Durham Weekend

September 15, 2014 § Leave a comment

My friend Natalie lives in Durham, North Carolina, with her husband and sweet-cute dog Lucy. I got to visit with them a week or so ago now, and it was a good time of fun and laughter and reconnecting with an old friend. Friendships are fuller face-to-face. Natalie shared with me the bounty of her garden, and we explored Durham and its environs a bit. I remember saving a magazine article about the Sarah P. Duke Gardens on Duke University’s campus probably a decade ago. The photo run with the article was lush and beautiful enough to stand out in my mind. In-person, it was just as good. If it had not been so hot, we could have stayed for awhile longer to see all the nooks and crannies of this lovely spot. IMG_5628Into the kitchen we went after this outing and whipped up a tasty tomato pie using a Southern Living recipe, of course. Natalie’s tomatoes also figured prominently in tomato sandwiches she packed for us the next day when we went on a hike through Umstead State Park. I will miss that about summer, the juiciness and almost unbelievable ripeness of tomatoes in their season. The colors are so vibrant and the taste offers a certain zing that tomatoes the rest of the year cannot match.  IMG_5636Continuing our food tour, we drove to nearby Raleigh and indulged in two local chocolate-maker’s wares, Videri and Escazu. Words pale in attempts to describe the luxurious richness of the truffles I tried and brought home to try later. Cherries and vodka, garam masala and amaretto, raspberry ganache, muscadine jelly and pecan butter…each was a flavor trip, an exploration of the unique and unexpected. Escazu definitely won for inventive pairings and abundance of offerings, plus they had push pops. Videri’s charm lay in its simplicity and access to see the chocolate-making process, which unfortunately wasn’t at work when we stopped by. I left wanting to chuck it all and travel to Costa Rica or Venezuela or Europe and learn the fine art of chocolatier-ing myself. Birmingham needs a chocolate spot. IMG_5637IMG_5641Satisfied, we whiled the rest of my visit away in a game called Munchkin (which makes no sense) and playing with Natalie’s bead collection, out of which she made me two new pairs of earrings. Swaying in her hammock and watching her dog chase the neighborhood bunny, watching the first 2 Harry Potter movies because I hadn’t seen them, meeting a friend and neighbor of hers and sharing our pie: all of this rounded out a much-needed trip to a beautiful location and a dear friend. I left full of thanks and renewed even after all the driving I did to get there and get back home.

Homemade

September 2, 2014 § Leave a comment

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While I get it, I don’t particularly like the sentiment of “living for the weekend” and its implication that the week is an obstacle, what we do during the days that don’t start with “S” are just to be pushed through to get to the better stuff. I do relish unfettered time, not having to wake up to an alarm, being away from a computer screen, etc. I know the sigh of relief when Friday afternoon gets to a certain time on the clock, and I also know the sigh of a different kind on Sunday night. It’s there and it’s real, but it makes me want to try to create, if you will, some weekend during the week-in. Surely, there is much life to be lived and ways to restore ourselves even during and around the 9 to 5. All that said, weekends are definitely welcome and long ones, especially so.

My brother and I took advantage of the extra day to visit our parents and generally relax and enjoy each others’ company. We played our favorite board game Carcassonne, made homemade pizza and cream cheese ice cream and a skillet cookie and ginger syrup that didn’t quite make the from-scratch ginger ale of my dreams, watched movies we’d seen and some we hadn’t and football (of course). We laughed, we lounged, we lingered. Cars were washed, cats cuddled, and calories consumed. Mom’s list of projects dwindled to just one, painting a room, but we did manage to squeeze in almost 2 walls before we left Monday.

 

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I’m grateful for the time away, and it was certainly hard to get up this morning and return to the cubicle, I won’t lie! But even in that, there were bright spots of seeing office friends and celebrating a coworker who is fighting cancer with a special lunch outing and attempting to do good work.

“Pretty” Good Pancake

August 17, 2014 § Leave a comment

Leave it to Joy the Baker to come up with deliciousness, tastiness, and comfortingness and then make it work for one. I’ve made her single lady melty chocolate cake before and all the judges (me) agreed that it was fantastic. When I saw her post recently about the single pancake and realized I had all the ingredients, well, pancakes were had this morning. I went with making two instead of one whopper pancake. On a related note, why is it that the first pancake always has issues? The pan wasn’t hot enough, you didn’t use enough butter, you flipped too soon or too wildly, it burns/doesn’t get done in the middle…the list goes on. In my case, maybe impatience to be eating the pancake causes any or all of these catastrophes. By the 2nd or 3rd pancake, I’ve usually hit a stride, but since this recipe only made two…it wasn’t pretty. But, as my family says “It’ll eat.” Or, in the words of The Black Keys: “the look of the cake, it ain’t always the taste.”

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I want to call those extra crispy bits on the first one “pancake cracklins” and market them cleverly. But maybe that doesn’t sound appealing to anyone else. I will be keeping this recipe on the fridge, though, for when the breakfast-for-dinner mood strikes. Look past the humble appearance of mine and make these yourself!

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