A favourite past time of mine is reading my favourite food blogs and flipping through our ever-expanding library of cookbooks. I love the glossy photos, learning the story of how a recipe came to be, just completely immersing myself in someone else’s kitchen. I love the insight into other people’s everyday lives, even the seemingly mundane details of what’s in their pantry. I imagine how perfect their lives are, how the light falls perfectly into their kitchens; how they just uncorked some spectacular vintage while an incredible meal is simmering away on the stove; and it’s all captured in an effortless yet perfectly styled Instagram photo.
At which point I proceed to curse the lack of light in our kitchen and living room, the continuous clutter despite the constant organizing and cleaning, and my inability to take a proper freaking picture (ie my major frustration with photographing this stew). Thankfully I have a partner who knows how to be encouraging, but is also able to calmly tell me to get a grip. I’m teaching myself new skills. Some days it feels like the stars align and it comes easily. Other days it’s a considerable struggle for me to style a photo, or string a sentence together out of the tangle of words in my mind.
Reading other blogs has done so much good for me: it encouraged me to start cooking for myself, it’s given me inspiration to figure out my own style, and has made me (slightly) less self-conscious about sharing something creative with the world. I just came across this post by Ashley of the Blissful Basil called ‘Things I’m Afraid to Tell You‘, based off of an episode of the same title from Jess Lively’s Podcast The Lively Show. She talks about her insecurities as a blogger, entrepreneurial projects, and her personal health. The point that resonated with me most was this:
“Comparison truly is the thief of joy, and sometimes I go a day or two without checking my social media accounts in an effort to avoid comparison and nip feelings of jealousy in the bud.”
The old ‘grass is greener’ adage still rings true: it’s so easy to look at these superficial snapshots into other people’s lives and be left feeling unfulfilled or jealous. Looking at other people’s work can be a good source of guidance when trying to improve my own work, but there is definitely a tipping point when that inspiration does more harm (ie negative self talk) than good. I’m taking Ashley’s advice to heart by being proud of what I have accomplished, the progress I’ve made, and appreciate what (and who) is around me.
chickpea walnut and pomegranate stew (vegetarian, vegan, gluten free)
inspired by this recipe
1 onion, diced small
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 teaspoon chili flakes
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seed
pinch ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon white miso
1/2 teaspoon tamarind paste
1/2 teaspoon tamari
1 cup vegetable stock
1 cup carrots, sliced
1 cup cooked chickpeas
handful of greens (chard, kale, spinach, whatever)
1/2 cup ground toasted walnuts
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
2/3 cup millet + 1 1/3 cups veg stock
2 tablespoons dried currants
1 teaspoon lemon zest
handful of fresh coriander and parsley, chopped
Heat a splash of oil in a small pot over medium low heat. Add the onion and stir occasionally for about 10 minutes or until softened slightly. Add the garlic and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the spices and stir to coat the onions, allowing to toast for about a minute. Add the miso and tamarind, followed by the stock, carrots, and chickpeas. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook uncovered for about 10-12 minutes, until the carrots are mostly cooked but still have some bite.
While the stew is simmering add a splash of oil to another small pot over low heat. Add the millet and stir occasionally until you smell it getting toasty. Add the stock, currants, and a pinch of salt, bring to a boil then reduce to low heat and cover. It should take about 13-15 minutes to cook. Remove from the heat and leave covered. After 5 minutes, fluff it with a fork and stir through the lemon zest and chopped herbs.
Once the carrots are just shy of being finished, add the greens, walnuts, and pomegranate molasses. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 5-6 minutes until the greens are wilted and the stew has thickened slightly. Season with additional salt as needed, then remove from heat and serve with the millet.
This stew would be perfect with pomegranate seeds on top or stirred into the millet, I just couldn’t find any when I was at the grocery store.