Archive for July, 2012

Kale And Quinoa Patties And The Spirit Of The Southern Wild

Before slipping into the vortex of the next two months of work trips galore, I wanted to stop by and share some things I have been crazy about lately. I had intended to share this kale and quinoa patty recipe before the recent retreat I went on, but the retreat was so great I wanted to leave the images fresh in my mind. And now here I am ready to share this delicious and fabulous recipe and there is something even more pressing to share!

If I have talked to you in the last week I have probably told you to get to a movie theater and get there quick. Not in my usual way but in the way that prompted me to send numerous texts to people saying YOU HAVE TO SEE THIS MOVIE AND DON’T WAIT! It is rare that a movie moves me so deeply and when it does the feeling is so special I want to shout it from the tops of buildings and share it with everyone I know. The recent movie that left me so motivated to climb hills just so I could scream of its tremendous merits was BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD.

Before the title credit had played I had goose bumps and I was leaning over propelled by the music to whisper to my friend Eniel that this movie was already blowing me away. It is lyrical, mythical, fantastical, heartbreaking, and uplifting all at the same time. It is everything you want to experience in a dark theater and too often find escaping you; it is everything you want to tell people they have to experience for themselves and then watch them tell everyone they know to watch it. I went in with high expectations (it won big at Sundance and Cannes and has had great reviews) but it exceeded my every hope. Like the main character Hushpuppy, this small film packs a heart and soul larger than anything you could ever dream to find. So there it is, if I haven’t texted you to say GO GET TO A THEATER I am now saying it here, run and I promise you will be happy you did and sharing the news as enthusiastically as I am.

Now on to some Kale and Quinoa, don’t let the excitement about the movie detract your attention from these delicious little pieces of yum. These are inspired from SUPER NATURAL EVERY DAY, and they might be my favorite recipe from this cookbook. I have made these little quinoa cakes multiple times in the last few months in multiple ways (with kale, with chard, with no veg option at all). They are packed with protein, portable, and best of all they taste fantastic! I make a half recipe from what is called for in the cookbook only being able to eat so much kale and quinoa in a week.

KALE AND QUINOA PATTIES (adapted from Super Natural Every Day)


1 ¼ cups cooked quinoa

2 Large Eggs lightly beaten

¼ teaspoon fine grain sea salt

¼ cup finely chopped fresh chives

1 yellow onion finely diced and divided in half

¼ cup (or more sometimes) grated Parmesan cheese

2 cloves garlic diced and divided in half

½ cup breadcrumbs

Water if needed

1 to 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil divided

½ a bunch of kale any variety (or spinach or chard)

Splash of red wine vinegar

To Cook Quinoa: Combine 1 cup of well-rinsed uncooked quinoa with 1 ½ cups water and ¼ teaspoon fine grain sea salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover, decrease the heat, and simmer for 25 – 30 minutes, until the quinoa is tender and you can see the little curlicues form the beads of quinoa. Set quinoa aside to cool. Sometimes I make extra quinoa the night before with dinner and make these patties the next day; conversely you could just put the quinoa in the fridge to get cool. You want the quinoa to be room temperature or colder as you combine raw egg to it.

Sauté kale or other greens of your choice with half of the onion and one clove of garlic in 1 tablespoon of olive oil until kale is wilted and onion is translucent. Remove mixture from heat and add splash of red wine vinegar (this will help to brighten the flavor). Set aside and let this mixture cool to room temperature as well.

Combine the quinoa, eggs, salt, and kale in a medium bowl. Stir in the chives, remaining half of onion, and garlic. Add breadcrumbs, stir until fully combined. Then let mixture sit for a few minutes to absorb moisture.

At this point you should have a mixture that you can form into 10 – 12 small patties. You can always add more breadcrumbs to a moist mixture or more beaten egg or water to a dry mixture.

Heat half of remaining oil in a heavy skillet or I use my Dutch oven, over medium-low heat (temperature is important; too hot and you get some crispy dark spots, I did it once). Add 5 – 6 patties very carefully to hot oil; you want them to have some room between each other. Cover and cook for 7 – 10 minutes until the bottoms are golden to brown. Turn up the heat if they are not browning or turn it down if they are browning too fast.

Carefully flip the patties with a spatula, cover with lid, and cook the second side for 7 minutes or until golden.

Remove from pan to wire rack or plate while you cook the remaining patties in remaining olive oil.

These little patties take some time and a number of steps but they are well worth it. They stay good in the fridge and are great hot, cold, or at room temperature. They were even great en route to the Catskills!

~ Ramona


07 2012

Weekend Retreat

If I close my eyes I see the phosphorescent glow of fireflies gliding through pale blue New England nights. I see green mountains gently tumbling into fields of trees that give way to pastures of tall grass. I smell mint steeping in sun tea, and mixed berry crumbles pulled warm from hot ovens. I taste fresh produce – plums tart and deep purple to make me think of beets, fennel and dill mixing with buttermilk tang on fresh crisp greens.  I feel my deep breath centered in a still and happy place within me. All of this from one wonderful weekend on a Pilates retreat in the Catskills!

My friend and fantastic travel companion Gina invited me to join her for a weekend in Stone Ridge, NY. The promise was hikes, fresh air, Pilates classes, food made from local farms; I couldn’t say no. And how happy I am that I didn’t.

I have been home from Kenya and the bulk of the RAvolution for a year now; and what a tremulous year it has been. I found it so easy to set off on that journey and I have found it so hard to return from it. I found myself more changed than I ever expected and grasping at just what those changes mean for my life and me. I have found little to stimulate or excite me in the same way as before.  I found the easy joys that once existed elude me. I felt (and to a large part still feel) lost, unsure, and unsteady. I couldn’t tell if it was my new life or the way I was in it and I found it hard to imagine that there was the same kind of spark that once existed inside me.

That was how I said yes to this weekend, but it wasn’t how I returned from this weekend. It was simple and should not have felt as deep as it did. Only a few hours outside of the city in the Catskills I found the lightness inside me again for a weekend.

There were only 6 of us and I can say it feels like they are all new friends. We shared lovingly constructed meals – s’mores made with ginger cookies while fireflies zipped before us, popovers with honey chili butter and watermelon with vanilla salt and lemon for breakfast. We went on hikes up mountains and down to lakes, we stretched our bodies, and laid in hammocks with books splayed before us. We laughed; we talked about everything from pop culture news to deep philosophical ideas.

It was so humble; a beautiful welcoming home and refurbished barn that filled with warm people, and the stove and grill brimming with fine food was heightened. It became a few moments of seeing what I have been missing since returning from all of those far off places, happiness here in these new present moments of life.

It didn’t take long for me to find the peace I have struggled for, and to simply sit still with it, swing in gentle breezes with it, walk through nature with it. It was only a weekend but for a weekend I felt myself again, the self I like, the self I miss, and the self I could for a weekend see a way back to.


The retreat was the first Jessie Zalla put together this year, and she has two more this summer and a possible fall retreat. I can’t say enough about the experience, if you are lucky enough to take part I hope you will sip the fizzy grape aid slowly under the giant tree and remember that life for a moment can be perfect and unfettered.

My deepest thanks to all who were part of this fantastic weekend, especially Laura for her stunning food, Gina for introducing me to this group, and Jessie for putting together a retreat that was a delight like no other.

Wishing you all moments of simple but profound happiness to let you know they still exist.



07 2012