I have always liked to remember. To recall the where and when and what of the same day or month from years and years ago. Although for me it doesn't often feel like recalling because most memories still feel so close. Yes, I'm young and haven't lived very long comparatively, so my furthest memories are still somewhat recent. I can't say, 'Oh wow that was 30 years ago', quite yet. But there's something that makes it easy for me to feel like I'm still fourteen, sitting in my room and listening to Sigur Ros for hours instead of making friends. Or mindlessly knitting scarves while my family watched Sunday football. Or biking Natchez Trace in Nashville every October. Or eating english muffins with honey before school. Or stressing over essays that felt like they drained every bit of my creativity.
But, then I look at where I am and I realize in an instant how much time has passed. How vastly different everything is. It freaks me out for a minute and then I remember how amazing it actually is. That I'm growing up and living a life I couldn't have predicted and still can't. That I am doing things I dreamt about, or didn't dream about but am happy about them nonetheless. That I've made it through some incredibly difficult times and now I'm certain I'll keep making it through anything, with more and more glory to show for it, thanks to Jesus. And that I see now that I don't have to completely let go of or forget the things that used to mean so much to me because the human heart has a huge capacity for love. And I do feel my heart just keeps growing and growing and, my God, I hope it doesn't stop, because I think this is only the beginning.
Nostalgia has always been my thing. And for a while, it wasn't very healthy for me. Spending time dwelling in the past is rarely good. But now I feel I'm able to look back and just be thankful. Yes, sometimes with a little tinge of sadness or longing, but mostly thankfulness. It's funny, I wasn't thinking about Thanksgiving before I began writing this, but I guess it is just that time of year. The sights and smells of the colder seasons bring that on for me. So lately, I think my goal is to keep looking forward, with all my memories, all my childhood hopes and beliefs, all my heart and its messy history propelling me forward. Into what's new and unknown, yet soon to be part of me. I mean, I never thought New York City would be part of me, or food blogging, or even cooking in general, or herbalism, or talking to strangers, or tattoos (ha!). And yet, here I am. And where shall I go? Well, that I don't often know. But the seasons keep turning and the leaves keep bursting into furious colors. And then they fall, in surrender, to melt back into the earth, and then grow all over again, new and bright green. Don't we kind of do the same, if we're doing this life thing right?
Within these two recipes is all of this....the nostalgia of perfectly Fall-ish flavors like squash and sweet potatoes with warm spices, and then the unknown of something new but soon to be a staple, like the beautiful heirloom beans, striped purple and black. Comfort in the creamy and crumbly, the toasty and crisped. Yet, excitement in the unidentifiable flavors and textures. Sounds like that leftover Thanksgiving dinner sandwich most people make on Friday...which I've actually never had before. Maybe this year will be my first.
Roasted Squash Hummus
Makes 2 cups
This hummus is so creamy thanks to both the soft squash and the type of beans I used, which I really recommend seeking out, even aside from making this hummus. Rio Zape beans are of the pinto bean family and are incredibly creamy with notes of chocolate and coffee. They are a true treat. I found them to be a perfect match for the squash, which is sweet and well, pumpkin-y. Thus, this hummus is full of intriguing flavors. Best enjoyed with your favorite crackers.
1 cup squash purée*
2 cups cooked beans (I used an heirloom pinto bean, but any work!)
1 tablespoon organic miso (I used barley miso, which has a nice richness)
2 tablespoons tahini
½ teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon allspice
To make squash purée, take any large squash (I used kabocha, which is a sweet Japanese pumpkin) and cut it in half. Rub the flesh with a little oil and place on a baking sheet. Roast at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 45-60 minutes, depending on the size of your squash. You want it to be browning on the edges and the outside skin to be wrinkly. Allow to cool, then spoon out the flesh (sorry, is there a better word?!), discarding the seeds, and purée it in a food processor, or other blender, until smooth.
1. Simply combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until completely smooth. Keep in the refrigerator and enjoy within 1 week!
Sweet Potato Cranberry Muffins
Makes 12 small muffins
These muffins are a lovely little fall treat, without being too sweet. In fact, aside from the molasses, they are unsweetened. I find most muffins to be more like a cupcake without the icing. So I often like to leave out the sweetener when I make muffins at home. That way they are truly fit for breakfast....slathered with some ghee or almond butter, please! I also like how adaptable they are. Feel free to add in some pecans or walnuts, or an extra dash of ginger. And if you do prefer a sweeter muffin, you can add 1/3 cup of any liquid sweetener (maple/honey) to the wet mixture and reduce the plant milk to 1/4 cup.
2 cups whole grain flour (sprouted spelt is my favorite, use oat for gf version)
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon each cardamom, cloves, nutmeg, allspice and ginger
1/3 cup dried cranberries (preferably apple juice sweetened)
1 cup sweet potato purée*
1/3 cup virgin coconut oil
½ cup plant milk
2 tablespoons molasses
2 flax eggs*
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
To make sweet potato purée: In a steamer basket set over boiling water, steam a diced medium sized sweet potato (I used Japanese) for 8 minutes, or until a fork can be easily inserted. Allow to cool and then thoroughly mash with a fork or gently pulse in a food processor.
To make flax eggs: Combine 2 tablespoons of ground flax seeds with 6 tablespoons water. Stir and then allow to thicken for about 10 minutes.
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a muffin tin with non-bleached liners or grease with coconut oil.
2. Sift all dry ingredients except cranberries into a large bowl.
3. In a medium bowl, combine all wet ingredients and mix thoroughly.
4. Gently fold the wet ingredients into the dry mixture, adding the cranberries as you go, being careful not to overwork the batter.
5. Spoon the batter evenly into the muffin tin. Bake on a middle rack for 40 minutes, checking a few minutes before to avoid burning.
6. Allow to cool before removing the muffins from the tin. They can be stored in an airtight container for 2 days, or longer in the fridge!