Lily Wrote a Cookbook! #KaleandCaramelCookbook!

Lily is a talent, an inspiration. Lily is a soulful presence, so recognizable by her thoughtful weaving of story and description. She's a teacher. There's wisdom in her recipes. Her photos are light, airy. There's a sense of comedy and self-effacement when she writes. She's created a craft and a light that her stories and photos and recipes all possess that are so uniquely hers, all wrapped under the eponym of Kale & Caramel.

To me, both the blog and the person behind it, act as a pantheon. At once, Lily is the goddess of hearth and the goddess of the seasons. She listens to the plants, to the world around her. A goddess of art and magic and wisdom. Of loss and rebirth and tenderness.

And did this book spring from her head? I do not know, but there's a mysticism and ease in its prose that says it may just have.

Lily wrote a cookbook, and I was lucky enough to get a copy. And from the beautiful pages, full of crisp white borders and shocks of color, you get a sense of who she is and what she can create. And, in turn, what you can create from her work. I wanted to give you a taste of what this book has to offer its reader, so I am sharing her Citrus Sage Tonic recipe with you below.

To learn more about The Kale & Caramel Cookbook, click here. It's out today so buy a copy (or two! or three!) and let me know how much you love it! 

Citrus Sage Tonic

Kale and Caramel Citrus Sage Tonic

Ingredients:

  • 3 fresh sage leaves
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons agave nectar, depending on the sweetness of the grapefruit
  • 1 large grapefruits, juiced (about 2 cups)
  • 1 lime, juiced (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 large lemon, juiced (about 1/2 cup)
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Ice cubes, for serving

Directions:

  1. Use a muddler or a wooden spoon to crush the sage into the agave nectar at the bottom of a cocktail shaker.
  2. Add the grapefruit, lime, and lemon juices, and a few pinches of salt
  3. Shake vigorously, then strain out over ice
  4. (Lily suggests making this a cocktail with tequila, mezcal, gin, or vodka!)

This recipe is Copyright © 2017 by Lily Diamond from KALE & CARAMEL: Recipes for Body, Heart, and Table published by Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc. Photos copyright © 2017, Lily Diamond

Kale and Caramel Citrus Sage Tonic
Kale and Caramel's Citrus Sage Tonic
Kale and Caramel Citrus Sage Tonic
Kale and Caramel Citrus Sage Tonic
Kale and Caramel Citrus Sage Tonic

Back Home.

In three days I packed up my life in San Antonio and moved back in with Nolan in California.  The West Coast has some magnetic pull on me, the way water always run down to the deepest crack in the tile.  The way the black mould builds around it, the deep doubts that went into my decision to ever leave my home in San Diego.  

In three days, we tore down the home I had built for myself, broke book shelves into splinters.  Unhooked pictures I had hung to hide holes I had punched into the wall.  I lost a set of keys and found them in an old shoe.  I tucked my passport in a folder with pictures of my mother.  Things I valued made their way into suit cases, things I could replace found their way into trash bags that were advertised to hold 40 gallons of dead grass, debris, springtime detritus.  Everything I owned could fit in my Nissan and we stopped by coffeeshops to say goodbye to the friends I had made.  We promised to be different in our return, I'm holding onto that promise.

I am iron-fisted and yellow-bellied.  I didn't want to make it on my own anymore.  I didn't want to have my pride in the way of a life shared with someone.  The bravest thing to do is to love someone, the hardest thing I've ever done was drop Nolan off at the airport and wave goodbye, smiling.  In three days, I quit my job and left the Hill Country I tried so hard to romanticize.  I'll miss the white-walled sanctuary of a creative space to call my own.  I'll miss the train that screamed its presence like a mockingbird.  I'll miss the way the asphalt smelled in the post-rain break in the humidity.  I'll miss a lot of things, but I'm a different person now.

I'm older now.  Six months can do that to a person.  

We left when we wanted to and hit El Paso by dusk.  We chased elements along the way.  We hit fog in some mountain range that I couldn't tell you the name of.  Everything I had and loved was in that car, I didn't want to lose it all to the fog and my lack of depth perception.  In the gossamer veil that covered the mountaintops.  Deadly, smokey.  Miscarried clouds that threatened me, I woke up Nolan from his nap and had him drive through it.  He was confident, comfortable.  I know I can't do some things on my own, and that solidified why I made the decision to go back.  His calming presence, his reliability.  His ability to save me when I'm white-knuckled and shaggy-breathed.

We chased the rain, too.  Big puddles.  Giant puddles.  We hit them on the way to his sister's house.  We saw Las Cruces in the distance and passed signs that advertised authentic Native American goods.  We saw Las Cruces in the distance, we took an exit that advertised a new Wendy's opening.

The two days' drive out to California was punctuated like that.  Element diverting.  Pointing to distant towns, they had words like Halcyon and Sunshine in their names.  They promised things, artifacts of the manifest destiny that led the founders on their journey.  They had probably never felt a sun so hot.  It all felt like hell sooner or later and a lot less like paradise.  And up close in those small roadside towns, we saw boarded up windows, dogs on chains, billboards to buy 2,000 acres of land for $13,000.  We stopped at a gas station where the coffee pot had been on so long the remaining brew was scorched and sticking to the pot.  We stopped at another where the bathroom was to the side of the building and didn't have any soap.  We got some spiced gum drops, the kind our grandmothers used to eat, and some cold ginger ale and left soon after in a dust cloud.  We continued on out west and never shook anyone's hand along the way.

The car rides were silent sometimes, we held hands sometimes.  Milo came along, too.  We took turns holding him, we took turns napping.  We took turns paying for gas or food or the odd scratch-off to break up the monotony of one road and a thousand miles ahead of us.  We didn't eat well those few days, we slept even less.  We never talked about the future, because the future was right in front of us on the I-10, merged with us onto the I-8.  And when I could taste salt in my mouth, I didn't know if it was from tears, sweat, or my imagination running wild at the thought of the ocean.  

The desert can play tricks on you sometimes like that, but I beat the coyote at his own game.  I left Texas, left the desert, left the southwest altogether.  You can find me in San Diego now, at coffeeshops and Chinese restaurants, having the life I was supposed to when I moved into this house for the first time a year ago.

Homemade Ginger Ale and Spiced Orange Peel Candies

Inspired by our road trip snack choices, a refreshing ginger ale and spiced orange peels.  Pair with a scratch-off and you're all set for your next road trip.

For the Ginger Ale

Ingredients: 

  • 1 piece ginger, 6-8 inches by 2-4 inches (hard t gauge, but the more you put in, the more gingery it will taste), peeled* and cut into small rounds a quarter-inch thick
  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • Squeeze of orange slice
  • 1 liter tonic water (pref. Schweppes) 

 

Directions:

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine water and sugar.  Over medium-high heat stir until sugar is dissolved. 
  2. Add ginger slices and bring mixture to a boil
  3. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 5-7 minutes.  Watch so sugar does not caramelize.
  4. Turn heat off.  Mixture should be syrupy and fragrant.  Add a pinch of salt squirt of orange juice.
  5. Put lid on saucepan and allow to steep for 30 minutes to 1 hour
  6. To assemble drink:  
    1. For an individual drink:  Pour ginger syrup in a glass about a quarter way full, top with tonic water, then with ice
    2. For a whole bottle:  Use a decanter (for immediate use) or a hermetic bottle for later use (recommend within half an hour).  Add all of the syrup and top with tonic water slowly with a funnel. Chill in refrigerator. Enjoy with the spiced orange peels.

Spiced Orange Peels

Ingredients:

  • Peel of one orange, cut into strips
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon cumin
  • pinch of black pepper

 

Directions:

  1. In a pot of boiling water, simmer orange peel strips for 15 minutes.  Drain water and rinse with cold water.  Rinse again. Set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine water and sugar and heat on medium-high until sugar is dissolved and begins to boil (watch again carefully for caramelization).
  3. Lower heat to medium-low and add peels and simmer for 15-20 minutes until tender and gummy.
  4. Put on a baking sheet with a paper towel underneath to drain some of excess syrup off.
  5. While peels drain, mix remaining ingredients on a shallow plate with a fork.  Lay down parchment paper.
  6. Dip peels in sugar mixture with fork or fingers and dip on both sides.  Lay on parchment paper to dry 8-12 hours or until dried.

A Relationship like Lazarus and some Blood Orange-Rosemary Soda

I went to California for the week.  I bit my nails down to the quick. I started chewing Nicorette gum and I wore sunglasses to the point where my eyes couldn't adjust to being indoors.  I was a different person then. I'm a weed that grew past its season. Overgrown, lush.  The kind where you want to call it a forest, but it's too manic and frenzied in its excitement to bloom, it has no elegance to it.  I'm a hybrid of eagerness and stagnation, I am preserved in the dust motes of lazy Sundays where I am allowed to be by myself.  Alone.  Blissful in that time apart, I took root and began to create.  I bit my nails because I was nervous, nervous I would love it all.  

I stopped by the convenience shop at gate G in the airport and got myself a pack of gum and some magazines.  I tried to pretend I wasn't sweating, that my stomach didn't twist into braids of butterfly cocoons and that self-doubt of What if it's really over now?

It was my first time back in three months, to a town I never loved and in a house that never has enough light for me.  An antique rug and an outdoor kitchen, I had a different life when I moved into that house last October.  I even had a different life in December, when the wool was pulled from my eyes and I saw how crowded the shadows from the window blinds felt.  It was 65 degrees that winter and I had to excuse myself from our Christmas dinner at a restaurant in the heart of Balboa; I was sweating so much and I felt like I couldn't breathe. 

So I left.  And I returned three months later, with a five o'clock shadow and more forgiveness than I thought possible.

And when I came back, it felt wholesome and kind.  I cried until my nose bled when the dogs licked me until their tongues were dry.  I sat over the sink and tried to stop the bleeding, refusing to tilt my head back and meet Nolan's eyes.  To have him see me so weak.  I wanted to come back strong and instead I was bleeding.  We fell asleep at two that night, talking about where we went from there.  I was sandwiched between a collie and a coyote.  I fell asleep with the same howl of her forlorn call in my heart, hoping to be heard, saying, "I'm still here waiting."

For a week, I appreciated San Diego for the paradise it can be.  Picnics.  Whole foods deli section.  The beach.  Palm trees, windless nights, airplanes you mistook as shooting stars.  A Subway you ate at after some surgery or another.  Old friends, old coworkers.  A smoky gay bar that serves $2 well drinks at noon.  Curves, cracked sidewalks and a gym you used to have a membership at. We bought hand-braided bracelets and wore them on our ankles, promising to never take them off. "I like mine more than I thought I would." A pound of chicken that sat defrosting in the fridge for a week, useless because we ate out every day.  $5 kombucha on tap.  We went to the post office three times--once to mail my mom's birthday present, once to return an unwanted gift, and once to mail out postcards.

I wish you could be here!  I'm always thinking of you.

Nolan has small birthmarks that tan a little bit darker than the rest of his skin.  Small splotches that I could probably make a Rorschach analogy to and it wouldn't seem that contrived.  The whites of the insides of his fingers fit, curved, linked into mine.  And if there is a God, his design was so perfect, to craft our hands together in this way.  

It was good to come back to a home that missed me, where I could tell life went on without me.  It was comforting to know that the world didn't revolve around me.  That I had grown up in the last three months and I wouldn't allow myself to be as capricious as I chose to be before.  It was organic.  It was natural.  It was healthy for me to go back.

Organic.  Healthy.  Natural.  Words that inspired me this week to make a lighter fare.  My dad told me once he wants to see the sun set on every beach in the world.  I thought about that as my groggy eyes adjusted to waking up in the small beach tent one afternoon.  I saw red before I saw blue.  I was thirsty and I thought how good the small bubbles of carbonation would feel on my dry throat in that hot, hot sun.  I made some blood orange soda when I got home from my trip.  I added some rosemary to stay healthy, steeping it, pulling the magic from its veins.  I'll drink this batch the rest of the week and think of my time in California often.  Back to the beaches, back to my dogs, and back to my relationship--however small a miracle to come back from the dead like it has.

Blood Orange-Rosemary Soda

I found those bottles at Michael's.  Very tempted to bottle and sell to Press.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup fresh blood orange juice
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 sprigs rosemary
  • 24 oz club soda

Directions

  • In a small saucepan, combine juice and sugar and heat on medium-high, stirring constantly until sugar is dissolved.  
  • Allow to simmer until juice is reduced by half and is thick and syrupy
  • Allow to cool, then funnel into at least a 30 oz container
  • Fill remainder of container/bottle with club soda
  • Add rosemary
  • Refrigerate for at least half an hour
  • Enjoy, garnish with additional rosemary or with blood orange
  • Enjoy