as corn, avocado, scallions + hot sauce. Colorful + delicious! It's always nice when someone at the table says, "I could eat this every day!"
Just a few lovely things I've come across lately: Go Gently Nation's summer collection is gorgeous. I love the guaze-y, strappy dress + the story shared along with it of the founder's trips to Palm Springs packing only this dress. The colors + easy fit of these natural-fiber, made-in-Los-Angeles pieces are completely dreamy to me. And these photos have me longing for California sand between my toes.
I'm loving the simplicity of these meals offered as inspiration for what to do with our farmer's market or CSA hauls. It always feels affirming to see recipes listing a limited number of common ingredients that result in super tasty meals. (Also- yay!- summer produce!)
I enjoyed spending some time this week with this article by Laura Rubin about writing for self-worth. I tend to spend a lot more time thinking about ways that I need to improve rather than respecting who I am. I appreciate Laura pointing out that self-worth "creates a beautiful foundation for self-improvement" (if that is what we want to pursue) as well.
And I'm looking forward to diving into the Self-Compassion Workbook alongside Julia. I'm hoping that the illustrations by one of our favorite artists help sweeten the willingness to engage. :)
I hope you are finding some mind, body + soul-nourishing ways to spend some time each day.
All lovely images via links.
Lots of love,
Thoughts I had while picking + eating these strawberries from our garden:
-I don't care that it hasn't stopped raining. I really want to eat some of these for lunch.
-A penchant toward questioning the meaning of life may be extinguished by eating strawberries.
-The verse...Taste + see that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8)...might have something to do with strawberries.
-I wish I could share one of these little treasures with each of you, because then you'd all be convinced to plant some of your own (if you don't already). ;)
Have I convinced you yet? :) If you have access to a sunny patch, plant strawberries. :) It doesn't take much effort or expense...they start like the picture on the left. (Look for strawberry starts in the early spring.) We've even gotten a few strawberries off these starts.
Next year, those starts will have sent off their shoots + filled in + will look more like the picture on the right. All it takes is watering them every so often throughout the summer. We don't cover them with straw or anything during the winter...though it might be a good idea in places where there is more snow or much colder temperatures (though we do get a few feet of snow at a time + very cold temperatures too).
These plants produce fruit for three or four weeks + look pretty the rest of the time. I think they would look nice in a front yard or as ground cover on the side of the house too. I feel like it's totally worth it to devote a little space to strawberries.
If you have to wait until next year to plant those starts, look for a U-pick farm in your area. In less than an hour you'll have enough deliciousness to eat to your hearts content + also to make some jam + to freeze some for later in the summer.
These strawberries are nothing like the ones in the grocery store. They are much sweeter + softer...which is probably why they wouldn't travel well from field to store shelf. I love them straight off the vine...or as a part of my very favorite lunch...with homemade yogurt + granola (homemade or from the bulk bins).
When there are too many to sit down + eat right then (because there will be more to pick tomorrow)...I really feel rich + freeze some. The frozen ones make amazing smoothies or ice cream treats later in the summer!
When Jo ate her strawberries, she mused, "I wonder why more people don't grow their own strawberries!" And I said, "I'm writing a post about that right now!" :)
Last night Julia told me about seeing someone's homemade pretzels online, which reminded me of one of the reasons that I'd been on the lookout for yeast. Last week, I finally got my hands on some yeast, so we made plans to make some pretzels of our own. The last time we made pretzels was for Julia's birthday, at her request, quite a few years ago.
This time the pretzels had to be gluten-free + rather than searching for a gluten-free specific recipe, I used this one (substituting Bob's Red Mill 1 to 1 GF flour for the regular flour). We also kept the baking soda/water solution boiling while dipping. Our dough lacked stretchiness, but it worked.
We lack many of the special tools we saw used for pretzel making online. Rather than going out + buying things or deciding we couldn't make the recipe, we made do just fine with what we have. No standing mixer with dough hook...a wooden spoon + a little extra kneading by hand works fine. No nifty wooden handled wire straining spoon...our regular spatula worked fine. No egg wash brush...our fingers worked fine. No coarse sea salt...regular table salt tastes just as salty. Our minimal kitchen keeps us creative + reminds us that we have enough.
One great thing about having a garden is that it lets us in on when foods are in season in our local areas. We've moved around a lot, so remembering when we picked corn or blueberries or apples when I was growing up in Michigan does not exactly inform when I should be looking out for them here. Missing these treasures once at the U-pick spots also clues me in.
It's possible to find strawberries, tomatoes + apples year round these days, but eating fruits + vegetables in season is a whole different experience! Summer crops get all the glory, but spring has some pretty great offerings too! Asparagus, greens + peas make me feel thirsty for green on my plate...and chives + radishes are coming out of our own garden right now.
This meal tasted like spring on a plate + I didn't want to forget it, so I thought I'd record it here...
Spring on a Plate (serves 4)
1 cup dried brown rice
asparagus, woody ends removed + sliced
4 Tbsp butter
1 lemon, juiced
fresh chives or green onions
cayenne, salt, pepper flakes
Cook rice, adding asparagus stalks to the cooking pot for the last 8-9 minutes of cooking time. Add asparagus tips for the last 3-4 minutes of cooking time. The asparagus will steam on top of the rice (do not stir in). When all of the water has evaporated, remove pot from heat + stir in butter, peas, lemon juice + seasonings. I used salt, cayenne + pepper flakes. Garnish with chives, radishes + nutritional yeast. Enjoy! :)
I've made these simple "cookies" twice this week. The recipe appealed to me because of its title of "Breakfast Cookies" (!) + the list of ingredients. I had a can of pumpkin purée + a few bananas, so I decided to try them. I think that calling them cookies calls out the fact that they aren't very sweet...but I really like them...mainly because of this.
Here is how I made the recipe :: adapted from Mona Awad's Breakfast Cookie recipe
2 bananas, mashed
4 Tbsp pumpkin purée
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
pinch of cardamom (because I have it)
1 cup oats
handful of pecans (or dried fruit or other nuts)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix ingredients + let the mixture sit while the oven preheats. Drop spoonfuls onto parchment or silicon mat + flatten slightly. Bake for 15-20 minutes until firm, but not browned. Enjoy!
I imagine this recipe to be quite adaptable + look forward to trying some other combinations as well.
leaves + flowers :: many grown, dried + blended locally in california ::
no chemicals or pesticides :: comes loose leaf in reusable glass jar or rice paper packet :: picture on left via leaves + flowers
little red cup :: fair-trade + organic tea from china :: comes loose leaf in tin ::
pictures via little red cup
republic of tea:: this is the tea we've been able to source in bulk locally :: also available loose leaf in tins :: some organic + some fair-trade
arbor teas :: all organic :: many fair-trade :: backyard compostable packaging ::
they make the point that steel tins are not really sustainable, but it's never completely clear how sustainable "compostable" packaging is either :: pictures via arbor teas
I love tea...hot tea or cold tea...tea is comfort. One cool day over the weekend + I was ready for a warm drink. Tea has been something I was able to buy in bulk (scooped into my own container from home) until recently. Our grocery store closed + the new location didn't carry bulk tea (which is when I acquired those containers of tea above). After a few requests, the grocery store started offering a very limited selection. A few weeks ago, I went to buy some turmeric + all the bulk spices + teas were gone. I was told that they were removed by corporate + that there was nothing this location could do about it. It's maddening that climate change is progressing at a rapid rate, + the powers that be are just kicking progress in the teeth. Needless to say, I voiced my support for the bulk spices + drove to another store.
This article about microplastic particles shedding from some tea bags makes another strong argument for bulk tea. The best packaging is no packaging...no tea bags, no container + no post office packaging. Co-ops, health food stores + tea shops are great places to look for bulk tea. If none can be found locally, the teas above can all be found online. Make sure to choose loose leaf tea. It's easy to make using a strainer or a small tool like this (my favorite kind).
Do you have a favorite tea to share? I'd love to hear! :)
I imagine that most of us have heard that an alarmingly large portion of the Amazon rainforest is on fire. We know that the rainforest provides a significant portion of the planet's oxygen, carbon sequestration, water cycle maintenance + climate stabilization. It is a source of food + medicine. The rainforest provides a unique habitat for varied plant + animal species and is home to indigenous peoples. We all depend on the health of the Amazon rainforest.
As the American president loosens environmental protections one after another, Brazil's president has been about the same business. Both leaders are willing to lay down precious natural resources in the pursuit of for-profit resource exploitation. Farmers + ranchers in the Amazon started most of the currently burning fires in order to clear land for cattle grazing. Brazil is now the world's leading exporter of beef.
Discussion over who should have to pay the price of rainforest conservation has been in play for many years. If all people benefit from rainforests, why should only those countries that contain this resource pay the price of decreased land use + productivity? Today, the leaders at the G7 agreed to send $20 million to help put out the fires raging in the Amazon + to aid in reforestation. The Brazilian president views this aid as colonialism...powerful nations dictating preservation. How do we help preserve the environment, if those in power do not wish to protect it? These questions deserve attention.
A little over a decade ago, it was the realization that the rainforest was being clearcut in order to make way for cattle grazing that pushed me over the hump in deciding to stop eating meat. The rainforests are vital to our survival, and I would rather have oxygen than beef.
A few ways we can participate in stopping the fires + deforestation:
-give up beef or decrease consumption
-share this connection with others
-donate to these organizations already at work
Self-care has become a popular term. It's no wonder, because it sounds so good...so needed. We work long hours whether at school, at work, or caring for children. We have so many things to think about. We are tired + stressed + worried. We need some relief.
And when something can be sold, the opportunity will be seized upon. The wellness industry was worth $4.2 Trillion (!) at its last assessment + is one of the fastest growing industries in the world. We are thirsty for self-care + many of us are willing to pay for it.
We may think of self-care as moments of rejuvenation + indulging in luxuries...big or small. And often we use it as a sort of soft joke...a wink in the direction of...I work hard. I'm exhausted. I deserve this extra cookie or drink or dress. It's self-care. And sometimes it is just what we needed...and sometimes it's not.
Here's what I'm getting at: what we deem as "self-care" might not truly be self-care, if it ultimately makes us feel worse rather than better. Often the self-care we think of first actually adds to our stress, busyness, money woes or neglect of health.
My most default method of "self-care" is probably sweets. I love a good dessert or ice-cream. I also like to eat dinner out. The food is good, and I don't have to cook. Both of these are fine on occasion, but done too often would (and sometimes do) cost me peace of mind concerning both my health + my budget.
When it comes to diet, the wellness industry would like to sell us lots of supplements + powders + pressed juices as "self-care". None of these things truly sustain us + most are quite expensive.
The true self-care in this department comes when I do things like:
-buy more fruits + vegetables...maybe roasting a couple of big cookie sheets full of vegetables + keeping it them in the fridge for easy meals
-buy fruit instead of a cookie or fancy drink
-cut up lemon to squeeze into water instead of drinking soda or juice
-make a smoothie at home instead of buying one out (saves sugar + money)
-find simple ways to prepare food ahead
-find something I like + eat it over + over...like carrots + hummus then switch to tomatoes + guacamole...decreases decision fatigue + I can keep it stocked
-take a trip to the farmer's market
Time spent boiling beans never feels like a sparkly self-care moment, but having all those jars in the freezer sure does! Those jars save me time + money + waste + nourish my family. Time spent boiling beans has ripple effects. It genuinely makes me a bit giddy every time I pull a jar out during dinner prep. That is self-care redefined! :)
Movement + nature are another major component of self-care in this department. The wellness industry would like us to sell us personal trainers, books, classes, retreats, special clothing + equipment.
We instinctively know that the true self-care comes from:
-moving...stretching, a few sun salutations, walking, yoga, whatever movement you enjoy
-getting into nature...walking, hiking + biking are great, but so is finding a shady spot for lunch...when it's hot sit on the stoop in the shade in the morning for a few minutes or at least by an open window
On these hottest of days...move, do yoga, or stretch under a fan...get the air moving. Play some vibey, soft music. Getting on the floor changes everything. Take a walk as the sun comes up. Play some happy, energizing music loud + dance. Sign up for a class or a membership, if it's in the budget + you know you'll go...but it's not self-care, if our budgets can't support it. ;)
Whether or not I feel like tying my shoes to go for a walk in the morning, the outdoor air always holds something to notice...heat, humidity, a breeze, a change. I feel small in the bigness of nature...even in my neighborhood. I usually walk with my girls, so there is conversation + closeness. And back at home, I feel like I've done it (!)...the chore of exercise no longer looms over my head. My legs + my lungs feel stronger. There is a lightness + usually a smile. Now that is self-care...no debt...no guilt...less stress.
A healthy diet, movement + a little time spent in nature can set us up for another crucial aspect of self-care...sleep. A regular schedule for bedtime + waking is helpful. A twenty minute nap can be a rejuvenating treat as well. :)
While our circumstances + preferences will vary greatly, I think our thought processes can have something in common along the way. Self-care is not truly self-care if it leaves us feeling more stressed about our health, time or money. True self-care promotes true thriving. :)
Also in this series :: roots + time
We're into homemade pizza around here. It's a meal that always conjures just a little bit more excitement than usual. I was looking to add a little variety in the pizza department + decided to make a barbecue (sauce) pizza (as opposed to one defined as "barbecue", because it was cooked on the grill...which is also delicious!).
I try to avoid buying things in glass jars as much as possible, but a jar of barbecue sauce could sauce up a bunch of pizzas...so I bought a bottle. (We can recycle glass in special receptacles located in parking lots placed around our city, but recycling still takes energy + water.)
For toppings, I thought green onions, cabbage + carrots would be good. As a quick solution, I decided to purchase these ingredients from the salad bar. These ingredients don't weigh much (so aren't super expensive), and I can buy just enough of each for our pizza. Last week's barbecue pizza had tofu on it. Though we usually eat vegetarian at home, this week's pizza has chicken on it. Both were found at the salad bar + added to the same container brought from home.
When suppertime rolls around, we make a pizza crust...spread some barbecue sauce on it...spread the salad bar ingredients (minus the tofu/chicken)...top with grated cheese...and bake. Five minutes before it's done, I add the tofu/chicken mixed with a little more barbecue sauce (in order to avoid drying them out)...and bake five more minutes.
The salad bar is a great source of unpackaged ingredients like tofu, mozzarella balls, olives + lots more. I save the more expensive purchases for rare treats. Salad bar pizza toppings make for a simple, quick + tasty meal. :)
on a journey toward zero-waste, simplicity, + compassion :: daring to choose fair one choice at a time