Callie’s T5: Books

Today’s post is of T5 variety.  Periodically Pat and I will be posting our “top five” of a category just as little snippets of our interests.  Now I’m only going to say this ONE TIME (to myself really, not to you): choosing only five items of a category is almost always a difficult task.  Some categories will be harder (like for me, music), but I don’t want to have to say in every T5 post “ooooohmygosh it was sooo hard to choose only five waaaaaaaah.” Instead I’m going to buck up and pick my absolute favorites.

So let’s talk books.

number one:

Reading this was one of the best experiences of my life.  I’m quite sure it will never leave my number one spot.

number two:

This novel contains my single favorite line from all literature.

number three:

Unique and heartbreaking, this book has stayed with me long after finishing it.

number four:

I love Janie.  Like I feel like she’s real and we’re old friends.

number five:

It’s impossible for me not to include this essay – I got my circle tattoo after reading “Circles.”

There we are, folks.  Stay tuned for Pat’s picks tomorrow!

Honeymoon.

At this moment my Dad and my two younger sisters are in Kauai, Hawaii staying at the exquisite St. Regis Hotel – the very place Pat and I stayed for our honeymoon.  My dad and sisters were already vacationing in Hawaii on a different island, and had heard such great things from me and Pat about Kauai that they decided to hop on over and see it for themselves.  Since giving them suggestions on where to eat and what to see and do, I have felt infinitely nostalgic for the magical week that Pat and I spent there.

It’s true that one’s honeymoon brings such a feeling of joy and bliss that it almost doesn’t even matter where you go, because the utopia you feel makes anywhere feel magnificent… almost.  Picking a great spot certainly doesn’t hurt the situation.  While Pat and I played around with a Europe trip, we both knew that somewhere tropical was where we wanted to go.  And, truth be told, ever since I was little Hawaii was the honeymoon spot of my dreams.  (I think it all started when Annie went there with Brian in Father of the Bride.  Not kidding.)

Pat and I have been married for three and a half months now, and I still think about our wedding weekend/honeymoon ALL the time.  And while I will always feel so blessed that we had such an amazing and surreal 10 days,  I feel even more blessed that I now live my life married to Pat.  Enjoy some HM favorites below, and to my Dad, Ella Rose, and Ruby: Aloha.

I know what a quail looks like.

Last night this pair…

went out with this pair…

to Lucio’s, which is a beyond delicious BYOB place tucked away on Taft Street.

Pat and I needed a date night.  He had a stressful day at work, and, let’s be real, I needed to move past the pickle incident that had taken place earlier in the day.  We had a great time.  However, Pat couldn’t have had quite as much fun as I did, because he didn’t order the quail special.  Here’s what you need to know: I love quail.  A lot.  Pat and I even served quail as the main course at our rehearsal dinner, much to the chagrin of some rather important people (aka, both of our mothers).

Moving on. Last night I ate the quail with such fervor and enjoyment, and I cleaned my plate so very thoroughly, that the waiter actually high-fived me when he picked up my plate. He then proceeded to show said plate to the other waiters plus the chef.  AND, on top of all that, when we were leaving the maitre d’ pointed at me and shouted across the restaurant, “This is the quail lady!”  The kitchen staff then gave me a mini-round of applause for my performance.  Pat looked at me with loving pride and held the door open for my exit.  Date nights rock.

Oh, and isn’t my husband just plain adorable?

Oops.

I’ve had a hard day today for a couple of different reasons, and so I apologize in advance if this post seems ridiculous.  In fact I absolutely know that it is, but I encourage you to read it anyway in order to feel better about your own life afterward.

So. I had some things go, well, not quite my way this morning, and on my way home I picked up some pimiento cheese sandwiches from a great Houston spot, Picnic.  (For those of you non-Texans who don’t know what pimiento cheese is, I can’t even talk to you right now.)  I’m usually not in that neck of the woods, but whenever I am I order a giant tub of it to take home and it lasts maybe six hours in my kitchen.  And that’s if I’m not home.

Anyway.  I wanted some bread with the cheese today, so I made it a sandwich.  And it comes with a pickle.  And this is where the story gets even more ridiculous interesting.  Getting this pickle in my to-go bag was so amazing for me that I stole my husband’s from his bag and ate both.  (Yes, he likes pickles and would have enjoyed eating it, and no, I didn’t think twice about taking it without telling him.  Marriage is built on trust and I trust he would have let me have it.)  THEN, after getting home and finishing my sandwich, I realized my craving for pickles was no where NEAR over.  So I took inventory and found I had a half jar of Mt. Olive Hamburger Dill Chips in my fridge.  The entire jar was gone in 5 minutes, including the juice.  BELIEVE me when I tell you I wish I was making this up.  (And no, I am not what you may be thinking I am.  This is just par for the course when I get started on dill pickles.)

I wonder how many of you actually read this whole post.  Pretty terrifying I know that I would chose to share this with y’all.  But you know what, this is a blog of our daily happenings, and the pickle incident, if nothing else, was a happening of the day.  Peace out.

On Time.

Want to know something about me?  I HATE, and I really do mean hate, being late.  It’s not even really a “matter-of-principle” type of thing for me like “being late demonstrates rudeness and disrespect for other people’s time blah blah blah.”  I mean, I get that, and I guess I appreciate it, but I am way too selfish of a person for that to be the real reason I hate being late.  I have no other way to describe it except for that being on time is just part of who I am.  I need to be on time.  If I’m not, I do not worry about the other person, or the doctor, or whatever it is that I am late for.  No no, I worry about myself.  Because it stresses me out.

This brings me to a second and related point.  The more time I have to get ready, the more I am rushing to be on time.  It’s messed up.  Take for example, my morning this morning.  I had a doctor’s appointment at 9:15, which  means I needed to leave my apartment by 8:40.  Last night I set my alarm for 6:30 so I could go to a 7:05 workout class, be home by 8:15,  make and eat breakfast, and leave again for my appointment.  (Mini schedules like this go on in my ahead literally all the time, and I’ve learned not to share them with Pat in order to avoid him giving me his best “You can’t really be the woman I married” face.)

Anyway. When my alarm went off this morning, I naturally chose to forgo the workout and instead made coffee and watched the Today Show on my sofa.  I basically laid around doing nothing, thinking to myself how much time I had to get ready, and then all of a sudden it was 8:34.  I quickly brushed my teeth and showed up to the doctor looking like a unfortunate version of myself.  On time.

Urban Harvest Farmers Market.

Pat and I used to live in DC.  That’s where we both went to college, met, and started dating.  Late last summer we made the decision to move to Houston, where I am from and grew up.  (Pat is from upstate New York originally.)  Houston has brought us much food satisfaction, but there are definitely food-related things we miss about DC.  One MAJOR one: farmers markets.  There are some fantastic farmers markets in DC that we used to go to on a weekly basis, and Houston just doesn’t have that scene figured out quite yet.  In mourning this loss, we had completely avoided farmers markets since moving here.

We finally decided this was maybe a tad childish, and so we did some investigating and found this: http://www.urbanharvest.org/programs/market/index.html

And you know what? We were pleasantly surprised.


I love this display.


I always buy fresh flowers at farmers markets.  And we had this Mason Jar leftover from our wedding cocktail hour.


Texas peaches.  It’s honestly like a different fruit.


Jellies from farmers markets have no unnecessary or refined sugar, and I think they taste better than grocery store varieties.


We go through a carton or two of eggs a week, so finding fresh ones is a treat.

Eat: French Toast.

I am a BIG breakfast food person.  I eat breakfast everyday.  (Read the title of this blog and this shouldn’t surprise you.)  Breakfast food has to be what I eat first when I wake up, even if it’s noon.  Which, sadly, was something that happened more five years ago.  Welcome to age twenty-five when breakfast happens during normal hours.

So. Last night we made our Roast Chicken.  We served it with spinach and french bread from Whole Foods bakery.

Seeing as we had half the loaf left over, Pat surprised me and used it to make me french toast this morning (I am spoiled ROTTEN. It’s sick I tell you.)  Now usually on a weekday I have something quick like an egg or oatmeal, but this was totally worth the few extra pounds minutes.  I encourage random acts of decadence whenever possible.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Ingredients

four eggs
pinch of nutmeg
healthy pinch of cinnamon (or two)
half teaspoon (ish) of vanilla extract
powdered sugar (for sprinkling on top)
6 slices of french bread, preferably day old
2 tablespoons melted butter
fresh strawberries (optional)

Place frying pan on stove top over medium high heat.  Whisk four eggs into a shallow bowl or pie dish.  Whisk in nutmeg, cinnamon, and vanilla.  Soak bread in egg batter for 30 seconds to 1 minute on each side.  Turn heat down to medium and brush the pan with melted butter (save some butter to be brushed on the toast when it’s done).  Place bread on the pan and cook for approximately 3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.  Arrange on a plate, brush remaining butter on top, sprinkle with powdered sugar, and serve with strawberries.



Eat: Chicken.

I just turned to Pat and asked, “What should we title our post?”  He responded, “‘Roast Chicken?’ What do you think?”  So I, with quite some enthusiasm, offered, “Hostess with the Roast-tess!”

He looked endeared confused and finally said, delicately, “ummm…no.”

And with that I bring you our roast chicken recipe.

Here’s how we do it: at a high, dry heat with no basting.  Pat learned about this method from Thomas Keller and likes it because it yields crispy skin and tender meat.  And I can’t really fight that.  We have tried other methods (like low and slow), but this is just what we prefer.  Do you?  Try it out and let us know.  If you don’t, that’s crazy cool, but then leave us a recipe of how you think we should be doing it.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Equipment
roasting pan with rack

kitchen twine

Ingredients
3 pound whole chicken (we use free range, hormone free)

unsalted butter
fresh rosemary, finely chopped
salt and black pepper


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Thoroughly rinse chicken and dry completely.  (*Making sure the chicken is completely dry is actually a critical step here, so don’t be lazy! If you want crispy skin, there can be no moisture).  Tuck the wings under the bird and truss the drumsticks.  This ensures the chicken will cook evenly.  Generously salt the outside of the chicken as well as inside the cavity.  Sprinkle with black pepper and two or three healthy pinches of the rosemary.  For some extra rosemary flavor, you can add a pinch to the cavity of the bird as well.  Place in the oven and cook for 40-50 minutes or until you pierce the thigh and the juices run clear.  Allow the chicken to rest for approximately 10 minutes.  Carve, slather skin with butter (optional – sometimes we do this, sometimes we don’t), and serve.

We serve ours with sauteed spinach:

A Name.

Why “thanks for eating?”  I’ll tell you.  Pat and I spend a LOT of time in the kitchen.  If we aren’t in the kitchen, we are at the dining table.  If we aren’t at the dining table, we are at a restaurant.  If we aren’t at a restaurant…You get the idea.  When we first started dating, food is what bonded us; it’s what gave us an excuse to be together.  We loved trying new places to eat, and we did it often.  Not much has changed.  The other day I literally turned to Pat and said, “I sometimes feel like my life is about finding ways to creatively waste time until my next meal.”  No joke.  So you see where my priorities are.

Pat has always been the better cook, and, admittedly, he does more of the cooking.  So whenever I am done devouring one of his home-cooked meals, I say: “thanks for cooking.”  And he always follows up with: “thanks for eating.”  You’re welcome, Pat.  Anytime.