sweet, savory and looking back in blue December 22, 2011

Five years ago, I was bracing myself for the first holidays without mom by giving myself a break and visiting a friend in NYC for a week. It had been a whirlwind that fall and I was breathless – taking care of her affairs, navigating family matters, treading lightly in my own mind. Getting away was what I needed. To have my feet off the ground. To feel funny and vivacious. To be myself. We ate ourselves silly. Had too many cocktails at Brooklyn Social. Walked a lot. Talked a lot. New York around the holidays is a magical place and it was the remedy for my heaviness. I felt light for the first time in months.

Five years later, it’s been another whirlwind year for a lot of reasons. A new home, nesting, a new pup – those things in an of itself are a lot. They’ve been a huge part of my life but the over-riding theme these 12 months as been work. It’s a blessing.  I’m so lucky to get to do something that I love – I know I say that a lot. Even when its tough, it’s wonderful. The problem is my own. I feel like I’ve missed out on something this year. It’s a loss of sorts. That something is me. I look back on this year and the glass is 9/10ths full – amazing travel, once in a lifetime experiences, working with wonderful people, being more inspired more often than not.

I look around at a house that’s almost furnished, a blossoming career, our little family that I feel like I might work too hard at because I’m afraid I’m not good at it and there’s something I don’t see. I don’t see myself these days. It’s like those bottles of sand you make as arts-n-crafts projects – all the colored layers. Each year is a layer being poured on top of another one. It’s damn pretty…but it’s missing something. I’m the skinny white layer (or not so skinny these days) between rose-colored and blue. I wouldn’t take away from any of it. I just want to add to it.

I want to feel light again.

Transparency is hard here for me these days. The blog is more visible and I’ve become less so. Not so many photos of myself. Shying away from attention. Shying away from situations where I don’t feel comfortable because, well, I feel I’ve let myself go. Let myself down. It’s hard to admit that you’ve lost yourself a bit. Maybe it’s a reflection on you as a person – what do you mean I can’t do it all by myself!? I have everything I want except my feeling of self – time to do the things I want to do, the motivation to do them, pride in who I am and what my body and mind are capable of. I don’t normally do the resolution thing but 2012 is my year to enrich myself. Stop making excuses. Make the time for myself. Be okay if other things aren’t perfect. Skip the low-hanging fruit and strive for things that have been my dream for years. Prioritize. Bypass the small shit and nudge out the drama. The other stuff will sort itself out.

I want to write a cookbook. Travel to Vietnam – and travel more in general. Run another half marathon. It’s been too long since I’ve felt like my feet were off the ground. The lightness of being.

Two recipes from holidays spent away from home have been rattling around in my head for weeks – maybe it’s nostalgia rearing its head.  Two years ago, Mike and I went to Charleston for Thanksgiving. When I think of spending time with Helene, I think of the kale salad recipe we deduced from the Earth Fare display case. I’ve been making a variation of that salad ever since then – we had to figure out the recipe because we were easily eating $20 a day worth of this salad. This is yet another kale salad on a food blog but trust me…it’s one of my favorite versions ever. A little balsamic, a teensy bit of mustard, the salt from the goat cheese and the colorful pop of the pomegranate. If there’s ever been a salad that looks like the holidays, it’s this one.

On that trip to New York, on the last night of my trip, nervously awaiting returning to God knows what here in Atlanta…my dearest friend Michael and I went to Frankie’s 457 and had just the most amazing meal. No less than five years later, I remember the shaved fennel salad and this dessert. The most luscious, wine poached prunes served on a slather of Mascarpone cheese. It was heavenly, comforting, decadent and simple all at the same time – a warm water bottle resting on my neck. Recreating it at home, the smells of the poaching liquid filled the house and was so cozy and relaxing. It’s the easiest dessert in the world. Trust me, your guests are going think you’re nuts for serving them prunes but placed upon a nest of soft Mascarpone with a drizzle of the warm poaching syrup, they’ll get it immediately.

Raw Kale Salad with Balsamic & Pomegranate – serves 6

  • 1 large bunch (about 1 pound)  kale – tender leaves cut away from the stems & the tough stems discarded
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp. good quality balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp.  extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • airils from 1/2 pomegranate, cleaned and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup grated firm goat’s milk cheese – I used Cypress Grove’s Midnight Moon

– In a small mixing bowl, combine the Dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar and evoo. Salt and pepper to taste and pour over the raw kale, which should be in a large mixing bowl so you can get your hands in there. Massage the dressing into the kale for 1-2 minutes until it starts to wilt. Add in the toasted pine nuts, pomegranate seeds and mix again to combine. Grate the 1/4 cup goat cheese into the bowl and toss again quickly to combine. Serve immediately.

Zinfandel Poached Prunes with Mascarpone – recipe adapted from a dish at Frankie’s Spuntino – serves 6-8

  • 1 pound pitted prunes (about 40)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 3 cups good quality Zinfandel – the rest of the bottle should be poured in glasses & enjoyed while cooking
  • 1 tbsp. St. Germain liquor – it adds a slight floral component to the dish thats a nice balance to the spice
  • 2 8-ounce containers Mascarpone

– Combine sugar, cinnamon and wine in a pot over medium-high heat. When mixture boils, reduce to simmer, drizzle in St. Germain and add the prunes. Cook 45 minutes, until liquid has turned to syrup. Remove from heat, and rest at least 15 minutes. Dollop some Mascarpone on each plate – it helps to catch the liquid if you make a well with the cheese –  and top with 4-6 prunes. Drizzle with some of the warm remaining. Serve immediately. The poaches prunes can also be made ahead of time and the syrupy liquid reheated.


Mallory Dec 22, 2011 05:12 pm

I know there are a lot of raw kale salads out there lately but this is definitely one of the best I have seen. I love the pomegranate seeds in there. Just stumbled across your blog and I’m glad I did. Thanks for the great post!

merry jennifer Dec 22, 2011 06:12 pm

Here’s to a beautiful 2012 – one in which you feel you’re more in touch with the beautiful you that you are. And I’m just so glad that I get to spend some time with you early on in the new year.

Kiran @ KiranTarun.com Dec 22, 2011 07:12 pm

Mmmm.. I love raw salads and this is definitely a drool-worthy one :)

Merry Christmas and a very Happy 2012!!!

Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar Dec 22, 2011 11:12 pm

This salad is beautiful! Lovely recipe!

Sneh | Cook Republic Dec 23, 2011 01:12 am

What a beautiful heartfelt post. You hit the nail on the head when you said, the more the blog becomes visible, the less you are seen. And that feeling of wanting to feel light again. I am blessed with two little boys and as they grow and as our lives become richer with their experiences , it adds on. It feels like we are forever trying to do more, to be more and suddenly time is an elusive novelty.

Wish you and yours a Merry Christmas and I hope the new year brings you that lightness of being, that you travel to Vietnam and write a cookbook :-)

Lynn Dec 23, 2011 05:12 am

I think you will get there, Tami. I’ve enjoyed getting to know you through your blog and I wish you peace and happiness in 2012.

Lori @ RecipeGirl Dec 23, 2011 09:12 am

I totally resonate with all that you are saying. I need to get back to me too. Let’s motivate each other to run another 1/2 marathon!!

I’m in love with kale salad (I’m sure I’ve been here before on your kale salad posts and said the same thing). I actually had my first while in Atlanta for BlogHer Food (Terrace Restaurant, I think?) Love the stuff. My cookbook will have a lovely raw kale salad recipe in it. I can’t resist. And yours… looks like a fab holiday salad!

Snippets of Thyme Dec 23, 2011 11:12 am

What a wonderful article you have written. I am so sorry for the loss of your mother. I too have spent many holidays without both my parents. I’ve tried hard to form my own traditions and create my own “family holiday” memories but I understand how hard it is.

Lee Dec 23, 2011 11:12 am

This is a nicely written post. I hope that you find you in 2012!

Helene @ Homebound Dec 23, 2011 12:12 pm

i found your blog a tiny little while ago but i feel i have to comment on this post in particular. i totally understand what you are writing. i went through a similar phase this year, were i quit my job and am now self-employed {scary sometimes}. but i do feel better with this decision, even though i’m still ‘lost’ most of the time. a friend of mine suggested that i write a list of the things i like, the things that make me ‘me’ . i started this list some days ago finding things i thought i’ve lost… merry christmas & wishing you strength, inner peace and that you find ‘you’ in 2012.

Brian Dec 23, 2011 02:12 pm

It sounds like you’ve had a really special year. And I can’t think of a better way to finish it off than wIth these two dishes.

Adrienne Dec 23, 2011 08:12 pm

Tami, I just found your blog and am glad I did. I wish you the best in 2012!

I love everything kale and this salad looks like a winner. And I’ve been wanting to make a warm prune dish and this sounds perfect.

Katie Dec 23, 2011 08:12 pm

Really lovely and thoughtful post. It can be hard to find time even just to reflect on what’s missing from your life, let alone fixing it. Good luck in getting back to yourself this year! Lastly, that salad looks like exactly what I’ll need after the upcoming weekend of eating… thanks for sharing.

jimmy Dec 24, 2011 09:12 am

Nice post Tami. And best of luck with the half marathon goal! I love the Atlanta one in march, and it’s nice to run in cool weather.

Niki Dec 25, 2011 10:12 am

Merry Christmas! I just had to take a moment out of our holiday to let you know I made this salad for dinner last night (but I subbed finely shredded napa cabbage and colorful rainbow chard for the kale). It might be my new favorite winter salad – so beautiful. I’m making it again today to take to dinner at my in-laws’ house. Thanks so much for sharing yourself and your wonderful recipes with us here. It’s a gift.

Purabi Naha Dec 27, 2011 09:12 am

Yummy!! The prunes are definitely healthy in any form!! Thanks for the amazing recipe!

Magic of Spice Dec 28, 2011 07:12 pm

Both of these recipes are delightful!
Wishing you an amazing New Year filled with more ease and re-connection for you!

Maria Dec 29, 2011 12:12 pm

Your photos are always gorgeous! Happy New Year!

Cookie and Kate Dec 29, 2011 08:12 pm

Beautiful post. I felt like I lost myself last year and this year has been all about cultivating my friendships and interests. Next year it’s time to get serious about my career. Also, I’m crazy for kale salads and can’t wait to try one with pomegranate!

[…] sweet, savory and looking back in blue […]

Rachel Dec 31, 2011 01:12 pm

I hear you. 2012 may be only one number different than 2011 but I’m hoping I find a better me in that difference. The zinfandel-poached prunes look beautiful.

Amy Dec 31, 2011 02:12 pm

Thank you for voicing what has been swirling in my mind as well. I can’t say that I have anything to complain about, just kind of feel like I’ve been swept away in it all, ya know?

Can’t wait to see what the new year brings to you! xoxoxo

Kelly @ Free spirit Food Jan 1, 2012 11:01 am

You are such a beautiful writer!

marla Jan 1, 2012 11:01 pm

Happy new year Tami. Hope you can chase down some of those dreams…they do sound like fun. Thanks for figuring out the kale salad for us. Sounds amazing!

Bob H Jan 2, 2012 08:01 am

I doubled the Kale salad for a NYE dinner party and it was a monster hit!

Beth C Jan 8, 2012 12:01 pm

Tami thank you so much for your wonderful inspiration and recipes! I love reading your blog and have re-created many of your recipes. I was a vegetarian in college and drifted away from it once graduation hit but, my resolution this year is to yet again go back to vegetarianism. So thank you for inspiring me to play with food again!

Hogger & Co. Jan 11, 2012 11:01 am

Kale is one of those things that my Mom loves and has gotten me to try and it’s so good.

[…] hadn’t bought prunes in years, but over the holidays, Tami posted this recipe for Zinfandel Poached Prunes.  Simply spooned over a dollop of rich mascarpone cheese, it exuded elegance.  This is how you […]

Joanne (Inspired Taste) Feb 7, 2012 07:02 pm

Beautiful. I usually eat kale when cooked, but this looks so wonderful, I really want to try it raw and as a salad. Thanks for the inspiration.

12 Kale Recipes Feb 7, 2012 09:02 pm

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Shelly Mar 6, 2012 11:03 pm

Going to make both! thank you

maricar May 4, 2012 11:05 am

just discovered your blog today. i empathized with what you wrote here. hope you found what you are looking for

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Jane K Dye, RN, CHHC Jan 29, 2014 05:01 pm

In my home, this salad has become one of our all time favorites. I would like to post it to my professional website as well.

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