Nik of Thyme
Images in collaboration with Francesca Carpinelli of Cocina Vegano
Not long ago, I was reading a book title Bread and Wine written by Shauna Neiquiest. I picked up the book by theme and title, I had never read the author or her blog before but the tagline on the cover read “a love letter to life around the table with recipes,” it was enough to sell me.
As I was reading the decision to start this blog became firm. Although we have entirely different lifestyles and food choices, Shauna takes you on a home cooking and homemaking journey. She teaches you how to love food as much as you love your family and how the two are one in the same. Her numerous cooking club stories and love for those around her resonated with me. Since I started cooking, I have always done so in groups learning and sharing ideas, flavors, textures and techniques. Family in my opinion is anyone who wants to be included at the table, so reading her book was like reading part of my own.
Everyone knows my kitchen is always open, I create a family everywhere I go because I feed people. It is in my bones to share what is around my table with anyone who comes through the door. Once I was even told being at my house was like going to moms. Relaxed, full and comfortable. I’m not even 30 yet, haven’t started a nuclear family, but I have a worldwide family who has taught me about love and food. This blog isn’t only about introducing me, you will meet all of them along the way too.
I realize that for most people, becoming vegan is a very daunting task because dedicating to a plant based lifestyle means dedicating to a lifetime of cooking. More and more restaurants are starting, even I married a vegan chef, but I know nothing will or can ever replace the love of cooking and eating at home. I want to give you the bare bones of the kitchen and recipes that you can adapt and build upon. We will start with simple dishes and the necessities learning the techniques that build the robust food I create today.
I always have my hands busy, some have told me the amount of projects I juggle is exhausting to watch. At some points in my life I have become overwhelming, but now I have learned to let each moment and activity happen as it needs. I don’t rush my plants to grow, why do I rush my crochet to finish faster or my story to edit easier. The trick is to constantly keep working a little at a time and in the end you will see you have come a long way. The turtle, if you will. Meditation is practiced not only seated an in silence but in every moment of consciousness. We know that stress is killing us, but the pursuit of finishing everything (perfectly) is causing us to stress out. I have let go of the end result and practice taking part in the process. A college adviser always told us all, the process is the most important part. Life is a process and our drive to see the end is taking away our joy right now in the middle. Cooking and gardening is how I enjoy the process and the ritual of daily life, it is how I de-stress. The beauty of creating and consuming drives most of us and I believe a pretty healthy outlet is as close as your own kitchen.
Certainly, I can’t only touch on me and my inspirations I also have to talk about the name. Nik of Thyme, obviously a pun, we were looking for a fun food or garden name that spoke to the complexity of me as a human. For my non-native english speaking audience, to do something in the nick of time, means to do it at the last possible moment. Perhaps you could say, I’m a procrastinator. This blog and this project is certainly in the nick of time for me and I have delayed my beginning of it for over 7 years for this reason or that reason. Yet, as I write to you my new audience I know that I am right on time. Years ago, I wouldn’t have been ready to share with you as completely as I am ready to share now. You are entering a plant based lifestyle, here we eat plants, we live with plants, we clean with plants, we heal with plants, we travel to see plants and we even decorate with plants. Nature is a blessing that I don’t take lightly and my home is here to protect and nourish as many plants as possible.
What content can you expect to see when I say I am writing a plant based lifestyle blog. You can certainly expect garden how-tos, intros to various plants and helpful tips keeping your green babies healthy. You will also find vegan recipes, home and personal cleaning supplies, travel (mostly in Mexico) and my own philosophy. You are entering my lifestyle which is profoundly structured around connecting to nature, buddhist thought and various forms of meditation. I want to share that part of my life with you because, I have learned a lot about managing stress, emotions and relationships, and I think any good lifestyle blogs should be willing to share all. Finally, In the kitchen I use slow food as an act of meditation and a way to connect with myself and those around me. I want to teach you about handmade processes and the art of truly loving what you eat.
I invite you into my story but I will admit to you all my inspiration along the way from my grandma, to my friends, to street food I have eaten or only smelled. Today I couldn’t be here without a few thanks yous. Firstly my dear friend Kate who always designs up the best ideas with me, and is always willing to go 100% into an art project I am dedicated to. Kate has also eaten the first, maybe, less good version of just about every one of my recipes from tuppers and tables during College, so thanks friend for being my original recipe tester by default.
A second thank you to Mark who took my raw ideas and concepts and crafted them into the image of a webpage you see before you. We are all good at something, and community helps us learn more and be better than we ever are alone. Thank you Mark you made this project even greater.
Next there is Ceraun who worked with me from the very beginning, shell of an idea to focus my many piecean imaginations into something I could market, and also thank you for always creating with me and pushing my work to be better. We need strong critical minds around us and Ceraun is one who pushes me fiercer and further than most others.
Nik of Thyme would have never been if it wasn’t for the amazing cunning, spunk and luster of Molly. This would have been a flat Jackfruit or Sweet Potato punchline instead, so thank you Molly for the most amazing and regal name I could have ever imagined.
Likewise, this post would have never looked this amazing if it wasn’t for the talent and eye of Francesca. We have to find friends in every place that we are and Mexico is now my home and it’s company is embracing me well. Fran’s talent with the camera is an inspiration and as an amature who only started taking photos 6 months ago, I feel blessed to be surrounded by people who want to create and eat. Thank you Fran for sharing your love of food, plants and photography with me and the world.
My family will be meet throughout these months to come, but one person must be my last thank you. My partner, Mike, is the real one to thank for this blog. He started telling me a year ago I should be posting my food on the internet. He pushed me and pushed me until I finally did. The response was better than expected and you all asked, what is it? How do I make it? It was clear a blog had to happen, but without Mike’s constant support I never would have gotten to the point of sharing food with you. So I’m happy to be here, and I’m happy you are here too.
Finally, you must have a recipe. It wouldn’t be right to start the blog after all the delay and anticipation without one. Today’s inspiration is from Shauna Neiquist and the book I read from tagline alone, in her most raw form she taught me the power of opening up. The chapter that resonated with me the most came early in the book and is titled “on tea and pajamas.” Obviously she had my attention, tea and pajamas (next to coffee and goats) are among my favorite things. She ends the chapter with a recipe for breakfast quinoa, reminding me of my post College days when I found myself in Washington DC. I would ride my bike 5 miles to work each way and for breakfast I found quinoa was the only thing strong enough to stay with me during such exercise. While mine is vastly different than Shauna’s the emotion is all the same. Food should lift our spirits and nurture our soul, I believe quinoa can do just that.
Thank you for everyone who has or will inspire my pages, I hope you find your story here along the way. The garden can’t wait to meet you and feed you all.
Image by NikofThyme
Breakfast Quinoa Recipe
2 cups vegetable milk (I prefer coconut)
1 cup quinoa (rinsed)
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of sea salt
2-3 Tablespoons maple syrup or agave
Bring milk and quinoa, to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce heat to low, and simmer, covered, until most of the milk has been absorbed, about 15 minutes.
Stir in cinnamon and maple syrup. Cook, covered, until almost all the milk has been absorbed or the quinoa is soft, about 8 minutes.
Serve with a splash of milk and a drizzle of maple syrup or a spoon full of nut butter.
I also like to add bananas and fresh fruit on top.
Remember I like versatile dishes, feel free to top your breakfast quinoa with anything.