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Marriage at the Courthouse - Black Rice California Bowls with Creamy Miso

Marriage at the Courthouse - Black Rice California Bowls with Creamy Miso

May 2016


Will and I got married yesterday. Legally. Married. It seems surreal. But then it hits you, and I smile all over. We’re officially married. Everything we’ve talked about, now can really happen. We really will get out of here at some point. I really will have a small garden and grow peas in a pod, we really will grow old together. We’re doing it. I couldn’t be happier.

It was Friday, May 25, 2016. We walked up the street to the courthouse, late afternoon gripping each other’s hands so tight, grinning. It was 75 degrees and sunny, which was miraculous given that we’ve had a dreary rain spell for the past two weeks. But not today. Today, it was nearly comically warm and sunny. We took the elevator to the sixth floor. It was an eclectic group of people. We were set up at a computer, and filled out our information, social security numbers, family history. When Will got to race, he paused. “I never know what to put,” he said. I told him “other.” He put “African American/Black.” I questioned him, suggesting he put Hispanic/Latino, since he was adopted from Belize. He said he put black when applying for college, that’s what he’s always put, so he was sticking with that. I concurred. Who was I to tell him how he self-identifies? The couple next to us, an older Asian couple, said it was their second marriage, and they didn’t bring their divorce papers from their first marriage, so they couldn’t get a marriage license today. An African woman walked in with three men. It appeared to be her fiancée, father, and uncle. We were called up to the desk pretty quickly. Agreed it was our first marriage, signed the license. Squeezed each other’s hands. Paid $30 and walked out. Part one was sealed.

The anticlimactic hallway

The anticlimactic hallway

Next was step was the Justice of the Peace. We sat in her small office, as she put together some paperwork. This was it! She was quirky, and her appearance resembled Elena Kaegan, with white hair. Will and I stood, faced each other, and she began. The celebrant spoke in clichés, rambled a bit, but everything she said still resonated with me. She explained people are imperfect, your significant other is going to “wake up on the wrong side of the bed” sometimes and “have bad breath in the morning” but you have to forgive and move on. She said sometimes your significant other is going to have feelings that you contributed to, and they can’t explain why they feel that way. But, you have to accept that. Advised not to justify it or try to rationalize. Will and I looked at her, back at each other, knowingly. We pinky sweared in the middle of her talk. When she prompted as to say, “I, Will Beardslee, take you, Leah Kaplan, to be my lawfully wedded wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, in death do us part,” Will started to tear up. Which, subsequently, made me tear up. Will was nearly crying at this point. I was smiling, this was so real. Our hands were so sweaty as we held each other’s. When she declared us husband and wife, we kissed and held each other. He was my husband! I was his wife!


We had a quick turnaround, and had to get back out into the sun. One of our favorite moments was welcome sushi in Lisbon.

Flashback to our daily "Sushi Time" happy hour in Lisbon

Flashback to our daily "Sushi Time" happy hour in Lisbon

In Portugal, our dollar went so much further, and we stayed at LX Boutique Hotel. They served deluxe complimentary sushi and bubbly each night. We would start each evening at the bar, typically order another round of sushi and drinks, then head out.

Flashback to our daily "Sushi Time" happy hour in Lisbon

Flashback to our daily "Sushi Time" happy hour in Lisbon

We recreated at the nearby Kona Grill, which had sushi happy hour specials and drinks on their outside patio. We ordered the rainbow roll (California roll topped with tuna, salmon, shrimp, and yellow tail), the wave roll (spicy tuna, shrimp tempura, avocado, cucumber, soy paper), and fried calamari that came with an Asian inspired spicy aioli. I started with a Martini with a twist, and Will a Moscow Mule.

Drinks and rings

Drinks and rings

We rehashed the ceremony and toasted. Will said he wasn’t expecting to tear up, you always hear the words on TV, he said, but it’s different when you have to say them. I agreed. We had taken care of each other in sickness, or poorer. We knew we could. And we had so many exciting adventures coming up together. Travels and life changes.

My favorite was the California rolls essentially topped with sashimi. I made this a bowl version that was comparable. California rolls were always a treat growing up. There’s something about them. So, I recreated a vegetarian version in a bowl form. With avocado and cucumber from the Farmer’s Market, and sesame seeds and a homemade creamy miso—inspired by the aioli we dipped the calamari in. It was my dream dinner.

At Kona, the waiter brought out a massive slice of decadent carrot cake and two glasses of champagne, complimentary. The “wedding special.”

The carrot cake

The carrot cake

Walking home felt normal, but funny to clasp hands with your new rings. I loved it. The day felt celebratory. Filled with some of my favorite things. And the promise of so many more to come.


 Level: Easy

Serves: 2

 California Rice Bowl Ingredients

  • 3 cups cooked black rice

  • 1 cup frozen edamame

  • 1 cup frozen corn

  • ½ ripe avocado

  • ½ cup diced English cucumber¼ cup raw sunflower seeds

  • ¼ cup sesame seeds

  • 8-10 dashes of Cholula hot sauce

Creamy Miso Sauce Ingredients

  • 2 heaping tbsp. white miso paste

  • 1 tbsp. mirin

  • 1 tsp. soy sauce

  • 1 tsp. lemon juice¼ cup plain yogurt


  • Cook rice according to package. Set aside.

  • Make the dressing by mashing the miso paste into the yogurt.

  • Add the mirin, soy sauce, and lemon juice and mix very well. Set aside.

  • Blanch the edamame and corn in boiling, salted water for a minute or so, until it defrosts.

  • Drain and let cool.

  • Toast the sunflower and sesame seeds separately, in a pan until lightly golden, then spread on a plate to cool.

  • Combine the black rice, corn, edamame and yogurt miso sauce in a medium sauce pan, covered over a very low heat, until just warm. · Divide rice mixture evenly among plates.

  • On one side of the plate, place half of the avocado slices, on the other side, half of the diced cucumbers, and the 2 tbsp. of sunflower seeds in the middle.

  • Sprinkle 2 tbsp. sesame seeds over entire plate.

  • Add 4-5 dashes of Cholula hot sauce.

  • Repeat for second bowl.

  • Chop half of an avocado into slices and dice the cucumber.

*Recipe adapted from Heidi Swanson, 101 Cookbooks (2015)

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