Fresh.

I had this vision yesterday of going and “u-picking” all of my produce and even some flowers! I forgot about my strict plans to go do all the “car stuff” I needed to do and headed to the farms.
I went to the wrong farm. Turns out, all we could find to pick were boysenberries.
I’m a good ol’ southern girl, and frankly, my dear, I wanted blackberries.
I ended up settling, and bought the rest of my produce at the farm stand.
$14 dollars it all ended up costing me.

I have this terrible problem of spending $30-$50 dollars on fresh produce from a grocery store and then making plans to go out with friends before I can eat them. OR I’ll freak out that they’ll all go to waste so I’ll eat everything within 2 days and then have to go back out and spend another $50 and the cycle never ends.

So there I was with all these fresh ingredients and not a clue what to do but just watch them all rot.
But then I learned it was a friend’s birthday, so I went to the cutting board.

I had previously turned 3 sticks of butter into brown butter for an ice cream, so I decided to use that in a fruit tart crust.
I had heavy cream and cream cheese left over from my ice cream adventures that also needed to be whipped up into something.
So I took a grapefruit, juiced and zested it into the cream cheese and whisked it all together until it was smooth. Then I added a tablespoon of real maple syrup and added the cream. I also ended up adding a touch more of sugar, JUST BECAUSE WHIP CREAM.
I carefully and sleepily placed fresh fruit all around and used a mix of sugar and grapefruit juice to glaze the fruit to give it a shine.
In the mini tarts, I used a few sprigs of fennel to make it look cute and give it more color, plus it adds a hint of a unique flavor.

I don’t know how it will go over for someone who is not into sweets or dessert, but the chickens and I sure enjoyed it!IMG_20160627_203431

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Be Informed.

Last week I used a foot mask for my feet, obviously. I stand all day in terrible shoes, and I walk a lot. I have callouses and blisters and I wanted my feet to heal.

I had seen Foot Therapy at Anthropologie and was kind of skeptical about it, based on the overall packaging and price. Most of the time, you’re paying for hype.
But I was there to treat myself and buy all the overpriced and overhyped beauty products. I wanted a luxurious evening, and not the results that these products claimed.
I bought it.

Just eyeing the product alone, an excited Sales Clerk went on and on about the time she used it. That at first you wouldn’t notice any results, but about 4 days later, you would start to notice your feet peeling and she advised me not to wear flip flops or sandals for a few days.

This girl was extremely passionate and smiley. She was good at her job. REALLY good, but I didn’t need her to sell it to me. I walked in wanting to throw all of my money at expensive, beautiful things I did not need.

After doing the foot mask, I felt good about it. My feet felt a little squishy, wet and weird, but it was good for them, I told myself. Just for the one night. I sat in front of Netflix and watched pointless shows for the suggested 1.5 hours while my feet marinated.

A few days went by and my feet were still the same. I wasn’t disappointed. Just confirmed my suspicions that the Sales Clerk was just selling a product.

That is until yesterday.
Yesterday, we had sunshine here for the first day of summer. I spent my day making ice cream and running errands, so it wasn’t until 4:45 pm that I was able to go out and sit in the sun.

I took my shoes off. And that’s when I noticed my feet.
They looked so ragged! They were peeling so badly.
And then today, even worse!

But this was a good thing! All the dead skin was coming off and revealing new, soft skin!
This stuff got down deep even and softened my callouses, too!

It got me thinking, though.
How much stuff am I putting on and in my body that I won’t see the effects for days, weeks, and years to come?
We know that it matters, but we don’t really get to see it, and we don’t always think about it.
Our make up, hair products, laundry detergent, lotions, sun, chemicals.
Maybe it’s worth the time and money it takes. Maybe then we will finally start feeling better, and looking our best.
It’s time I start researching and paying attention to these things.

Be informed.

Decompress.

Believe it or not, the best way for me to decompress is to be alone in a kitchen for a few hours and just pour all of my time, thoughts, energy, and passion into creating wonderful things.
I think you can tell the difference between when I’m cooking just to eat and when I’ve actually invested all of myself into a dish.
I check out and I just become the flavors I am creating.
Sometimes I know exactly what I am doing, but sometimes I just feel it out and let the ingredients decide what I am actually doing.
I could start with just a tomato and the intent to make pasta. Sometimes simple is good enough, but sometimes the tomato screams to be more, or the pasta tells me how I should cook it.
Maybe that’s crazy?

My cousin once said to my sister and I, “all you guys think about is food.”
You know, I actually don’t know what else there is to think about, or one thought that speaks to me louder than everything involving food.
When she wakes up in the morning, what is she thinking about? What to feed her son for breakfast? Will she have time for breakfast? What should she pack him and herself for lunch? Where will you go for dinner. Will you need a snack?
What about the weekend? How will you be spending it and what will the meals be?
What do you need to pick up at the store?

But maybe she doesn’t have to think about this stuff because she lives with her mom, sister and her son goes to his father’s for the weekend. Her mom buys the groceries and cooks the meals. Maybe it is a foreign thing to think about daily.

I’m always thinking of ways I can create and share a meal. It’s the best part of the day.
Everything else is just leading up to something to be shared and the conversations and oneness you get out of meals.
I don’t know any other way to communicate if I’m not saying it in my food.
Is it unhealthy?
Am I missing something more when I fill my thoughts with meal planning?
At the end of a long day, or a long week, what’s more comforting than having a really good dinner alone or with someone you care about?
I don’t know.
So I’m just going to continue to fill my head with visions of food.

Dick Taylor: Bolivia

My World Through Chocolate:

By Me

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BOLIVIA! This chocolate reminds me of an Indonesian coffee. Very earthy at first.

70% chocolate. It has a very pleasant sweetness that is balanced out by its acidity. Very bright, dry and malty. A tad bit salty. I would throw this straight into a French buttercream and then die of pure bliss.

This one I let it just melt away in my mouth and linger for as long as I could.

It’s very herby, very green tea. Incredibly interesting, but above all, it’s just good chocolate. I could see myself going back and buy this every day.
I guess the right chocolate gets you right to the point.
It’s good. I like it.

SIDE NOTE: I once got a job as at a single origin bean to bar chocolate place in Atlanta. I was to roast the roast the cacao and make them into really beautiful hand crafted bars. I got the job based on my ability to taste, so perhaps this gives me a little bit of credit that I DO know what I’m talking about. I, however, decided not to pursue a career in chocolate, and kept working towards my goals in specialty coffee.

Dick Taylor: Vietnam Tien Giang

My World Through Chocolate:

By Me

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Sailing away to Vietnam and on to Dick Taylor’s chocolate. With such beautiful packaging, it’s easy to think that maybe the goal is for people to want to instagram it, and not eat it. This would be very wrong to assume. While I live for boats, I immediately think back to 7th grade when I spent an entire 2 weeks fake reading Moby Dick so people would think I was smart during silent reading.

Seriously, stop distracting me from the point.
LIMITED EDITION CHOCOLATE!

This chocolate is very inviting. At first it’s very familiar, but it breaks down into such a complex flavor that I cannot even pinpoint the flavors you will taste. There’s some stone fruit happening, the unripe kind towards the pit. A hint of warm lightly toasted bread. A dewy, spring morning being kissed by the sun.

Not a lot to write about, but so much to taste!
This 78% chocolate is winning hearts all over the world.

Just go! Go out and be that sucker who buys all the limited edition chocolates. It’s worth indulging every once in awhile.

Cuba, Francois Pralus.

My World Through Chocolate

By: Me

I started my journey yesterday with a chocolate from Cuba. Many people know that Cuba is my passion even though I have no experience with it and the culture surrounding it I learned only from Ricky Ricardo and Cubano sandwiches. What else is there to love?

Chocolate. Who knew! And what even grows in Cuba? Not America! At least not until Obama came to town and decided we should befriend all our old enemies. Which is what Jesus would do, so it’s cool with me.

But back to the chocolate.
When I first tried the chocolate, it was just incredibly smooth and incredibly sweet. At 75% cacao, I was not expecting it at all. I’m used to higher quality chocolate breaking down more like cacao nibs and less like Hershey’s. I didn’t get a single note that was suggested I’d taste on the back.

Today I went back to reevaluate my tastes. The texture is less smooth, and less sweet. It actually brings me back to my childhood in Omaha, NE. Riding bikes on a sunny summer day and eating those weird and round freeze pops. The ones you could break in half and share. For some reason, it reminds me more specifically of a busted freeze pop that leaked out onto the freezer and made a mess everywhere. It’s like it should taste exactly the same, but because it’s sticky and a mess on your hands, suddenly, it’s become unappealing and disgusting.

I guess that flavor could also transfer to blueberry, or even currant-like. There’s a pleasant acidity wrapped up in this chocolate, but it definitely kind of hovers around and doesn’t really grab on to anything. A whisper, if you will.

It isn’t that dry, which I appreciate. I’d also say that it’s not at all bitter.

At the end of the day, it is not my favorite, and I would not buy it again. Left little to be desired. Once it’s gone, you don’t even remember that you ate it at all.

This doesn’t change my feelings about Cuba. I would very much so still love to visit Cuba and see what else they’re hiding from me. Just don’t let the French get ahold of their chocolate and Cuba and I will be just fine.