if this be a home, how would you keep it? {kale and coconut quinoa salad}

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We do survive every moment, after all, except the last one.― John Updike

If this be a house, how would you keep it? Would you festoon the walls with faded old pictures that give the appearance of a life lived, or would you whitewash all the windows shut because lying was never really your strong suit? Inevitably, photographs pale down to sepia and sometimes you find yourself pointing to people and wondering how you know them. Do they still think of you, or never at all? Sometimes this keeps you up at night. Lately, you’ve been having trouble sleeping. When you were young your bed faced a fire escape, and you stayed up all night listening to the squirrels ravage through the trees. This was a time when there was always a late movie playing on the television and staying awake felt dangerous, so you slept on top of the sheets not wanting to disturb them, with one foot draped over the bed. Ready to run. One night you woke to all the lights on, windows and doors open, and there was a note on your bed: we liked watching your daughter sleep.

Now you don’t notice when you check all the windows and lock all the doors before you climb into bed. It just feels natural this way. Even now.

If this be a house, would you tend to it, rake it and hoe it, or would you let it go wild? Wake to find weeds tangled in your hair? One night you come home, two bottles in, and you fall into bed. Chinese arias lull you to slumber. Come morning you open your mouth to find wildflowers blooming, sprouting up through the floorboards that are your teeth. The waves aren’t receding. And then loneliness comes knocking like an old friend whispering, did you miss me? Children used to anger you because they were lucky. They got to be children while you were an adult saving everyone out of the womb.

People used to tell you that you were a forest. To which you’d reply, how is that even possible? I’m drowning.

If this be a house, would you crowd the rooms with people, having them sit on your couch and handle all your things, or would you barricade yourself in because your heart was a landmine — it could blow at any minute. Six years of safe was driving you mad. Six years of excising old friends out of photographs put your heart on pause, and you worry that at some point all the safe will slow the beat to a full stop. Six years of living the plan was making you come undone. {You know our couch? Our beautiful couch? Totally toxic.} At a market in Provence, you wound up a gramophone and the music blared bold and strong, and you leaned in, all the way in, because you wanted to rewind the tape and do it all over. Because this — all of this — wasn’t the harvest you had intended.

If this be a home, would it be everything you ever needed? Last night an old friend {from way back when we…} and you talked about the paralysis of want and personal velocity. She lives in a home surrounded by banana trees because she couldn’t make it work with all the noise, all the senseless want. And you no longer want to be safe. All this time you thought a home was a place and that place was New York, but you’re suffocating in all the memory. The smallness of things. The people you love who have emigrated elsewhere. The mother who wants to steal all the coins out of your wallet if she could. The people who are supposedly your friends but you never see them because people practice busy lives like witchcraft. All this feels very musical chairs and your head is spinning.

Your home will be the place where you bring your heart to harvest. Where you divorce yourself from want and consider need. When you slow down and realize that the words self-destructive and safe mean two very different things. Where you break ranks. Where you go off the grid. Where you tend to a garden {perhaps making this kale salad you see here?}. Where you fall madly, deeply, shamelessly, in love.

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INGREDIENTS: Adapted from Sprouted Kitchen, with considerable modifications
For the salad
1 cup rinsed quinoa
1 cup light coconut milk
1/3 cup chicken stock (or water)
1 large shallot
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 cup dried cherries and strawberries
4 cups Tuscan or flat kale
1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
For the dressing
2 tbsp orange juice (or lemon)
2 tsp fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried thyme
3 tbsp olive oil
Salt, pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS
In a small pot, combine the quinoa, coconut milk, water and a pinch of salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until the liquid is absorbed, this will take about 10-12 minutes. Empty quinoa into a bowl and allow to cool.

Slice the shallot width wise into thin coins. Heat up the oil in a 8-10” saute pan (you don’t have many to crisp up). * If you don’t have coconut oil on hand, grapeseed oil will work as an alternative, it’s just not that great for you. Once it’s just shimmering, add in the slice shallots. Stand by them, as they’ll burn quickly. They will dance around a bit, and once you see the edges turn golden flip them over or move them around. Set up a double layer of paper towels, remove the shallots just as they turn brown and drain on the paper towels.

In a small bowl, mix the orange juice, thyme, olive oil and generous pinches of salt and pepper.

You want to make sure the quinoa is room temperature before you toss, or it will wilt the kale, and that would be criminal. In a salad bowl, toss the kale, half of the cooked quinoa, half of the dried fruit and half of the pumpkin seeds with desired amount of dressing. Your choice as to what ratio you want, you can save the rest of the quinoa for later, or toss it in, again, the ratios are up to you. Garnish the top with the rest of the fruit, pumpkin and all of your crispy shallots. Add pepper and salt to taste and enjoy!

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