Friday, April 29, 2011

What We're Doing. And Eating.

Whew. It has been quite a week. Good thing it's Friday.

This is what we've been doing:

  • Getting back into our routine after Mom left. Also, telling myself that it's okay that I am a twenty-seven-year-old grown woman who cries every. single. time. I drop my Mom off at the airport. What can I say? I just love that Joanne.
  • Commuting. Feeling like I spend my whole life in the car. You know, the usual.
  • Dealing with aggravations - of both the work and personal variety. I'll keep both of them private - the work ones because I like my paycheck and the personal ones because not keeping them private will only create more of them.
  • Fortunately it was nothing a little dinner visit to MCubed couldn't cure. After about thirty minutes of complaining at such a volume that I scared my dog nephew out of the house and into the yard, I was fine. And that, my lovely readers, is what friends are for. When you are mad and sad and cranky (and, let's be honest your typically freakishly low blood pressure is so high your hands are tingling), they cook you dinner and pour your wine and make you laugh.
  • Thursday I felt better. Well, emotionally I felt better. Physically, I felt worse. Part of Mandy and I discussing things that make us angry involves drinking wine. And, really, who can see the point in one glass of wine? I'll tell you who: the Cassie who had to go work on Thursday morning. Shoot.
  • What's Hugh up to you ask? Oh, same old same old. Studying for twelve hours a day and being the world's best at marriage. But, guess what? Today is his last class exam for his second year. Who can even believe it?!
  • Fletcher and Henry are feeling woefully neglected, as I haven't taken a photo of either of them in almost two weeks. They are happy I will be home and snapping away all weekend.
  • The garden is just growing like a weed. Except, not annoying. I really will give you an update next week. It's a beaut.

What we've been eating (Please note, this is almost two weeks worth of food. We really don't just sit around and eat all the time, despite what this blog may lead some of you to believe.):
And now, it's almost the weekend! Lots to do over the next three days, but it's all fun and does not involve me driving for more than ten minutes, so I am pumped.

With that, I'm off to water the garden and do some work and get ready for a lunch date with my sweet friend. I hope your weekend is so happy you just want to throw yourself on the grass and roll around, like this:

I'm sorry, but can you even handle his cuteness? I cannot. Also, so fat and healthy!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Monday, Funday!

Normally "Monday, Funday" is said with nothing but sarcasm, because, really, what's fun about the end of the weekend? Nothing, that's what.

But today, I'm serious. It is a fun day. Because my Mom is here. She's been here since Wednesday, hence my blogging absence.

We've been talking and cooking and eating and gardening and walking the pup, all amidst some pretty darn perfect weather. And, the timing of this trip has been just lovely because Hugh has been a studying fool for the last week. Lucky for us, his (five hour!) exam is this afternoon, so we will be celebrating with a cookout tonight.

I'll be back Wednesday with some fun things, but in the interim, a few photos of what a week with Mom looks like:

Oh, we just made some pasta. From flour and eggs. No big deal.

Mom says she "hurt her finger." I say she's trying to get out of doing any more manual labor. Nice try, Joanne.

It's a freaking oasis out there. I could not be more excited about this garden.

Crappy photo, delicious roasted lamb.

That would be Fletcher trying to sleep in Mom's bed. Safe to say, all of our training efforts have been obliterated.

Okay, friends, I'm off to soak up our last full day of hanging out. See you later this week!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

It's Always Better Outside.

Eating, that is.

Picnics, do you love 'em?

They have a special place in our White Hot hearts.

All the way back in 2004, after Hugh and I had been "friends" for a couple of months, winter break rolled around and everyone in our college town headed home the first week in December. Everyone except me. I was stuck in Gainesville, FL working away until three days before Christmas. I was lonely and pouty and ready to be with my family. And then Hugh came back on December 19th to surprise me.

He planned to take me on a picnic and his truck was loaded down with cheese and fruit and wine and all of the other picnic necessities. It was freezing, so we ended up eating in my apartment, but that day is one of the happiest in my memories.

Two years later, on December 19, 2006, Hugh took me on another picnic. This time we were in Savannah and it was seventy-five degrees outside. The food was the same, but Hugh seemed unusually quiet. I couldn't figure out why until thirty minutes into said picnic when I turned around and he was down on one knee, asking me to be his wife:

A return visit to the picnic proposal location during our engagement photos. Courtesy of Geoff L Johnson Photography.

For our honeymoon, we went to Italy for ten days. To Cinque Terre, specifically. Those ten days were basically one long prosciutto-and-cheese-and-gelato-eating, wine-drinking picnic:

So, getting to the point, this year I wanted to surprise Hugh with a (return to Italy via food) picnic. Enter Murray's Cheese and the San Francisco Wine Trading Company. On Saturday evening, sitting on our Georgia porch, I brought Cinque Terre to us:

Those are the same napkins Hugh had tucked in his proposal picnic basket!

Hugh was so surprised and excited, the food was delicious, and the wine (called: Cinque Terre) took us right back to those first few days of wedded bliss.

Here's a close-up of the goods and the details on which Italian cheeses and meats we enjoyed via Murray's:

La Tur: A dense, creamy blend of pasteurized cow, goat and sheep milk. Runny and oozing around the perimeter with a moist, cakey, palette-coating paste, its flavor is earthy and full, with a lingering lactic tang. The effect is like ice cream served from a warm scoop; decadent and melting from the outside in. Easy to eat, this was the first to go.

Pecorino Oro Antico: Antico? Well it is aged for 6 months. Oro? Some might agree this pasteurized sheep milk treat from Italy sets the gold standard. Firm and flaky, it has the desirable sheepy-nutty-grassy flavor trifecta.

Blu di Bufala: In Bergamo, the Quattro Portoni dairy raises water buffalo and, since 2005, makes cheese from the milk as well. This pasteurized blue is particularly striking in looks and flavor. The especially high butterfat of ‘bufala’ milk (it’s like half & half!) means more fuel for the butter-hungry blue mold spores. The result – a funky, broken-down appearance, and amazingly rich and earthy flavor. Absolutely one-of-a-kind. One of the best blues we've ever had.

Taleggio: One bite of the meaty, nutty, fruity interior and you’ll understand its millennial appeal. The squares of pasteurized cow’s milk are washed with a brine to foster a sticky, orange edible rind while air pumped from the original caves causes a dappling of soft and earthy tasting grey mold. Ripe wheels have a pudding texture – smear on veggies or toasty bread.

Prosciutto di Parma: Picture a hog's leg, lots of salt, and the sweaty labor of old Italian men. No, it's not a movie once readily available in Times Square, it's the way to make Prosciutto di Parma. Speaking of whey, the liquid from Parmigiano-Reggiano feeds the hogs.

Genoa Salami: Genoa boasts the finest grind of all our slicing salamis, and matches that even texture with a rich and ever-so-slightly spicy flavor. Use it to fill your favorite sandwich, or class it up by serving alongside some olives, cheese, and crusty bread.

It was quite the kick-off to our anniversary celebration and we spent the rest of the weekend in a cheese-induced stupor.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

How Sweet It Is to Be Loved by Hugh.

Three years ago today, on April 19, 2008, I married this handsome guy:

If you've ever read this blog before, you know it's no secret that I adore Hugh. He is my perfect husband, and I am much luckier than I deserve to be as his wife.

With a few years under my belt I can say that my very favorite thing (and I have a lot of favorites) about our relationship is this: it's a partnership. A team, side by side, on same page - whatever you want to call it, we are in this life together. And we call it United Front. It started with planning wedding, together, just the two of us, at the ripe old age of twenty-three: from the invitations to the guest list to the cake to the cocktails to the honeymoon, if we didn't both agree on it, it didn't make the cut.

And as the last few years of our marriage have flown by (seriously, so fast!), our United Front has carried us right along. From the puppy we'd chose to where we'd spend our holidays to Hugh going back to school to the house we'd live in to when we'd have kids to the paint on our walls - they've all been family decisions. And I am so proud of that, of the true partnership Hugh and I have created.

This year has been a happy one, filled with delicious dinners and long chats on the patio and a few fun trips and general hilarity. But it's been hard, too. Probably the hardest year that we've ever faced together. And it has reaffirmed, in every fiber of my being, that I chose wisely when I married Hugh.

With that, I'm off to celebrate. Thanks for following along and for humoring my sometimes saccharine tendencies, friends. I just love him so darn much!

Oh, and just for good measure, a few (or, you know, eighteen) of my favorite wedding photos from what might have just been the best day in the history of the world...

We were kind of excited:

He likes me.

We laughed:

Right after Hugh dropped my ring and it bounced across the floor...

We kissed:

Fun fact: when I threw my arms around Hugh, the strap of my dress came unsnapped, so I am trying to resnap it with one hand during this photo.

We were MARRIED (!):

We danced:

We toasted:

Ding dong sisters.

Hugh's brother giving a toast that centered around me stringing Hugh along and telling him we were just "friends." For months. All I could do was laugh because, well, it was completely true.

We ate cake (some of my favorites from the whole day):

We danced some more:

We cooled off on the balcony:

We lived happily ever after:

Happy third anniversary, Hugh. I thank my lucky stars each day that I get to spend my life with you.

Post Script: Okay, last thing, I promise. I'll be back tomorrow to tell you about some fun things we do to celebrate this happy day. Because you know we have traditions. And that we've been celebrating for a week.

But, in the meantime, read about the completely wonderful first anniversary present Hugh surprised me with two years ago. That guy!

All photos courtesy of the amazing Geoff Johnson.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Back in a Flash.

Well, that vacation went by in a blink. Shoot.

I started out last Monday, which seems like approximately one million years ago now, with the intent of cooking delicious food all week and telling you all about it.

And then...I don't really know what happened. Okay, that's a lie. Here's what happened: Hugh and I went out to dinner every single night. And we even went out to lunch a few times. And we slept in. And played in the yard with Henry and Fletcher. And did a lot of gardening. And we watched a lot of movies. And then on Friday, our little family made a very last minute visit to us for the weekend.

And I spent basically no time on the computer. I didn't even really talk on the phone (missed you, real life friends!). I just, well, relaxed. I relaxed everything. My bed time. My wake-up time. My exercise (although there was a lot of running around with Fletcher, which has to count for something). Hell, I even relaxed my cleaning!

Suffice to say, it was a great week off. Awesome, even. How awesome? This awesome:


On the other hand, yesterday was the kind of day that makes vacation a very distant memory by 5pm. So, stay tuned for a full recap, a garden update, and at least one recipe. Starting tomorrow...

For now I'm guzzling two cups of coffee and driving to Savannah. Happy Tuesday, friends. I missed you while I was busy relaxing!

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Weekend in One Photo (and Also, Words).

Well, I didn't want to say anything, lest I jinx myself and end up working for one thousand hours while Hugh studied his life away looks like the White Hot household is on SPRING BREAK! That's right, friends. One whole week off. Together. Like, at the same time. We kind of don't even know what to do with ourselves. Any suggestions?

I think we might tackle a few cooking projects (hello, homemade pasta), finally get the front gardens finished, and you might even get the first White Hot husband guest post (see, Hugh? Now I've committed you)! So stay tuned for that excitement.

Hugh and I spent the weekend apart, which almost never happens. Especially a post-test weekend. But, I got to spend the weekend with some of my very favorite friends*:

Bonded by undergrad, sorority house life (and every crazy thing that entails), and girls' weekends.

None of us have lived in the same city since about 2005, so these girls' weekends are always a much-anticipated time for catching up. We ate (approximately six meals in thirty-six hours), drank (you have clearly never been to a girls' weekend if you think I'm giving you any figures on that activity), sat in the sunshine (where I got a very awesome sunburn shaped like I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt), had a few dance-offs (with shocking results), and talked pretty much non-stop.

It will be ten years this August since we all met. Times have changed. We're all married and working and some of us are even having babies. But it's like no time at all has passed when we get back together. There is something about being with the people who can appreciate your college antics that just makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside. And also glad that you have an equal number of stories about them, so you know your secrets are safe. I just love those girls with my heart and soul. We laughed until we cried many, many times in thirty-six hours.

Meanwhile, Hugh drove down to visit our Savannah Family. I'll admit, I was a little pouty he was going without me. I mean, I freaking love those people. And I love it when we're all together. It's like that feeling you get at the holidays when your whole family is in the same place and you just feel all warm and happy. But then I reminded myself that I get to see them every single week. And, like I said, I was busy having plenty of fun on my own.

Anyway, Hugh and Fletcher had a lovely time. And so did I. We were both reminded we are not as young as we once were. And that we are truly lucky to have such an abundance of people we love in our lives. And then we were back together by lunchtime on Sunday**. And now we are off for a WHOLE WEEK! Did I mention that already?

With that, I'm off to...oh, I don't know. Maybe drink another cup of coffee in my pajamas and read a magazine? How was your weekend, friends?

*The only blemish on an otherwise perfect weekend was that our fifth friend, Erin, wasn't able to make it. But, while she wasn't physically there, we spent the whole weekend missing her and thinking about her and, let's be honest, drinking some champagne in her honor. Love you so much, Er.

**I would like to add, per request of my editor, that I came home to a very clean house thanks to my favorite husband. He's a real peach. And, honestly, I should go away for the weekend more often because yesterday he loved me even more than usual.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Jaws of Life

I know his crazy jaw strength is just a Boxer trait, but I'm always impressed by Fletcher's ability to hang on:

Take note, creepy internet stalkers lurking around out dog has jaws of steel and he loves us with his heart and soul (or, as Hugh likes to say, with his hardened soul).

Friday, April 1, 2011

What We're Doing. And Eating.

Well, the monsoon of 2011 continues*. I'm seriously concerned about the state of my barely-budding garden out back. Concerned that I'm going to go outside and all of the pots are going to be floating away, quietly bobbing behind the ark.

How do people live in a place that is grey all the time? I'll tell you how: they do not own Boxers. To say Fletcher has been wired this week would be accurate if your definition of wired is: a dog staring out the window with longing at his ball and Frisbees in the backyard, whining, while his muscles quiver with unexpended energy. Needless to say, we've been playing a lot of catch in the house lately.

It doesn't help that on the days when it was sunny at our house, I was in Savannah. Where it was raining. You know what's more fun than waking up in a hotel away from your little family to get up and go to work? Doing it when it's raining outside.

Enough carping about the weather for you? Okay. If you need me, I'll just be canoeing out to the mailbox to see if I got any new magazines, because I need a little bright spot in these black-as-night days.

Updated to add: Ha ha. I typed this post last night. And when I woke up this morning to hit publish (And get my coffee. And work. I'm not just waking up for this blog, people.), it had stopped raining. Just in time for me to go out of town. But I'm not changing the post. Because, good Lord that was a lot of rain!

What we've been eating this week:

Pork Meatball Bahn Mi - I know I already told you that we ate this on Sunday. I'm just trying to ensure you hurry up and make these sandwiches already!

Chickpea Salad - A tasty, vegetarian, pack-ahead lunch. Just what a commuter needs.

Cheese and Crackers - Keeping it real. That's what I ate for dinner on Tuesday night. And I liked it. Until I woke up starving at 5am. Also keeping it real: Hugh definitely ate frozen yogurt for dinner on Tuesday. I suppose there are worse things to which he could be addicted.

Chipotle Pork Tacos - Delicious. And healthy. And pretty quick. You know, all my favorite adjectives for a weeknight dinner. Although, as with most Cooking Light recipes, I added more salt. I love salt. We also made the recommended Fennel and Radish Salad as a side dish. It was pretty good. A little change-it-up from the black beans we are usually eating three times a week.

Carbonara - The heart wants what the heart wants, friends. I made it myself this time because the favorite husband was at a dinner function. I won't say it was as good as Hugh's, but if his fro yo habit leaves me a widow, let's just say I won't starve.

Posole - Can't find a link to this recipe online, but it was from Esquire magazine and really good. Posole is a Mexican soup. Our version used chicken instead of pork. I roasted my own chicken, which is what the photograph above is from. Also, I ate all the skin from said chicken while the soup was cooking. Why is roast chicken (skin) so good? Tasty, steaming Posole:

Alright, friends. I'm off to pack. I hope your weekend is just lovely. See you Monday! Unless you love my dog. In which case you should check back tomorrow for some photos of his hilarity.

*Hugh, love of my life, father of my pets, keeper of my heart - I CANNOT move to a place where it rains all the time. I'm sorry. I tried to pretend like I could. But this week has been a sign from Heaven above that I need sunshine in my life. And 75 sunny days per year is not going to cut it for this girl. I mean, for God's sake, I spent seventeen years of my life in Florida. Also known as the sunshine state. So, how about CA?

Post Script: Is it just or are their a lot of references to a higher power in this post?