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It's 7 AM and all the windows were open when I got up this morning.  It was so chilly that I had to put on socks and a sweater, and now I'm sipping hot coffee, thinking .... (close your eyes, cold weather haters)... that it's beginning to feel an awful lot like Fall. 

I always get this feeling when Fall is coming on.  It's like a sweet and sad nostalgia, remembering soccer games with greasy grilled cheeses and leafy hikes followed by hot chocolate long passed.
It is both an ending - of the long coffee mornings and beachy goodness of summer, and a beginning - of the routine of school, warm things bubbling in the CrockPot, and really great wool socks. 

But even though I love the season that follows, I spent most of the summer dreading it's end - I woke up lamenting the fact that someday, I would have to wake up at 6 AM again and be an active member of society.  I mean, I would have to brush my hair. Much to my frazzled schoolteacher surprise and dismay, however, summer didn't turn out to be just a time to watch Gilmore Girls until 10 AM and cuddle shamelessly with Pablo (although there was plenty of that). It was a season of waiting, worrying, praying, preparing, and wondering. 
Now, before we get all hot and bothered, it wasn't all as dramatic as it sounds.  My entire world wasn't a tumultuous mess. In fact, God blessed us with a new sweet baby niece, Quinn - isn't that just the cutest name? He gave us some amazing time with our family, on my side and Ethan's. He answered every single one of my prayers for safe travels for my family and friends.  And he overflowed our weeks with friends and good, real conversation.  And good food, too. 

It was mostly just my insides in tumult. Ethan and I made an offer on a house - a one that we love and that needs love.  And we have been about to close on it "any day now" for 2 weeks.  With school and the end of our lease looming in the very near future - like, in a week and a half -  being patient is becoming increasingly hard. We've also had some serious car struggles - a burnt-out transmission in mine and a dead engine in his.  Sadly, I have become quite familiar with the process of towing a car. 
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There's Pablo, worrying if we'll have enough money to buy dog food. 

We still don't know when we will get to close on the house.  And we haven't found a car for Ethan to drive.  I also still struggle with going back to certain aspects of school.   And at times, all of this built up waiting and worrying and simply not knowing is so infuriating I could use it as ammo to get me through a really intense kickboxing class (oh wait, that already happened...). But I've come to realize something.  God has prepared this struggle for me.  Yep, he allowed this stuff to happen. Is it because he is mean and loves to watch me squirm? No, although I have done my fair share of squirming.  I think it's because he saw that I always like to be the one in control, and that I can't wait for anything to save my life, and that I have some things about my deepest me-ness that really need some work.   I was talking with a sweet friend of mine last week about some of the craziness that is going on in me, and she said, "Do you believe that you are clay, and He is the sculptor? That He will not stop sculpting until you are perfect, just like He intended you to be?"
 

Whoa, people. Do you believe that? I am trying to. It certainly beats being grumpy and bitter. 

Now, let's talk about these falafels.  Besides the fal-awful mess I made (ha, see what I did there?), these puppies were incredible! 
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The star of the show? Beets.  Yep, the very roots I used to detest as a small girl I am now purchasing from a grocery store to make falafel.  Who am I?  Ethan asked himself the same question last night at the dinner table.  He took a giant bite of his falafel and contemplated it with a quiet, concerned upper brow.  
"Well, what do you think?" I blurted out.  "You don't like it, that's why you're looking all weirded out." I prepared myself to eat the remaining 15 falafel balls on my own.
"No," he replied slowly.  "I'm all weirded out because I do like it!" He proceeded to finish his and get seconds. 
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The beets need to be grated and mixed with finely chopped shallots and garlic.  The chickpeas need to be processed - quick shoutout to my NutriBullet, which literally ROCKS MY WORLD - and then blended in with the other ingredients.  Then you add a very healthy smattering of cumin, caraway seeds, and salt and pepper.  By the time I had all of these components in one bowl last night, it looked like my kitchen was actually the scene of a murder. And with my hands stained bright red, I was the prime suspect. 
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I also made the pita bread, but if you are pinched for time, just buy them.  I'm a teacher on summer vacation, remember? If you do make your own pita, though, it is actually very simple.  I used the same recipe I do for pizza crust, plus a little cumin.  Then I just divided the risen dough into four quarters and rolled them out into small circles to bake and puff up for 10 minutes. 
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The final and most crucial component of the dish is - as always - the SAUCE! The sauce is the boss, peeps. 

It quite possibly might be the easiest sauce in the world.  Greek yogurt.  Cucumbers. Mint.  That's all I have to say about that.  
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The finished product is a wholesome, vegetarian handful of awesomeness that will fill you up as much as a steak dinner.  Seriously, I didn't even eat dessert last night. 
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Love well and eat well, friends.  And if you are struggling a little like me today, remember - you are the clay!
xo Deidre
Ruby Falafels with Homemade Whole Wheat Pitas
**Adapted from The Clean Eating Kitchen
Ingredients

Falafels
  • 2 raw beets, grated
  • 2 (15 oz) cans chick peas, drained and rinsed
  • 6 shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • shredded greens, to serve

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  
2. Blend the chick peas until they make a paste.  Combine them in a large bowl with the beets, shallots, garlic, cumin, caraway seeds, baking powder, and salt and pepper.
3. Brush a large baking sheet with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and heat in oven for five minutes while you prepare the falafels. 
4. Meanwhile, form the falafel mixture into 20 balls.  Coat with bread crumbs.  Place on the heated baking sheet and brush the tops of the balls with the remaining olive oil.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the balls can be moved on the sheet without falling apart.
Pitas
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour, plus extra to dust
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 packet fast-rising yeast
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 cup warm water

1. Stir together dry ingredients in large mixing bowl.
2. Add the olive oil, then slowly mix in water until dough becomes soft but not sticky.
3. Knead on a flour-dusted work surface for 5 minutes, until dough becomes springy.  Then, grease your mixing bowl and put the dough ball back in.  Let rise for 1 hour in warm place covered by clean dish towel.
4. Dust large baking sheet with flour and heat in the 425 degree preheated oven for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, cut dough ball into 4 quarters and, on a lightly flour-dusted work surface, roll with a rolling pin into four small circles about the size of your hand. 
5. Take baking sheet out of the oven and place dough circles on it.  Bake in oven for about 10 minutes or until pitas puff up and are slightly brown and crispy to the touch.  Wrap in a dish towel to keep warm.
Cucumber Yogurt Sauce
  • 1/2 cucumber, finely chopped
  • 2/3 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh mint (GOTTA BE FRESH!), finely chopped

1. Mix all the ingredients together in a small mixing bowl. 


To Serve: 
1. Slice pitas along half of the edge and open up.
2. Layer with shredded greens, yogurt sauce, and 3-5 falafel balls. 
3. Eat in delight and accept that you will not look pretty doing it. 
 


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