Recently beloved podcasts

Do y’all podcast? Podcasts have been a huge part of my life since I started my job, which has historically involved traipsing around town going to home visits with my patients, whose houses were historically spaced rather far apart. Honestly my home visit requirement has lessened, but now I am just addicted to podcasts, so any time I am in the car for longer than 5 minutes I basically have to listen to one. So I thought I’d discuss my faves!

Previously I have expressed my love of My Favorite Murder here. Fun fact- I went and saw my gals live! Along with, oh, 10,000 other true crime obsessed young progressive white women (… they have a pretty homogenous fan base hahaha). I had the best time- I got a solo ticket and made two friends in my row!

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They have been on hiatus this summer, frankly driving me a bit insane by constantly posting what looks to be new episodes and then it turns out to be recycled content. Just take a proper hiatus and then come back with new stuff! Us binge listeners have no use for recap episodes.

Anyway, this seems as good a time as ever to discuss some of my post loved podcasts. Sorted into categories:

Mandatory Listening for American Citizens

in the dark

  • In the Dark. GUYS. This podcast is IMMACULATELY reported. Beautiful storytelling, compelling questions.
    Season 1 tells the story of a childhood abduction in the 80s that ended up being solved decades later and everything that happened in between, including an examination of the “stranger danger” epidemic that took over in the ensuing decades, the obsession with socially ostracizing sex offenders and its unintended consequences, the bafflingly enormous power of local sheriffs departments.
    But season 2… whoa. Season 2 tells the story of a black man from Mississippi who was accused of a horrible crime and has been tried SIX TIMES FOR IT. “But double jeopardy?” you ask. Yes, that exists, but only for people who have been acquitted for a crime. If, as in the case of Mr Flowers, higher level courts continue to overturn your conviction for the numerous constitutional violations committed by the local district attorney, that same district attorney is allowed to keep bringing you back in. Along with a look at the judicial system, jury selection, the complexities of a jury trial, the reporters look at the actual evidence in this particular case. And it is… stunning.
    Spoiler alert- season 2 is ongoing for the indefinite future due to some rather important folks called the US Supreme Court. Definitely wort a listen.
  • Serial, Season 3. Yes, season 1 took over the world. Season 2 was… whatever. My cousin liked it? No one else I know did. But season 3… Season 3 man!
    Season 3 of serial tells the story of a building… a courthouse in Cleveland, Ohio. Again, if you want to have your mind blown by the American judicial system (particularly the juvenile justice system… the reporting on this topic is by far the most devastating) this season is worth your time.
  • Breakdown- this podcast by the Atlanta Journal Constitution is several seasons, and each one examines a different court case. Are all bizarre and upsetting in different ways, and all demonstrate various breakdowns in the system that is supposed to get justice for victims of crimes, their families, and people who may be accused of a crime they did not commit.

True Crime Junkies

small town dicks

  • My Favorite Murder- my favorite. That said my mom thinks they say the F word too much so if you object to that you’ll likely not care for this. I don’t mind it! I also bought their book, in which they also say the f word a lot.
  • Criminal. If you love Phoebe Judge’s soothing tones on NPR, there’s more of them in this very well produced podcast. Each episode is short (20-30 min) and gives you a little slice of someone’s life or the story of a place. For example, a story of a girl who met a cute but sketchy boy and somehow ended up using thousands of dollars counterfeit money in New York City bars; an academic look at how polygraphs work or fail to work and how we can actually tell if someone is lying; a behind the scenes examination of police dogs and their sometimes rather melodramatic relationships with their trainers.
  • Small Town Dicks. This podcast is SO well produced- it’s made by Yeardley Smith (aka the voice of Lisa Simpson) and her friend Zibby Allen and features two detectives from “Small Town America” (their location is kept secret) along with some of their peers on the police force and in the emergency dispatch world. If you feel that recently Americans have been somewhat unwillingly forced into pro-police and anti-police camps, this podcast is a really nice antidote. The detectives are really good storytellers and clearly have a lot of respect for the victims of the crimes, but also discuss at length how important it is for them to follow proper procedure and respect the constitutional rights of people accused of crimes. Be warned- some of the content is EXTREMELY upsetting- one of the regularly featured detectives works on crimes involving child sexual abuse.
  • Uncover: Escaping NXIVM- I will tell you the premise of this podcast and you will immediately know if it is for you (because I heard it and went YES I WANNA LISTEN TO THAT): A journalist goes to his hometown. There, he runs into an old friend, who he has known since preschool. As their kids play together on the playground, he asks her, “How have you been doing?” And she goes “Oh, all right, I actually just escaped a cult.” YEAH. And it’s THAT cult, the one in all the news, with the branding and the Seagrams heiresses and the craziness! Quite the story. I have to admit I felt a bit smug after listening to it because she talked about the initial marketing about self improvement that first drew her in to the organization and I went “… that sounds real stupid to me.” My constitutional aversion to self help I think has served me well in avoiding being recruited by a cult.
  • Dirty John. I feel like everyone knows about Dirty John right now? Since it was also made into a TV show? But just in case… I made my mom listen to this one with me šŸ™‚ If you like listening to a con man get his comeuppance whoo boy.
  • I’ve listened to a gazillion true crime ones! Hard to narrow down. Dr Death had me shook and shed some alarming lights on how much doctors can get away with. The Teacher’s Pet, Broken Harts, Phoebe’s Fall are all about mysterious deaths. Believed is about the young women and men victimized by Larry Nassar, the Olympic doctor who turned out to be a serial sexual abuser, and is beautifully reported. The Shrink Next Door is about a deeply sketchy psychiatrist exploiting his patients but also about how weird and manipulatable (? Is that a word?) human beings are, especially when they are surrounded by ostentatious wealth. The Dropout has similar themes, about a woman who amassed literally billions of dollars from Silicon Valley investors whose groundbreaking technology turned out to be rubbish. All are good in their own ways and which you like will sort of depend on what stories you’re drawn to (and what kinds of accents you like?!)

Weird/interesting stories in history

slow burn

  • Slow Burn- Two seasons have come out so far and I’ve loved them both.
    Season 1 is a deep dive into Watergate. Random bit players (a melodramatic low level cabinet official’s wife potentially could have blown the story wide open years before most of America found out about it?!) tell the stories of weird little details behind Watergate you never knew. The parallels to now are, uh, hard to miss, and it makes for a compelling listen.
    Season 2 is a deep dive into the Clinton impeachment. I was a wee one when all this stuff was happening, with the result being that I thought subpoena was a bad word (I mean to be fair, I knew the president had done something bad involving sex and that the word subpoena rolls off the tongue in a dirty sounding way?) and didn’t know much else at all. This was illuminating. The episode on the feminist movement crashing and burning into Monica Lewinsky was fascinating. And somehow they got an interview with Linda Tripp?! Which is as wild as you’d expect.
  • What Really Happened- more deep dives, one per episode! This show is hit or mis with me; some are enthralling and some are a little slow. Not to be missed are the stories of Britney Spears’ financial conservatorship, Mohammed Ali talking down a disabled veteran from committing suicide by jumping off a roof, Meek Mills’ legal battles, the huge box office bomb John Carter, and Boris Yeltsin and Bill Clinton’s relationship.

Podcasts that didn’t do it for me

  • Tell Me Something I Don’t Know- I’m sick of white men who think they are funnier than they are. Someone
  • Last Podcast on the Left- More white men annoying me! The My Favorite Murder gals recommended this one for true crime lovers but I didn’t enjoy it.
  • Wonderful- Aaaaaand more white men annoying me. This man and his wife discuss things they find wonderful (Four square! Using the phrase “no worries!” Things that should be really sweet and delightful!) but the man is a deeply irritating conversation dominator and I just get mad on his wife’s behalf.
  • Missing and Murdered- ugh, there’s all this reporting about some truly upsetting events, but you don’t find anything out. Maddening.
  • Cover Up- ditto above! I need some kind of beginning, middle and end to my true crime stories. And the Chappaquiddick thing is something I’ve always been fascinated by so I was disappointed not to get more information. Like, of course none of the important people are talking… but it doesn’t make for a good podcast!
  • Zealot- As discussed above, I love a good cult podcast. And this one has promise… it has fun musical segues between topics. However, the sound quality is poor and the storytelling is meandering. Alas.
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summer cookin

This is one of the more beautiful things I’ve made this summer.

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It is also QUITE easy! It’s a very simple dip, but it’s the toppings that make it… none of them are optional!

I tried this at the farmer’s market and came home and made it within about a week? It was so so delicious in addition to being gorgey.

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The same day I made the recipe above, I got to have a fine piece of man in my kitchen frying me chicken in his grandma’s cast iron skillet!

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There was also tomato (farmer’s market) and basil (my plant) salad, a summer must.

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The meal also involved yummy bread and arugula salad. (The chicken takes rather awhile so that was added to the table later)

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Another tasty meal with the manfriend… why had no one told me how amazing the combination of shrimp, old bay, beer and butter is?! OH MY GOODNESS.

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Whilst making that, he made a dirty rice dish jazzed up with some chorizo (fun fact my manfriend won a fitness competition at his local gym. Nutrition classes were taught by a dietitian- whoop whoop!- and he learned so much and sometimes I learn stuff from him which I love! Including the existence of reduced sodium rice n bean mix! Though that maybe gets canceled out by added chorizo hahaha)

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I added the fruit and veggie components to the meal:

  • more tomato basil salad (this time with basil from his deck!)
  • broiled radicchio with balsamic and olive oil and garlic and some honey to counteract the bitterness… oh my GOOOOOOOODness this was from the farmer’s market and just wonderful)
  • watermelon

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Another collaborative meal…

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He started by cooking a skillet of sausage (because… that’s what he does hahaha)

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And tossed that with cooked kale and garlic.

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Meanwhile I had gotten a zucchini grown by a coworker so he cooked that up with looooooots of olive oil and onions and garlic.

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Meanwhile I was making Smitten Kitchen’s naked tomato sauce which is WORTH YOUR TIME. Very easy and very delicious!

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A final collaborative meal with the manfriend… he started the meal by making this, of course…

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I started the meal by slicing these…

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And we produced the plate below along with our fruit…

  • Toast made by frying bread in huge quantities of butter. Bread that has been smeared with mayo. OH LAWD.
  • Eggs fried in, you guessed it, a bunch of butter
  • Sprouts, which he always has, which I find so endearing
  • Trader Joe’s Everything but the bagel seasoning, which he refers to as “Everything”
  • Hots auce

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Another meal I made for my good friend who just started a new job. The meal involved:

  • Trader Joe’s corn, burrata and basil ravioli (mmm)
  • Salad with roasted beets, arugula, goat cheese, roasted hazelnuts, olive oil, and balsamic reduction

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And for dessert we went halfsies on two cupcakes from Small Cakes: chocolate peanut butter and blackberry bourbon (<< which was DEFINITELY THE WINNER AND SO DELICIOUS).

Please admire Shaylen’s amazing Little Mermaid shirt too.

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As for meals I have had by myself they are rather less exciting but still tasty:

  • Salad: butter lettuce blend, farmer’s market sungold tomatoes (so wonderful), dressing
  • two veggie hot dogs (v small) with trader joe’s sauerkraut
  • chickpea pasta (meh, won’t get it again) with homemade pepper jack cheese sauce

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Breakfast!

  • Leftover pancakes thawed from the freezer
  • Peaches!
  • hard boiled eggs with homemade pesto

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A concoction of:

  • frozen shrimp, thawed, seasoned with Trader Joe’s chile lime seasoning and sauteed
  • fresh farmer’s market corn
  • fresh farmer’s market tomatoes
  • green pepper
  • and then once all that got cooked up all yummy I finished it with diced avocado

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mom’s visit

Fun times- my wonderful mama came to town for a visit! We had a blast enjoying a long weekend together.

She arrived and I immediately took her to afternoon tea… Mother’s Day was the day after my sister’s wedding so I celebrated with her by kind of blearily hugging her goodbye, my false eyelashes still clinging to my face from the previous day, and driving back to NC after several days of craziness. So we will call this a make up celebration.

My tea had a beautiful cup and had been infused with bourbon (!)

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We had adorable tiny sandwiches (pimento cheese; cucumber, radish, and butter; and hummus with tapenade)

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Heavenly desserts (the brownies had pomegranate in them and looked like little debbie brownies but were absolutely INCREDIBLE; macarons that I think were pistachio?; and cheesecake infused with PASSION FRUIT YUMMM)

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And dreamy scones

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With homemade jam, clotted cream, and lemon curd ā¤

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We were having this tea at the Carolina Inn and we walked out the door after we finished to be greeted with live bluegrass music! Yay for North Carolina in the summer.

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For dinner we opted for small plates at Jujube, a recent favorite of mine. They have lots of interesting creative Asian flavors- we had dumplings, shrimp and corn spring rolls, crispy calamari, spicy brussels sprouts with nuts and dried apricots, and THESE SUBLIME KALE.

Is kale good for you anymore when deep fried? Debatable. But this dish, which also involves a zippy salty dressing, mandarins, and candied pecans, is just fantastic.

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The next morning we met up with my cousin, her husband, and their little maniacs at the Carrboro Farmers Market for TOMATO DAY! One of my favorite days of the year.

Her toddler is rawther picky but tried lots of tomatoes when he was accompanied by his cool dietitian auntie *bragging*

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Then we went to my new favorite brunch place… Small B and B Cafe in Pittsboro. Ugh it’s so cute.

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Their quiche is like custardy bliss. So light and lovely. And we split a half order of the lemon ricotta pancakes which were just… absurd.

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They also have an attentive hostess named Luna. She’s great.

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We did some meandering around the bookstore and antique shops in Pittsboro. Then we relaxed a bit in the afternoon, and admired the local wildlife. Apparently this doe was fully prepared to come into my living room?!

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Our evening involved going to the spot with the best view in Durham, the Durham Hotel. We enjoyed glamorous beverages and guacamole and stared at the people.

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Then we did a bit of strolling around Durham, including admiring the art at the 21cĀ  museum hotel, and concluded the evening with ice cream at The Parlour which is just the absolute best. I had a scoop of peach and a scoop of cinnamon and the combination was smashing. I also ran into a bunch of med students I know from the clinic and was like “Yes, I am a professional dietitian and I am having ice cream for dinner” hahahaha.

The next morning we met up with one of my best pals, Lesli, for brunch at her favorite spot, True Flavors. And… WHOA.

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Both Lesli and my mom got variations on chicken and waffles which were just so… architectural!

I opted for this summer veggie and potato hash which came in its own adorable little cast iron skillet.

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Not pictured…. you are welcomed to your table with biscuits absolutely DRENCHED in butter oh my goodness.

The new True Flavors, its second location, is in the other end of a (pretty depressing looking, haha) strip mall from another awesome place… The Scrap Exchange! We had lots of fun admiring the upcycled art, like this jewelry below…

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And snatching up random scraps it didn’t even occur to us we could find until we did (i.e. I got a towel holder for my bathroom for $1.50 yesss)

Following that we did a bit more sightseeing around town including a trip to the always lovely UNC arboretum…

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And then had some unpictured, DELICIOUS pizza at a new favorite, Tre Forni.

In conclusion, my mom is great and I had a wonderful time with her and we ate about 12,000 calories per day hahahahaha. It made for a fabulous staycation! Come back soon mama!

adventures

Many things to recount:

I went to a meeting with the lovely folks at End Hunger Durham, with whom I’ve collaborated on some projects. The meeting was held at The Scrap Exchange which is the coolest place ever. Look at the decor! All upcycled.

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I moved!

  • My old place:
    • incredible location, newly renovated and fancy inside (the bathroom in particular looked like HGTV had thrown upon it).
    • Yet… obnoxious landlord who among other irritating things ultimately sought to raise the rent from $850 to $1400 in a single year so I just wasn’t doing it
  • My new place: I BOUGHT IT!
    • Buying a house is terrifying and expensive. I got a crash course in due diligence money which is a North Carolina thing and super gross. I got a crash course in appraisals and what happens when your house appraises at less than you offered for it (spoiler: you have to abruptly come up with a lot more money. In my case, $7000. In ADDITION TO THE DOWN PAYMENT I’D ALREADY SAVED UP FOR.) (But also you use these things to negotiate, so I feel safer with my up-to-code electrical panel and am pleased with my new, efficient, HVAC system)
    • Buying a house is exciting too I guess
    • The new place also has a great location. Although I am no longer in Carrboro and it feels like the end of an era. But this place is kinda in the woods and has lots of cute birdies and lizards and chipmunks and things.

My pal Emily recruited her very kind boyfriend Mike, who has a pickup, to help me move. They wouldn’t let me pay them but they did let me take them to brunch. We went to Foster’s and I had this ridiculous benedict. Toast, homemade chorizo, poached eggs, guac, chipotle hollandaise aaaaaagh!

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And then I got to an organizing frenzy in the new place. Here is a hint of the woodsiness I described. Also the first meal I “cooked” in the new place which was boxed mac n cheese lol.

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And a nicer shot of back patio (which I will have to prettily adorn when I have a bit more $) and then sunbeams coming in, which Lola loves a lot.

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This spot has prime sunshine and also there is a chipmunk who seems to have buried something in the little flower bed behind my house and makes daily visits to do a bit of digging. Lola LOVES him and definitely doesn’t want to eat him, nope.

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More nature… the new place is near a beautiful rose garden! I thought I was indifferent to roses but man they have some gorgeous varieties there. They are also more beautiful on a bush than in a vase, IMO.

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They were at peak bloom the week leading up to June 8th, which was the joint birthday of my grandma Stacy and my great aunt ROSE! So of course I thought about them lots while admiring the beautiful roses.

Then I was on the trail nearby when I saw this SNEK

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My primitive cavewoman sections of my brain definitely started lighting up when I saw him on the path ahead. I stopped abruptly and made a very loud gasp. I made sure to point him out to the lady walking behind me, too.

We chatted and psyched each other up that no, that’s not a copperhead, everyone in the South thinks every snake was a copperhead. It was just an ordinary snake. Anyway this snake was polite and went slithering away.

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Went home and Googled the snake. Naturally, that was ONE HUNDRED PERCENT A REAL COPPERHEAD hahaha. Glad I didn’t get bitten!

Along with other outdoor pursuits, it is prime farmer’s market season. Here is some amazing artwork made to promote one of the vendors at the farmer’s market:

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And speaking of fresh local vegetables, the manfriend took me for an UH-MAZING dinner at Mateo.

First, we just got pea shoots for free. We were sitting at the bar and the bartender was like “Ya wanna try these?” It was great.

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Again, this was right around June 8th, my grandma’s birthday, and the greens were JUST LIKE she used to make them, with olive oil and lots and lots of lemon. She would have approved.

Additional tapas we ordered…

Chicken liver pate with peach relish (!)

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Salad with pistachios and (unpictured) FRIED BABY ARTICHOKES!

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Deviled eggs wrapped in chorizo (!)

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Oh man. This guy. What is your guess of what this is?!

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Any idea?

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OCTOPUS!

The bowl involved:

  • a top layer of potato espuma (! like potato foam! It was rich and creamy and potatoey, and light and airy, all at the same time!)
  • chunks of octopus, more solid potato, and chorizo nested within
  • an incredible garlicky peppery salsa verde at the bottom. I think it had watercress in it? Another thing that makes me think of my grandma

Now we pause for a silly interlude hahaha.

The manfriend thinks I take too many pictures of food that don’t also include me in the picture. So he sought to remedy that HAHAHAHA.

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Since that’s a terrible picture of the actual food, another angle:

This involved SWEETBREADS! I feel v brave for eating them. Also shaved asparagus, peas and fava beans (mm fava beans), tarragon, etc.

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That would have in and of itself made for an 100% awesome evening, but we weren’t even done! It was our dinner prelude to a baseball game!

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So many things about this experience were great. First of all when you go to a minor league baseball game (the Durham Bulls, from the eponymous movie) the stadium is much smaller so there is not a bad seat. Also you can just wander around and watch things from different angles. Second of all, it was before this current rather intense heatwave so by nighttime it had cooled down some and was just breezy and dreamy. And third of all the company was great šŸ™‚

The following weekend, the company was… less great. Colton.

We continued in our ongoing, futile efforts to become more beautiful

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We ate tasty brunch at Monuts (Greek yogurt, fried eggs, olive oil, lots of zhoug sauce and other yummy spices, their incredible toast which has the crispiness of normal bread but the sponginess of focaccia)

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And then we ended up making homemade pizza for an early dinner.

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It was topped with sauce, mozz, goat cheese, arugula, and balsamic reduction (!) and was v good. With a side salad because we are good dietitians.

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And with pink wine because we are basic.

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That balsamic reduction was moneyyyyy. Oh and! I used Smitten Kitchen’s lazy pizza dough (the 22 hour version; used half whole grain flour) and it was v easy and delicious and had a wonderful fermented tang and I actually would have missed the whole grain flour if it wasn’t present; it added really nice flavor.

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A few more fun things to recount… Johnnys has this cute donation based coffee system set up right now.

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My old roommate danced ballet professionally for several years so naturally I sent her this pic!

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Anyone else been doing anything fun lately?

cookin and eatin

Here are some things I’ve been cooking! Some simple, some fancy. Some cooked FOR me!

A simple weeknight dinner…

  • Trader Joe’s chopped Southwest salad kit
  • Shrimp pan fried real quick with a bit of oil and chile lime seasoning

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Random assortment:

  • kale chips
  • avocado toast
  • ineptly fried egg
  • 1/2 a banana with some PB

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  • black bean chips
  • avocado tzaziki dip from Trader Joe’s (v good!0
  • salad with chopped up apple, nuts, cheddar, vinaigrette

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Smitten Kitchen’s crispy rice bowl! I’ve already sung the praises. Further documentation I can’t stop making variations on it!

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My friend Emily had a birthday shindig so I made her a cake! Not for the first time, Smitten Kitchen’s homemade ho ho/ding dong/whatever you call the Little Debbie product. Delicious, BUT, it’s a fool’s errand to try to make marshmallow frosting on a humid day. Too goopy!

I confirmed my card carrying introvert ways by spending much of the party petting the hostess’s dog.

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Mm look at that perfect crumb on that cake!

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Shortly thereafter was my cousin’s birthday and I made her one of her all time faves… banana cream pie:

  • Trader Joe’s pie crust (I just loathe making pie crust and am terrible at it)
  • bananas (duh)
  • random vanilla custard I cobbled together from various internet sources
  • barely sweetened whipped cream
  • chocolate shavings around the edge for beauty

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Cottage cheese pancakes! Gosh, these were good. Shame I can’t remember where I got the recipe hahaha.

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Topped with leftover fruit salad I’d made for something or other.

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A perfect springtime combo:

  • asparagus, either steamed or sauteed in olive oil
  • fried egg
  • balsamic reduction (or your thickest syrupiest balsamic vinegar)

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The egg yolk and the vinegar together are moneyyyy

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A random lunch…

  • avocado toast
  • cottage cheese with some strawberries I’d cooked down with a bit of sugar and balsamic and maybe some other berries too?
  • these cold brew lattes which became the death of me… I’ve been trying to quit caffeine?! story for another blog post.

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Brunch for frens!

  • Cold brew, as discussed hahaha
  • tomato, onion and goat cheese quiche
  • homemade french toast casserole thrown together with various berries and a bunch of nutella (WHOOOOAAA)
  • fresh watermelon
  • manfriend brought his homemade fried chicken!

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I threw this together for a weeknight dinner and I think it would’ve made good drunk food hahaha. (I had not been drinking to be clear.)

  • Black beans cooked with enchilada sauce and a bunch of cheese
  • frozen sweet potato fries baked til crispy
  • avocado
  • green onoins

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Yet another odd collection of items:

  • two small veggie hot dogs with sauerkraut
  • steamed artichoke with mayo
  • watermelon
  • kale chips

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Oh LOOK, it’s yet again that crispy rice bowl! I told you! This time I made it with the carrots and cucumbers as written.

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Smitten Kitchen’s tzaziki potato salad. One of the few times one of her recipes has been a dud for me. It just was unremarkable. If I’m craving potatoes+ Mediterranean flavors again I’ll just make potato salad the way my mom makes it (with olive oil and TONS of fresh oregano)

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Ahhh okay so the manfriend and I had pizza night! He loves making homemade pizza. We also had some pizza sauce he’d gotten from a local restaurant.

Here’s one of our finished slices:

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Pizza making can take awhile between letting dough rise and prepping toppings and preheating oven and so on. So we had a bit of a lull. Plus, we had leftover toppings.

That resulted in him making this unbelievable creation:

  • toast fried in butter
  • assorted leftover pizza toppings including sauteed mushrooms, sauteed onions, black olives, a few little meat bits
  • jalapeno queso (!!!) poured on top. Good grief.

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The pepperoni/mushroom/onion pizza pictured above ended up looking like this sliced. Quite dense in the crust.

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The other pizza was puffier and the toppings were my personal favorite…

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  • sausage
  • caramelized onions
  • sauteed garlic (like, LOTS OF GARLIC)
  • black olives

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The fella was about to leave town so he sent me home with a bit more sauce and a bit more dough… so I made this guy with mushrooms and kale. Astonishing no one, opting for a healthier pizza (veggie toppings, no fatty porky things, more modest amount of cheese) was less delicious hahaha.

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cooking with a pal

In other news I am happily dating a dude?! V exciting I know. It’s nice having someone to cook with/cook for.

For example one evening we decided to have a charcuterie plate. I have no gift whatsoever for arranging foods attractively so I put the manfriend in charge. He put together this creation.

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This was the whole table:

  • Charcuterie plate above
  • Steamed artichokes with mayonnaise (which he’d never had and of course loved)
  • additional charcuterie plate with a variety of delicious Trader Joe’s crackers and cheese and meatstuffs
  • Smitten Kitchen’s wild mushroom pate (which is delicious- note that it makes a LOT)

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Another day he hosted me for dinner at his house. This was a steak salad recipe from Real Simple that involved pears and bleu cheese and hazelnuts. The steak:

  • Was cooked perfectly
  • Was made in the cast iron skillet the manfriend inherited from his grandfather (!) which is so cool and nice
  • Created such an enormous amount of smoke in the kitchen that even with the vent hood running full blast and a door and several windows looking we basically had to evacuate that half of the house hahahaha

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Our appetizer before the steak salad was this beet hummus (!) which the manfriend has taught me about and which is quite tasty.

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Another day we went hiking by Occoneechee mountain.

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And then he made me chicken salad. It’s something I never make but it’s one of his specialties. He puts in all kinds of wacky ingredients.

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I got around to introducing him to some of my friends by arranging that we all meet up to watch basketball at Tyler’s, one of the local bars.

Pro: the appetizers were delicious, especially the hot chewy pretzel with beer cheese (*swoon*)

Con: We watched freaking Auburn eliminate UNC from the tournament. Devastating. (He went to UNC too)

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Have I already raved about my love for Smitten Kitchen’s crispy rice bowl in the blog? Well if not THIS BOWL HAS BEEN MY LIFE LATELY.

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It makes a nice meal for guests too! And you can mix it up with the vegetables… this particular time I did have cucumber but I didn’t have carrots… instead I made a wilted spinach salad by whisking together mustard, lemon juice, soy sauce and olive oil in a hot pan and then tossing in the spinach just til it was wilted. DELICIOUS.

Also, everything but the bagel seasoning is an excellent addition to the recipe.

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I went home to VA for my mom’s birthday, and when I got home he bought ME flowers! So nice!

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After the lilies opened they made my house smell sooooooo heavenly. (I put them on a high shelf so I could smell them but so the cat wouldn’t eat them and die).

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More adventures in when a boy cooks… his was a great day because the manfriend had Good Friday off as a holiday from work (though I still had to work, *sigh*). So, I met him for lunch at his house and this bagel sandwich was a SIGHT.

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It involved:

  • cream cheese
  • avocado
  • sprouts
  • fried egg
  • Sriracha
  • bacon (him, not me)

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And then he had a pan full of bacon grease so decided to throw some cashews in…

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And then pulled them out and threw these guys on them:

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And whaddya know it they made a smashing side dish (along with some fresh fruit)

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Another weekend I was out of town and then drove back in, zonked out, on a Sunday night. So he invited me over and served me nachos and we watched Game of Thrones. (Ugh, at least the food was good. THE SHOW WAS GARBAGE).

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I hosted yet again… this meal involved:

  • Meatballs with sauce (they were actually the frozen Trader Joe’s meatless meatballs, I’m not sure if I confessed this to him?!)
  • Salad with goat cheese, blueberries, pistachios, homemade vinaigrette
  • Trader Joe’s sweet corn and burrata ravioli OH MAN THESE ARE GOOD BUY THESE. I served the ravioli with browned butter which was also a tasty choice.

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Here is the whole plate, see how nicely lit?!

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That’s because I had help hahahaha. Apparently his mom was Google stalking me (?!) and he said, “What did you find out?” and she said, “She takes a lot of pictures of food!” Yes, that is correct.

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baby sister gets hitched!

Oh hello! I had a rather crazy late April/mid May between buying a house (!) and moving into said house, and MY BABY SISTER GETTING MARRIED! First, about that.

First of all, my sister decided her fur babies must accompany to her and their father’s wedding. So, she (and a very kind bridesmaid) drove from Louisiana to northern Virginia sharing a single vehicle with two cats and a dog. NUTS.

My mom was nice enough to host Mearl (L) and Tina (R) along with her own cat (fortunately Billie Jean the dog stayed elsewhere). Tina is my sister’s latest rescue, found on the street. She is tiny and adorable and really quite skittish and weird too.

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I drove up to my mama’s house the Wednesday evening before the Saturday wedding. The following days involved lots of little last minute activities. Picking up altered clothing, selecting photobooth props, and a great deal of work related to seating charts that my mom, my mom’s best friend, my sister, and roughly 10,000 other people seemed to be involved in but I fortunately was not.

The funnest of the wedding prep activities was definitely mani pedis for me, the bride, and my mom’s goddaughter who was visiting from St Louis for the wedding (who I think of as a four year old but in fact is now a young woman getting ready for college!)

I figured to go for something more exciting than usual for my nails since how many times does one’s sister get married?! So I did both the french manicure and the nail art (!) at my lady’s suggestion.

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The day before the wedding we had the rehearsal dinner which was at Seasons 52. When I ordered lasagna I received this fascinating deconstructed item which was REALLY yummy. Lots and lots of veggies in the pasta rolls, and a cool ricotta on top. Mm.

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As for the wedding day itself it involved everyone getting G.L.A.M.O.R.O.U.S. My mom knew a lady who’d done makeup/hair at work events and hired her for her, sis and me. They set up a whole studio in the dining room and kitchen.

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My sister had some deeply fabulous old Hollywood waves.

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I ended up with more loose waves. But perhaps I should’ve just stuck with this fetching updo I had midway through the process? Lololol.

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My sister got all of her bridesmaids these sweet charm necklaces, each of which had a different theme. I looooved my *Protect* one. One because it definitely describes my attitude toward my sister… and two because of the dope snake charm!

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As for the wedding itself… I managed to take a whopping one picture, of the appetizers hahaha.

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Guys, I am garbage at writing sentimental things.

I did my best to write a good toast about the happy couple as the maid of honor (which would have been much improved if 1. I hadn’t been immediately preceded by Eric’s brother’s 100% sincere, unsnarky, tear inducing speech– mine was playful and jokey and would’ve been a better preamble!– and 2. If I hadn’t immediately poured champagne all down my front immediately before the toast— for the record I was stone cold sober, I guess just nervous and reaching for my salad fork at the wrong angle?!)

But talking about my sister requires summarizing a 27 year relationship into something pithy and it just cannot be done.

My sister is the funniest person I know. She’s caring, and weird, and very smart. She will get me better than any other person in the world in very key ways because we are the only people who have ever been raised by our parents. Celebrating her marriage to Eric, who I’ve also known for quite awhile (they met freshman year of high school, 13 years ago!) was a consistently surreal experience. But it was very very lovely.

I also have no idea if I’ll ever get married but can state very confidently that if I do I want nothing to do with a wedding. So I have to further extend gratitude to my sister and mom and everyone else who made the wedding happen because I got to be in a big room with basically all of my loved ones! Mom’s side of the family, dad’s side of the family, a bunch of old family friends some of whom I haven’t seen since I was a tiny thing… all too often the occasions that bring people together are sad ones, so it was really nice having people fly in from literally all over the world for a joyful reason.

I will leave you with a picture… The rain was a bit on and off on Malindi and Eric’s wedding day. As we all proceeded from the church to the reception I realized it’d be wise to get the bride and groom an umbrella. Pinterest friendly it was not but they still look pretty damn sweet.

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