Believing in Oceans

{artist Lisa Congdon + writer Anne Lamott}

Hurricane Sandy swept through my town, but only left our home with a few flickering lights and a tree in the back yard. Hardly anything to complain about. We spent Monday night surrounded by candles and Monopoly, and the irony of Ryan moving the ship piece around the board through the cardboard Atlantic City didn’t go unnoticed.

I hope everyone is safe. I’m working to get caught up as TV show filming got thrown off-track and we are working to tape and edit the next episode in a timely manner, all before I depart to NYC next week for a magical saturation of all things vegan. (More to come on that.)

I sincerely hope you are safe and have everything you need. If there’s anything I can do, let me know — I really do mean it.

 xo, Jaime K

Miso-Curry Glazed Squash, Tofu and Kale with Chickpeas, Potatoes and Pepitas

Yesterday I indulged in nursing my sore throat (before it turns into more), and found the combination of fresh ginger, lemon slices and cayenne pepper steeped in hot water to be oddly soothing yet energizing. I  may like it more than coffee.

I spent 20 minutes off the sofa putting together a healthy, clean meal. This is my own spin on (though very close to) a recipe from Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson. Some ingredients altered or added based on what I had on hand.

MISO-CURRY SQUASH with TOFU and KALE

  • 2 small butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 4 small butter potatoes, cubed
  • 1 block extra-firm tofu, pressed and cubed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white miso paste
  • 1 Tbsp red thai curry paste
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cups raw kale, de-stemmed and torn into small pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups (one can) chickpeas, drained
  • pepitas (pumpkin seeds) to garnish

Miso-curry glazed Squash, Tofu and Kale. Mixed with chickpeas, potatoes and pumpkin seeds.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray a rimmed baking sheet with non-stick spray.

Get a large bowl, add cubed squash and potatoes. In a small bowl, whisk olive oil, miso and curry paste to make a thick paste. Put 1/3 cup of the new paste in a bowl with squash and potatoes, gently mixing by hand to coat veggies. Add cubed tofu to bowl and gently mix that by hand, careful not to break apart the tofu. Add to the rimmed baking sheet and bake for 30-35 minutes, tossing once or twice throughout.

Using the same large mixing bowl (cut down on amount of dishes to clean!), add the raw kale. Add the lemon juice to the remaining miso-curry paste, whisk, and add to the bowl with raw kale. Massage the dressing into the raw kale. Add chickpeas to bowl of kale and mix.

When the veggies are done cooking and have cooled slightly, add them to the large bowl with kale and chickpeas and mix everything together. Serve with pepitas as a garnish (optional).

Miso-curry glazed Squash, Tofu and Kale. Mixed with chickpeas, potatoes and pumpkin seeds.

This recipe makes enough for about 4 servings (as a main dish), 6-8 servings as a side dish. I’d highly recommend this if you find yourself going to a Holiday dinner and want to take something vegan but not too “weird” (ugh) that will please all palates.

Kayleigh of Deerly Beloved Bakery Interviews Save the Kales!

I love a good pun, so when I first heard of Deerly Beloved Bakery (how sweet is that!?) I was almost jealous I hadn’t thought of that name for something first.

Cutie-pie Kayleigh Read of Deerly Beloved Bakery

Deerly Beloved is owned by Kayleigh, one of the kindest souls I’ve yet to internet-meet. If one of us can ever get across the ocean to see the other (she’s in the UK), I’m sure we’d have a great conversation about which words the other pronounces funny while we stuff our faces with cake.

Kayleigh has been interviewing some of her favorite cooks throughout October, and I was so thrilled to be one of the lucky ones!

Deerly Beloved Bakery interviews Save the Kales! 

exerpt from Interview:

DBB: What advice would you give someone wanting to start a successful vegan recipe blog?

JK: “You doing your own creative pursuit is not preventing anyone else from doing their own, their way. Blogging helps you get in touch with yourself (this sounds hippy-dippy, bear with me) because choosing what to put into the world makes you pause and reflect on your life, opinions, and decisions. It’s literally the best thing I’ve ever done.”

Apple Rose Tarts with Lemon Curd Filling by Deerly Beloved Bakery

You can learn more about Deerly Beloved and drool over the food photos at the Facebook Page.

Echoes and Glimpses of Beautiful Times

I am trying to figure out why it is that the better we do, the more pressure we put on ourselves to outdo it the next time around. What does anything mean when we can’t be content that we are doing enough? That we are enough?

(And in the pit of my guts, I really do think we are but sometimes our brains forget what our hearts know.)

I’m sitting in my kitchen finishing some writing projects, the house smells like butternut squash and marinara sauce. I’ve been making my own from scratch and it’s so good, I don’t know what to say except I can’t believe it took me nearly 30 years to figure this out. Better late than never.

Anyway, this song came on and made my breath catch in my chest. Sometimes songs happen that make you cry into your wine at your kitchen table at 9:30pm on a Tuesday. Maybe it’ll mean something to you, too.

Goodnight. xo

GARLIC PARTY: Vegan Buffet for $20

Garlic is as good a reason as any to throw a party. In fact, it may be one of the better reasons.

Chef Wendy of Balasia and The Honey Underground knows this, and has arranged a celebration in it’s honor along with Robyn of the Grow Indie gardens.

(Click links above to see some videos of these ladies and listen to me gush about how wonderful they are.)

If you’ve ever needed the extra push to try Wendy’s food, LET THIS BE IT.

Garlic Party is an all vegan, local, organic BUFFET — for a mere $20. (And BYOB)

Call the number on the poster to RSVP, get a costume (or not, but if you dress like a vegetable it would be adorable… a sexy vegetable?) and prepare to feast, my friends.

Saturday, October 27

Held between 6pm-10pm

1153 Gravel Pike, Hereford, PA (past Emmaus, PA)

Honey Underground on Facebook

WELCOME HOME, OCTOBER: Mountain Pies, Knoebels, College Reunions

A decade ago (…wow) while in college, every October meant a  bunch of friends would pile into two or three cars and drive a few hours away to stay at the Cook Homestead, a parent’s home in the very small town of Shamokin, PA. Armed with sleeping bags and Cedar Crest College sweatshirts, we’d all pitch in to make large dinners and spend the afternoons at Knoebels, a kitschy family-owned amusement park with free parking and free admission. Yes, even still.

Getting rid of paper trash has never been more fun than feeding to the pig with the suction-mouth. He is a lifelong resident of Knoebels. He has a new paint job. He seems really happy.

Knoebels is a place with layers upon layers of nostalgia for me. It was the destination of every end-of-year class trip in elementary school, a place to spend a hot summer day riding the teacups and eating pizza. There is a backlog of memories with the common thread of visiting the park over the years: the first time I could reach the rings on the carousel, dousing fresh cut fries with white vinegar, the log flume worth the stomach-dropping hill to enjoy the easy-going ride through the cave in the middle.

The Ferris Wheel at Knoebels. You can see the whole park from the top.

When I go back now, I’m surprised how much smaller the park seems than I remember it from my youth. When I was eight, it seemed to take an hour to walk from the wooden coaster to the ferris wheel, but now it takes two minutes. Time changes things, perspective changes things.

Two weekends my college friends had a reunion – still packing our pillows and blankets, only now campfires are places to discuss weddings and careers and politics. The park is celebrating Halloween with haunted rides and a costume parade. I stay away from the rubber masks but we pile on hay bales for group photos. We spotted wizards and Disney characters.

A family of S’mores with their marshmallow baby.

Tiny paper ghosts and twinkle lights hang in the trees.

We stayed up until 6pm, folding chairs and blankets around the fire, making *mountain pies (or Tonka pies). I brought some vegan cheese and ate more than I’d like to admit. The melted cheese burned my fingers, embers burned small holes through my pajamas. My hair smelled like a campfire for days and I loved it.

*Mountain Pie/”Tonka Pie”: A mountain pie is a stuffed toasted sandwich made over a campfire. “Tonka pie” refers to Tonka, a brand of mountain pie toaster-irons. You butter some bread (nondairy, please!) as you would make a grilled cheese, add a bunch of stuff like pizza sauce and vegan cheese, or apple pie filling, then stick the iron in the fire for a few minutes, turning once.

Almost always, at least one corner will turn out completely charred but something about it tastes so, so good. A good way to get some iron in your diet, no less.

My most perfectly-cooked mountain pie of the night. Or morning.

A terrible photo of this treat: vegan cheese, tomato sauce, onions, peppers and mushrooms.

Despite only sleeping for five hours, most of us crawled off our blow-up mattresses and shared beds around 11am to stumble outside and drink coffee.

For breakfast, I chopped up a bunch of veggies mixed with some soy sauce, salt, pepper, and olive oil. I rolled them into a giant tin foil ball and tossed it in the fire for a half an hour. If you’ve never had campfire-charred broccoli, you have not lived. At least not in Pennsylvania.

Morning fire and makeshift breakfast stove.

Campfire vegetable breakfast.

.    .    .

Shan and me on the carousel at Knoebels.

My favorite moment was in the park at night was when, once everyone met up from finding snacks or riding on haunted things, we piled into the small train, the lot of us taking up 1/3rd of the seats. We wrapped scarves around our faces and howled into the trees going deeper into the woods, past campsites and black light skeleton scenes.

(Us with our Five Year Plans and marriage proposals, government jobs or serious consideration of having children. Maybe being a grown up isn’t much different than being a kid except you have to think about more serious-sounding things.)

In the tunnel we cheered and our voices echoes off stone walls, and for a moment it felt like we were literally filled with sound and happiness, we could feel it bounce off our bodies. Just before we pulled back in and came to a stop, a Beach Boys sing-a-long had broken out and we looked into the faces of the people in line waiting to take our places and knew that no one could take that night from us.

Fall happiness!

Left Brain, Right Brain and The Art of Doing Nothing

In October, the air smells like cardamom and everyone has changed their playlists over to softer sounds. Scenic back road drives look like watercolor paintings, you question your choice of outerwear.

I’ve been neglectful here, it’s just that I’ve been spending my time living off the internet instead of just writing about it. There’s comfort in starting a good movie at midnight, huge pots of chili, and library books I never remember to return on time.

It’s not good enough to seek happiness. We have to revel in what things make us happy when we find them.

left brain right brain

Recently a doctor told me about “left brain clutter” – when all of our obligations and goals and stresses and to-do lists make us so overwhelmed it’s hard to see any of them clearly, or do any of them well. She recommended (dare I say, “prescribed”?) at least 1-2 hours a day of just doing what makes you happy.

No agenda. Just doing the things you like because you like them.

This isn’t a presumption that all of us have the luxury to sit on the couch all day in our pajamas (though, if you can do that one day a week, I say do it unabashedly). Being “busy” doesn’t always mean being productive, and can in fact cloud our creativity. We can confuse busyness with being effective by default.

Explore your library. Take a day trip. Cook one big,  laborious meal and eat it when it’s finished at 11pm. Take the prescription to just enjoy your time without needing an outcome beyond joyfulness. That may be the best medical advice I’ve ever heard.