S HOLLIS MICKEY
November 17, 2022
A recipe for rest in the desert Experiencing true rest is illusive. We are propelled to produce, move forward, make for a pay check, for culturally sanctioned affirmation, because the only answer to the question “How are you?” seems to be “Busy.” But, rest is an essential need and a deep pleasure. Indeed, physiologically, to digest we need to rest. Yet, we are not taught how to; we are only educated in output and production. Recent substantial changes in my health have meant that I must learn rest in ways that feel vastly unfamiliar to me. In order to change pace, to learn to stop, to restore, to not-do, I needed to step out of the routines and pulls of my daily life in Alaska, and find retreat. How can we step back and get distance from the hustle we each perpetuate?
Years ago in the early stages of this health journey one of my doctors had half-jokingly recommended, “You should move to Arizona.” I am not sure why he said that exactly, perhaps something about warmth, dry air. Whatever the reason, when deciding where to try to find retreat, this came to mind. And, before too long, a few weeks were planned in Tuscon. Now, I have always thought of myself as a mountain person, less fond of sand. But Tuscon fills a need for elevation in more ways than one. With mountains on all sides, the city is nestled, surrounded by vast landscapes and covered with creamy, surreal blue skies. The moment I touched down, my spirit was already lifted up. I went to Arizona with the intention to intentionally not do anything. I wanted to be able to answer the question “What did you do on your trip?” with an honest “I rested.” But how? What are the ingredients needed for rest? For me, it is a place that makes me feel comfortable: a landscape that sparks wonder, accommodations that hold my body with care. I came into the trip with a body fragile, tender, and in desperate need of care. I could not imagine a more care-filled place to place myself with ease than the Tuscon Luxury Retreat.
Every tiny detail tended to, creatively and with inspiration. Beautiful oil paintings on the walls each have a story to tell. A myriad of couches to select from for the extended rests my body calls for. A pool and hot tub with clear views of the unbearably clear blue sky. And, of course, the kitchen: a sumptuous chef’s dream outfitted with sharp knives, superb appliances, and a farmhouse sink. Outside the landscape of the 1.2 acre plot is covered with local plants- saguaro at least 80 years old, a flowering eucalyptus, agave, scented lantana, palo verde, as well as fruiting citrus trees. Resting, I watched as hummingbirds flit across the sky at dusk like gems against the burning sherbert sunset. I am no longer able to go on hikes, but a daily wander on the grounds healed my soul in some deep way as I connected with plants far older and wiser than I.
The air here is quiet, filled with the sounds of plants and birds and insects, not people. For the first time in weeks, I felt well enough to play music. I set up one room for flute and vocal improvisations. Rather than trying to compose anything complete, I allowed for resting in the sound and its fullness. The retreat of this place offered easy access, despite my mobility issues, to drive through park experiences, at the Saguaro National Park where I made dozens of new plant friends— who I hope to return to see blooming in spring. My body permitted a few small but profoundly gratifying adventures to abundant farmer’s markets. No wonder that Tuscon is a UNESCO City of Gastronomy. Fine locally roasted coffee was a skip away at Le Buzz, scrumptious local chocolate available at Monsoon, and astoundingly wonderful local wine available at the Arizona Wine Collective. Perhaps the most nourishing ingredient was the sky, which at all times never ceased to take my breath away.
So, many ingredients for resting. The method then, was learning to be. Instead of measuring my trip by how many hikes I did or miles I biked (though those are abundant for the able-bodied), I took stock each day of how I inhaled, and exhaled the mineral-rich air. I relished the amount of time I could just deeply appreciate place by being, rather than trying to conquer by doing. Perhaps that is the ‘method’ for cooking up rest: find a truly comfortable place and notice its details, just from where you are. But, then.. there is food, too. I know you came here for a recipe! My body needs nourishment on so many levels, and I turned to a favorite recipe I have shared variations of before. Pizza fills some sort of specific craving for feeling full-up, beyond belly but in spirit. So, here is a reprise on a favorite, this time for two. This process eliminates the baking powder and allows for resting the crust batter to create a bit of bubbling. Pumpkin puree offers a surprisingly easy and satisfying tomato alternative, perfect for fall, or holiday leftovers.
sprouted quinoa crust pizzette Ingredients For the crust
1 cup quinoa, soaked for 24-36 hours
1/3 cup water
1 tsp salt
1 inch peeled ginger
2 garlic cloves
For the toppings
1 cup pumpkin puree (unspiced)
6 oz smoked mozzarella cheese
1/2 red onion finely sliced
1/3 cup fresh cranberries
8 hours before cooking, blend all crust ingredients in a food processor or blender until a consistent puree. You will think this is too thin to be a crust. This is just right. Let it rest out in a warm spot, as fermentation will begin (a sour smell is ok) and you will not need baking powder. Though, if you do not have time, you can add a teaspoon instead of fermenting
Preheat oven to 350F. Put a piece of parchment on a baking sheet and spray or spread a little oil. Warm this in the oven while it preheats.
Using a spatula spread crust batter onto warmed baking sheet at about a 1/4 to a 1/3 inch thickness in the shape you desire. This is not an exact science, but make sure there are no thin or weak spots.
Put into oven for about 30 minutes, until browning and firm, or longer depending on how crusty you want your crust.
Turn the oven up to 425F. First spread the pumpkin puree down. Add the onion slices and torn knobs of smoked mozzarella evenly across the surface, sprinkling on cranberries. Let cook for 5-10 minutes until the cheese begins to brown and bubble. Add the basil just before finishing so that it does not burn. Keep close watch to avoid blackening.
Let rest for 2-3 minutes. Slice, and enjoy with a side of broccoli rabe and hearty red wine like one from Golden Rule vineyards.