Camping. The outdoors. Being alone. The middle of nowhere. Camping. Adventure. Hiking. Toughing it out. Camping. Thoughts surrounding these things take up about fifty percent of my brainwaves on a given day. Lately its been breeching eighty percent. In a tent with my sleeping bag and a pack is all I need (with Scott by my side). This is where I feel the most myself. There is nothing for me to reflect off of, nothing to emulate, to copy, or try to please – just me. I’m not thinking about the food I will eat. That much has already been determined and packed. I won’t worry about a schedule, or various means of communication by which I constantly reach out to the world through technology, and their cyber return. I am in the world. There is no cell signal. No wifi. No way to share what I’m seeing and experiencing in that moment. I get to truly be in that moment. Of course I aim to capture the beauty that surrenders itself to my lens, in hopes of sharing it with others later, but not instantly. Sometimes its too beautiful to capture, and the confines of a lens would only offend its true beauty. The fresh air, quiet, peace, stillness, these are the things I crave. Weeks in-between the times I can escape to places off the grid such as these can feel like a lifetime. Its been eight months. Some days the struggle is so real that I am tempted to have Scott come home to a rental car in front of our apartment, packed with all our gear, ready for a weekend escape somewhere far, far away. We ran out of travel money last May, after my birthday trip to Yosemite and Big Sur (!!!). Then used what we could to afford a last minute move to Denver, Colorado in the fall. I felt claustrophobic living on the coast in Orange County, California. I needed to GET OUT, and I knew moving to downtown Denver wouldn’t solve everything, but I had hope because I knew I could see those mountains. Plus being able to escape from the city and into straight-up-nature within thirty minutes was mega appealing (compared to the hours of southern California traffic I was accustomed to).
I still knew I would have to pay my dues here in Colorado, living in the city with Scott, without a car, and having to deal with moments of feeling trapped. But I’m an optimist, and a visionary. I saw what could be, what can be, living close to so many great escapes. A number of smaller towns do surround us – with less cars, less people, more nature, more air – there was, is, potential here. But that does’t mean that at times I get impatient. Times where I want it now. What do I want? A piece of land, I mean LAND. A few acres? More? With a small, humble home we will design and have built. Little nuggets running around, they will be our new adventure buddies. An adventure mobile, a small town nearby, a trip budget, the ability to work from home (or close), and a quality of life unknown to us now. But I know it exists because I feel it every time I’m in that tent in the middle of no where. When I wake up in the morning next to Scott and unzip the tent, step out, and take that breath of fresh air. I get a glimpse of something achievable at that moment. A kind of physical presence in the world that isn’t invasive, but evokes a sense of belonging. Where you can hear your thoughts, or, if you want, have no thoughts and instead just listen. I know it exists. I know that by His grace it can be done. I also know it may never happen, and I have to be okay with that, accept it, and be humbled by the fact that I am not in control. However, I cannot be idle, and must pursue humbly my goals with a pure heart as best I can. This is the balance I have to strive to achieve. At times it comes easy, and today it’s a struggle I’m pouring out to you here. All it takes is reading one newspaper filled with hurt and suffering around the world to remind me of all the blessings I am showered with everyday. To remind me to stop looking inward, but instead outward, at the rest of the world filled with people to love and serve. I’m reminded I need to forgive myself for being so selfish and greedy, and then pursue, with perspective, my goals and the work I have been given to do with as pure a heart as I can. Here I go.
Ready to pull a one-eighty with me here? Cause I have a delicious recipe for this spiced butternut bread for you, and it gets topped with a super tasty halvah inspired spread PLUS sautéed apples and walnuts. The flavors in this are insane. The cinnamon and ginger in the butternut bread get turned up a notch with the addition of allspice, which plays well with the sweet sesame spread and apples. I had a hunch these flavors would play nicely together, but was doubting myself. So I consulted the most brilliant food related book I have ever owned, The Vegetarian Flavor Bible. If you are in need of recipe inspiration, and are looking to discover new ingredient combinations to spice up your everyday meals – this book is your ticket. Its what lead me to the addition of allspice in the bread, and confirmed my hunch of the other flavors working in unison with one another. It gave me the confidence to pursue this recipe and I am SO grateful. Sometimes you just need that little boost to push you over the edge and get you creating. I believe this book will be my push in many, many ways to come and am super stoked. This bread is moist and slightly sweet with a good spice. The sweet sesame spread emulating the classic middle eastern confection, halvah, (which I am dying to make for reals) helps with the “fullness factor” and adds a kind of nutty, sweet, salty, bite that is balanced out with the sweet cinnamon apples. Add a little crunch with the walnuts in the apple sauté, and you’ve got one heck of a breakfast/treat/snack/whatever you want to call it! It pairs super well with a cold glass of almond milk, or your cup of coffee in the morning. And give Molly over at My Name is Yeh a mega high-five for inspiring me with her halvah spread recipe. She is the halvah queen.
Oh hey now, it’s Saturday! Don’t think I forgot about those links. I’ve got a few less for you today, but they make up for it with their awesomeness. See them below the recipe here in this post! Oh, and in case you missed all the “Adventures by Us” posts I’ve been rambling on about this week, I have now updated our adventure photo gallery up through that glorious trip to Yosemite and Big Sur last May. I’ll keep updating it as a form of adventure blog for us until I can get the legit one up and running. It has been so fun gathering all the images (from our past three years since getting married) of our adventures, and then getting to upload the photos and see them flow from one trip to the next. Not sure if it helped or hurt my current “struggle” aforementioned above, but it was awesome, and you can now see them if you click on the picture titled “Adventures by Us” in the sidebar.
Tid-Bits: You can use whatever squash puree you have on hand. I had butternut, but pumpkin would be great in this as well. If you are not feeling like tahini, you can sub in another nut or seed butter of your liking. Almond butter would be delicious too. As for the honey, I highly recommend it with the tahini – but you can substitute it with maple syrup if using the almond butter. If you don’t eat honey, try this substitute.
Makes one mini loaf of spiced bread (can be easily doubled and baked in a 9×5 loaf pan), halvah spread is in single serving measurements, and the apples and walnut topping can be divided between 6 mini slices.
Spiced Butternut Bread
1/2 cup butternut squash puree
2 tablespoons coconut oil melted
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup plain almond milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup spelt flour whole grain or light
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons oat flour
Halvah Spread – Single Serving
Inspired by Molly Yeh
1 tablespoon sesame seed butter tahini
1 teaspoon unpasteurized honey*
generous pinch of salt
Sautéed Apples & Walnuts
1 medium apple I used gala
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon coconut oil
*I only use unpaturized honey (in its raw state), organically produced, and sustainably harvested. Make sure to use a runny honey for the best consistency. If you do not eat honey, I recommend this substitute.
Preheat the oven to 400F. Combine the wet ingredients for the bread in a small mixing bowl, then sprinkle in the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Transfer batter to a parchment lined mini loaf pan (or 9×5 loaf pan if doubling the recipe) and bake for 40 minutes. The top should be golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes, then remove and transfer to a wire cooling rack to fully cool. Slice and serve right away, or store in an airtight container on the counter. Can also be wrapped in plastic wrap or placed in a zip-lock baggie to keep moist. Best if eaten within 3-4 days.
For the halvah spread, simply mix the listed ingredients (multiplying the measurements by however many servings you wish to make) and spread onto a warm slice of the spiced butternut bread (then top with apple and walnut mixture, instructions below). If you make multiple servings, store any leftover halvah spread in an airtight glass jar in the refrigerator.
For the sautéed apples and walnuts, heat a small skillet on the stove on low heat and add the teaspoon of coconut oil. Core and shop the apple into 1/4 inch slices, and roughly shop the walnuts. Add them both to the skillet, sprinkle with cinnamon and a pinch of salt, and sauté until the apples are soft. Serve warm on top of a slice of butternut bread with halvah spread.
In a music rut? TRY THIS.
I’m hollering at you Gilmore Girls fans, we need this mug in our lives!
Super pumped that I totally trimmed my own hair this past week! I followed this tutorial for trimming my longest ends, and then just used common sense following the tactics I’ve watched hairdressers do to me for ages to trim my layers. AND IT DIDN’T SUCK. Hello $50 still sitting in my pocket, thank you.