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INTRODUCING : SK COOKING CLUB

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Cooking Club is live!

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Before you roll your eyes at one more blogger/influencer person selling you something. Hear me out. Most of you don't know me personally enough to hold your trust, but I can say with utmost confidence, that I believe this product can help people.

Some time last year, I started working on a third cookbook. When I got about 40% of the way through, I tried to sell the idea to my publisher. I was working on this project diligently, madly in love with many of the recipes, having them tested, we'd shot about half, and then I got turned down. The cookbook world continues to be a super over saturated market, and with all the different diets these days, it is only becoming more so. They didn't think my book would sell without a strong hook, and I couldn't come up with one that felt true to the way that I cook and eat. We eat a moderate, healthy-ish diet. Sometimes I feed tables full of friends and other nights I attend to picky toddlers. I'm all in with the coconut yogurt and the gluten free baked goods, but I will also sit and watch Queer Eye with a pint of McConnells Peppermint Stick if the spirit leads. I shoot down the middle with these circumstances, and apparently, that doesn't sell. I do not take that personally. That doesn't mean never, but it does mean not right now. I was surprised and disappointed, because that was the trajectory my life had been going the last six years. I blogged, I wrote cookbooks, and honestly have NO clue what my career pivot is from here. So more cookbooks, right? Apparently not.

I tell my kids to problem solve. I may have a tendency to do things for them because it's quicker, but in a good parenting head space, my job is to guide them into figuring out how to solve problems on their own. So I took my own advice. Problem solve, Sara. Par it down. Why am I doing this? I like taking care of people. Food is the most natural creative expression in how I can live out that care taking. I want to sit around a table and listen and laugh and cry. There are studies that say the happiest people ever are is around a table, enjoying food with people. How can I push people towards that happy place? I pursue good health in a number of ways, but the community I have nurtured here, is by way of feeding our bodies wholesome foods, lots of fruits and vegetables, foods cooked from scratch, and making things taste good because eating is for pleasure as well as for sustenance. I'm sharing recipes because I want to encourage people to cook and eat with people. I can do that, perhaps even more acutely and intimately, by way of the program we're creating in Sprouted Kitchen Cooking Club.

If your interest is perked, head to this page to read more about what it is. If you're ready to go, you can sign up here. Per request, there will also be a gifting option, which will be available in the shop, so you can purchase the program for a friend or sibling who may enjoy cooking along with you. This is not designed for the super competent cook, these will be simple, straight forward meals intended to spice up and simplify the dinner process. I know we all have different tastes and preferences, but I am hoping this will be a really neat community where we can share ideas about what we changed or did with the leftover dressing, etc.

One way or another, it is worth expressing my gratitude to you all, who have been fans and supporters of Sprouted Kitchen in all its forms, and given me the confidence that I have something valuable to share. There is nothing that humbles me more than your kind notes or seeing your pictures of my food in your kitchens. 

Sign up! Let's make dinner together. 
 

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GIFTS + THINGS OF 2017

I know they get overdone but I love a good gift guide. I think I end up buying more things for myself than I do for other people, but they serve their purpose for sure. You get new ideas from sites and brands you otherwise may not have heard of and I just like them. So in no particular order, are a few things we've either really enjoyed this year, or wish we can enjoy in the future or will be gifting to someone else. Hugh's recommendations are marked with an (H). Thanks!


Donations

We hosted a few dinners this year to benefit the International Rescue Committee. You can read more about them on their site. If you are looking to make some year end donations yourself, or give on behalf of someone else as a gift. We have done some research (Charity Watch helps you look further into the details of specific charities) and are also giving to International Justice Mission and A21.


Business&Pleasure Umbrellas

We spend a lot of time at the beach. After finally wearing through a fairly useless umbrella we had for years, we replaced her with the most well made umbrella I've ever seen. They have all metal hardware, a solid wood stand, the fabric is sturdy and not to mention absolutely beautiful. We have one of the beach tents that the kids settle into as their special fort, but the umbrellas are a little easier set up and I'm certain it will outlive me. They are even offering you lovely people a 20% code! Use SPROUTED20 at checkout. 


Bushwick Kitchen Condiments

First off, the packaging is simple and smart. Second, this stuff is delicious. The spicy honey with cheese is perfect and I've roasted Brussels with the spicy maple and oil. Hugh lacquered some of his bacon in the coffee maple before baking and still talks about it. You get free shipping when you order three things and I see no reason why you would not. 

(Speaking of other food gifts, loving this Central Coast Family Farm pretty olive oil for special cocasions)


Imperfect Produce

I know this is limited to the West Coast and Chicago at this time, but they're expanding! So hear me out. If you've been following along here for awhile, I've been a long time proponent of a local CSA box program. I took a break from them for a couple seasons because I was getting burnt out of the same things and lack of flexibility, but have recently been into Imperfect Produce. It's a weekly produce box, with the option of customization (brilliant!) so I can opt out of the potatoes if we still have some from last week, and add more squash, for example. They offer gift certificates, and while this may only be a gift for the right kind of person (read:me), our pediatrician once wisely suggested that it is better to gift a family healthy food above more plastic. Merrrrrry Christmas, kids ;)


Penn and Olive

I am actually not a big essential oils gal (though I do have this diffuser on my list because I want my house to smell nice), HOWEVER, I rub the sleep and immunity rollers on my kids every night because... why not? Does my son still wake up at 5am before the sun? Yes, yes he does, but at least he smells dreamy. 


Print Shop . Hugh Forte

As his biggest fan, I understand my bias here, but I think these photos are beautiful. The thing about Hugh's talent, is that as his work lies largely in weddings and food, we miss where his heart and eyes are most drawn to: the ocean, waves, a quiet desert landscape, the beauty of the world around us. He takes in so much visually, things I wouldn't have noticed; to experience his photos is to see a piece of him. He just started a print shop and will be adding to it slowly. A super generous Santa brought him a drone this year, so stay tuned for more aerial images as well. For the rest of this month, you can use the code SK20 for 20% off your order. It is too late for framing, but if you order by December 12th, they will arrive by Christmas. 


Bonavita Electric Kettle (H)

I can't believe this item hadn't made it into previous years gift guides at any point... we use this every day, multiple times a day. Coffee. Tea. Give it to me faster and at a more precise temperature and at the push of a button AND without me having to manage the target temperature. And keep it there for up to an hour for when I get distracted. This thing is worth every penny. 


Rancilio Rocky (H)

More coffee gear? Ok. Sara got me this grinder for my birthday this year and I love it. We primarily brew pour over around here so the primary bottleneck in quality has always been the grinder. I've slowly upgraded grinders over the years and always been slightly disappointed that I couldn't quite get the cup of coffee I knew was possible because I was skimping (even after dishing out for relatively expensive machines, like our previous Virtuoso) on the grinder. Anyway, this grinder finally unlocked the potential of that cup of pour over. Cheers.


For Kids:

Magnatiles

Curran (3.5) actually got these last Christmas, by recommendation of my sister is law, and they are great. I can't say there are many toys that he is happy to play with on his own. All sides are magnetic, so they're a little easier to build than traditional blocks. They also make a 100 piece set if you're wanting to invest deeper into the set, but either way, I would swear by these for any kid over 3. 


Books:

Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat
I don'd think I've waxed poetic enough about how much I love this book. I haven't tried too many of the recipes to be honest, but Samins' writing is so charming, easy to read and helpful. It's unlike any other food related book I own and I think it'd make a great gift for both a beginner cook or just someone who loves to learn from another perspective. 


Dark Matter (H)

This was a surprisingly engaging read. Speculative fiction often times demands too much suspension of disbelief for my taste, but something about the character's plight in this story hooked me. It's a fast paced romp through the multiverse (or at least a small part of a Many Worlds version... ok good talk).


Finding God in the Waves (H)

If you're familiar with the Liturgists Podcast, this author's name may look familiar. This may not be for everybody on your shopping list, but this title claimed my prestigious "Most Underlined and Dogeared Book" award for the year. I mean, a cover blurb from Richard Rohr is pretty cool too, I guess. 


Lastly, if you're still looking for more ideas, you can take a peek at our previous gift guides:

2016
2014
2013


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Personal, Breakfast, Salad

BREAKFAST SALAD

We’re both pretty exhausted. In an effort to be the “fun mom” and burn up the last of the 3-day So-Cal Disneyland passes we bought to use this spring, I took Curran there on a date last night. I have to be honest with you, I don't love the long lines and droves of people, but I think Curran had fun and we stayed late to watch the electrical parade. Watching him light up and wave at Mickey made it worth it but it is WORK to take this kid anywhere, let alone when there are two of them. They are both "spirited," as they qualify it in all those parenting books. I’m in a really tough phase with Curran. That's what I am surrendering to at the moment. I know there are seasons of parenting - just when you start to feel like you’ve got it, something or someone changes and you feel like you can’t pull it off again. We have good and bad days, on and off weeks. When we're good, it's so good! I can feel the tension in my body release and Curran and I play pretend with the legos and give each other giggly eskimo kisses. But my fuse is so short when he can't kick the whining or after I’ve repeated a direction for the 12th time. I yell often and say I’m sorry a lot. I have never cared for anything like I do my own children, but they simultaneously can put me on (or past) my last nerve. I've been thinking about why lately. On the rare occasion where I am in the car by myself, I don't listen to music or podcasts, I just enjoy the silence and think. Sometimes it's just mental list making, but the other day I was trying to be my own therapist and reflect on why I get so upset, with Curran especially (I haven't figured anything out, in case you want to jump ahead to the recipe).

We are both pretty persnickety and sensitive. Those things manifest differently in an almost 33 year old and almost 3 year old but the basic framework is the same. We like things how we like them and we get ruffled when our realities don't meet our expectations. I can manage those shortcomings as an adult, but to see them in your own kid is strange. How do I help you brush things off, when I know first hand that feels hard? What I have come up with is that we're both in need of more grace and if my job is anything, it is first to give that to him. I'd love to tell you that I've recognized my imperfections as a parent and am a new woman, or offer an easy 3-step solution to not loosing it on your toddler, but I'd been embarrassed by Curran's behavior the day I started drafting this post and already raised my voice before 7am today so I'm here in process, writing anyway. For the past three years as a mother, I have been responsible for keeping little people alive (Hugh is more than helpful, but this isn't about him). I make sure they are fed somewhat nutritiously, clean them and their messes, change diapers, look into preschools, stay up on the diaper stock, organize activities and time with friends, fumble around discipline, make sure they get the rest they need, take them to the doctors and hold them when they're sick. I scrub poop off the carpet and break up fights and literally save lives from someone running in the street or jumping off the top of a playground.

This job is intense and it is every single day and it is all day long. 

So it is all these tasks that I have (some) control of that make me feel like I am doing an ok job. I take good care of them. I think it's ok for me to say that as much as women don't like to admit they are good at things. But my fuse runs out and I see red when it feels like I've failed at some point: taking someone's toy, not wanting to say hello to people, throwing tantrums when things don't go their way. Their behavior feels like a reflection of who I am as their mother. It feels personal. That all feels like my responsibility, when they are really just figuring out their own humanness. The work I put in, how exhausted I feel, there should be something to show for that right? I have been managing so much for these babies, and I can physically feel the fear of raising an asshole. It's the wrong approach, you don't have to tell me. I watch everything going on in our country right now and as small and guilty as I feel for being a person with privilege, the least I can do is put two more humans in this mess who are kind and empathetic. 

So today, perhaps prepping myself for the backlash of last night's 10:30 bedtime, I'm trying to give us both a break. I can step back and see that Sara and Curran and Cleo are three separate people. My job is to guide them and care for them, but I don't get to choose how they react to everything. My toddler will push another kid at a park and life will go on. They are going to be people sculpted by so many influences and experiences besides me. I make mistakes, I say unkind things, and sometimes cry when things don't go how I'd like them to, so for now, all I can do is apologize when I get upset or yell or expect something better than their hands on approach to growing up. I can only focus on myself trying to be kind and patient and gracious and hope that instead of me telling them to be those things, they'll have experienced them. This job, sweet Jesus, it is not for the weak of heart. 

I've learned to be specific with holiday and birthday requests as Hugh, God bless him, isn't huge on celebrations. This year my birthday and Mothers Day are back to back, and I am hoping to get an extra hour of sleep and not have to make food for anyone all weekend with permissions to change my mind day-of if I so please. I'll take one of these breakfast salads, delivered in bed, please. Then maybe we'll head out for a beach walk and I want to be by myself to take a few deep breaths. There will be tantrums and tears and poop anyway. 

// GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED! Thanks for participating. I do love to hear your answers anyway if you feel so obliged xo //

Stone Cold Fox is offering you lovely readers a 20% off discount code for robes! Just use SPROUTEDFOX at checkout if you'd like to treat yourself to a beautiful silk robe. Don't let my morning frizz bun distract you from the pretty lace. You are doing a great job, so I am giving one away as well. Leave me a comment with something you feel you're doing right as a parent. And if you don't have kids, maybe something you appreciated from your own mother now that you're older. Love you people, and happy Mothers Day to every one of you who are just doing your best. 

BREAKFAST SALAD // Serves 1

This makes enough dressing and croutons for two, but with more assembly than cooking here, I thought writing it for one would make it easier to scale up. I wanted a dish that was easy enough to throw together in the morning without making a whole thing of it. You could make the dressing the night before and honestly it should take you all of 15 minutes if you start first thing with the croutons or even skip them and go for buttered toast instead. 

// vinaigrette //
2 tsp. dijon mustard
1 garlic clove
1 anchovy (optional)
generous pinches of salt and pepper
handful of basil and parsley
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

// torn croutons //
day old loaf or baguette, torn into 1"-ish pieces
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
sea salt

Preheat the oven to 400'. Put the olive oil and bread in a mixing bowl, toss to coat. Sprinkle a few pinches of salt and toss again. Spread on a baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes until toasty on the edges. Remove to cool completely. Best the day they are made. 
-

2 handfuls tender greens
handful of tomatoes, halved
1/2 an avocado
thinly sliced radish

1 egg, poached or fried

sheeps' milk feta cheese, for serving
sprouts, for serving

In a blender, whiz all of the dressing ingredients together. 
Into your bowl, combine the greens, tomatoes, avocado and radish. Poach or fry your egg and place it on your salad. Drizzle the vinaigrette over everything. 
Top the salad with feta cheese, sprouts, croutons or a buttered slice of toast. 

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