Waterfall Dress

Eric and I were away in the mountains this past weekend, and I was hoping we might have time for a quick shoot before dinner, but we were pretty beat from hiking, so it seemed like a cup of tea and a book on the balcony was the right idea. This look is similar to the one I wore to dinner there. My sweet mom gave me this brand new dress last time I was home (thank you!), and I *love* it. It is so simple and elegant, and also incredibly comfortable. I love how the neckline flows, like a waterfall.

Styling this dress was a bit of a challenge for me, since it’s such a departure from my typical color palette. I tried a lot of different combinations, but, perhaps not surprisingly, my usual jewelry (bright and plastic!) did not quite look right. Instead I went in a different direction: gold and minimal.

To say that this is an unusual path for me is an understatement, but I really love these pieces. This necklace is called my baby necklace because I wore it, you guessed it, when I was a baby. I brought it back with me a few trips ago, and it was the perfect length for this neckline.

The earrings were also a gift from my mom, and I love how the little hexagons spin!

Since I can never be parted from bright colors, I added this little red bangle. And my nails offer a little splash of color too!

The real centerpiece of the look, though, is the waterfall neckline. So pretty!

Hope you all had a great weekend! Can’t wait to share more about our weekend getaway later this week!

Update on Reading Cookbooks

I think I really struck the right balance in making goals for this year, for once in my life. I let them come to me one by one, and there were only four of them. Not too many, not too few, not too overwhelming. I think I will write a post sometime in June (the halfway point) with an update on how they are going, but here is the scorecard so far: on two of them, I am doing awesome. On one I am doing fairly well, and on that last one…not so well, but it’s not for lack of desire. I hope I’ll have some time to devote to it while I have a little break break from work (and, as one of my college classmates said when our professor asked us if we were all caught up on our War and Peace reading, “Hope springs eternal.”) In any case, reading my cookbooks is one of the two that are highly ranking in follow-through awesomeness. Since all four of them were designed to increase the quantity of fun in my life, I call that winner.

I have finished two more since my last update, and I’m eager to share them with you. My sweet BFF gave us Melissa Clark‘s In the Kitchen with A Good Appetite for our wedding, and I have fallen in love with the recipes already. I so enjoyed and savored reading through the book as a whole, especially since she offers a small narrative with each recipe. I loved hearing about her culinary childhood and watching the wonderful twists and turns of her life as they appeared in her cooking, since it’s in sharing a meal with the ones we love that our lives are really to be found, right? One of my favorite things about this cookbook is that Clark takes you through her thought process in the kitchen: how she adapts other recipes based on what she has in the fridge, how one dish can inspire something completely different, and all kinds of happy accidents that have turned into staples for her family. She really encourages her readers to improvise and to be creative, and I love that. Each recipe comes with a variation and a few more suggestions for experimentation, but the bottom line is that Clark is an avowed recipe tweaker, and she gives her readers the freedom to embrace the same philosophy. It’s really refreshing! Also, delicious.

The second cookbook is a recently acquired one, the Joy the Baker Cookbook. I was able to meet Joy back in February, on the day her cookbook was released, and she is so wonderfully kind and lovely. This is the kind of cookbook that has about 15 bookmarks in it at all times. Peanut butter cake? Yes, please! Avocado pound cake? Sounds good! White chocolate mousse? By all means! The photographs in this book are so gorgeous (there is one for every recipe) that they really make you want to drop everything and head for the kitchen. That is a sign of a good cookbook, I think. I have been using Joy’s recipes from her blog for quite a while now, and they absolutely never disappoint. I cannot wait to try all 15 of the recipes I bookmarked. And then 15 more. Someone in the audience at the book signing asked Joy what her next big goals were, now that the cookbook has been published. Without hesitating, she replied, “I want to write another one,” and everyone in the packed room smiled with excitement and anticipation.

A Day in the Life, In Photos

A lot of my favorite bloggers are doing this week in the life documentary project, which I think is really awesome. The whole idea is to be mindful of the moments as they occur, and to record things that you might think ordinary, but that you will treasure having as photographic memories in the future. I realize that in the past few months, as I’ve been busy with work, I haven’t taken as many photos as I used to, and I really want to start making that a habit again. I thought one day of pictures would be a good place to start, and it just so happens that today was kind of a special day, my first day off in months. I thought it was auspicious. And so, without further ado, here was my day. I had a quiet morning at home–I did not manage to sleep in, but I did at least experience the joy of not having to inhale my coffee on the way out the door. I got to see my Besfrinn and her sweet baby (almost one month old!) via Skype, and it was a fantastic way to start the day. After a few projects around the house (yes! the laundry has finally been put away!), I headed out to the grocery store, since we have not had any bread for the last three days. I haven’t had time to bake any in the past week, so we were feeling starchless. I found the grocery store wonderfully uncrowded in the middle of the day. On the way home, I snapped a picture of this building that I really like, which is completely covered by ivy. Even the window. It must be a pretty, if obscured view.

As I turned up our street, I was struck by how pretty the palm trees were against the backdrop of the mountains. I am so grateful that we have such a beautiful place to call home. This block of our street has always struck me as idyllic, and I’ve never taken a picture of it before. I am sure I will be glad to have it when we move away, and that’s kind of the whole idea of this project: take pictures of things you consider too ordinary to record; you’ll be surprised by how powerful they are, especially as time passes. I took this shot with my phone from the car (hoping that no one would pull up behind me), and that’s something I never would have done otherwise. It makes me happy to think that what this project is really about is seeing things, things you’ve seen so many times that you don’t really see them anymore. It’s the basic line of my most favorite Russian formalist theory, and I think the week in the life project would make good old Shklovsky smile.

In the afternoon I had just a quick minute to knit a row on this cable blanket that I’ve been making for ages. I am just going to knit it until I run out of yarn, and it’s really fun and relaxing. When I finally finish it, I am going to have to dream up another project like it because I will miss it so much.

Then my sweet friend Lisa came over bearing many gifts. She picked these Meyer lemons from the tree of another friend of ours, and the avocados were a gift to her from another friend. Can you believe the size of them?! I am so excited for all the guacamole they are going to make!

Lisa and I had a mission: lemon meringue pie. We had so much fun making it, and I hope I always remember how hard we laughed at ourselves trying to spread the pastry crusts in the pie plates and as we both peered over the side of the mixer, trying not to mess up the meringue. The pies we made were so delicious and rather…interesting looking. I am no meringue expert, but I had a fabulous time!

After Lisa headed home for dinner, I had a quick sandwich and opened the mail. My copyright notice for my dissertation arrived from the Library of Congress. Fancy!

After dinner I headed out with Lisa and her husband to meet Eric for a lecture at Caltech. The speaker is a colleague of Eric’s, and he never disappoints. It was a lovely evening spent pondering the stars and how we discover them, with plenty of hilarious jokes thrown in. The auditorium (the same one where we attended the red carpet premiere of the PhD movie) always makes me smile. It is so unusual and pretty in all its details. After the talk we headed home, where I am now writing this blog post (my weeknight routine), and soon I’ll curl up in bed with my riveting David Lodge novel. A really wonderful day. I’m grateful to have experienced it, grateful to have captured it. Thanks for coming along for the ride!

My Bridesmaids’ Luncheon

Bridesmaids' Luncheon, Wedding PlanningEric and I have been married for a little over 10 months now, and they have been the most fun 10 months of my life! Nothing is better than getting to spend time with your best friend every day, especially when he’s as charming and sweet and hilarious as mine. As we draw closer to our anniversary, I find myself thinking more and more about our wedding and the wonderful blustering flurry of happy activities that filled it. One of them was my bridesmaids’ luncheon, hosted by my awesome Besfrinn Emily. She has far too many gifts and talents to name, but one of them is that she is a very classy lady. This is the centerpiece of the table that she put together. I loved the pearls, and she cut the hydrangeas from the garden because she knows purple is my favorite color. So sweet.

Eric and I got married in Memphis in June, and it was HOT. Emily told me that the whole menu of the luncheon was cold food, and I was so excited to hear it! This dill gazpacho was so ridiculously delicious and refreshing that I definitely could have eaten several bowls of it. I blogged the recipe over the summer, but I don’t know if I can ever make it as  well as she did.

For the main course we had chilled asparagus and chicken breasts with black eyed pea salad. Everything was so delicious!

And then it was time for dessert. I was so touched that Emily and her mom had ordered these cake pops with little handmade signs showing our wedding date. The flip side showed the letter B, which is the first letter of my new last name. They were such a lovely light dessert, and I totally saved a few of the signs for our wedding scrapbook.

The bridesmaids’ luncheon was so wonderfully perfect in every way, not least because I got to spend it with a handful of awesome ladies I love so much. But I still kind of can’t believe my Besfrinn pulled this off while also being the greatest maid of honor ever (technically, she was my matron of honor, but there is nothing matronly about her at all, so I just opt for maid). I was in Memphis for a week without a car, and she ferried me all over town in outrageous heat, helping me through all the last-minute fittings and shopping trips and minor vendor fiascos (when I told her we were having trouble with one of them, she got this awesomely serious look in her eye and asked me if I wanted her to go down there and give them a talking to. I love her *so* much.) That may be why we both look so tired in this picture. I actually remember that I didn’t sleep much at all the night before, for no discernable reason, and that I was so exhausted by the end of the afternoon. So I curled up next to Besfrinn on the couch. That’s what Besfrinns are for. And I am so incredibly grateful for mine.

Chilled Minted Pea Soup

It’s kind of funny how my recipe blogging repertoire works. I’ve got a backlog of at least ten ready to post anytime, but since I usually only share one recipe per week, some of them just miss the seasonal boat. See you in October, pumpkin fondue! Catch you in December, walnut spice Christmas cookies! It is especially funny this week because I have made two green soups in the last little while. One is a hearty winter chard and herb stew, and the other is one of the greatest of summer delights: chilled minted pea soup. I made the pea soup on Thursday night to take for lunch on Friday, and, boy howdy, was I glad I did, because it was 93 degrees. This soup was so intensely refreshing that I seriously would have slurped it up with a straw, like a delicious savory milkshake (alas, no straw was to be found). Ever since then I was sure that recipe was the one I’d post this week. And then today it was rainy, gray, and cold, taking me right back to November–and tomorrow promises more of the same. I am going to post this recipe anyway, as an act of wishful thinking. Maybe it will send some more sunny weather our way.

This recipe is really simple, and you can easily tweak it for texture and consistency. I like that in a recipe: willingness to serve as a template! You start with a good handful of green onions. They are so perfect for this soup because they have a bright and springy flavor without being overpowering at all.

And then there is the mint. The seeds I planted at Easter haven’t sprouted yet, but hope springs eternal! In the meantime, thank you, grocery store.

If you have fresh peas and the time to shell them, they will be outstanding in this recipe. However, if you lack one or the other, frozen peas work well too.

After these three ingredients have softened, you simply add stock or water, boil, and simmer for 15-20 minutes. I am pretty sure I was writing another blog post during that time. Ha! Multitasking.

Then you’re ready for the blender. I definitely consider this the most fun part of the recipe because our blender is a beast. This is what the soup likes like before (and yes, that is my Peet’s coffee in the background…precious nectar!). You can see that there’s a fair bit of liquid at the top–if you’d like your soup thicker, simply reduce the stock.

And this is what it looks like after about 7 seconds in the blender. I told you, it’s a beast! (And now you can see that our Bota Box has joined the party in the background).

Now all that’s left to do is stir in the cream and chill it for several hours. I realize that it looks like a green monster, and I will admit that it sort of made me wonder about the kale smoothies people are raving about. If they taste this good, then I’m game.

Chilled Minted Pea Soup
Adapted from Epicurean.com 

Serves 6

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 to 5 scallions, white and green parts, finely chopped
4 cups shelled fresh peas or frozen peas (20 ounces)
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint leaves
6 cups chicken or vegetable stock (or water, if you prefer; reduce liquid if you prefer a thicker soup)
1/2 cup half-and-half (or cream, if you prefer a thicker soup)

-In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the scallions and cook, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes, until softened. Add the peas and mint leaves and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes, until softened and fragrant. Add the stock or water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper (I did not add any, and the soup definitely doesn’t demand it, but add it if you like). Let the soup cool to room temperature.
-Transfer the soup in batches to a blender and process until smooth. Return to pot.
-Stir in the half-and-half, cover, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours until chilled.
-Stir well before ladling into chilled bowls. Garnish with minced mint leaves, and sliced scallions. Or just slurp it up with a straw at lunch on a hot day. It will be just as delicious.

Polka Dots and Metallics

We have catapulted into summer here in Pasadena–on Friday it was 93 degrees, and I am told that in the summer it gets up to 120! I may eat nothing but chilled soup and mousse for months to come (more on that soon). This weekend, it mercifully cooled off just a bit, so we were able to take these pictures at high noon without melting or jumping kamikaze-like into the pool. I put together some of my favorite pieces and colors for a sunny Sunday afternoon outfit.

My sweet mom brought me this awesome purple polka dot top from Memphis. I love the chartreuse polka dots and the neckline. I paired it with my beloved red tennis skirt, a treasure from a thrift store many moons ago. There is nothing better for a hot day. Well, maybe a milkshake, but they can hardly be compared evenly!

Since I am a color-aholic, I put on my bright yellow beads for an accent. These also come from Memphis. I have them in several different colors, and I seriously wear them out!

The metallics are in my belt and my shoes. This tiny belt came with the suit that I bought for my PhD oral exam. I don’t know if I ever wore that suit again (well, maybe once), and now it doesn’t fit anymore, but I wear the belt all the time. A good investment, even if an unintended one! And there is also my big green chunky bangle: I can’t stop wearing it!

I got these shoes at my favorite thrift store in Pasadena, and I am so excited to have such unique flats! Shopping is, in a way, all about context, and I am so happy that thrifting brings items my way that I might never have noticed otherwise, but which I totally love.

And finally, this outfit would not be complete without the ultimate in color blocked purses! I love that it is so deliciously 80s.

It’s been a pretty quiet weekend around here, in anticipation of some busy ones to come. Next weekend Eric and I are heading to the mountains for a quick getaway, and then the weekend after that two dear friends of ours, who were in our wedding, are coming to stay with us. The next day we’ll be heading out to visit Eric’s family! I am so excited for all of these awesome things that it feels good to spend a weekend resting and planning for our travels. Hope you all had a fantastic weekend!

Update on My One Little Word for 2012: Four Months of Being Grateful

Way back in January, my one little word for 2012 came to me: grateful. I have been thinking a lot this week about posting an update about how it’s going. And friends, let me tell you, it is going great. There are all kinds of ways of making a place in your life for your one little word, and I love hearing about how others do it. I have to say that, so far, I am just letting it come to me. And I am so happy to say that I find myself musing about something I am grateful for pretty much every day. I do have an awful lot to be grateful for, it’s true, but I find that somehow gratitude creates more gratitude. Cultivating an attitude of thanks helps me notice things I might have missed otherwise, and counting my blessings makes me a profoundly happy person. A happy person who is all the more likely to be ever more grateful day after day. It’s so wonderful, and I’m so (here I go again!) grateful for it.

There is one person at the very top of my gratitude list, and it is my husband. I could never even have dreamed up a more wonderful best friend and partner. Every time that I get to come home to him after work, it feels like a magic prize. I just adore him and can’t believe I am lucky enough to call myself his wife. There are so many things about him that I am grateful for, way too many to list, but here is one small thing I just noticed tonight. Ever since the beginning of our relationship, Eric has always thanked me for the things I do for him and for us. He thanks me for every dinner, for every time I go with him to the store, for every evening I spend talking to him about our plans for the future. And I thank him too, for every time he does the laundry (which is…always!), for every time he drives us somewhere (since we both hate driving, this is a real sacrifice!), for every time he spends an entire evening helping me fix something on my blog (without him, this space would be so much more…non-functioning). I so appreciate this practice in our marriage, and what I just realized tonight is that it’s really not about just feeling appreciated for the things we do for each other. When Eric thanks me for planning meals with him or making bread dough or potting our plants, he isn’t just expressing gratitude, but he is letting me know that he understands that my act was an act of love. Whoa. I am so grateful that I realized that. It adds a richness and closeness to our everyday activities that makes my heart overflow with love. Have I mentioned how grateful I am for him?

I don’t talk very much about work here, but I am so incredibly grateful for my job. I’m grateful to have a job at all in these difficult days, but also I seriously love my job. It is such a welcome joy to feel happy and excited on my way to work, to savor all the different elements of my workday instead of dreading them. On top of that, I really adore the people I work with. I am so grateful for them, and grateful to be a part of their lives, and grateful to be contributing to our family and having an awesome time doing it. Even on the most tiring of days (and there are some!), I always tell Eric the highlights of my day over dinner with a huge smile on my face. That feels like such a gift to me.

You know what else I am grateful for? Reading material of all kinds. I cannot get over how wonderful our library is, and am still stunned that I can just go grab Sarah’s Key or Petropolis off the shelf. I am also grateful for all my many beloved periodicals. Call me old fashioned (and I accept this designation with pride!), but I really love the printed word, especially in newspapers and magazines. It makes me so happy to have so many things to read, so many that it’s difficult to choose. Last week I finished David Lodge‘s A Man of Parts, and, while I was skeptical at first, I loved it. David Lodge holds such a special place in my heart as an academic satirist that I was leery of reading him as literary-historical novelist. But it was such an enthralling novel. I knew almost nothing about H.G. Wells (on whom it’s focused), but now I want to know more. I also think I’ll finally read his novel on Henry James, who plays a dazzling role in A Man of Parts as Wells’ most gracious and distinguished frenemy. I can’t wait. Reading and libraries really take me back to my childhood, when I often felt so vividly that the world was infinitely, almost unbearably magical and that it was such an unbelievable gift to be able to learn about anything at all you might find yourself interested in. I am so happy and grateful that I still feel that way today.

And I am grateful for lots of little things, and even more grateful for noticing them. One day last week I sort of randomly threw on this shirt and sweater, and then, all day long, every time I looked down at my watch, I was intensely happy because I liked these two colors together so much. That, I think, is the best illustration of this little project I can offer. I love it. And, yes, I am really grateful for it.

Culver City

Eric and I spent a gloriously sunny Saturday in Culver City last week. We started by meeting a friend of Eric’s for brunch, and then we met my brother, who lives close by, for leisurely lollygagging. It was exactly the kind of Saturday I’d been dreaming of after a long week’s work.

Unbeknownst to me, Culver City is Movie Town. I mean, lots of LA’s neighborhoods are Movie Town, but this one is special. Gone with the Wind and The Wizard of Oz were filmed at the studios here, and the whole town pays historic tribute to the classic glamour of those days.

The centerpiece of the downtown area is the historic Culver Hotel. It’s gorgeous, and it’s where Dorothy Garland used to hang out after long days of filming at MGM (now Culver Studios).

I love the lights and the brick. Southern girls are always happy to see brick way out West.

Here is my hermano looking fly on the fire escape.

The city takes it Oz history seriously, and I kind of love that they have this huge lion in the central square. Very courageous-looking, no?

While it’s rich in cinematic history, Culver City is also still making it. I loved seeing all the old movie theaters, still open for business.

Pretty!

The city’s theater is still up and running too, with great plays in the lineup. I love the old Culver sign.

And, of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Sony Studios is also here, with its fancy gates, high walls, and, yes, even a water tower. My hermano, who is taking a class on California history, told me that they built these water towers because when the studios were started, there wasn’t enough fresh water being pumped into town. And we all thought it was just a Looney Tunes gag! The lot is very pristine, at least the part of it that you can see, and it is patrolled by security guards on bikes. Somehow this all just makes me think of Maybe Fünke, and that makes me laugh, so I don’t mind. This is what I could see through the fence. Spiffy. It’s all sort of slightly bizarre to me, the fact that I was standing here. I guess I do live in LA now, where studios are just part of the flora and fauna. I bet when I look back on these pictures 10 years from now, I’ll be dazzled in retrospect.

After an afternoon of walking through town and hitting up three (three!) thrift stores, we were pretty beat, and we stopped in at a Mexican restaurant for happy hour. I ordered tea, and I was so impressed by how beautiful it looked on the table. There were chips and salsa, and margaritas and quesadillas too, but I didn’t take pictures of them. Too busy eating! But this one picture is enough to remind me of how wonderful it was to have a relaxed afternoon meal and great conversation with two people I love so much. Saturday, thanks for being so good to me.

DIY Shirt Collar Necklace

I have this red shirt that I adore. I bought it years and years ago, and I have just about worn it out. It’s really not all that presentable anymore, which I regretfully admitted to myself last time I cleaned out my drawers, but I wasn’t yet willing to let it go.

My favorite thing about this shirt is its beautiful collar, with row after row of stiches on satin. Since I got my sewing machine, I rarely throw anything out anymore, but instead I try to think of a new life for things that are worn out. And, Eureka, it came to me: this shirt’s beautiful collar must live on. In necklace form!

The inspiration for this necklace also came in part from the cardboard inserts that came with our new coffee pot. They were perfectly shaped!

I started by cutting and trimming them a bit to make the form for the necklace. It’s not pretty, but it will be covered up.

Then I used the form as a template to trim the shirt collar.

I cut the collar and trimmed the cardboard to match the contour of the fabric.

I cut a another piece of fabric from the shirt to use as a backing, and then I was ready to sew! I placed the backing and collar facing each other and pinned them together. Then I sewed them together, leaving a small opening in which I could insert the cardboard.

The sewing only takes a few minutes, and then you’re ready to turn it right side out and insert the cardboard.

Once you have the cardboard in, you’re left with a small opening. I just put in a quick stitch by hand to close it.

This is what it looks like when it’s finished: a pretty red satin crescent moon. And voila, the necklace is halfway done!

Now all that’s left to do is add the bead strands. I chose to do a braid of three strands of seed beads, but, of course, whatever you like best is the right call. The technique is pretty simple. Bring the threads up through the back of the collar piece, add the beads, braid the strands, and take them through the front of the other side of the collar piece.

It is a little bit tricky keeping all three strands in place before braiding them, but I found that I could keep the beads on by putting a rubber band around the needle. I am sure there are lots of other things around the house that would serve the same purpose. Here is my small braid of strands.

I love how this necklace turned out, and I can’t wait to wear it! I also have a lot of that perfectly shaped cardboard left over, so I am thinking about finding new lives for some old silk tops as well. Fun!

Red Rice and Heirloom Beans with Kabocha Squash and Radishes

We all have nights when we have no idea what we can pull together for dinner. Nights when the fridge offers no inspiration and we should have gone to the store two days ago. As uncomfortable as that position might be, I have found that I kind of love it. Not every improv dinner is a hit, but some of my favorite dishes of all time have been born this way, through necessity. It is the mother of invention, after all.

One way in which I try to make things easier on myself is by keeping a pantry well stocked with dry goods. That way I know in a pinch that I can pull together some beans and grains, and it just becomes a question of which items will make up the supporting cast. The first time I made this dish, I remembered that I had half of a kabocha squash in the fridge, and thus was dinner saved. My love for the mighty kabocha cannot be underestimated. I just started eating it regularly this past year, and I find its flavor unparalleled–not too sweet, not too savory, just somewhere in a perfect middle ground. The color of its flesh is also absolutely gorgeous, and I marvel at it every time I cut one open.

So, the squash part of the equation was easy. I usually slice it into rounds and roast it until it’s tender.

This takes 25-30 minutes, during which time I can move on to the other ingredients.

Now for the beans. A sweet friend of ours sent us a huge box of Rancho Gordo beans for a wedding present (thank you, K!!), and I loved every single variety. Those beans are long gone now, but I am happy to find that I can get a lot of the same varieties at a specialty store here (though without the cute packaging and the allure of Napa-grown legumes!). I have used several different varieties in this recipe, but my favorite is called Tongue of Fire. The ones above are cranberry beans, which may be easier to find, but really, you can use any kind you like. I always cook mine in the pressure cooker, which takes 25-30 minutes, depending on the bean, but you can also soak them overnight for cooking in a pot on the stovetop. Or, of course, you can use canned, but they won’t hold their shape as well.

For the rice, I turned to my beloved Bhutanese red rice. This grain is seriously hearty and nutty and chock full of protein. I love its color and its history, and it adds a lot to this dish. Red rice cooks very similarly to other types of rice, simmered in a covered saucepan, and it doesn’t get mushy or gummy like some other types of rice can. I love it!

With the squash, rice, and beans cooking away, I turned to the base of the dish: onions and garlic, of course, with plenty of cumin and coriander, and my secret weapon: chipotle peppers. I adore their deep smokiness and spicy bite. They really transform a meal into something extraordinary!

Radishes were another key ingredient. We had a fresh bunch of them for salad, but alas, we had already eaten all of the lettuce. Instead of letting them languish in the fridge, I chopped them and tossed them in. Radishes taste remarkably different when cooked, and I love the tender bite that they bring to this dish.

Once everything was ready, I combined it all in my skillet and added a generous amount of lime and cilantro. Beautiful and delicious!

For a totally experimental dinner, I could not believe how well it turned out! This recipe has definitely gone into our rotation, and I love it more every time. Hope you enjoy it!

Red Rice and Heirloom Beans with Kabocha Squash and Radishes

3 Tbsp olive oil
1 c Bhutanese red rice
1 1/2 c dried heirloom beans (about 3 c cooked; roughly equivalent to 2 cans)
1 medium kabocha squash
1 yellow onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cumin seed
1 tsp coriander
2 Tbsp chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, diced (you can dial it back if you want to decrease the spiciness)
6 radishes, sliced
Juice of 1 lime
1 c chopped cilantro leaves and stems (reduce if you don’t like the flavor)
Salt to taste (I actually don’t add any, but you can if you like)
Sour cream or cotija cheese for topping (optional)
Pepitas or walnuts for topping (optional)

-Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Slice kabocha squash and save seeds for roasting, if you like. Roast squash slices on parchment paper for 25-30 minutes, until tender.
-Cook dried beans in a pressure cooker with 1 Tbsp olive oil and 6 c water for 25-30 minutes, or until tender. (If using a regular pot, soak overnight and then simmer for 1-2 hours, or until tender.)
-Bring 1 1/2 c water to a boil, and then add a pinch of salt and red rice. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. (1 c dried rice yields 3 c cooked rice).
-Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a large skillet. Add chopped onions and saute on medium heat for 5-7 minutes, until softened and browning. Add chopped garlic and dried spices; stir for 1 minute (you may need to add a splash of water to deglaze the pan at this point). Add chipotle peppers and stir for an additional minute. Finally, add the radishes and saute until tender.
-Add the roasted squash (cut into small pieces), cooked rice, and beans to the pan and stir well.
-Add lime juice and cilantro and stir well.
-Top with sour cream or cotija cheese and walnuts or pepitas for an extra crunch. Enjoy!

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