Small kitchen apothecary with Martissa Williams

Jan 9, 2021 | by Hawnuh Lee

Martissa Williams

Photo: Martissa Williams.

One of our favorite yogis, Martissa Williams is the founder of Nekkid, a radical intersectional lifestyle brand bringing holistic healing and plant magic into our everyday lives. She intersects social and spiritual liberation, sharing a mindful practice with community organizations like Yoga 4 a Good Hood and hosting powerful conversation in her ongoing podcast series. We wish we could partake in her practice in person, but in the meantime we’ll share a soothing cup of herbal tea and peek in on her kitchen rituals.

Morning beverage of choice?

I am a tea lover: herbal, black, green…you name it. My favorite morning pleasure-practice is going into my tiny kitchen apothecary, closing my eyes and allowing my spirit to lead me to which herbs, extracts or tinctures it’s calling for at that moment. My apothecary is stocked with local, organic and foraged herbs, flowers and handmade elixirs. These intentional moments to honor these little pieces of the earth and my intuition is a meditation for me. 

Describe your preferred vessel to drink aforementioned beverage out of.

I have two favorite mugs. One, a handmade cream colored mug by Ambar Arias (@ambar.ceramica). The outside of the mug reads “Cops Aint Shit” in her handwriting — a ode to my radical black feminist politics. While the inside is dotted in water colors, revealed with every sip of the day’s drink. 

My second favorite was a gift from my sister called the Ridiculously Rude Plants mug. The mug is illustrated (and labeled) inside and out with the most sexually named herbs such as Nipplewort, Stiffcock and Sticky Willy. It makes me giggle with each sip. 

Go-to knife?

I know very little about knives and I am notoriously awful with them and my knife skills. So my answer would be the big one (LOL) in my knife set; it’s large, has a nice curved blade and I have the most control with it. 

Necessary object / appliance / tool in your kitchen?

My partner and I live in an apartment with a tiny kitchen. There is limited space and even more, limited counter space. Yet and still, I am an appliance junky. I love all my tools but I’m most attached to my Vitamix and Instant pot. 

My Vitamix gets used daily: for smoothies, to blend soups, to whip lattes, and for nut butters. It is my right arm. Excuse the dramatics, but the Instant pot changed my life. I love a cup of bone broth throughout the cold months and because I am a total stickler for good quality I often prefer to make it from scratch. My Instant Pot whittled a 48 hour process down to a meager 3 hours. Not to mention the speediness it brings to cooking rice, beans, soups and stews. 

Kitchen object with a story?

My not functional but sentimental Michigan shaped cutting board that my mom gave me before going off to college. It reminds me of one of my favorite places in the world–home. 

Gadget you’re not sure why you still have?

A beautiful used wok, I picked up from a “free-stuff” pile that I have come to understand why it was abandoned. It’s engraved non-stick label at the bottom is a complete farce. It has ruined many stir-fries and my faith that with the right amount of oil it would work. It hasn’t. 

Describe how your pantry is organized.

Tiny kitchen = creative solutions. 

We installed some floating shelves on an open wall that house our bulk dry goods such as flour, sugar, grains, nuts and seeds. My tiny apothecary also lives here with my foraged herbs, bulk herbs, homemade tinctures and teas. 

Bulk purchased dried beans have their own shelf, sauces (like fish sauce, soy sauce, vinegars) live underneath, and canned goods at the very top (we rarely use those, but they are good to have on hand). In the third cabinet, two of the free shelves house ALL of our spices and seasonings, most of which have been purchased in bulk and stored in glass shakers. 

I am constantly looking for ways to reduce waste in the kitchen, buying dry goods, spices and herbs from the bulk section of my local health food store ensures I can bring my own jars and containers and skip the single use packaging. Good for the earth and very cute and uniform on my shelves!

Last impulse produce purchase? Did you make anything with it?

I’ve been trying and roasting new squash varieties. I did not grow up eating squash and am still amazed at all the diversity. I recently picked up a delicata squash that I cubed and roasted and a honeynut squash that I cut in half and roasted skin side up. 

Top three pantry staples? And ideas for what to do with them?

Dried beans, ghee, local raw honey. 

Beans are a staple in my diet for liver and hormonal health, so I always have them on hand. I soak them or sprout them and then slow cook with veggies or greens. 

Ghee is a wonder! It is great to saute with because of it’s high smoke point and adds a richness to any dish. I love to throw it in my oatmeal in the mornings along with cinnamon, cardamom and local honey. 

I have pretty bad seasonal allergies and sinus issues, so raw local honey is a STAPLE and has almost completely replaced any sinus meds. I mean it’s delicious and tastes like summer. As my sweetener of choice I add it in everything and it almost always accompanies my morning tea. 

Special pantry item that’s nice to have on hand?

Liquid smoke or smoked salt. I love to add a little smokeyness to soups, greens, and beans. It adds another layer to appropriate dishes. 

Must have condiment?

Butter. Is butter a condiment? I love fat. So butter or ghee gets topped on pretty much everything…oatmeal, meats, veggies, you name it. 

Describe the food you most relate to.

Hmm. A sweet potato! I can be a little hard at first but as you warm me up I get all sweet and rich and deep and super nutritious. Haha. 

Clean as you go or save it for later?

I have to clean as I go or I’ll lose my mind somewhere between chopping the onion and buttering the skillet. 

Any current kitchen experiments happening?

Cheesemaking! I tried my hand at making chevre and it was surprisingly easy and tasty. 

Trusted recipe book or site?

My grandmother kept a checkered Betty Crocker cookbook on hand all of my life, so when in doubt I’ll consult her trusted source and make swaps as needed. 

I also love the Minimalist Baker. 

Scrappy kitchen tip to share?

Keep those scraps! I always save veggie scraps for broth and apple scraps for vinegar. 

You can find more of Martissa’s work on her website and over on Instagram @letsgetnekkid.

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