Nov
08

Heirloom Tomato Chutney

People deserve second chances, right?

I haven’t always been the person to honor second chances, I can be kind of bitchy like that, but I am a changed person as of late. Recently, I’ve made the decision to give a loved one a second chance, an opportunity he asked for several times before I agreed. Blindsided by frustration, anxiety, and uncertainty, I didn’t realize how much damage I was doing to him, myself, our relationship, our well-being, and our future by being a hard ass. Luckily, his humbleness and faith in me/us has allowed him to give me a second chance as well.  

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.”

heirloom tomato

The recipe I am sharing with you today has been shared on my blog once before. I almost linked back to the post in a more recent post but I decided not to because IT WAS EMBARRASSING. My photos sucked and I didn’t have much of anything interesting to say back then. So I decided to give this recipe, this post, a second chance.

(( I realize that my photography skills aren’t much better than they used to be but I’d like to think I’ve improved a few points. When I photographed the photos for this post, I used my 50mm lens that DOES NOT auto focus…. that’s tricky for me because I am BLIND, literally, my world is a blur. I uploaded these photos and laughed, because there is a slight blur to them. Bear with me, I’m shopping around for a 50mm lens that will auto focus and may some day take advantage of a third opportunity. ))

Heirloom Tomatoes

My sudden desire to make this fragrant chutney came after speaking with a girlfriend about the late-season heirloom tomatoes that unexpectedly popped up out of nowhere in my garden. My tomato bushes got BIG this year, mainly due to my lack of attention and pruning so the green, bushy stems concealed the juicy, ripe fruits underneath it all. My girlfriend suggested a chutney, which prompted me to find the recipe in my archives and make a big batch. 

Heirloom Tomato Chutney

I’ve had several dinner sessions with this Spiced Heirloom Tomato Chutney, and have already finished off several small mason jars worth of it. 

This spiced chutney pairs well with a bottle of wine and a variety of cheeses and crackers, and I’ve spent several nights curled up in blankets on the couch with those exact items.

It can be alternated with dijon mustard as a dipping sauce for fried green tomatoes (you can see in the photos, I’ve got enough green tomatoes from the garden to feed a small village fried greens) to offer the taste buds variety. I’ve already made friend greens three times this season and I’ve got enough green tomatoes for one or two more sessions.

I have used this sweet/savory chutney as a condiment atop a baked white, flaky fish, the same way that I’ve seen chef’s use mango salsa atop fish. I like to allow the chutney to warm up to room temperature prior to serving atop a warm dish.

For Thanksgiving, I plan to serve this chutney aside a sweet cornbread instead of the traditional butter and honey. Uncommon, I realize, but colorful and ambrosial. For cool points, I’ve jarred some of the chutney up for the in-laws to enjoy with their Thanksgiving dinner as well. M favorite part about gifting food items to that family is knowing that they’ll use in a way I’d never think of and they’ll enjoy it.

Tomato Chutney
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 2 lbs. assorted tomatoes (of choice)
  • 1 large onion, chopped into eights
  • ½ cup raw turbinado sugar
  • ⅓ cup white vinegar (5% acidity)
  • ½ teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon cardamom
  • pinch of sea salt
  • large pot of boiling water
  • large pot of ice cold water
Instructions
  1. Cut a large “X” on the bottom of each tomato. Working in batches, place the tomatoes in a large pot of boiling water.
  2. Blanch for 30-60 seconds or until skins start peeling off. With tongs, pull the tomatoes out of the boiling water and immediately drop in to ice cold water; drain.
  3. Remove the skins of the tomatoes and discard. Remove the core and discard. Quarter the tomatoes and set aside.
  4. Pulse the onions in a food processor until chopped. Add the tomatoes and any accumulated juices and continue pulsing until the tomatoes are chopped.
  5. Pour the mixture in to a large pot along with all other ingredients; bring to a boil over medium heat.
  6. Cook, uncovered, for 1 hour or until mixture is thick and reduced, stirring often.
Heirloom Tomato Chutney

I have a lot to be thankful for this holiday season: a fragrant kitchen, this versatile chutney, new perspectives, and a fresh start.

Love

Crista


May
05

In a yoga class earlier in the week, the instructor asked if anyone in the room has a solid Tripod Headstand. A Tripod Headstand may be one of the ONLY inversions I can do, and it’s not ALWAYS solid so I was hesitant to raise my hand – BUT I did because no one else did. (how nice of me)

Andy, the instructor wanted to demo a Tripod Headstand but wasn’t able to because he didn’t have room for his own yoga mat – the class was packed – so he needed someone in the room to do the demo for him. Anyway, I got lucky and my “demo” was a success, I didn’t fall flat on my face or my back like I sometimes do. (whew)

Tripod Headstand

The only reason I can do a Tripod Headstand is because a yoga instructor in Miami took me under her wing after a class on the beach a few years back- she stayed after class to guide me through the process of getting upside down. When I was able to stay put without falling, she grabbed my camera and took photos of me in my first ever upside-down inversion. I still think of her every time I’m hanging out in a headstand. (I should look for those photos – they were taken with an actual camera, not an iPhone bahaha)

The thing that holds me back in inversions is fear & the unknown. Kicking my feet up or balancing on my hands, all while uncertain whether I will fall or not (the feeling isn’t much different from that of snowboarding for the first time) makes me uneasy. I’ve tried several inversions, but haven’t been successful at many of them so I don’t even know what it feels like to be in those inversions – it’s like I’m upside-down, kicking my feet around aimlessly trying to figure out where my feet are supposed to go, but I can’t see them and it feels like I’m going to fall ahhhhhh!

Anyway, I’m convinced that if I can do a Tripod Headstand, most anyone can if they put their mind to it. 

The first step is simply to get your head and hands grounded. Once you feel grounded, you can lift your legs and rest your knees on your elbows – this is a good place to hang out for a while and practice a few times before you attempt full expression.

At first, I was only able to practice full expression with the help of my instructor. She readily guided my legs up and held on to the tips of my toes while I found my balance…. and then she let go!

Tripod Headstand

If you are working on successfully getting upside-down in to a tripod headstand, I would highly recommend that you find a buddy, or ask an instructor to guide, and hold you while you find balance – I think it is important to know where you are going, be familiar with the process of getting there, and find balance there before you put yourself through the daunting task of finding comfort in the process – and a partner can help you do just that.

To pay it forward, I helped a guy get upside-down in a yoga class this past week. It didn’t take much, I held on to his legs as he lifted them, then held his feet in place for a few seconds until he found his balance. Now that he knows exactly what a Tripod Headstand feels like, he’ll be able to get up on his own. Now that he knows what it is like to be in full expression, he can work on the process of getting there.

Love

Crista


Dec
03

ahhhhhh.
finally, i can breathe.
not only did i just come off of the busiest work travel season i’ve had in a long time, i also shopped for, purchased, and moved into my new home.
buying a home may be the single most stressful situation i have been a part of-
people kept telling me it’d be worth it in the end. i was skeptical during the process, but now, while i sit on my couch, with my feet kicked up, in MY home, i realize that they were right – it was TOTALLY worth it!
…and every time i step foot in to my home, i fall in love all over again.

just a few days (4 days!) after moving in to my new home, i hosted my boyfriends family for Thanksgiving.
i cooked, although modestly. i made homemade hummus & veggies, cranberry whiskey applesauce, pumpkin cornbread, and a killer kale salad. we ate plenty.

so, this is my new life. in Colorado
in my new home.
with my amazing bearded Colorado boyfriend by my side.

as i sit here alone, i know that i am not alone – there is an entire team of people out there who have helped shape my being. people who have encouraged me, and hugged me, and pushed me to keep on keeping on even in the most difficult of times.

my heart is filled with love and gratitude. my life is filled with love and gratitude.
i’m ready to get back to life as it once was – as a foodie and a blogger.

let’s get this party started, again!

xox

Love

Crista


Nov
12

A few days ago, I got an e-mail explaining the final steps of my home purchase – that’s right, I’M BUYING A HOME. In Colorado. I thought I’d NEVER buy a home simply because up until this point I was never satisfied enough to plant roots. BUT, this is Colorado. Home. It’s good here. I think I was sent here to stay for a very long time. Shit is about to get real.

When I loved in Chicago, I was in a hurry to get things done, oh I rushed and rushed until life was no fun.
((“all I really wanna do is live and die, but I’m in a hurry and don’t know why”)) 
Yeah, it’s a song. you probably know it. Relatable to my life prior to my CO move. 
Colorado has taught me to slow down and enjoy life.

Everyone asks (jokingly) if I moved to Colorado because of legalized marijuana… which is weird because I’ve had never wanted anything to do with it my entire life. When people ask me that silly questions, I tell them “No, I moved to Colorado because it’s socially acceptable to drive a Subaru there.” They get all confused and shut up then. 

Rocky Mountains

My new home is further west of where I currently live, near the Highlands area which means easier (than ever) access to the MOUNTAINS !! Literally, a 20 minute drive puts me in the foothill. Yeeeeeeeeah babyyyyyy!!!

Deer Creek CanyonRed Rocks

On top of that, Red Rocks amphitheater is only 25 minutes away. Do you know about Red Rocks? It’s incredible – it’s a musicians DREAM to play there. And it’s my dream to see all of my favorite musicians there ((which is coming true)). During the day, the amphitheater is an outdoor gym – I can hardly keep up with the fitness fanatics in Colorado, but it sure is inspiring to watch them all. Walking up the steps to the amphitheater still takes my breath away (I’ll blame it on the altitude).

yoga-on-the-rocks

Oh, and – Yoga On The Rocks at Red Rocks – 

Beet Box Denver

Beet Box is the very first vegan restaurant cafe/restaurant and I wasn’t mad about it. Do you see that cinnamon roll? Served with a side of buttercream frosting, and I’m sitting on Cloud 9. I don’t go to Beet Box often enough, I need to get there again soon. Very soon.

steamboat springs, co

Luckily I met an awesome guy in Colorado (boyfriend!), he took me to Steamboat Springs to fall in l-o-v-e. We didn’t take many photos during that trip because we were busy relaxing, napping, and bathing in the hot springs. As a bonus, Jason Aldean & Luke Bryan own a restaurant in the Springs that we (OF COURSE) went to for some pre-dinner moonshine. Couldn’t eat dinner there, steakhouse (idk).

 

Glenwood Springs, Colorado 

That same awesome guy rode took a trip to Glenwood Springs with my dad & I. We didn’t do much, besides enjoy the mountains and hike Hanging Lake. You see, living in Colorado is cool because you can take a “vacation” in your own backyard – in 3 hours, I can be in a location where people spend their life savings to vacation at.

palisade-peaches

Near Glenwood Springs is a little town called Palisade. In Palisade, there are several wineries, vineyards, and fruit trees. Some of the best peaches I’ve ever had come from Palisade. I feel like no one knows about Palisade peaches besides Coloradans. All the more reason I feel lucky to be a Coloradan.

starter plants from Farmers Market

I got all of my starter plants for the garden at the Boulder Farmers Market this year. While the Boulder Farmers Market isn’t the most amazing farmers market I’ve ever been to, it may be the most adorable. Plus, it’s in Boulder, you couldn’t ask for a better location.

waterfalls, colorado

Oh, in between Red Rocks i Morrison and this cute little mountain town called Evergreen, there are waterfalls rolling down the mountain. It’s a pretty sweet little drive between the two towns. After hiking a trail at Red Rocks, my mom and I went up to Evergreen to visit a winery …(duh)…. When I talk about these waterfalls, I feel like I’m straight up bragging – I’ve never lived so close to a waterfall in my life.

North Table Mountain // Golden, CO

Those are real, legit cowboys. On top of North Table Mountain. Seriously, cowboys. On horses. and a cute little dog. Oh, and that view. My life is complete.

Ypsilon Lake //Rocky Mountain National Park

I have a friend whose family visits Estes Park a few times a year, and they spend a pretty penny doing it. I get to drive to Estes Park whenever I feel like it. I can hike all day, have a few beers at a local brewery, and still be home in time for dinner. Oh, and I don’t have to spend much money doing it. 

Mt. Evans, Colorado

One of the coolest things I’ve ever done in my life is hike to 14,000 feet. It was not an easy task, however a satisfying one. On the way up, I told myself that I’d never volunteer to do such a thing again. After a few days of recovery, and reflection, I was anxious to do it again. There are 54 fourteeners in Colorado, and I’d love to climb them all (we’ll see how that goes….) and if all goes well, I’d love to climb Mount Kilimanjaro some day….

I could give you a million more reasons why I love Colorado, I’ve even blogged about some of them but I’ll stop here. I feel like I’m bragging. I can’t help it, I’m smitten with my new life.

Love

Crista


Nov
28

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because the world becomes food obsessed! ….But it’s also a time to reflect on the things that you are thankful for and to express gratitude. As you prepare the biggest meal you’ll have all year, don’t forget to think about the things you are grateful for (before you hit the food coma).

On this chilly, chilly Thanksgiving morning, I’m curled up on the couch, cozy under the blankets with the pooch at my feet, and my dad preparing the big meal in the kitchen, and I am thinking about all of the little things in life that make me happy. Ten things I am thankful for:

1. Fuzzy socks
2. My cute, cute doggie
3. Yummy food
4. Chocolate & pomegranate
5. Yoga
6. Hot tea
7. Friends & family
8. Fresh, crisp air
9. Music
10. Hugs

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone! 

Love

Crista


Nov
04

crista study

Fall business travel season is coming close to an end for me. (yay!)
I actually get to get stay home for a weekend!! Two weekends in a row….
This week I’m in Denver. I am taking a little vacation, a staycation away rom home.
4 o’clock in the afternoon and I could go to sleep for the remainder of the night. 
I’m exhausted.
BUT.
You see I’m busy….. busy blogging…. and relaxing.
I’ve got a lot of work to do – upgrading the blog and settling in to my new server space. 
I had no idea it would require the amount of work that it does.
 but I love it….. 
I’m also loving Denver….

Love

Crista


Aug
19

the theme of yesterday’s yoga class was to think positive thoughts. throughout class the instructor consistently reminded us to think positive thoughts, “i can do it,” “i am good enough,” “i am beautiful” etc….

at the end of class, the instructor asked each of us to repeat a positive affirmation to ourselves 3 times. i panicked at first, i felt rushed, i wanted to find the perfect affirmation. i struggled. i wasn’t sure what to tell myself. i was doing the exact opposite of what the teacher had asked her students to do. then i finally found it. “i am love” 

Warren Dunes

i am currently reading a book, The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry. the couple in the book are in a marriage that has gone stale. through self-discovery they realize regrets about their marriage, love, sex, communication.
of course, this book has opened my eyes and allowed me take a look at my own relationships with others. AM i “love” ? 

on Friday, i had a conversation with a new friend. she is a 40-something year old vegan woman. she’s never been married, and she was telling me about a guy she has just started seeing. it is not easy to meet good people, it is not easy to find someone you would consider sharing your life with, but she found one she is considering. she even found a guy who is vegetarian! we talked and laughed. we said a few jokes about the male species, and we reminisced the ones who got away.

the topic of “new love” always sends hearts and butterflies running through my body. i mentioned how i miss that “smitten” feeling that you get when you are first getting to know someone, and then i immediately realized that i have always been smitten for my boyfriend. however, i have allowed life’s little annoyances to get in the way of pure love. things like making the bed, doing the dishes, taking out the trash, and running 10 minutes behind have gotten in my way of being love.

“awareness perceives change,” is a mantra that my colleagues constantly repeat and analyze. today and from here on out, i will work hard to ensure that i don’t have any regrets later in life. that i take advantage at every opportunity to love and to be loved. carpe diem, they say. 

as my yoga class ended yesterday, my boyfriend was sending me these text messages: 

text message

“The question is not what a man can scorn, disparage, or find fault with, but what he can love and value and appreciate.”
“If there were one thing I’d live by, it’d be that,” he said. looks like we’re on the same page. (although i have not voiced any of this to him)

“fear less, hope more; eat less, chew more; whine less, breathe more; talk less, say more; love more, and all good things will be yours.” – Swedish Proverb

“greatness is not in one special place, it is not in one special person. greatness is wherever somebody is trying to find it.” 

this weekend has brought one big message to my attention, and while it wasn’t the first time i can also guarantee this won’t be the last time that this message presents itself to me.

maintain a positive state of mind.
love, value, and appreciate.
find greatness in everything you do.

Love

Crista


Aug
06

Warren Dunes

Warren Dunes

over the weekend, we discovered a beach in Sawyer, MI at Warren Dunes State Park
which sits just opposite of Chicago on Lake Michigan.
this park is only 90 minutes outside of Chicago and is absolutely breathtaking.

Warren Dunes - Sawyer, MI

Warren Dunes - Sawyer, MI

Warren Dunes

Warren Dunes

we hiked up the sand dunes and sweated our butts off

Warren Dunes - Sawyer, MI

running/walking through the soft, dry sand develops power throughout your lower body and takes more energy than running/walking on a flat, smooth surface like asphalt.
it strengthens your ankles, arches, and all of your below-the-knee muscles. 

Warren Dunes - Sawyer, MI

Warren Dunes - Sawyer, MI

we had so much fun!

Warren Dunes - Sawyer, MI

Warren Dunes - Sawyer, MI

once we worked our tails off to get up the sandy dune, we relaxed under the shady trees and then RAN DOWN THE HILL

Warren Dunes - Sawyer, MI

Warren Dunes - Sawyer, MI

we made time for peace & love ..and play….

Warren Dunes - Sawyer, MI

Warren Dunes - Sawyer, MI

we laid by the beach for some R&R and a healthy dose of Vitamin D 

Warren Dunes - Sawyer, MI

Warren Dunes - Sawyer, MI

Warren Dunes - Sawyer, MI

Warren Dunes - Sawyer, MI

we enjoyed the dunes so much that we’ve already planned another trip to go back.
next time we are taking the family with us.
we’re planning on hiking, water slides (!!), hacky sack, flying kites, grilling, swimming, and maybe even a game of beach volleyball. i won’t fail to get my sweat-once-a-day on either – maybe i’ll get brave enough to take a jog along the beach (it’s hard work!!) …maybe even beach yoga!

Warren Dunes - Sawyer, MI

Love

Crista