I am very excited to have Kelsey Brown from the wonderful blog Happyolks guest posting here at Healthy Green Kitchen today.
I was first introduced to Happyolks when I tested this granola recipe for editor’s pick over at food52. The granola was great, yes, but it was the words in the headnote of that recipe that really made an impression on me. I started reading the blog soon after, and was immediately hooked.
I believe it is rare to find a food blog with not just stunning photos and tasty recipes, but carefully crafted, meaningful writing, as well. Happyolks excels in all of these areas. The blog is a joint effort- Kelsey shares the photographic and editing duties with her partner Shaun- and I especially love that they don’t shy away from tough topics. Please read their recent post about Famine, Food, and Justice to see what I mean.
Born and raised in Northern California, Kelsey now studies International Relations (and the art of balance) at the University of San Diego. She started Happyolks in the spring of ’10, after she broke three eggs into a bowl while making carrot cake and one egg broke into a crescent smile. The ad hoc happy face lit the spark, and she’s been writing and sharing recipes ever since.
Happyolks is Kelsey’s space to share new ideas and new ways to look at the world. She believes that gratitude, nourishment, connection with others, and awareness will ultimately lead to greater happiness, and I could not agree more. Take it away Kelsey!
The kitchen is my sanctuary. I go to think. I go to laugh. I go to ask questions. I go to serve my own spirit, and to serve the hearts and tummies of those I love. My best ideas arrive while shelling beans, and deep revelations steep while stirring risotto. Next to the great outdoors (and maybe yoga), there isn’t a better place in my town to get centered and healthy.
I love Winnie’s blog title, Healthy Green Kitchen. It just feels right. I think it’s how most of us see our kitchens, or what we aspire to cultivate in the space. It’s both physical and emotional. We enter into our kitchen and despite our faded linoleum or hand-me-down dishes, the tools and our surroundings are serving the planet and serving our health.
I’ve moved around a bit in my early adulthood, and I’m sure you can relate. I’ve had no kitchen, a shared kitchen, a partial kitchen, a big kitchen, a kitchen with light, a kitchen with no light, a kitchen with a dishwasher, and many without. They’ve each been a stepping stone leading me to where I am today.
What makes this kitchen healthy and green? I thought about this question while putting dishes away the other day. In our tiny 100 square foot kitchen, there is a leaning orchid and a big jug of olive oil next to the stove. There is also a 12×18 crayon drawing above the sink from a young soul who died of leukemia five years ago: it’s a little stick figure, with a bursting red heart and a caption that reads “you win when you speak with your heart.” On the fridge we have a few magnets, ticket stubs, a Fleet Foxes concert poster, and various bumper stickers: one from Vermont says “we were green before green was cool,” and from Colorado: “love people, cook them tasty food.”
There is a also a framed picture of my parents from when they had just started dating. The photo is black and white, of course. My dad is looking at the camera with his same grin, huge glasses and thick beard. My mom has one hand around my dad’s back, the other rests on his shoulder and she looks to be deep in thought. To me, they look exactly the same today, just a little older; they wear their adventures in their eyes and hands.
These are some of the best parts of my green, healthy kitchen. The fridge and pantry are of course stocked with dried beans, healing spices and herbs, gluten free flours, unrefined sugars, and pounds of leafy green vegetables. But most importantly, I’m surrounded by healthy, happy energy and memories. My kitchen is filled with reminders from the people I love and this helps manifest the spirit of joy and gratefulness that I think are essential to a healthy life. Take away the photos, the mementos, and the color, and the heart would still be there. We bring it all with us into the kitchen everyday without even thinking about it. The good vibrations make for great meals, great conversation, and the invitation to keep returning.
Recipe for Tomato, Chickpea, and Bread Soup
Yield: Serves 6-8
Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi
*1 large onion, sliced
*1 large fennel bulb, finely sliced
*3-4 tablespoons olive oil
*3 carrots, chopped
*6 celery sticks, chopped
*two 28 oz. cans whole plum tomatoes
*2 cups cooked chickpeas
*1 tablespoons chopped or dried oregano
*2 handfuls chopped fresh parsley
*4 sprigs of thyme, leaves removed
*2 tablespoons honey
*6-8 cups vegetable stock
*2 (-ish) cups sourdough bread, cubed
*salt and pepper to taste
*Basil Pesto (1/2 cup lemon basil, 1/2 cup parsley, 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 cloves garlic)
1. In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, sauté fennel and onion in olive oil for five or so minutes. Add the carrot and celery, stirring and cooking for another 5-7 minutes until just barely browned.
2. Next add the tomatoes and their juices, the herbs, honey, and some salt and pepper. Cover with vegetable stock to the top of the pan. Bring to a boil and then cover and reduce heat to low, allowing the soup to simmer for about 30 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, cut up bread into cubes and toss in olive oil and a bit of garlic salt if you have it. Spread out onto a baking sheet with parchment paper and bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown. Now is a good time to prepare the pesto, if you have everything fresh - otherwise, store bought is okay. In a food processor combine parsley, basil, olive oil, and garlic, and pulse until completely reduced to a paste. I like lemon basil with this dish, but regular basil works great, too.
4. With about 5 minutes left on the soup simmer, toss in the cooked chickpeas and remove cover. Stir together and simmer for another 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat, and add bread cubes just before serving. Top each serving bowl with a dollop of pesto and a good sprinkle of salt and pepper.