Sunday, March 30, 2014


Lately I've been trying to focus on gratitude and honoring where I'm at in the current moment. Rather than feeling frustrated that everything I want isn't just magically coming to fruition right freaking now, I find its more constructive for my own personal health (emotional, mental) to just be present. For me, part of being present means to have gratitude for the things in my life that sustain me, inspire me, heal me, move me forward, etc.

In a city like New York, it's too easy to get impatient.  Everyone is busting their asses constantly (often just to scrape by), while we all hold these big dreams in our hearts, and want desperately to get there, like, NOW. But that kind of myopic entitlement is dangerous, as it fosters a self-absorption that obscures the larger forces at play. We can't afford to be so clueless, to lose empathy towards others and their own struggles, to lose that sense of self-awareness that helps us become more thoughtful people whose lives are full of different kinds of love.

We left Philly just over two years ago, and this time of year also marks two years from when we embarked on our two-and-a-half-month adventure through Europe. My partner and I have been in NYC for about a year and three months now.

Just in the past two months or so, I'm finally feeling like I'm getting more of what I want out of living in NYC. It's been a great experience the whole time we've been here, no doubt. It's opened up my world in every way, given me space to heal and let go to a lot of what I held onto for way too long, etc. However building a new life in a new city just takes time and work. (duh)

After nine years in Philly, nine years of being part of very close-knit communities, I've been hesitant to do the same in NYC. While community is vital in so many ways, it can also be stifling and paralyzing. I've been working on building friendships with people I feel genuine connection to and piecing together my own network of fellow fighters and lovers and creators.

This nice sense of comfort and NYC-savvy is finally settling in. I no longer feel like the clueless new kid (well not all the time anyway). I'm participating in awesome and inspiring events like queer art auctions and cabarets and the ballet and bar bingo and author events and brunch potlucks and all that. I'm surrounded by creativity and passion and people who are trying so fucking hard not to be too scared to make the art they truly want to make. I'm forming bonds with people that set my heart and my brain ablaze and challenge me and push me in the most crucial ways. 

I feel grateful for being in this time and place, and that the possibilities for what's next are wide open.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Anguilla/Ocean magic

When I was young, being near the ocean would make me think of infinity, oblivion. How everything is so temporary and fleeting yet never-ending and cyclical. 

When I look out into the sea, I can almost see the curves of the earth, and try in my very tiny-insignificant-human way to comprehend the meaning of existence. Or that this is no meaning but we continue on with our existence anyway. And that it's always complicated, a beautiful struggle.

Being here, somewhere I have never expected to be and very likely won't ever be again, brings up similar feelings. The main difference is I now have a few decades of life experience to feel less afraid, more accepting, and more appreciative of every moment of this experience.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Spaghetti con cavolfiore - a traditional Sicilian dish made vegan!

I love Sicilian food. I love food from other regions of Italy, don't get me wrong. But I love Sicilian food the most. It's in my blood, it's in my bones, it's sunk deep into my flesh like the tattoos that others can see, but realer and more profound.

Sicilian cooking is simpler and features ingredients bursting with bright warm sunshine, ingredients that are accessible to even the most rural people on the island. Sicilian cooking may be simple, but it is fuller in flavor and overlaps with Arab and Spanish and northern Italian cuisine. The use of raisins, saffron, pine nuts, seafood, etc. make it distinctive.

Sicilian cooking is the cooking of my childhood, my family, the comfort my Nonna brought me as a kid. She knew I was sensitive and always had my back, ready to scream someone's head off in Sicilian dialect if they were say, my Nonno giving me a hard time for not finishing my dinner or my mom giving me a hard time for all the other things.

The spaghetti and cauliflower dish I made the other night is not a dish my Nonna makes, but a dish my cousin (her nephew), who lives in Italy with our other family on that side, makes. He owns his own restaurant and cares about food and Sicliy and family more than anything else. I checked with him before Ketch and I made this dish to make sure we were going about it the best way.


1 pound gluten-free spaghetti or standard (gluten) bucatini
1 head of cauliflower (organic if possible)
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 small/medium onion, minced
2 big pinches saffron (15-20 threads?)
1 cup+ chopped fresh parsley (organic if possible)
golden raisins (organic if possible)
pine nuts
breadcrumbs (gluten free or standard)
fresh ground sea salt
fresh ground black pepper
extra virgin olive oil
pot of tomato sauce (homemade or jar - use something really nice and organic if it's from a jar)
  ** I'll follow up in the future with my homemade sauce recipe, I promise.

In one large pot, boil water, sea salt, 4-6 saffron threads, and 1 pound pasta. Follow cooking instructions (they differ for standard and gluten-free).

In another sauce pan, heat your (preferably homemade) tomato sauce on the lowest setting to keep warm but not boil or burn.

On the side, chop cauliflower very small OR grate with a grater to be even smaller. Set aside. Chop or mince fresh parsley and set aside as well.

In a cast iron skillet or sautéing pan, drizzle a swirl of high quality flavorful olive oil and start on simmering those chopped onions on low heat. Once translucent, add the minced garlic and stir (with a wooden spoon, nonna-style). After 3 or so minutes, add in the cauliflower and stir until evenly coated in olive oil.

Add in a cup or two of tomato sauce and saffron, allowing the cauliflower to soften in the sauce and the saffron to release it's flavors. (Alternately, sometimes I put the saffron in a small bowl of hot water, let it steep til a bright sunshine-y yellow, and then pour on the cauliflower before adding the tomato sauce).

Toss in the beautiful bright green parsley and golden raisins. The liquid will cause the raisins to plumpen and get extra juicy. It feels like they are leaking sweet sunshine into your mouth. Be sure to save a handful of parsley to throw on at the end! It makes everything look fancy and mega-delicious. Grind in the salt and pepper to taste.

Add more tomato sauce if needed. This isn't a sauce-heavy dish; it should be just enough to coat all the ingredients and keep them from being dry. It should not dominate the dish - think less sauce than spaghetti and meatballs.

While this is simmering, spread the pine nuts out on a half a baking sheet and the breadcrumbs on the other half. Toast at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes until toasty and slightly browned.

Once the cauliflower is soft and everything is all simmered together, toss with pasta. Add more sauce if desired. Scoop onto plates and sprinkle on toasty breadcrumbs and pine nuts, and top with the chopped parsley.

Ketch made us blood-orange and gin cocktails that were exceptional. We also had a spinach salad with roasted carrots, beets, and onions and a side dish of fresh fennel and parsley. All my favorite flavors in one place, with my little family in our sweet little NYC apartment. It was perhaps the best meal we've ever made, with every flavor complementing each other and making us ready for our next adventure abroad. Ketch has never been to Sicily, and I haven't been there in ten years. When we finally go, I'm pretty sure our brains with burst with joy.