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.
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!
Roasted Beet Salad with Carrots, Spiced Pecans and Arugula
- 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)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Peel and quarter the beets (cut smaller beets in half). 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.
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
- 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)
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Mix sugars, salt, cayenne or chile seasoning, and cinnamon, making sure there are no lumps; set aside.
Spread sugared nuts in a single layer on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper (or use a silpat). Bake 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
- 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.