“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds you sow.” Robert Louis Stevenson
I hate to admit this but: I think the flowers on our front porch are dying. I know. I bought them back in March, for $7, on a hot and windy day where I had to hold my skirt down just to keep it from blowing, and I repotted them next to our welcome mat, in a place where you could see them from the road, hoping their bright pink buds would add just a tiny bit of color to the green landscape that surrounds our little house.
Since then, there’s been watering, sometimes, like when I’ve looked at them out our dining room window and realized it’s been at least a few days of forgetting. But there’s also been heat, lots of it, enough to make the edges of the flowers brown—just at the tips—prompting me to water them again, until I’d forget again; now, they’re dry and crisp-looking.
I’m a terrible gardener. And not just of flowers.
In an email the other day, my friend Kendra used the phrase “filling my soul” to describe something she was doing, and it struck me: it doesn’t matter if it’s a pet or a person or a $7 flower pot, life needs nurturing. It’s through the feeding and the watering and the loving and the connecting that living things grow. And, while I love seeing pretty flowers or rich harvests, the ugly truth is that I don’t always love the day-to-day work of planting seeds and watering them and, waiting.
Ashley of Not Without Salt posted some beautiful thoughts about vulnerability yesterday, describing how hard it can feel to expose yourself, without pretense and without walls, especially when you don’t know how someone will take it. I read it and liked her more than ever—that’s what vulnerability can do, right? build intimacy. I thought how necessary authenticity is to any kind of meaningful connection. And I thought about how I’ve been blessed to see this here, many times, as you’ve welcomed me in with open arms as I’ve poured out my heart about missing what’s familiar or a period of depression or how much I love my husband, and you’ve told me your stories, and I’ve tasted something nourishing, something real.
But what about when that nourishing response isn’t immediate? What about when you have to take the risk yourself, over and over, and then, wait?
I hate waiting. If the minute I planted a seed—or took a friend to lunch, or told you the truth about my insecurities, or admitted the thing about which I’m most afraid—I saw results, some connection, well, then that would be different. That would be easy. That’s what I like about cooking: when I go to the kitchen, throwing oil and spices in the skillet, adding ground cauliflower like it’s rice, I’m almost guaranteed that, win or lose, there’s going to be something to show for it: dinner. Even if it’s a terrible dinner, at least it’s something I can see, something I can look at as proof of my effort.
But when I make the little investments of trying to build new relationships, of putting myself out there to be vulnerable, on the other hand, something I’ve been going at since I moved last year, sometimes all it feels like is slow. Slow and pointless. Slow like it’s never going to bear fruit. Slow like why-can’t-I-go-back-to-the-already-tended-and-thriving-gardens-I-left-in-Chicago?
I’ve wanted to stop trying. Just talk on a surface level or, better yet, retreat to my introversion and stay tucked in at home with Tim—and sometimes I do.
As I was thinking about these things this past Sunday, I flipped through a free magazine and, providentially, saw the Robert Louis Stevenson quote posted above, reminding me to measure the seeds, not the harvest, of my days.
The seeds, not the harvest.
Those words brought real relief. All creation cries it out! This is His promise! Be not weary in well-doing, because, you can believe it, seeds will bring harvest, nurturing will bring life, you will reap if you faint not. Waiting may be the hardest part, but you won’t wait forever; just as there are seasons of planting, there are seasons when you watch things grow.
I’m hanging on to that promise today, as I keep on watering and waiting, watering and waiting, and I don’t just mean the plants.
On Cauliflower Fried Rice: Turns out this has been the Spring of the Cauliflower in our home, as we’ve marveled at its ability to be delicious roasted, as pizza crust and, now, as a truly believable faux-rice. After grinding it up in your food processor, you can use it in any sort of pilaf or fried rice you like.
Cauliflower Fried Rice with Cashews and Coconut
Adapted from Heribvoracious
Serves 2 as an entree or 4 as a side
I know it seems like extra work to toast the cashews and coconut ahead of time for this one, but people, do it. The resulting blend of textures, at once crunchy and soft, are such a treat.
1/2 cup raw cashews
6 tablespoons unsweetened dried coconut
3 tablespoons coconut oil
3/4 cup diced onion
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
Salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 cup ground cauliflower*
Juice of 1/2 lime
Crushed pepper to taste (optional)
Toast the cashews in a large skillet (ideally well-seasoned cast iron) over medium low heat until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Set aside. Toast the coconut in the same skillet and reserve.
Next, add the coconut oil to the skillet and warm it over medium-high heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the onion and ginger and fry until the onion begins to soften, about 3 minutes. Add good cracks of salt and pepper. Add the garam masala and turmeric. Stir in the ground cauliflower, the cashews and the coconut. Remove from heat. Squeeze in the lime juice. Taste and adjust seasonings as you like (I also added in some crushed red pepper, but this is optional).
About Shanna Mallon
Shanna holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her mantra? Restoring order and celebrating beauty through creative content, photography, and food. Shanna's work has been featured in Bon Appetit, The Kitchn, MSN.com, Everyday Health, Better Homes & Gardens, Houzz.com, Food News Journal, Food52, Zeit Magazine, Chew the World, Mom.me, Babble, Delish.com, Parade, Foodista, Entrepreneur and Ragan PR.