At the risk of having my parents Italian card revoked, I must confess that we never ate gnocchi growing up. In fact, I still struggle to pronounce the word correctly.

I know, first world problemsI know...

For those of trapped under the same rock, the best way to describe the amazingness that is gnocchi is as follows:

Imagine your most favorite meaty, yet moist, cut pasta.

Now imagine that said pasta goes out and gets a big, voluptuous, starchy potato pregnant.

(Go with it.)

Together their union would result in mind blowing, life altering, phenomenal gnocchi babies.

They are, quite frankly, the Brangelina of dumplings.

While I cant remember the first time that I had gnocchi, I’ll never forget the first time I enjoyed the first plate Zan and I made together.

Mind blowing. Kinda like when Ted learned that he wasnt allergic to bacon. Life altering.



Four months ago we were in a stranger’s kitchen, turning out a mixture of semolina, water and sea salt for the first time. We had no idea then if our attempt would work out.

More than a dozen attempts later, we still don’t.

We’ve come to expect that each new recipe will be more challenging than it looks. Kneading the dough into submission is physical and demanding. A perfectly balanced filling requires trial and error. And very often our excitement will trick us into overstuffing the pockets of dough until they barely hold together.

Surprisingly, with each attempt we also recognize a parallel to the way we move through our lives. Slowing ourselves down to make our meals from scratch has exposed our propensity toward convenience and excess.

But thankfully, it is also teaching us to be centered and focused on what is important. 

It’s shown us that the end result is secondary to enjoying the process; that there is beauty in the making if you are present for it.

And while we may not always know what we’re creating or where it will take us, we’re learning to trust that the effort will be worth it.


“Most of life is offline, and I think it always will be; eating and aching and sleeping and loving happen in the body. But it’s not impossible to imagine losing my appetite for those things; they aren't always easy, and they take so much time. In twenty years I’d be interviewing air and water and heat just to remember they mattered.”






“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.”

— john muir, naturalist



While the nature of our more recent adventures has been decidedly more culinary-centric, the first years of our courtship were spent flirting in the wilderness. As fate would have it, both worlds will collide this summer.

In 130 days we head to California to embark upon a two and a half week thru-hike of the John Muir Trail. And while our trip may not be as important for society as this one, its still a pretty big deal for us. 

Along the way, we’ll travel through more than 200 stunning, self-supported miles of the Sierra Nevada mountain range including Yosemite National ParkJohn Muir and Ansel Adams Wildernesses, Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks. At the end of our journey, we’ll be greeted by Mount Whitney which, at 14,505 feet, is the highest summit in the contiguous U.S.

Beyond communing with nature, the trip is significant to us for countless other reasons. First, it’s a celebration of a milestone birthday for me (stop trying to do the math!) Next, it is a nod to our dream (deferred) of hiking the Appalachian Trail. It’s also a perfectly timed challenge for our fascination with making things.

Challenge #1: Fuel

Not that we need any coaxing, but it doesn’t hurt that dark chocolate is a favorite food staple of superstar hiker Andrew Skurka. Burning an average of 5,000 calories per day, this will be the first time we can cram chocolate into our pie holes guilt-free. (I hope it’s not the last.) 

Calories aside, the challenge lies in figuring out how to stuff as much of our Batch chocolate as possible into our shared, 3 lb bear canister. Not only will we have limited space, but we’ll have to defy hot, humid hiking conditions to keep the chocolate palatable.



Challenge #2: Protection

Ive always been a favorite of mosquitoes and blisters so transforming our cacao-inspired body blocks into a natural weapon is at the top of our to-dos. Combined with the exposure we’ll get cresting several 13,000-14,000-foot peaks, we’ve added natural sunscreen to prevent Zan from baking like a Thanksgiving ham. 

So no, we wont be carrying a rifle for bear protection, but we will be armed with natural products concocted in our very own test kitchen. Is it weird that I keep dreaming about a gorgeously designed periodic table poster? (Dont answer that.)

With an ever overflowing plate of things to do, we readily admit that none of these things are necessary to complete a successful hike of the JMT. They are, nonetheless, the kinds of projects that enthrall us — it seems that when Zan and I got hitched, our ties to everything else in the Universe became ever more apparent.

And, on that note, weve got testing to do...