The Personal Stuff…
In this digital age of ours, when it’s all too easy to compare ourselves, I often look to others’ photos to see if there are traces of unhappiness, little breaks in the facades of perfection, of having it all. It’s not that I wish others unwell. Maybe it’s a desire for validation, to feel “normal.” Maybe it’s a curiosity – is this hard for others, or just me?
In these photos of mine, I see traces of unhappiness beneath the beauty, like sharp shells beneath the softer sand, or a pristine shoreline that beckons but singes your heels ever so slightly. It’s not pretending or denial, necessarily. It’s more of a duality.
In these photos of mine, I also see the joy of sharing one of my favorite places with my fur baby, my Julep. I see the pleasant discovery of warm water at the tail end of summer. I feel the little contradictory chills that come with the blanketing warmth of the sun.
I’ve felt conflicted over these photos and their layers, but I’ve decided to preserve something closer to the reality – the contented feeling of squeezing in a summer tradition, of closing my eyes and hearing the lapping waves, of the pure flavor of grilled sweet corn and the smell of smoked husks as the air began to cool. I will also keep the way we distanced ourselves, the way we failed to communicate, the way hurt can become even more hurt.
Like the waves, we hit a breaking point, eroding the shape of the shoreline until it was unrecognizable, but it wasn’t gone. It was the same sand, just dissipated and diluted.
I’ve since spent a lot of time alone, trying to rediscover where I had eroded, where we had eroded. I spent more time with less – less noise in my ears, less clutter, less talking. There’s something calmer emerging, maybe a fresh photo, a new snapshot of a shore, reconstructed for a new season of waves.
This may resonate. It may be cryptic. It may be unfair to reveal these ruptures in our facade because I’m just one voice from a dialogue, but it might help. It might help to say life can be picnics and sharp shells.
It may feel like a stretch to tie the ebbs and flows of a memory, of a relationship, to chickpeas and arugula, but it might not be. Our lives are a series of flavors and scents that take us back to moments in time – some good, some bad, some both. For me, this chickpea salad, this vegan picnic, is a little bit of both.
Since then, there has been a doughnut that felt hopeful, a Malbec that just felt different, and the coming of a cranberry season that feels a little like figuring it out.
Just The Food Stuff…
The advantage of this vegan menu for a beach picnic is you don’t have to fear mayo or meat spoilage in the heat. Beach eating aside, both of these recipes are great to make at the beginning of the week and reinvent for different meals. Try the curried cauliflower as a gluten-free grain bowl with wild rice or quinoa, or serve it over hearty greens like kale.
Curried Cauliflower Salad
1 head of cauliflower
2 Tablespoons avocado oil (or other high heat oil)
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups arugula, spinach, or lettuce
15 oz chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup diced scallions (plus extra for topping)
2 Tablespoons golden raisins
1 Tablespoons black sesame seeds
1/3 cup tahini
1 medium lemon, juiced (~3 Tbsp)
1-2 Tbsp maple syrup (or sub agave – or honey if not vegan)
1 pinch sea salt
1 clove garlic
~3-6 Tablespoons Water, to thin
*The tahini sauce makes more than you’ll need for this recipe but can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Whole Grain Pitas
Brown Rice or Quinoa for Gluten-Free option
Preheat oven to 400˚F. Cut the cauliflower into small to medium florets. In a mixing bowl, toss the cauliflower florets with avocado oil, curry powder, and salt, then arrange evenly on a baking sheet or roasting pan. Bake until browning, 20 to 25 minutes.
Remove the cauliflower from the oven and let cool, then in a bowl, toss the cauliflower with the greens, chickpeas, scallions, golden raisins and black sesame seeds. Set aside while you prepare the tahini dressing.
Combine the tahini, lemon juice, maple syrup, salt and garlic in a food processor or blender until smooth. Add water to your desired consistency.
Add the tahini sauce to the cauliflower mixture, to your liking. There will most likely be extra dressing.
Scoop the cauliflower mixture into pitas or over brown rice, and serve.
Green Potato Salad (vegan)
The potato salad also works well with a hearty portion of greens. I recommend going heavy on the parsley to use up any extra you have in the fridge (I always seem to have a lot leftover from recipes) and for the flavor. Don’t skimp on the Old Bay either. It gives this side that beachy vibe regardless of the season.
2 lb. new potatoes
5 green onions
1/3 cup olive oil
2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
salt and black pepper
2 Tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped, or more, to taste
Old Bay Seasoning, to taste
Simmer the potatoes in salted water until just tender, then run under cold water to cool. Cut into chunks.
In a blender or food processor, puree the green onion, olive oil, white wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, salt and black pepper in a blender until smooth.
Combine the chopped potatoes and the green onion sauce. Add the chopped flat-leaf parsley and season generously with Old Bay, and toss to combine. The Old Bay really makes this potato salad!