Kale Mashed Potatoes + September in Nashville

tim's plate

Tim went away for a work trip last week, just for two days really, but all the way to New York, putting him not only out of state but also in a different time zone, for the first night (and nights) we have ever been apart since we got married. It wasn’t something we looked forward to, upcoming nights apart like these, and, leading up to the trip, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel dread (or that I didn’t say to him, when I dropped him off at the airport, “Do you think it’s too late to cancel?,” both of us laughing).

It wasn’t that I thought I’d be afraid at night or have nothing to do with myself or break down on the side of the road and not have him to call (OK, a little bit the last one, but only in the same way that I tend to imagine a plane going down once I get on it)—it was mostly that when you love someone, you want to be with them, and I love Tim.

reunited at the table

I feel really grateful to have him, and I know I’ve said that before, but I say it again because gratitude isn’t the kind of thing that you can leave on auto-pilot, and whether it’s a good husband or a beautiful September or a dinner that we share with someone we love, it’s more natural to take it for granted than to mark it down.

When Tim came home Saturday afternoon, I think we both let out a collective exhale, grateful to remember we are not each other’s best gifts (and that the One who gave us each other never leaves), yet grateful to be together again. And then, the next day, we killed the fatted calf, so to speak, with home-cooked filet mignons and big salads and mashed potatoes stuffed full of greens.

celebration lunch

Then, afterward, in that golden hour when the sun makes everything glisten, we grabbed blankets and sweaters and escaped to the park, soaking up the crisp September air, bright white skies and, mostly, the gifts we’re being given, today.

golden hour in tennessee
fields of tennessee
tim and shanna at the park

We brought the camera, and the thing that’s so great about bringing your camera for a few hours at the park is that you get the chance to look through its viewfinder, capture moments through its lens, and mark them down, the way you do when you’re listing things you’re thankful for.

us on a blanket

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the pull so many of us have towards beautiful things, such as the ideas we mark on Pinterest or the stories we scroll through on blog posts or the pleasure I receive from seeing pretty pictures and photography. When I was really sick earlier this year, I would say to Tim, let’s go walk through Anthropologie!, just to soak up the atmosphere and remember there is beauty in the world. You could, I think, look at all this pull and say there’s something wrong with it, that we want to create imaginary lives that are perfect and flawless and fun to look at, all the time, and that doing so ignores the realities of pain and suffering and poverty and despair.

But personally, I think it points to something bigger.


There is something in us, in all of us, I believe, that craves beauty—whether that shows itself in Pinterest folders or fantasy football scores or keeping the kitchen clean. My blog friend Sarah says we crave beauty because we were made for the Beautiful One. It’s not that we don’t see hard things, or experience them; all human beings do, even if in different degrees. We have loved ones die. We fight with our spouses. We experience serious physical pain that shows us how small we are. But it’s just that, in the midst of all of this, we’re also drawn to what’s beautiful and right and good and true. We look for it, go out to find it, hope for it and want it to exist.

daisies and us

I think about that all the time lately, when I’m snapping photos of wild daisies growing in the grass, sidled along a busy road; when I’m setting a plate before me, as colorful as a garden or an elaborate painting; when I’m listening to someone tell me how she wants to make her living room look a certain way. There can be unhealthy motives in these things, sure, as in any things, but a lot of times, truly, I just sit back and think, how good of God to give us pleasures such as these to enjoy.


Pleasures like sunlight in the evening and foothills in the distance. Pleasures like a bed to sleep in and food in the fridge. Family who loves us when we hurt them. Books that make us think.

Gifts around us, all the time.

Kale Mashed Potatoes
Adapted from The Sprouted Kitchen cookbook from Sara Forte and Hugh Forte
Serves five to six as a side dish

And speaking of beautiful pleasures, I was delighted to win a copy of the new Sprouted Kitchen cookbook from Sara Forte and Hugh Forte, through Kasey’s recent giveaway at Turntable Kitchen. The book, which, incidentally, is sold at Anthropologie, is pure crisp, colorful gorgeousness from cover to cover. And this recipe from it, originally called “mashies and greens,” brilliantly combines not-very-nutrient-dense potatoes with the food powerhouse kale.

2 pounds organic red potatoes, quartered
1 Tablespoon coconut oil
1/4 onion, chopped finely
2 cups chopped Lacinato kale (taken from about 1/2 to 3/4 of a bunch, stems removed and chopped)
1/3 cup olive oil
1 1/2 cups milk, cream or kefir*
1/2 to 3/4 cup grated Pecorino cheese
Salt and pepper

Place potatoes in a large stock pot and cover with water, adding a little salt on top. Bring water to a boil and cook for about 20 to 25 minutes, until potatoes are tender.

Meanwhile, prepare the kale by removing the stems and chopped it up coarsely. Heat coconut oil in a small sauté pan over medium heat and add the chopped onion, cooking until softened and transparent. Set aside.

When the potatoes are tender, drain the liquid and add 1/3 cup olive oil and 3/4 cup of the milk, cream or kefir. Mash well. Add the Pecorino and continue mashing. Add the rest of the liquid until you get to the consistency you like. Salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with more Pecorino, if desired.

*Kefir vs. Milk or Cream: We used kefir in our potatoes because we make our own kefir and have it easily on hand; kefir (or buttermilk, or yogurt) will make the potatoes tart, however, so next time we’d cut it with half milk or cream. Which you use is up to you.

kale mashed potatoes


  1. Kendra says

    One of my favorite posts of yours. And that’s saying something. Slash I’m obsessed with that mustard cardigan. Is that your wedding cardigan? That’s my dream color to wear, but my skin looks like a rotting honeydew melon when I put it on. Kind of depressing. So I’ll live my mustard cardigan dreams vicariously through you.

  2. says

    Everything about this, and here, is beautiful. Love the tones and light in these photos — that second one? You guys are killing me.

  3. says

    You’ve got a very pregnant woman about to tear up over this post. There is so much beauty around us indeed, it’s so easy to forget. Right this moment, I’m enjoying hearing my 4 and 2.5 yr old having a really funny conversation while playing with each other in the nursery. The sound of Chilly Gonzales (http://vimeo.com/41982255) playing on my laptop and this cold wet fall day is just so perfect right now. Thanks for such a lovely post.

  4. says

    Shanna, your space here is one of my favorites on the web. You always make me smile – and think. Thanks for that, lovely lady.

  5. says

    You two are such a sweet couple. I agree with your words on appreciating beauty. Each day I’m overwhelmed with gratitude for this beautiful life and my kind husband. Oh, and after five years of marriage, we can’t stand to be apart either. :)

  6. says

    These are beautiful photos to go with a beautiful meal. I made a similar meal last night with rib eye and mashed potatoes and broccoli. It’s so simple and stunning and wonderful. Perfect for sharing with someone you care about!

  7. says

    YES, to all of this. So beautiful, and so true. Gifts abound all around us (Anthropologie being just one lovely place to see them :) ).

  8. says

    “it was mostly that when you love someone, you want to be with them, and I love Tim”

    Oh this is so true. I try very hard not to be one of those girls who lets their friends slide or is joined by the hip to the boyfriend but, at the end of the day, my boyfriend just so happens to be my very favourite person to spend time with.

    Lovely post, lovely pictures and lovely recipe (I can’t wait to start cooking out of Sara’s book!)

  9. says

    You two are so great together. Sounds like kale and potatoes go great together, too! I’ll have to try that recipe from Sprouted Kitchen this winter.

  10. margaret says

    I’ve followed your posts for awhile but never posted before. Love your writing as well as your recipes. Just wanted to know how those pictures came about (especially the overhead shots, when you seem to be alone together. Who took them?

  11. says

    You are one photogenic couple! What beautiful photos. It’s hard to be intentional with seeking out, and appreciating, beauty in the every day things. But I do find that taking my camera with me helps that a bit. :)

  12. says

    This was just so beautiful it brought tears to my eyes. I needed to read something like this. To remind myself of it. It is so good to know there are people who think the way you do and are able to express it so much better. Thank you, thank you. And now excuse me, I’m off to bake your buckwheat chocolate chip cookies. :)

  13. anne says

    What a beautiful post! Your sentiments were so well-said and delightful to read. And the food looks amazing :). Thanks for reminding us about the beauty that surrounds us daily, and the real meaning of beauty :).

  14. says

    So much of your post resonated with me, Shanna. Whenever Matt leaves, I, too, spend nights laying in bed dreading the ones on which I’ll be sleeping alone. I think it speaks to the love you have for that person. I always find myself jumping and giving him a huge bear hug when he comes back…I know that collective sigh well :) I’m so glad you are enjoying the book! I must make these mashed potatoes soon.


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