Mother Nature’s Summer Treat

What a weird day.As the dogs and I took our morning stroll, I was greeted this morning by a huge full moon sitting just on the horizon. The tree lined street framed out a huge glowing moon. Mind you…the sun was up- I think the moon was a little confused. It looked like a harvest moon in broad day light. So began mother nature’s work on a bizarre day.

There were strange nuances throughout the day like a weird delay on my keyboard that made typing a little off.

My evening yoga class was a bust as I received a last minute call from my boss. Then as I started to drive home, it began to rain-SIDEWAYS! How is that possible?

So it was no surprise to arrive home to a power outage. What is a girl to do with no power? I have managed to find some candles and a flashlight. Oh and a can of tuna for dinner…

Todays freaky events are just a reminder that we can’t always plan things out. And sometimes the best things are not planned. Like tonight…I brought home all kinds of work..but without power, I have no internet which means no work for me! How am I writing this blog you ask…its my something new- I am trying out word press’s email feature using my little pink crackberry! I’m digging this little break from the norm. Thanks mother nature!

To ensure compliance with requirements imposed by the IRS, we inform you that any tax advice contained in this communication (including any attachments) is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code.

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Bali Bound

There is a pending southeast asia trip on the horizon. I have been diligently working to convince C to join me on the adventure and to take a few extra days to go somewhere really exotic. This was not in the plans for 2010 and C only follows what is planned. He is very calculated and meticulous in all that he does. Oh and thank God….because I’d be a mess without him. I am not nearly as good at planning and am NOT disciplined at all at saving. So we have this house renovation going on and he is so afraid that we will blow the budget. Every penny is counted and no extra is being spent.

Besides me….there is nothing C loves more than a tropical vaca and a beach bar with cold beer and good tunes (. So, on my quest to convince him that we need to take this little adventure, I have been doing research on where we can go and how much it will cost. Bali. Ah Bali….this seems to be my ticket to adventure. Great beaches, good snorking, a Hilton property (Conrad) and CHEAP. The hardest part of this is getting him to Asia…once there, it’s a no brainer.

So if I have learned one thing in my short 4 years of marriage…there is one way to build the case…through his stomach. C is out of town so I thought it would be a good opportunity to try my hand at cooking up a little Asian/Malaysian/Indonesian dish. I am not really sure how all of the different cuisines are categorized. They seem to run together. I spent the afternoon searching for the perfect recipe. The challenge I found was that most ingredients from the true ethnic sites couldn’t be found in Gville without serious work. But I managed to find a great menu for evening. I invited my friend T over to try it out with me. She doesn’t really cook, so I knew I couldn’t rely on her for guidance, but I knew she would keep me entertained with some good girl talk while I navigated the recipes.

I prepared a Malaysian lime-coconut mahi and coconut rice with mangoes and pistachios. YUMMY – says T! The fish was broiled with the lime coconut sauce- coconut milk, cilantro, lemon grass, fish sauce, brown sugar, lime juice, Thai chili paste, shallots and of course garlic. The sauce was sweet and spicy all al the same time, but when I make it for C I will lessen the fish sauce portion. It was a bit too strong. Quite easy to make. Just combine all of the ingredients in a food processor, pour over the fish, broil and presto- an exotic, light summer dish. The rice was outstanding. I used salt and pepper pistachios (the kind they sell at Costco). They were a perfect juxtaposition to the sweet coconut rice and mango.  To add a little color to the plate, I accompanied the fare with sliced fresh tomatoes and avocado. WOWsers. I felt like a little piece of Bali made its way to my kitchen. Oh and I almost forgot the best accutrement…a fantastic bottle of prosecco. Nothing says vaca better than a little bubbly.

Cheers to a fun night with a great friend!

Vodka

Vodka. How many vodka concoctions do you think exist in the world? Have you ever met one you didn’t like? I’ve never been a huge vodka fan. Jager…yes…but not vodka. I think I had a little run in with some vodka my freshman year of college and from that point on, I steered clear.

We had a perfect day at the beach and were ready to celebrate a special wedding night celebration for R and E, our dear friends. I must admit, I consumed a million beers on the beach and the thought of another beer seemed a bit daunting. I only can have a couple of fruit juice based drinks so I needed to find another vice for the night. The Blue Dogs were playing…which could bring up a whole nother lot of crazy stories from my early 20’s but I won’t go there…I’m all grown up now.

Anyway….I seriously deliberated what to do. I knew that if I moved to champagne I wouldn’t remember the night; if I had red wine, I might spill it while dancing and that wouldn’t be pretty on mydress; if I drank vodka cranberry, I would have a stomach ache and beer was out of the question….What’s a girl to do? So I trusted my friend, Hudo, and gave vodka soda a shot. I can’t believe I never tried it before. It was just like having a little pelligrino…my fave! Fantastic and with the soda water, I wasn’t hung over but well lubed for a night of dancing! Thanks for the suggestion Hudo!

Watch out world, I have a new drink and I can’t wait to give her another shot at the next occasion.

Vinegar Pie

About a month ago, my father in law purchased a HUGE bottle of white vinegar at Costco. Why? It was only a few dollars…what a bargain. Never mind the fact that we could never use that much vinegar…at least for cooking purposes. So one night over a glass or two of wine, we brainstormed uses for vinegar (kinda like the Forest Gump scene about shrimp). Someone threw out a the idea of vinegar pie. VINEGAR PIE? What’s that? Sounds disgusting.

A quick search on wikipedia and I quickly learned that vinegar pie, similar to a chess pie was popular in the 1800’s. Some say that Southern cooks replaced citrus or fruit with vinegar when there was no fresh fruit available.  The vinegar gave it a twang of sharp flavor much like a lemon would.

Ingredients include eggs, butter, sugar, vanilla and of course a small bit of white vinegar. I was skeptical. But I figured it would be a good experiment. It was so easy. I just mixed the ingredients and poured in the pie crust. Baked for about an hour and presto…vinegar pie.

Very, very similar to a chess pie or a custard pie, it was GREAT. We all agreed that this recipe was a keeper for a light summer dessert.

Topped with fresh peaches and a little whipped cream, delish. Now if we could figure out what to do with the remaining 5 gallons of vinegar. Any ideas?

BIG CITY…smalltown girl

My first visit to Washington DC was in 1989. We took the train from North Carolina to DC for my class trip. It was the first time I had ever visited a big city and I fell in love with our nation’s capitol. I think we were here for about 5 days and we visited every monument and most of the appropriate museums. I fell in love with the busy streets, the metro, the bustle of people, the monuments, the beautiful architecture, the restaurants (though I am sure we ate at really crappy ones- they seemed to this small town girl to be so sophisticated.), the smells of a city, the street vendors…everything. I knew that DC would be my home one day. I remember telling mom and dad that I was going to live in DC one day. So when I graduated from college, we loaded up the U-Haul and I moved to DC.

The DC of my early 20’s was quite different. I never really felt like I lived in a big city. I hated the metro and chose to drive or take cabs everywhere and I most certainly never went down to the mall unless someone was visiting and wanted to see the sites. But for sure I knew trendiest bars and hot spots…YOU BET. It’s so weird, I never really felt like I lived in a big city. I didn’t notice the hustle and I guess I became accustomed to the smell. It felt so small. I honestly can’t believe that I roamed all over this city like it was Mayberry!

Fastforward…I am a tourist again. And DC through my 30ish eyes seems scary and big and crowded and not friendly. The architecture and lure of history is still here, but I can’t believe that I lived in this BIG bustling city…and I liked it. I just can’t get over the fact that I jetted around this city. It doesn’t seem real.

I am staying near the convention center in an area of town that really was sketchy and scary when I lived here. I am not really all that familiar with this part of town, so exploring this afternoon brought me down streets that I have never explored. When I lived here, this part of town did have some high rises with businesses but there wasn’t much residential and certainly not any shopping. Today, there is all kinds of shopping and restaurants. The city may seem so different because I am in a different part of town, but even Georgetown, my beloved favorite spot, seemed dirtier and busier!

So today, I explored DC with a new grown-up set of eyes. Visiting some of my favorite spots and some new ones. In my three years here I never just took a stroll on the mall. This afternoon was the perfect time for a stroll. After being cooped inside meeting rooms all day, I desperately needed to stretch my legs. It has been extremely hot here, record highs, and let me just say…Americans are not pretty on a good day….so on record high days…wow….Note to all Americans…just because you are vaca doesn’t mean you should dress as though you are doing yard work! Anyway- I strolled the mall, enjoyed the fresh air and said a little thank you that I now call Gville home!

A taste of the south

Celebrating three years of a monthly supper club with great friends. Our group is truly a commingle of people. We live all over Greenville and don’t see each other on a regular basis outside of our supper club. And I always  look forward to catching up with everyone. Each month, the host carefully selects a theme/main course and we all bring the supporting dishes.

This month, we had a fantastically southern gathering, complete with white linens, beautiful hydrangeas and heirloom silver! We arrived to a beautiful table setting and cool white wine on a hot summer evening. The hostess outdid herself. We all questioned when Southern Living was coming for the photo shoot!

I knew the perfect dish to take to a southern supper club gathering. My peaches were perfectly ripe…ready for a peach pound cake! I went online and found a great recipe (and the best part was this pound cake didn’t have a pound of butter in it).  As an aside…I am in the midst of packing up our house to move out for a renovation. So I am a little scattered. Just as I began to make the cake, I realized I was missing a couple of the key ingredients. C. kindly offered to go pick them up. I mentioned that maybe he should just pick up something for us to take rather than slaving over peeling and slicing peaches and then mixing up the batter, baking and cooling. My kitchen was a disaster and it just seemed like too much effort. At this suggestion, C. replied, “oh go ahead and make it. It’ll only take you a few minutes for you to whip it up.” REALLY- oh just a few minutes and presto – a cake. Is that what he really thinks…he thinks I am that good. I obviously have made “whipping” up a dessert look so easy. Well….I couldn’t let him down. There was just one thing to do…whip up the cake!

So I did. We ended a perfectly fabulous dinner- pork tenderloin, potato casserole, fresh green salad and summer pasta salad, with a sweet, delicious peach pound cake!

I’ll give the cake a B. I’ll try it again and maybe add some vanilla and cinnamon. It needed just a little something else to take it to an A.

Happy Summer!