I refuse to settle.
On canned beans. On crap food. On bad mascara. And on life…especially on life.
Tip #1: soak your beans…just like you soak up life.
Eek out every last droplet of moisture and let those beans (and your life) get plump. Let them soften with water, dwell in a glistening pool of liquid and fatten up like Santa Claus with a tray full of chocolate chip cookies on Christmas Eve. You won’t be disappointed in the result. Cook them for an hour over medium heat on the stove, and when they’re done, enjoy the crunch and softness and creaminess of a freshly-cooked bean.
Tip #2: buy from your local farmer’s market.
What’s not to love about local, fresh produce? Awwww yeah…that’s what I thought, NOTHING. Buy seasonal. Buy local. Buy asparagus. Buy cheese. Buy herbs. And if you pronounce it “herbs” instead of “erbs,” then more power to you. Lemon basil and cilantro, may the force be with you.
Tip #3: use good-quality mascara.
I’m talking Shu Uemura (the expensive stuff) or CoverGirl LashBlast (the cheap stuff). Personally, I go for the latter. This oh-so-cultured Everythingtarian is all about drug store make-up and trash magazines. Nothing gives me a high quite like buying St. Ives Apricot Scrub while reading the latest edition of Star Magazine in line at Walgreens. No shame my friends, no shame.
Tip #4: quit a job that’s making you unhappy. I did!
Today is my official last day at the full-time job I’ve held for nearly three years. And before you even ask it, NO. No no no no no, I have not a clue what my next step is.
I do know that since December, I have somehow managed to finagle a host of freelance jobs – writing, editing, social media-ing and marketing my way to some helpful, on-the-side paychecks. They’ve involved TV and cheese and top-secret negotiations I have to keep quiet about for now. After six months of working a full eight hours a day and going home to do an additional 2 to 5 hours of work a night however, something had to give. My sanity or sleep. Either I had to refocus in my full-time job or give freelancing a shot. And so, about a month ago, I decided to take a leap.
A giant leap into the world of freelance and uncertainty and what-the-hell-am-I-doing and true happiness. And you know what? It.feels.awesome. It feels freeing to be pursuing something I love. It feels scary to know that I could fall flat on my face at any given moment. And it feels liberating to escape a job that wasn’t built for my personal skill set or interests.
This life, this new direction, this meal…it was built for me.
Creamy, spicy polenta. Crispy asparagus. Fried beans. Tangy, salty feta. A generous pour of pinot noir. And of course, an adorable flowered summer dress.
Please, eat it up along with me.
I’m going to need all the help I can get.
P.S. If you’re looking for a writer/editor/marketer/host/persona/renaissance woman, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Seriously.
Spicy Polenta with Grilled Asparagus, Pan-Fried Beans and Feta
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
3 T olive oil
1 bunch asparagus
1 T minced garlic
2 bulbs spring onion or scallion, sliced
4 cups water or vegetable stock
1 cup quick-cooking cornmeal
2 T butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 t crushed red pepper
salt + pepper, to taste
1 cup cooked cannellini or other bean of choice (i.e. kidney, lima or garbanzo)
1 t salt
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
On a baking sheet, toss asparagus in 1 T olive oil and bake until golden brown. Turning after 20 minutes.
On medium-low heat in a saucepan, saute 1 T olive oil and garlic until fragrant. Add onion and cook an additional 2-3 minutes. Pour in water, and let come to a boil. Add polenta, and whisk constantly for 5-6 minutes until cooked through. Add in butter and heavy cream, continuing to whisk until blended and smooth. Season with salt, pepper and red pepper.
Meanwhile, in a skillet over medium-high heat, saute beans in 1 T olive oil. Let brown for 3-4 minutes per side. When finished, season with salt.
To serve, layer polenta with grilled asparagus, pan-fried beans and 2 T crumbled feta.
Makes 4 servings