Do you ever feel like the path you have chosen in life is like an amusement park ride? You know, one of those roller coasters with the endless loop-the-loops. Trapped on a track, flying far too fast, forward, backward, ’round and ’round, then upside-down and back again. One minute you’re screaming Yay! Weee! Hooray for me! and the next you’re hollering Please no! Let me goooo! Finally, the track begins to level out, you slow to a stop, the safety bar lifts and you find yourself suddenly released. No longer trapped, you are free to step off that loopy track and back onto solid ground. Dizzy and reeling (and slightly nauseous), you stumble awkwardly as you struggle to gain your footing, get yourself oriented and pointed in the right direction. And as you stand there all wobbly and woozy, you ponder your choices…do I hop back in line for another wild ride or simply enjoy where I’m at?
So, what do pears and pomegranates have to do with all that, you ask? Absolutely nothing. But there they sat, so lovely in the early morning glow, greeting me just so as I wandered into the kitchen and suddenly experienced an overwhelming sense of relief at that wonderful sensation of being released. Things have been a little crazy around here, lately. I mentioned before that my kitchen has been in complete disarray as we recently decided to upgrade our humble abode. Thinking this would be a fine time to sell our house and build ourselves a new one, we hopped in line for one of those wild rides on one of those loopy tracks. But come to find out, we are actually those crazy people who cry and scream, Heck no! let me go!, before the car even starts out on the track. We are the ones who make everybody wait for the ride operator to come and manually raise the bar and let us out of the car so everyone else can resume their wildly exciting ride. We didn’t get very far into the process before we decided that this is probably not a fine time to buy ourselves new home. We did, however, get as far as fixing up a few things in preparation to sell this current abode.
For the past few weeks I have been wandering through this house as though it already belonged to someone else. Depersonalized and staged for show, my home has not been my own these days. I have been moving through this space in a daze, feeling disoriented and disconnected. But, having made the decision and dealing with the disappointment of not going through with the plan, I woke up one Saturday morning with this comforting feeling of ease and relief. As I wandered into the kitchen, I paused to admire the new countertops and appliances, recently installed to draw the attention and gain the affection of some unknown stranger who would soon occupy my home. A small stream of early morning sunlight fell across some fruit sitting on the countertop and I had this sudden realization that my home is my own again. The counters are clear and the cupboards are clean. I have pears, pomegranates and brand-new granite. I think I will make something beautiful for breakfast.
When I got my organic CSA box at the beginning of the week, I received the ugliest pair of pomegranates you have ever seen. But those are secretly the best kind. Ripened to the point of cracking, they are incredibly sweet, dripping with juice and so full of flavor. There they sat, those ugly little ducklings, next to some very lovely looking pears, patiently awaiting a purpose.
With my home and my priorities out of order lately, I have not been enjoying my time in the kitchen at all. I have been missing my seasonal culinary adventures and with summer finally beginning to give way, I have been yearning for the lighter flavors of fall. I adore the flavor of maple, especially this time of year. And pumpkin seeds are a complementary pairing, especially roasted and lightly salted. Now, I haven’t had a working oven in my kitchen for I’m-too-embarassed-to-admit-how-long. That has nothing to do with buying and selling, but rather failing to call a repair man for literally, years on end. So the idea of roasting a whole pan of anything was utterly exciting, especially with a brand-new oven that suddenly belonged to me. These maple roasted pumpkin seeds turned out to be so yummy, a pan full didn’t last too long. They are so perfect for snacking, one handful leads to another and before you know it they’re gone.
- 1 cup raw, organic pumpkin seeds
- 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- and a dash or two of sea salt
- Place seeds, maple syrup and coconut oil in a bowl and stir to combine. Spread seeds out on a baking sheet. Bake at 425 degrees for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle lightly with sea salt. Set aside to cool.
I liked the idea of pairing the sweetness of maple syrup with tangy dijon, so I threw together a quick and tasty vinaigrette using just a few simple ingredients.
- 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
- salt and pepper to taste
- Whisk together all ingredients in a bowl until thoroughly combined. Adjust to your own taste.
While the pumpkin seeds were cooling, I sliced some of those oh-so-perfect pears and tossed them in freshly squeezed lemon juice to prevent them from turning brown. Finally, I tossed a little of everything in a bowl of freshly-washed organic arugula and thoroughly enjoyed a big salad for breakfast. You might think me a bit odd, for who eats salad for breakfast? But much like my home, my body has not felt like my own lately. I have long been lacking fresh veggies, greens and other such healthy things, not to mention my culinary connection with the earth and its seasonal bounty.
It is fleeting in these desert parts, but I do so love this time of year. When summer finally begins to acquiesce and step aside for fall. We tend to think of autumn abundance in terms of hearty veggies and warming spices, forgetting about the lighter side of fall. Pears and pomegranates and maple-roasted pumpkin seeds were just what I needed to reconnect and reset. It was a very satisfying experience to simply have the time and the space to enjoy one of those little things in life that I love: preparing a simple seasonal dish with which to nourish my body and feed my soul. Though the idea of building that lovely new home on the hill had its appeal for a while, I find myself quite content to stay where I’m at, in the familiarity of this humble, little abode.