If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know this past weekend I visited my mom and step-dad in Kansas. From Thursday evening until Monday afternoon, it was just us three, my two dogs and the open countryside. Since I’ve been visiting for the past two years, I’ve slowly started to get into the mindset of how life is at my mom’s compared to the city (where I am now permanently residing).
My whole life I grew up in the suburbs outside of downtown Cleveland so when I first saw my mom’s house in Kansas was located off of a dirt road… I knew it might take a while to get accustomed to. Fun fact: The first time I put her address into Google Maps street view, all I saw was an open field. Nothing but grass.
This weekend’s visit was the perfect getaway from the mayhem of this past month. Every week I’m downtown from 9a.m. to 8:30p.m. or 10a.m. to 7p.m. Having four days to just sit around, decorate my mom’s yard with her home-grown pumpkins and gourds and eat recipes out of my Eating Purely cookbook was just what I needed. Chickpea in the City turned into Chickpea in the Country in what seemed like overnight.
Let me just tell you that everything I ate Sunday had me on cloud nine… and ten and eleven. This apple crisp was a combination of two fruit-based recipes in the cookbook. My mom and I used a combination of granny smith and fuji apples, mixed with coconut sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon, topped off with Purely Elizabeth’s Pumpkin Fig granola and we popped it in the oven for 40 minutes until crispy. I can’t think of a better dessert for fall than this. Especially if you go apple picking, its a great way to use up some apples and you can always cut down the amount of sugar you use since apples are naturally sweet. My taste buds have shifted as I’ve grown older from craving chocolate, cake and frosting to fruit, pie crusts and flaky pastries.
The next dish we prepped from the cookbook was Elizabeth Stein’s pumpkin lentil lasagna. One of my favorite parts of cooking from cookbook or blog recipes is that if you don’t have something on hand, you can (mostly always) modify it. Of course you modify with similar ingredients but those modifications are what makes each recipe so special. For example, this recipe called for lentils and my mom had an “autumn harvest” bag of mixed yellow, orange and black on hand. Not only did it give the lasagna a variety of color but added extra protein to a dish that might otherwise go without it. With the added protein and fiber, one small slice had me stuffed!
The other components included a cashew pumpkin cheese (droolworthy to the max), vegan cheese (we chose to use regular dairy mozzarella), gluten-free noodles (we used regular semolina wheat Whole Foods 365 brand), and marinara sauce (we made our own from the 28 pounds of tomatoes my mom had lingering in her garden). Despite our mods, it was a 10/10.
On Saturday, as my mom and I got our routine pedicures, I brought my cookbook along so I could hand it over to her in hopes of picking a recipe. It’s no easy task when you eat plant-based or Purely Elizabeth-based and your family members might find it iffy. I’m always nervous to make certain dishes but my mom has a good eye for choosing recipes that she knows everyone will like.
While she flipped through the cookbook picking an entree for dinner, she stumbled upon this berry french toast. Always swapping out gluten-based bread when Elizabeth’s recipes call for gluten-free options, we picked out a cranberry walnut from the bakery section at Whole Foods. Before I discuss this magical creation further, I have to note that if you haven’t before, you MUST purchase bread from the Whole Foods bakery at least once in your life. Then consume it through this french toast because it will rock your world.
We ended up tossing the bread in the egg+almond milk+maple syrup mixture (noted in the book) Saturday night and baked it Sunday morning after topping it with frozen berries galore. Because the bread is soaked with 1/4 cup maple syrup, we found no need to top it with more maple syrup. My mom even mentioned how it wasn’t overly sweet which was a plus. I love eating my french toast covered in melted fresh fruit anyways so it was my kinda french toast.
P.s. I topped it with Justin’s classic peanut butter and was crying tears of joy at how my breakfast tasted like dessert. Huge deal.
In between baking all things purely, my mom, step-dad and I spent a good hour harvesting the pumpkins from our backyard (how amazing?!) which included a few potimarron and butternut squash. I can’t describe my love for root vegetables enough to you but through my endless amounts of Snapchats and Instagrams of them. The colors are gorgeous alone but the taste is like candy to me. I’m sure you might be thinking how weird that sounds but truly, the natural sweetness is unbeatable. A big bowl of squash, beets, parsnips… covered in tahini sauce or this hummus. I’ll have this for every snack this fall please and thank you.
Because I take the squash addiction to a real level, I asked my mom to take a photo of me in the back of my step-dad’s truck with all of the pumpkins we ripped from the vines. When wheel-barrowing them from the vines to the front of the house turned into the most grueling workout, we just threw them into the truck and drove them over instead. My mom couldn’t nail a good picture of me because she was too busy wearing gardening gloves and tossing me squash so I took matters into my own hands (literally). Awkward selfie here we are.
The best part of the country aside from the farm and fresh veggies from the garden? Being able to consecutively wear the same two outfits every day and no one cares. #perks
Along with a plethora of veggies, my mom has her own chickens which produce eggs with the brightest golden yolks I’ve ever seen. One of the most magical things about having your own farm fresh eggs is that each carton doesn’t look the same. In a carton of a dozen, there could be four different colors and an array of different sizes. She also has two horses that I’m completely in love with. I never realized how beautiful and lovable horses were until I met my mom’s own, Wonder (who is pictured above) and Chocolate. Seriously how can you not be infatuated with that beauty!?
You can’t have a successful home in the country (or as I say – “middle of nowhere Kansas”) without the essential farm animals, now can you?
While we were driving to the airport on Monday morning, I thought to myself how crazy it is that I travel to Wichita, Kansas at least 3x a year. If you put a rewind button on my life and traveled back in time 5 years, I would have never guessed I would have been walking on a dirt road in the country Friday morning, running along to my Spotify playlist, feeling on top of the world. I never would think that I’d be eating squash every single day, laying on a deck with two fluffy chow chows and posing with beets in my hand rather than with two beer cans.
It really is funny how your life can evolve in such a short period of time. There is an enormous amount of things to be seen and done in this world and through traveling in and out of the city and country, I’m continuously being blown away at all of these experiences.
From now until January, I’ll be traveling back and forth from Kansas, Ohio and Illinois quite frequently but fingers crossed I’ll hopefully land somewhere else! We will see…
*Thank you to Purely Elizabeth for sending me their new cookbook. I was not compensated for my time and all opinions are my own.*