Braised Roma Beans

When Tim and I visited my family earlier this year, my brother loaned me the book The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. The story, if you don’t know it, is about a man who accidentally begins a long journey to a friend, and along the way, both he and everyone he knows is affected. I reached the last chapter on a Sunday night at Sevier Park, stretched out next to Tim on blankets beneath the setting sun. When I closed the cover, I turned to Tim and sighed.

“Did you like it?” he asked me.

“Yes,” I said to him, my head propped up in my hand. “This book reminded me that people can change.”

And people, I need to be reminded of that.

Braised Roma Beans

It seems to me that one of the kitchen’s best gifts to us, aside from being a place to connect and find nourishment, is that it is a place that reminds us of truths we forget. Like the book I finished, the kitchen vividly demonstrates that life is dynamic. Things are in flux. Like the green beans we braise on the stovetop, we are, all of us, ever transforming and moving and being made new.

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Writer Chats, Part X: Confessions of a Writer

Here we are with part ten of the Writer Chats series, brought to you by Asha, a writer who combines stories and recipes at her food blog Dinner She Wrote. Like us, Asha believes that “what speaks to me, speaks to another,” and perhaps that’s why I resonate so much with what she’s written here. When she talks about her challenging relationship with writing as a love she keeps coming back to, I get it. When she explains how the power of connection can be intoxicating, I get that, too. And her conclusion is the same one I keep coming to: Keep writing, keep writing, keep writing.

writerchat-asha

Writing is a relationship like no other. Despite the challenges we’ve had over the years, and the ones yet to come, despite the months of silence or the fraught late night frustrations, despite the constant inner doubts and the numerous unfinished projects gathering dust on the shelf of my dreams, I always, always come back to my pen and paper; and I try. I try to find a way to make it work. Why? I’m not sure that love needs an explanation. I write because I love to write. I write because I am a writer.

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Radish Panzanella

radish panzanella

Telling you I like panzanella is a little like telling you my teenage self liked pizza. I don’t like panzanella; I want to eat it every day. In the same way I grew up buying Tombstone and Jack’s and, let’s be honest, eating any pizza anyone would give me, now I want panzanella, and I want it all the time. Really, the jump from pizza addict to panzanella evangelist isn’t a crazy one. The most traditional versions of panzanella are practically pizza, deconstructed: bread, tomatoes, basil, mozzarella cheese. But lately, my panzanella love has pushed me to new combinations of ingredients, ones far stretched from anything resembling a pizza slice. And while sure, I might be biased, I have to say, I think a radish panzanella like this one could make a zealot out of anyone.

radish panzanella

This salad starts with radishes—and saying radishes are beautiful is kind of like saying I like panzanella.

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Tim’s Chocolate Blueberry Pie

It’s no surprise to say that I love words—especially written words. Maybe all writers feel this way. I communicate better with what I write that what I say, and, usually, I understand better what I read than what I hear. So when I read Tim’s post below, that’s what I thought: I love reading his perspective, in black and white. I also, in this case, love being reminded of the same arguments I (and he) have to rehearse regularly, to keep creating, to keep learning, to enjoy the process. The bonus is the killer chocolate blueberry pie—a sophisticated take on the classic.

Tim's Chocolate Blueberry Pie

I’m not a baker, but I baked a pretty darn good blueberry chocolate pie. One of the lessons I have been learning in life is that while I might not know how to do something, or maybe I have some interest in doing something but am not very good at it, most of the time, it is still worth doing. Sure, we could discuss how many things there are that people are interested in doing that are not worthwhile or illegal or something. That’s not what I am talking about here. I am talking about the stuff that stretches your mind and perspective. In fact this is the type of thing I have always enjoyed, but Shanna has really helped me see it even better.

Tim's Chocolate Blueberry Pie

Creating things because we are designed to be like our Creator and because it connects with us in deep ways is reason enough to try many new things, regardless of the praise or lack thereof we receive for creating. Trying new things could make us boastful because of everything we have tried, but actually it should make us humble, if we are really being honest with ourselves, because sooner or later we see our lack of ability or weakness. As humans, we are finite. We cannot do everything. We are all fitted to some things better than others, and learning that is actually good. Stay with me.

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Writer Chats, Part IX: Finding My Writing Voice

Today’s entry in the Writer Chats series comes from the Los Angeles-based mom and writer who cultivates the beautifully photographed, inspiring blog, French Foodie Baby. Helene’s posts are filled with real-food-focused recipes, often with photos of her adorable son, Pablo, and I have to tell you, as I’ve told her, that she is one of the top bloggers with whom I would like someday to spend some offline time. From her perspective on food to her series of transparent menu plans for her growing son, Helene is a treasure. Below are her thoughts on what writing has looked like for her.

writerchat-helene

When I started reading this Writer Chats Series, I must admit I felt a bit envious. Of writers talking about how they cannot live without writing, how they love it and can’t imagine not doing it. I wish that were my case, and perhaps I’m getting there. But mostly, I have had a love/hate dysfunctional long-distance relationship with writing for many years.

I always felt like I had so much to express, and yet felt blocked by the daunting blank page, using the busyness of daily life to keep me away from the blank page. But some guilt and regret lingered, and the blank page kept beckoning somehow.

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Herb-Roasted Carrot and Pesto Tartines

Herb-Roasted Carrots and Pesto Tartines

Even growing up in the Depression didn’t make my grandma immune to persuasive tactics at the table. “Carrots are good for your eyes,” she’d tell me as I pushed the boiled orange coins, floating in pools of butter, around my plate. Grandma had worn thick, plastic-framed glasses the whole time I’d known her, and I’d qualified as near-sighted almost as soon as I went to school, so the idea of not wearing glasses was appealing. She knew her audience, you could say. Thanks to her, carrots became one of the first vegetables I wanted to eat, along with green beans and potatoes, if you’re the type that calls potatoes vegetables, but I can’t say it was because I liked them.

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Blueberries on the Buffalo Farm + Whole Grain, Streusel-Topped Blueberry Buckle

Blueberries on the Buffalo

In a world where every company calls itself the leader, and “great customer service” is something of a buzzword, a lot of us have become desensitized to company promises—but this past weekend, about 80 miles south of Nashville, I became a believer once again. At Blueberries on the Buffalo Farm, a small, family-run blueberry farm that is actually a small, one-couple-run blueberry farm, I experienced firsthand such unparalleled kindness from the very people who work the land, I haven’t stopped talking about it since.

Blueberries on the Buffalo

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