Hello from Dallas, Texas! I’m blogging at you from the BBYO International Conference. Yes, that makes two blog posts from conferences so clearly, I clearly pay close attention to presentations and am not distracted at all when you invite me to a conference.

Anyway, It’s an honor to be here for so many reasons! First, I love teenagers! They’re inspiring and motivating and hilarious and loud and sometimes smelly but I love them anyway. Second, I got to speak on using social media and blogging as a means to build understanding for issues that I’m passionate about, like food justice and mindful living. But, most importantly, it’s an honor because on Shabbat, I get to speak in partnership with the one and only Amy Kritzer from What Jew Wanna Eat! After years and years of being Internet friends and even co-authoring a e-cookbook together, we finally got to meet in person! Amazing! We met at the airport upon arrival into Dallas and have only paused from each other’s side to sleep and do our presentations. I’m tellin’ ya folks, if loveliness exists in this world it is house within Amy.What an amazing individual! This lady is so amazing for tons of reasons but the thing I honestly love the most about her is her willingness to support other bloggers — competition be damned! She sees the success of other Jewish bloggers as a success of her community and gosh darn it, that is beautiful!

 

 

So aside from gushing about Amy, I’m here to write about one of my favorite subjects — PASTA! If you’ve met me you’ll know already that carbs and I are besties. If I could, I’d eat pasta every single night. Back in my younger years when I was living in Chicago, my favorite dinner for myself was a giant bowl of spaghetti, dripping in sauce with layers and layers of cheese on it (most specifically, American cheese but, whatever). Because I no longer have the metabolism of a 24 year-old, I don’t eat like that anymore. However, as a working parent in her late 30s with two young children, pasta certainly visits our dinner table at least once a week. In order to assuage some of my guilt of eating pasta, I like to mix in healthier, easy proteins and vegetables. Two of my favorites are frozen kale and canned beans. This is a dish I often throw together on those later evenings when I leave work later than normal and don’t have as much time to cook dinner. Feel free to omit the cream but I like the tanginess it brings to the dinner. And, if you’re like me and you are looking for little more nuttiness to your pasta, go ahead and top it with mounds of Parmesan cheese. Trust me, your taste buds will thank you.

 

My squad in Malibu.

 

Me and my soul-sista, Amy from What Jew Wanna Eat

One-Pot Creamy Kale + White Bean Pasta

1 box whole wheat spaghetti
5 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, smashed
1 cup frozen blue curly kale
1 can, Cannellini bean, rinsed
2 cans diced tomatoes with juice
3 tbsp tomato paste
1 cup heavy whipping cream or half and half
1 tbsp kosher salt + more for final dusting before serving
1/2 tbsp coarse ground pepper
1 tbsp dried basil
1/2 tbsp dried fennel seed

Using a large stock pot, cook pasta as indicated on the back of the package. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid. Set both pasta and cooking liquid (separately) aside.

Wipe down stop pot. Add olive oil to pot and place back on stove over a medium-high heat. Once smoking just a bit, add diced onions, garlic and kosher salt. Saute for roughly 3 minutes or until fragrant. Add pepper, basil and fennel seed to the onion and garlic mixture and saute for another minute. Next, add the diced tomatoes and tomato paste, mix and bring to a boil. Turn he down to low and let mixture simmer for about 5 – 7 minutes. Taste and add more salt if necessary depending on your flavor preference. After mixture has simmered for a bit, using a handheld immersion blender, blend tomato and onion mixture until semi-smooth (I like to leave mixture a bit chunky but this is my personal preference). Add in the whipping cream and stir until combined.

Next, add the beans, kale and about 3/4 of your cooked pasta back to the pot. Mix until almost combined. Add in about half of your reserved cooking liquid to help coat the pasta and allow for sauce to adhere to the pasta. Taste. Adjust seasoning to your liking. Serve hot!

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Team. I’m editing this post from The Rape Treatment Center of Santa Monica’s conference, The Roads to Respect. Headliner for this conference: The original bad b*tch, Jane Fonda. Goal of the conference: Learning how to help kids thrive as they transition into adulthood. Topics to be covered:

  • Child/adolescent development through a gendered lens – how it’s different for girls and for boys.
  • Instagram, Vine, YouTube, Ask.fm, Tinder, and more – how the pervasive role of social media in adolescents’ lives is impacting their relationships, communication skills, and self-esteem.
  • Why it’s important to talk with kids about Internet pornography, and how to have age-appropriate conversations.

I mean, exciting stuff, right!? And adding to the excitement is the fact that I was THIS close to getting a selfie with Jane Fonda but then her handler was all, “She’s gonna take a break now. Come back at lunch.” It will happen folks. IT. WILL. HAPPEN. (Update: It did not happen. We chatted, but I was too chicken to ask for a pic).

 

But in all seriousness, this conference is what I live for. It’s what I do and what I want to keep doing for as long as I can. As much as I love food blogging, my heart is in this work. I am inspired to be an advocate for young people. I was inspired before I became a mother but was exceedingly inspired when I became a mother; especially a mother of a daughter. It’s hard enough to get through the worries and angst of adolescence in a safe environment but if recent increases in hate speech and crimes tells usanything, it’s that empathy education and individuals who are willing to teach it are in need much more now than ever. This work is frustrating and sad, uplifting and motivating. It’s exhausting. It can be just as soul-crushing as much as it can be soul-enduring. My commitment to this work is why I rarely post on this blog. It’s absolutely why, when someone asks me where I want to see my blog go in 5 years, I think to myself, “I don’t know. It is what it is”. There are times when I wish I had more time to learn the art of monetizing my blog or creating those fun overhead videos showing how to cook something. But I just don’t have the time. Speaking of time, I gotta jet. Jane Fonda is talking about the role of patriarchy and it’s effect on developmental grown in adolescents.

For this full recipe of this easy but DELICIOUS tahini and vanilla ice box cake, head on over to Interfaithfamily.com.

P.S. I think I’ve lost count on just how many recipes of mine include tahini! I LOVE the stuff. Also? If you can believe it, there was a time when I didn’t actually like tahini. I didn’t even like halva! I remember visiting the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem and being offered free samples of the stuff, left and right, and saying ‘no’ to all of it! I said ‘No’ to free tahini and halva!! What the hell?! Who was that girl!? I don’t know but, needless to say, I’ve grown up a lot since then.

 

 

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Before arriving in Los Angeles, I heavily researched the city in order to figure out what part of the city we’d live in. And by research I of course mean that I watched old episodes of the original Beverly Hills, 90210 and poured over the most recent Bon Appetit at the time that had a lovely spread about hipster hangout, “Sqirl” (so hipster, in fact, that the ‘u’, ‘r’, and ‘e’ are apparently not necessary). In the article, they mentioned a sorrel pesto bowl that is the restaurant’s number one seller. At the time I was absolutely not interested in trying a savory bowl of sorrel for breakfast. Why in the world would I want brown rice when I could have cinnamon rolls or sticky buns or brioche toast!?!? I mean, come on!!

 

 

 

 

So when we arrived in Los Angeles in the summer of 2014, my patient husband and even more patient daughter let me drag them to the Mecca of hipsterville, Silverlake, to stand in line with every other sucker and wait for breakfast. And let me tell you, it was one of the greatest culinary decisions I’ve ever made (and not only because within my first 24 hours in LA I got to see the high Jewess of the world, Natalie Portman, who was also eating at Sqirl). This meal was so. friggin’. YUMMY. I was feeling adventurous and also feeling that there was no way my husband was going to be up for shlepping all the way to Silverlake from the Westside again so I went ahead and passed by all the brioche options and ordered the brown rice pesto bowl. When our meal arrived, I looked at my husband’s brioche toast topped with chocolate ganache and thought, “I have made the greatest mistake in the world”. But then I took my first bite of the pesto bowl, all mixed in with lacto-fermented hot sauce (still have no idea what that means), feta cheese and a perfectly cooked poached egg and I knew I was forever changed. Let me tell you. Putting pesto in brown rice and topping with a poached egg, feta, radishes and hot sauce is THE GREATEST IDEA EVER. Therefore, I went ahead and copied it as much as possible. This has become my go-to Sunday morning breakfast ever since that fateful day in Silverlake.

 

 

Brown Rice Pesto Breakfast Bowls

Ingredients for Bowl:

1 cup cooked brown rice
1/2 cup pesto (see below)
2 eggs (or more, depending on how much you love eggs), poached
1/4 cups feta cheese
3 radishes sliced thin
Optional: Sriracha

Ingredients for Pesto:

2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed (can sub half the basil leaves with baby spinach)
1/2 cup freshly grated Romano or Parmesan-Reggiano cheese (can omit and use 3 tbsp of nutritional yeast to make it vegan)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil.
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
3 garlic cloves, minced

Directions:

Cook brown rice according to package. Remember that brown rice takes about 45 minutes to cook so make sure you plan according. Once done, transfer rice to a large mixing bowl and leave about 3 – 5 minutes.

For the pesto. If you want to be kind to yourself and your time, you can please feel free to buy pre-made pesto. If you want to make your own pesto, place the basil leaves and walnuts into the bowl of a food processor and pulse a several times. Add the garlic and cheese and pulse several times more. Scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula. While the food processor is running, slowly add the olive oil in a steady small stream. Adding the olive oil slowly, while the processor is running, will help it emulsify and help keep the olive oil from separating. Occasionally stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor. Stir in some salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Set aside.

For the poached egg: I learned how to poach an egg via The Kitchn’s tutorial so I’m sending you there for this recipe. Come back and read on when you’re done. 🙂

Once brown rice has somewhat cooled, add 1/2 cup of the pesto to your brown rice and combine. Top with 1 poached egg, feta, and sliced up radish. Serve hot.

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