02 December 2013

Running full.

I am the worst blogger ever! Rest assured, I've been staying true to my life's work (eating and drinking) in the interim. Luckily, I've also been doing a lot of running.

Hillary and I scored these sweet twin shirts at the outlet mall a few weeks ago for THREE DOLLARS AND SEVENTY ONE CENTS.

I've finally begun to find my groove with this running thing and it's more of a pleasure and less of a struggle - at least most days. I have decided winter running is the key. You can always warm up, but in the dead of summer.... it's just.... not easy. I even braved the snow and ice Thanksgiving morning for my first true winter run and I have to admit - it was kind of amazing.

Let's do this!

Town was completely deserted, everything was silent except for the lake. (I went headphone-less in my nervousness - I thought it'd keep me better tuned into my feet and less likely to wind up on my butt.) I felt like I could have run forever. With scenery like this, what's not to love?

I am pleased to also report that all my work has paid off - I ran with Hillary tonight for the first time in months, a smidge over 3 miles, and, while I have a slower pace, it was almost easy.... and I was even able to talk, and made it up the death hill. I felt like a freakin' champ. Sending lots of love Hillary's way for being a constant source of motivation and support. Smooch.

But the food.... always the food... especially for a holiday like Thanksgiving. Stuffing and tofurkey and mashed potatoes, oh my! (I made this stuffing this year and it. was. amazing.)

And the drink..... I don't drink a lot, don't get me wrong, but I like to drink a little, a lot... especially with so much good stuff surrounding us here in sw Michigan.... What started as a lunch date Friday afternoon turned into a booze tour of sorts, and it was awesome.

Cable cars and old fashioneds at Journeyman.

Beer flight at Tapistry.

AND NOW..... it's almost Christmas! HOOOORAY!

Coming soon.... Christmas Vacation movie party. Third annual cookie party. Somerville Christmas. Holiday Inn and It's a Wonderful Life. I can barely contain myself.

03 November 2013

Put an egg on it.

Thanks to Hillary's farm-fresh connections, I have a beautiful dozen happiest of happy eggs right now.

My inspiration tonight was a recent Pinterest find, sweet potato salad with soft-boiled eggs. For the Churches, the salad was modified - fancy lettuces, red pepper, sunflower seeds, oil/vinegar dressing (as described), minus cheese (only because of course two), and minus quinoa (perhaps it is shopper error, but I cannot find plain quinoa in my store). The focus, of course, being my beautiful farm eggs and my first attempt at a soft-boiled egg. Not too shabby, if I don't say so myself.

Ohhh. Ahhhh.

Are eggs not the most photogenic of foods? Beautiful.

And delicious. This salad was SUPER delicious, and Brad, who always orders scrambled or fully fried eggs, was mopping up every last drop of eggy goo on his plate. Sized properly, this could easily make a meal. But I paired it with my new favoritest soup of all time - the apple cheese soup I made a few weeks ago. This time I used a whole bottle of Jaw Jacker (swapped w/ some of the veggie broth).

Giggle-worthy JJ promo.

What else have we been eating lately?

Vegetable "meat" loaf -

It didn't stay "loafed" - but it was AMAZINGLY delicious, and - believe it or not - tasted very much like meatloaf. At least my memory of it.

Even Brad liked it!! Proof that he ate it....
Brad doesn't even like mushrooms!

We ate the leftovers as a deconstructed shepard's pie, with a bed of spinach, topped with leftover potatoes, topped with loaf crumble. Yum.

British pies at Pleasant House -

Mushroom and kale pie for veggies like me.

Unbelievably good.

...and they brew their own beer, that pairs perfectly with the food.

Of course, the company is what really makes the meal.

Oh, and yeah, we ate a TON of good food in VAIL!

"Colorado style" pizza. I'm a fan.

The 2nd best Bloody Mary yet and oysters at Mountain Standard.

The 2nd best margarita I've ever had and make-your-face-hurt spicy seafood-stuffed 
chile rellenos at Tomayo Denver.

Vail, by the way, is insanely, breathtakingly beautiful. You should go there. (Preferably in October, when the trees are all bright yellow and the snow has started to fall.)

14 October 2013

Holy soup.

Seriously. Holy freakin soup. I've made soups over the years, but they almost never turn out quite like they should - almost always too thin, or two chunky, or just not perfect. I think I've made THE soup. (And thanks for the soupy inspiration, Rachel!)

I did some googling earlier and found this soup from Food Network. We picked more apples Saturday than we could reasonably consume as, you know, apples, so I was happy to find a recipe that included apples - grilled cheddar and apple sandwiches are amazing so why wouldn't this be?

Lotsa onions, lotsa apples.

...especially when I swapped out a cup of the broth (veggie!) for JAW JACKER.....

Other minor changes - I used all sharp cheddar, regular old orange, and I used WAY more nutmeg than 1/8 tablespoon. That was an oops, but it worked out just fine. Oh, and I sauteed the onions in four tablespoons of butter rather than six - I think this was the magic key to how thick and glorious the soup got, which never happens for me (I always way way under butter my recipes). I guess butter IS the magic ingredient.

And, just for my Bradford, who spits out all the onion chunks when I left them... I got out the immersion blender and blended up the onions and most of the apples (left a few chunks) for a smoother, frothier soup.

Brief interlude to say.... the five-speed KitchenAid immersion blender Brad got free from work this past spring. Is. Amazing. I mean, it comes with a dang box! If you haven't heard our crazy immersion blender saga - Brad got me one for Christmas a few years ago. It never worked right (the pieces didn't connect/lock correctly). Then he got a free one at work that was fewer speeds but actually worked. Then he got another. Then he got the fancy pants one in a box and I dumped the broken blender and gifted out the others. So we now are back down to one sweet as hell appliance!

Anyway, holy soup!

This was soooo good. Sooooo good. Did I say so good? The mix of the apples, the beer, and the cheddar was just perfect - just the right amount of sharp bite from the cheese, sweet from the apples, and just so flavorful from the addition of the beer.

Delicious and onion-chunk free = Brad-approved soup!

Go make it, fool!

13 October 2013

A is for apple.

This was our first full weekend in a while with no where to be and nothing to do, so we took full advantage and did a lot but also stayed close to home - in fact, we stayed mostly home and got a ton done we'd both been procrastinating for a while (but I still did not put my laundry away, clean laundry, that is, that has been growing and growing as I continue to wash dirty clothes....). We got up bright and early Saturday morning and grabbed breakfast at Joe's Cafe (eh) then went to Stover's for apple picking and pumpkin getting (yeah!).

The honeycrisp trees were nearly empty, so we scoured the ground below for hidden gems. We got about a half a bag full, which was plenty.

After a stop in town for a walk out on the pier (it was SO beautiful out - pushing 80 in the sun), it was home to get. stuff. done. Brad tackled the shed, and Heidi helped (that is, she took advantage of all the new space).

I changed into shorts...

Yes, shorts!!! In October.

And separated and replanted and harvested the last of my summer herbs. Heidi helped me, too.

"I smell food."

After a quick break to pick up lots of poo (gross!), I headed to the kitchen for the afternoon (and evening) to do something with my bounty. First, some mood music.

Now to assess the loot...

Basil and mint become....

Skinny pesto and no, not urine samples, mint simple syrup (I froze most of the goods).

I had so much mint that I also made some mint cubes - we'll see if I can ever get them out of the muffin tins!

And because that wasn't enough time spent in the kitchen, we stayed in and I made dinner and dessert for date night in! I saw this pin last week and immediately thought of it when we saw spaghetti squash at Stover's, so I picked up a small one in preparation. After arguing with the hard-as-a-rock squash for a bit, I finally got it cut and in the oven (a five-minute nuke in the microwave did the trick). While it baked, I simmered my homemade sauce (stewed tomatoes, fresh garden tomatoes, basil, lots of dried herbs, red pepper, and onion) and prepped dessert - baked apples with butterscotch schnapps topping from Seasons Harvest in Harbert (picked this up last week with Birgit).

We even met Butterscotch at the store!

Finally it was time for dinner.... and it didn't disappoint (well, the squash could have used another five or ten minutes, but otherwise). Even Brad liked it. He says he did like it, too, didn't just tolerate it. Score for spaghetti squash! The recipe calls for ground meat in the sauce, but I added spinach instead. Yum.

Fresh out of the oven....
("OMG this weighs 10 pounds!" says Brad)

Mixing the "noodles" in.

Brad is hesitant at first but succumbs to the spaghetti squash.

I stuck dessert in the oven while we ate - post-dinner and post-shower (I was filthy from my day in the dirt and the kitchen), it was time for our boozy baked apples (also, raisins and walnuts, crumble topping of butter, oats, cinnamon, and brown sugar).

How do you like them apples?

Those apples smelled SO GOOD. Seriously. And they tasted as good as they smelled (and you really do taste the boozy kick of the schnapps). We had leftovers of this tonight and I'm contemplating dropping the last leftover bit into oatmeal for an extra indulgent breakfast one day this week.

By 8 pm, I was pooped and excited to finally sit down (to kick Brad's butt at Scrabble). I was telling Brad yesterday, while it was hard to be newly moved here and have no friends here and have no job, I do have incredibly strong and happy memories of all the time I spent in the kitchen that first fall in St. Joe. Luckily I'm no longer jobless or friendless, but I find myself spending less and less time in the kitchen - and I miss it. Saturday was just what I needed. Now maybe I can whip up some pumpkin goodies this week... ????

07 October 2013

Birthday bow tie.

First and foremost, happy happy SIXTH birthday to our favorite dude in the world.

Birthday CHOMP.

In some belated around-here news, we have a new yard. Well, a new front yard (the backyard is something we are avoiding thinking about until next year.... you may remember that we re-sodded the backyard two years ago. It is now dead.). We are very very excited about our new grass, our new fancy black grasses, our new holly bushes, and our new TREE!

For reference, this is how the front looked this spring...

What a difference!

...and just in time for Halloween month!!!

Speaking of... I kept it simple this year, but here are a few fun scenes from Halloween at the Churches...

"Have a sit and join us for a drink!"

...to scare away door-to-door people that bother me.

All this loveliness really got me in the mood for a visit from my best gal Birgit, who spent the past weekend in St. Joe with me. Catching up, giggling, eating, drinking, giggling, antiquing, movie watching, and, of course, more giggling.

Awesome store we discovered, with its own fire pit.
We sat a spell.

Drinks at Soe with Frank.
(not gonna lie, I'm kind of obsessed with this picture)

Snack board for girls night in.
(fig "sausage," sangria jam, red pepper vodka jam)

Lots of good around here these days. Smile.