May 31, 2013


All photos taken with my iPhone. 

Tomato pepper angel hair. A riff on the roasted red pepper pasta I made a while back - I substituted tomato paste, paprika, and black pepper for the red peppers, because I had it on hand and wanted something different. 

I haven't tried this batch yet, but I imagine it would be great with a bold sauce or red meat (think puttanesca, or meatballs). Tomato paste packs a lot of flavor, and it would need something with an equal amount of oomph to stand up to it.

May 30, 2013


Above: Time-lapse basil. It all started when I got a packet of seeds (and a branded drinkin' jar) from Fullsteam Brewery to commemorate the release of their Summer Basil Farmhouse Ale, and now I somehow have four different kinds of basil in two different pots: genovese, Thai, purple, and lemon. (You can see the genovese, Thai and lemon seedlings in that "after" pot.)

The garden is doing pretty well. My potted grape tomato is growth-spurting all over the place - I should have my first tomatoes next week. All the herbs are flourishing in the early summer heat, especially the mint. I've bookmarked several recipes (including mint sorbet, inspired by a version I had at our favorite wine bar recently) for the bounty I know I'll be harvesting. I walk out to the basil once or twice a day to clip a few strategic leaves for omelets / salads / cocktails, and I get so much pleasure out of that simple ritual. Micah's "Bean Town" and peppers are also coming along nicely. It's that time when everything has started taking off on its own, and the long winter we thought would never end finally starts to fade away from our memories.

May 28, 2013


Top two: Saturday's breakfast. Roasted pesto potatoes on a bed of spinach with shaved jicama, a fried egg, and parmesan crisps. Side of pan de campagne (from Loaf).

Bottom two: Monday's breakfast. Fried duck egg with cheese crust (Chapel Hill Creamery Calvander), arugula, and caramelized onions. Side of bacon and an English muffin with strawberry jam.

We deserved that three-day weekend. We made no plans, and stuck to them. We finished The Office, Micah finished his chicken coop, and I hung onto texts from my parents as they drove up to Michigan for the summer (stopping in Chicago and Ypsilanti to visit my brothers Will and Sam, respectively). I put on my bikini and laid out on a towel in the backyard and pretended I was there with them. Then I started sweating profusely and remembered there was no icy lake to jump into to cool off - and retreated inside to make myself a lime / basil / mint tonic and bookmark a countdown on my laptop so I could know exactly how many days / hours / minutes I have left until I leave (roughly 36 days).

May 22, 2013


Pesto! I love it. It makes almost any dish better, it freezes well, and you don't need an exact recipe to make it perfectly. I just bought my first bulk container of basil of the year, and used every single leaf of it to make classic pesto.

The first time I made this, I basically followed these guidelines for classic pesto genovese (and I highly recommend that book for fellow pasta snobs). But, I used almonds instead of pine nuts (so much less expensive), more garlic, and less cheese. It's my go-to "recipe" for classic pesto now.

Except, I rarely make classic pesto. It's so flexible, I usually end up making some weird version with whatever I have on-hand: arugula pesto if I've bought too much and it's starting to turn, weird-herb-combo pesto (like this cilantro-tarragon pesto - great on fajitas and in stirfry), and even forager pesto (with greens from my garden and yard).

May 21, 2013


On Sunday, Micah orchestrated a North Carolina-themed barbecue to celebrate our friend James' visit. It rained off and on all day, so Micah pulled the grill onto the front porch.

(Weekend Breakfast was spent at Parker & Otis, picking up last minute ingredients.)

We invited a few friends, bought growlers and cans and bottles of local beer, and grilled and smoked all manner of Southern barbecue standards. Pulled smoked Boston butt (pork shoulder – seven pounds of it!) with vinegar-based barbecue sauce on buns with cabbage-jicama slaw. Jalapeno cornbread. Baked beans with local molasses and lots of bacon. Vegetable kebabs. Wings in Cackalacky. Pimento cheese and crackers. Deviled eggs. (And fruit salad from me, the odd man out.) We played records and had roasted strawberry mascarpone ice cream for dessert. Some went back for seconds after a few hours. We ended the night at Fullsteam Brewery, dodging the rain and playing ping-pong (or, in my case, watching it).

May 17, 2013


So - I didn't actually know this plant was eucalyptus until the past year or so. Before then, I had only ever seen it in dusty, fake or dried Michael's bouquets. It reminds me of the early nineties, and unfortunate interiors with too many pastels and an overdone Southwest vibe. But lately I've seen it used, fresh, in bathrooms. Tied up rustically to showerheads (or unused towel bars, if you don't want to bump into it), the eucalyptus is "activated" by the hot steam from showering, and apparently makes your whole bathroom smell like an Italian spa (which in my mind smells like sunshine and fresh herbs).

So far, it's working beautifully. This isn't Vicks Vaporub eucalyptus - this is an elegant, vaguely camphorous smell. It's also reminiscent of the cedar-lined sauna at our big cabin, which I love. I'm on a constant mission to make life away from the cabin more like life at the cabin, so I can hold onto that summery, woodsy-beachy vibe year-round. I also think I'll add sprigs of rosemary and lavender when my garden kicks into high gear this summer.

I got a bunch of fresh eucalyptus from Trader Joe's for under $5 (the bunch above is about 2/3 of the total). More than worth it for a month or so of cabin-vibe-inducing Italian spa luxury.

May 15, 2013


This weekend, Micah is having a backyard barbecue to welcome our friend James back to Durham. Smoked Boston butt, North Carolina beer, sides for days, Cackalacky wings, and good friends to share it all with. I, of course, offered to make dessert.

Micah requested something seasonal or North Carolina-y, and I wanted to try a new recipe. I tweaked this recipe by subbing (perfectly ripe and local) strawberries for cherries, subbing mascarpone for goat cheese (I ended up throwing in a bit of goat cheese anyway for a bit of tang), adding vanilla, and cutting the sugar pretty significantly.

This is basically strawberry cheesecake ice cream with a fancy name. I was curious about an eggless ice cream (and wary of anything that includes corn syrup), but the texture and shortened preparation time were totally worth it in this instance - especially since I was making a double batch. It's luscious and tart-sweet with a cheesecake-y tang. It scoops beautifully, and should be a sweet, late-spring / early-summer note on which to end the barbecue.

May 13, 2013


Top two: Saturday's breakfast. Huevos rancheros with grilled bison flank steak.

Bottom two: Sunday's breakfast. Biscuits and sweet pepper portobello gravy, scrambled cheddar eggs with basil.

Saturday, Micah finished 99.99% of his chicken coop, and I potted some mint and spinach in tea tins. We had friends over to celebrate a recent graduation with cheese and drinks and Yahtzee. I spent Sunday morning updating my blog header (I had remembered the previous one was merely a "placeholder" – that had stayed in place for months). Sunday afternoon was spent sunning in the backyard with the latest issue of Garden & Gun and a Mason jar full of gin and tonic. I called my mom to thank her for being my mom and giving me all the good genes, and Micah made beef stroganoff for dinner. We spent the rest of the night catching up on The Office and planning a barbecue party for next weekend.

May 9, 2013


I've started taking in-progress Instagrams of my monthly(ish) haircuts. It's been fun to look back at them and see how impatient I've become with growth ever since I started using a #1 clipper. As soon as I start getting "bedhead" or my hair starts touching my ears, I start to itchy. And clippy.

May 6, 2013


Above: Sunday's breakfast. Dessert! Sweet cornbread, vanilla whipped cream, and perfectly-ripe farmers market strawberries. I had thirds.

The weekend weather forecast was pretty clear: get all of your outdoor things done on Saturday. So we did – Farmer's Market (check out our haul), Home Depot (we're already practicing for homeownership by going there multiple times a week), grocery shopping, grilling (bison flank steak and poblanos for tacos, and chicken thighs for this week's dinners), and planting (Micah planted over a hundred bush bean seeds in a plot he know refers to as "Bean Town"). We fell asleep sore and smoky, and woke up to grey rainy nothingness, which we celebrated accordingly.

May 3, 2013


I used to make banana bread when I accumulated a few uneaten, spotty, brown bananas (my favorite recipes are from Orangette). But right now, I'm on a caramelized banana ice cream kick (I work from this recipe). Caramelizing them first with some cinnamon and brown sugar gives their flavor a certain boozy depth, and pureeing them before adding them to the custard adds an extra creamy lightness to the final product.

I bet this would be even better with some warm banana bread.

May 1, 2013


Above: sometimes I work from the dining nook so I can prop my feet up and enjoy the backyard view (photo from my Instagram).

Today is my six-month anniversary of working at Braid Creative. It feels like so much longer, because I'm now so far removed from my former job, routine, and life. Seriously – this was a life-changing decision for me, and I'm still realizing the extent. (Read my one-month anniversary post here.)

I still love working from home, but have realized I definitely need a defined office space/room – something I won't have until we move (whenever that is). I need a door to close when the day is over, a space with its own special energy, a place to cocoon myself against domestic duties when necessary. That being said – I still love the flexibility I have to jump back and forth between house stuff and work stuff, but have realized I need to constantly prioritize, or else I get scattered and distracted. Especially now that I've started making pasta.

I've had the pleasure of sitting front row while Kathleen and Tara evolve Braid as they see new needs and opportunities arise. Since I've started, they've launched three ECourses, and their first-ever workshop is this weekend! After working within the ladder-like structure of a larger agency for so long, I'm impressed with how much power they have to notice a need for change, and then immediately create that change. No department heads, no upper management meetings, none of the bureaucracy I'm sure we've all felt the weight of before. Just the steady drive and sometimes-still-mysterious intuition of two sisters with a certain born-and-bred quirk and well-honed approach to creating. I like them, I respect and admire them, and I trust them implicitly. (Plus they're cool with me running away to Michigan for a month this summer.) And those are the kinds of bosses you want to keep.