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food + drink

It turns out that the French don’t like turkey that much.

In fact, while we were in Paris over Thanksgiving, we ate pig intestine, duck, and fish instead. (The intestine was a result of not speaking French). And because of how tickets and timing worked out, I was able to explore Amsterdam a little too.

Y’all, Amsterdam is one of the most well-designed places I’ve ever visited. Sans serif everywhere, with bright and modern colors. Kind of like an Ikea. And the pedestrian-heavy streets are covered with bike riders. So many bike riders. I arrived early Monday morning, so people were just starting their week and peddling through town. It was amazing to just wander about, taking it all in.

Amsterdam

 

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A few months ago, a good friend told me about IF:Table, an extension of IF:Gathering, a group of women who “exist to gather, equip & unleash the next generation of women to live out their purpose.” The premise is simple: 1 hours, 4 questions, 6 women (a model of Acts 2:46).

Acts 2:46 – Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts…

The heart behind IF:Table so closely mirrors some of my greatest loves. It encourages women to gather around a table, eat a simple a good meal, share stories and life, discuss Jesus, and be present in each other’s life. Really present. Like, hey can I come over to get a cup of milk or watch your kiddos while you run to the grocery store? Yes, I’ll get the cookies (and wine) started.

I’ve had a lot of conversations recently about what it looks like to live in community. And how to live with intension. I think it is something that so many women desperately search for. Do you know what I mean? The comfort of a good friend, the healing power of a good conversation, and often, the sobering realizations that come out of real, raw fellowship.

And what I’ve learned through IF:Table, by opening my home to a different mix of women every month (who know some by not all of those around the dinner table), is that creating a routine that forces new, deeper relationships (even when the day’s stresses make pajama/TV time so much more appealing) is amazing.

 

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Sitting down to write this post, I randomly remembered a text message that I glanced at the other day. Over the holiday season, Daniel and I donated some money to the Dash Network, a local organization that helps asylum-seekers in Fort Worth as they await approval to become refugees. You can go here to learn more about the differences between the two (its really surprising).

Anyway, we got this beautiful update recently:

Hey guys, we gave Amel and Katrin all the money they needed for their family to make the trip to America. They also received word that their family’s application for visas has been accepted, so they will be coming in March!

I bring this up because I’m so thankful. I’m so thankful that our money can be used for such a beautiful gift. And that for just a little bit more than what we spent on dinner at AF+B, we were able to bless Amel and Katrin. I just wanted to pause and give praise for that.

And now, on to the food! Yes, we went to the opening night of AF+B yesterday (aka, American Food and Beverage). And yes, it was a wonderful meal. From the lighting and marble floors, to the chilled wine and sorghum butter that melted on top of my green chile cornbread — everything comes together for a great experience.

Spiced Salutations As soon as you walk in, you’re standing within a beautiful, buzzing, old marble and hard wood covered bar space. It’s fun people watching, while you look at the menu, grab a drink and wait for your table. (If you’re taking pictures like me, don’t mind the stares. Just look away. Look away!)

Spiced SalutationsAnd then, you enter into a different atmosphere all together. The dining space is warm, filled with soft lights, dark woods and a burst of flavors from the kitchen.

Spiced SalutationsWe had news to celebrate and weeks without catching up with good friends, so we started the evening with oysters — perfectly chilled and paired with lemon salt and jalapeno mignonette. I need to incorporate these condiments into my life more often. Recommendations?

Spiced SalutationsDan and I split the local green salad, which was plenty big for the two of us. I loved the spiced pecans and watermelon radishes.

Spiced SalutationsOh yeah, we had fries. Some how, that ketchup was extra amazing.

Spiced SalutationsFor the main dish, we split the red snapper, with white beans and claims in a gremolata sauce. You must order a side of the green chile cornbread if you order this dish — the presentation in a mini cast iron pan is spot on.

Drink recommendations? A couple Bourbon Sherry Cobblers were ordered — not too sweet and plenty strong. There was also the Rustic Nail, a drink special that was pretty much three liquors, straight up on ice — rye whiskey, mescal and something else I can’t pronounce. For me? Red. Always red. The wine-by-the-glass menu is limited, but the Zinfandel Blend and the Cab available are both great. AF+B, great opening weekend!

Today, I balance my life with this green guy. And an intense triple release of Group X classes at 24 Hour Fitness. Insanity anyone? How about Pound (complete with neon green drum sticks)?

Spiced SalutationsMango Green Smoothie: Blend frozen mango cubes, one big green apple, one banana, a handful of chopped up kale, a handful of spinach, about a tablespoon of flax seed, and 1/4 cup of water. Done and done.

Updated 01/02/13 @ 11:00p: Follow Kari and her dream on Instagram at @meltfw and on Facebook at facebook.com/MeltIceCreams.

News about the Near Southside’s first small-batch ice cream shop, Melt Ice Creams, spread fast. First, a friend of mine invited me to the Facebook page. And then, Near Southside posted the link. Kari Crowe had just announced her next big endeavor — Melt Ice Creams, an ice cream shop devoted to old-fashion, farmer market fresh, scoops of home-spun, small-batch flavors.

Credit: karicrowe.com/

Credit: karicrowe.com/

According to her blog, Kari spent some time observing and working with a couple who made ice cream in Ohio. She writes:

“We made ice cream the old fashioned way over the stove.  We didn’t use prepared mixes or artificial flavorings.  We went to the farmer’s market and bought produce and roasted it and pureed it for flavor.  I came home and started writing recipes every other day.” – Kari

She also shadowed a local favorite — Robbie Werner of Stir Crazy Baked Goods (wizard of cakes and pies, and our wedding caterer). For more, you can read the recent story at Eater Dallas! (By the way, I saw on Facebook that Kari’s still perfecting some vegan options, but they are on the list.)

You know, I remember having a conversation with someone just a few months ago about the need for a good ice cream shop in the Near Southside. I think it was when I was eating pie. You have to have ice cream if you’re having pie.

Quaint and cool neighborhoods always have ice cream shops with creamy scoops of fresh and funky flavors. I have a list of favorites. I’m sure Melt will make it’s way to the top soon.

Blue Marble Ice Cream, New York, NY

New York has a lot of ice cream shops. And I’m not sure why, but people loved eating it outside, in freezing temperatures. Meanwhile, I was doing everything I could to cover my entire body with one giant black coat. Blue Marble Ice Cream will always have a special place in my heart, because it was at the end of my street in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. I loved my little Italian neighborhood, filled with families, old sausage marts, and some of the best restaurants around.

Credit: Robyn Lee (Flickr)

Blue Marble Ice Cream; Credit: Robyn Lee (Flickr)

Ample Hill Creamery, New York, NY

Ample Hill Creamery in Prospect Heights is a cool shop. When I lived in New York, Vanderbilt Avenue was just starting to build up. And this place always had a line. I like how they use all local ingredients and “happy cows.” You can learn more about the handcrafted, small-batch process here.

Credit: Howard Walfish (Flickr)

Ample Hill Creamery; Credit: Howard Walfish (Flickr)

Sweet Action Ice Cream, Denver, CO

Sweet Action has some of the craziest flavors I’ve ever seen. Black Licorice Sambuca? Almond Currant Saffron? How about Vegan Strawberry Balsamic? Quite impressive.

Credit: Thrillist

Sweet Action Ice Cream; Credit: Thrillist

Sweet Ritual, Austin, TX

I’ll round out my list with this vegan ice cream parlor in Austin. The eccentric ice cream parlor gives customers the option to build their sundaes with vegan ice cream and toppings. Or, you can put them in waffle cones. That they make in front of you on a waffle press. Freaking. Awesome.

Credit: Zagat

Sweet Ritual; Credit: Zagat

This is obviously not an exhaustive list. But it’s some of the ice cream stands that stood out the most to me in my travels. Melt Ice Creams, we’re excited for you!

SDw-26I’ve decided to dub 2013 the year of the big boulder. Thinking back on everything that’s happened in 12 months, I really do feel like a boulder was moved. A bunch of milestones just decided to roll up into one fabulous year and give me something to lean on, wrestle with, rejoice in, and celebrate over. Here’s what I’m thinking about today:

In 2013, I got married, changed my last name, moved into a new home, and visited San Francisco, NYC, Denver and San Juan.

I also saw three good friends get married, became an aunt, explored career options, made a career change, landed a job in education, and fell in love with intimate dinner parties.

To celebrate and commemorate the year ahead, we invited a few friends over and explored some new recipes.

Tuna and Cannellini Bean Bruschetta (Modified)

For the topping:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 7 oz canned tuna, drained and flaked (2 cans)
  • 1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup small-dice red onion (from about 1/2 a medium onion)
  • 1/2 cup small-dice celery (from about 3 stalks)
  • 2 Tbsp coarsely chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • Salt, pepper, and garlic to taste

For the bread:

  • Crusty Whole Grain bread
  • Butter spray
  • Minced garlic
  • Salt and pepper

First, whisk together (with a fork) the olive oil, red wine vinegar, and balsamic vinegar; set aside in a small bowl. Then, mix together all the other ingredients in a bigger bowl. Pour the oil mix into the bigger bowl, stir it up, and set aside.

Next, go ahead and cut up the bread into bite-sized pieces. Spray one side of the bread with butter (very light on the butter) and put on the griddle pan. (Side note, this was my first time to use this since receiving from our registry!) Spray the other side and flip. Once they are all warm and toasty, transfer to a plate.

I assembled the bruschetta on the display plate itself, but you can probably go about this in a more orderly manner. Put a little bit of minced garlic on the toast and then a spoonful of the tuna-bean mix on each. Top with some salt and pepper and enjoy! Adding a sprig of parsley would be a nice touch too.

Brazilian Shrimp Stew (Mocqueca de Camaroes) (Modified)

Brazilian Shrimp Stew (Mocqueca de Camaroes)

Some of my goals for this year is to host more dinner parties, drink more water, and try new recipes — especially those from Brazil. My mom doesn’t remember too much about the foods her mother prepared, but she recalls a lot of rice and beans. Even at a young age, she opted for the vegetarian plate.

So, here’s my first take at a very satisfying Brazilian stew. I didn’t have chilis on hand, so I put in an extra dash or two of Sriracha. And the coconut milk in this really makes the stew taste like a curry, which Daniel loved.

Serving Size: 6
(Oh and it’s Healthy, Low Carb & Paleo-compliant)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lbs raw shrimp, peeled & deveined
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup roasted red pepper, diced (canned)
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • (1) 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 4 Tbsp Sriracha hot sauce
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan and saute onions for several minutes until clear. Next, add the garlic and red peppers, cooking for several more minutes. Add the tomatoes, shrimp and cilantro to the pan and simmer until the shrimp turns opaque.

Next, pour in the coconut milk (shake beforehand) and Sriracha sauce, and cook until heated through – but not to a boil. Finally, add lime juice and season with salt and pepper to your liking. Add some more Sriracha or red pepper flakes for more spice. Serve hot and garnish with fresh cilantro!

By the way, in case you are running late (like me, always) or you want to serve this super hot as it finishes cooking, this dish is really easy to prepare while hosting and making small talk. Just have everything prepped beforehand. And have the wine and appetizers out.

Happy New Year! 2014, here we go.