Off the [B]Eaten Path

I apologize–it’s been a couple of months since I’ve published a meaningful post.  I’ve been busy.  I’ve been distracted.  I’ve had marshmallows in my brain. Seriously, though, some of you know about the personal journey I’ve been on.  I had no idea how it would evolve.  It’s a beautiful thing–and it’s still evolving!

Quick background and update: I’m adopted.  I’d describe myself as a “well-adjusted” adult adoptee.  I’ve always known I was adopted and I had a relatively normal, happy family life growing up with my adoptive family. Over the years, the subject of adoption would occasionally come up (with family, friends, strangers)–I don’t remember anything negative about these conversations, but what I do remember is that any questions or conversation would eventually conclude with the basic admonition that adoptees should be thankful and content with their present lives and not think about their adoptions or anything related to their biological family.  Well, I am thankful and content.  I laugh and cry, feel joy and anger like most people I know.  I’ve had a pretty great life–no complaints.  I love my Mom and Dad and my brother (who was also adopted–and is one who doles out the “do not think about it” advice regularly, believe it or not).  I was especially close to my Dad growing up–he was my inspiration for getting into cooking.  But the nagging questions were always lurking: “Why was I given away?” “Is someone looking for me?” “Who am I?” “Who do I look like?”

Of course, who I am today is due to in part to my parents’ values and beliefs, but my innate talents, intellectual capabilities, self-image, racial and ethnic heritage, personal goals and expectations, and, of course, my physical characteristics may come from a biological connection that I might never know or understand. The questions of why, who, when, where and how don’t go away.

Baby pic-tile

Well, to make a long story short (sorry, this was supposed to be a quick update), I’ll let you know that I’ve connected with several members of my biological family on both sides!  On the maternal side, most everyone is warm and open and I am enjoying getting to know aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews.  My birth mother, however, is still living under the 1963 “cloak of secrecy” she was promised with “sealed” adoption records.  What I hoped to get from my birth mother was some sort of “connection” (I’d be happy to allow her to define it–and note: I did not use the word “relationship”) and the answers to some questions about my birth father, my heritage, family health history, etc.  Unfortunately, there is no connection – she does not want contact with me.  She’s got her own issues . . . whatever.  It took several years, but I’ve accepted it (I initially found and reached out to my birth mother back in 1986).  I had also accepted the fact that I would most likely never find my birth father, because my birth mother was the only person that knew who that might be.  Even he did not know she was pregnant and had given birth.

Fast forward to 2013.  I figured the only way I would get some information about my health and potential risk for diseases was to try one of those mail order DNA tests.  So, I ordered a kit from 23andMe, spit into the test tube, sent it in . . .  and WHAT THE HELL?????  I FOUND MY BIOLOGICAL FATHER!  We’re in contact.  We’re getting to know each other.  We’re putting the pieces of a very complicated and nearly 50-year-old puzzle together.  It’s a good thing.

And I’m also getting to know some of my birth mother’s siblings and hope to meet some of them soon.  My world feels more complete.  I don’t know how else to explain it.

So . . . . other than football practice and games (Dad’s coaching and I’m Team Momming), fundraising for the team, planning and presenting cooking classes for the school, homework helping . . . wait, this is not a Mommy Blog, but you get the picture:  I’M BACK!  And I’d like to share a recipe I made with the produce I received from my CSA box last week.  Roasted Beet Salad with Carrots, Spiced Pecans and Arugula.  Enjoy!

Lovely produce from my CSA box!

Lovely produce from my CSA box!

Roasted Beet Salad with Carrots, Spiced Pecans and Arugula

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch of beets
  • 3 carrots
  • 4 cups baby arugula
  • 3 oz crumbled goat cheese
  • 1 cup Sweet & Spicy nuts (see recipe below)
  • Honey Dijon Vinaigrette (see recipe below)

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Peel and quarter the beets (cut smaller beets in half).peeling beets Toss them in olive oil to coat and season with salt and pepper. Place the beets on a foil lined rimmed baking sheet; roast in a 400 degree oven for 35-40 minutes, or until beets are tender.

While beets are roasting, remove green tops and cut rough ends off of carrots. Shred carrots (I use a food processor).carrots

To assemble salad, spread baby arugula on platter. Top with shredded carrots, roasted beets, crumbled got cheese and nuts. Drizzle with Honey Dijon Vinaigrette.

Sweet & Spicy Nuts

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup dark-brown sugar
  • ½ cup white granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (or use any spicy chile-infused seasoning you like–I used a delicious blend I received as a gift from one of my foodie buds, Catherine Wilkinson!  Shout out to Cat!  Love you, Girl!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 egg white, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 pound pecan halves or whole peeled hazelnuts (I used a combination of both)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Mix sugars, salt, cayenne or chile seasoning, and cinnamon, making sure there are no lumps; set aside.

Controlled Burn - from The Spice Traveler in Prescott, AZ

Controlled Burn – from The Spice Traveler in Prescott, AZ

Beat egg white and water until frothy but not stiff. Add nuts and stir to coat evenly. Sprinkle nuts with sugar mixture, and toss until evenly coated.nuts 2

Spread sugared nuts in a single layer on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper (or use a silpat). nuts 3Bake for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from oven, and separate nuts as they cool. When completely cool, pour the nuts into a bowl, breaking up any that stick together.

Honey Dijon Vinaigrette

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons white wine or champagne vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallots
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup olive oil

Whisk all ingredients together or shake vigorously in jar.

22 responses to “Off the [B]Eaten Path

  1. Although I have been privy to this very personal journey you are on, I am so happy to see this blog. It’s too big to keep it in! I’m so happy for you. We still love you, marshmallow brain and all. X0

  2. We all have this fundamental question in mind: where did I come from? I am amazed you have time for anything else and happy that you have some positive results. Also, nothing wrong with marshmallow brain-that’s me on a good day…

  3. I have missed you Laureen and am so happy for you. I can only imagine how mentally and physically draining this has been. This is all very amazing.

  4. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again………..you are such a courageous, and determined person, stepping way out of your comfort zone, taking risks, exploring and living life to the fullest! Good onya! Keep it up – you’re amazing!

  5. I don’t care if wild goats were your parents…you are still such an incredible woman and friend and I support you 100% in anything and everything you decide to along your journey.

  6. I’m so happy that things are turning out so well on your adoption journey, Laureen! It makes my heart happy to know you are feeling more complete, and your new found family are finding out what I’ve known forever…you are an amazing, loving, talented and hilarious woman that I love so much!!!! XOX

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