A successful day

by kalamckala

It’s 6:15am.

I am forfeiting a run in leu of homework completion. In reality, I ended up standing over a cast iron pan, frying up the bright orange yolk of a locally crafted egg. The whites hissed slightly and the tea kettle sang ferociously. The sun was poking through the blinds and cars could be heard from the nearby bustling street. I smiled, sipped my tea in the company of spritely red-streaked sunflowers, and admired my job of wiping the plate clean of any lost, oozing egg yolk.

I decided to lighten my load today. I’ve been going too hard – waking at 6:15am every morning to start the day with homework or a run, scrambling to each back-to-back class that I planned for myself this semester (way to go, Kala), completing homework and reading as assigned, filling my free time with rock climbing and chatting with friends, and cramming in time to cook wherever and whenever possible. Oh and sleep!

One thing I am trying to be more mindful of is that it’s okay to take things easy.

It’s okay to sleep in. It’s okay to even take a day off from homework (egads!). It’s also okay to eat vegetables for breakfast and chocolate for dinner. It’s really okay.

What you have at this point in time is okay and it is enough.

I feel like the time I spend in my own head, I’ve spent in admiration of my life. More of us should admire ourselves and what we have in our lives rather than tear ourselves down and wish we had more. Everyday I try to be grateful for one new thing in my life. Today I’d say that I am thankful for the depth of my mind; I’m thankful for the fact that I feel grateful for so much and that I’ve learned to appreciate the littlest of things. I’m thankful for my passions and I’m thankful to have found them (at last!). I’m thankful for my time and I’m pleased with the way I choose to spend it.

I enjoy my early mornings and fertile day, filled with good stuff going on but sometimes my brain requires a recess. If my brain had a literal recess from my daily activities, you know what it would do? It would want to C O O K !

And so, just the other day I allowed myself some quality rest and relaxation, more mindful meditation, and fun. I made myself a few staples for the rest of the week, to-go lunches fit for my school lunch box, and made dinner plans and grocery lists.

I planned for a sheet of herbs de provence focaccia.


the perfect crumb

Specifically to make portabella mushroom burgers, served with goat cheese, basil pesto, and arugula.

portabella mushrooms

And I invited over my favorite company. We ate together, circled on the floor, mumbling meaty mushroom compliments between mouthfuls, sipping wine, and smiling. That is my favorite way to celebrate a successful day!

As for myself, a successful day is synonymous with a day filled with fun, laugher, thoughts of gratefulness for what I do have, not what I don’t have; a day of learning and a day of realizations. But what seals the deal of a great day is almost always the food. Great food can save a crumby day.

It really can.

Seared portabella mushroom burgers
recipe adapted from The PPK
recipe yield – 4 servings

In a bowl, combine the marinade ingredients:

2/3 cup dry white wine (I enjoy the Beringer label from good ol’ Safeway)
3 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 heaping tbsp olive oil
6 garlic cloves, minced

Wipe with a damp paper towel and remove dirt from:

4 portabella mushroom caps, stems removed

Place the mushrooms gill-side up in a 9×13″ baking dish and pour marinade over the top. Allow the mushrooms to soak in the marinade for at least 1 hour. Turn mushroom caps over about halfway through soaking time and use a spoon to ensure even coverage of the marinade.

When ready to cook, heat a 8-10″ cast iron pan over medium heat. Add 1 tbsp of olive oil and add mushrooms – save the marinade for dipping bread. Let mushrooms cook until they have a nice golden brown color and then flip – in the second half of cooking they will disperse a lot of liquid. Allow to cook until soft and tender, ~5 additional minutes or so. You’ll know when they are done and if you don’t, there’s really no way to over-cook them unless you burn ‘em.

Serve on toasted focaccia bread (recipe follows) and spread with herb goat cheese, pesto, and arugula – or whatever tickles your fancy!

Focaccia bread
recipe slightly adapted from Jodi Kerfoot
recipe yield 9×13″ slab o’ bread

1 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
3 1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 1/4 tsp instant yeast
2 1/2 cups cold tap water
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
This bread requires planning! Make the dough a day ahead. Add dry to wet then let dough rest for 5 minutes and mix again until blended. The dough should be very liquidy, almost more like a batter. Refer overnight.
Use your fingers to grease a rimmed cookie sheet with olive oil – don’t forget the sides!

Turn out, adding just enough flour for handling, (I usually add upwards of 1 1/2 cups of a combination of white and whole wheat flours). Here you may also want to introduce your add-ins such as fresh rosemary or herbs de provence. I usually add a heaping tbsp or so. Lightly knead dough on a well floured surface until cohesive yet slightly sticky. Oil your fingers and spread dough out onto the greased cookie sheet and make generous indentations to evenly distribute the dough – don’t be shy! Here you can lightly brush the surface of the dough with olive oil and sprinkle with coarse sea salt, or omit the olive oil and sprinkle salt directly into the dough.
Cover and set 40-60 minutes. Bake @400 on the middle rack for approximately 18 minutes. That’s it!
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