This is it, the last food story of 2017! I had no idea this year would have turned into the year of the food story but am so glad it did. It has been a really amazing privilege to check out everyone's cool kitchens and play with their pets (and also snack I guess too).
Last week as I geared up for Christmas I got to take a tiny break from the pressures of finding the perfect gifts, drowning in wrapping paper and thinking of the most decadent holiday snacks I would never end up making to go adventure to Pasadena to hang with Kiara.
Kiara Ana Perico is a musician, yoga teacher, chakra candle making extraordinaire. She invited me to a much needed yoga class the morning of our food shoot where I arrived a little nervous, a little groggy (hi mornings are not my thing), probably parked in the wrong parking spot, but fully ready for some de-stressing exercise. If you've followed my exercise journey you might know I have a love/hate relationship with yoga (mostly bc I never know if I'm getting in a relaxing session or a workout) but a love/love relationship with routine physical activity to maintain good mental health. I always feel my best emotionally and mentally when I get regular exercise so I didn't need to be persuaded to check out Kiara's class. It was an excellent journey into some tough poses but nothing felt impossible or excessive with her guidance. Definitely check out one of her sessions if you get a chance.
I left for our food shoot feeling energized, rejuvenated and very ready for some of her famous Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies!
As we found out the night before when I did a check in text, we both grew up in the glamorous 413 area code of Western Massachusetts. Kiara hails from only about a 20 minute drive from where my parents still live, which is a pretty cool coincidence to find out 3,000+ miles away. She even had a wooden bowl from the same guy who was vending at a tiny craft fair I went to, whose work I agonized over and then finally admitted would not fit in my suitcase.
Her choice to make Oatmeal Breakfast cookies hearkens back to those days of New England family breakfast duty, modernized for her adult life. From Kiara:
"Family traditions can take many forms. My papa made me breakfast every day. The meals rotated through oatmeal, french toast and scrambled eggs. Oatmeal has been an incredible staple through my whole life. It's warming, nutrient-dense and full of memories with my father. Because I travel so much and even when I'm home, I'm on the move. I wanted to develop a breakfast cookie made with the same ingredients as that favorite childhood oatmeal so I could have breakfast on the go wherever I am in the world! These are 100% Vegan and gluten free so everyone can enjoy!"
Ushering me into the kitchen Kiara gave me one of her recent gingerbread breakfast cookies to sample (the recipe for those are on her blog linked at the end!) and got to work on measuring out everything she would need. Plopping the oats into her mixer, she chatted with me about life in this city compared to life back east, how to be healthy on the go and about redoing her kitchen.
The last of the ingredients go into the mixer and Kiara makes some special green tea for us that was indeed very special and I have entirely forgotten it's name. Sorry tea.
With everything mixed up it's time for our oatmeal mix to get scooped out onto trays to become it's final glorious breakfast cookie form.
With our little cookie friends in the oven we hang out in the warm sunlight of the kitchen, play with Kiara's dog sitting charge, Mooch, and I get to learn about how life brought her from the east coast all the way to this house and all the cool ways she and her husband have started to modify it to really make it home.
Finally we sit down on Kiara's brand new couch (it's awesome guys) with our mugs of fancy tea, some of her chakra candles lighting the way and these warm, perfectly crumbly oatmeal breakfast cookies. She also brings out a jar of her homemade Meyer lemon marmalade to liberally top our bites of breakfast and little Mooch runs around trying to live up to her namesake and sneak a taste. These cookies are incredible. The not overtly tart marmalade plays off the hearty sweet notes in the oatmeal cookies and it feels friendly and substantial and full of good intentions.
Thanks Kiara for sharing your taste of home with me! You can check out more of her recipes, yoga suggestions and general tips for a cool life on her blog at: kikisway.com
Until next time, have a happy New Year and I'll catch you all in 2018.