a happiest place & veggie fried quinoa.

cooking is, and has always been, one of my happiest places. it soothes, refreshes, motivates, & heals me. i like to start with a clean kitchen & open work surfaces so i have a full arsenal of vessels & tools to pick from and plenty of space to spread out. then a little more cleaning – this time the ingredients – before prepping, & chopping. i love the sound of the water, the rhythm of the knife, the colors as the ingredients find their order, & the aromas as it all comes together…mmm.

there are pictures of me in the kitchen spanning almost every age, i think. one of my favorites (that i’m still trying to find) is of me standing on the open dishwasher door, probably not even 2 years old. my mom was making brownies, & i wanted to help mix the batter :o)

my love for the kitchen grew deeper as i grew up. i had cookie parties with friends, i baked with all the kids i babysat ([insert unfathomably messy toddler & kitchen images] – totally worth it), & in college my roommates & i cooked dinner on thursday nights before Friends came on. the connection that cooking creates for me is indescribable. it connects me to deepest places in my spirit that i can forget in the hustle & bustle of a tedious day. it connects me to family & friends. as if that wasn’t enough goodness, over the past 5 months, i’ve been able to experience yet another connection: i’ve been incredibly blessed to be able to share my love of cooking with my most favorite cooking partner of all.

i can’t wait to keep sharing & learning together in the kitchen. cooking through what i can already see will be a growing collection of incredible cookbooks, trying new ingredients, supporting our beloved CSAs, exploring farmer’s markets, gathering loved ones around our table. sharing life, joy, sorrow, celebration, stories.

and, one day, passing our passion on to our own family. what a gift this life is!

:: veggie fried quinoa ::
adapted from peas & crayons

veggie fried quinoa

you can truly make this recipe your own in so many ways. you could simplify everything by subbing frozen veggies. if you pre-cook quinoa & keep it in the fridge or freezer, that makes things even easier. sometimes we soak our quinoa*, and sometimes we cook the quinoa in vegetable or chicken stock to add a little extra flavor.

2 cups quinoa
2 1/2 – 3 cups water or vegetable or chicken stock
1/2 lb chicken, ground pork, shrimp, etc., optional
1 tbsp butter or oil (coconut or olive oil work well)
1 small onion, diced
2 – 3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 celery ribs, diced
2 carrots, diced
1/2 cup peas or edamame
2 – 3 eggs
2 – 4 tbsp low sodium tamari or soy sauce
salt & pepper to taste
1/4 tsp ground ginger, optional
1 tbsp sesame seeds, optional

to prepare quinoa
first, rinse quinoa in mesh strainer for a few minutes (to rinse of the bitter outer coating). add rinsed quinoa to medium sauce pan & enough water to cover quinoa by a half inch. bring the water & quinoa to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until water evaporates (7-10 minutes). quinoa will be al denté.

to prepare veggies/protein
in a large sauté pan, heat butter or oil over medium heat. add half of the onion & cook 1-2 minutes. if you’re including a protein, add it to the pan with the onions and sauté until cooked through; remove from pan & keep warm in a medium sized bowl.

return pan to heat and add remaining onion, carrots, & celery. stirring occasionally, cook vegetables until they are tender (about 5 minutes). next, add garlic & peas or edamame and cook 1-2 minutes longer. remove sautéed vegetables from the pan, adding them to the bowl with cooked protein.

place pan back on stove. if needed and/or if you want, now might be a good time to add a little more butter or oil to the pan. crack eggs into pan & scramble, cooking to desired texture.

to assemble
once eggs are cooked, you can begin adding everything back to the pan: quinoa, veggies, and protein, if included. add tamari or soy sauce, salt, & pepper. if you are including ginger or sesame seeds, you can add them now, too. mix to combine & warm all the ingredients.

* soaked quinoa has a softer texture, but it also has nutritional benefits. i first learned about soaking quinoa from summer, then read more from the nourshing gourmet. it is an easy, almost entirely hands-off process that includes rinsing the quinoa, covering it with water & mixing in a little lemon juice, raw cider vinegar, or kefir, & letting it sit for 8 hours or so before cooking it however you usually do.

hockey.

hockey is back! i haven’t gotten to see even a second of a game yet, but i’m happy just knowing it’s back in action & hearing the buzz of game chatter.

in celebration of the season’s long-awaited beginning – my favorite hockey video.

since the first time i saw this hilarious little guy, there are certain words i can’t say without laughing. like opper-TOON-ies. HA! and when he says “i’m sick of tired, hear’n about…” and his sweet little lisp. and those big eyes…and dimples…that tie…when he pretends to read off of his cards. he’s just too much; i love it!

i hope you enjoy it, too!

33.

you know how some people turn 29 & hang on to that year for the rest of their birthdays?

not me. mine might be 33.

inexplicably, i have been awaiting 33 with excited, hopeful anticipation. i never knew why, but for years, whenever i thought ahead, the thought of turning 33 made my heart beat a little faster. i always, always looked forward to what would come in my 33rd year.

celebrating my birthday was incredibly special this year. in addition to celebrating on multiple occasions with my fiancé and lots of loved ones, i got to spend time reflecting on the past year and all that God has blessed me with to prepare me for this next year. reflecting on His overwhelming goodness, love, guidance, & provision has been such a gift in & of itself. being able to share it with those closest to me is like getting to open & re-open the most treasured gifts.

in celebration of my 33rd year, here are 33 things i am grateful for…

  1. our incredible Father
  2. my very best friend and forever partner in crime & adventure :)
  3. a strong, healthy body. it’s been almost 2 years!
  4. trader joe’s sea salt & turbinado sugar dark chocolate almonds
  5. a warm, safe, cozy little home. granted, i’m only a visitor for the next 5.5 months (170 days…but who’s counting? ;)), but it has been a place of comfort for many years
  6. my loving family
  7. the most wonderful friends to share life with
  8. eden, eli, & tommy! i truly can’t imagine life without them, and more babies are on their way this year!
  9. a fiancé who dreams with me, loves to talk about our future – particularly starting a family one day, wants to & enjoys being involved in everything we do, cooks with me, prays with me, & absolutely treats me like a queen.
  10. soon-to-be in-laws that are so great
  11. soon-to-be nieces that are more fun that i could have imagined
  12. hoodie sweatshirts
  13. mike paschall & ms. patti. two of the most incredible people you will ever meet. and i really mean ever.
  14. the aforementioned mike’s devotionals. powerful, thought-provoking, spirit-stirring good stuff.
  15. doats. the best roomie a girl could ask for, and so generous to graciously, unconditionally open her home to me until the wedding
  16. pinterest!
  17. having a job. jobs are tricky, i think, and can be challenging, but simply having one & enjoying your co-workers is a blessing
  18. deep passions that bring great joy – most notably cooking & creating :)
  19. getting to share my passions with others
  20. being part of the most fabulous CSAs. just signed up for my 3rd year (OUR 1st :)) of produce from loon organics & 2nd season (OUR 1st :)) of meat from braucher’s sunshine harvest farm (the first 4 month 1/2 share has lasted me almost a year!)
  21. travel, a love for the world, and insatiable wanderlust. there is so much to see & do! people, cultures, God’s creation!
  22. summer berry picking…just the thought warms my heart. looking forward to trying this recipe for “christmas cheer” with some of the goodies. looks delicious!
  23. flip flops
  24. garlic & onions. the smell of them sautéing in a pan…heavenly.
  25. my mom’s incredible generosity in buying me my dream wedding dress. i never imagined it actually existed. and i really would have honestly been perfectly happy with another dress; but she insisted. how lucky am i?!
  26. coffee. lattes, more specifically.
  27. homemade chai lattes and the voice of the brilliant sara who writes the blog (sprouted kitchen) that the original recipe i use came from.
  28. grocery shopping. i know, right? but for reals – i love grocery shopping!
  29. laughter
  30. cookbooks. really good cookbooks. oh my – makes my heart go pitter-pat. i read them like novels…
  31. creativity. i would be lost without it
  32. community. there is no more rich, fulfilling, challenging, shaping, loving way to live life than in & with true community
  33. hebrews 11:1 :: now faith is being sure of what we hope for & certain of what we do not see

breathe.

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2013 is going to be a big year. every year is full of fun, adventure, challenges, & refinement (if you let it, that is); yet this one will be particularly big for me. and for us.

more engagement. learning how to do life together, in the same city (*fist pumps of excitement*). planning our wedding. getting married (!!). learning how to do life in the same house. choosing to let ourselves be shaped & sharpened & loved & challenged by each other. learning how to fight for the right things & how to let the rest go.

it will require lots of deep breaths in – to soak up everything that this season & this year lays before us.

it will require lots of calm breaths out – to get through challenging or tough or scary or more-than-i-think-i-can-bear moments.

i want to savor & absorb & enjoy everything that this year has in store for me and for us. and to do that, i want to get in the habit, in the mountain top & in the desert moments, of focusing on simply breathing. to focus on what caroline said in a message at the Gathering last year (march 2012): in order to breathe a full breath out, you need a full breath in.

i want to breathe full, deep breaths in of our sweet Lord’s goodness…so that He can more fully permeate the depths of me…so that i can more fully breathe out His love & grace, peace & joy by virtue of the overflow of Him through me, more in my actions & quiet moments than necessarily even with my words.

this is my OneWord365. one word to focus on, rest in, embrace. 7 days in, it is already distinctly shaping my thoughts, actions, words, & prayers…

:: six. ::

six months ago, life changed in what seems like an instant. in the most wonderful, peaceful, simple way, it just…happened.

i kept it to myself for a week. holding it close. guarding it. a sweet little something that i knew immediately was that thing. the thing i was so excited about that i really wanted to tell everyone but felt strongly wasn’t something to share just yet.

what a sweet time that was. holding it close; just me & the Lord.

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