We've been in California on and off for two or three months now. Neither of us expected to spend this much time here, but we're learning that when you live in a car, nothing goes as planned, and isn't that kind of the point? We've had some work and some good friends to hang out with and we're enjoying a winter of mostly sunny 65 degree days. It’s a great reminder that this lifestyle isn’t always about doing the most exciting thing in every moment or making it to every destination. It’s just about having the freedom and autonomy to do whatever the hell we want. Sometimes that means bumming around a place long enough to get to know it.
Sometimes it also means spontaneously buying a new RV. A couple weeks ago, we saw a 1988 Toyota Sunrader on Craigslist and were literally on the next train to San Diego. We were giddy. I felt childishly excited watching the train pull into the station and we barely slept waiting for the guy to call us. Love is blind as they say, and we ended up buying an RV with a pretty shitty engine. Long story short our old friend Uncle Coco is overhauling the engine in LA as we speak. Now we're getting ready to say goodbye to the car that started it all.
What I’d consider our last “trip” with the Chinook was a drive down the California coast. After we got stranded in the desert, we spent a few days in Santa Cruz and San Francisco, before making our way back down the PCH. That drive never gets old. We stayed tethered to the coast through Big Sur, and camped off the road every night on the cliffs that hang well over the ocean. The fog sits just below the cliffs and we could always hear the water churning, like a growling stomach.
We took our time down the coast, maybe three or four days, and stopped at every fruit stand off the highway. There’s a distinct point along the PCH where it becomes Southern California. Suddenly the forests and cliffs narrow into a close surf; the air becomes a little less crisp and you're welcomed by taco stands and beach motels and families of seals sleeping on the sand.
We spent a couple days in Santa Barbara and then drove inland to Solvang, this small Danish town in the Santa Ynez Valley that Ilana knew about. We thought we'd just stop by but we ended up staying for 2 days on a neighborhood street. We ate overpriced Danish cookies and tall mugs of beer and spent an hour in the as-seen-on-tv store. FYI, this is an awesome place to camp. There’s free and clean 24 hour restrooms in town, multiple places with free wifi, and no one ever bothered us.
There was also a farmer’s market that took up most of the downtown, where we bought sprouted peanuts and sunflower seeds, avocados and dandelion greens. Big props to California for still having beautiful produce in the dead of winter.
That's where this recipe was born, a variation of California's favorite food: avocado toast. We made a tahini-yogurt spread for the bottom, with hefty chunks of avocado and greens. The sprouted nuts & seeds add an interesting texture and a grassier flavor than roasted ones.
Yogurt-Tahini Toast with Bitter Greens & Avocado
Makes: 2 toasts
In a small bowl, combine 3 tbl yogurt, 3 tbl tahini, 2 tbl olive oil, garlic, and half of the lemon juice. Mix with a spoon and season to taste.
Roughly chop the dandelion greens and dress them lightly with 1 tsp olive oil and the remaining lemon juice.
Spread the yogurt sauce on the bread. Add the avocado chunks, chopped greens, and seeds. Finish with flaky sea salt and ground black pepper.
Notes: If you are unable to find sprouted nuts and seeds you can substitute roasted unsalted or make your own.
2 slices dense, sprouted rye bread like this one
3 tbl thick Greek yogurt
3 tbl tahini
2 tbl + 1 tsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced or micro-planed
1 lemon, juiced
2 cups Dandelion or other tender green (arugula would be nice)
2 tbl sprouted peanuts
2 tbl sprouted sunflower seeds
½ avocado, cut into slices or chunks
salt and pepper to taste