Balsamic Swiss Chard Tart with Rye Cracker Crust.

We met on the subway. He fell. I laughed. Four stops later, we were texting from opposite ends of the block. It was the kind of obnoxious meet cute people move to New York to experience. The kind that doesn’t happen. Except it did.

Our first date was stupidly perfect. It was a dark and stormy night, and we got drinks at a speakeasy downtown. The bar was too loud, our bodies too close, the repartee too easy. We carelessly tossed around secrets that should have been coaxed out over weeks or months. In between those sweet, sloppy overshares, there was dancing and kissing and running through alleys and groping in taxis and broken umbrellas abandoned in rainy streets.

And kale. A shared love of dark leafy greens became our first inside joke. I awoke the next day to a very un-chill request for a second date and fired back a very un-chill YES, suggesting a restaurant known for its cult-status kale salad. At work, I pounded kale chips, high on hope and Vitamin C, too green myself to check my runaway daydreams.

Our second date went like a third, if you know what I mean. And sometime between the night of and the morning after, something kale-d the vibe. His alarm went off and he tore into the shower without so much as a good morning, and I have this sad recollection of thinking, Oh.

I didn’t leave, because I didn’t want to be the girl who left. I quickly wished I had. He was leaving the country for a two-week vacation, and it felt too soon to say what I wanted to, which was: Wait. No. Stop. I like you. Tell me what this is. Instead, I threw down some impressively blasé girl games to compensate for all the rules I’d already broken. We parted on weird terms, and I spent two weeks feeling alternately self-satisfied and panicked, obsessively checking my phone for a text I knew wasn’t coming.

Meanwhile, he got back together with his ex.

Since then, I’ve had a physical reaction to kale that rivals what I experience when someone unscrews the cap on a Diet Coke spiked with Smirnoff. (College!) It tastes like lust and loss and puts my stomach in angry, gurgling knots. I’m pretty sure the trauma incurred by eating it negates the benefits. So I don’t.

It’s cool. There are other fish in the sea. Butter lettuce has some smooth moves, and I’ve been known to fool around with shaved raw fennel. But when only a dark leafy green will do, chard’s the one — preferably baked in a buttery rye crust and served by the slice. I’ll have you know we are very happy together.

Take that, kale.

Balsamic Swiss Chard and Gouda Tart with Rye Cracker Crust

This is loosely based on a spinach tart I make on the reg. The crust can be made with olive oil, but I dig a buttery base with the sweeter balsamic and gouda filling. I used crushed rye Wasa crispbread for something like a savory graham cracker crust — for a whole-wheat version, try the original recipe.

1 1/2 cups rye cracker crumbs (about 12 crackers)
6 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 large bunch Swiss chard, stems diced and leaves cut into ribbons
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 shallot, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 ounces aged Gouda, shredded

Coarse salt & cracked pepper

1. Prepare the crust. Whisk together the cracker crumbs and salt. Add the butter, plus about 1/2 cup of water. It should have the look of wet sand and hold its shape when pinched. Press it into a 9″ springform pan, using a measuring cup to pack it down evenly and making sure it comes up about an inch around the sides. Note: You can par-bake this, but I’m all for saving time and found that it crisped up nicely when baked with the filling. Up to you.

2. In a large pot over medium-low heat, stir chard leaves until wilted. Wrap in a paper towel or cheesecloth and wring out excess water. Don’t not do this or you will have a sad, soggy tart. Set aside in a large bowl.

3. In the same pot, sautee the shallot and chard stems in olive oil until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, and cook for another minute.

4. Add the shallot mixture to the chard leaves, along with the vinegar, eggs and gouda. Season with a pinch of salt and a generous shower of cracked black pepper.

5. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes, or until crust is golden-brown and fragrant and greens are set. Laugh in the face of kale salad.

Condiments Anonymous.

The time has come to admit that I have a problem. I am powerless over my addiction and I do not want to get better.

Open my fridge and OH GOD DON’T LOOK AT ME:

three kinds of hot sauce
four kinds of mustard
an economy-sized tub of miso
a row of half-empty jam jars
a bottle of soy sauce AND an emergency stash of takeout packets
fancy anchovies
enough pickles to carry my veg intake for several weeks
salted fig caramel sauce
small-batch artisanal horseradish
Hidden Valley Ranch because LET ME LIVE
and several unmarked jars filled with mysterious DIYs.

Simply put, I want my kitchen to feel like the better parts of a fast-casual restaurant. I’m a fan of batch cooking and leftovers, so the condiment fetish is my way of re-accessorizing the same old LBD (Lazy Bowl Dinner).

Besides, any condiment addict knows they’re good for more than a swipe on a sandwich. They’re not just embellishments. They’re ingredients. I put blackberry jam in my pulled pork and anchovies in my tomato sauce. A well-deployed condiment can transform a basic recipe with virtually no extra effort.

Which brings me to herb oil. Few things I make on a regular basis DON’T call for a glug of olive or coconut oil, and rarely do they suffer from a subtle herbal infusion. I’ve made chive, thyme, and basil oils, and I show no sign of stopping. You heard me. I do not want to get better.

If you’re looking to fall down this rabbit hole, I am looking to enable you. If not, avert your gaze now.

CHIVE OIL ALL DAY EVERY DAY.

You’ll four parts herb to one part oil. The amounts don’t matter as long as the ratio’s right — it just depends how much you want to make. I wouldn’t use less than 1/4 cup of oil, as you’ll lose too much in the process to make it worth your while.

For leafy herbs (basil, mint): Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Add the herbs and blanch them for 10 seconds. It’s a quick dip, but it keeps them from discoloring and brightens the flavor just a smidge. Plunge them into cold water, wring them out, and blend them with the oil. Push that ish through a coffee filter. Welcome to the jungle.

For sprig herbs (thyme, rosemary): Place a handful of herbs directly into the oil and bring that to a boil. Turn off the heat and let it steep for an hour or two. Strain out the stems and leaves.

Responsible media outlets would say it keeps for a week, but I’ve had chive oil in my fridge for a several months with no issues so…take your chances and please don’t sue me. Instead, do this stuff:

make it rain on yo saladz
~*spice up ur stir-frii*~
give roasted veggies a swift kick in the ass
knead it into pizza dough and top with garlic and Parmesan
rub down a piece of chicken or fish
drizzle it on soup
toss it with pasta
whip it into hummus
massage it into your cuticles
use it to grease the floor of your enemy’s summer camp cabin

Let’s see your Hidden Valley Ranch do that.

Still here, still hungry.

OH WOW.

Thank you for your compassionate response to my ED recovery story. Sharing it was hard and weird and wonderfully freeing, and I have no regrets. Since food and fitness have been major talking points around here, I want to be honest about how my view of health is evolving. I own my missteps and am so grateful for the discourse surrounding that post.

I want to quickly address what that means for this, uh, food blog…because nothing gets the appetite going like mental illness, no? I mentioned that my fixation with food was a product of my uber-restrictive diet and a way of distracting myself from loneliness and lack of purpose. That’s a bummer, and valuable knowledge for me. I’m working toward a new normal that does NOT involve food as the source of every joy, frustration, success or failure (and also involves eating a lot more of it). Part of that means stepping away from the stove and taking a good hard look at what’s missing elsewhere.

That said, cooking is a huge part of who I am. And I don’t think that needs to change. I still believe in food as a source of connection and creativity. It’s just up to me to make sure I’m using it that way. Sharing stories and recipes here keeps me accountable to exploring the moments before, during, and after the meal, and to spinning them into something bigger than me. I want to love food not just as an end in itself, but for what I take away once my plate is clear.

So that’s that. We back. Let’s not make this awkward like LOL I MEAN LIKE COME ON GUYS BE COOL.

Eating Disorder Recovery: When “healthy” is a lie.

TW: If you’re struggling with an eating disorder, please care for yourself. None of this is meant to upset you, but if you’re sensitive to photos or talk of disordered behaviors, maybe skip this one. We’ll return to your irregularly scheduled sass soon enough.

There’s never a convenient time to talk about eating disorders. Trust me, I’ve been waiting on it for years. There’s always something: What will X new friend think? What will X future employer think? What if X potential suitor googles me (bigger threat: what if he DOESN’T? What kind of sociopath are we dealing with here?), freaks out and says gurl, bye?

Short answer: GURL, BYE. I need people in my life who can deal. Easy to understand, harder to implement.

The bigger issue is that nearly five years after entering treatment for (what started as) bulimia, I don’t consider myself recovered. Recovering, yes. I go days, weeks, even months feeling like I’m over it. Spoiler: I’m not. Recovery has been far from linear and is complicated by the fact that my ED followed a sizable weight loss. I have no normal to return to. Instead, I have these:

the overweight overeater

the frustrated yo-yo dieter

the out-of-control bulimic

the hyper-controlled health nut

the food-obsessed waif

the gluten-free vegan

the compulsive gym rat

the anxious, run-down shell who said, holy shit, this could go on forever.

And now I’m…what? Tired of thinking about it. Tired of hiding from it. And kind of wanting to talk about it, even if the words are as clumsy and circuitous as the journey has been.

Unless you’re being force-fed in a hospital — and often even if you are — recovery is rarely a simple prescription. I sought salvation from bulimia in “healthy living”: If what I ate was good for me, I could commit to keeping it down. I developed a love of wholesome cooking and got into running and weight training. My binges got fewer and further between. My weight stabilized and actually dropped. I figured out how to incorporate the odd baked good or rich meal, and got a real kick out of publicly Eating While Thin.

Double-fisting Shake Shack! …Followed by a slice of watermelon for dinner.

What I didn’t know is that I was way underfueling my body type and activity level. For YEARS. I wasn’t consciously restricting, but I look back and do a quick tally and guys. It was just not enough. I knew I sometimes went to bed hungry. I knew I kept a food journal and planned all my meals in advance. I knew spontaneous eating stressed me out and my rigidness interfered with my relationships. I knew I spent all day lusting over recipes and restaurants. I thought I was just, I dunno, really into food.

Dead eyes + bones = you’re doing it wrong.

I was fine until I wasn’t. I hit a wall a little over a year ago. I couldn’t understand why despite eating “healthy” (read: tiny portions of so-called clean food), I felt sick all the time. Exhausted, edgy, foggy, bloated, plagued by dry skin and acne I never got as a teen. I was a model of health…and I looked and felt like shit.

“So I says to the guy, ‘Sternum? I hardly know ’em!'”

I confused the bloating with weight gain — unacceptable, since my self-identity had come to revolve around Eating While Thin. God forbid anyone see me looking a little squishy. I cancelled plans and eventually stopped making them, convinced that what little social life I had left was pulling me away from my “healthy” routine. The good times could resume once I got things under control.

Me on a fat day. Def.

I saw a doctor, who basically told me it was all in my head. He said I should focus on reducing stress and give up gluten despite testing negative for Celiac. I realized I could control the bloating by basically never eating more than a few bites at a time. My energy temporarily spiked, which is a biological response to starvation (…so you can find food). Then it got 10x worse.

(Could it have been because I was barely clearing a thousand calories on top of a rigorous workout regimen, and my organ function and hormone production had slowed to a crawl?! Dammit, Emma, you with your spoilers.)

Much swoll. Very muscles. I could barely carry those eye bags.

I spent all my free time googling symptoms and digging through forums for answers. Then I did a few things at once. I quit caffeine, knowing it wound me up tight. I adopted a totally gluten-free, vegan diet — by that point, my digestion was so suppressed that I was convinced I had real intolerances — and I told myself I could eat as much as I wanted, whenever I wanted, as long as it was “healthy.” While plenty confining, it was a system I’d never trusted before. Whole avocados instead of anemic slivers. Almond butter feasts straight from the jar. Full-fat coconut milk with raw cacao and honey every night before bed.

And something wild happened. I gained weight. Not a ton — maybe ten or fifteen pounds — but it came on quickly and settled evenly. Wilder still, I didn’t become hideously unattractive. Quite the opposite. The bloat deflated, my skin calmed down, and my face and curves filled out. This was not the unflattering layer of water that had settled under my skin in response to a chronic deficit. This was straight-up fat – honest and womanly, firm to the touch, and just what my body needed.

My eyes brightened. My cheeks flushed. I had never been hit on more in my life. More importantly, I felt relaxed and silly and social and sensual — like myself for the first time in longer than I knew.

Selfie-improvement.

Unfortunately, I didn’t quite get it yet. I gave my narrow diet’s contents more credit than its flood of usable energy. Upon realizing I couldn’t do the gluten-free vegan thing forever, I fell back into restrictive patterns: small portions paired with a serious cardio habit. Pretty standard — maybe fine for someone without such fraught digestive and nervous systems — but not nearly enough for my barely-healing body. The weight fell off, and my symptoms returned with a vengeance. I couldn’t leave the house without throbbing headaches. I couldn’t run without swelling up with stress-induced water weight for days. Are these my choices? I wondered. Chronic inflammation or morbid obesity?

Well, as it turns out, no.

I’ve arrived at the final frontier: permission to eat, full stop, “healthy” or not. Recovery 2: 4 REALZ THIS TIME finds me trying to reset my metabolism and get to my body’s natural weight on what is, for me, an unprecedented amount of food. On top of my regular meals (which have doubled in size), I’m trying to eat when I’m hungry, even if I just had a full meal an hour ago. The more I resist, the longer it will take for my body to trust me and use that energy for good. There’s science to back it up, but it goes against every tenet of mainstream diet culture — a hard sell for someone not underweight by the scale.

It’s incredibly daunting to eat like a teenage boy after being so careful for so long. But once I stopped suppressing my hunger, I was shocked by how much of it I felt. Far more than I could physically fill with my old staples. I’ve had to embrace fats and simple carbs — which make me feel great — and avoid anything with too much fiber, which makes me want to explode. Instead of overthinking it, I’m taking my multivitamin and hoping my body is smarter than me. As first world problems go, there are worse things than eating a lot of cheese.

I’ve been doing it for about two months — no cardio, to boot — and it has not turned me into Jabba the Hutt. It’s that same fifteen pounds, and that same vitality I lacked as a paragon of “health.” Even without the pristine diet. I can and do eat everything, and my skin and mind are mostly clear. The weight is honest and womanly. I know that it is good.

Not every day is good, though. Water retention can be unpredictable and drastically change my appearance in a matter of hours. I’ll catch sight of an old photo or something that no longer fits and think, Maybe I was just doing it wrong. If I tweak my macros. Load up on fruits and veggies. The “Bad Blood” music video, while epic, was triggering as fuck. I went to bed hungry three nights in a row in pursuit of uber-svelte Swiftyness. Lo and behold: Headaches! Joint pain! A fresh crop of zits! My body simply will not do it anymore, and neither will I. Anyone who judges the weight gain does not have my best interests at heart. I am not letting myself go. I am letting go of a compulsion that kept me from living fully.

My body feels awkward right now, but I’m finding my peace with it. I also know I may need to gain more, and I have to accept that too — even if that weight comes from eating cake for breakfast, or having three snacks in the time I’d have formerly allowed myself one. The definition of “healthy” changes after an eating disorder. Finding that mental freedom — challenging my fears and my systems — is so much more important than a little bit of vanity weight. The best thing I can do is focus on developing value markers outside of my size and surrounding myself with people who couldn’t care less.

No witty bow to tie up this one, friends. Thank you for letting me share. I hope for your sake you can’t relate, but if you can, I hope this spurred you toward a positive change, or at least made you think. If you want to talk more, I’m only an email away.

Mexican Chocolate Granola.

I am no baker. Dessert got me into the kitchen — which speaks more to my love of sugar than anything else — but I have little patience for recipes and rules, both central to the delicate reactions that turn butter and flour into cookies and cakes. When I bake, I bake like a cook: impulsive and sloppy, eyeballing measurements and swapping ingredients at will. Baking is science, and I’m the bad kid who shows up on exam day and passes on sheer probability.

Mainly, I stick to utility baking: bread and granola. Both are fairly forgiving canvases that let me operate on taste and touch. There’s less sugar involved, but no less love of the process. And nothing like knowing I gave birth to the base of my basic-ass avocado toast.

What I miss is the generosity involved in conventional baking. Precious few can survive on cookies alone (though I seem to be following a disproportionate number on Instagram), so when we bake, we bake to feed. I think of the batches I used to churn out for classmates and coworkers: YOU GET A CARB! AND YOU GET A CARB! How natural and rewarding it felt to share. I miss that feeling. Granola, however fortifying, doesn’t carry the same allure. Cooking for one, however gratifying, can be a lonely gig.

I don’t always DIY. I get lazy and shell out for bougie artisanal granola. But even if some anonymous oat master nails the grain-to-nut-to-sweetener ratio, all those maple-glazed pecans eventually start to taste the same. And it starts to feel demeaning that all I contributed was $12 for the bag (oof).

So I bake. Granola! One of the easiest things to make at home, and one where we stand to gain the most from doing so. If I’m going to call it dinner — as I have on more than one occasion — I can at least know that I gave birth to my bougie-ass bowl. And then I’ll tell you about it, in hopes you’ll agree that eating faintly spiced chocolate for breakfast (or dinner) is a commendable life choice. And I’ll know that, if only from a distance, I did my part.

Mexican Chocolate Granola

Warning: Your home will smell like a churro factory for a torturous length of time, and I will not apologize. Cooking it low and slow keeps the little bits from burning in the time it takes for the oats to crisp up. This makes a dainty batch for those who (ahem) cannot commit to a whole box of cereal and also cannot be trusted with granola. Feel free to double, triple, and send whatever you don’t finish to me.

1 1/2 cups oats (or buckwheat, pictured here because I Can’t Be Tamed)
1/2 cup flaked coconut
1/4 cup pepitas
1/4 cup cacao nibs
3 tablespoons coconut oil
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Generous pinch of cayenne

1. Preheat oven to 225. Whisk together coconut oil, honey, cocoa, vanilla and spices in a medium saucepan over low heat. Stir in dry ingredients.

2. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for about an hour, stirring and/or taste-testing every 20 minutes. Let cool completely. If it’s still chewy, pop it back in the oven and dry that sucker out.

Cha-cha now, y’all.

One of the first articles I ever published was a pseudo-inspirational rant called “Hello, My Name is Emma, and I’m a Quitter.” With all the confidence of 19 fairly knock-free years, I recall abandoning piano lessons for dance class (because “no preteen girl in her right mind would choose tea-length dresses over sequined hot pants”) and urge my peers to turn from their colorless lives and walk it out. I end with this clincher:

“I give you all permission to quit. Quit your job. Quit your major. Quit your relationship, if you have to. Do a little soul-searching and discover what it is that makes you happy. The only one you’ll have to answer to is yourself, and I’m sure you’re the harshest critic that you know. In the immortal words of Rihanna, just live your life. Ay, ay, ay.”

RIHANNA, Y’ALL.

I read this and feel like a shadow of my 19-year-old self. I still back this advice, but I’m really bad at acting on it. Where my soul is concerned, I’m all search and no rescue, letting pride and fear of discomfort cockblock action. Rude.

I just turned 26, and I’m trying to Benjamin Button my way back onto the dance floor. So in the spirit of embracing my inner quitter/cocky 19-year-old, I’m pleased to share that I’m valiantly failing my New Year’s resolutions and mostly pretty stoked about it. Sometimes taking two steps back means INVENTING THE CHA-CHA SLIDE. Hey, it beats piano.

Dear January, You’re Full of Shit and Here’s Why

No headphones on the train. This was a nice idea meant to help me connect with my surroundings and minimize time on autopilot. It’s still a nice idea – in fact, I’m writing this in a notebook on the train right now, which I probably wouldn’t be doing if I hadn’t accidentally left my headphones at the office. It’s just not a realistic everyday rule. Trashy EMP is the only way I can get it up some days, and I forgive myself for that.

What I HAVE done is adopt a ritual that makes my commute less of a slog. Instead of taking my caffeine to the face when I wake in the 5 o’ clock hour, I try to wait and either bring (LOL) or buy (yep) something to sip on my way into work. It’s extremely pleasant to hold a fancy beverage and plan my day or stare at babies or whatever — even if Krewella is still providing the soundtrack — and it helps me arrive in a state of peak phreshnezz (read: aggressive caffeination). It also means I drop some dimes at the Pine Tree Natural Organic Land bodega, but my buddy there gives me free bananas, so I’m pretty sure I’m breaking even come snacktime.

Up my manicure game. Okay, yes, but do you know how much I cook and how many dishes I wash/toss in the sink and think about washing?! Many many dishes, which means my manicures last maybe 24 hours and my hands look twice as old as my face. So I guess what I’m saying is that my new resolution is to buy rubber gloves.

Commit to life after bangs. WTF. Why. I look so good with bangs. I am not your sad friend who chopped off her hair to get over a breakup. I keep going back to them because they work. They soften my features and hide my weird hairline and signal that I don’t take my cheeseburger-print dress too seriously. Let’s stop pretending I want a grown-up haircut. You can’t fight destiny, because her child will avenge you and f*cking Beyonce plays for that team.

Run 13.1. I’m in pretty great shape, if I do say so myself. I have my soft spots, because I enjoy housing carbs and cooking while tipsy, but I sweat almost daily and the meatheads at my gym ask my advice on muscle splits. Here’s what doesn’t interest me: achieving ~peak fitness~, whatever that means. The second exercise stops feeling constructive or voluntary is the second I am OUT.

Whatever cocktail of mental and physical stressors aligned in my half marathon training was not doing this body good. I was undertraining and panicked about it, prone to insomnia that I dealt with by carbo-loading myself to not-sleep before runs I would skip because what I really wanted was a strength circuit or trendy cardio class, which I wouldn’t do because I needed to save myself for runs. Dumbest loop ever. It was a mess and I was a mess and furious that so many people could force themselves to do this and I COULD NOT, especially after announcing to literally thousands of people that I would.

In that sense, it was hard to quit. But once I did, I felt nothing but 100% relief. For me, exercise has always been about feeling happy and fit and the opposite of everything I felt while forcing myself to be a distance runner.

The awesome part was remembering how much I love staying active in other ways! I am pumping dat iron and lip-syncing my heart out on the elliptical! Casual runs on sunny Saturdays that involve cross-training on swing sets and refueling with doughnuts: I love you! Do not come near me with a training schedule and a race number for several years at least!

UGH CATHARSIS LIKE LEGIT I AM REBORN.

Eat sandwiches for lunch. This one is going really well!

Get outta town. Also fruitful! I did the L.A. thang in February and I’m off to Sonoma next week for work! Basically I flee to the West Coast every chance I get and it’s only a matter of time until I just don’t come back…!

Wear pants on the weekend. It’s been more of a sundress situation, but it’s progress!

Ulfilter myself. Well, I made it back here eventually WHADDAYAWANTFROMME.

Pistachio-Walnut Baklava Butter (or, the cookie butter of baklava).

These is lean times in Chez Embry, my very fancy 400-square-foot home. I’ve never been great at saving in a world where J.Crew and cold-pressed juices exist, and this year, the holidays rolled around and I just. Went. Nuts. I mean, nuts. If you invite me to do anything before March, just know I’ll be eating beforehand. And probably walking from central Brooklyn.

January is blessedly lame and therefore an ideal time to ease up on the nuts. Meaning literal nuts, meaning no $15 jars of MaraNatha Raw Organic Almond Butter (I know but you guys, their texture game is on point). Necessity breeds invention and yadda yadda, and Chez Embry is never without le nut butter. I was out of le almonds, though. So I gave their sassy green brothers a conspiratorial wink, and Baklava Butter was born.

First, a shoutout to Nuts.com, the reason I have the whole world in my pantry. They offered my company a 10% discount and, being a lunatic, I promptly ordered $350 worth of ~superfoods~ (see: spending problem). Dare I say it was worth it, because I’ve been coasting on that stash for months, and I now know that kale granola exists and spirulina is aces mixed into brown rice. I’ve used Nuts.com a few times since; my order always arrives the next day, with an extra sample or two tucked inside. Everything’s top-notch and fresher than Beyoncé. Even the eco-friendly packaging is delightful. No front here, I just honestly love Nuts.com and I want you to put spirulina in your rice, too. And when you finish, there’s baklava for dessert.

Pistachio-Walnut Baklava Butter

I straight-up high-fived myself upon tasting this. It is spreadable baklava, plus all the goodness of B vitamins and alpha-linolenic acid, which I’ll let you google if you’re someone who cares about that. You could probably get away with two tablespoons of honey, but I have a sugar problem as well as a spending problem, so this is the version I’m putting my name on. It’s barely a recipe, but order and timing do matter, and toasting the nuts makes all the difference in flavor.

2 cups raw pistachios
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
3 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup raw walnuts

1. Heat oven to 375. Toast pistachios until fragrant, about eight minutes. While they cool, do the same to the walnuts.

2. Dump pistachios into a reasonably capable food processer. Forge past flour and into butter consistency, when the oils release and you have to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

3. Add honey and spices. The mixture will seize up briefly, but don’t freak out! Let it get that out of its system so you can get it into yours (ha ha ha am I a food writer yet?).

4. Once the mixture is smooth and sticky, add the walnuts. Pulse for a chunky finish, or whip it good for a smooth one. Do not share.