June 29, 2012


Above: The dock in front of my parents' property, from last summer (photos from 2010 here).

Tomorrow afternoon, I leave for Michigan. For two whole weeks. I bought my tickets five months ago. I set up a countdown on my computer two months ago, and looked at it daily, just to make sure that time, in fact, was moving forward. I've been tracking the weather there for about a month. I've been packed since last weekend. Needless to say - I am excited.

I'm going to get to see my whole family. I'm going to get to stand next to one of my dearest childhood friends as she marries her partner-in-crime on the beach - and watch my mother officiate. I'm going to sit in the sauna until my heart starts to freak out, then run screaming into the clear, frigid waters of Lake Superior. I'm going to sit around bonfires until 4am, catching up with everyone and watching for aurora borealis (which, when I was younger, I thought was aliens). I'm going to pick wild blueberries. I'm going to watch storms roll in across the lake. I'm going to fall asleep to the sound of gently crashing waves. I'm going to get sand everywhere.

I'm going to have the time of my life.

Needless to say - posting over the next two weeks will be sporadic. I'm on vacation, after all. But I know I'll want to share the experience - you guys need to see 50 photos of the same sunset, and birds-eye shots of my feet on sand and in water, right? - so just hang in there. I'll have to come back to Earth at some point...

June 27, 2012


Last night Micah called me on his way home from work and told me to pack a bag with his favorite bar key and a blanket I wouldn't mind getting dirty, and that he'd pick me up in five minutes. Surprise adventure time!

Turns out he had ordered a fine selection of barbequed meats and southern sides from Bullock's, one of Durham's most famous barbeque joints, plus some wine and beers from Whole Foods. We went to Sarah P. Duke Gardens (where we spent part of our amazing Easter) and found a secluded enclave in the Asian-themed garden to plop down, sneak drinks of beer/wine, and chow down on some barbeque while the sun started to set.

I'm ashamed to say that, after two years of living here, I had yet to try Carolina-style barbeque (which is vinegar-based, as opposed to the Kansas City/Texas tomato-based style I've been raised with). Barbeque is serious business in Durham, and Micah and I have decided to try a few different places before proclaiming any allegiance. Plus... it takes some getting used to, that vinegar-based barbeque. The same flavors are all still there, but I'm used to a sloppy, saucy mess of a meal with a little more sweetness.

Bullock's seems like a pretty classic example of Carolina-style barbeque. It came highly recommended by Micah's colleagues, and was a great place at which to start our Great Carolinian Barbeque Adventure. Onward!

June 26, 2012


This weekend I transplanted the impatiens that were incubating in my Dad's awesome handcrafted seed trays. Some of them went to live in a shady corner between our front porch and our front porch stairs (as seen in the top two photos). The other half went in a wide, shallow pot, which is now nestled amongst other potted plants in one corner of the front porch.

And, in case you remember that I name all of my potted plants, I'm still waiting for a fabulous collective name for these ladies. The Busy Lizzies? The Supremes? It'll come to me.

And, in case you're wondering what everyone else's names are: the lavender in the bottom left is named Lily, because I thought it would be funny to name one plant after another. The "Dr. Seuss plant" above it (I have no idea what it is, so that's what I call it) is named Marshall. The aloe that he shares his pot with is Ted, because yes, I do love How I Met Your Mother (Lily fit in with that nicely as well). The chocolate mint plant next to the guys is The Easter Bunny.

I think the as-of-yet-named ladies will round out the group nicely.

June 25, 2012


Top two: Saturday's breakfast. Fried egg over savory farro risotto (leftover from this) with sauteed Swiss chard, roasted leek, and fresh Parmesan.

Middle: Produce for Sunday's breakfast from Englewood Gardens. Grape tomatoes, massive basil and sweet basil.

Bottom two: Sunday's breakfast. Caprese scramble with garlicky tomatoes and two kinds of basil.

Micah was out of town this weekend, so I was on my own for breakfast. Which means everything was more casserole than egg pile, and more brunch than breakfast. The highlight was walking out to the garden on Sunday to pick the tomatoes and basil for my meal. ! Coffee cup in one hand, rocking my asymmetrical bed-head, tracking morning dew and dirt back into the kitchen: I was livin' the dream, people. I just wish I could do that for more of our meals (minus the asymmetry).

June 21, 2012


Top two: Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. Jankity piers and powdered-sugar sand.

Bottom two: Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. Blueberry patches and international views.

Yesterday marked the first day of summer. Summer means beaches - east coast and north coast. Summer means pretending you're in True Blood to make all the sweating seem fabulous. Summer means blueberry-rhubarb pie for breakfast, and wine spritzers are acceptable.

Welcome to three months of hot awesome.

June 20, 2012


On Saturday, I cut up a grapefruit as part of my fruit salad contribution to our grill-picnic. The carefully-dissected segments went into the salad bowl, and the juice went straight into a rocks glass. Because how can you not make a Greyhound, knowing that you still have some Hendrick's left over from all those Strawberry-Basil Smashes, and knowing that there is no better summer cocktail combination than fresh fruit juice + classic liquor?

(Does anyone else love dissecting grapefruit? Micah thinks it's a chore, but I love it. Repetitive, delicate work. And I love the tools of the trade: thin, curved knives and serrated spoons - like a surgical tea set. It all reminds me of visiting my grandparents in Florida when I was younger. They had all kinds of citrus trees on their property - fresh juice and segmented halves were a routine part of most mornings there. I was mesmerized by watching them and my parents segment grapefruits, and use those old-school hand juicers on oranges and lemons. Which is probably also why I love this drink so much - nostalgia will make anything taste better, yes?)

The answer, of course, is that you cannot not make a Greyhound. You have no choice but to top the gin and juice (yeahhh) with a huge fancy ice cube and retreat to the garden for a little quiet time before your guests arrive. Then, upon realizing that you have a huge pot of "Kentucky Colonel" spearmint growing expressly for cocktail creation, you have no choice but to pick a few leaves, crush them to release their muchness, and finger-stir them into what is now, undoubtedly, a Minthound.

June 19, 2012


Saturday evening, we had some friends over and Micah reprised his role as Grill Master. Manmosa in hand, he prepared (deep breath...): chicken, sticky-sweet pork skewers, shrimp skewers, veggie-basil skewers, packet potatoes, asparagus, corn on the cob, and a super-colorful slaw with toasted sunflower seeds and cilantro. I made a fruit salad, so as not to feel completely useless.

(Also! I found that solid-wood chair on the side of the road in my neighborhood. It usually sits on the front porch, covered in potted plants. Good find. I love how weathered it is.)

We threw down a blanket and had a picnic in the backyard that lasted 'til well after the sun went down; retiring to the house only to play The Book of Questions, a Fabry family tradition (because who doesn't like thinking and talking about themselves?).

June 18, 2012


Above: Sunday's Breakfast. Peanutella pancake cake with a fried egg topped with parmesan and basil, and a side of fruit salad.

We hosted our friend James (again) this weekend. Activities centered around Durham's awesome farmer's market, the grill and the first two seasons of 30 Rock. Even though he's gone now, we'll probably keep the air mattress up for another few days to watch movies from - it's a definite step up from our usual couch-cushions-covered-in-sheepskin floor palette.

June 15, 2012


Parker and Otis is the default place I take out-of-towners for their first Durham lunch (... or Toast, depending on the out-of-towner). They have a long sandwich menu, so everyone is guaranteed to find something they like, and there's an amazingly curated, almost overwhelming amount of kitchen/cellar/pantry/lifestyle stuff to look at (and probably buy) while you wait for your food.

It's like... what a Cracker Barrel would be like, if it was cool and local and served mostly sandwiches.

They also have a few generous breakfast options that I've enjoyed on several (weekend) occasions, as well as a perfectly-sized little coffee bar/pastry corner, and a huge covered outdoor seating space.

I went for lunch today with coworkers and decided to go all in with the #29 - a peanut butter, bacon, and banana panini with honey on wheat (oh - and fruit on the side, to somehow "lighten it up" a bit). It was decadent, messy, and is now sending me into a mid-afternoon food coma, but totally worth it.

June 14, 2012


A fried egg over arugula and garlicky sauteed tomatoes, a whopping one of which was from my garden. And some parmesan, added as an afterthought, right after I dug in.

A Weekend Breakfast, for dinner.

June 13, 2012


The beets died. Well - it wasn't like I watched them slowly wither away, but one day the newly-thinned seedlings were there, and then the next, they started disappearing. I'm not sure if that was due to the various fauna that graze on our backyard, or the poor quality of the soil. The few seedlings that remained seemed to just stop growing. The Swiss chard looked like it was going down the same path, but a few seedlings seem to be turning a corner, so I'm going to give them a bit more time. I'm replanting the beet area (and the Swiss chard holes) with two varieties of cucumber, since the summer squash are thriving on the other end of that plot, and in my mind, they're similar.

The sweet basil and spearmint I started from seed are thriving and getting fluffier every day. My grape tomatoes on the overflow plot have exploded. I would estimate if I stood the tallest branch up (they're weighed down by their own ripening bounty right now), the plants would be about six feet tall. I've created twine hammocks for some of the heavier fruit clusters. I've lost a few of the first ripened tomatoes to rabbits (I think), but I'm not worried about it - the majority of the clusters are hidden in the mid and upper reaches of the cages, and there are so many of them.

The morning glories, nasturtiums, and extra okra have also taken hold as well - which leads me to believe that maybe the overflow plot should've been our primary plot. It's getting regular, mass quantities of sun, and since the beds are raised, I think the soil quality is better. I might retry beets there in late summer for a fall harvest.

I also had to deal with aphids on the four tomato plants in the main plot. I used an organic insecticidal soap, and they seem to have cleared up. The eggplants and sunflowers look like they're about to bloom, and the jalapenos have started exploding.

Overall - some successes, a few failures, lots of learning. Oh - and vegetables.

June 11, 2012


Above: Sunday's breakfast. Over-easy egg with onion/jalapeno compote, biscuit with grilled portobello mushroom gravy, and a side of everything bagel with cream cheese. Carb love.

Saturday morning, we revisited our new brunch favorite (and perennial beer favorite), Dain's. (Former visits noted here and here.) I had a roasted asparagus/arugula/parmesan/poached egg salad, which seems like something we could and should recreate at home. But then Micah wouldn't be able to enjoy their "Bloodiest Mary." Unless we figured out how to make a totally badass Bloody Mary mix...

June 8, 2012


Above: The Parlour at the monthly Oval Park food truck rodeo. I got a scoop of Vanilla and a scoop of Salted Butter Caramel.

The Parlour is a mini school bus turned ice cream parlor, and probably my favorite food truck in Durham (you know how I love my ice cream). The Parlour is, really, I've got to say it, heaven on wheels.

They create small-batch handmade ice creams (and sorbets and ice cream sandwiches) using natural and local ingredients whenever possible. Their flavors are a good mix of inventive (Coriander Goat Cheese with Strawberry Swirl? Uhh, OKAY) and classic. The stand-out for me is Salted Butter Caramel - I can't not order it, every time. Creamy beyond belief, and the sea salt balances the deep amber-y caramel perfectly. I want to wear it, live in it, and name my firstborn after it.

(Fellow design nerds: their identity was designed by the extremely talented Jamie Van Wart. Yum.)

I see them regularly at Fullsteam (on Wednesdays) and at the Oval Park food truck rodeos (every first Thursday of the month). But selfishly, I've always wanted them to be available to me whenever I wanted. Somewhere singular, where I wouldn't have to chase them down. And earlier this week, the possibility of that dream came true.

The Parlour has launched a Kickstarter campaign to put them "on the map." They're trying to raise funds for a brick-and-mortar location somewhere in downtown Durham. A place where like-minded folks can have ALL THE SALTED BUTTER CARAMEL ICE CREAM FOR DINNER WHENEVER THEY WANT. Ahem.

Durhamites (who are so good about supporting local businesses already, God I love this town), philanthropists, ice cream lovers, anyone who cares about my well-being: go check it out. Pretty please with a cherry (and some homemade all-natural sprinkles) on top.

June 7, 2012


Blah blah blah, ongoing campaign to make Micah love desserts by manipulating his fondness for peanut butter, blah.

I had made peanut butter cookies with milk chocolate chunks a week or two ago (from the first Baked cookbook), but was drawn to this recipe because of the oats, and there's no rule on how often peanut butter-based desserts can be made, so I went for it. I tweaked it a bit to maximize healthiness by lowering sugar and replacing some of the fat with banana puree, and made the cookies tiny because, well, I love making cookies tiny. They came together easily (even with my modifications), and came out super-moist and crumbly. In a good way. The oats give a little chew, which I like.

Concurrently, I've been wanting to make homemade Nutella for awhile now - I think I say that out loud every time we pass it in the grocery store. So much added sugar, but so good. But hazelnuts are slightly expensiver than other nuts, and slightlier harder to find (spellcheck hates this sentence), so I opted for peanuts. I thought it would accomplish the same things as the frosting recipe that came with those cookies, but with a dark chocolate kick. Mmm. Death by chocolate kicks. Not a bad way to go out.

I followed this recipe, and when I realized I didn't have quite enough peanuts, I added in some almonds and a few walnuts. Roasting them was fun. "Liquefying" them, however, was not. I think it may have broken my processor. I started getting whiffs of burnt-plastic after a few minutes. That's really more of a commentary on how old my processor is, and not the consistency of the mixture. Unfortunately, it did make me stop blending just before I got to that perfect, glossy, smooth texture. It ended up the consistency of natural creamy peanut butter - a little bit gritty, but not unpleasantly so. The taste is amazing: super earthy and thick - the chocolate is almost an afterthought. I think Micah likes it more than I do because of that - it's basically peanut butter with a bit of chocolate.

So. I had these two things. We've been eating them separately the last day or two, but I knew the inevitable was coming: peanutella whoopie pies. Tiny cookies make the best whoopie pies - so much easier to eat, and you can have a more proportional frosting to cookie ratio. These were a natural combination, obviously. A double dose of peanut buttery goodness. Milk accompaniment highly recommended.

June 5, 2012


Above: It can't be a coincidence that 14 of my most-worn shirts form a perfect grey-to-black scale.

Part of my on-going quest for a Uniform Wardrobe (full of Liziforms) includes evaluating trends I see in my clothing consumption. In what I give away (and can therefore assume is not working for me), and in what I keep. What kinds of things do I actually end up wearing all the time? What kinds of cuts and fabrics am I intuitively drawn to? What pieces do I love when I buy, only to wear once and then avoid? Things like that. I don't often shop for clothes, but when I do, this awareness helps me to make more impactful and informed decisions.

For example, I know I'm drawn to (dark) silky racerback tanks, (dark) drapey deep-v tees, and simple short black dresses. Why? Because when I look at my closet, I can see it's filled with 7 of those black dresses, 6 - 8 of those deep-v tees, etc. Articles of clothing that have survived multiple rounds of the Never-Ending Edit. They're also all in a very narrow and cohesive range of color, so they're almost all interchangeable, which frees me from having to make a few decisions.

(Note: I'm drawn to grey/black/navy as a rule, and accents like BRIGHT FUCK-OFF YELLOW/CHARTREUSE as an exception. But it works - those occasional accents POP against my sea of dark neutrals. It's just funny how often I find myself trying to decide between two very different color-versions of the same piece. Life is hard.)

I recently realized something that doesn't work for me: pattern. A lot of people rock it, but time and personal clothing donation trends have shown it's not for me. In my entire wardrobe, I only own two pieces that have pattern on them, and they are both 3/4-sleeve black-and-white striped shirts. Whenever I buy them, they make me want to move to Paris, wear bright red lipstick and spend the rest of my days sitting at those tiny outdoor cafe tables, alternately drinking coffee and wine, and people-watching. A powerful fantasy, right?, and one I obviously have fallen prey to multiple times.

For some reason, I can legitimize combining almost any two or three colors, but pattern vexes me. Or rather, distracts me. One more thing to think about, to consider. And that goes against the point of the Uniform Wardrobe.

(I truly do think about the Never-Ending Edit a lot. It's something I'll write about here from time to time - I find it forces me to articulate ideas I've previously only felt in my gut.)

June 4, 2012


Top two: Saturday's breakfast. Everything bagel with cream cheese (I love that Micah pan-fried these to avoid turning on the oven), and an over-easy egg, with a side of grilled peach parfait.

Bottom two: Sunday's breakfast. Huevos rancheros. We had grilled fish tacos the night before, and were armed with some serious leftover Mexican components.

This weekend, I did nothing but eat and hang out. It was perfect. I watched three or four of the Harry Potter movies, started a pack list for Michigan (a planner's guilty pleasure), supervised more grilling, and got 10 - 12 hours of sleep each night. Now I'm rested, relaxed, and prepared for this week... to end.