spring happenings

Nice weather means lots ‘n lots of eating al fresco!

Milltown has a lovely courtyard, and good wine specials. I tend to get really excited about white wine in the first weeks of spring and summer.

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Lots of other people had clearly gotten the same idea as Steve and I, since several of the evening’s specials had already sold out.

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But Steve honed in on the roasted beet late, and oh was that a good life decision.

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I pretty much failed at conveying the beauty of this dish.

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Man oh man, every component was perfect and delicious. Beets and goat cheese are among the most delicious of combinations on the planet. And beautiful! The arugula was perfect, as arugula is wont to be, and the spicy savory granola was one of the more creative things I’ve beheld.

Didn’t eat meat during Lent, and as usual turned into a bit of a carnivore in the week after Easter. Burger did not stand a CHANCE! Steve and I did a really smart thing: he got the salad on the side I got the fries and we split ‘em. This is smart because the best way to eat fries is ravenously and quickly while they’re still hot. Then once they cool off they cease to be interesting. So we ate ‘em real quick and then had nice virtuous salad and no one felt deprived of french fried goodness.

The burger was local and enormous and I ate it ALL!

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Then I got some nice organic beef and made some all American meat loaf. I also made the whole wheat cinnamon raisin swirl bread from Smitten Kitchen of which I am so fond, except skipping the swirl. And I bought broccoli slaw and made sort of a bastardized version of the traditional picnic salad with almonds and raisins and yogurt. And then was aghast at myself that in preparing all the ingredients for this all American meal I’d managed to run out of butter for my bread! Fortunately olive oil subbed in.

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I make meatloaf with a ton of veggies and a minimum of binder. Lots and lots of sauteed mushrooms. And Worcestershire. its structural integrity is always lacking, but its flavor is always superb. Hot or cold.

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Then one dimly lit night outside of Weaver Street market my friends and I inadvertently witnessed and even semi-participated in a public proposal! Weaver Street Market is where everyone in Carrboro hangs out. Seriously, sit there for a couple of days and you will have seen absolutely everyone who lives in Carrboro. There are live performances and wine tastings from time to time, and the people watching is the best.

Let me say now that getting engaged in front of other people in a public, ostentatious manner is pretty much my worst nightmare. But whatever, this couple and their gazillions of dressed up friends who arranged the photos and lit the candles and held the signs (signs?! WORST NIGHTMARE!) were very into it.

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(No that guy in the picture is not the groom-to-be. That’s a rando who ended up knocking over a bunch of candles, irritating the groom to be’s sister to no end.)

We filmed (we meaning my friend Alex, since the girls of the group felt that it was way too much pressure to properly film such a momentous occasion). It was cute.

Then we ate ice cream. Steve had made an ice cream run for everyone, not waiting with bated breath to witness the proposal as apparently the rest of us were. This place has PRETZEL CONES! Gah so good.

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In other news, I hadn’t realized all of the various cornmeal and grits and cornbread and hush puppy related acoutrements there were, which means that I wanted to buy regular cornmeal and ended up buying this peculiar pre-leavened, flour containing thing.

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But was naturally intrigued by the thoroughly Southern sounding recipe on the back.

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I decided to hippie-ify it with vegetables and local eggs. Chopped up farmer’s market tomatoes, then a layer of beaten eggs, then a layer of corny stuff based off that recipe. Except without the cheese, which was sort of the crux of that recipe. So really just… cornbread stuff and onions.

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Anyway, it made AWESOME work lunches! Portable and yummy.

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Of course the ullllllltimate farmer’s market bounty lately has been these beauties.

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Is there anything better than a super fresh, perfectly ripe strawberry?!

I decided that for my friends’ Memorial Day cookout, I was going to make something that did a minimum amount of trifling with these wonderful things. I sliced ‘em up and tossed them with a spot of lemon juice and a sprinkling of sugar. (Full disclosure: these weren’t alllllll local farmer’s market strawberries because I am a woman of limited means. The grocery store stuff is pretty dang fresh this time of year anyway).

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So I opted to make strawberry shortcake using the “secret family recipe”. Which, hilariously, is the bisquick recipe box plus real whipped cream. My grandma made it, my mom made it, and now I’m taking the same shortcut! I did modernize by getting the “Heart Smart” Bisquick, which, FYI, doesn’t have the partially hydrogenated oil of the original.

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I tripled the Bisquick recipe that’d made four individual shortcake and formed the batter into two long, rectangular, free spirited sort of loaves. Not very tall. Baked ‘em off, then put the first in my pan and topped with my marinated strawberries.

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Then it was whipped cream time! I bought an adorable retro hand mixer (at the dollar store for $10!) and though it took longer and made slightly more dramatic noises than I’d expected, it worked beautifully.

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Noms.

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Incidentally, while all the pre-cookout-cookin’ was happening, Grateful Dead was blasting. That is my spring music. Always.

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And Steve, shirtless because my roomie and I are cheap and don’t mind being warm but our apartment temp is a bit much for Steve, made tons and tons of dumplings. His signature dish.

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Pork and shrimp. With tons of good stuff in them. It takes like three hours, hahahaha. A true labor of love. Everyone raved and raved about them, and I got to eat the ones that busted open in the cooking process 🙂

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A few more random notes:

My best friend is amazing and I want to echo her philosophy. And add an addendum that is pro- crusty loaves of sourdough from a really good bakery, whole grains be damned.

friendship

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One thought on “spring happenings

  1. Nice post! I had to retread to see if it was you who was engaged! Do let us know!

    Love,

    Betty and John

    Ps – Malindi was ill today, only mom came to church. Miss u!

    >

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