Breakfast

Pumpkin Waffles

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I’ve been sitting on a gold mine of thoughts but I’ve had little to no mental space to sort them out on paper, on-screen or preferably with a good friend.  My heart is growing and evolving, in need of unraveling and sharing, it’s just been hard to grow enough energy to do so.  I suppose this is my attempt.

Friday night I took a dance class from a friend, mentor and inspiring teacher from my past.  Being his student again was refreshing and good for my soul.  For the first time in a long time I was not teaching, giving or serving.  I was taking, absorbing and feeling. I was learning, observing and focusing on something outside of the daily grind.  There was time and space for me to sort out the intangible.  Movement has always been the catalyst for unlocking the truest parts of myself, while connecting all my missing links.  It’s also brought out a critic, full of expectations and judgements. But two babies and some years later, I have dropped my judgements. It feels as though I have nothing to prove, even to myself, only much to feel and everything to experience.

I am not sure whether it’s age or motherhood, time or exhaustion, but perhaps one or all have given me freedom.   Some of the things that seem to stir up conflict, create a heated debate, or leave me feeling like I have to prove or explain myself, have come and gone.  My babies have been born and there is no more talk of how, when and where they will be born.  There are only stories. The decision to vaccinate or not vaccinate has already been made, and our car has been gone for well over a year now.  Whether some think it is innovative, sacrificial or just plain crazy, we already survived living in a one bedroom apartment.  All four of us.

My lifestyle choices are commonly found in the minority.  My beliefs and decisions surrounding faith, childbirth, parenting, transportation, consumption, food, and money are often under scrutiny.  In the past I’ve been quick to react and I’ve felt the need to defend myself.  But now being on the other side of a few big milestones I see how silly and exhausting it is to keep up with worrying how my life choices are going to be perceived by others.  I’m settling into a humble confidence, probably because nothing has ever begged me to know myself more than motherhood.

These pumpkin waffles have little to do with my thoughts, and more to do with the season in which I am redefining myself.  Its fall and I am letting go of the things I don’t need, and creating more space inside my head, while eating lots of pumpkin waffles and diving head first into the pumpkin craze.  Pumpkin ale, pumpkin chips, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin butter… how have I underestimated pumpkin all these years? Sometimes it feels good to join the masses and surrender to the seasonal indulgences, especially when they taste this good.  Happy Fall friends!

Pumpkin Waffles

Makes about 16 waffles

Slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup dark brown sugar

2 1/4 tsp, baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. sea salt

2 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. ginger

1/4 tsp. ground cloves

4 eggs, separated

2 cups whole milk

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

1 tsp. vanilla

1 cup packed pumpkin puree

Spray oil for waffle iron

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 250. Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Separate eggs.  Combine yolks with milk, pumpkin, vanilla and melted butter. Whisk the egg whites together with a stand or hand mixer, until soft peaks begin to form.  Gently fold the egg whites into the batter until everything is fully combined.  Spray your waffle iron with oil of choice and cook as directed by your waffle iron.  As waffles cook, place them in the heated oven so they can stay warm and crispy.  Serve with maple syrup.

 

Old Bananas, New Nest

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This week exhaustion finds rest in my bones, for good reason, and with internal excitement.   Reflections and shadows introduce a new story, a new home, and a new life.  Days are documented in numbers of trips to the big girl potty, and dishes washed by hand. Every. Single. One.  Time swells, runs and hides inside our new walls.  It has been this way all along, and yet everything feels brand new.  Creaky floors, natural light, and old smells, tell stories from the lives that once lived here.  Yet, I can still see a blank canvas, and feel plenty of new space for us, and the wildly ambitious unknown.

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Days without the Internet make room for my own real life to surge back through my veins.  I feel collected, and alive.  I have time, and space to rummage, and remember.  I have time to create.

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Dance classes fill my inquiries with complex questions, and translucent, floating answers.  For just one night a week I forget I am a wife, and a mother, yet those identities dwell inside every last breath of my movement.  I pedal home with a backpack and lazy bun, affirming that in just this one instance, place is nothing, while instinct and necessity are everything.  From coast to coast, and even in the middle of nowhere, a life long mover I am, and always will be.  I rest well in this acknowledgment.

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This week in moving I find boxes of old Polaroid’s, love letters, and journals.  I pause, and reflect honestly on the distance between then, and now.  I find the tiny box that held my time capsule ring, from Vienna, and the receipt that says I did in fact, travel thousands of miles back, without an address, only my photographic memory, to exchange my dated ring for another.  The receipt is marked 10.10.08…a date of anticipation, a date of pure magic, a date I wore on my finger for years.

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I realize that if not for moving, this would be my first October 10th, without celebrating, or at least, even just remembering.  How could I ever forget?  I promised I would never forget.  I find a box with no ring, and devastation swells.  I forget that it was lost, ironically the same week I got married, as if to say, I gladly trade in one story, for another.  But now there is nothing tangible to tell that epic story, there are only my memories, and details that I am slowly forgetting.

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Octave sits beside me, and I whisper, June 7th, I can’t believe I never went.  My heart hurts for a few minutes, but life is not a fairytale, it is crazymessybeautiful.  I feel instant relief because I don’t have to use words to make myself feel better.  Truly, I have no regrets.  I married the man I never thought existed, and because of that we made the most curious, spicy, and vivacious little human imaginable.  I have all I could ever want.  And maybe something special is still bound to happen on that day, it may just be a few years late.

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Maybe this June, I will trade in that date for something.  Or perhaps the letting go of that ring, and that return, was indeed a metaphor for choices in life.  Maybe my life became most meaningful when I had to start making choices, and sacrifices that have hardly felt like sacrifices at all.

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After toiling over what to bake first in our new nest, I choose banana bread.  The bananas are old, but there is so much new.  It seems simple, classic, and a humble way to be introduced to my new kitchen.  It says welcome home, stay a while, eat three pieces of me, (with lots of butter!)  Baked goods speak to me, and so I speak back in foodie love, eating them with the upmost gratitude, and adoration.  So, here is to something classic, in the midst of everything new.

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Browned Butter Banana Bread

Makes 1 loaf

1 ½ cups spelt flour, all purpose works too

1 tsp. sea salt

1 tsp. baking soda

***

1 stick unsalted butter, melted and browned

1 cup brown sugar, packed

1 vanilla bean, or 1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 eggs

1  1/2 cups of very ripe mashed banana (2-3 bananas depending on size)

½ cup whole milk plain greek yogurt

½ cup walnut pieces+ a small handful more for topping

Directions

Preheat oven to 375.

Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl and set aside.

In a small saucepan, melt butter until it is crackling and slightly brown. Remove from heat, and stir in brown sugar until it is combined.  It will be really thick and sticky.

In a large bowl combine mashed banana, yogurt, eggs, vanilla, browned butter/sugar and  whisk well.

Slowly add in dry ingredients, and whisk until combined.  Gently fold in the walnuts.

Grease your loaf pan with butter and pour in batter.  Bake for 55-60 minutes or until knife comes out clean. Let cool for at least 15 minutes.  Remove from pan, slice and serve with butter.

Update: The baking time has changed dramatically depending on where I have used this recipe.  I have found being at sea level requires more time, while at high altitude it has needed much less.  Check your oven frequently and know that you may need to place foil over the top of your bread if your climate requires a longer bake time.

Blueberry Lavender Scones + The September I Met My Love

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I used to worry that I would love a man who preferred sugar in his morning cup of coffee.  I never dated much, actually, hardly at all, so my personal experience was limited, but I worked at many coffee shops, and had my theories of men who drank their coffee with sugar.  Judgemental? Probably.  Inaccurate? Maybe.  Luckily, my theory never had to be proven wrong, because I fell in love with a man who prefers his coffee black.
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This morning as I made these long anticipated lavender scones, I remembered my silly little theories.  I remembered that four years ago today I was anticipating Christopher and I’s first date.  I remember my mom calling the next day, and asking if I got a chance to see how he takes his coffee.  We had a proper date on Misssissippi street, with big burritos, and a concert, followed by a walk to my car to listen to Christopher’s new album being featured on the local radio. (He swears he didn’t plan that!)   So, it wasn’t until a few dates later that I was relieved to find he takes his coffee black.  An Americano in the morning, and espresso in the evening, just like me!  Nine months later, we were married, and he told me he never really drank coffee before he met me, but that is besides the point.  He preferred his coffee black all on his own, and that was, and still is enough for me!
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A few months into dating I met Christopher’s best friend Paul, and his wife, Emily.  We went to Paul’s family’s house for breakfast, and someone made beautiful lavender scones with raw milk and butter from a local dairy.  These lavender scones helped calm any anxiety or intimidation I felt from meeting such important people in Christopher’s life.  They may have been the only lavender scones I ever had, but they were the best!  I would argue that just like dating, you don’t need to experience a lot of something to know that it is good.  You know good when you see it, smell it, feel it, and taste it.  The people, the scones, and the man whose hand I sweetly held, were not just good, they were great!
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Every September I revisit the emotions that stirred in the season we met.  I still smell the cool fall air the night we watched the swifts fly mesmerizing patterns in the sky.  I remember the feelings of trust that grew as we drove to the coast, listening to Rufus Wainwright.  I can still feel the vulnerability of sharing my choreography ideas in my kitchen, and then falling out of my chair, flat on my face.  I still don’t understand what happened in that moment, but I feel the heat that flushed my cheeks, and the embarrassment that soon followed.  I can still close my eyes and taste those lavender scones at the Pastor’s home.  These are the moments that continue to saturate my senses.  They seem simple and insignificant, and yet they are important enough to still flood my memory four years later.
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The fall we first met smells like espresso and wet pavement.  It tastes like lavender scones, and dolcetto d’alba.  It looks like lower case letters, and run on sentences.  It sounds like The Weepies, and feels something like this…
i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart )i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
                                                          i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet) i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

-e.e. cummings

Blueberry Lavender Scones

Makes 8

1 1/4 cup unbleached flour

1 cup blanched almond flour

1/2 cup cane sugar

1 Tbsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. sea salt

2 Tbsp. lavender flowers

7 Tbsp. very cold unsalted butter

¾ cup whole milk

1 1/4 tsp. almond extract

1 cup blueberries

1 egg+1 Tbsp. milk for brushing

Turbinado sugar for garnish

About 10-15 minutes before you want to bake your scones, put your butter in the freezer.  Preheat oven to 400.  Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients and mix together.  Remove butter from the freezer and using a box grater, grate butter over dry ingredients.  Fold in, and pour milk and almond extract over the top.   With a wooden spoon or spatula mix the wet ingredients into the dry.  Add blueberries and mix again until everything comes together, but be careful not to over mix.  Scoop dough onto a well floured surface and shape into a circle, about 1 1/2 inches thick.  Dough will be really tacky so use as much flour as needed, and try not to over handle.  Using a butter knife cut the dough into 8 equal parts.  Brush with egg and milk, and sprinkle with sugar.  Put scones on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 16-18 minutes.  Remove and let cool completely.