Last Saturday, Skyler and I hopped on a plane (preceded, of course, by a few rounds of mimosas and Jack Daniels at the airport bar), heading south to the sunny world of Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic to celebrate our marriage! Fast forward about 12 hours, and we were sitting on the porch of the room at our resort, watching a few men and women dance in the rain, wearing butterfly wings and dripping in glitter. Skyler looked at me. “Wanna catch the first flight out of here tomorrow morning? Turn this into an adventure?” Yes. Yes, that’s exactly what I wanted to do. So, that’s exactly what we did.
Each month, Martha Stewart’s Living magazine shows up in my mailbox, and I dive in, trying to live vicariously through the beautifully curated pages of this publication.
A few weeks ago, as I flipped through the pages of the Easter-focused issue, I stumbled upon the most interesting recipe I had seen in a while: the macaroon macaron.
Skyler and I are not great at executing on a meal plan. I’ll use our Whole 30 experience as an example.
On Whole 30, it’s absolutely critical to plan your meals, because the ingredients that you’ll need to use are weird and expensive and hard to find, and because if you don’t have a plan, you’ll be overcome with the desire to call it quits and order a pizza or you’ll eat a steamed bag of broccoli for dinner, and literally no one in the world actually wants to have a steamed bag of broccoli for dinner. So, we planned! We made a weekly calendar and hung it in the kitchen. Monday: shepherd’s pie. Tuesday: sweet potatoes stuffed with buffalo chicken. Wednesday: salmon and brussel sprouts. Etc. Etc. Etc. And then Monday would roll around, and it would be the kind of Monday that really actually feels like a Monday, and my desire to spend an hour making shepherd’s pie and then clean a heaping pile of dishes would be 0. And then on Tuesday, Skyler wouldn’t be in the mood for buffalo chicken. At the end of the week, we would have existed on a random assortment of compliant foods that made zero complete meals, and we’d have a fridge full of fresh vegetables that were no longer very fresh.
And that fridge full of leave-me-in-here-one-more-day-and-you-won’t-be-able-to-eat-me vegetables is a thing that we just can’t seem to get ahead of. Until today, when I threw all those ingredients into a lip-smacking quiche!
I woke up this morning in an embarrassingly messy hotel room. Think: A trail of clothes littered across the floor, open boxes of half-eaten chicken fingers and cold french fries, empty cups strewn haphazardly across the desk, a sticky uncorked bottle of wine, and the contents of my purse decorating the nightstand. Ahhh, St. Patrick’s Day. You were a fun one this year.
As I lay in our luxurious king-size bed mindlessly scrolling through social media, I came across a picture of a cherry pie. An advertisement for Country Living or some similar magazine. Mmm. Pie. And suddenly, that single photo was the beginning of my downfall and I couldn’t get pie off my brain. I mentioned my plan to Skyler – “I want to bake a pie today. Can we stop at the grocery store on the way home?” – and he grunted in my general direction. He clearly was not as excited as my grandiose pie plans as I was. It seems that hangovers hit us in very different ways.
A few weekends ago, I hopped in the car and drove and hour and a half south, just across the Mason Dixon, to spend warm fall Saturday with my grandma in Frederick, MD. We’ve fallen into a little bit of routine when we decide to traipse up down Market Street. There’s our go-to shops, like Relish, and of course, our go-to restaurant, La Paz. Our go-to order appetizer is queso, my go-to entrée is Marcie’s Choice salad and our go-to drink is obviously a margarita, hold my salt, please. But this time, we had no agenda, no timeframe. We still hit our usuals, but we had the whole day to wander, and that’s exactly what we did. At one point, we walked by a local chocolatier, Perfect Truffle. We headed inside, both ordering one dark chocolate salted caramel. Then we walked outside, across the street, and directly into another chocolatier, The Candy Kitchen. We both ordered one milk chocolate salted caramel. We turned it into a little competition – who on Market had the best salted caramel? To be honest, both were delicious, but wildly different. One was the oozy caramel. When I bit through the hard chocolate exterior, the caramel inside just melted on my tongue. The other was chewy, almost hard. The kind that gives your jaw a workout as you eat it.
The past week and a half has been kind of a lot. It’s been emotional and trying and hectic, which in turn has just drained me (a serious introvert) of all my (very extroverted) energy. But then Sunday came around, and I had a bit of respite.
Skyler woke up early and headed out to hunting camp with a few of his buddies, leaving me at home with our three snuggly little pets and no plans of any kind. And although I gave him a hard time about leaving, if I’m being honest, it was just what I needed. An entire day to be at home, with myself, and just be. I needed to press pause on life, enjoy the quiet and recharge. That reset button looks different for everyone, but for me, it meant spending a whole lot of time in our kitchen.
After a quick trip to the grocery store (in my pajamas, because it was my day and who cares), I whipped up a batch of cappuccino biscotti, and then I set my sights on dinner: sweet potato gnocchi with brown butter and sage.
I’ve never been one to wait until Thanksgiving has passed to begin spreading Christmas cheer. In fact, I started my Christmas shopping in September. Last weekend, I pulled out the boxes of holiday decor from the basement and started sprinkling bits of red, green and gold around the house. And let’s be honest, Hallmark’s Christmas movies have been playing on my TV for a solid month. I love Christmas almost as much as I love Octobers.
When the temperatures begin to dip and the leaves float from the tree tops to the earth’s floor. When the floral sundresses are traded in for plaids and oversized knit sweaters. When pool parties on Saturdays turn into football get-togethers on Sundays. When I start ordering my coffee hot, rather than iced. That is my favorite time. Fall.
And when the cooler weather forces me inside, rather than allows me to soak up every possible sun ray, I embrace the opportunity to spend some of that time in the kitchen, a place that often gets ignored in the summertime.
Today’s baking adventure came in the form of banana bread. Pure and simple, homemade and comforting. (Side note: A really cool thing about being an adult is already having all of the ingredients you need to whip up some baked goods. Including extra brown bananas.)
Like most Fridays this summer, I woke up slowly. The sun slowly crept through the windows with the sounds of the world (and my little family) coming to life outside. It’s my favorite thing about mornings – the calm and quiet that permeates the early hours.
But I also woke up really excited. I planned to treat myself to a manicure and pedicure, knock out a few to-dos from our seemingly never-ending list and head to the rehearsal dinner of two of our favorite people at one of my favorite restaurants. And… I was going to make my very first galette.
I can’t say if it’s the crisp cool that has been slowly invading the foggy mornings around here, or if it’s just because fall has been on my mind a lot lately, but it’s definitely something. I can’t put my finger on why, but I have been completely consumed with the idea of baking a galette. (Truth be told, I’ve never even tasted a single bite of a galette, but still, I’ve been hellbent on making one of my own.)
The defining factor of a galette is that it’s a free-form pastry, baked without the stability of a pie pan or tart ring. The dough is rolled out flat, then folded around the filling. But the true appeal of a galette lies in its unsophistication. It can be anything you want, but as long as you’ve used good fruit or vegetables for the filling and real butter for the dough, it will bake up into something golden brown and utterly gorgeous, the kind of pastry you’re excited to whip up anytime.
Have you ever watched House Hunters or Fixer Upper or any other house hunting/home renovation show? (Of course you have, let’s be honest.) My favorite thing about these shows, aside from the interior design and my overrated love of shiplap, is the way that these home owners/house hunters walk into this process with a seemingly impossible laundry list of must-haves, and somehow, end up with everything that they wanted.
And yesterday, that’s exactly how I felt about lunch.