For my 39th year, I wanted to celebrate!
There were multiple festivities, various occasions with friends, time pushing myself past my comfort zone, times dancing like I was in high school again, a special dinner with my partner, and a gathering around our loooong dining room table. We completely filled the table for the first time, and my heart felt full of love and gratitude.
Plus, I have a very boozy Mint Julep Bundt Cake recipe for you. Cheers!
"A rose dreams of enjoying the company of bees, but none appears. The sun asks: 'Aren’t you tired of waiting?' 'Yes,' answers the rose, 'but if I close my petals, I will wither and die.' And yet, even when Love does not appear, we remain open to its presence. Sometimes, when loneliness seems about to crush everything, the only way to resist is to keep on loving." -from "Manuscript Found in Accra" by Paulo Coelho
With each passing year, I try to whittle away at my perfectionism, or at least guide it to where it is best directed (remember? lower the expectations!). Christmas morning is not one of those places. Though I want a touch of decadence, and I want to create a morning to remember and a breakfast to savor, that experience should not come at the expense of sequestering myself in the kitchen.
A year can hold so much, yet it's easy to overlook the many moments that should fill us with lasting gratitude. That's why, come New Year's Day, I like to nestle in and really look back at the love and care I put into this, my corner of the web. I do this so as to celebrate, rather than denigrate, my efforts. It's all too easy to critique the times when I didn't post frequently, or to compare myself to other bloggers, but when I see all these recipes, adventures and posts together, I find contentment in the nostalgia (and my ever changing hair).
When it comes to traveling, we make a point of seeking dog-friendly places (otherwise, we'd spend all of our time Facetime-ing our little girl anyway). The searches for Julep-friendly places lead us to the most relaxing and natural corners of the world like our recent stay at this Cozy Creekside Farmhouse near Asheville, NC.
2.6 miles is what separates every conceivable expensive, organic product from my kitchen. If my beloved red Vibe were unable to traverse those 2.6 miles, there’s a flight of steep city steps that nearly extends from my curb to a busway, which offers one of the few direct, convenient routes in our public transit system. Since I hate waiting for transportation, I have also walked those 2.6 miles, but it makes returning with a significant stock of groceries a challenge. All that is to say, my path to healthy food is nearly a yellow brick road, and that’s a luxury.
A car and a mere 2.6 miles means we can run to the store when the kibble is but dust at the bottom of the bin. We can make dinner decisions well into the evening. We can be cooking dinner, discover we forgot something and still go to the store. We are fortunate, but others are not so lucky, nor do they have such easy access to wholesome foods.
When the Urban Farmer began his search for land, he sought the obvious factors for optimal growth (south facing, drainage, etc), but he also targeted communities he thought would benefit from an urban farm. The farm’s namesake neighborhood, Hazelwood, had a prime location and a need for fresh, healthy food. The neighborhood fit the “food desert” classification, but that’s changing due to several agricultural initiatives and thanks to one woman with a vision.
Dianne Schenk turned what could have been lofty thesis research on food deserts into a very tangible, seasonal fruit & vegetable stand in a food desert. Then she turned that stand into a year-round brick-and-mortar. Today, she runs Dylamato’s Market, and at long last, the neighbors have easy access to fresh, healthy, affordable food, including the sweet potatoes you see here, in my retake on the classic reuben. It’s not a grocery store, but it is a means to fresh food versus processed or canned goods, and it’s a hard-earned step in the right direction. Here’s to you Dianne!
P.S: That giant ass can of beer paired with the reuben? My fella, the Urban Farmer, designed that label for the fine folks at Round About Brewery. You’ll need a beer that size to keep up with this hearty sandwich!
Sweet Potato Reuben Sandwiches (Vegetarian)
About This Recipe:This isn’t a precise recipe, just a guide for an easy vegetarian reuben. Thousand Island Dressing is the traditional condiment for a reuben, but I broke the rules and mixed homemade ketchup and an organic mayo to create an easy, similar tasting sauce. If I’m not making my own mayo, I recommend Sir Kensington’s Mayonnaise because it’s GMO free and uses a healthy oil (sunflower). If not using a homemade ketchup, be sure to use an organic variety to avoid corn syrup and excess sugar. The sandwich shown does not feature cheese, but I love a cheesy version. For a vegan option, use a non-gmo vegenaise.