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Cook Happy Project Week 13

Happy Sunday to you! 

This morning I am pondering the concept of “decolonizing my time,” an idea I have been exposed to via healers and teachers such as Justin Michael Williams and Tricia Hersey of The Nap Ministry.  

Capitalism, and racial capitalism more specifically, which valorizes productivity and output, would have us toil and grind to the point of exhaustion. This approach to living is rooted in white supremacy, a connection that Hersey eloquently clarifies in her writings.   

Williams, too, distinguishes between “colonized creativity,” whereby we engage in creative projects with a focus on production and deadlines and profit and perfection, versus “decolonized creativity,” which allows us to immerse ourselves in the process and focus on finding joy through our creative pursuits. 

I have experienced this distinction in my writing life as I have wavered back and forth about whether or not to complete a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. I genuinely wanted to improve my craft, but I also found myself focused on the degree title and the thesis as a product and “getting ahead” with my writing career. I view this blogging effort as progress when it comes to focusing on process, joy, and straightforward self-expression. 

Cooking is another avenue for “decolonized creativity,” I have found. This week I found contentment in preparing a buttery sauteed kale mixture, including cranberries, shallot, leek, and mushrooms, apricot oat bars that would likely appeal to toddlers and children, but also served me well for breakfast, as well as a sundried tomato and goat cheese angel hair pasta that made for a satisfying supper. 

In the coming week, I hope you give yourself some space and time to tap into your inner creativity, whether that means weeding your driveway, making your bed, or preparing a simple meal. Go ahead and disregard the outcome. In the meantime, give one of these recipes a try. 


Sauteed Kale, Mushrooms, and Cranberries
Adapted from Weeknights with Giada: Quick and Simple Recipes to Revamp Dinner

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
1 medium leek, white and pale green parts only, thinly sliced and rinsed  
8 ounces button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced (4 cups)
Kosher salt and black pepper
12 ounces kale, stemmed and torn into large leaves
¼ cup chicken or vegetable broth
⅓ cup dried cranberries


  • Prep all your ingredients. 
  • Warm a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the butter and olive oil, allowing the butter to melt. Add the sliced shallot, leek, and mushrooms, as well as 1 ½ teaspoons salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables soften, approximately 8 minutes. 
  • Add the kale and cook until wilted, about 6 minutes. 
  • Add the broth and the cranberries. Bring to a boil and scrape away any brown bits at the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Voila! 

Apricot Oat Bars
Adapted from Weeknights with Giada: Quick and Simple Recipes to Revamp Dinner

Butter or baking spray
1 ¼ cups apricot jam or preserves
8 dried apricots, chopped into small pieces (about ⅓ cup)
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 packed cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¾ teaspoon Kosher salt
¾ teaspoon baking soda
1 ¾ cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup (4 ounces) coarsely chopped walnuts
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg, beaten, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  • Grease a 9x13x2 baking dish.
  • In a small bowl, mix the jam and the apricots.
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda. Fold in the oats and the walnuts. Add the butter, egg, and vanilla, and stir until incorporated. 
  • Lightly press half of the crust mixture onto the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Using a spatula, spread the filling over the crust, leaving a 1/2 -inch border around the edge of the pan. 
  • Cover the filling with the remaining crust mixture and gently press to flatten. 
  • Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until light golden. Cool for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days. 

Angel Hair Pasta With Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Goat Cheese
Adapted from Everyday Pasta: A Cookbook

1 10 oz jar sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, chopped (oil reserved)
1 small onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup tomato paste
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1 pound angel hair pasta
3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
½ teaspoon pepper
4 oz log, goat cheese, coarsely crumbled


  • Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes in a large skillet over medium heat.
  • Add the onion and saute until tender, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. 
  • Add the tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. 
  • Add the broth and chopped sun-dried tomatoes and simmer until the liquid reduces by half, about 2 minutes. 
  • Add the chopped parsley and the goat cheese, breaking the cheese up to distribute evenly. 
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 4 minutes. Drain. 
  • Dump the drained pasta back into the pot and add the sauce, mixing together. 
  • Consider adding a few more sun-dried tomatoes, if you have another jar 🙂

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