how we spend our days (+ announcement!)

June 26

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives” (Annie Dillard)

I read the above quote a few years ago, back when I was compiling a 25th anniversary scrapbook for my parents in which people wrote and told of gifts and memories and experiences they’d had with my mom and my dad, and I was reflecting then the way I’ve been reflecting lately, about what are the most meaningful things we do, about what we really want. I’ve been asking myself: How am I spending my days, since that’s how I’m spending my life? And then, is the way I am spending them good?

cherry chocolate ice cream

Of course the easy way to define our days is by our full-time gigs, be it school or work or motherhood or something else that requires most of our time, and I’ve done that before: I’ve sat down to dinner with friends and explained my class load. I’ve called myself a copywriter. I’ve mentally calculated some kind of personal net worth. But the older I get, the more I see those things—while important—are not the only things.

Now when I look at my days, I look instead at harder questions: how am I pursuing things that matter? what am I accomplishing? where’s my passion? whom do I love? how is my life improving someone else’s?

homemade cherry chocolate ice cream

I am convinced and convicted that these are questions we can ask from a cubicle or a kitchen, in our teens or in old age, no matter where we’re working or whom we’re working with. And in my particular case, these are questions that have prompted some pretty major changes.

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what has been coming

buckwheat ginger cookies

This month of June has been continual change. From trips out of town to friends taking new jobs to continually decreasing pants sizes, it’s been one thing after another. For many of these things, I guess it’s really been more of a culmination, in which wheels that have been in motion, things have been coming, in these last few weeks finally have. It’s exciting. It’s terrifying. It’s something we’ll talk more about next week (along with a big announcement! stay tuned!).

But meanwhile, let’s talk about another kind of change, a specific one that’s been happening in my kitchen and could happen in yours: buckwheat flour.

soft buckwheat ginger cookies

Because, thing is, it’s not just June that’s been change for me; it’s 2010, which over the last six months has brought one new realization after another. What started with the removal of refined sugars and flours in a new year’s resolution led to the reading of labels and analyzing of ingredient lists, avoiding things I couldn’t pronounce or recognize in favor of more whole foods like blueberries, eggs, butter, milk, grass-fed meat. I watched Food, Inc. (thanks, Kendra!). I read The Maker’s Diet. I gave up white bread and chose sprouted grains. I started drinking kombucha (Whole Foods, are you listening? please start carrying it again!). Along the way, I also started taking cod liver oil and a probiotic.

The changes all felt pretty natural, like I was just taking care of my body in new ways, and while I have been eating very well and working out only two or three times a week, I’ve lost twelve pounds, without even meaning to. It’s crazy.

And really, the only change that ever felt difficult at all was probably the earliest one: removing white all-purpose flour and white sugar from my baking.

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3 Days in North Carolina

june is for traveling

Hello there, blog friends. It has been a while.

So how have your last two weeks been? Good? Mine too. Between Ohio and Tennessee and North Carolina, I’ve been getting to be a pro at vacation. A pro, I tell you. I’ve eaten well, in the homes of friends and in quality restaurants; I’ve seen new places, from Nashville parks to Durham campuses; I’ve, mostly, spent time with great people, all over the country, and I’ve loved every bit of it.

Now, while I work on getting good at other things—namely, the everyday tasks of working and cooking and so on—why don’t we talk about my last trip, the one to the Research Triangle of North Carolina, a destination chosen for, what else, the food. It was the most relaxing vacation I’ve taken in years, one which we did little else but eat and lounge around, a practice that has seriously opened my eyes to what vacation is supposed to be like.

So in true Food Loves Writing form, here are all the details:

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from up above

from up above

I have been wanting to write something about food here—since, you know, this is a food blog or, it’s supposed to be. I have been wanting to cook something and take pictures and tell you about it, I really have.

And I’ve tried. I mean, Monday, after being out of town for the weekend, I barely unpacked before I roasted broccoli in coconut oil, which is a new way of making it for me. Tuesday, I ate grilled tilapia and grilled asparagus with my family. Each morning this week, I’ve made eggs, first over easy, then sunnyside up for breakfast, usually with a smoothie on the side. And last night, using the same method I blogged about here, I roasted golden beets to put in a salad with greens and goat cheese and red onions.

But every time I think about blogging one of these things, I come back to that picture up there, the one taken from my airplane window Saturday, bound for Cincinnati. It’s crazy how different everything looks from up above, you know? On the ground, I can tell you about the scratch on a bumper, but from the air, I can’t even single out a car. Trees become parts of forests. Fields become parts of huge sections of land.

Perspective changes everything.

golden beets

I like that. And it’s just as true with blogging as with anything else. In a ground-level way, this post is about beets, yes, about how to roast them the same way I have done before, with a few pictures sprinkled through of beets on blue plates. But from up above, it’s about something greater, about the kind of cooking that doesn’t always try new recipes but that remembers routines, feels what is familiar, is more everyday. I like finding more of that type of cooking in my life lately. I like that very much, indeed.

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