actually healthy

how to love yourself (beans)



I hate the weather. 
I talk about and blame nearly everything on the weather lately— all the moods, bullshit, inclement anything— it’s just the weather. 
In the land of near perpetual sunshine— I’m taking the cold very personally. 

I turned 22 last week, which is simultaneously something and also nothing at all. 
I had a lot of feelings, mostly because I realized and remembered how much everything has changed. 
A friend reminded me today that everything is always changing— but right now, it all feels very potent and more real. 
Mostly because I’m not a child anymore. 
And I was a child when I came to college. 
And suddenly I’m not. 

The other day, I went for a long hike in the rain with my father— we walked for about three hours and looked at the creek, which is full of clear, green water. My dad is full aphorisms and stories.
“This is real.” My dad said of the rain. 

This is real. 

I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of “love yourself.” Which is one of those frustrating and vague things that people who are vexingly successful both at love and work like to say. 
“Love yourself.” 
Bullshit. It means so little. 
Here is all I know: 
On Saturday night, make a pot of beans. 
This is how you love yourself. 
You make the pot of beans with some garlic and onions, and then all week, whenever you are hungry, or don’t want to spend money, or are tired— there are beans to eat— all week long. 
This is the only thing I really know at this point. 
Make some beans.

This is how you love yourself. 

I love you. 
xoxo



Chia Seed Pudding

I go grocery shopping on Saturdays now. 
And I cook a lot on Sundays-- sometimes spiced sweet potatoes, always brown rice, once, a disgusting and heavy loaf of bread. 


Life is strange. 
I think about that a lot these days-- mostly because it's unbelievable that we are lucky enough to be alive at the same time-- but also how little control I have, really. 
Often I wonder, how it is that anyone gets so that they have work, babies, house and garden full of fireflies? 
Is it always just falling and falling into things and people?

I guess. 

I like making chia seed pudding on Sundays too-- it's so simple and luxurious-- like eating a sweet caviar, or frog eggs. 
I like it also, because when I was in New York, I would take the F train to Midtown, stop at the same quick breakfast spot and buy a banana and chia seed pudding and hope that the iced coffee would prevent me from sweating through my business casual. 
It was such a lonely, lonely summer. That’s the thing about loneliness --you think-- this is the worst it will ever be, and then, one day, you are lonelier. 
So I took the F, and listened to soul music the whole way there, and ate my chia pudding, surrounded by glass and iron and felt small but often good.  Usually, when the workday was over-- I would walk the long way home-- eat $3 Indian food and sit in a park. 
I wondered a lot about work. 
And how I don’t know how to add value to the world yet. 
And how I don't know how to get there.

I like to think it begins with going grocery shopping on Saturdays, cooking on Sundays. Eating pork-belly sliders and drinking vodka with your sister friends on Thursday night, and then going out on Friday and Saturday too. Or maybe staying in, tucking small children into bunk beds-- waking up early, walking. 
Maybe, after a time-- when the work is more done, and more years passed and everything more known, somehow maybe one day, you go home to a garden of fireflies. 
After just falling and falling and falling into jobs and people. 
And chia seed pudding. 
Ideally, hopefully, chia seed pudding is part of how you get there too. 


Chia Seed Pudding 
via TheHealthyFoodie.com 

1/4 chia seeds
3/4 cup full fat coconut milk
1/2 cup coconut water
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
maple syrup to taste

In a small bowl or half pint Mason type glass jar, add coconut, chia seeds, coconut milk, coconut water, and vanilla. Stir until very well combined. 
Place in refrigerator and allow to rest overnight. 
Eat. 

Curried Lentil Soup with Tomato and Spinach


I spend a lot of time in bed these days, staring at the massive pecan tree just outside my window. 
I think about the future a lot.
I often wonder if everyone else is in their bed too, thinking about whatever it is that comes next, and staring at their respective trees. 


When the future makes me lonely, I think about Georgia O'Keefe who lived alone in a tiny adobe house in the red desert of New Mexico. When she couldn't sleep she would make yogurt and knead loaves of bread and sweep her floor in the middle of the night. Then I think about the food writer, MFK Fisher, who liked to leave peeled oranges on her window sill, especially in the winter, until the clear orange membrane became dry and crackly, and so when she bit, the orange was only a cold punch of crunch and winter and citrus. 


Sometimes, I think about a boy I knew only briefly, who once cooked me a dinner that mostly consisted of boiled carrots and brown rice, and how kind it was, but how much it needed salt. We  later went to a party, where everyone was older, and speaking languages I didn’t understand. We sat in a corner, and he told me about his lovers, while a tiny French man sang and danced along to "Like A Virgin." The little man danced up to me, "Whenever I feel sad,” he said, “I just listen to Madonna! Like a virgin! Like a virgin!!!" 

And often, I think about my friend Mary Margaret, who was the most beautiful old person I’ve ever known, and she died too soon, but she would throw these parties that were catered by Torchy’s Tacos, and the old-school literati and glitterati of my hometown would go, and there was always this man who wore his cowboy hat inside, he would sit and play groovy ragtime licks on her baby grand piano for hours. 


So lately, I spend a lot of time lying on my bed, staring at the tree outside my window. 
Lately, it rains. 
The other night I made this pot of lentils, and added potatoes and all the remaining odds and ends in my refrigerator.
And the simplicity of the lentils reminded me of all these tiny beautiful things; dancing to Madonna, cold oranges, and tiny houses in big deserts and cowboy hats. 

And how small it all is, and how perfectly beautiful. 


Curried Lentil Soup with Tomato and Spinach
from The Gourmet Cookbook 

1/4 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup finely chopped onion 
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons finely grated peeled fresh ginger
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup lentils, picked over and rinsed
2 1/2 cups (20 ounces) chicken stock or store-bought low-sodium broth
2 1/2 cups water
2/3 cup chopped drained canned tomatoes
2 cups coarsely chopped spinach
fresh lemon juice to taste
salt and black pepper

Heat oil in a 4-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add curry powder and cumin and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add lentils, stock, and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until lentils are tender, 20 to 25 minutes. 
Stir in tomatoes and spinach and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until spinach is wilted, about 2 minutes. Add lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. 


Jambalaya


I just moved again, my fourth time moving in the past four years. This is exhausting only because there's constant re-adaptation to a new kitchen, which is actually a real thing. I don't know how electric burners work?? Why does the oven light go on and off?? Just how cold IS my freezer? Also, because I've always lived with other people, everyone else always provided all the culinary hardware, which means that I've been getting inventive. 
Did you know you can actually shred cheese with a vegetable peeler? 


(Like a fool, I forgot to take pictures, so here is my brother and some nice pink skies.) 

Anyways, I made some jambalaya so fine that I thought I had been kidnapped as a baby because actually I MUST be Cajun.

This explains everything!

The real thing about jambalaya, is that you can adapt it to all your personal cravings.
After reading several recipes it appears that most people don't put shrimp in it?
But my mama always puts shrimp in her jambalaya, so I did too.
You can make it on the stovetop, or in the oven or both (I did both.)
You can add okra, or not.
You can add sausage or not.
You can make your own cajun seasoning or not.
It's great.



Mostly I liked making jambalaya, because it made me feel at home, and feeling at home is suddenly a rare and special thing. 
Lately, I find myself asking questions such as, do other people make a place a home?
Is home just where you feel safest? 

Sometimes, when these questions are too much, I sit in my small green bathroom, and watch a trail of tiny black ants crawl from the east end of my bathtub near the faucet to the west end where I keep my shampoo. 
I like the ants, because the ants are not concerned with questions of home or place or belonging. 
They just keep walking. 

The point is. 
This jambalaya is worth you time. It will make the air smell thick and rich and spicy. 
It will bring you back to the tactile, real version of yourself. The part of yourself that only exists in the HERE NOW.  
But mostly it tastes really good. And fills you up. 

You will love it. 

And I love you. 


XOXO



Jambalaya 
via AllRecipes.com 

These are guidelines, adapt as you please. 

2 tablespoons peanut oil, divided
1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
10 ounces andouille sausage, slices into rounds
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 onion, diced
1 small green bell pepper, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (16 ounce) can crushed Italian tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 1/4 cups uncooked white rice
2 1/2 cups chicken broth

1. Heat 1 tablespoon of peanut oil in a large heavy Dutch oven over medium heat. Season the sausage and chicken pieces with Cajun seasoning. Saute sausage until browned. Remove with slotted spoon, and set aside. Add 1 tablespoon peanut oil, and saute chicken pieces until lightly browned on all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon, and set aside.

2. In the same pot, saute onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic until tender. Stir in crushed tomatoes, and season with red pepper, black pepper, salt, hot pepper sauce, and Worcestershire sauce. Stir in chicken and sausage. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Stir in the rice and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed. (I actually ended up putting my Jambalaya in the oven at 375 F, for about half an hour because my electric burners didn't seem capable of cooking everything evenly for a long period of time.)