We were at the store to pick up a cart's worth of water when I spotted it: a red box of those classic yellow cheese crackers in someone else's load. I haven't had cheese crackers like those in six years…
If you haven’t already heard of The Sprouted Kitchen Cookbook, named for the blog Sara and Hugh Forte keep by the same name, you’re probably not a food blogger (nor someone who follows The James Beard Awards, for which it is a recent nominee). Last summer, when the book first launched, I only slightly exaggerate that about nine out of ten food blogs I followed featured the book at one point or another. And it’s not hard to see why.
Like the blog, the Sprouted Kitchen book is gorgeous, filled with colorful, crisp images on every spread. The recipes are focused on whole foods, from lentil meatballs in lemon pesto (the closest thing to non-meat meatballs I’ve ever had!) to flourless chocolate-banana pudding cakes (souffle-esque and wonderful). While, true, we’ve mentioned this book briefly here before, last fall when we had Sara’s mashies n’ greens (our kale mashed potatoes), we wanted to highlight it again, partly because we love how kind and approachable Sara is—something anyone who’s interacted with her can see—and partly because of one recipe in particular that has blown us away: this buckwheat harvest tart.
You know those people who are always telling you how busy they are? It’s kind of annoying because really, we all make the time to do the things we really want to do. Even when we’re crazy crazy busy, we still eat, for example—or at least, I still eat—maybe you sleep or meet your friend for coffee or buy a new lamp for the living room. The point is, I’ve always thought to myself, even when it was my own voice I was hearing say it, that hello? You say you’re too busy, but really you are just admitting that you don’t want to make the time for something.
But then the last few weeks happened.
And what I’ve been realizing—amidst taking trips to Chicago, having guests in town, looking for new work, planning a wedding, staying in touch with friends, and dealing with everyday emergencies like an ant problem or a shower curtain that continually wants to fall down—is that sometimes, being too busy is less about all the actual things you’re doing and more about what those things do to your mind. It can be hard to just sit and think and process things, even when you want to. You start to feel lost in it all and you start to forget really obvious things that you should remember.
Last weekend, for example, I had my leftovers packaged up at lunch—and then forgot them at the table.
I took some out-of-town guests on a tour of Franklin—and got lost twice.
While things on the to-do list are getting accomplished (caterer picked! engagement photos done! jazz band found!), I feel kind of at a loss as to how to do anything more than just tell you about them. I worry that I’m becoming the girl who not only tells you how busy she is but then when you do get her talking, has a one-track mind of WEDDING.
Thankfully, yesterday and today, I’ve been given a little bit of everyday time—time to return to work, time to write a blog, time to think about all of these things. And also thankfully, I am continually around a man who is much less ruffled by the activity and to-do lists than I am.
So last night, we made cookies.
We’ve made these cookies before, a few months ago, pretty soon after I’d moved to Nashville. They’re an adaptation of a sugar-free recipe in Dr. Josh Axe’s Real Food cookbook, which uses just bananas and maple syrup as the sweeteners. The first time, they were like banana macaroons—oddly shaped the way coconut macaroons tend to be, but with the hint of banana flavor providing the sweetness.
Last night, when we used buckwheat flour instead of spelt and a simple syrup (half Sucanat, half water, heated over the stove) instead of maple, we ended up with an even more different version: gray in color (thank you, buckwheat) and less sweet.
Regardless though, these funny little mounds of baked goodness were fun to eat—and hard to stop eating—making them perfect for whatever schedule you find yourself in, be it busy weeks, everyday weeks, or something in between.
I have been waiting a long time to tell you about these cookies.
They first came to me last spring, in one of the earliest emails exchanged between here and Nashville.
Then came summer, fall, winter and a move to Tennessee.
Before long, here we were in the heart of spring again, evidenced all around us by green grass and blooming flowers, powerful thunderstorms and days of rain (and I mean that whether I’m at home in the South or at home visiting Chicago—which I’ve already done twice this month, and, I know, I know, but for good reasons, I promise).
Anyway, every year I remember again how much I love this time of year and the way buds poke out of branches, the way life comes out of the ground again. It’s the kind of thing that makes me want to pull out my camera, except for a small problem I’ve also been meaning to tell you about: somewhere in the midst of the move, I lost my camera’s battery charger, and when I ordered a replacement, it practically caught on fire when I plugged it in. So while I wait for a replacement replacement, now seems a perfect time to pull these buckwheat chocolate chip cookies out of hibernation.
Not only are they nutritious, but they’re something special in terms of taste and texture: cake-like and soft, but with a little crispness around the edges, riddled with bits of dark chocolate and that unmistakable bite of buckwheat.
Plus, at least for me and my memories, they’re decidedly spring—a welcome attribute these days, while I watch the world come to life without a camera to share it with you, but with instead with just these cookies—something almost better.
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.
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.
What do you do when words don’t come?
How do you speak when you don’t know what to say?
These are questions you start to ask yourself sometimes, whether you’re communicating with people around cubicles or in classrooms, on the phone or at the table, as old friends or among new acquaintances.
And honestly, it’s never more apparent an issue than on the Internet, when you blog. Read any blog for some stretch of time, and you’ll hear the author mention it, whether they’re asking themselves whether or not to keep blogging every other day or lamenting when the words don’t come or, like I did a few weeks ago, just stepping back to take in for a while.
How should you handle these stretches of silence? How do you keep talking when it isn’t easy? Some say push through it, say what you can right now, keep talking until something makes sense.
Others say to wait, wait for the words, wait for the right way to say them.