the chalkboard x pressed juicery contest

it’s been a busy week… of freezing temps and runny noses… of rearranging and green-ifying our teeny apartment, babies nearly crawling out of cribs (well, just one baby at least. my baby.) and overall a few too many roasted root vegetables and earthy stews (come on… spring!!). of course as soon as i start to type, there’s an unhappy 6-month-old doing his very best to let me know he’s unhappy…

ok. now i’m back. and today something really awesome happened. so, i’ve been pretty hard at work on “entrepreneurial things” (which i mentioned in the last post) with my friend, ann marie, and today i found out that a recipe i submitted on our behalf and in anticipation of the launch of our business – which we are super psyched about, by the way – was chosen by The Chalkboard & Pressed Juicery to be part of their “Citrus Bliss Recipe Contest.” how. awesome. is that.

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset [lemon thyme baked donuts – vegan.. duh.]

here’s what i wrote about the recipe for The Chalkboard (which is one of my favorite blogs):

I had some crazy intense citrus cravings last year while I was expecting my first baby. Up until about 6 months pregnant, I was commuting from Philadelphia to New York City to attend culinary school (all while holding down an adjunct teaching gig and a part-time restaurant internship) and I would often find myself making detours whenever I spotted lemonade. or lemon sorbet. or just a picture of a lemon. I maybe even tried to convince my friends that it was completely acceptable to serve only lemonade, lemon iced tea, and water with lemon at my baby shower. Even six months since the arrival of my son, I still find myself running to our Whole Foods down the street for lime popsicles at 10pm. Aside from my popsicle habit, though, and the majority of my time spent growing a sweet, tiny chubby human, I’ve been pouring all of my creative and entrepreneurial energy into launching a food business with my good friend and business partner, Ann Marie (you can go hunt her down on Instagram @amont022). Together, we are creating exciting ways to bring sweet pantry staples made with truly natural, better-for-you ingredients to the masses. So, when we saw this recipe contest, it just seemed like the perfect opportunity to showcase our love of doughnuts and lemons and the ways in which you can make sweets better for you with just a few simple, plant-based tweaks. Our doughnuts are baked, instead of fried, and they incorporate both fresh lemon juice and zest for a twist on our favorite, classic treat. On urbsandspices.com, I’m currently sharing my experiences in motherhood, culinary exploits, and life in Philly – and soon I will begin documenting the launch of our business, too! Hope you enjoy!

so. there you have it. we’re in a recipe contest. and now we need your votes!! please (please!) head on over to The Chalkboard and vote for our Lemon Thyme Baked Donuts – which are totally vegan, too! here’s the link:

http://thechalkboardmag.com/vote-now-pressed-juicery-citrus-bliss-reader-recipe-contest-poll

we would be so thankful and grateful for your support. thanks so much for reading and for voting. oh oh… and don’t forget, you can vote on any of your internet-wielding devices (computer/ phone/ iPad/ etc… does everything come with wi-fi these days?). and again, thank you thank you!

[p.s. this post was brought to you entirely thanks to the fact that my baby decided he would be willing to sleep across my lap for a few minutes while i arched my back over him and typed. thank you, little one, for that sweet gift. and thank you, chiropractor, for being able to fix all the damage just done to my posture.] 


listening.

so i’m not running into this blog at full speed or anything… but, slow and steady – that’s all i’m aiming for at the moment.
my mom shared this with me several days ago and i just love it:

Listen earnestly to anything your children want to tell you, no matter what. If you don’t listen eagerly to the little stuff when they are little, they won’t tell you the big stuff when they are big, because to them all of it has always been big stuff.”
― Catherine M. Wallace

my nearly 6-month-old baby’s babbles have taught me more about listening than probably anything or anyone else before. whenever i give him a few overly-animated “hi”s (as well as “hey baby boy! hiiiiii!!!”), it is in the silence that follows, after i stop talking and just listen for a moment, that i hear the most wonderful sound – the returned “heh” from Beck’s sweet little smiling, one-toothed baby mouth. i mean, we have some pretty serious babbles at other times. some insanely high-pitched squeals and some belly laughs and some of what i suspect are very complex sentences (of course), but that little “hi/heh” interaction.. that’s my favorite. still, it requires my patience, and a quieted heart and mind, to really take it in. to enjoy it and not miss it. to not rush things along. as my baby grows, i am growing, too. as God allows Beck to mature, He is also maturing me into a mom who is learning to listen. and show grace. and nourish. and love. and also know that i am incapable of doing any of those things perfectly. ever. which is both a relief and a big bummer all at the same time.

Beck playing
Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset  IMG_4230  Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset
i wish i could do things perfectly for him. but i can’t. i wish i could protect him from the toxins and the peer pressure. the media and the BPAs. all of it. but i can’t. this realization has been creeping up on me as i spend more time on an exciting food-related business project, too… this idea of letting go of perfection and learning to lean into any and every opportunity for simplicity and wholeness, and to keep at it even when it seems slow, and a bit too steady. in the moments while baby B naps or after he has gone to bed – or while he sits happily in his stroller at Whole Foods – i am working on creating food that embraces what is real, and whole, but also recognizes that there’s a place for sweets and fun and frivolity in our food. i have a pretty strong voice when it comes to how we eat, and i care about what we grow and cook, but i am also trying to listen. to myself and my family. to other families and communities. i believe that patience and listening are necessary in order to have productive dialogue about food… in order to create sustainable change. and so, i am working on a food project that encompasses this idea, entangling the creative with the compassionate, and the culturally-engaged with a refusal to sacrifice quality or taste. if you thought you knew what I was working on before.. well, it may be a bit different than you expect. anyway. before you’re left completely and utterly baffled at how i went from baby babbles to food justice and entrepreneurship (my brain. i’ll tell ya. it’s weird.), i will sign off.

…but did i get you all intrigued about the business? well, there’ll be more talk about it later. it’s sweet. but it’s healthy. i can tell you that much. so for now… keep listening : )


back at it.

so here i am. over a year after abandoning this little corner of the blogosphere. it seems i have accidentally developed a pattern.

the problem is, i love to write. i want a place to share what i’m writing, to share what’s in my head and in my life. but i don’t always love blogging. last time around – and maybe the time before that – i was too caught up in blogging instead of just allowing this to be a place to write. i don’t have a target audience. i’m not trying to claim a certain market and never diverge from it. i am just writing, as an extension of my interests and of myself.

i’m sure i could have a niche – in fact, i have many. whole foods, advocacy, health, environmentalism, veganism… entrepreneurship, Pinterest pinning, homesteading (to borrow a friend’s term), and all that fun stuff… my faith in Christ, marriage, my life as a new mom. i bet i could even be clichéed if i tried a bit harder. but the truth is, i’ve never put on a gorilla suit and protested outside of a science lab (even though i was invited to do so once). and i don’t own a Chemex. and i probably wash my hair more often than i should and it never ever looks perfectly messy, just messy messy. and although i do love to dance in the kitchen with my husband and baby, i’m absolutely certain it never looks as pretty as something in the pages of Kinfolk magazine.

i could probably try to market myself to any one of those categories above, but then i would be “blogging”… and i would be marketing, for that matter. not writing. not just sharing myself and my life here. and it would eventually – or quickly – become contrived and i would become dissatisfied and overwhelmed by it all and lose the joy.

so, i will stray outside the lines of this niche or that. i will most likely write things that may or may not interest you at times. (granted that i get the knack of maintaining this blog at all, while still growing and raising a tiny chubby human.) but i hope that what i do share will be meaningful. even if only to me and my family.

so, here we go. 2014. let’s get to it.


halloween and hurricane sandy

well, it’s been a whirlwind week. literally. hurricane sandy struck – and our hearts and prayers go out to all those people who have been (and still are) affected by this devastating storm. culinary school classes were canceled all week; for me that just means two days missed… but i really hope everyone at NGI is doing okay and that they are safe and sound. my day job – teaching at a community college in NJ – is also taking an extended vacation, as the school has been closed since monday. fortunately, here in philly, things were relatively unaffected. which is shocking, considering how atlantic city was so badly hit as well as other parts of new jersey that aren’t all that far away… and then NYC, too. it’s just so strange how our little neck of the center city woods didn’t really feel the effects. we had a lot of filtered water stocked in our fridge and a bathtub full of water (i can’t remember why…) and to be sure, we had our strong winds and downpour of rain, but we didn’t lose power, and nothing fell on the car. we are extremely grateful for our safety and for our family and friends’ safety – plenty of dear ones are still dealing with the aftermath. 7 5last weekend – which now feels like an eternity ago – was actually filled up with exciting philly events. first with the walk for farm animals (which i mentioned before) and then with our neighborhood’s version of trick-or-treating…  for dogs. they call it howl-o-ween. this hood is seriously obsessed with its dogs. dog parks. free doggie poo pags on every other corner. a giant oil painting of a beagle in the gallery window next door. and now, shops passing out dog treats to all the cute pups in costume. obsessed. and we love it.

{written november 1, 2012… posted ages later.}


farm sanctuary

a few years back, i learned about Farm Sanctuary and their awesome, pioneering work in the field of protecting animals. i remember one time, while hanging with family, i mentioned how i really admired the efforts of this non-profit group. i asked my cousin if he had ever heard of it before and, in reply, he remarked “farm sanctuary? that sounds like an oxymoron.” for some reason that response stuck with me because it was candid and sadly, for the majority of commercial farms in this country, a farm that’s a sanctuary truly is an oxymoron. we simply do not protect and respect farmed animals like we once felt called and entrusted to do. and whether you eat animals or animal products or not, i think there’s a common ground that can be established when it comes to animal protection… to be sure, there is and will be a spectrum of opinions when it comes to animal rights legislation, but still, the idea that living creatures deserve to be treated humanely and with respect is something that i believe (or hope) most people can find themselves in agreement. despite this, the unsustainable demands on the market for farmed animals and a movement away from traditional agricultural and husbandry practices make farms anything but a haven for the animals that live there.

 

two years ago, husband and i, along with my parents and our dog Bo, participated in the Walk for Farm Animals in princeton. it was a great experience, getting to know other like-minded people who are concerned about animal welfare and hoping to spread a message of compassion. in just one week (it really snuck up on us!), we will be participating in the Walk once again, in an effort to help Farm Sanctuary raise awareness about the realities of factory farming. we hope, as always, that the Walk will incite change in the way society views and treats farm animals. it should be another fantastic, inspiring event – and will be one of dozens of such walks that take place across the country this fall.

if you want to get involved, it would mean so much to me (and to us!) if you would make a pledge of support for farm animals in need by making a donation for my participation in the 2012 Walk for Farm Animals! …or if you are feeling up for some light exercise and activism, and want to come out and join the Walk on saturday, october 27 in philadelphia then that’s awesome, too! either way, thank you for taking the time to read this and for considering the welfare of farm animals everywhere.

to make a donation, visit my fundraising page here.

to sign up for the walk, register here.

[photos from the 2010 Walk for Farm Animals – that’s my mom and dad getting ready for the Walk.]


going against the grain

“If you go against the grain of the universe you get splinters.”
– H. H. Farmer

[found this inspiring quote via twitter]


the night market

so, last night we walked just a few blocks over to Philly’s annual Chinatown night market. as we approached, i could smell all the great food – both from popular food trucks and restaurants around the city that had come to set up shop in the streets. we started the night off right by scoring some pumpkin habanero BBQ sauce from Square Peg (they were selling fried chicken, but graciously hooked us up with their sauce and we enjoyed it with tempura veggies). it was delicious! i would love to try my hand at recreating that. later, we had an excellent lentil-kale soup from Good Spoon – who we see at our farmer’s market at Headhouse Square every sunday. the feast didn’t end there… we also had an amazing trio of dishes from the Birds of Paradise food truck: “Paradise” salad with mango, pineapple, & fresh coconut; black jollof rice; and a smoky baba ganoush. then, we grabbed a “double” from The Mini Trini truck – Trinidadian street food made with split-pea dough bread and filled with curried chickpeas, pumpkin, & mango. and the night ended at Jimmies Cupcake Company. with one of the best cupcakes i’ve ever had: banana with vanilla cream frosting and cute sprinkles. the base tasted just like delicious banana bread. perfect density and crumb. i’ve had a lot of vegan cupcakes… many of which are excellent, but this was definitely in the “best of” category. all around, it was a super fun night with lots of great local food and community-building. looking forward to next year!

       

thanks to The Food Trust and Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation

[all photos from my instagram]