Avocado

Avocado Pizza + Arugula, basil, & lime

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You guys. I won't disappear for months again, OK. I've got it together now. (Fingers crossed). This pizza is surprising. Its creamy rich avocado-y goodness baked into the crust. Balanced by the bitter/sweet arugula/lime/basil topping. OH MY. Seriously. Don't add cheese. It is SO good without. You want to let the beauty of the avocado shine on through.

Keeping on with that plan is another works in Food & Fiction.


SPIDER BY THE LIGHT

A gift in the night

from the spider by the light.

Four soft, tiny wings

fell gently where the door swings.

Spider's full belly

wing skeletons for kelly.

It once was a moth

flying on wings of silk cloth.

Guilt entered my mind

To all but light, moth was blind.

I turned off the light

no capture of moths tonight.

Palm spread eagerly

gathering wings gingerly.

The wings are not waste

death. beauty. forever encased.

A gift in the night

from the spider by the light.


RECIPE - Makes 2 pizzas (feeds 4)

Dough (Slightly adapted from Peter Reinhart's neo-neopolitian pizza dough)

2 Cups + 2TB - unbleached bread flour (or all purp flour)

1/2TB - Honey

3/4tsp - active dry yeast

1 Cup + 1TB - warm water (between 100 - 110 degrees F)

1TB - Olive oil

  1. Combine the warm water, honey, and yeast in a small bowl. Whisk until dissolved & let it sit aside for 5 - 10 minutes until it starts to bubble/foam. Then combine your yeast mixture, flour, & salt into a mixer & mix on low speed for 1 minute with a dough hook. (or mix by hand with a wooden spoon). Then let the dough rest for 5 minutes. This step lets the dough fully hydrate.
  2. Change your mixer speed to medium-low for 2 -3 minutes (or continue mixing by hand). The bread is done when it feels somewhere between tacky & sticky. It should still be really easy to work with. If you feel it is too wet add another TB of flour. If you feel it is to dry, add another TB of water. Turn the dough out onto an oiled sheet pan & divide into two pieces. Form these two pieces into rounds & place equal distance a part on the sheet pan. Cover the top with plastic wrap & place in your fridge overnight.
  3. 1.5 hours ahead of pizza baking time, remove the pizza from the fridge so it has time to warm up & proof in room temperature before baking. Now move onto pizza baking step.

Avocado Base + Toppings

2 - Avocados

4 - garlic cloves, peeled

6TB - Extra Virgin Olive Oil

3 Handfuls - fresh arugula

1 Handful - fresh basil

1/4 - Medium/small red onion, slivered

2 - Limes

Salt/pepper - to taste

  1. After letting the pizza dough ferment in the fridge overnight, take the dough out of the fridge 1.5 hours prior to baking to let it warm up to room temp. Place a baking stone in the oven & preheat it to 500 degrees. If you do not have a baking stone then get out a large baking sheet & lightly oil it, but still preheat your oven to 500 degrees.
  2. In a small blender such as a smoothie blender or small food processor, combine the avocado meats, 5TB oil, garlic cloves, juice of one lime, and a pinch of salt. Blend until smooth. It should be spreadable but still thick. The thickness will depend on the ripeness of your avocados. If you think it is just too thick, thin it out with a tiny bit of water. Set this aside.
  3. In a large bowl toss together your arugula, basil, and red onion. Whisk together the lime juice of your other lime and last TB of olive oil. Toss this together with the arugula mixture and lightly season with salt & fresh ground pepper. Use your hands to toss this mixture together (slightly massaging the greens). Set this aside until later.
  4. Roll out one of the pizza dough rounds on a floured surface and if you are baking using the baking sheet, place on the oiled baking sheet. Top the pizza with half of the avocado mixture & spread evenly with a spoon. Then transfer it into the oven & bake for about 15 -20 minutes (until it is cooked & the crust starts to golden). If you are baking on a pizza stone then open your oven & use a glove to pull out the rack the baking stone is on. Drop on the pizza crust, quickly top with half of the avocado mixture (spreading with a spoon), and close the oven. It will be done in about 10 minutes or less (until it is cooked & starting to golden in spots).
  5. Once the pizza is cooked, remove from oven either with a metal spatula or with mittens & place on a cutting board. Top with half of the arugula mixture, slice, & enjoy!
  6. Repeat process with second pizza dough.


Tofu-q with a habanero, apricot bbq sauce + avocado & cabbage slaw.

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I'm sitting here in a coffee shop near my house enjoying a big cookie and a cappuccino, with two dogs at my feet, and acting like I've been a Denver resident my whole life. Ok... maybe thats how I feel but, in reality, I probably don't look that way.  Especially when I get on the light rail and ride 10 minutes before I realize I should have been on the bus, abandon mission, and trek half-way through the city by foot. This coffee shop has some parallels to the shop I worked in during college, so I really like it. It serves up giant cookies like the onces we baked, has comically large milk pitchers, offers you drinks in pint glasses meant for beer, has a large loose leaf tea selection, friendly baristas, bakes in-house, is next door to a bar, has a well-loved and welcomed slightly-crazy, semi-homeless person who leaves his bag behind the counter, is not over-decorated, really needs new tables/chairs, and serves up decent coffee with good foam but without the fancy, high-coffee style that comes with perfect pours. Give me a single shot cappuccino in a small cup spilling over with foam and I'm happy. 

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Anyways, I'm getting use to this place. Denver that is, not just the coffee shop. Although I do miss the trees and my dogs miss the grass. Don't get me wrong. There are lots of trees planted in Denver and it is a beautiful, green, cheery place but I'm use to being able to drive 5 or 10 minutes down the road and let myself and my dogs free and go trail running through a deciduous forest. I miss that... those plants and trees are friends I have left behind. Even though my dogs miss grass (it is too dry of a place to grow grass in dog parks and waste precious water resources by watering a lawn solely meant for dogs to pee on... which is a responsible thing for the city to do) they have so much to do, see, smell here. Everyone loves dogs and almost everyone has dogs. Seriously, our first morning here was an insane welcome with the manager of the restaurant we brunched at buying us "welcome to Denver, we love dogs cocktails" and providing us a list of dog-friendly Denver activities. 

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Last weekend we took advantage of the holiday weekend since Ty had Monday off work and we headed out towards The Great Sand Dunes National Park for some camping.  On Saturday we camped at a place called The Orient Land Trust where they have natural hot springs. This true, off-grid community can be found several miles off the highway on a dirt road. You know those types of roads that make you feel like you are in a secret, secluded place as the dirt kicks up around your car in a cloud that streams down the road as the largest feature in a broad, flat landscape. It is a special place. We were hoping to get a walk-in camping spot even though no one answered our morning call. Being Memorial Day weekend we arrived to find all the camping spaces filled up, they have a strict daily entry limit, and I was still hoping we could sweet-talk in a place for our tent. Fortunately they let us pitch our tent at some of the trail heads but we were not allowed to go to the hot springs. It was a little disappointing but more than understandable, we did take some beautiful hikes and watched the low-horizon sun play rumpelstiltskin on all the desert plants by turning them to gold before our eyes.  The rockies were dark silhouettes with a sunset cloak patterned in never-ending colors. Gawking over the sunset our dogs pricked up their ears and turned in the direction of the howling coyotes nearby and watched eagerly at the deer and elk grazing. We had the whole place to ourselves and in that moment we were the only ones. 

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The next day we woke up early and got to the sand dunes around 8 in the morning, before the welcome center even opened. I've been to a similar desert before and I know how hot the sand can turn under the fierce afternoon sun. There was only a handful of people at the dunes so early, lucky for us. (If you plan on going I recommend going early. When we left there was a streaming tail of cars filled with impatient faces waiting to get in.) We trekked the dunes from 8-12 and banjo sniffed the sand, pawed at it playfully and ran around in circles like she does in the snow. We kept climbing up big peaks, pausing to take in the view and then sprinted in a path straight down the dunes as fast as we could, with both hands failing in the air. Eventually we had to turn back even though each new dune peak was taunting us; begging to be climbed. The sand heated up and we had left our shoes behind at the car, while puppy paws had received an exfoliation treatment better than any spa could do. I love the duney desert, the grit in the air, salt in your mouth, and the wind in your hair. Leaving the dunes you resolve to an awe over how diverse and beautiful this country is. I've now seen this country from tippy-top north to low-country south and from east to almost west; it is truly magnificent. The weekend was for the spirit of remembrance, and gratefulness. Despite the bad, we have a whole country filled with beautiful things to be grateful for.

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On memorial day we felt a responsibility to use our roommates grill. After-all, it was Memorial Day, we are American, and neither of us had lived with a real grill before. Still sandy and with skin warm-to-the-touch, these spicy, tofu-q's with a cooling slaw hit the spot. You really want to factor in at least a few hours of marinating time, you can even leave it in the refrigerator overnight. 

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Tofu & sauce recipe (Makes 2 big ones) 

Buns - 2 buns

Extra firm tofu package - Pressed for 30 minuets and then sliced thinly.

Habaneros - 3, chopped (I didn't take the seeds out but you can)

Apricot - 1, peeled/sliced (I think you could use 2 without it being too fruity tasting)

Onion - scant 1/2 a sweet, yellow onion, chopped. 

Tomatoes - 2, chopped

Tomato paste - 6oz can

Garlic - 3-4 cloves, chopped

Honey - 2-3 TB

Apple cider vinegar - 1Tb

Liquid smoke - 1tsp optional (vegetarian version)

Chile powder - 2tsp or 1TB - depending on your desire for spiciness. 

Cinnamon - scant 2tsp

Paprika - 2tsp

Salt- to taste (about 1-2tsp for me) 

Slaw recipe - also makes a good side

Purple cabbage - about 1/6 a small head of cabbage, slivered

Onion - 1/4 an onion, slivered

Avocado - 1, sliced

Limes - 2, juiced

Salt - to taste

 

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Press the tofu for about 30 minutes. Once pressed, sliced into thin "patties" the size of the tofu block. While the tofu is pressing make the sauce. Chop up all your vegetables. Place the olive oil in a small saucepan on medium heat. Add your garlic and onions and let it cook for a few minutes, until slightly soft. Add in your habaneros and apricots and let cook for a few more minutes until soft. Add in the tomatoes and tomato paste. Stir until well combined and let cook for 3-5 minutes until soft, slightly bubbling, and evenly dispersed. Then add in all the rest of the ingredients and let cook for a few more minutes, until just fragrant. Add the mixture into a blender and blend until smooth. Adding in some water if needed to bring the sauce to the desired consistency. Taste and adjusted spices. Layer the tofu in between a generous amount of bbq sauce, making sure all the tofu is covered. Let it marinate on the counter for several hours (2-3 at least) or overnight in the fridge. The extra bbq can be stored for later use (think veggie kabobs or pizza sauce).

Heat up the grill (or grill pan) and cook the tofu straight on the grill (rubbed down with a little oil since tofu can stick) or cook on top of bamboo skewers on the grill (soaking the skewers in water for a hour first). Cook the tofu for about 5 minutes on each side. Brush over some more bbq sauce after flipping. We even threw our burger buns on the grill for 1 minute to crisp them up.

For the slaw, toss together the onion and cabbage. Add in the avocado and stir, slightly mashing up the avocado among the slivers of onion and cabbage. Squeeze over the lime and season with salt.  

To assemble the burger spread a little of the paprika aioli below (admit for vegan), top with strips of tofu and then pile on a good bit of slaw on top. No shame in adding some more bbq sauce too... bbq is suppose to be messy. Serve with grilled asparagus. 

 

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Grilled asparagus recipe + paprika aioli

Asparagus - 1lb with 1 inch of the ends trimmed off

Olive oil - 2Tb

Salt/pepper- to taste

Egg yolk - 1 large egg yolk

Lemon - Juice of 1 lemon

Olive oil - several TB

Paprika - scant 1 tsp

Salt/pepper - to taste

Pumpkin seeds - a handful, coarsely chopped (optional) .

To make the aioli add in the egg yolk, lemon juice, and salt into a small bowl. Beat with a whisk. Slowly drizzle in the oil in a very small, steady stream while whipping with a whisk. The aioli with start to thicken up and lighten as you whisk. I let my aioli get to about a medium consistency since I didn't need much and didn't want to use too much oil. Add in the paprika and more salt and pepper if necessary. Whip until combined.

Toss the asparagus in a bowl with the olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Lay on a pre-heated grill and cook several minutes, rotating the spears with tongs. You want the asparagus to get soft, a little brown in spots, but still retain a slight crunch. Lay the asparagus on a tray, top with some aioli and the sprinkle with pumpkin seeds.

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Spring fava bean, quinoa, radish, avocado, & mint salad.

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I am so excited. I'm going to visit my Athens tribe. We are approaching our Denver move date fast! We leave in about 2 weeks. Sure there is a ton to do... packing things up, cleaning, finishing projects, getting things ready for the sublease... but I'd rather go see my dear friends and family who, right now, are about 9 hours away. Come Denver we'll be 22 hours away. I feel this is an adequate reason to forsake responsibility. I'm getting some time with my family too before dipping out to the Rockies but I'm assuming my Dad will use my Denver location as a great excuse to finally come out and have some river time. 

I have lots of things waiting for me in Athens this weekend. Lets see, it is twilight weekend (an international bike race that has athens busting at the seam), there are drinks in the Georgia warmth awaiting, a dear friend who is just back in from teaching in South Korea, brunch with the best, oodles of dogs at dog park time, art school exit show (featuring one of my favorites), desserts (last time we racked up a bill of somewhere around 50 bucks on dessert between 5 of us... uhh what?), a farmers market that I have missed, my best friends and all those lovely faces that I have so dearly longed for being tucked away up here in the mountains and of course no trip to athens is complete without music.

So this week I've been being extra good. Drinking smoothes, eating raw salads, and taking my herbs. This quinoa, fava bean salad is ridiculously good. It is one of those meals that you think while eating it, "I could have this every-single-day of my life and be happy." It really is one of those meals that I think I could have every single day if I actually thought I could eat the same thing every single day. 

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Recipe (serves 4 but makes great leftovers)

Quinoa - 1 cup dried

Fava beans - fresh pods, several big handfuls. (once shelled I had a scant 2 cups)

Radish - 1 bunch

Avocado - 1, sliced into small chunks

Apple - 1/2 and apple, cut into small chunks

Red onion - 1/2 an onion, finely chopped

Olives - I had 6 kalamata olives left in my fridge, I sliced the meat off the pit into slivers.

Feta - about 1/3 cup

Mint - fresh, 3-4Tb finely chopped

Lemon - juice of 1 lemon

Butter - 1TB

Olive oil - a drizzle

Salt/pepper - to taste

Chop everything up so it is ready to use, except your avocado, save that until the end. Rinse the quinoa in a sieve under water while shaking for a minute. Then add the quinoa into a medium pot and cover by a few inches of water. Bring the quinoa up to a boil and simmer for about 10-15 minutes. Get another small or medium pot out and fill it up half-way with water, this will be to blanch your fava beans. Shell the fava beans and place the beans into a bowl, discard the pods. Once the water is boiling, add in your fava beans and let it get back up to a simmer. Once it gets back up to boiling, don't let it cook longer than 1 minute. Drain the fava beans and rinse with cold water.  Here comes the tedious part. Shell the fava beans and discard the shell, underneath will be this bright, green bean. Once you are done with the quinoa and fava beans, you can put them into a large bowl together.

Heat the oven up to 350 degrees. Chop up the radishes into thin slices. Add 1/2 the radishes into the bowl with the quinoa & favas. Add the other 1/2 the radishes into a small saucepan on the stove with the 1TB butter. Heat over medium heat and stir until melted. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the radishes to the oven and cook for 10 minutes. Meanwhile add the apples, mint, feta, olives, onion, lemon juice, and drizzle of olive oil to the bowl of quinoa. Stir until well combined. Slice up your avocado and set it aside. Add in your roasted radishes and season with whole thing with salt and pepper, you should not need much salt. Add in your avocado last and stir, gently, until well combined. Enjoy it, I know you will. Why? Because it is just that good.

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Chickweed goddess dressing over a spring salad + violets. How to forage for chickweed & violet

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Last night I came back from a nice, warm, summer night out that started with listening to Brazilian drumming with drinks and ended with Thai curry. We arrived back home, parked the car in our semi-gravel/semi-grass driveway, I stepped out with my shoes in hand, feet on the earth, and just dead stopped; I was transfixed by the sky. The deep, midnight, blue sky was flecked so brightly with stars twinkling around the silhouettes of budding tulip poplar branches that seemed to arc over me. It was one of those instances where your whole body feels sucked in and swallowed by what you are paying attention to. Like the sky was a giant magnet pulling the top half of your body up many miles to meet with it. I would have given anything in that moment to reach up and cup my hands around each and every star and plant a big kiss on those bright star cheeks. I wanted to say thank you to the earth.

Once spring finally hit us it stuck for one day and then immediately leaped to summer. When I moved a bit further north I thought I would be relieved to take a break from the suffocating heat of summer but now I realize how much I drink that warmth in. How replenishing it is. I wiped the literal sweat off my brow in relief at the return of heat. On an early April day of 90 degree heat I spent most of my day licking up the sun in my cutoffs and tank top while wandering around the woods in search of wild edibles. Successful in my venture, I made this salad and it never felt more nourishing than after a day in the sun. I realize now that as far as I move, as little or as frequently as I travel, I am some weird breed of southern girl. It's landscape, its sweltering humid heat, cicadas, common phenomenon of waving to strangers, fireflies, and biscuits are in my blood. Just as I adore and prefer to be in the woods and mountains, I have the salt and heavy air of the coast flowing through my veins since my birth. As much of a vegetarian as I am I have appreciation for a good seafood recipe and envy that I can't partake in a good shrimp n' grits or étouffée, it is the cajun in me. Some things you can't fight, its the soul speaking. I can't deny that even though I find some southern traditions and politics a little suffocating, I have love for the southern wild. I'm part of it and I will always find comfort in the return of the heat. So thank you chickweed, thank you violet, thank you stars.

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hickweed goddess dressing

vocado - 1, sliced

Garlic - 3/4 cloves, coarsely chopped

emon - juice of one lemon

Chickweed - 1-2 cups fresh, chopped into chunks

live oil - 2TB

Salt/pepper- to taste

Water

Put everything in a blender or food processor (except the water) and blend. Then add water a few TB at a time to thin the dressing out to your desired consistency.

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pring violet salad

Spring mix/violet leaves - Several big handfuls

iolet flowers or other edible spring flowers - 1 Cup

Red onion - 1/4 slivered

unflower seeds - 1/4 a cup

Pumpkin seeds - a handful

Chickweed goddess dressing.

oss the spring mix, onions, and violet flowers together. Then add in the dressing and toss to coat. Then add in the seeds and toss until combined! Adding the dressing before the seeds helps the seeds to stick and distribute more evenly rather than dropping to the bottom of the bowl. 

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Foraging for Chickweed

hickweed is one of those great common garden weeds that has so much overlooked potential. Chickweed is around you, I promise, and once you learn to identify it there is no reason not to thank it, pluck it up, and add it to your diet every spring. In short, chickweed is incredibly nutritious, I will elaborate on chickweed as an herbal superstar and healer in a later posting. Chickweed is a great source of calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, iron, phosphorous, potassium, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin B-complex, beta-carotenes, and bio-flavonoids. I have heard the flavor being compared to corn silk. That is not my first thought when eating it but it tastes similar to most of the "moderate" flavors of light, cooling, spring greens to me. You'll find it in open (untreated) lawn areas but also in and around the edges to younger woodlands typically growing in the mottled shaded patches. It is really quite easy to spot once it is pointed out to you once or twice. There really aren't many overly close poisonous look a-likes but of course never eat anything if you aren't sure and always triple check your plants, but chickweed is a great starter wild edible. 

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Chickweed is a low-growing, spreading radially along the ground about 3" tall typically, but it can get up to about 8" tall. It grows in mats up to a foot and a half in size with the leaves ranging from tiny to thumb sized. The leaves are oval, pointed, and opposite (meaning the leaves grow opposite each other on the stem). here are fine hairs on the stem of the plant and delicate white flowers at the end. The first time I looked at the flower I thought it had 10 petals but it turns out the flower only has 5 petals but each petal is so deeply cleft it looks like 10! Usually there are about 2-3 hairy flower buds drooping from the flower end as well. In addition, look up pictures online and familiarize yourself. Plus, if you are interested wildman steve brill has excellent books. Be sure to gather in areas that are not sprayed, are not exposed to a lot of road run-off, and are not a popular pet bathroom spot. 

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oraging for violet

iolet is another one of those lawn "weeds" that you probably already recognize. You know that tiny, delicate purple to white flower you have been admiring while walking along the sidewalk? Yeah that one, you can eat it. You probably have some in your very own yard as long as your lawn is untreated. Violet flowers and leaves are edible, not the roots or rhizomes, just stick to what is above ground. Also don't confuse native wild violet with the African violet house plants... you really don't want to eat those, they are poisonous. The leaves and flowers are great in salads but the leaves are very demulcent so a bit more slimy than your typical green. It is a fabulous cooling herb and rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, and beta-carotenes. It is another wonderfully healing herb which I will expand upon in a later posting. Violent is a low growing, dense, clumping plant. Its flower is five petaled with deep purple, blue, to white nodding flower heads. The flowers grow on a single stem with no leaves on the flower stem. The leaves grown on separate stems and are rather glossy, heart shaped with the "tops" of the hearts typically cupping inward towards the leaf stalk. Sometimes the leaves are cupped so far inwards that they create a funnel of sorts. Violet will grow in open lawn areas in sun to shade. Be sure to gather in areas that are not sprayed, are not exposed to a lot of road run-off, and are not a popular pet bathroom spot. 

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t the end of the day I had happy bellies and happy dogs.

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Spring rolls with radish & ginger mushrooms + a cashew dipping sauce

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I made these spring rolls the day before the equinox for a potluck at my last herbalism class. I made them without tofu at first but we had a hankering for ones that we didn't have to share, so with my left-over rice wrappers, I made them again but this time with tofu. I thought spring rolls were the perfect thing for that potluck, calling in the new season with their bright ingredients and fresh crunch. Although, it seems spring hasn't quite made it here yet, we've had several snows since, a particularly good one Sunday night. I am really ready for spring, not just ready, I crave it to help me get my act together. The warmth to thaw everything out and provoke motivation and clarity. I think this weather is actually following in line with what I am feeling. Just as spring peeks out, my hopes get up and then the temperature drops and down flutters the snow. I feel like I am just on the edge of something and I keep dangling over the cliff, testing the plunge but then stumble back again. I know there is suppose to be balance and it is coming, I have to believe that it is coming. Something to scoop me up from the uncertainty I've been a prisoner too these past 3 months. It has made me feel worthless, the type of worthless we all feel sometimes. 

My heart is just yearning for the fun that awaits us this summer. We are going to Denver, a place I think will feel much more like home than Charlottesville has, but also all the things we will get to experience because of it. I haven't had the opportunity to explore on that side of the country. I am really yearning for the possibilites of what we will see, even if we don't get to see everything. The list is endless; salt lake city with a long soak in the great salt lake, the desert in Utah, the Grand Canyon in Arizona, the redwoods, the tetons, skiing, California, the Rockies, elk, Yellowstone, mesa verde, hot springs, red rocks, sand dunes, hiking, hiking, and more hiking. I know that soon I will feel invigorated again but I just need to get over this personal wound I have right now and accept that balance will come soon. Spring will come soon, I'll take the plunge and with it comes clarity. Clarity to balance these past months and lead me on to something. Something that will begin with Denver. 

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Spring Rolls (Makes 8)

Rice wrapping papers - 8

Avocado - 1 cut into matchsticks

Fresh basil - 20-25 fresh leaves

Carrot - 2 large carrots cut into matchstick size

Radish - 4 radish cut into matchstick size

Royal trumpet mushrooms - (1 container) cut into matchsticks

(optional) Tofu - 1/2 a container - sliced into thin, long strips.

Coconut Oil - 2TB (Or olive oil)

Soy sauce - 1TB

Fresh spinach leaves

Red onion slivers

Ginger - a good nub minced. 

Cashew dipping sauce.

Cashew butter - 4TB

Sesame oil - 1TB

Soy sauce - 1.5TB

Rice vinegar - 2tsp

Lime - Juice of 1 lime

Sriracha sauce - a good squirt / to your taste

Heat up a kettle of water to boiling, at least 4 cups. Turn off the boiling water an set aside until you are ready to assemble the spring rolls.

Slice up all your veggies into match sticks save the spinach/basil and mince up your ginger. Heat up the 2TB of oil in a skillet on medium high heat. Add in the minced ginger and slivered mushrooms and tofu. Let cook about 5-10 minutes until starting to brown. Pour in the 1TB of soy sauce and stir to coat. Turn off the heat and pour into a bowl.

Pour the hot water into a bowl and add in a few ice cubes to lower the temperature until it is just cool enough for you hands to handle touching it. But you want it to be as hot as you can handle. Arrange all your sliced veggies into piles along with a bowl of the tofu/mushrooms, the basil and spinach, and the stack of the rice wrappers. 

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Take one of your rice wrappers and dip into the bowl of hot water until it softens and turns clear. Take it out and lay out the wrapper on a cutting board, handeling carefully, it tears easy. Lay down three leaves of basil in the center of the wrapper and top with a few pieces of spinach. Top with some slivers of radishes on one side, red onion and carrot on the other, top the center with the gingered mushroom/tofu and slivers of avocado. Folding is tricky, do it the best way you find but here is how I did it. I folded the bottom half over the center filling while pressing and tucking under the filling with the bottom end of the wrapper. I then folded in the sides of the wrapper and grabbed the roll and rolled upwards until the top end of the wrapper is all rolled in. Repeat with the other 7. 

Make the dipping sauce. Add in the cashew butter, sesame oil, rice vinegar, and soy sauce in a bowl. Take the back of a fork and mash against the sides of the bowl until it all becomes incorporated. Squirt in the sriracha and juice of the lime and stir. Check the consistency and add in more sesame oil, soy sauce, or water to adjust the flavor or to thin out the sauce.

Dip and enjoy. Welcome spring. Welcome clarity.

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