This post is sponsored by California Walnuts, a year-long partner of Heartbeet Kitchen.
About this cheese, roasted grapes and walnuts appetizer:
Roasted grapes have so much mojo. They turn an average fruit into something spectacular, and bring major flavor oomph to whatever you decide to pair them, like cauliflower steaks, or today’s recipe, marinated goat cheese with walnuts and thyme.
When roasted, a grape’s internal sugars caramelize, that thick skin softens and wrinkles (speaking of skin, I’m talking about my recent skin scare below), and the flavor matures into an intense version of its former self. Kind of like a fine wine. And the juices that emerge during roasting thicken on the baking sheet, yield a nearly jam-like result when mixed with the finished grapes.
All together, with the creamy tang of fresh goat cheese and nuttiness of toasted walnuts, it’s a real good situation. Why walnuts? Their savory, buttery toasted flavor was a great balance with the sweetness of the grapes. Toasting improves their texture in staying crisp even amongst the olive oil. Bonus points for their health benefits, as they’re 15 percent protein and 64 percent good fat too!
To serve this cheese platter, I sliced a long, french baguette on the diagonal, brushed them with olive oil, and set in the oven for about 6-8 minutes. They crisp up to be sturdy enough for spreading the goat cheese, but soft enough to still have some chew.
With the holidays right around the corner, I’m thinking this is a great way to introduce your guests to something different than the typical cheese-ball.
About getting skin/moles checked:
I’d met my deductible this year for health care, so I looked into all the preventative kind of checks we “should be doing” but often skip when we’re paying 100% of the cost. A full body skin and mole check by a dermatologist is one of them, so I made the appointment. You can either tell them what parts of your body you want checked, or go with a full scan, including non sun-exposed areas, which I went with since I have fair skin and I’d never had a check like this before.
I wasn’t nervous about the appointment, as I’ve always been very good about wearing high SPF sunscreen and long sleeves as much as possible, and avoiding the tanning bed (except for before my senior prom). She went over my body, and made some notations about moles that were a bit large, but not concerning, just to keep an eye on them if they continue to grow. She was almost finished when she got to my stomach, and saw something that didn’t look right – a relatively large mole that was much darker than any other on my body. “The black sheep”, she called it, and wanted to remove and send to a pathologist for a biopsy. Moles that are asymmetric or have unusual or uneven color, jagged borders, or a large size (wider than the diameter of a pencil eraser), could signal melanoma.
I’d hear back in one to two weeks. A letter in the mail would mean it was benign, a phone call would mean something else.
Today I got the phone call, telling me that the mole was pre-cancerous. It’s a scary thing to hear, and a major gut check. The good news is they fully excised it when they took the biopsy (hence the large chunk out of my stomach that is trying to heal). I’ll need to do a skin check every year, and keep tabs on anything that appears that might look different.
And I feel like it’s also my due diligence to tell you to go and get a skin cancer screening, whether you’ve met your deductible or not, or your age or sun history. I know I shouldn’t have waited. And I’m lucky to have caught this before it progressed.
All the love,