It was a Saturday night at the beginning of the month, and I was home at my parents house with L. We had traveled in for my sister’s baby shower just after the new year, and my dad was eager to test out two new waffle irons he was given as holidays gifts. (My heart skipped a beat as I realized my mom and I had bought him the same thing, until, in true Papa Floptimism fashion, he pronounced with enthusiasm that he can now have delicious belgian waffles at home and while at our small vacation cottage-cabin-getaway in the mountains. It turns out you really can never have too many waffle irons.) And by test out, I mean, he wanted to eat waffles. So, we had a light and early dinner, cranked up the waffle irons, and I got to work. I was flying around the kitchen in a tizzy, one iron on one end of the counter, the second on the opposite end to avoid overloading a circuit, timing the batters and the flipping and transferring them all to the oven to keep warm when done. And because that wasn’t enough, I was melting chocolate down for a homemade fudge sauce, and gathering the various accoutrements for our decadent dessert. My head was spinning. I could barely keep track of it all. There was batter everywhere. And L looked at me and asked me to stop. And he looked me in the eyes and said to me, “This is the happiest I’ve seen you in weeks.”
Five years ago, I named a food blog Floptimism, and started sharing recipes, thoughts, and anecdotes. “Floptimism,” a nonsensical word that I embraced as being the push-pull of my perspective on life, a pendulum of optimistic desires and pessimistic nature (nurture?). I am many things, but I am not: naturally effervescent, inspiring, happy, positive. But I am, often, in the kitchen. When there’s no agenda or time clock, when I’m just fiddling or futzing, imaginatively creating or sculpting or experimenting — when the counters are my canvas and I just let go, I’m in heaven. I smile. I laugh. I joke. The kitchen helps me recover from those flops in life, when I just can’t seem to find the sun behind the clouds in my mind. That’s what Floptimism is — it’s never giving up on the sun, even when it’s hard to find.
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this winter vegetable chowder, oh boy.
this roasted nourish bowl with lemon tahini dressing.
this INSANE boston cream pie french toast.
this butterscotch pudding described magically.
these sweet potato breakfast “toasts”
this fluffernutter-sandwich-in-cheesecake-form, realized.
these nutrient-packed morning glory muffins.
this vegan pesto pizza, yum!
this vegan caesar salad.
and because I clearly love edible perspective, this carrot soup.
(oh, and I absolutely made that nourish bowl for dinner last night and am seriously in love.)
This past summer, I had a fling with wild-caught, Alaskan Sockeye salmon. Its vibrant color, somewhere between orange and pink or maybe both at once, was irresistible. Its flavor, strong, or at least, confident. It was never easier or more appealing to dine on it so frequently, a new recipe, or sometimes an old one revisited, every single week. There were burgers, which we thought we loved until we found this one, which has stolen our hearts and found its way onto our weekly menu on three separate occasions since. There was baked salmon, and and steamed salmon with an unforgettable blueberry balsamic reduction. And then, there was this salmon – seared on the stove and paired with a savory-sweet apricot quinoa. But then, the Alaskan Sockeye fell out of season with Fall, and my enthusiasm wandered off to other foods.
Just yesterday, though, I spotted it again, as deeply saturated with pink-or-orange-or-both as ever, and I felt my heart flutter. (I kid.) It had been frozen, a sacrifice you take when searching for out-of-season food, but I knew I needed it back in my life, even just for a week. And so I remembered this recipe, and though it’s been some time since I made it, I knew it deserved a place on these pages. I’ve decided that it is not so inappropriate for winter that I have to wait another season or two before sharing it, but if you have trouble with any of the ingredients, please pocket this for a warmer time.
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My September self had it all wrong. I dragged my feet in protest through the turned and fallen leaves. I mourned the loss of fresh strawberries and the seasonal closing of the farm I passed every day on my way to work. I nearly missed apple season, my head still turned to the summer I didn’t want to wait three more seasons to have back in my life. But I was wrong. So, so wrong. I’ve realized within the past few weeks that I am in love with the fruits and vegetables that come into season when everything else seems to turn away in hibernation. Sauteed pears and fresh persimmons; pureed pumpkin, baked sweet potato, and roasted parsnips that I’m convinced develop almost a licorice flavor to them…we’re well entrenched in the depths of winter and for the first time in my life, I think, I’m not eager for it to end.
I mean…just look at those vegetables! I love the stark contrast between the kale and the parsnips. I made these on a whim in December and as soon as I saw it all come together, I knew I had to make it for you. The colors just pop so gorgeously against the grey scale of winter; they’re exactly what I find I need this time of year. And though I could probably chow down on plain roasted vegetables and be completely happy, there’s a fantastic mustard dressing that gets tossed with the vegetables as they come out of the oven, and it’s wonderful.
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these beautiful and intriguing chocolate covered GRAPES.
these buttercup squash crumble bars, which are too cute for words.
this it-takes-a-lot-for-me-to-bookmark-meat-these-days bourbon fig & gorgonzola stuffed pork tenderloin, WHAT.
this chocolate-peanut butter mousse pie.
…and then this salty honey pie.
some peanut butter & chocolate waffles.
15 things you [re: I] should stop doing in 2015, because…yes.
I have opened this window, blinking cursor against white space, twice now. My lack of enthusiasm is not so much a testament to this recipe, which is actually very nice, but rather for the cookbook in which it is nestled. My copy of Rachael Ray’s Classic 30 Minute Meals is well worn, defaced by my scrawled notes in its margins and splattered ingredients across its pages. Somewhere in the course of trying to cook my way through it, my interest wandered to other meals. I found myself flipping through its recipes out of obligation, and when I did settle on one to cook, the meal I created was a mere remnant of what it once was. I tweaked and changed, improvised and stubbornly toyed with. I wasn’t really cooking from Rachael Ray’s book at all anymore.
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In 2015, I resolve to:
- think before I speak
- cut out all of the stuff I fill my time with that doesn’t bring me fulfillment and/or joy.
- FINISH THAT DANG BANANA BREAD RECIPE.
- …in fact, focus more on all of the bajillion work-in-progress, half-done recipes I have lingering around these parts.
- come out with an e-book for the blog. I have a few ideas I’ve been mulling over.
- learn how to shoot in manual, for real. How about this: take two pictures in manual this year! Two good pictures.
- buy a kitten (!!!), but only after doing some research on what that actually entails.
- continue spending more time in the kitchen, for fun.
- spend less time meal planning. Seriously, the bane of my existence.
- strip away my responsibilities at work and focus on a select few to really develop.
- de-clutter…my closet, my apartment, my brain, you know…the usual.
- dress fabulously, and clothes that I wore in high school don’t count (truth).
- figure out where all of the local food gold mines are hiding…I’ve been living here for over a year. It’s about time I get my butt over to the farmers market already.
- stop obsessing over getting engaged, getting married, am I ready, is L ready, yes I feel ready, no I’m terrified, let’s just elope, no I want my family there, omgmyheadisexploding. Stop overanalyzing and just…love L.
- trust myself.
HAPPY NEW YEAR, WORLD!
Do you have any resolutions?
Last year, I posted 14 resolutions for the year, and in a moment of full-transparency, this-is-my-life candor, I’ve decided to share my progress. Check back in a few days for my 2015 edition!
In 2014, I resolved to:
1. delete my January blog calendar and just blog when I darn well feel like it, about what I darn well feel like blogging about. And to poo with Twitter. Sorry, Twitter.
Success! Even if this has meant…not really blogging as much as I’d like, at least I’m no longer stressing about blogging on a rigid schedule or else. Apparently being a grown-up with a full-time job and a part-time job and the pursuit of a new certification is kind of a time suck.
2. not go into an epileptic seizure when plans change at the last minute, and sometimes the not-all-that-last-minute, too.
I’m still working on this one. I’m definitely getting better. I’d say we’ve gone from epileptic seizure status down to idiosyncratic twitching, or perhaps sporadic spasms.
3. learn how to shoot in manual. Really, it’s just embarrassing.
I took my first manual picture in August! And then went back to shooting in automatic. Because I find it all very confusing. Baby steps.
4. not buy a puppy.
Success, if only because my apartment complex won’t let me get a Shepherd, or any dog larger than a pipsqueak.
5. …maybe not buy a kitten. (yes, I’m still ogling that same one. Sigh.)
Success again! But no promises for 2015. I’m already gearing up for Kitty Floptimism. Get ready.
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the idea to top eggnog bars with eggnog frosting. genius.
this gingerbread house cookie cutter is beyond adorable.
this addendum to last week’s all-I-want-for-Christmas-2014 list.
this vegan, way-more-than-beans chili.
these one-can-never-have-too-many chewy chocolate chip cookie recipes.
this girl, living a trash-free life, is the kind of person that makes you feel at first like a phoney and then inspired to be just a little bit more like her every day.
annie’s eats holiday gift guide 2014 probably should have just been my wish list for this year.
this tart cranberry pie.
this salted chocolate pumpkin babka because the only thing greater than good bread is good bread swirled with chocolate.
the miraculous benefits of coconut oil (the new yorker)
this maple delicata squash is perfection.