There is a place where everything sparkles–the trees and the grass from the fireflies coming to life, the sky from the stars burning bright, the flame of the fire flickering outside in the pit. It’s a place that feels like home.
Last week we took a few days off to go south to the Shenandoah Valley. We went last year on a little journey south and wanted to go back to this very spot–a one room cabin on a hill. It reminds me so much of land I grew up on. The mountain views, the wild animals, the fireflies, the sprawling farms. My parents sold the house a few years ago, but I spent countless hours staring into the mountains, watching the sunset every night, the shadows crossing the southern sky from early morning when Venus passed its late night watch to the rising sun until the last rays of light turned to orange, pink, midnight blue then black again.
This spot in Virginia brought it all back to me so vividly. Imbued with the memories of growing up, but graced with a slightly different angle the place turned almost magical. And for a few days I put my phone down, never opened the computer, but just watched, listened to the calls of the birds, the rhythm of the sky. And I remembered what it was like to just be.
Breaking all of my routines reminded me of how caught up we get in them, even the ones that sustain us. Taking a time out shifts your perspective. It brought me very much back to my most natural self without the trappings of a busy city life.
The kitchen in the cabin was rustic and small, but in many ways more functional than my little crooked NYC kitchen. I made the most parsed down version of my Easy Black Bean Mole chili for dinner, though I forgot to bring my spices, which I usually travel with. All the house had was soy sauce and black pepper. Not the most traditional combo, but I made do with these and it wasn’t bad at all. I served it over quinoa and wild rice. For breakfast I made the most parsed down version of overnight oats. The owners of the cabin left us a loaf of pumpkin bread as well so between these basics, and a little creativity we ate well.
The warm weather is being shy these days, peeking out one searing day at a time then hiding itself behind the breeze. I’m okay with that. I learned from trying to light a fire after the rain outside the cabin that patience and persistence are more than just virtues. They can bring you a spirit-renewing roaring flame that lasts all night from damp logs.
EASIEST BLACK BEAN MOLE CHILI
- 1 onion chopped
- 2 can black beans
- 1 can chick peas
- 1 can whole roasted tomatoes
- 10 oz of spinach (one bag or one big bunch)
Spices: I didn’t have any here aside from pepper and soy sauce, but when I make this on the go I usually do.
- 1 1/2 tablespoons chipotle chili powder (adjust to taste)
- 1 tablespoon cumin powder
- 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
- 1-2 tsp crushed red chili pepper
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika (more for extra spice)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- salt and pepper to taste
In a large pot over medium heat toast all of the spices for 2 minutes or so. Add a little olive oil or vegetable broth if you have it on hand and the onion and let cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the contents of all of the cans (squeezing the whole tomatoes to release their juices) and let simmer for a few minutes. Lower the heat and let simmer for about 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the spinach and let wilt. Serve over quinoa and/or brown rice. Add pickled onions, cashew cream, avocados and cilantro.
EASIEST OVERNIGHT OATS
- 2 cups overnight oats
- 2 cups almond milk (more if you prefer more porridge type oats)
In a large jar, cup or bowl, pour almond milk over oats. Cover and refrigerate overnight.