Lately, bubbling seafood hot pots have been simmering on the stove while a weekend trip to an island paradise yoga retreat offered a humbling bout of rejuvenation, enough so to get me back on the bandwagon re-writing an old proposal for a book. But first, seasons..
The delicate scent of a lacy candle wanders around my desk right now as my dozing dog naps on my feet, both of us tucked up close to the tiny space heater. It's winter but it doesn't quite feel that way. The air has warmed, the snow has melted and it's been a couple weeks since the white powder dusted our front steps. It's still chilly enough for a jacket but the wind no longer bites your bare fingertips or scrapes over your skin.
The seasons completely dictate my life. They always have. In the winter, I rise at 6, dress and pull the car door shut in one step. Driving through the dark, heavy morning I wake as we reach the mountain. Skinning (a part of backcountry skiing), my way up the slope as the sun rises and casts a dusty pink glow over the peaks is something not everyone gets to see every day and I'm immediately thankful to be there at that moment.
The rigorous activity and days spent wet, chilly and working in the heavy snow drives me to make warming, soulful and sustaining dishes. Tuscan vegetable soup with orzo. Baked creme fraiche tart with smoked salmon and dill. Milky red curries and velvety, rich breads. Hot tea, chai, green, black, and pastel-colored Matcha Lattes never leave my lips.
In the summer, we pack the car every weekend and head to the canyons, valleys and boulders, anywhere impressive rock formations can be found. Steely walls of granite, fine-grit sandstone and polished limestone call our names. Here we crave the fresh, bright flavors that pack you with energy- bright, acidic fruits, crunchy, water-packed vegetables and juicy grilled fish are what we come for after the climb.
Running, yoga, biking and swimming in the lake call for a different kind of eating. A long, slow picnic dinner is enjoyed at the table we built together in our backyard, dog lying in the grass at our sides.
I feel best when my life is lived this way, like it's how things should be. I feel challenged, nourished, sustained and rewarded. I feel alive with nature, inseparable from her.
YOGA RETREAT AT DOE BAY
At the yoga retreat I attended this weekend at Doe Bay on Orcas island with my most favorite teacher and dear friend Josephine Silverwolf (who has a fantastic blog you must check out (here), and a beautiful new teacher, Alex. Alex spoke a lot about Ayurveda, the sister science of yoga that explains and dictates how to maintain balance for your own individual self. Think what you like here but I will say for myself that I learned so many valuable things, so many more ways to be in touch with myself, listen to myself both physically and mentally and take care of myself so that I can live my fullest in a healthy, balanced state of mind and being, which is something I have a lot of trouble with having so much inconsistency in my job and my life (comes with the territory I suppose). It was an incredible weekend of rigorous practice, restorative practice, potlucks, tub soaking, chanting, cabins and love. My first retreat and I will be going to many more in the future.
I'M AUTHORING A BOOK
During my chats with Josephine and our friends on the island we spoke about how to live a healthy life. I have been approached a number of times by different publishers urging me to publish a book of my own and even came very close to going through with it one time (the promise of a line of my own books at Whole Foods hanging just out of reach!). But the time was not right, and the publisher didn't feel the best fit. I believe It's a responsibility to put something out into the world like that and I want to have the right thing to offer people at the right time. To feel it to be right and authentic in my heart, otherwise, I won't go through with it. After chatting about my previous proposal with the ladies this weekend, I felt a ball of energy re-emerge inside of me and make it's way up to the surface. Creative juices were flowing, ideas were expanding and I knew the right time had come. It's a terribly frightful thing to do something like this. I think people forget how easy it is to sit back and judge but how hard it is to actually produce something and give it your all and put it out into the world knowing it could always be better and there's always something that could be improved on but having the courage to do so and move forward and progress. So I've decided to hop back on the bandwagon- get a move on, re-work the proposal and re-visit those publishers whom I felt good things with. It will still be a while (these things take time), but it is in the works! And I am very, very excited to be doing it.
MONGOLIAN SEAFOOD HOTPOT
And lastly, how could I leave you without a recipe from the lip-smacking new issue of Honest Magazine on all things seaworthy. The new issue is up and jam-packed with seafood-inspired dishes, places, resources, cookbooks, restaurants and more. Check it out and place your order at the site now. - HonestQuarterly.com/shop
Seafood Hot Pot
"A Hot Pot may refer to a variety of East Asian stews but is mainly known as a simmering metal pot of stock at the center of a table, accompanied by ingredients that are placed into the pot, and cooked by diners tableside during the winter. In this case, those ingredients are succulent treasures plucked from the sea. Mussels, scallops, clams, shrimp, you name it. The point is to get creative with your communal meal and have a good time doing it. Dig in!"
Serves 4. Keeps up to 4 days in the refrigerator.
2 ½ cups low sodium vegetable broth
4 oz dried thin rice noodles
1 stalk lemongrass, outer husk removed, sliced in half and smashed
½” knob of ginger, peeled
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 shallots, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 ½ tablespoons fish sauce
2 limes, zested & juiced
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
Small bundle Oregano
Small bundle Tarragon
Small handful of Clams, cleaned
Small handful of Mussels, cleaned and de-bearded
Small handful of Tiger Shrimp, in shell
Small bundle Thai basil
2 red Thai chilies (also known as bird’s eye chiles)
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1. Add stock to a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in rice noodles and remove from heat. Let stand until noodles are soft, about 8 minutes. Use a slotted or pasta spoon to remove noodles from stock. Set aside. Return stock to burner over medium heat and drop in lemongrass and ginger.
2. In a small pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add shallots and cook for 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Once lightly browned, remove from heat and set aside.
3. In the saucepan of broth over medium heat, add the fish sauce, rice vinegar, lime juice and zest. Stir to incorporate and follow with the leaves from a few oregano sprigs and a few tarragon sprigs.
4. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat for 3 minutes to infuse the flavors, then reduce heat to medium-low and bring down to a simmer. Add the clams, mussels and shrimp. Cover and let cook 2-6 minutes, until clams and mussels have opened and shrimp have turned red (you may have to remove some of the seafood early if it cooks through or opens before the remainder finishes). Discard any mussels/clams that don’t open.
5. Return all ingredients to pot. Place in the center of a set table, accompanied by small bowls of Thai basil, thinly sliced scallions, thinly sliced Thai chilies and remaining oregano and tarragon.