End of Spring Poetry June 2018

The earth is alive again thanks to the coming of the solstice. It seems only fitting that I finish my “spring cleaning” and share a few poems that I wrote to de-clutter my mind  over the past few weeks. Since mental health has been a focal topic in the media recently (and an important one, at that), my focus in this short series is just that; but in the true spirit of poetry, I’ll leave the discovery of meaning to you, the reader.

Panic
Memories sting like hornets
swarming my mind
I struggle to breathe
it is a challenge to see through such strife
when with pain, I am so rife
my memories seethe
as I seek to find
a moment to gasp for air and hear the cornets
that play a song of hope which disturb my despair.

Dysmorphia
I look in the mirror to see myself
only to find someone else
shamefully glaring back
with a gaze that could melt a Polar ice shelf
this feeling is hard to unpack
my eyes whip me like belts
punishing me for what I lack
blistering my ego with welts
some days I want to be anyone but my self
because being in my skin is like wearing itchy felts
but sometimes we have to put these feelings on a shelf
and allow ourselves to heal from the dysmorphia which cuts us apart like a razorback.

IMG_20180616_211018_143.jpgFresh Air
I plow through green waves of grain
as the pain
incurred by living the mundane
rolls away from my shoulder blades
like a bird’s wings slick off the rain
as a storm fades
I often wonder how we stay sane
living in concrete caves
as indentured slaves
to the technology we make offerings to and praise
and yet I break the chain
which binds me to a life from others that’s lived both close and far away
–from this place I stray
none of us belong, anyway;
this, I all ponder as the sun wanes
casting golden light onto the ancient grains
as my mind soars over them like the plains
which paint the earth and maintais
its beauty like beautiful stains
which are able to make me humane once more.

 

All material is my own and subject to copyright. When sharing, please place a link to my original blog post, as well as cite my name, to give proper credit. To publish my work, please contact me via my Contact page.

Spring Poetry May 2018

Poetry is one of my favorite ways to express myself on paper, but it’s also a medium that I’d neglected for a large portion of my life–that is, up until about last year. After having a hard time finding the inspiration to sit down and write fiction, I began to focus on trying to write at least one poem a day. That way, even if what I write is rubbish, at least I’m writing something. There are still many days when I forget to write, but there are increasingly more days on which I remember (and write even more than one poem). I’ve become very fond of this practice, and now that my blog is more inclusive of who I am beyond food, I’ve found a place to begin to share it.

Over the next year, I’m hoping to begin to organize my poetry to submit to a publisher or to self-publish a chapbook. If you have any feedback or like what you’re seeing, I’d love to hear from you. These poems are my original work and I reserve all rights, so please contact me before sharing.

I’ve put compiled three of my favorite poems that I’ve written this May below, and look forward to sharing more:

Song Birds
Birds chirp
like tiny bells
ringing in
a new day

my heart swells
as tears well
within
the corners of my eyes

Nature is God’s way of showing us our worth.

 

Wind Chimes
The wind plays chimes
like a bell choir
striking heavenly notes
interrupted by the chortling gloats
of birds on a wire
as I admire
my neighbor’s Columbines
I could never tire
of how one dotes
on how spring and summer coat
the earth with life.

 
Bloom
I bloom to know
reaching upward
attempting to grow
who I am inward.

 

 

Reintroducing Myself

My name is Jessica Sheridan and I’m a 26 year-old wife, mom of two dogs, writer, recipe developer, and Master Roaster who lives in beautiful Milwaukee, Wisconsin. But before we move on, what the heck is a Master Roaster? It’s a fancy title for someone who oversees the production of roasting coffee (think quality control). And luckily for me, it also means I get to work with coffee, write about coffee, and even develop coffee drinks and brew recipes. I love my job, but it’s also only one of many passions.

In fact, it just so happens that my working in coffee is a happy accident. Some people might also call this fate, but I digress. When I first started grad school in 2014, I needed a job with flexibility. A coffee shop was the perfect fit. As I worked on my MA in Language, Literature, and Translation, I quickly fell in love with working in coffee, and eventually was given the opportunity to begin roasting during my last semester. At this point in my life, I had reached an impasse. Should I apply to a PhD program and become a professor of literature, which had been my plan for over 6 years? Should I go to law school, which I had been accepted into? Or should I follow my heart, take a leap of faith, and accept a full-time job in coffee?

BB1_8105.jpgI chose the former, and although I cannot say I have never looked back, I continue to forge onward, defining a path for myself that was entirely unexpected, but entirely appropriate for who I am as a person.  Although I sometimes wonder what it would be like if I pursued law or a PhD in literature, I’m satisfied with my choice and the freedom to explore that it has given me. It’s hard to imagine my life without working in coffee, but there’s also a lot to me beyond coffee that I’d like to begin to share as well, and that’s where this blog comes in.

Aside from the copy I write for my work and an article I got published in a trade magazine, the past couple years, I haven’t written nearly as much as I hoped I would after graduation. Like all writers, I was hoping to crank out a novel in less than a year and start a career in writing. But as it always does, life happened, and here I am two years later with a few incomplete fictional novels that I rarely get around to working on.

As if it were some stroke of genius (but probably just a brush with reality if I’m not being dramatic), I recently decided that perhaps my problem was what I’ve been writing. Naturally I want to write fiction like all of the great authors whom I admire, but like many people trained in literary criticism, I encounter a wall of difficulty trying to write anything like them. Yet when I write non-fiction, the words flow through my fingertips from my brain, pulsing like blood through the veins. Coupled with the realization that my food blog was failing, I decided to begin this one–a personal lifestyle blog about my search for radiance in every day living. After all, after working on trying to create and grow a food blog for the past two years, I finally realized what was missing this whole time–me. And, well, if you know me at all, that was a huge problem.

My solution? Something bigger, bolder, and uniquely Jessica–well-refined and curated, but eclectic and all-purpose. From this, Radiantly Living was born. I kept all of my old recipe content, but expanded the scope of my blog to be about much more than just food.

Please join me as I explore the things, people, places, foods, and memories that make my life radiant.

 

Radiantly,

Jessica

 

 

 

 

Photos by DTMingo Photography 2018

Spicy Cashew Cheese (Queso de anacardo picante)

guat2
Cupping at San Miguel Coffees in Guatemala (Photo: Stone Creek Coffee)

Well, I have failed miserably at my goal of posting one blog post per week, but I’m back nonetheless. After spending the past two months traveling for work to places like Knoxville, TN, Guatemala, and Costa Rica, I’m full of inspiration and ready to get back into the kitchen.

As I have met new people and seen new places, these past few months have been a time of immense reflection for me.  The very least I can say of this reflection is that I am eternally grateful for all of the once-in-a-lifetime experiences that I’ve been able to have in such a short amount of time.

After all, there is nothing quite like traveling out of the country for your first time, or traveling with your partner for their first time out of the country either.  There is nothing quite like tasting a fruit that you never had before.  And, similarly, yet appearing vastly different, there is nothing quite like going to your first coffee farm, or even like having a farmer show you around their land.

Although incredibly different, these experiences all share one thing in common which unites them–they only happen once.  These once-in-a-lifetime moments are momentary, but what we can learn from them is lasting.

However, learning only endures if we share it.

Chepe1
A view from my friend Chepe’s farm in Chirripo, Brunca, Costa Rica.

 

I don’t feel that what I have learned means very much–at least for me–if I don’t share it with others.  Therefore, in order to grow from what I’ve learned, I’m going to make an effort to share and utilize the things that I have learned, and this blog is one of the many ways that I am going to do that.

 

One of the ways in which I am going to do this is with language.  My recent travels have inspired me to improve my Spanish.  So, at least for now, I’ve officially decided to begin writing my recipes in English and Spanish!

I hope to reach more people and make new friends along the way, as well as open new horizons in food for myself and others. As I work on this, please feel free to share any corrections or helpful suggestions.

That being said,  I’ve got a killer recipe to share with ya’ll to come back with a bang! After months of pushing off trying to make it (partly because I felt bad about cheating on dairy cheese, partly because of the price), I finally decided to try making homemade cashew cheese.

Spicy Cashew Cheese2
Spicy cashew cheese on top of a bed of spaghetti squash.

Man, was I missing out! Now that I see how easy it is to make and how simple it is to alter, I’ll definitely be making this healthy, dairy-free alternative to cheese more often!

Ingredients · Ingredientes

  • 1/4 Cup Filtered water / Agua filtrada
  • 1 Cup Raw cashews / Anacardos crudos
  • 2 Tbsp Fresh parsley / Perejil fresco
  • 1/4 Cup Nutritional yeast / Levadura nutricional
  • 1-2 tsp Red pepper flakes / Hojuelas de pimienta roja
  • 1-2 tsp Himalayan pink salt / Sal himalaya
  • 1 Tbsp White wine vinegar / Vinagre de vino blanco
  • 1 Tbsp Lemon juice / Jugo de limón

Instructions · Instrucciones

  1. Soak cashews in water for at least two hours. / Empapar los anacardos en agua por lo menos 2 horas.
  2. Dry off cashews. / Seque los anacardos.
  3. Place cashews and all other ingredients in blender or food processor. / Coloque los anacardos y todos los demás ingredientes en la licuadora.
  4. Blend for 2 minutes, stopping to scrape off sides at least once. / Mezcla durante 2 minutos. Raspar los lados de la licuadora después de 1 minuto.
  5. Remove from food processor and enjoy for up 7 days. Store in refridgerator. Enjoy! / Retirar de la licuadora. Guardar en el refrigerador por hasta 7 días. ¡Disfrutar!

French Toast

I have high hopes and expectations for the breakfasts and brunches that I create, but they often fall short when I’m low on time or ingredients. This French Toast recipe is one of my go-to’s in those times, and it came in clutch this morning when I looked in the fridge and saw less than I had hoped to find.

Forunately, I always seem to have eggs and bread-and perhaps you find yourself in a similar predicament, too. Give it a try and this French Toast will have you thankful for the simple things in life.

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Recipe serves 2-3 (makes 6 pieces total)

French Toast

Ingredients:

  • 6 pieces Italian bread with sesame seeds (use any white or wheat bread that you like)
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 Tbsp milk or water (optional)
  • Butter for greasing pantmp_25843-img_20170108_102700_4631067401932

Directions:

  1. Beat eggs in as medium sized bowl.
  2. Add in cinnamon, ginger, and milk (optional), making sure to thoroughly incorporate.
  3. Place a medium or large-sized non-stick skillet over medium heat.
  4. Once the pan is warm, place a small pad of butter on the pan to grease.tmp_25843-IMG_20170108_103421_4812087872579.jpg
  5. Dredge bread through the egg mixture, one piece at at a time, making sure that each side is covered, but leaving any excess behind (do not leave it dripping with mixture).
  6. Place on pan. Heat for about 2-6 minutes, or until golden brown, before flipping to cook the other side for 2-6 more minutes.
  7. Once done, remove from heat.
  8. Repeat process with remaining pieces of bread.
  9. Enjoy plain or serve French Toast warm drizzled with pure maple syrup, warm honey, jam, or preserves. Sprinkle with cane sugar, powdered sugar, ground cinnamon, or ginger for extra texture and flavor.
  10. Enjoy!

Creamy Mashed Potatoes

Happy New Year!

The start of this New Year has me reflecting and thinking about my goals for 2017.  And no, these goals are not any kind of resolutions or empty “new year, new me” promises that are bound to fail from the start.  However, they are goals that I have purposefully and mindfully set in order to realize my true potential and become my best self.  They are milestones that I have set for myself to achieve, grow with, and learn from, and I can’t wait to start going down the list and checking them off!   They include, but are not limited to: competing in my first coffee competition, traveling to Guatemala on my first coffee origin trip, taking the dogs for more walks, and visiting at least three state parks with Mike that we’ve never been to before.

All in all, I anticipate that this year will be a year of exploration—and I’m ready for the adventure!  Along with this adventure, this year, my goal is to share at least one recipe (or food/beverage-related blog post) each week.  Although I’ve been notoriously bad about keeping up with my blogging in the past, I’d like 2017 to be the year that that changes.

To kick it off, I’m sharing one of my favorite go-to recipes.  It’s good on its own or topped with goodies, and it’s sure to stick to your ribs—perfect for a Wisconsin winter or a hot summer—it’s Creamy Mashed Potatoes!   These versatile mashed potatoes are quick and simple, and you’ll be wondering why they weren’t in your repertoire sooner.  So grab a few spuds and put some hot water on for mashed potatoes to remember.

And cheers to your best year yet!

Creamy Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients

4 washed large potatoes, preferably russet or yellow

¼ C milk

1-2 Tbsp unsalted butter (can use more or less depending on what you’re looking for)

¼ C cream cheese

1 tsp sea salt (or salt to taste)

¼ tsp ground black pepper (or to taste)

1 tsp parsley flakes

mashed-potatoes-2

Directions

To start, thoroughly wash the potatoes, ensuring that all of the dirt is removed from their skin.  Set two potatoes aside.  Peel the remaining two potatoes and discard of their excess skin.  Rinse the peeled potatoes once more.  Cut all four potatoes into cubes no larger than 2 inches.

Bring 2-3qts of water (or enough water to cover the potatoes) to boil in a 4qt pan.  Add a dash of salt.  Place cubed potatoes in boiling water.  Reduce heat to medium-high.  Cook about 15 minutes, or until potato falls off of fork when you poke it.  Turn off the heat on the burner.  Drain the water from the potatoes and return pan with potatoes to the warm burner.   Add the butter, cream cheese, and milk.  Smash with mashed potato smasher or spoon until mixed.   For chunkier potatoes, make sure to not over-smash.   Add salt, pepper, and parsley.  Mix with spoon until blended.    Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to one week.  Enjoy!

mashed potatoes 3.jpg

Serves 2-4.

Lemon Drop Cookies

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to all of my friends who are celebrating tonight!  I’ve decided to share one of my favorite cookie recipes that I tried this season in order to celebrate!

In my experience, refrigerator cookies always turn out the best.  Thanks to refrigeration strengthening the molecular bonds of the dough before it is introduced to heat in the oven (which alters them yet again by breaking these same bonds, but at a slower rate thanks to refrigeration), they turn out pillowy, yet rich and golden brown.*  For this exact reason, when I came across the recipe that inspired this one, I knew I’d love them.

If you know me well, you’ve probably heard me mention in the past few months that my Grandma bought me the Taste of Home 2016 Christmas Cookbook.  Anything that my Grandma gets for me is precious to me, but this gift was especially precious since Grandma is one of my cooking role models.  In light of this, I promised myself that I’d try some of them (I’ve been notoriously guilty of not trying recipes in the cookbooks that I’m given or buy).  And I’m thankful I did, because that’s exactly where I found the recipe that inspired this one, originally titled “Lemon Slice Sugar Cookies”.

The first time I made it, they were all out of lemon pudding at the store, but I had recently scored some lemon extract on sale, so I thought I’d give vanilla pudding a shot instead.  After trying it both ways, it turns out that I think the vanilla is even better than the lemon—providing it with an extra depth of flavor and sweetness.  Keeping Grandma—who has been diabetic for quite a few years now but still likes to indulge in sweet treats from time to time—in mind, I’ve also slightly reduced the sugar (and you can even swap out the pudding for sugar-free vanilla pudding if you need to, as well).  And, since I’m the queen of substitutions, I’ve included other substitution suggestions as well.

I liked this recipe so much that I included it in my holiday cookie gifts this year.  I hope that you enjoy this citrusy treat as much as me!

*For more on this, http://www.theelevatedkitchen.com/guides/science-proteins is a great, quick read.

 Lemon Drop Cookies

Ingredients:

Cookies

1 pkg vanilla pudding (could also use lemon; if using lemon, omit lemon extract)

1/3 C granulated sugar (you can increase to ½ C sugar if you’d like a sweeter cookie)

1 ½-2 ½ tsp lemon extract (use less if you want them to be sweeter, more if you want them to be more lemony)

½ C (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

1 egg

2 Tbsp milk

1 ½ C unbleached flour (bleached is fine if that’s all you have)

1 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

Icing

½ C confection sugar

2-4 Tbsp fresh-squeezed lemon juice (could also use lemon extract if you don’t have any, but use 1tsp extract:2 tsp water in order to dilute; you can also substitute lemon juice for grapefruit juice if you’d like to introduce a more unique citric dimension to the cookie)

lemon-drop-cookies-1

Directions:

Combine vanilla pudding, sugar, lemon extract, and butter in a large bowl by mixing until fluffy.  Add egg and slowly mix in milk until combined.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt.  Gradually incorporate dry mixture into wet mixture.  Mix until combined.

Divide dough in half.  Lay out dough on plastic wrap and shape into a log (no shorter than 5”, no longer than 7”). Cover with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for at least one hour.

Preheat oven to 375* F.  Take dough out of refrigerator and cut into 1/2” slices.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper or grease pan (if not non-stick).  Place cookies on pan 2” apart.  Bake 8-10 minutes, or until light golden brown on the bottom of the cookie.

Remove the cookies from oven and place on cooling rack.

Combine confection sugar and lemon juice in bowl.  Drizzle cookies with icing once cool, leaving them on the rack to dry once more after icing.  Enjoy!

Yields about 2 dozen.