preparing for flight

for the past two years, i've gone on an early summer adventure to the pacific northwest. these trips, for whatever reason, have become the fuel that re-energizes me for nearly the whole rest of the year. maybe since i'm the one largely planning them (and financing them...), i feel incredibly independent and so deeply determined to carpe diem the crap out of each waking hour. maybe it's because the pacific northwest is so perfectly the environment i love; gray, cool days with a bit of rain; creative, crunchy foods; breweries galore and some of the most breathtaking views you can imagine. 

flying into portland || planting my roots
multnomah falls || planting my roots
punchbowl paradise || planting my roots

maybe it's also because for the past two trips, i've traveled with the most wonderful companions you could ever ask for. in portland, one of my best friends and i bopped around fueling our hikes to punchbowl falls and through the oneonta gorge with pok pok wings and salt & straw kimchi ice cream (i swear, it was out-of-this-world good). in seattle, my brother and i explored every hill, nook and cranny of that city, feasting on teriyaki bowls, salmon and bottomless craft beers. the best laid plans happened when we didn't have any.

not a day goes by that i don't think about these trips and how much they've influenced me; they've allowed me to not only explore new parts of the country that are so unlike the east coast, but also challenged me to push myself out of my comfort zone (helllo hiking on a one foot wide path on the side of a cliff) and given me the luxury of waking up with no plans other than exploring new trails and city blocks, and new flavors and farmers markets with the people i love. it is living the dream. these have become my yearly pilgrimmage. 

mountain opening || planting my roots
fremont brewery || planting my roots
dick's burgers || planting my roots

and now, matt and i are in the midst of planning a 2017 summer trip! the dream list of destinations includes iceland, peru and austria/germany. the more realistic list, however, centered on the u.s. of a. ideas ranged from california to costa rica, but places also under consideration were ithaca, denver, asheville, charleston, and, and, fact, we both have loved portland and seattle so much on independent trips, we even considered flying back there. but - after weeks of deliberation - we decided on san francisco! let the burrito cravings begin!

so, in between endless airbnb searches as i look to what the summer will hold, i've been focusing on more winter-friendly fare. exhibit one: this winter skillet hash. it's a blend of sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts and red onion, made even sweeter thanks to cranberries, goat cheese and sage. you can serve this as a side dish for dinner, or served cold it makes for an easy, veggie-heavy lunch. 

winter skillet hash || planting my roots

as always, i used serious eats' trick to really bring out the natural sweetness of the sweet potatoes. the trick is to let them sit in warm water for at least an hour. according to the ever-brilliant food lab, this process "activates an enzyme that converts [sweet potatoes'] starch into maltose, making them extra flavorful and sweet, without the need to add extra sugar." 

serious eats also has a handy guide on how to chiffonade sage (and other herbs), so check out this video for an easy tutorial before you dig into preparing this dish. 

winter skillet hash || planting my roots

winter skillet hash

serves 4 as a side dish, or 2-3 for main course

what you'll need:
1 lb sweet potatoes, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
12 brussels sprouts, quartered (about 2 heavy cups' worth)
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp crushed garlic
1/4 cup vegetable broth or water
1/4 cup goat cheese
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 tbsp fresh sage, chiffonade
1/4 tsp kosher salt, plus extra to taste
freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

what you'll do:

to prepare sweet potatoes

  1. fill a small stockpot about half way with water. heat water to 135 - 170° fahrenheit, and add diced sweet potatoes. cover.
  2. let sweet potatoes stand in warm water for approximately an hour. 30 minutes in, preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.
  3. after hour has passed, drain sweet potatoes. toss them back into stockpot and add 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 1/4 tsp kosher salt and 1/4 tsp crushed garlic. gently stir so that sweet potatoes are coated.
  4. pour onto baking sheet. bake for 40 minutes, flipping half-way through baking.
  5. remove from oven and set aside. keep oven at 350° fahrenheit while you prepare the rest of the dish. 

to prepare rest of hash

  1. in cast iron skillet (or other oven proof pan), pour remaining 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 1/4 tsp crushed garlic and diced red onion. saute over medium heat for about 8 minutes, or until redonion is tender and translucent. 
  2. add quartered brussels sprouts, sage and a few cracks of fresh black pepper to skillet. saute for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to avoid any sticking to skillet. 
  3. pour vegetable broth (or water) into skillet, as well as sweet potatoes and cranberries. gently combine. cook for about 5 more minutes. 
  4. turn off stovetop heat. crumble goat cheese on top of skillet, then transfer to oven to bake for about 6 more minutes (at 350° fahrenheit), or until goat cheese is lightly melted. remove from oven. let sit a few minutes before serving.