Quiet Days

There are so many wonderful things to tell you.

But, you see, as I type this there is a heaviness in my heart. My Gram is dying. She is in her room at a nursing home on medicines that are keeping her pain-free, but her kidneys are failing and every time my phone rings I get a lump in my throat thinking it’ll be that call from my mother, telling me she’s finally at rest.

Gram

These are hard sentences to type. “Dying.” I keep looking at that word, the shape of the letters on this screen. That dying this time means a slow and constant state of being rather than a thing one quickly does and has finished. I know the last time I saw her was the last time I’ll see her. I think about the way it parallels someone scheduling a c-section, in a way. This is when a life will come into the world. This is when a life will leave. These great unknowns become known and we sit. And we wait.

I miss her already. All I can do is love her and love her.

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BOOKS: Nut Butter Universe by Robin Robertson; Linguini with Thai Pesto

All of us know and love Peanut butter, and have become acquainted with ever-popular Almond butter. But what about pistachio, walnut, chestnut butters? We seem to forget that we can make our own nut butters with a few ingredients and a blender, and then blank on what to do with them beyond a condiment for toast.

Nut Butter Universe Cover Welcome to the stage: Robin Robertson’s Nut Butter Universe. This salivation-inducing addition to my cookbook collection is about 150 pages of inventive, savory recipes that combine comfort food and international flair.

Recipes include beauties like Scalloped Cashew Potatoes and Cauliflower, Peach Almond Butter Quesadillas, and Tropical Chickpea Brazil Nut Stew. I know! I KNOW! You didn’t know these foods exist and now know, with everything in your soul, you can’t live without them. Who would want to?

Peanut butter is one of Chubby dog’s favorite snacks, so he was particularly excited about this one.

Nut Butter Universe, dog approved.

The first recipe I had from this book was Indonesian Gado-Gado (p. 49), prepared by Dianne. I couldn’t stop thinking about it for days afterwards, and tried to recreate something like it with raw shredded cabbage and spicy peanut sauce. EVERY recipe I’ve made from Nut Butter Universe is just as addicting, and this has quickly become one of my favorite new cookbooks in 2013.

I’m happy to share this recipe today, which combines two Karpovich household favorites – pesto and peanut sauce. Heaven on earth, right? This recipe can be made gluten and soy-free as well!

Linguini with Thai Pesto, by Robin Rpbertson from Nut Butter Universe

Linguini with Thai Pesto, by Robin Rpbertson from Nut Butter Universe

Linguine with Thai Pesto

(by Robin Robertson from Nut Butter Universe)

Redolent of garlic, lemongrass, and pungent herbs, this Asian-style pesto makes a fabulous fusion dish when combined with linguine. Most of these ingredients, including the slender, hot Thai chile, are available in supermarkets. Thai basil can be found in Asian markets, as can any of the other ingredients that your regular market may not stock. To make this gluten-free, use gluten-free pasta.

Ingredients:

  • 2 large cloves garlic

  • 1 Thai bird chile, halved lengthwise and seeded

  • 1 stalk lemongrass, white part only, chopped

  • 1 teaspoon natural sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 cup Thai basil leaves

  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves

  • 1/2 cup parsley leaves

  • 1/3 cup peanut butter

  • 3 tablespoons water

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

  • 
12 ounces linguine

  • 1/2 cup chopped roasted peanuts

Preparation:

Combine the garlic, chile, lemongrass, sugar, and salt in a food processor and process to a paste. Add the basil, cilantro, and parsley and process until finely ground. Add the peanut butter, water, and lime juice and blend thoroughly, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Set aside.

Cook the linguine in a large pot of salted water just until tender, about 12 minutes. Drain, reserving about 1/2 cup of the water. Toss the pasta with the sauce, adding a little of the hot pasta water, if necessary, to thin the sauce. Garnish with peanuts and serve immediately.

Serves 4

From Nut Butter Universe by Robin Robertson. ©2013 Robin Robertson. Used by permission from Vegan Heritage Press. Photo by Zsu Dever.

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LINKS

Order a copy of Nut Butter Universe

Robin Robertson’s Website

Facebook page for publisher Vegan Heritage Press

And! Here’s that gateway-recipe for Indonesian Gado-Gado

An Update on the Bethlehem Vegfest Explosion (and Why You Need to Eat at Jenny’s Kuali)

Vegfests are meant to be joyful celebrations of compassion for animals and people, healthy minds and bodies, good food and good vibes.

While the 2013 Bethlehem Vegfest was a positive experience for so many (more on that later), a dark cloud hung over the day when, about thirty minutes into the festival, a small explosion at Jenny’s Kuali food vendor booth sent three women to the hospital for first and second degree burns (Jenny herself was burned the most).

Thanks to @obsidianspider, Todd, for sharing your photo

Thanks to @obsidianspider, Todd, for sharing your photo

It was a unfortunate freak accident, quickly covered by local and Philadelphia media. No Vegfest patrons or other vendors were hurt, and the festival continued to run as planned.

Because we have such a wonderful and caring community, people have been asking about Jenny’s health, the state of the business (as they never got to sell any food at Vegfest and the restaurant closed for several days), and what they can do to help.

I just spoke to Jenny’s husband, and had a remarkable conversation that left me feeling even more grateful and even more proud that these wonderful people are in our community.

  • Jenny is still recovering in the hospital, and her husband happily anticipates she’ll be home early next week. They don’t want her to go back to work just yet, though she’ll be back when they feel she is well enough.
  • All expenses should be covered by their insurance company, so they not in dire financial trouble.
  • The restaurant has been opened regular hours since Wednesday, Sept. 11th!

 You Can Best Help by going to the restaurant, bringing your friends and family, and feasting on delicious Malaysian food until you have to be rolled out the door. 

 

I felt so helpless (as many of us did) and asked if donations would help cover any of their costs. Jenny’s husband, a man just as kindhearted and lovely as she is, said they do not need donations. They want business to run as usual and to serve people their food, cooked with love.

He added if people feel compelled to donate, send the money to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, or a care center for burn victims (like this one locally) “for someone who needs it”.

I expressed my relief that they are financially stable, considering they should have done so well at Vegfest, and then they had to close their business for a few days. That’s when he said something so genuine:

“So I don’t have an extra ten dollars to spend, so what?

It’s just money. Life is more important.”

Where to Go:
 Jenny’s Kuali, Malaysian Cuisine
102 E. 4th Street, Bethlehem (Southside) PA, 18015
Open 11am-8pm Mon-Wed; 11am-9pm Thurs-Sat (Closed Sunday)
610-757-8088
www.JennysKuali.com
Jenny’s Kuali Facebook Page (for updates & specials)
Dine in or Take out
Very vegan + gluten-free friendly!
BYOB — and located right next door to a Wine & Spirits shop
Appetizers start at $2, and most entrees are just under $10
 
Delicous food at Jenny's Kuali
 

I wrote about them for Lehigh Valley Style as one of my Favorite Things in the Lehigh Valley (scroll to the bottom).

Jaime K’s tips: Jenny’s is easily one of the most vegan-friendly places in the area, and they are proud to serve so many options to the vegan community. Most of their desserts are made with coconut milk, and you can’t go wrong with the bok choy in any entree. It’s also extremely budget friendly – the last time I ate there with Ryan, we got two appetizers, two entrees, and a dessert and it was under $30 (after tax!). If you go on a weekend night, you may want to call ahead for reservations (not always necessary, but a good idea).

Food is love. Show your love for these wonderful people and this shining gem in our restaurant scene and community by supporting Jenny’s Kuali.

Wishing Jenny a peaceful, restful recovery. xoxo

SEPTEMBER SOMETHINGS: The Start of Autumn, Bethlehem Vegfest, and a Writing Retreat

This morning I woke up to a familiar feeling: that first September morning that feels comparatively cold, my body heat cocooned under the comforter, the dog serving as a fuzzy makeshift foot-warmer.

The Fall season is upon us, and I couldn’t be more grateful. I know about science and weather and seasons, but every year at this time, it feels like a gift just for me.

I never get sick of photos of pumpkin drinks and flat boots. Post away. Here's my first contribution.

I never get sick of photos of pumpkin drinks and flat boots. Post away. Here’s my first contribution.

The other day I read something about September being “an alternative New Year’s Day” as a time for reflection and transformation, personal promises and fresh starts. This resonates so deeply with me. A month ago we had a week of chillier, end-of-summer temperatures and I swapped my summer dresses out of my closet, trading them for cardigans and boots. I’ve sorted my book collection so the creepy, haunting novels are on the top shelf, Shirley Jackson and Thomas Tryon ready for consumption. (Surely I’m not the only one to read fiction according to season?). I sleep in short sleeves knowing that on gloriously loungey mornings like this one, I will wake up just a bit cold and get to burrow inside the bed a little deeper.

Let me tell you about a few things:

Bethlehem Vegfest is tomorrow (Saturday, Sept. 7th) from 11am-6pm. Has it really been a year? This year, raise your hands to the sky and rejoice because it is (finally! FINALLY!) all vegan, just as it should be. It’s been rebuilt a bit on the inside, making the festival a little smaller but more… Vegfesty. I wish for all the speakers, vendors and patrons to have a truly wonderful time and to continue to keep the festival a positive, friendly, and inspiring event for all. Go here to view all the details.  (And I was quoted for a little newspaper article, thanks Express Times.)

stk vegfest

Later that night, I’m heading to Philly for the Emmys! Very excited about my beautiful dress, though competitions make me sick to my stomach and I’ll feel better when it’s over.  Hopefully Matt will tell tales of new fatherhood and we can talk about how his one year old daughter and I get same-level excited about Ikea selling giant plush vegetables with faces, or something.

And then! It’s off to a Solo Writer’s Retreat.

Sunday morning, I’m smooching Ryan goodbye as he heads to Canada for work (he’s going to the Toronto International Film Festival, poor thing, what grueling work) and I head to northeast Pennsylvania to drop off Chubby dog at my Mom’s house, then continue on to a small cabin in the woods.

“Writers have long known that the most reliable cure [for writer’s block] is to get away from regular life and in a different and undemanding environment, simply allow the words to come. They can be awful. They will be awful. But out of awful comes literature — or, in my case, self-help books that, if I do my job right, read as well as literature.” – Victoria Moran

You see, for months I’ve been talking about secluding myself in a cabin so I can get away from obligations (and, um, the internet) and just write. I got the kick-in-the-butt I needed after reading this blog series from Victoria Moran about going on her own writing retreat to work on a new book proposal. Maybe it’s the romance of the idea, or that I know I tend to get distracted at home, but I’ve found a perfect little cabin just for me and whatever woodland creatures I meet and befriend.

It’s on a lake. It has a fireplace. And electricity to keep the computer charged. Beyond that, I’m just taking some reference books, good campfire food, and my coffee pot. Maybe some rations for vegan s’mores.

As you can see, this is a popular idea.

writingcabin

I’m turning 30 at the end of the month, and that milestone birthday is deserving of it’s own reflection. I don’t have a lot of the things our culture has determined you are “supposed to” have to mark adulthood: marriage, “normal job”, home ownership, a child. Though, I’ve learned so much about myself and if I want, or will ever want, those things. What does it mean when society places so much value and credible experience on things that may not be a part of someone’s life? What do I want my life to look like?

What do you want your life to look like? Have you ever thought about it? Really?

I hadn’t. A few years ago I was in my therapist’s office and he said, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” and it was like a boulder was thrown at my head as I realized I actually hadn’t thought about it before. At that time, in the middle of deep depression, living day-to-day was enough. I’d wake up every morning with paralyzing anxiety because I didn’t know how to fill the hours of the day, painfully aware that I didn’t have a sense of purpose, and desperately wanting to find one.

Snoozing dogs = four-legged mental therapy.

Snoozing dogs = four-legged mental therapy.

The novel idea that in five years time I could potentially have any life/lifestyle I’d want (theoretically, within the realm of reality and not “Become Queen of the Jungle”, or invent the new Facebook) was impossible to wrap my head around. It may have sounded simple, but in that hour I found I’d be very content and truly happy if my life involved: an inspiring apartment, a loving relationship based on honesty and respect in which we maintained separate identities while supporting each other’s dreams, a small circle of friends you call when your world falls apart/when your world explodes with joy, a dog (absolutely), to do work that leaves the world better than I found it and goes beyond “me”, and… to write.

So.

Off I go to get out of my head… or perhaps, into my head. I’ve always thought it easier to figure things out with a blanket across my shoulders and a campfire flickering through the trees.

xo Jaime K

living forest

living forest