Do you know that feeling – when a birthday looms imminent – of suddenly wanting to transform? This desire to be a grander version of oneself lurches forth out of nowhere, a determination to start the next year as an improved version of the old model. My birthday falls in the late spring. Each year, without fail, the combination of lilac-scented air and another candle to extinguish leads me on this (occasionally ill-fated) mission of self-betterment.
One year I decided my hair, which as you can see from my picture is the darkest shade of brown that exists, needed highlights. Blond ones. Andy took one look and deadpanned, “You look like a glorious calico cat.” I had been striving for Beyonce, not Toonces. Another year, I bought a guitar, cut all my nails down to the nub and signed up for a summer’s worth of classes. I spent balmy nights crooning Oasis tunes on my back deck, to the horror of my neighbors. And still another year, I decided to run a marathon. Never mind the fact that I’d never run more than six miles at a time. And so it goes – self reflection brought on by another year gone by.
Today is not my birthday, but those feelings are thick in the air. It’s the second birthday of this very blog you are reading now. That’s right, friends. Weekly Greens is now a
terrible, tantrum-throwing toddler. Remember my first post? It seems so long ago. And yet, it is like it was yesterday. Much like my flesh-and-blood babies, my electronic “third child” is growing up awfully quickly. And this birthday, much like my own, has brought a new restlessness. I recently completed a natural foods detox (I know you are going to ask – it’s this one).
I’ve not purchased any musical instruments or adopted a new hairstyle, but I have become more aware of inspiration and where I find it. There has been a palpable shift. Whereas I used to be inspired by food magazines or restaurant dishes, I now find flashes of creativity from more personal sources – friends, family, my community.
Along the right side of the home page, I’ve made a list of the sites I regularly read. I draw inspiration from these talented writers, photographers and cooks. I’d even say I’ve developed virtual friendships with some of them, though we’ve never met or had a live conversation. I don’t know what their voices sound like, yet I can hear their words in my head. Sometimes I am surprised at what speaks to me.
This week I picked up Sara Forte’s The Sprouted Kitchen cookbook. I’d been on a cookbook-buying hiatus, so this was my first acquisition in ages. Having just reclaimed my kitchen, it seemed appropriate to infuse fresh life into this shiny, new space. I thumbed through the glossy pages of beautifully photographed, bright and colorful food (the healthiest kind) with a new openness. When you cut out entire food groups for a number of days as I did during my detox, you see food through a new lens. This is all to say the first thing I zeroed in on was unexpected – a veggie burger!
I’ve never been a fan of the veggie burger as a category. Part of my argument with most, such as the frozen hockey pucks found at the grocery store, is that they’re a jumbled mix of processed ingredients trying to be something they’re not. Wouldn’t it be better, and more natural, just to eat one ingredient (beef! turkey! buffalo! even salmon!) and a few spices, than 25 mystery ingredients you’ve never heard of? Hydrolyzed corn protein. Disodium guanylate. Methyl cellulose. Um, no thanks. Just give me the cow – as long as it was grass-fed less than 100 miles from here. Kidding (sort of).
But these burgers jumped out of the page and made me think again. Packed with cremini mushrooms, brown rice and chickpeas, and stacked handsomely on a toasted English muffin, I had to pause and reconsider. Was it the mouthwatering photo, or the curious (though slightly long) ingredient list? Dates and flaxmeal and tahini. Oh my!
I wondered if my carnivorous family could be satisfied by this hearty yet meatless patty. You know what? My first grader, a bit of a burger aficionado, polished it off in no time and asked that I make these burgers “every night always, forever.” Well, alrighty then. I think we have our answer.
Last year, I brought you birthday cake in an ice cream cone and now I bring you a burger with no meat. What a difference a year makes. Thanks for the inspiration, Sara. And thank YOU, sweet readers, for keeping me here, keeping me honest and making this experience joyful. It’s the best birthday present
aside from an open-ended trip to France I could hope for (though I’m still considering blowing out my hair).