Two weeks ago, I submitted the manuscript for my cookbook. I don’t feel as though I’ve had enough space from it yet to entirely understand what that means or how I feel. I’m proud as heck of what I did, and relieved that the stress and anxiety are mostly over. I was in over my head a lot; it’s hard to tread water in that place, but I did. Towards the end, I realized that the bulk of this year has been boot camp: recipe development boot camp and photography boot camp. I’ve been deep-diving into this work, and coming up, I feel a little blinded. I’ve learned a ton. I can see how my ability to think about recipes has been fine-tuned. I can see how much my photography has grown and evolved. The process, for me, was kinda like what some of my friends like to call Type 2 Fun. It was not always fun when I was in the thick of it. Sometimes it outright sucked. It was hard and stressful and overwhelming and brought all of my insecurities acutely to the surface. But in retrospect: Eff yes. It was also fun and gratifying and challenging and pushed me in ways that made me stretch. I had a hard time feeling gratitude for that while I was in the thick of it, but I’m feeling it now.
Now I’m out here in the deep wilds of northern Montana, where I like to get a little lost every year in order to come back to myself. It has never felt more urgent or well-deserved or perfectly-timed.
The first week of my travels were spent heading north through Oregon and Washington, catching up with old and new friends and documenting some farms for my cookbook. After so much time focused on getting the book made, all these long hours in good conversation with good people were deeply gratifying. Again and again I was on the receiving end of such kindness and giving. People feeding me, taking me in, making sure my needs were met.
You know how to eat well on the road? Reach out to folks. Your old cousins, or that awesome person you connected with once, years ago. Or, here in the 21st century, your new bestie on Instagram. Bring along a bottle of wine when you come to their table. Or some cheese. Or salt. Or blueberries. Some of the people who took me in hardly knew me, and I felt so well cared for. It was undoubtedly the best expression of the kindness of strangers. The photos interspersed here are from some of those afternoons and evenings.
Being on the road requires a little flexibility, a lesson that has been hard won on my end. It’s taken me a long time to appreciate a sense of spontaneity, of trusting that where I’ll sleep and what I’ll eat will all work out. I love to visit the tiny health food stores that you find tucked away in the most unlikely of places. And muesli is perhaps the easiest of breakfast items to cobble together with a handful of bulk bin staples and some creative flexibility. This recipe is adapted from one that I made for Etsy last summer. I am a firm believer in the magic power of crystallized ginger in this otherwise austere breakfast. And the cacao nibs and dried cherries bring it to a place of mild, wholesome decadence. It’s best with a lot of fresh fruit in the bowl. In fact, I’d say that fresh fruit is mandatory.
XOXO gang. More soon.
MUESLI WITH GINGER, CACAO NIBS AND DRIED CHERRIES
adapted from Etsy
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup puffed brown rice
1 cup dried cherries
3/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger
3/4 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup pepitas
1/2 cup coconut flakes
1/2 cup cacao nibs
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
In a large mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients. Store in a tightly sealed glass container. You can store these in plastic bags if traveling, but eat it quickly, because the plastic permeates the muesli and makes it stale quite quickly.