A Letter to Taylor: No Fail Soup Recipes

My dearest, darling Taylor,

You are so very good at so many things. I know this because we went to college together and were in the same sorority (yes, y’all, Kappa Deltas are ballin’). You write a touching, yet hilarious, blog about motherhood and witty articles in actual publications. And, oh yeah, you’re mom to an adorable little nugget.
Taylor and Wee Connor

Come on. Is there anything cuter?

Look at his delight at the pho. This boy loves soup!

Look at his delight at the pho. This boy loves soup!

Wee Connor loves vegetables and hates bananas. I love Wee Connor.

Wee Connor loves vegetables and hates bananas. I love Wee Connor.

But apparently, dear Taylor, you are not the best at making soup.
IMG_7877
I haven’t tasted your soup. I fear you may be hard on yourself. Cause surely if you can make a human, you can make a soup, right? To be fair, I don’t exactly know how you make humans. It’s in a stock pot, right?
Winter is coming and without soup, you may die in Chicago. So, I’ve got three recipes for easy soup handpicked for you. I could say they’re foolproof, but you ain’t no fool. Friendproof? Eh, I’m still working on that one.
AOT,
Bethany
PS. If anyone else is eavesdropping with their eyeballs, aka eyvesdropping, these recipes will probably not work for you. These will literally only work for Taylor.
This is my Gramma’s recipe for her vegetable beef soup. No Grammas were harmed in the making of this soup. The most time consuming thing is the vegetable choppery. This is soup from an Indiana woman, so you know it’s going to keep you guys warm in the wintertimes. Plus, bonus: it’s delicious.
Say what you will about Rachael Ray (I hate when she calls it EVOO. There I said it.) But some of her recipes are really great. This is one of my favorites. It’s a simple, quick, stick-to-your ribs kind of soup. Plus, it’s easy to double and freezes well for up to 2 weeks.
Don’t be daunted by stock makery. I made the stock, but I had time to make some stock. I think there are places where you can easily take shortcuts. Buy a rotisserie chicken and use that. Buy boxed/canned stock instead of making your own. Would it be better to make your own at home? Eh, maybe. But ain’t nobody got time for that.
For the soup:
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 medium carrots, cut diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 2 celery ribs, halved lengthwise, and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 4 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 quarts chicken stock, recipe follows
  • 8 ounces dried wide egg noodles
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

Place a soup pot over medium heat and coat with the oil. Add the onion, garlic, carrots, celery, thyme and bay leaf. Cook and stir for about 6 minutes, until the vegetables are softened but not browned. Pour in the chicken stock and bring the liquid to a boil. Add the noodles and simmer for 5 minutes until tender. Fold in the chicken, and continue to simmer for another couple of minutes to heat through; season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with chopped parsley before serving.

For the Chicken Stock:
  • 1 whole free-range chicken (about 3 1/2 pounds), rinsed, giblets discarded
  • 2 carrots, cut in large chunks
  • 3 celery stalks, cut in large chunks
  • 2 large white onions, quartered
  • 1 head of garlic, halved
  • 1 turnip, halved
  • 1/4 bunch fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
Place the chicken and vegetables in a large stockpot over medium heat. Pour in only enough cold water to cover (about 3 quarts); too much will make the broth taste weak. Toss in the thyme, bay leaves, and peppercorns, and allow it to slowly come to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low and gently simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, partially covered, until the chicken is done. As it cooks, skim any impurities that rise to the surface; add a little more water if necessary to keep the chicken covered while simmering.

Carefully remove the chicken to a cutting board. When its cool enough to handle, discard the skin and bones; hand-shred the meat into a storage container.

Carefully strain the stock through a fine sieve into another pot to remove the vegetable solids. Use the stock immediately or if you plan on storing it, place the pot in a sink full of ice water and stir to cool down the stock. Cover and refrigerate for up to one week or freeze.

Yield: 2 quarts

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2nd Day of Fall: Pumpkin Spice BS

Let’s just gloss right over my nearly months of utter silence and pick right back up where we left off.

Like a great relationship with an old friend or riding a bike or a third thing, let’s just pick right back up like no time has passed.

What have I been doing? I did some advertising for clients with a celebrity (#sponsored). I bought a house. I did not cook much.

What have you been doing?

(Leave space for reply.)

That sounds cool!

Let’s talk about something.

It’s fall again. (UGH.)

Listen, I’ll admit some things that I didn’t want to admit before. I’m enjoying the SLIGHTLY cooler weather. 70 degree days are perfect. 54 degree mornings are not. But I can still wear short sleeves comfortably. And flip flops. #904forlyfe

I’m sad to see summer foods go. Tomato sandwiches and caprese salads and tomato pie. Ok, maybe I’m mostly just sad to see tomatoes go. But, I am excited to see some fall foods ushered in. Roasted veg. Soups. All the squashes. Acorn. Kabocha. Squatternut bosh.

I will there is one fall food that I’m not excited about: pumpkin spice. Yes. I’m calling pumpkin spice its own food. This phenomenon has grown from delightful novelty into a whole lot of bullshit. I blame Starbucks and Obama. Come on, you KNOW he had something to do with it.

That’s probably a pumpkin cookie…

I recently went to my new local grocery store and found a whole display of PSBS: Pumpkin Spice Bullshit. So I decided to buy a LOT of it and try it out. (I bought so much, in fact, that the woman at the check out made a comment about it. BACK OFF, LADY, THIS IS RESEARCH.)

Let’s talk about what’s good, what’s bad, and what I’ve been too scared to try yet. I shall use a stoplight rating system.

  • Red means stop. Because that’s what red means.
  • Yellow means eh. That’s NOT what it means in a traffic context.
  • Green means OH HELL YEAH. Also, not what green means.
PSBS

PSBS

Pumpkin Tortilla Chips

Yellow/Eh

Eh.

Eh.

Listen. This is just a vaguely cinnamon flavored multi-grain chip. Is it bad? No. Is it good? No. It’s fine. It’s inoffensive. I ate it with some salsa that I found in my fridge that I threw away after I checked the expiration date. There have been no salsa-related casualties.

Pumpkin Spice Oreos

Red/Stop

GREAT lighting, she says sarcastically.

GREAT lighting, she says sarcastically.

Oreo is a client of my agency and a damn good one, so all I’ll say is: may I interest you in some Oreo Thins?

Pumpkin Spice Milanos

Red/Stop

Why. Just why.

Why. Just why.

Growing up, Pepperidge Farm was absolutely the tops in grocery store cookies. Milanos and Mint Milanos were the best ones. When I was babysitting (or cat-sitting….that’s right) and found those in someone’s pantry (again, that’s right), I knew I hit the mother load. I was probably most excited for this one. These cookies taste as gross as they look, and that’s saying something because they look pretty gross.

Pepperidge Farm, why did you mess with perfection?

Pumpkin Spice Hand Rejuvenating Ultra Concentrated Dish Washing Liquid

Yellow/Eh

If it looks like hand soap, it has to be ultra concentrated dish liquid.

If it looks like hand soap, it has to be ultra concentrated dish liquid.

Well, this is a bit misleading. This packaging looks like Method hand soap. I almost put it in the bathroom. But upon further inspection, it’s actually dish soap. Why would I ever think that? Since it says HAND REJUVENATING in giant letters and Ultra Concentrated Dish Washing Liquid in tiny letters.

This product is fine. I don’t know why I need my dishes to smell like pumpkin, but whatever. Maybe I’m too old school. I like my dishes to smell like lemon or Dawn.

Jif Whips Pumpkin Pie Spice

Green/OH HELL YEAH

From JunkFoodGuy.com. Apparently.

From JunkFoodGuy.com. Apparently.

I should probably admit something to you guys right now. I’ve got a real peanut butter addiction. I can’t keep it in the house because I’ll eat it all in one sitting. Like a bowl of ice cream. It’s pretty gross. (Yes, I am still single, why did you ask?)

Jif Whips is a whipped peanut butter, so it’s less dense. Easier for spreading, dipping, what have you. The Jif Whips + pumpkin pie spice tastes like a tub of Halloween candy. It evokes memories of trick-or-treating without having to put on a costume. But if you wanted to, I wouldn’t judge you.

Details on the Pumpkin Odor Absorbing Scented Beads later. Plus, I haven’t tried the Pumpkin Flavored Morsels or the Pumpkin Pasta sauce yet. Neither sounds very appetizing. ‘Morsels’ is never a word that conjures up yumminess. And I rarely buy canned pasta sauce, but hey, this is a limited time original! Gotta catch ‘em all! Those will be to follow in another post.

The last thing I did was actually employing the thing that started it all: pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice. A few years ago, my grandma gave me a collection of recipe cards. Some of them were my favorite meals that I ate when I went to visit. Others were recipes I never tried, including a brandy and a bourbon slush. Go ahead, Myrtle.

One such recipe was for a pumpkin sheet cake. It ain’t a health cake, but it sure is good.

Thanks, Myrt.

Thanks, Myrt.

So folks, if you see something, say something. This message has been brought to you by the defenders of pumpkin integrity. Fighting PSBS one autumnal day at a time.

Gramma’s Pumpkin Sheet Cake

Cake

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup chopped nuts | I used pecans
  • 2 cups pumpkin
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Frosting

  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 2 sticks butter
  • ½ cup nuts | I did not include the nuts in the frosting, but rather toasted sliced almonds and topped the cake with it. It was a rull nice touch.
  • 1 lb. of powdered sugar

If you have a sheet cake pan, then the baking time below should work for you. If not, you’ll need to watch the oven and adjust your time accordingly. I used a Pyrex 4 quart baking dish and my cake took about 35-40 minutes. 

Pre-heat oven to 350.

Put all cake ingredients into a bowl and whisk until mixed together. Put into greased and floured baking dish.

Bake 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let the cake cool completely.

For the frosting, put all ingredients together and mix to combine. Frost and enjoy. 

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Sunday Supper: The Dog and Pig Show

I love the films of Edgar Wright.

Not exactly food blog related, but stick with me.

Hey! That shot has ketchup in it!

I love the films of Edgar Wright. In Hot Fuzz, his homage to the tropes of cop movies, there is this recurring joke that keeps happening. (You know….cause it’s recurring.) This bumbling reporter is interviewing a bumbling cop on the scene of a grizzly murder and instead of asking him anything related to the murder, he asks, “What is your perfect Sunday?”

It’s small, silly moment, but it made me think about my perfect Sunday.

Sundays can be tough. I’m prone to the Sunday blues. It’s hard to break up with the weekend and get back on the weekly grind.

But my perfect Sunday looks a lot like last Sunday did. Brunch, a little cleaning (it must be done), a nap (again, it must be done), an Edgar Wright movie, and a bitchin’ dinner.

I’m not sure how I found The Dog and Pig Show. Probably from some shameless Instagram stalking. Their carry-out shop in Church Hill is on point. It is beautifully designed with a gorgeous menu, drawing equally from Southern and Asian influences. Like shrimp and grits with bacon butter, kimchi and roe. Or pimento grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato jam, bacon and avocado. And the baked goods. Heavenly.

When I found out they did monthly Sunday Suppers, I had to go. So I could eat all the things and chase the blues away.

The dinner was held at the owner’s home, which was absolutely lovely. As was the company. I always get nervous in a situation where I’m meeting a group of strangers and I’m going to have to sit with them for a whole evening. What if we have nothing to talk about? What if we literally cannot find anything in common to discuss? Are we just going to sit and stare at each other and say, “So……………………………………………………………….hot out there.”

But, it’s never the case. This was a really diverse, fun group of people and we all had something pretty fundamental in common: a love of food. And thankfully, there was plenty of that to go around.

The Sunday Suppers are booked through the end of the summer. But let’s face it, maybe you have the Monday Malaise. Or the Tuesday Troubles. Or the Wednesday Worries. Or the Thursday Thadness. Or the Friday Fears. Or the Saturday Sadness.

YES. OK. CALM DOWN. I was reaching a bit on Thursday.

Get yourself to The Dog and Pig Show any day of the week. It will cure what ails you.

Basil Gimlet. Plus, my red Toms!

Basil Gimlet. Plus, my red Toms!

Roast Duck and Scallop spring roll with spicy pickled cucumbers. I did not have the scallop because I am allergic, but I'm sure it would've been great.

Roast Duck spring roll with spicy pickled cucumbers. Non-allergy havers had a version with roast duck and scallops. 

Build Your Own Ramen. Sweet and Spicy and just lovely.

Build Your Own Ramen. Sweet and Spicy and just lovely.

Bruleed peach with white chocolate wasabi cream and molasses crumble

Bruleed peach with white chocolate wasabi cream -and molasses crumble. The textures were INSANE.

The Dog and Pig Show is at 314 N. 25th Street in Richmond, VA. Hours are Tuesday – Friday 11a-7p and Saturday 9a-3p.

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Sick Day: Lipton Noodle Soup Secrets

You guuuuuuuuuuys.

I don’t feel good.

I don’t feel good at all.

It’s so bad that it’s affecting my grammar.

I hope it doesn’t get so bad that I forget how to punctuate.

Sidenote: Everybody needs to remember how to use a comma. Commas and apostrophes haven’t gone extinct, everyone. Dont just run on in your sentence and pretend like you dont need any punctuation because youre lazy or because you think because you write a blog the rules are different because internetz. [sic] Please for the love of Jesus/Buddha/Tom Hanks/WHOEVER you believe in, use a comma. Good grammar is sexy.

I’m working from home today and eating on that BRAT diet. Do y’all remember this?

Bananas (Nope, won’t eat those.)

Rice (Well, I have rice, but I’m not eating it right now.)

Applesauce (Don’t have any of that at home.)

Toast (Toast it is!)

I had a dry piece of toast for breakfast. A sensible meal, if ever I’ve had one. Then I graduated to my favorite sick day lunch: noodley soup.

That’s not what it’s actually called. It’s called Lipton Noodle Soup.

…pretty much the same.

You boil three cups of water. Stir in the packet of unnaturally yellow flavor and noodles. Turn off the heat and wait 5 minutes. Sick day success.

What secrets lie within this pouch, Soup?

What secrets lie within this pouch, Soup?

But wait. What? What what? What what what? Soupsecrets.com? Pray tell, what kind of secrets hath this soup? Did it have a steamy affair with a cracker? Does it actually hate being hot? Does it wish it was born a salad? I must click.

Oh BROTHER.

From soupsecrets.com/zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

From soupsecrets.com/zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

There are no secrets here. No frothy, brothy confessions. No salacious dish. Just boring brandspeak, nutritional content and and some “recipes.”

No. This website is so bad. It’s making me sick again.

i think im gonna herl

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Podcast Roundup: Gringo Bandito Hot Sauce

If I had to break down the percentage of topics of my non-work conversation, it would probably go something like this:

  • 70%: Food
  • 15%: Podcasts
  • 5%: Netflix
  • 5%: Naps
  • 5%: Other, including but not limited to Jon Hamm, the john, ham, Jon Hamm’s John Hamm, etc.

Food is a given, as are Jon Hamm and naps, but I’ve become a huge fan of podcasts. They’re a wonderful way to pass the time when you need a little entertainment. Out on a walk? Throw on a podcast! Driving to a place? Throw on a podcast! Prepping your meez? You see the pattern here, people.

There are all sorts of podcasts for your listening pleasure, but here are my go-tos.

  • The Nerdist Podcast: Chris Hardwick (stand up comedian and former Singled Out Host) and his besties/fellow comedians, Jonah Ray and Matt Mira, co-host. They have wonderfully weird and funny conversations with celebrities and each other. Kyle Clarke, Katie Levine and Scout the dog join in and hilarity ensues.
  • Wits: Have you guys ever listened to Prairie Home Companion? Wits is like Prairie Home Companion if Prairie Home Companion had better writing, funnier guests and cooler musical artists. I don’t hate Prairie Home Companion or anything. I just adore Wits. John Moe hosts this delightfully oddball variety show.
  • WTF with Marc Maron: I resisted this one for awhile, but a friend recommended and I fell for it. Marc Maron is a comic who takes long form conversations to a new level. His honesty is charming and disarming and it allows his guests to really share with him. It feels like you’re listening in on someone’s therapy. Notable episodes are: Terry GrossHenry WinklerRemembering Harris Wittels
  • The Thrilling Adventure Hour: Fans of old time-y radio and kitschy things will love this silly, delightful show. It’s a serialized radio show that follows among others a a society couple that seed ghosts and the marshall on Mars. All the comedians ever are on this thing. Notable episodes are: all of them. The new episodes end in August, but there are 250 episodes to go back to and enjoy.

Now you’re probably wondering: what the actual fuck does this have to do with food?

Well, I LISTEN to them during cooking. Which how I sometimes fuck up cooking. Look at how I messed up my buns.

Not MY buns. These hamburger buns. My buns are great. WINK.

To a crisp.

To a crisp.

The cool part about a podcast is that you never know what you’ll learn. Even if you have preconceived notions about the guest, you might learn something really cool. For example: a recent Nerdist episode featured Dexter Holland. You might not know his name, but you probably know his work. He’s the lead singer of the bang The Offspring. They’re still touring (who knew?) but he’s also getting his PHD in molecular biology studying HIV (wait, WHAT?!) This conversation was fascinating. The most interesting thing is that this guy is curious about so many things. He didn’t know how to play music when he started his first band. He loves science so he started pursuing science. And he wanted to play music and continue studying science, so he did both.

And this is how he made a hot sauce. He’s passionate about hot sauce. So he decided to make one. You know, as you do.

Yeah. That's him on the bottle.

Yeah. That’s him on the bottle.

It’s a nice hot sauce for casual hot sauce consumption. It’s say it has a similar heat level to a Tabasco. Unlike a Tabasco, it’s much more of pepper-forward vs. vinegar-forward. It was a nice kick of heat, but it didn’t blow out my palate.

So, I salute you, Dexter Holland. Your hot sauce is solid. Your scientific research is baller. And your music is a major earworm.

That’s pretty fly for a white guy.

OH, YOU SAW IT COMING.

Gringo Bandito Hot Sauce is available at most grocery stores and online. Try it on tacos, eggs, and all the things. Eat it while listening to The Nerdist podcast and enjoy your burrito, folks.

P.S. There are some food podcasts that I’ve started exploring. More on that to come.

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Broad Appetit: The Good, The Bad, The Garbaje

I’m going to blow your mind here: I’m a human being.

I know, I know. There was some speculation because I’m a tall lady that I might be a giantess. Or a cylon or something.

6 via theinstructables.com

Bears. Beets. Battlestar Gallactica. via theinstructables.com

Yeah…I’m definitely not a cylon.

Or, is that exactly what a cylon would want you to think?

So, I’m a totally normal human being and I don’t really like to make mistakes. I think that’s a pretty normal thing. And of course, because I’m a regular ole cylon human being, I make mistakes more often than not.

Here’s a mistake I made earlier this week: I misspelled Richmond. Yep. The city that I live in. I spelled it Richcmond. That’s not how it is spelled. But that will appear on the return address of a card I mailed out this week. Keep your eyes peeled, receivers of my correspondence.

I made a lot of really bad food mistakes this weekend. I went with my new roommates best friends forever, Becca and Evan, to Broad Appetit. Broad Appetit is a lovely food festival on Broad Street here in Richmond with hundreds of vendors, live music and more cute puppies than you can shake (or throw) a stick at (or to). And for as many good decisions I made, l made some really terrible ones too.

Without further ado: food things!

Good decision: Scotch egg from Somewhere.

(That is not the name of a trendy place, I just don’t remember.)

The cure for all hangovers

The cure for all hangovers

Fried and delicious. Only complaint. It was too big and therefore, too delicious.

Good decision: Chicken and waffles with tahini maple syrup.

I kept my shadow in the picture so you knew who took the picture.

I kept my shadow in the picture so you knew who took the picture.

Sweet and crunchy. I want to marry chicken and waffles. I want to be Mrs. Chicken and Waffles. Or Ms. Novak married to Mr. Chicken and Waffles. It’s the 90s.

Bad decision: This ramen situation.

Cold ramen salad. My heart was cold eating it.

Cold ramen salad. My heart was cold eating it.

Listen, this ramen won the best dish of the festival. And I wanted to like it so much because these guys follow me on instagram so I feel like we should be friends. But, this was a cold ramen salad that needed a hit of heat or acid or something. Frankly, I wish I’d taken a hit of acid before I’d eaten it. Maybe that would’ve increased my enjoyment. But, I will go to the ramen joint and give them a proper chance when they are in their element.

Good decision: Barbecue something with something.

(Yeah. I know. I’m crushing these descriptions. I was a little hungover and I forget a lot. Also, it’s a FAKE FOOD BLOG.)

It had cornbread.

It had cornbread.

I don’t remember anything about this dish except that it lead to maybe my favorite picture of all time.

Meet Drunk Sandwich. Coming to Instagram or Myspace or a blog near you.

Meet Drunk Sandwich. Coming to Instagram or Myspace or a blog near you.

WORST DECISION: Summer Vegetable Bacon Salad.

Shoulda been called water salad.

Shoulda been called water salad.

I had been drinking drinks and eating fried things so I thought a summer vegetable salad with bacon sounded delightful. Light and refreshing and bacon-y. Well, sure. That was the theory. This was basically a watery pile of veggies topped with bacon. I returned it from whence it came: the garbaje.

Regret: Cheerwine Slider.

Ok, I get it. It's better than what I got.

Ok, I get it. It’s better than what I got.

I try to live my life without regrets, but it is Wednesday and I still regret not getting this slider. Evan got this slider. I wish I got this slider. The meat was braised in Cheerwine. Thank God I’m going to North Carolina this weekend.

Good decision: Watermelon popsicle from King of Pops.

Perfect summer treat. Also, the guy at the cart was really sexual with how he opened the popsicles. It was awkward to watch.

Damn it, Evan.

Damn it, Evan.

Also, Evan likes to ruin my pictures.

Like another Evan I know.

Evan Pease is the best. But he's dumb.

This sandwich was ruined. Evan Pease will rue the day he touched my iced cream.

Overall, the day was a win even though it was punctuated with food misteaks.

[sic]

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Paloma My God: Steak Tacos, Palomas & Crunch Dynasty

A good weekend requires a nap to recover.

A great weekend requires two naps.

Either I had the best weekend ever or I’m 80, because I took two naps Sunday afternoon and then fell asleep again at 7 pm. As you do.

I did have a pretty terrific weekend. My friends Lindsay, Sarah, and Anna came up to visit from North Carolina and it was just all kinds of fun. Great friends, all the food, and all the tequila. Seems like a recipe for success.

On Friday, they got in 40 minutes early than expected and banged on my back door like cops coming to do a drug bust. I jumped and shrieked a bit, because as I said earlier, I’m 80. Also, I keep a lot of illegal drugs in my house. We made beer-marinated skirt steak tacos on the grill and ate dinner on the porch. Fan living, y’all. The charred tomato salsa is oh-so-good. It’s got that slow burn from the ancho chile, but the sweetness of the charred tomato. I might have eaten the leftovers for breakfast Monday morning.

Taco bar is the best bar after alcohol bar.

Taco bar is the best bar after alcohol bar.

On Saturday, we went to a yoga class. It  was a hilariously hippy-dippy class. “Put your hand down on the ground like an angel is kissing the earth.” I don’t know what it says about me, but I really want to go back.

That afternoon, I hosted a happy hour at mine to introduce some of my North Carolina friends to some of my Richmond friends. And when I say I hosted this party, I mean I drank all the drinks while Lindsay, Sarah and Anna did a lot of the work. I mean, I prepped a lot ahead of time. But they helped so much to cook, clean, buy ice, refill water, pass out mini-Atlantic beach pies, make all the Palomas, drink all the Palomas, etc. I’m pretty sure they hosted the party more than I did. What was I doing? Holding witty, engaging sober conversation. Well, I held conversation. The Palomas were flowing, y’all.

IMG_5095

Double fisting like a champ.

IMG_5084

Another in a series of photos of me taking photos of Anna taking photos of me. I plan to do this for the rest of our lives.

FullSizeRender (2)

Seriously, Lindsay and Sarah did all the work. I just pointed at the ice. Photo by Becca! 

FullSizeRender (1)

Not pictured: tiny pies. And allllll the palomas. 

Our weekend ended with brunch at Stella’s and a trip to the Stella’s Grocery. Stella’s is no joke in the brunch department. You like sweet brunch? GREAT. Greek Easter bread done French-toast style topped with whipped Greek yogurt, sour cherries and pistachios. You like savory brunch? GREATER. The Loukaniko sausage skillet and the black kale skillet are both excellent. Start your meal with an order or hummus and Bloody Mary or a mimosa. (Virginia lacks the alcohol-limiting blue laws that North Carolina holds onto so dearly, making it so much easier to drink on Sunday. Hallelujah and pass the bottle.)

We stopped by the Stella’s Grocery after brunch.  It’s been open for about a month and sells specialty food items, like boozes, meats, prepared foods, such as smoothies, Greek Salads, and desserts (baklava!). Also, condiments. Why do condiments get their own section? Because I found a condiment, Crunch Dynasty, that is made right here in Richmond and it is made right here by my very own friends, John and Anya. I met Anya through work and John through Anya. They are a hilarious, kind, and cool couple with some kids who are the same. One of their kids knows all the knock-knock jokes ever and the other one told me my hair was like mermaid hair. I’m a big fan of all of them.

But I digress. Condiments.

If Chris Pratt were a condiment, he would be Crunch Dynasty.

Delicious, delicious dynasty. 

Crunch Dynasty is this amazing, mysterious condiment that somehow works on everything. Honestly. It’s as good on vegetables as it is on rice as it is on salmon. It genuinely tastes good on everything. Nay, it makes everything taste better. It makes you happy. And it is spicy. Crunch Dynasty keeps you on your toes. It’s like the Chris Pratt of condiments. If Chris Pratt was from Richmond, was Chinese, and tasted of garlic. To be fair, I haven’t tasted him. He might taste of garlic.

Then as quickly as they came, my friends left. And I took all the naps. And then I wrote this post.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I’m going to take a nap.

Tecate Skirt-Steak Tacos from Bon Appetit

  • 1 pound skirt steak, silver skin removed, cut into 6-inch pieces | I doubled the amount of steak b/c it looked wimpy.
  • 1 12-ounce can pale lager (such as Tecate)
  • 4 tablespoons fresh lime juice, divided
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more
  • ¼ medium onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 large plum tomatoes, cored
  • ½ canned chipotle chile in adobo, coarsely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, plus leaves for serving
  • 8 fresh corn tortillas
  • Avocado slices, crumbled Cotija cheese, and lime wedges (for serving)

Combine steak, beer, 1 Tbsp. lime juice, 1 tsp. salt, and ¼ tsp. pepper in a resealable plastic bag. Seal; chill 3 hours.

Cook onion, garlic, and oil in a small skillet over medium heat until soft and translucent, 5 minutes. Let cool.

Prepare a grill for high heat (if using charcoal, prepare two zones of heat, high and medium-high). Grill tomatoes over high heat, turning occasionally, until well charred but still holding their shape, 6–8 minutes.

Reduce grill to medium-high heat (or use medium-high zone if using a charcoal grill). Remove steak from marinade and pat dry. Season with salt and pepper and grill until charred, about 3 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer to a cutting board and let steak rest 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, blend onion and garlic, tomatoes, chipotle, and remaining 3 Tbsp. lime juice in a blender until smooth. Add chopped cilantro, season with salt, and pulse until just combined. Transfer salsa to a small bowl.

Grill tortillas until soft and beginning to char, about 30 seconds per side. Slice steak against the grain into ½” strips. Top each tortilla with a few pieces of steak, then some salsa, cilantro leaves, avocado, and Cotija cheese. Serve with lime wedges for squeezing over.

The Paloma from StyleMePretty

  • 2 oz. Reposado Tequilla
  • 1/2 oz. fresh lime juice
  • 2 oz. fresh grapefruit juice
  • a pinch of salt (or a salted glass rim)
  • agave syrup to taste (optional)
  • Ice
  • Garnish with lime, mint leaves, thyme, or jalapenos if you like some heat

In a shaker filled with ice mix tequila, grapefruit juice, and lime. Shake, shake, shake. Pour over ice, add a pinch of salt, and garnish. Add agave if you feel it’s not sweet enough.

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Not Clickbait: 74 Reasons to Grill Your Salad

74 Reasons to Grill Your Salad

1. It tastes good.

2. It tastes, like, really good.

3. It’s summer, so that’s a reason.

4. Bon Appetit’s editor said to do it. Bon Appetit is like Oprah. If they say to do it, you should do it.

5. Vegetables are good! Fire is good! Put them together, even better!

6. Salads are good! Grills are good! Put them together, even better!

7. How many do I have left? Oh, for fuck’s sake.

8. You can do all kinds of salads on the grill. Like this sexy lady. Steak and grilled scallions and beets and stuff. A real show stopper. Frankly, I ate most of this myself.

Wut.

Wut.

9. And this one, with my funky fresh friend anchovy paste. Cause funk is good! Salt is good! Put them together, even better!

Uptown funk you up no that was stupid pretend I didn't do that.

Uptown funk you up no that was stupid pretend I didn’t say that.

10. And this salad that I made up with fresh seasonal veggies and eat alongside the world’s largest burger. (If only someone had seen me unhinge my jaw to eat it like the true basilisk that I am.)

Salad and burger, a match made in heaven.

Salad and burger, a match made in heaven.

I also took a picture of it on the grill. I left my shadow in there so you knew i was really taking the picture.

FullSizeRender (1)

11. Ok, that had to be about 70 reasons.

12. Wow. Not there yet? I guess I’ll keep going.

13. It’s this list satire funny yet?

14. What about now?

15. Or now?

16. I love running a joke into the ground til it’s so unfunny that it becomes funny again.

17. Probably isn’t funny again yet.

18. Probably not yet either.

19. The thing is, I’m tired of all the clickbait out there. And I’m tired of the things that pass as journalism. Without perspective or POV or writing style. Or humor.

20. ….it’s a little funny now though, right?

21. The long and the short of it is, the grill adds a different dimension to your veg. Sweetness in corn is amplified tenfold. It adds smoke to everything, but somehow more to asparagus. It adds char. It adds heat and warmth. Suddenly, you have new temperatures to play with as well as textures in your salad.

22. So don’t be afraid to mix it up. You will undoubtably find something excited.

23-73. More grilled salad recipes

74. Eh? Sort of funny?

Grilled Steak Salad with Beets from Bon Appetit

Aioli:

  • ½ cup beef or chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 large egg yolk*
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 small garlic clove, finely grated
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Salad:

  • 1 pound tri-tip, New York strip, or skirt steak
  • 1 garlic clove, halved
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bunch scallions or ramps
  • 1 bunch spicy greens (such as arugula or mizuna)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 3 beets, peeled, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
For Aioli:
Bring stock to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium-low heat; cook until reduced by half, about 5 minutes.Whisk egg yolk and mustard in a bowl. Whisking constantly, gradually add oil, drop by drop at first, until mixture is very thick. Whisk in lemon juice and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Stir in stock.
For Salahd:
Preheat oven to 200°. Prepare grill for medium-high heat (or heat a grill pan over medium-high). Rub steak with cut sides of garlic and 1 Tbsp. oil; season with salt and pepper. Grill, turning several times, until lightly charred and medium-rare (an instant-read thermometer should register 130°), 14–16 minutes. Transfer to a rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet.

Meanwhile, toss scallions on another baking sheet with 1 Tbsp. oil; season with salt and pepper. Grill, turning often, until tender, about 4 minutes. Transfer to rack with beef and keep warm in oven.

Arrange greens on a platter; season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with lemon juice and 1 Tbsp. oil. Toss beets in a bowl with vinegar and remaining 1 Tbsp. oil; season with salt and pepper. Arrange over greens. Slice steak ½” thick; top greens with scallions and meat. Pour any juices over; season with salt. Serve with aioli.

*Raw egg is not recommended for the elderly, pregnant women, children under 4, and people with weakened immune systems.

Grilled Romaine Salad from FoodNetwork

  • 2 heads romaine lettuce
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Citrus Caesar Vinaigrette, recipe follows
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano

Citrus Caesar Vinaigrette:

  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 1 to 2 lemons)
  • 2 tablespoons anchovy paste | I used anchovy filets minced.
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Directions
Preheat a grill to medium-high.

Rinse and pat dry the lettuce. Cut the 2 heads in half lengthwise. Brush surface with olive oil and grill about 4 to 5 minutes total, turning occasionally. Place each wedge on a salad plate and drizzle with Citrus Caesar Vinaigrette or your favorite Caesar dressing. With a vegetable peeler, shave some pieces from a wedge of Reggiano-Parmigiano over each salad and serve.

Citrus Caesar Vinaigrette:
Place all ingredients in a pint jar with a lid. Secure the lid, then shake to blend. Store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Grilled Corn, Asparagi & Cherry Tomato Salad

  • 2 ears of corn
  • 1 bunch of asparagus
  • Cherry Tomatoes on the vine
  • 1/2 vidalia onion, diced
  • Olive oil
  • Red Wine Vinegar
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Rub corn, asparagus, and cherry tomatoes with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Char on the grill to your desired charification. 6-7 minutes for the corn and asparagus. 3-4 minutes for the tomatoes, until they burst. Toss with the diced onion, drizzle with olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper to taste. Eat it up.

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An Open Letter: Dear Awkward Delivery Guy

via TheImpersonals

via TheImpersonals

Dear Delivery Guy,

Well, this is awkward.

You’re here again at my home. I’m not wearing a bra and I’m paying you for intimate services rendered: the delivery of my dinner.

But the worst part is that you made it really awkward. And that’s saying something because I’m usually the one to make a situation awkward.

When you came here with your Thai food delivery, you handed it to me and said, “oh, you again.” Well, shit. Yes, I just got your restaurant’s delivery a few nights ago. But I was craving it again. So I ordered it again.

Is this because you gave me a free cream soda the other day? I told you that I didn’t order it. Because who orders cream soda? And what self-respecting restaurant has it in stock?

I suppose I should use my words. When you say “oh, you again,” it made me feel like you were judging me, Delivery Guy. Because I’m pretty sure you were.

I cook a lot of nights, but last night just I didn’t feel like it last night. I felt tired. I just wanted someone to bring me dinner. But wait a minute, I don’t owe you anything. Except the money for the food, of course. And a tip.

So, here’s a tip. Keep your opinions to yourself. In the world of food service-as-sex, delivery is basically an escort service. So, a little discretion would be most appreciated.

Now, you get out of here. I’m going to let to slip into something a little more comfortable and get a little spicy with this pad thai.

Sincerely,

Bethany

 

Sidenote: I found this image of the Thai Food delivery guy on a website called The Impersonals. It was on a letter called Dear Thai Food Delivery Guy Who Recognized Me At The Airport: Please Don’t. Please read it, it made me laugh right out loud. I’m so glad to see that in these ever-changing times, some things will always be the same: we never want to talk to the Delivery Guy. Some social codes are not meant to be broken.

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Breaktheist: Yogurt Taste Test

I’m a breaktheist.

I don’t believe in any one breakfast. I do believe that breakfast exists, though. Perhaps I am breaknogstic.

Yeah…that doesn’t sound as good.

I’ve been on a real yogurt kick lately. This was after a serious granola kick, an avocado toast kick, and a granola bar kick. You’d think I was a Rockette. #dadjoke

But what yogurt to eat? There are so many choices. So, when I was at the Fresh Market last week and decided to buy 5 yogurt brands that I’ve never tried before and test them out for you.

YOU’RE WELCOME.

(One time, I said something silly to a friend and then said, “you’re welcome.” And his reply was “I did not say thank you.” Couldn’t be mad at it.)

I tried some yogurt so you didn’t have to. Say your prayers, people, and forgive me. My stream of consciousness is below.

It was really hard to keep the yogurts from rolling away. #realtalk

It was really hard to keep the yogurts from rolling away during this picture.

OhMyYog! with Gingered Pear

  • Well, “OhMyYog!” is not a thing that people say.
  • Rich and creamy. Has a unique flavor. Better than the basic fruit in your ushe yogurt.
  • 3 layers? I really can’t tell. Just seems like two.
  • This reminds me of the old fruit on the bottom Breyers yogurt but better.
  • Try again? Yeah, I’d try it again. But I shan’t ever say “OhMyYog!”
Seriously, no one says that.

Seriously, no one says that.

So Delicious Dairy Free Yogurt in Vanilla

  • Not at all appealing visually.
  • “Try the gray stuff, it’s delicious. Don’t believe me? Ask the dishes!”
  • Super sweet, with a weird after taste. Nope. Can’t eat this. Nope.
  • Abandoned yogurt-ship after 4 bites. Went to a delicious, delicious Noosa I had in the fridge.
  • Try again? Never say never. But never.
What. Is. This.

What. Is. This.

Blue Hill in Butternut Squash

  • Saw this yogurt on Ana Gasteyer’s Instagram. We’re basically best friends.
  • It smells sort of like Thanksgiving. I’m sort of excited. Sort of scared. I feel like Jessie Spano.
  • It tastes good. A bit tart in the finish. It walks the line between sweet and savory.
  • It’s kind of weird. I sort of gagged on the first spoonful, thus bringing to life the phrase “gag me with a spoon.” It’s so weird to have butternut squash in this super creamy, dairy vehicle. But, it kind of tasted good. I’m conflicted.
  • Try again? Yeah, maybe. Maybe. Maybe in a savory application.

Petite Creme in Cherry

  • It’s low fat yogurt, made with nonfat milk. Is it going to be wimpy?
  • Yeahhhhh. It’s sort of wimpy. It’s light, it’s creamy. But I’m not sated. It feels like snack yogurt. But it’s good.
  • Try again? Sure, why not.

The Epic Seed, Greek Yogurt with Chia Seeds in Peach

  • I am the most apprehensive about this one, but…I really rather like it. WHO KNEW! I’d never had chia seeds before.
  • The texture of these fruity seedy things reminds me of fish roe. Snappy with a bit of a bite, but the flavor is the opposite of fishy. Light and fruity. Great textural and flavor complement to the Greek yogurt.
  • Try again? Chyea. This one has been a revelation.
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