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Getting Into That Beach Frame of Mind

21 Jun

What’s a beach trip without music? As we all get ready for the upcoming 4th of July celebration, we’re curious what everyone is listening to when lounging on the beach with a cold drink in hand?

I have a collection of songs in a Spotify playlist that I’ve dubbed “Beach Drink” and serves as a good jumping off point when festivities begin for my own liking, but I want to add to it.

Lately for me, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats is a band I can put on and not have to worry about skipping through songs.They’re probably most widely known for their song “S.O.B.”, a song everyone equates to a raucous drinking good time but is actually about Rateliff’s own struggle with sobriety.

My favorite of theirs at the moment is “Howling at Nothing,” a soulful three minute song that feels like something out of the 1960’s.

Other favorites from the playlist below are:

Upbeat
Ain’t Nothing Wrong With That – Robert Randolph & The Family Band
You Don’t Have to Believe Me – Eric Hutchinson
Jackson – Carolina Chocolate Drops

That Beach Feel
At The Beach – The Avett Brothers
Watermelon – Sol Driven Train
Three Little Birds – Bob Marley & The Wailers

Winding down the day/night
El Camino – Amos Lee featuring Willie Nelson
Hold On – Alabama Shakes
The Gardener – The Tallest Man on Earth

What’s that song/band that puts you in beach/drinking mood?

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Giving thanks…

27 Nov

pass outOur house stinks right now.  It stinks in a delicious way, but it definitely stinks.  You see, I decided to get started on Thanksgiving food prep today, even though Jason and I are only going to be a party of two tomorrow, and I failed to predict the rather odd olfactory juxtaposition that would result from boiling Brussels sprouts while baking a cheesecake.  Thankfully, both of those tasks are now over; I just popped some garlic in the oven to roast for tomorrow’s mashed potatoes – so there’s hope for our home to smell good yet.

We didn’t plan to spend Thanksgiving on our own, but my parents visited in October, and Jason’s parents came up only a few weeks ago.  Neither set of parents were eager to rush back up to Charlotte so soon, especially on one of the worst travel weekends in the year.  And Jason and I aren’t enthusiastic about the four-day dash from North Carolina to Florida to spend Thanksgiving at two different houses.

So we’re on our own.  You’d think that we wouldn’t want to go through all the trouble of making Thanksgiving dinner for just the two of us, but here’s a big secret – I love cooking Thanksgiving dinner.  And Jason loves turkey leftovers.  We learned just how much we love these things last year when the timing of Thanksgiving fell perfectly in line with the timing of some kitchen renovations.  Our kitchen was unusable for cooking anything more substantial than a grilled cheese sandwich, so we opted to eat Thanksgiving dinner at The Liberty.  It was a great decision, and the food was delicious and the dessert bar was awesome – but it wasn’t the same.

As crazy as it sounds, and as much as I love eating Thanksgiving food – my favorite part of this holiday is the cooking.  It’s spending time in the kitchen with my husband, chopping vegetables, sautéing mirepoix, sipping pinot noir, and dancing to music.

This time of year, everyone’s posting lists of things they’re thankful for on social media.  Ironically, most people don’t wax poetic about all the material things the have, even though lately it seems like Thanksgiving is synonymous with Black Friday and buying stuff.  It’s the simple things that we’re most grateful for – the love of our family and friends, having a roof over our heads, our health.  My Thanksgiving wish is that we can keep our focus on this – the world would be a much happier place.

So even though I’m disappointed I won’t be seeing our families this Thanksgiving, I’m still incredibly grateful. And I’m happy.

I’m just going to leave this here…food for thought for all those days that aren’t Thanksgiving 🙂

Gratitude

Food Makes a Place a Home

19 Jul

home cookingOn July 11th, Jason and I braved the 20th straight day of rain in Charlotte (or was that the 21st?) to attend “Explore the Gathering Power of Food” an installment of the WFAE 90.7 Public Conversations series.  The conversation involved a panel of four “food enthusiasts” including a former restauranteur, a chef, a food writer, and a “communal food enthusiast” and was moderated by a historian from the Levine Museum of the New South.  It was a 90-minute conversation between the panel and audience members about their experiences with food bringing people together.

Full disclosure: we attended and observed rather than getting involved in the conversation ourselves.  I think having worked an 11 hour day and skipping dinner before walking into a room full of strangers to listen to everyone talk about their grandmother’s cooking took the words right out of me.  Continue reading

Emotional Cooking…

29 Apr

VeggiesI had one of those days at work…

You know, one of those days where the reality of exactly how much is out of my control came into focus.  Acute focus.

Being the type of girl who likes control, this frustrates me to no end.

I’m a counselor, so I’m reminded nearly every day of exactly how much is beyond my influence. One of the first rules of counseling is to accept that you can’t change everything.  And that sometimes things just suck.

This reality slapped me in the face on a daily basis in a former life, when I worked as a mental health counselor.  Now I work in higher ed. The slaps are still there, they just come less frequently.  Sometimes they come from places that I don’t expect.  Today was one of those days.

Fortunately , I come home to Jason.  He listens to me (not that counselors can say much), offers me a hug, a glass of wine, and a refill if I need it.

We cook dinner.  Life gets better.  I let go a little.

There’s something about chopping vegetables that’s therapeutic after a rough day.  The focus that’s required to dice and mince without losing a finger overrides my attempts to wrap my head around the things I don’t understand or can’t control.

Counseling requires patience and a faith that things will evolve into what they need to over time.  Transforming raw ingredients into a dish is immediate, and that immediacy is satisfying.

Tonight we pulled together a simple sweet and sour pork dish.  The recipe is courtesy of the Baltic Maid blog.  Plenty of chopping and a return to peace.  I’ll worry about what I can and can’t control tomorrow – tonight we cook, dine, and relax.

Our Love Affair with Craft Beer Started with One Brew

28 Oct Harpoon Winter Warmer

A couple of years ago, we were going about our lives like any normal couple – recovering from the onslaught of holidays and birthdays that make up our Fall every year. Our weekend plans had been centered around our beloved Florida Gators and whatever opponent they might be matched up against on any given Saturday.

Living in the South, college football is a way of life – so there’s usually a good deal of beer that goes along with the glory and defeat we all experience from September to December. For as long as I’ve been drinking, beer choice was centered around cost (read cheap) and my ability to still be standing after a 3-hour football game (coping with the ups and downs 4 quarters of football will bring).

The usual suspects (Bud, Miller, & Coors) made plenty of appearances over the years. When I converted over to Yuengling, I patted myself on the back and declared, “Now that is a fancy beer!”

Continue reading

Oh Hello Wine…I Remember You!

29 Apr

It’s been a long time since I last sat down and had a few glasses of wine at dinner,  and then continued drinking into the evening. We’ve been on a craft beer kick, which is easy when you have so many amazing places in Charlotte to find something new every trip into town.

Red Wine

Forgot how good you are red wine…

But there was a time, not too long ago, when wine was our thing. We certainly never had a defined palate for what we drank, but we knew enough that any Pinot Grigio with a strong presence of grapefruit wouldn’t be a favorite, we prefer un-oaked Chardonnay, and we’re happy with almost any Spanish red you throw in front of us.

So a trip to Trader Joe’s led us to their wine section, where for very cheap, you can take a risk on some reds or whites that may or may not pan out. Again, we’re those people who do a happy dance when finding a cheap bottle of wine ($12 or under) that tastes great. We don’t equate quality by how much you shell out for a bottle. And so we were reintroduced to wine night.

A wine night, for us, seems very different from that of a beer night. I think I’m still transitioning from what beer drinking used to be for me (quantity over quality), so sitting down and enjoying a couple of craft beers doesn’t quite fill the void of what I expect when drinking beer. I see beer as a more social venture – something that is best experienced with a group of people. While wine requires a more intimate setting – which fits our idea of a good night in. Continue reading

Adventures await!

12 Apr

Our blog is supposed to be about our food and drink adventures, but we haven’t been overly adventurous lately.   The warmer weather has sparked the growth of some organisms in our yard that are best described as what you would get if you crossed a dandelion and Jabba the Hutt,  so we’ve been forced to work in the yard pretty much nonstop for the past 2-3 weekends.  As you can imagine, this leaves little energy or time to get out and do fun stuff on the weekends, and with work being more chaotic than normal for both of us, we’ve had little energy or time to go out during the week. 

Not that we haven’t had some fun times.  We got to try NoDa Brewing’s TriUmphant Tripel the day it was released, and we also got to sample their newest IPA, a white IPA named Ghost Hop.  We finally made it to Salud (loved it!!!).  For a completely different type of adventure, we attended what may have been Indian Trail’s first ever beer dinner.  Before attending that dinner, Jason and I felt like we might be the only two people in Indian Trail who enjoy craft beer, and unfortunately the beer dinner did nothing to help us feel otherwise.  It’s amazing how much of a difference 20 miles can make in a beer scene.

mmmm....Conquistador.....

This weekend we hope to get out of our non-adventurous rut with a trip to St. Augustine, FL to celebrate the wedding of an old college friend.  Hopefully we’ll encounter some great seafood in the process, and at the very least, there’s our planned pit stop in Savannah for Zunzi’s – the most fantastic Swiss-Italian-South Africa-Dutch restaurant on the planet. 

So, we plan to have more adventures to report on soon.  Cheers!

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