Two fried eggs served alongside buttered toast with their drippy yolks. Just enough salt and pepper atop inviting me for another taste. My first meal after returning home from the hospital with my firstborn.
Bean and bacon soup with far too much sodium gingerly biting down. Sitting in my bed watching tv, and being nursed after the removal of my wisdom teeth.
Whole wheat bread lightly toasted. Mayonnaise spread over with a generous amount of pepper and slices of avocados. Sitting at the table with my dad, and reveling over this simple meal; yet, one of my most favorite.
This fall and early winter felt their pain in my kitchen. I had forgotten these tastes. My knife beckoned me often like an old friend; but, all I could say, "Not now, I can't." Taste buds on hiatus, seemingly like a permanent hiatus. I shuddered. Food, my companion, my artist palette...depleted. Grief set in deep, and what was my place of creating and providing I cursed.
When you lose a beloved brother so suddenly, so tragically, you don't care about food. You can't taste it's vibrancy like you once could. Nothing came alive and I resolved to not being able to sing again to the tune of chop, sizzle, sprinkle. In my belly, deep in the trenches of my gut, there served a hopeless plate of overcooked canned peas and carrots floating in salt ridden wretchedness.
I stood on the scale, assessed my jeans, and the way of the family dinner table being far from what I wanted and what I deserved. But, sometimes when you're neck deep in the life of swimming peas and carrots, you don't know how to free yourself. Despair, anxiety, and stress creeps it's head in the form of arsenic chocolate. Looks delicious but kills you.
Slowly, I'm beginning to remember those yolky eggs. The joy of simmered shallots mixed with farm fresh eggs, sprinkled with fresh tarragon and black truffle salt is rising. My chef knife has come out from hiding and happily skating across my board.
The only reason is choosing life amidst death.
So, I have chosen a Whole 30 to restart my taste buds, my body, my life, because I want my life.
Picking up my kale and washing it under clean water, as it collects a pool on the counter. Slicing out the rib, leaf by leaf. Quartering my apples, slicing them and swooshing with the blade to create little batons. Peeling carrots to show off their clean side creates newness in me. "Oh old friend, it's good to be back," I whisper. And as I slice through a lemon and garlic, it becomes apparent how habits with my sweet friend have never been forgotten.
Creating a kale salad with such vibrancy and health gives life to me and my family. It signifies hope worth believing in, one I am humbled to share with you.
Kale, Apple & Carrot Salad with Creamy Cashew Dressing (Whole 30 friendly & Vegan) (Printable Recipe)
2 heads of Lacinto kale (or whatever kale you like)
2 Orion apples, or one which is sweet & tart
1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp jalapeno, minced
2 garlic cloves
1/2 cup chopped cashews
1/4 cup toasted hazelnuts, then chop afterwards
Preheat your oven to 350, place your hazelnuts on a pan lined with parchment. Toast for about 7-9 minutes. Truth, I never time them. I use my olfactory on them. They should begin to release a toasty smell and when you open the oven, the skins will turn a darker brown, while the inside will become light brown. Once they are done, put them on a clean kitchen towel and wrap them up. Allow them to sit in the covered towel for about 5 minutes. Then, begin vigorously rubbing the hazelnuts while in the towel to rub off the skins.
Separate the nuts from the rubbed off skins and set aside.
Wash your kale. With a chopping board and a chef knife, take one leaf and place it right side up. Now, fold the leaf in half where you can see the exposed rib. The rib is the thick middle running lengthwise of the kale leaf. Take your knife and put the point end, place it at the base of the leaf and rib (where the rib is the thickest). Begin to slice along the rib and leaf to remove the rib, while leaving 1/3 of the top in tact.
Set the rib aside (or if you have chickens gather them up and feed them the scraps), which leaves you with a half in tact kale leaf minus the fibrous rib. Slice right down the middle, in order to leave you with two smaller kale leaves. Put one leave on top of another. With your knife, begin to cut 1/2 inch slices crosswise. Repeat till all the kale is cut into 1/2 inch crosswise slices. Put into a large salad bowl.
Cut your apples into quarters. Remove the cores. With your knife, slice your apples into 1/4 inch slices. Stack two apple slices on top of one another. Begin to cut 1/4 inch batons from those slices. Set aside.
Peel two carrots and cut off both ends. With a cheese grater, shred the carrots. Set aside.
In a high powered blender (or whatever you have). Add juice from one lemon, 1/2 cup olive oil, apple cider vinegar, garlic cloves and salt. Begin to blend until it has emulsified. On my Vitamix this takes 10-15 seconds. Add the cashews and jalapeno to blend for 45 seconds or so. You are wanting to create a creamy dressing, which might resemble a watered down hummus.
Pour all of the dressing onto the kale and massage it into the leaves, ensuring you have evenly distributed it. Put the shredded carrots and apple batons on top. Toss it together. Take your toasted hazelnuts and chop them. Or do what I do and put them into a bag, use the bottom of a canning far and pound them so they're roughly chopped. Sprinkle them on top. If you want, add some lemon zest. In order to get the lemon zest, be sure to zest your lemon before you slice it to get the juice out. Serves an army.