Out and About, Houston.

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I will try to get some good food-based posts up this week, but for now I’m going to have to delay because I’m at a work event in Houston Texas! There are fried green tomatoes and extremely spicy salsa and very dark roast pecan coffee, and I’m in heaven (I don’t live in Texas, but I’ve managed to spend time here every year for the past 6 years. Love affair), so I will try to take some good food pictures so that I can do some copy-cat Texas food later this month. For now, though, I send you the Texas sunrise and hope that you send me your favorite cowboy-style recipes, and anything else you’ve come up with lately. 🙂

8 Hours Old

This week, my friend J gave birth to a tiny human. I knew from prior experience that families with newborns appreciate not having to cook, on account of a tiny human demanding their constant attention. So I brought over quinoa salad and a version of B’s Chicken and Rice Casserole from early in the blogging days, and a pile of oranges, and went to visit the new little family.

I had somehow assumed their parents or siblings or someone would be there, or would have been there, but we actually arrived only 8 hours after the birth with the food for them, and no one else had met the little guy yet. It was an accidental honor: I just didn’t want them to starve, but instead the quiet, exhausted father E looked at us with great relief and led us into the bedroom, where J looked even more exhausted but happy, and a tiny sleepy person was nestled under the covers. I couldn’t believe it.

Perhaps most people have actually seen babies this young, this new to the world, but it was really overwhelming to me, as Husband found out when the rest of the evening I would randomly comment, “He was so small!” or “He was so soft-looking and pink!” I have spent time with J as she has grown that little guy inside herself, and now, he’s out! I am, needless to say, very impressed by pregnant women in general and J in particular.

It felt a little sacred, to be bringing a meal to new friends like that, to be included in such an intimate and important day as the birth of their son. We aren’t long-time friends of E and J, but I can feel us growing closer as we manage to be there for each other when the help is really useful. They, too, are not living in a town where they grew up and thus all family and long-term friends are elsewhere. Many of them will come this weekend to celebrate the birth, but by virtue of proximity, and the ability to make a mean casserole, we were inducted into a really amazing place in this little one’s life. He is no kin to me, but I already sorta want to protect him – friendship is powerful.

Anyway. No new recipes. But I’m starting to notice how food is bringing me opportunities to connect in ways I didn’t anticipate earlier this year. I appreciate its never-ending newness, even when the recipe itself is an old standard.

Food and Stories and Expansion!

I just got back from a weekend of no cooking: it was a whirlwind road trip where I ate more junk food than I have in a while mostly due to the fact that we spent a lot of the time in the car. There were good food moments though: some truly tender green beans at Red Lobster with my family, succulent Easter ham and scalloped potatoes with Husband’s family, and eggs whipped up by my mother in law to a perfect level of fluffy. While I am not the biggest fan of food-on-the-go, which was necessary at points during the many legs of the trip, it sure did make me miss cooking. I’m excited to whip things up this week!

I still have quite a lot of recipes to work on, and two exciting guest-blogger recipes to try and link back to, but the fact remains: at 3 recipes a week, I’ve really run through a lot of recipes, and they aren’t coming in fast enough to write about them alone!

I thought the challenge would be enough and I’d finish it out early in the year, but I really like writing about food! I’ve decided I want to keep going, and to keep going in a way that continues to honor telling the stories of foods while also connecting with the people around me. This will include things like:

– nostalgic posts about foods I remember and will try to create (along with the memory that made them so nostalgic in the first place!)
– guest-blogger posts about their relationships to the most important recipes in their lives.
– posts about relationships to a particular ingredient and the ways they’ve learned to like said ingredient (extra points if I can get said ingredient in season locally!)
– book reviews of books that I’ve been reading about food and cooking – these aren’t sponsored in any way, just the food memoir and kitchen writing that I found at the library and find compelling enough to discuss.

I cannot promise 3 posts a week, but I really enjoy the challenge of trying to do that many, so I’ll keep giving it a shot! For now, have a picture of a beautiful cucumber-tomato-and-quinoa salad I made with A a few weekends ago when she visited. I am tempted to keep some around for all the times that I feel “meh” about greens but want something nutritious to eat!

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29. B’s Peanut Butter and Jelly

I met Husband’s friend B on a camping trip – he was a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, sarcastic and funny, and very athletic. We didn’t have much in common, life-experience-wise, but we definitely bonded around dumb jokes and ridiculous humor. Thus, I was not particularly surprised to find this in the mail along with the other RSVPs last year:

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In honor of B’s goofy spirit, I decided to make this recipe, despite the HUGE AMOUNT OF EFFORT REQUIRED. He skipped a few of the steps in his description, so I will let you know what went into this meal.

FIND A BREAD RECIPE AND MAKE BREAD: I had run out of yeast recently, so I found this recipe for Whole wheat oatmeal honey bread, which I whipped up in not too long. Good thing it took about an hour from start to finish, because I needed food!

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FIND AND PULVERIZE PEANUTS: I don’t have an electric chopper, so I used my hand chopper to crush peanuts down almost to the point of them coalescing into peanut butter. I gave up on this because 1. my hand was tired and 2. I knew he was going to make me mix it with the jam, and who was gonna be able to tell?

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FIND STRAWBERRIES AND MAKE INTO JAM: I didn’t use a recipe for this; I poured frozen strawberries (who can find fresh strawberries this early? No one, I tell you. I don’t have a greenhouse!) and water and sugar into a saucepan and boiled it for ages. When it was thickening, I poured it all into a mason jar and sealed it up to make sure it wouldn’t get too scary inside.

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At breakfast, after a whole evening’s work, I assembled the ingredients: bread, toasted, and a mixture of crushed peanuts/almost peanut butter and strawberry jam.

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I have to say, this was delicious, but perhaps the most work for the littlest pay off of all my recipes so far. B really ought to have sent me something easier, especially since I didn’t even grow the grain, peanuts, or strawberries myself.

Happy April Fools, everyone!