The Year In Food » Fine Seasonal Eating

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This weekend I went on a climbing trip in the backcountry of Joshua Tree. The woman leading the trip was a total badass – a lean, muscled firecracker of a lady who clambered up rock faces with a kind of grace and ease that made it look effortless.

I have been thinking about ease a lot lately, because I seem to be in a place where there isn’t too much of it. All this challenge is by choice. But sometimes, being in the thick of so much of it, it’s hard to see my way out. The awesome part is that the challenges of rock climbing and yoga lend a little grace and ease to the challenges of the cookbook. Perhaps they give me a little resilience.

Every week is different with the cookbook. Where one week will feel smooth and productive, another will feel like I am trying to herd cats – the recipes are stubborn and lopsided and resist coaxing to the place where I’d like them to go. Last week was a week of cat herding. I desperately needed a little ease.

Ribbon of highway // Endless skyway

Driving south towards Joshua Tree gave me some of what I craved. There is something about the expansive scope of the desert that asks you to put your burdens aside for a time. There is something soothing in the washed out colors and minimalism of the landscape. It is a reprieve from the sensory overload of the city.


The last day of our climbing trip, there was one face left that our guide wanted to challenge us with. After going into the weekend a little cocky and being humbled every single time by the rock, I looked up at this thing and didn’t even pretend that I knew what I was doing. It was the hardest wall I had ever attempted to climb. The start was easy, and then I was thirty feet up and there was very little left to hold on to. As a beginner, I’m still looking for obvious things to grasp and balance on, when so often there is nothing obvious, and moving upward feels like an act of faith. When those obvious holds disappeared into a thin face of rock is when I started to feel stuck. Sue climbed up on a different rope and hung out beneath me and guided me through the whole thing. Every statement of stuck-ness and challenge was met with a vote of confidence from her. “Come on, Kimberley, you know you can do this. Just stand up. Just trust your feet.” And so I did. My mind was loud with frantic thoughts and she countered every panicked thing I said with calm reassurance.

Joshua Tree

Climbing is full of easy metaphors and that is, perhaps, part of why I’m enamored with it. What happened on that last climb was powerful. I did that thing where you prove to yourself that you’re capable of more than you believe that you can do. And I felt deeply comforted having someone who knew that I could do it coaching me through the whole damn thing. What it made me realize is that sometimes, working on this book, I want to have a Sue beneath me, dangling on a rope and guiding me, suggesting where I might put my foot next, or reminding me that I am, indeed, capable. I’ve been stubborn in my belief that I need to go it on my own, that I need to prove to myself that I can do this, that I need to just power through. I know my cheering squad, my mentors, and my whistle-blowing coach (Coach Taylor!) are out there. I just haven’t been reaching out.

Broiled Salmon with Spring Veg

So here’s a recipe that embodies ease. It’s the kind of straightforward dish that reminds us that we’re capable and that it – whatever kind of it we’re challenged with right now – doesn’t always have to be hard. Find the full recipe on Etsy.

P.S.: Thanks to Rachel Cole, who is the inspiration for finding a little ease in my life.

  • Emma @ Poires au Chocolat - I know too well the feeling of recipes misbehaving – I’ve just had a ten day stint of every project I worked on going a little bit pear-shaped. Describing it as cat herding is perfect.

    I’ve never been rock climbing but when I was younger I did a lot of challenging off-piste skiing (I half grew up in a ski resort in the Alps) and I recognise that challenge of facing something natural and scary and just having to trust your life to the surface, pick a line and get on with it – and you can’t do it without confidence in yourself. I have to admit that these days I don’t do it anymore – I like my life too much to endanger it like that – but after all the years of doing it I can close my eyes and picture it to the point that I can almost feel the bounce in my legs, the adrenaline and the sun on my face.ReplyCancel

  • sara - love this so much. know there are many cheerleaders for you. They may not be loud and constant, but they exist, believe me. Rooting for you from here, little lady. It will all be worth it!!!ReplyCancel

  • Erica Julson - I know once the cookbook is completed you will be overjoyed and so proud of your amazing accomplishment. Plus how many people can say they are published authors? Major life points! Keep forging ahead :) but definitely pencil in some ‘you-time’ every week <3ReplyCancel

  • amelia - wow. I really want to get into rock climbing now. like STAT.

    also, this is great. just like your book is going to be. Looking so very forward to owning a copy.ReplyCancel

  • Sophia - Maybe there is something in the air at the moment – I keep on coming across bloggers writing about recipe fails and struggles a lot lately (including myself). And maybe this is, at least partly, a mental thing and standing back and reminding ourselves of other challenges we have faced (and mastered) like the big climb you describe, and remembering all those people standing behind us, rooting for us, guiding us and being there if we fail (or fall) will help.

    Beautiful description of climbing as well – one of my best friends is an avid climber (who might even have done that same climb you described as she was recently in that neck of the woods for a climbing trip) and I am in awe of the skill it takes to scale those seemingly impossible to scale mountains. Having tried it once, I know what strength is required to climb well, what trust you need in yourself and the sheer mental determination to face the uncomfortable (I always felt that climbing feels like a challenging and uncomfortable yoga pose, although without allowing any modification to make it easier).ReplyCancel

  • Lindsey - beautiful photos. lovely post.ReplyCancel

  • Megan Gordon - Coach Taylor, come back! Beautiful post — I always feel these great metaphors for writing and the crazy work that we do when doing yoga and it takes everything I have not to turn A Sweet Spoonful into a yoga/morning cereals blog. Sounds like it was quite a trip and a good mental re-set. Can’t wait to truly catch up with you very soon. xoReplyCancel

  • Stefani Greenwood - clear eyes, full hearts – i think that nearly everyday. sounds like an awesome time out there in the vastness.ReplyCancel

  • Pamm - What an inspiration you are for all of life & living it fully. You are singing my song this morning. Josuha Tree is calling me in a week & I look forward to dropping the noise from within & going through that worm hole I’ve created for myself….popping out the other side with a renewed sense of confidence.ReplyCancel

  • charlotte au chocolat - Oh, Kimberley. Out here rooting for you! Your cookbook is going to be awesome, and I can’t wait to own it! Here’s to having as much ease throughout the process as possible. xoReplyCancel

  • Tasha @ Stale Bread into French Toast - Great description of what a big project is like! And great photos of the light-bleached desert, they capture the feeling of it well. Plus, I can’t wait to eat that salmon . . . can’t wait!ReplyCancel

  • MzBaker - Those are some BEAUTIFUL Pictures! I love how the go on and on! Ohh and Dinner looks Great as well!ReplyCancel

  • Kat - I have climbed with Sue in the J Tree and she inspired me to climb a 5.11 that I thought impossible for me to climb. I did it with her amazing encouragment! She is an amazing lady! I love your story.ReplyCancel

  • - YOU are a total badass! I love this!ReplyCancel

  • Ali - looks greatReplyCancel

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