Sunday, October 24, 2010

It's a Boy Thing

So, our pets don't really make any bones about which parent is their favorite. Henry has been devoted to Hugh since the day that Hugh picked him up from the pound five and a half years ago. And Fletcher, well, he's a Momma's dog:

If you had told me two years ago I would ever let a dog lick me, much less encourage him to do so by teaching the command, "Give me a kiss," I would have laughed in your face. What can I say? This pup has my heart.

But every now and then, I fear that Fletcher may be trying to switch teams because, try as I might, I'll never be as good at chase as Hugh:

Why, yes, yes that is a log in Fletcher's mouth.

Don't even think about it, dog. You are mine for life.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Welcome Back to the Land of the Living.

I am fully recuperated and recharged. I'm crediting the fact that I feel like a new person to:

a) Sleeping ten (okay, really eleven, but I don't want to brag) hours a night for the last three nights. It's weeks like this I'm glad my children look like this:

Can you even handle this cuteness?

so when they wake up in the middle of the night, all I have to do is be very still and not open my eyes and they will go back to sleep.

It's also weeks like this when I am grateful I work from home most of the week and to start my day at 8:30 I need to wake up at 8:25, allowing myself time to find my glasses and fix my coffee. Or, even better, Hugh's home on Friday and I wake up at 8:35 to my coffee and glasses and Nexium waiting for me at my desk with my computer already logged in. Have I mentioned that I adore him?

b) This meal plan. While I have some modifications I will make next week (yes, we are soldiering on with the detox eating plan), I will say I am sleeping better, feeling more energized, and eating more vegetables than I have in a long time. The looseness of my pants is a side benefit, really. But this (the meal plan, not the looseness) calls for a whole separate post, so stay tuned for that this weekend.

And, let us not forget that it is Friday! Weekend plans include:
  • The new Martha Stewart (Thanksgiving edition, my favorite!) and House Beautiful waiting for me, unopened, in the living room. Saturday morning, I have a date with the couch, the magazines, and several cups of coffee.
  • Cleaning the house. I know this is a chore and most people dread it. But here's my dirty little secret: I. love. to. clean. It's an obsession really. I vacuum at least twice a week. When I was little, I would mess up my room just so I could clean and reorganize it. We had a plumbing crisis on Monday, and when the plumber was leaving, he said he wanted to submit us to a local magazine as the cleanest house in the city. I think only Hugh would realize how happy that made me. Call me crazy, but nothing peps me up like a freshly cleaned house.
  • Blogging. I have a backlog of things I want to share with you, sweet readers, so I will be typing away this weekend to keep you entertained in the coming weeks. I know you are excited.
  • Soaking up what is sure to be the last warm and sunny weekend by playing in the yard with the world's best dog and composting the remains of my summer garden.
  • Relaxing. Starting next weekend, we will be going basically non-stop through the holidays with trips, company, parties, work, and tests, so I will be taking full advantage of this calm before the storm.
With that, I'm off to make some work calls and strip the beds! I hope you get some sleep and do what you love this weekend, friends.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

My Perfect Breakfast

Until I met Hugh, breakfast was my favorite meal of the day. In college, my sorority served Hot Breakfast on Thursdays. The other days of the week we had cold cereal, yogurt, and fruit. But on Thursdays, glorious Thursdays, there was pancakes, scrambled eggs, biscuits, gravy, bacon - it was the happiest day of my week. My favorite friend, Sarah, can attest to the fact that this was the only day I would drag my ass out of bed and make it to my early class.

Then I met Hugh and I realized the beauty of dinners cooked together in our kitchen at the end of the day, or multiple-course lingering nights out at restaurants, or Saturday lunch dates when we had nowhere to go and nothing to do. And breakfast, well, it faded from its spot as the best of the day's meals.

Weekday breakfasts are a quick attempt at starting the day off on a healthful note - smoothies, cereal, maybe an English muffin. Weekend breakfasts are usually an afterthought, something to tide us over until we can go out for lunch - grits, cheese toast, a slice of cold pizza. Or, rarely, they are a brunch affair when we have company in town (or when I wake up feeling domestic) - waffles, french toast casserole, baked eggs, pancakes, or the perfect bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich (world's best hangover remedy, btw). Tasty and they get the job done, but breakfast is no lunch or dinner.

However, I do have a perfect breakfast. It's one that's easy enough to warrant making even if Hugh isn't in the mood to eat. It's substantial enough to sate me until lunch but light enough that I don't feel like the day has been blown before I even make it to noon.

It's a runny-yolked egg and a hunk of toasted sourdough bread. This is where I want to say something clever about the simplest things being the most perfect, but nothing is jumping to mind. Shoot.

Until recently, the egg has been soft-boiled. But for an easy breakfast, I find these to be kind of tedious with the peeling of the shell and all. So a few Saturdays ago I tried my hand at the poached egg, and now I'm kicking myself for waiting so long to drop a cracked egg in some simmering water. Perfection:

Perfectly Poached Egg Breakfast

Large egg(s) (the fresher it is, the prettier it will look)
2 tablespoons white vinegar (this keeps the yolks from spreading)
1 teaspoon salt

Fresh cracked black pepper

3" piece sourdough baguette, halved and toasted for 3 - 4 minutes in a 350° oven

Heat 2 1/2" water to a gentle simmer in a wide-bottom saucepan. Add vinegar and salt.

Crack egg(s) into individual ramekins or teacups. Gently pour egg(s) into simmering water with ramekin as close to the surface of the water as possible. The more gently you add the egg(s), the less the white will spread. Cook three minutes, or until the white is set and the yolk is still runny. Remove carefully with a slotted spoon. Drain briefly on a paper towel. Plate and top with black pepper to test.

Serve with sourdough toast for sopping.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Back. But Not Really.

Well, hello there. Sorry about the seven day hiatus. Hugh and I have been in Pensacola for Brittany and Dave's wedding weekend. It was a perfect celebration. So perfect that we celebrated for four days. In fact, there was so much celebration that I partied myself sick. Sick as in, I feel like I have the plague.

So, I'll be back later this week with a full recap, because this weekend deserves a detailed post. In the meantime, I'll leave you with an image of my oldest and dearest:

These are the friends who remind me there's no place like home.

I'll be back soon with the details! Until then, I'll be drinking lots of fluids and popping vitamin C, even though Hugh thinks my homeopathic treatments are fake. Whatever, Hugh. Get back to me when you're a doctor.

Side note: The photo above is borrowed from facebook. I would put up one of my own photos, but here's the thing: during the ceremony on Saturday, someone went into the locker room at the Country Club, took my camera out of my bag, and stole the memory card. The memory card that contained six hundred photos of the previous two and half days of celebrating Brittany and Dave. To say I was furious and devastated would be accurate. And that's all I'm going to say about that.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Sunday Night Dinner

Oh, friends. Mondays have a way of just coming around again and again, don't they?

I have a very long to do list today. It includes folding the seven (!) loads of laundry that are currently serving as a resting spot for Henry on the guest bed; taking Fletcher, who gets sick every. single. time. we board him, to the vet for a tummy check; packing for Savannah; packing for a hometown wedding extravaganza; and on and on. But, instead of checking things off, I'm writing you a little post. You can thank me after you cook this chicken.

During the week, I am all about light, healthful cooking packed with vegetables and lean protein and fruit and fiber and all of the other things we are supposed to be eating three times per day. And then on Friday and Saturday, we loosen the reins a bit and indulge in homemade pizza or grilled burgers or restaurant dinners.

But Sunday Dinner is a category all its own. It is neither a time for calorie-counting nor a time for complete indulgence. If I could sum it up perfectly, I'd say it's a time for Roast Chicken. I love to cook this meal. Partially because it makes the whole house smell amazing, partially because I feel like a fifties housewife (and have been known to don an apron) whilst making it, and partially because it is Hugh's favorite dinner and I think he loves me a little bit more every time I make it.

Roasting a chicken is said to be a trait by which you can measure yourself as a cook. If that's the case, then I have to say I might just pass the test. This chicken is really, really delicious. And really, really simple.

Now, this is the point where I insert a photo of my gloriously browned, perfectly roasted chicken - the photo that makes you want to jump up and crank your oven to 425°. Except, when this chicken comes out of the oven, it has to rest for twenty minutes. And by that point it has been perfuming the house for an hour and fifteen minutes. So when the timer finally beeps and you holler for your husband to get in here and start carving, you are really ready to eat. So ready that you might stand over your chicken carver's shoulder picking choice pieces off the serving platter and eating them. You might do this so predictably that by now your chicken carver just sets the choice pieces on a plate for you to eat while you wait for the carving to end.

And then, you might be sitting down, eating your chicken and macaroni & cheese (a recipe for another day, friends) and sauteed spinach (so you can feel better about yourself), and you'll think, "Hell's bells! I forgot to take a picture of my perfect chicken for the blog."

Sorry about that. But, this is what the chicken looks like while it's resting under foil (a peek at its perfection, if you will):

Perfect Roast Chicken
adapted from the Barefoot Contessa

  • 1 (4 - 4 1/2 pound) roasting chicken
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 large bunch fresh thyme
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 1 head garlic, cut in half crosswise
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter, softened
  • 1 large yellow onion, thickly sliced


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Remove the chicken giblets. Rinse the chicken inside and out. Remove any excess fat and leftover pin feathers and pat the outside dry. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Stuff the cavity with the bunch of thyme, both halves of lemon, and all the garlic. Rub the butter on the outside of the chicken and sprinkle again with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken. Spread the onion slices on the bottom of a roasting pan. Place the chicken on top.

Roast the chicken for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted between the breast and the thigh registers 160° and the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh. Remove the chicken and onions to a platter and cover with aluminum foil for about 20 minutes. Slice the chicken onto a platter and serve it with the onions and pan drippings.


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Happy Hour

On Hugh's birthday we had plans for a special bourbon cocktail (the Sazerac), but when we went to buy some of the specialty ingredients, we realized we'd be spending about one hundred dollars on this birthday toast. Shoot.

So we changed directions and somehow, because Hugh spoils me so, we ended up drinking my new favorite drink instead. The French 75:

This drink is the perfect combination of tart effervescence with a barely-there hint of sweet. I mean, gin + champagne + lemon? You can't go wrong. But a word to the wise: this drink is essentially a gin martini topped off with a half glass of champagne, so practice restraint in your drinking speed. Especially if you still have a birthday dinner to cook.

French 75

adapted from Bon Appetit
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 - 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
  • 2 ounces gin
  • 3 - 4 ounces chilled Champagne
  • lemon peel for garnish

  • Preparation
    In cocktail shaker, combine lemon juice, sugar, gin, and ice cubes and shake to chill. Strain cocktail into Champagne flute and top off with Champagne. (Alternatively, serve drink over ice in tumbler if it is your birthday and you are trying to man-up a decidedly feminine cocktail, see photo below.) Garnish with lemon peel and serve.

    This drink is White Hot household approved. Enjoy!

    Sidenote: See the champagne flute in the first photo? We have a pair of these and I love them. Hugh's paternal grandparents, Grandmere and Grandpere, received these for their fiftieth wedding anniversary from their best friends. They are the Waterford "Happiness" pattern which I think is just perfect.

    Sadly, G'pere passed away five years ago leaving G'mere to carry on alone. And carry on she has. She is a political-campaigning, orange marmalade-making, letter-writing social butterfly. She has more friends and activities than anyone I know and is likely to say when we talk to her, "Oh, dear old sweetie, I was up making marmalade until 4am this morning, when I realized how late it was!"

    Anyway, we love her. When we got married two and half years ago, I asked G'mere if we could borrow the flutes and use them as our toasting flutes at the reception. She obliged, and when we picked them up she said we should keep them after the wedding, as we had a long life of happy toasts ahead. And so we have kept them and try to use them often for toasting all the big and little reasons we have to celebrate. I keep them out on a shelf in the kitchen; seeing them always makes me smile.

    Cheers, friends!

    Thursday, October 7, 2010

    Welcome to Your Late Twenties, Hugh.

    If you judge a birthday's success by the number of cups of coffee you need the next morning, then we can mark this one as a big W in the books. After I had three cups, approximately two and a half more than I normally drink, I felt ready to face today and get back to work.

    Yesterday was the perfect day of relaxed fun. We started off with cards and coffee and presents and breakfast (Bagel Melts, a White Hot favorite):

    We soaked up the beautiful weather with the pup in the yard, ran a few errands, and enjoyed Hugh's one day break from the all-encompassing activity that is being a med student. And before we knew it, it was cocktail hour and time to start dinner:

    Birthday boy!

    An example of how your will see things should you choose to drink three birthday cocktails.

    Fried Green Tomato prep.

    Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Icing

    The birthday dinner menu:
    • Southern Burgers (Grilled burger topped with Pimento Cheese, Bacon, Fried Green Tomatoes, and Bread-and-Butter Pickles). I came up with this burger idea on a whim and whipped up the Pimento Cheese off-the-cuff. And the whole creation was f'ing delicious. Like so delicious that if I wasn't worried about my heart health I would eat the leftover one in the fridge right now, for breakfast.
    • Onion Rings (Loosely based on this recipe, and I emphasize loosely - I doubled the beer, added cornmeal, cayenne, garlic powder, onion powder and more flour.).
    • Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake - Should Hugh ever doubt my love for him, he can look back and remember when I made him this cake. I really do not like to bake (Except for pies. I love to bake pies.). As I told my Mom this morning, Hugh is probably the only person for whom I am happy to create baked goods. And I use the word happy loosely. Perhaps a better substitution would be willing. But, it was worth it because he dubbed this labor of love the Best Cake He Had Ever Eaten. Success.
    And some photographic evidence for why Hugh and I will be running two hundred miles each this weekend:

    At the end of the day I think Hugh felt full and loved. Last year, two days after his birthday, we had a heartbreaking reminder that life is just short and you never know what tomorrow will bring. And so this year the day was tinged with the reminder that I have to make it a priority to soak it up, celebrate every chance I can, and focus on showing my nearest and dearest just how much they mean to me. Hugh is the joy of life and I felt lucky to spend the day celebrating him.

    So, friends, I hope your Wednesday was better than usual and you ate something delicious and you loved the one you're with. Happy almost-Friday!

    Wednesday, October 6, 2010

    Oh Happy Day!

    Today, my favorite person turns twenty-seven. Guess who:

    I know, he's cute, right?

    This is the sixth of Hugh's birthday celebrations that we've shared. Here's what the other five looked like:

    22! And tiny baby Henry!





    I love birthdays. I love to celebrate. And I love Hugh. So today is basically Cassie's Perfect Storm. There will be cake and balloons and a lunch date and presents and a homemade dinner and a special bourbon cocktail (which, not coincidentally, equals Hugh's Perfect Storm). And, let's be honest, we already started celebrating Hugh's day of birth last weekend with an overnight getaway and some really delicious food. I'll be back with all the details later this week.

    In the meantime, let me just say that I so grateful I sat beside Hugh in our honor's seminar six years ago. And that I made him fall in love with me (in, as he likes to say, five minutes). He is smart and handsome, witty and hilarious (like really, really hilarious), thoughtful and compassionate, driven and honest and really good at everything, and the best conversationalist ever. Talking to him is my single favorite thing to do. Honestly, being Hugh's person makes me feel like the luckiest girl in the world.

    I'm so happy he was born.

    Happy birthday, h.

    Back and back,