Did everyone (well, those of you who are Stateside) have an enjoyable long weekend? Thom wound up eating so much food on Thursday night that he couldn’t stand up straight, so we called it quits a little early and were tucked into bed by 9:30PM (AKA my ideal bedtime). The next morning I woke up with a strange urge to go grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s, so I did. I wound up filling the cart with a bunch of stuff we didn’t need, like garland and frozen açai packets and those gross, neon orange cheese puffs because my dude – the one who has zero self control on that joke of a holiday we refer to as Thanksgiving – loves them. And I don’t have it in me to tell him he can’t eat them because it’s his body, yo! Anyway, I came back home and fiddled with the garland and swept our floor no less than five times (’cause garland creates a real mess) before I finally decided to hang it over the big window with our FELIZ NAVIDAD garland strung overtop. Then I woke Thom and he almost immediately stated that he dislikes it. But not enough to try to convince me to take it down which, I think, means he secretly kinda has a soft spot for it.
When we first started dating, Thom was vehemently opposed to holiday decorations for reasons I still only half understand. But then, the other morning – after damn near a decade of resistance – he admitted that the decorations have grown on him and that he actually looks forward to the day we put them up together. And I about lost my shit because DID MY EBENEZER SCROOGE REALLY JUST SAY WHAT I THINK HE SAID? We spent a good chunk of that morning talking about all of our favorite holiday traditions; ones we had growing up and ones we’d like to start on our own. We talked about the jolly dude with the beard and if we’d tell our future children (FYI: as of now there are exactly zero children in my future but I’m willing to entertain the fact that I just might change my mind) (..but probably not) that he’s real. We talked about how nice it’s going to be to celebrate our first holiday season out in Colorado after years and years of flying back east. And it was then that I had to take a deep breath because, truth be told, I wasn’t sure we’d make it to the point of celebrating the holidays at home. The renovation was pretty rough on our relationship. Did I tell you that? I feel like I somehow kept that little bit of info concealed because the last thing you want to do, as you’re watching your relationship slowly swirl down the drain, is talk about how your relationship is swirling down the drain. You know?
So this is the part where I admit that the renovation changed me. And him. And us and our relationship. For a while it changed us for the worse. For a while I hated waking up next to him and I’m pretty sure he hated waking up next to me, too. For a while I thought that maybe we weren’t going to make it; that THIS was going to be the straw that broke the camel’s back. But we made it out on the other side despite the fact that we spent a solid month weathering a storm that nearly broke us. A storm we watched with wide, horrified eyes, not knowing what the fuck was going to happen next. It’s almost like in that moment of complete and utter despair, we reached into the unknown depths of our bellies and pulled out a card we didn’t even know we had. And we played it, not knowing if it was going to be for better or for worse. Thankfully, this time, mine was for the better. And thankfully, this time, his was, too.
All that to say, we’re still here – in all our messy glory (though, admittedly, a lot less messy now that we’re no longer confined to 192 square feet of living space) – doing this thing. And sliding into nine years come 24 December. He finally came around to the holiday decorations (!) but still hasn’t learned when to stop shoving food into his face come the fourth Thursday of November. As for me, well, now that the Great Decoration Struggle is over I’ve started a new campaign: trying to convince him that cashew-based sauces are where it’s at. In all seriousness though, I’m just thankful that I still get to do life with the man who has a love for me that’s so massive it could swallow the world whole. A love that, I am certain, will overcome just about anything we throw its way.
Notes: For last minute soaking, cover the cashews with boiling water. After one hour, drain the water and they’ll be ready to go. If you’d prefer to go the cashew-free route, you can u 2 1/4 cups of cooked white beans in place of the cashews. However, the cashew version definitely reigns supreme. If you’re not into cashews or beans, try this recipe instead. If you like super thick alfredo sauce, use 3/4 cup of almondmilk; for something a little thinner, the full cup. The coconut oil isn’t 100% necessary but I do find that it keeps better in the fridge when I use it. To up the protein content, serve pasta with pan-friend chickpeas (it’s surprisingly delicious).
More cashew-based goodness: black bean + tempeh tacos with cashew cheese sauce, broccoli + sunflower seed ravioli with cashew vodka sauce, and spicy black bean burrito bowls with cashew + hemp seed chipotle sauce.
FETTUCCINE CASHEW ALFREDO
Cashew alfredo sauce
2 tablespoons (22g) unrefined coconut oil, divided
1 small yellow onion, diced
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup (130g) raw cashews, soaked 4+ hours or overnight (in a super cute bowl)
3/4-1 cup (165-220g) unsweetened almondmilk (see notes above)
1 tablespoon (12g) freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons (10g) nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon (3g) fine salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
You’ll also need
Brown rice fettuccine, cooked
Sautéed vegetables (I went with crimini mushrooms, Brussels sprouts, and peas)
Fresh parsley, finely chopped
Heavy pinch of sea salt flakes
Freshly ground black pepper
Add 1 teaspoon of the coconut oil to a small saucepan set over medium heat. Once heated, add the diced onion and minced garlic, and cook – stirring as needed – until the onion is soft; about five minutes. Once soft, add the onion, garlic, and remaining coconut oil to the base of a high powdered blender, such as a Vitamix. Drain the water from the cashews then add the cashews, almondmilk, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, salt, and pepper to the base of the blender, too. Blend on high speed until smooth and creamy; 30-45 seconds. Transfer the sauce to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use. If you don’t want to use it right away, it will keep for up to five days in the refrigerator. If you want to freeze it, do so in ice cube trays and thaw as needed.
To serve, divide the fettuccine noodles between bowls (or plates) and drizzle with cashew alfredo sauce (heat sauce if desired). Top with sautéed vegetables then finish with parsley, salt, and pepper. Serve with crispy bread and oil.. because why the hell not.
Yield: 2 cups of sauce/enough to feed 4-6 people