green apple + pistachio quinoa

Lately, I’ve been thick in the business of elimination. Yanking dresses off of racks, shoving cashmere sweaters into paper bags and making piles of unread books, I’m ridding myself of all that is unnecessary. It used to be that I would accumulate and hoard because it filled an emptiness that was seemingly bottomless. An emptiness that gnawed at me and ghosted my waking hours. My sleep wasn’t the one of children. So instead of pausing and acknowledging the fact that I’d built a life that focused on soulless material pursuits and lived in a home that served only as a storage bin for a mounting sadness, I acquired. I swiped, I charged, I entered my pin, and carted dozens of bags home. Watched the stockpile of pretty things from the confines of my bed. Once the ground gives way, there is only the tumble and the endless fall.

tumblr_mr50r7ga1t1s2948io1_250 Ever notice how excess gives you anxiety? Makes you feel boxed in, trapped? My home had devolved into a mausoleum, a tomb for a heart and a mind that was once awake. Someone who could live off less. When I was a child, my mother fried up a dizzying amount of chicken cutlets, pork chops and steak. Served towering mashed potatoes in enormous bowls. I remember thinking that there was just so much food for three people, and whenever I asked her about it, she shook a little, and it occurred to me then that she felt comforted by the act of having more, even if she didn’t need it. Even if the sight of it makes her sick.

This year I left a job, a life, that was making me sick. I boarded a plane that took me to another country where I lost my luggage, and, after several theatrical rage blackouts, I found a secret comfort in living off 2 pairs of pants, two shirts, underthings and a small bag of toiletries. It was only when my luggage found its way back to me that I experienced a sadness that I didn’t understand. Until now.

Last week, an old friend and business partner sent me a text that read: Are you sure you want to give away your Louboutins? A few hours earlier, I’d tossed large shopping bags of clothes and shoes in her trunk, determined to create some space in my home. In response, I laughed and told her to enjoy the shoes. I rationed that if my buying something caused me pain but somehow gave joy to someone else, then that purchase was worth it.

This isn’t just a routine seasonal cleaning, but a more mindful way that I want to live my life.


Call it serendipity, but I just finished Karen Wheeler’s honest and compulsively readable memoir, Tout Sweet, and there’s a scene in the book where she realizes that no one in rural France cares about the ubiquitous “it” bag or silver buckled shoes. As a result, Wheeler rids herself of the sartorial shackles of a former life, and it liberates her, allows her to make space for a whole new life hurtling in.

I don’t know where the days will take me, what the shape of my next act will look like, but I know that I have all that I want and need right in my home. A house that is now a home. A home where I can feast on yummy quinoa and read good books into the evening.

INGREDIENTS: Adapted from Fresh Happy Tasty: An Adventure in 100 Recipes
1 cup uncooked quinoa
1/2 cup pistachios
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 small green onion, thinly sliced
3/4 cup seeded diced cucumber
1 cup diced green apple
1/2 cup diced green bell pepper
1/4 cup diced celery
1/2 red serrano chile, seeded and thinly sliced
Juice of 1 lemon
Agave nectar
2 tablespoons plain yogurt
Maldon or other flaky salt

Prepare the quinoa according to the package directions. Put the drained quinoa back into the pot and stir it over low heat to remove some of the moisture.

In a small dry skillet, toast the pistachios over medium-low heat until evenly browned, 3 to 4 minutes, stirring often to keep them from burning. Crush the nuts lightly with a knife.

In a large bowl, combine the quinoa, pistachios, and the remaining ingredients. Toss and check for seasoning; add more lemon juice and salt if necessary.


15 thoughts on “green apple + pistachio quinoa

  1. I love your posts, but in this one I especially love the non-recipe related part of it, and I know how you feel, I am like what you were, maybe not to that extent, and I did it last spring, I cleaned out my apartment. Then my husband and I moved to a new house, and now it’s better, only because there is more room. Thank you for once again reminding me of what’s important! And I will definitely be trying the recipe too! Love quinoa!


  2. Love this. Timely for me right now as well as I start anew and have to say goodbye to so many things that I am holding onto. Looking at it from this perspective may be just what I need.


  3. Lady, I know what you mean. I took 5 bags of stuff to the shelter before I went to Hawaii. It was freeing and liberating at the same time. so grateful to let things go. This year has been all about the “Art of Appropriate Acquisitions.” No more buying because it’s on sale. I must love it for it to be in my home, on my person and in my life. Bravo!


  4. I am with you entirely on this one. After one too many tiring apartment moves, I started decluttering and getting rid of all that I didn’t need or love. I’m not sure I’d never felt so liberated and relieved as when boxes left, never to be faced again.


    1. Emily,

      I couldn’t agree with you more. I feel another purge coming, and I have to be emotionless and surgical, because I tend to hold onto things that I don’t love or need, simply because they evoke a memory.

      Warmly, f.


  5. I got home once from a short holiday in a sparse apartment and entering the door I thought “Who does all this stuff belong to??”. We are really only buying dreams with the stuff we think we need to have. Keep up being so honest and brave, it’s much needed in our world.
    And the recipe looks lovely.


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