“Mom. Mom? Mom?!” She’s met her quota for the day, and it’s not even 8:30 am. Currently, this word no longer makes sense to me from its overuse. Motherhood is a never ending game of fielding questions and giving. I quickly make breakfast before she changes her mind again, while packing her lunch, while loading the dishwasher, while watching the news and missing the snowfall forecast from the latest “Mom!!!” Giving, giving, giving. I hate to admit it, but maybe this word has lost its meaning, too.
And then Shafi brings dinner. My 20-year-old neighbor from Somalia, the one with the biggest smile, who gets around our neighborhood by crutch or wheelchair from contracting polio as a toddler, wants to feed us, for no other reason than to feed us. His aunt, who is staying with Shafi while his mom visits family in Somalia, who doesn’t know us or speak the same language as us, makes us a feast on his behalf. I cry.
And then Ashley, of Not Without Salt, makes breakfast. After a last minute email to see if we can get coffee while in Seattle, she says, “Come to my studio for breakfast.” She makes a feast of frisée salad, fried eggs, freshly roasted black coffee, a boule of bread from the market, and her favorite thick yogurt with pomegranates and seedy honey from her book, Let’s Stay In. She makes this all while raising a family, while launching her second cookbook, while filming Kitchen Unnecessary, between school drop off and work meetings. I leave so full.
Last week, I pick Hal up from school after making this citrus fruit salad with seedy honey and torn mint. She inhales the leftover bowl. “Mom, this is so good! Can I have more?” And in that moment, in the never-ending role of motherhood, that mostly wears me out, I realize, we’re all giving while we’re tired, with a crutch, between meetings, during tax season, with a heavy decision looming over our heads. I scoop another bowl for her, steal a couple segments of citrus for myself, and remind myself to remember this moment and keep on giving, giving, giving. Like Shafi, like Ashley. Because kindness is a force of nature. I’m certain.
To the tired giver, reach for this citrus fruit salad with seedy honey to feed your people. It comes together quickly while making you look like a pro, despite feeling more like a faux. (See how to segment citrus below.) You’ll be reminded of the possibility of spring, of days as bright as this simple fruit salad. Don’t miss the zest or the ginger. They’ll make you feel alive again. To the tired giver, reach for Ashley’s book Let’s Stay In, too, where you’ll find this recipe for Seedy Honey and Sweet Pea Falafel with Harissa Yogurt and Lemony Carbonara Pasta, all recipes I’ve fallen in love with. This book will feed you through the tired days and the not so tired days, too. Because spring is coming. I can taste it in the orange segment.
Outside the recipe for the Seedy Honey from Ashley Rodriguez’s new book, Let’s Stay In, this is one of those non recipes. Throw a little bit of this and a bit of that together to make something really good. Segment the last of winter’s citrus over a bed of yogurt with a drizzle of seedy honey and plenty of torn mint. Don’t skip the citrus zest or the ginger for extra brightness.
1 tbsp. sesame seeds
1 tbsp. poppy seeds
1 tbsp. sunflower seeds
1 tbsp. flaxseeds
1/2 c. honey
1/4 c. water
1 (1-inch) piece of fresh ginger, minced
1 tsp. packed orange zest
pinch of kosher salt
4 pieces of citrus, segmented (variety of grapefruit, oranges, blood oranges)
Tub of plain whole milk yogurt (Stonyfield is my favorite)
a couple sprigs of fresh mint, torn
Ahead of time, make the seedy honey. Add the seeds to a skillet and toast over medium heat until fragrant and, as Ashley says, until you notice a slight shift in color and some of the flaxseeds begin to pop. Turn heat to low, and stir in the remaining seedy honey ingredients. Bring to a rolling boil for about 2 minutes or until slightly thickened. Pour into a jar and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes to “allow the flavors to infuse.” Once cooled, stir in more water as needed to thin to desired consistency. Store covered for up to a month.
Meanwhile, segment the fruit. See instructions below on how to segment citrus. Squeeze remaining juice over the wedges in a bowl.
To serve, add yogurt to a bowl or shmeared over a plate. Top with the citrus fruit salad. Drizzle liberally with seedy honey and garnish with torn mint.
• To finely mince the ginger, rub the nub against a zester. Use the same tool to remove the zest from the citrus.
• When making a citrus fruit salad, try adding a bit of zest from the citrus to brighten the flavor. To do so, zest before cutting.
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How to Segment (or Supreme) Citrus
Using a sharp knife with a long blade, lop off the ends of the citrus off to expose the fruit and give yourself a flat surface to begin cutting.
Place the knife at the top of the citrus, between the peel and the meat of the fruit. Carefully cut the peel off, including the pith, in slow sawing motion, bending with the shape of the meat. Work your way around the fruit until it’s free of peel and pith.
Now holding the fruit in your hand, carefully cut along the membranes to the center of the fruit, extracting the individual segments. Really large segments can be cut in half. To do so, cut along one membrane. Then cut in half. Before cutting along the next membrane. Voila!
Note: Save the peels to scrape the little bits of juice out with your teeth, for yourself of course. (One of the benefits of being the chef.) For an extra juicy fruit salad, squeeze remaining membrane over the bowl.