chia seeds

Alone in the Kitchen with Quinoa Pancakes

Recently, I took a day of quiet.

Not particularly intentionally, it just turned out that way. I had already scheduled time away from work to hit the reset button after a consuming four-month project, but so far my first two days away were filled with errands. Some of them good (pedicure!), and some not as fantastic (dentist!), and I was craving a day at home with absolutely no obligations. None. I didn't even want to plan out what I was going to cook.

When I'm home alone, I usually like to have some music on in the background (or Downton Abbey reruns playing) to keep me company. Of course, there's also the dog who follows me from room to room, but as the morning unfolded and I sipped chamomile tea I found I quite enjoyed the silence. So this day turned into a day of utter quiet. 

Zoe Nathan's Quinoa Pancakes / Eat This Poem

Instead of writing, I filled my morning with other activities: yoga, checking Instagram, ironing, getting dressed, taking said dog outside to sit in the sun, blending smoothies, making tart crust, and finishing the chicken stock I started the night before. Also, pancakes. (We'll get to those in a minute.)

It was just me and my thoughts as I vacuumed, put magazines in their bin, and cookbooks back on the shelf. But there was always a gentle, persistent nagging that I should really be writing something I didn't want to write. Or that I did want to write, but didn't feel motivated to write because no one cared. Or I assumed no one would care. Either way, no one caring is not actually a good reason to not write, but alas.

In conclusion: Sometimes we simply need a day. 

On a productive note, though, I finished reading Laurie Colwin's book of essays about home cooking, and she said something I rather like.

"No one who cooks cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers." -Laurie Colwin

It's comforting that even in our most isolated moments, when we stand in front of the stove or the cutting board making something out of nothing, we are perhaps the least alone we could ever be.

Zoe Nathan's Quinoa Pancakes

Shopping at Costco in the great city of Los Angeles is not for the faint of heart. From our old neighborhood, it was a 2 hour roundtrip adventure that you needed to be mentally prepared for, and if you didn't arrive a few minutes before the store opened at 9 am on Sunday morning, the parking lot would be so full it would give you a headache trying to navigate. So our visits became less and less frequent, and eventually, we stopped going all together.

After we moved in May, we realized our neighborhood Costco was in closer proximity, and since we needed swiffers, decided to venture in once more. I came out with a giant bag of ancient grains (a mix of quinoa, millet, and amaranth) and have since been making a version of Zoe Nathan's quinoa pancakes almost every weekend since.

Zoe Nathan is the baker behind Huckleberry, one of the best bakeries in Los Angeles. Seriously. The long lines speak for themselves. And don't even start with the pastries. Thankfully, a Huckleberry cookbook just came out, and I can't wait to dig in. 

Recipe adapted from the version published on The Chalkboard.

3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup oat flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon wheat germ
2 teaspoons chia seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups milk or buttermilk
2 eggs
4 tablespoons melted butter, plus more for cooking and serving
1 cup cooked quinoa (or a mix of quinoa, millet and amaranth)

Stir the whole wheat flour, oat flour, cornmeal, sugar, wheat germ, chia seeds, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Pour the buttermilk into a large glass measuring cup, then crack in the eggs and whisk; slowly add to the dry ingredients. Whisk in the melted butter and cooked quinoa. 

Melt a pat of butter or coconut oil on a skillet over medium heat. Drop 1/4 cup batter into the pan. Flip pancakes once bubbles appear on the surface and the bottom is golden; flip and cook for 1 minute more.

Serve immediately with additional butter and maple syrup.

Baby Shower for Melissa + Almond-Chia Seed Waffles


Melissa is having a baby this month, and when Erin emailed asking if I wanted to participate in a virtual baby shower, I didn't have to think twice. You see, the amazing thing about our community is if we all by some great miracle were fortunate enough to live in the same place, I'm certain we would be spending quality time together as often as possible.

Our virtual friendships are bonded by a love for food, and the unique perspectives we each bring to the table. It would be better if we could spend that time together, but maybe that's also what makes this space unique. What does it say when we'll go to bat for each other, or participate in birthday celebrations or baby showers, or stand up for something, sight unseen? Perhaps that's the mark of an even stronger friendship, because we only know the truth on the screen, and that's enough for us. We may not have grown up together or navigated junior high together, but we know these people mean something to us, regardless of what led us to meet.  

Waffle Collage.jpg.jpg

Melissa is definitely one of those people. She's incredibly talented in the kitchen and with her graphic design business. She appreciates a gray Sunday morning, doesn't have it all figured out yet, and stands by her man when his career asks her to move across state lines (again and again). I know all of this because of her blog, not because of a lifelong friendship we've forged. I also know how excited she is to bring her baby into the world, and that after a stressful move, she's feeling settled down and has a place to call home. If I lived in Connecticut, I'd make cupcakes with little flags on them and bring them to the party, but from the view in California, waffles are the next best thing. 


Erin also asked us to share a kitchen tip--one of Melissa's favorite things--and as I thought about one to include, something a little less tangible came to mind. When I stood in the kitchen, pulling out ingredients to pour into my bowl, without much hesitation I swapped vanilla extract for almond, milk for buttermilk, and coconut oil for butter. I used my intuition, and trusted all I've learned over the last 10 years in the kitchen.

Cooking never stops teaching us things, but after a while, if you do it often enough, its lessons will seep into your soul and you'll forge a trusting bond with the ingredients and the tools, and you'll be able to improvise and create on your own in a way you never could have imagined  when you first started cooking. So my tip is simple: trust your gut. (And eat waffles.) (And wish Melissa well on this new adventure!)

from To a Little Invisible Being Who is Expected to Soon Become Visible

by Anna Barbauld

Germ of new life, whose powers expanding slow
For many a moon their full perfection wait,—
Haste, precious pledge of happy love, to go
Auspicious borne through life's mysterious gate.


Almond-Chia Seed Waffles

Adapted from The Faux Martha

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup coconut oil
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
2 tablespoons chia seeds
Butter and maple syrup, for serving

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk the coconut oil, buttermilk, egg, and almond extract. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, and whisk until no traces of flour are left. Stir in the chia seeds

Preheat your waffle iron to your favorite setting, and cook according to your machine's instructions. Serve with butter and maple syrup.

Makes 6-8 waffles

"Last Bite" by Kyle Potvin + Dark Chocolate Bark

Seasons have a way of getting under our skin.

For T.S. Eliot, it's the "cruellest month." For Robert Frost, "mud season." For Edna St. Vincent Millay, this month "comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers."

The dirt, the flowers, the heat, the ice. Any distinctions that befall the month we're enduring swirl in our consciousness like wind slapping the windows, begging to be let in. Over the years, seasons signify milestones and inspire us to burrow, clean, buy notebooks, travel, and cook the food that grows best in February or May or October, and I find there's something both comforting and unnerving about the consistency of these cravings year after year.