writer’s wednesday [stockett]

“Even though she has zero kids and nothing to do all day, she is the laziest woman I’ve ever seen. Including my sister Doreena who never lifted a royal finger growing up because she had the heart defect that we later found out was a fly on the X-ray machine.”

– Kathryn Stockett, The Help


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writer’s wednesday [fey]

“Let’s talk about the hair. Why do I call it ‘yellow’ hair and not ‘blond’ hair? Because I’m pretty sure everybody calls my hair ‘brown.’ When I read fairy tales to my daughter I always change the word ‘blond’ to ‘yellow,’ because I don’t want her to think that blond hair is somehow better.

– Tina Fey, Bossypants

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one brownie at a time.

I love chocolate. It’s no secret. Give me the choice between a bag of Skittles and a Reese cup (or Snickers bar, or Hershey’s kiss, or Twix, or M&Ms) and I’ll pick [any of] the latter every time. One could say I have a problem. And so, when I found out that one of my sorority sisters from UVa started this awesome blog a couple of years ago and in turn found a link to this equally adorable online space – I was in heaven. I love healthy, fun food blogs – and all of the ones that Sarah links to fit the bill.

Anyway, I was perusing last week, and came across Brittany’s recipe for “Special Brownies.” No, it’s not what you think – but a friend of ours immediately thought the same thing. So don’t feel bad. Okay, okay – back to the point here. BLACK BEAN BROWNIES. Does that sound disgusting or what? I suppose I should admit that as much as I love chocolate – I despise beans. Except for refried ones. Smothered in so much cheese they’re practically unidentifiable. Anywho, I digress.

I had seen recipes for black bean brownies in lots of hip and trendy places over the past couple of years, and I just couldn’t bring myself to try them. I don’t know – when you hate beans as much as I do (which is a lot) it’s really hard to imagine tarnishing one of your favorite things on earth (read: chocolate) with them. So I ignored all the recipes. But when Carrie and I decided to cook dinner together last Thursday, I figured I’d go for it.

Honestly, I think it was the hot yoga that did it to me. I have officially been to class 11 times – that’s 2 – 3 times a week for the last 4 weeks! Aren’t you proud? Anyway, I figured if I’m working my butt off for multiple hours every week to try and be healthier and feel better, I could stomach the idea of possibly making brownies (YUM) just a tad better for me.

So, after our delicious dinner (of which I forgot to take pictures – sorry!) which included parmesan asparagus, pasta with basil and red peppers, and parmesan & panko crusted tilapia, we began our quest to make special brownies.

Here’s the thing – when you’re making them, they sort of look as nasty as they sound. The recipe is here (and above), so I won’t go through every little thing, but I will show you what I mean:

Yep. It’s true. You actually just dump everything into your food processor and, well, process. Scary, but it works. So anyway, I made a couple of MINOR changes to the recipe – I was afraid of any smidge of beany taste, so I added some mini semi-sweet chocolate chips in the batter pre-processing (so they got all crunched up) and on top. I made a second batch (yes, we finished the first one in three days) yesterday when Alex’s family came, and was forced to modify again – I only had 2 eggs, and it calls for three. So, thanks to Google, I figured out that I could use 1/4 cup flax seed meal and 1/4 cup cold water to substitute for an egg. HOW SWEET IT IS THAT? So I did, making it even more healthy, not a bit less tasty, and therefore exponentially more exciting. :) I mean, get real – can YOU tell the difference?

Their texture is a tiny bit different, but not in a bad way. Just different. As in – not Betty Crocker out of a box texture. Which is fine. :) I enjoyed them the way I always enjoy brownies – with a (probably too big) scoop of vanilla ice cream. I was a satisfied customer:

In case you can’t tell, there’s no brownie left in there. Knowing me, not even a crumb. It was awesome. Who knew?

Happy Monday! Go make some brownies.




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writer’s wednesday [gruen]

“An older man sits by the fire, his jaw covered with stubble, scabs, or both. He has the sunken face of a person with no teeth. We make eye contact and hold it for a long time. I wonder why he’s looking at me with such hostility until I remember I’m wearing an evening suit. He has no way of knowing that it’s about the only thing separating us. I fight an illogical urge to explain this and continue on my way.”

– Sara Gruen, Water for Elephants

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summer salsa.

As a wedding gift, Alex and I were given six beautiful heirloom tomato plants. They were tall and scrawny and about a foot and a half tall at the time of the gift (around two and a half months ago) and we planted them in our yard. There were two Sungold plants, one Green Zebra, one Garden Peach, and two that I (embarrassingly enough) can’t remember. One is a roma-like variety and the other is a more standard red. Anyway, the roma variety has “bottom-rot”, which has been a major bummer. The standard red is producing a tomato here and there, I’ve gotten a decent handful of Green Zebras and Garden Peaches, and one of the Sungold plants is doing well. The other one, on the other hand, well – see for yourself.

That’s a little blurry, but let’s just say this guy is out of control. In a good way. Check it out:

I’m telling you, these pictures don’t do it justice. This thing is the size of a small jungle. IT’S AWESOME. I pick a whole batch of tomatoes about every three days. Aren’t they pretty?

Between our tomato plants, my aunt and uncle’s tomato plants, and the every-now-and-then tomatoes that I get in my Dominion Harvest deliveries, I have been making the most delicious salsa ever. I use as many tomatoes as I have/want to use, chop up one onion, and add big slices of whatever kind of hot pepper strikes my fancy at the grocery store. I also dump in a little salt and pepper, and sometimes I squirt in a tad of lemon juice. If I’m serving it fresh, I add cilantro – but cilantro’s one of those things you either love or hate. If I’m freezing it, I leave the cilantro out. I’m not sure how the texture of the leaves would turn out post-thaw. My food processor does the rest – and VOILA! The best salsa ever.

Anywho, we have been eating this stuff like it’s our job – and since I’ve used different tomatoes each time, the batches have ranged from green to red to pink to yellow. It’s fantastic!

Do you have any favorite salsa recipes for the summer?


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in lieu of writer’s wednesday.

It’s true, you lovely and faithful blog readers! (Both of you that are left, that is.) I’M BACK. the back burner is back. I’m sorry. Lots of these posts have been apologetic lately – which means I haven’t been great at blogging. I’m not even going to try make promises this time. I’m just going to do the best I can. But, back to the real news. We’re back.

In not necessarily chronological order, there is so much news to be shared. First of all – let’s just start with the big kahuna. I HAVE A NEW LAST NAME. Eeeeeeeeeeee! See the talented Katelyn James’ blog post about our big day if you’re curious. If you’re not so curious, I’ll give you a little sneak peek anyway.

We shared the day with so many of our loved ones, and even a one-hour rain delay (yes, it rained!) couldn’t even begin to put a damper on the beauty and the joy that followed us everywhere we went for the whole weekend. Let me tell you a little more about how full of love the day was:

  • First, Alex and I saw each other for portraits before the ceremony. I couldn’t contain myself – I cried my eyes out.
  • Then, my dad walked me down the aisle. I couldn’t contain myself – I bit my lip so I wouldn’t cry my eyes out.
  • Our dear friends (and wedding musicians) played “Sweet Home Alabama” as we recessed past the glowing faces of those we loved the most, married at last. I couldn’t contain myself – I blinked way too much while I tried not to cry my eyes out.
  • At the reception, I danced with my dad. Enough said. And yes, my mom cried her eyes out, too.
  • Then, Andrew and Margaret gave toasts. Let’s be honest. I cried my eyes out. It’s okay, though – Margaret did too. :)
Anyway, I know I’m making it sound funny – but really, it was the most perfect day of my life. I always thought it was sort of corny when people said that, but if you really think about it…it doesn’t get much better! To tell the world how in love you are with your soon-to-be husband with your family and friends as your witnesses – phew. I’m almost crying again.

In case anyone is wondering, we spent our first night as a married couple in a pop-up camper in my parents’ yard. Yes. It’s true. Even if you only know us from an every-know-and-then skim of this blog, you probably know how obscenely appropriate that is. We stayed at the party [almost] long enough to shut the place (and by place I mean my parents’ backyard) down, and only had to walk a couple hundred yards to bed. It rocked. And yes, we did actually go away after that. :)

On our short honeymoon in Staunton, we stayed at an amazing loft on the third floor of an old building in the heart of downtown. Our place was a totally unique juxtaposition of charming and modern. It was low-key and luxurious all at the same time, and we loved every second. We ate here and here and here, and browsed around here, here, here, and at some cool local antique stores. The amicable gentleman here even resized Alex’s wedding band for us (it was too big!) and gave us a special “newlyweds rate” to boot.

(Not a GREAT picture, I realize – but at least it has us in it! Most of the others are just of our super-cool loft.)

But, enough about that. On to the rest of the things I’ve been busy not blogging about for the past month and a half. Charlotte was AMAZING. The week was filled with inspiring people, good company, and good wine. Oh, and I wouldn’t want to forget to mention genius professors, challenging workshops, and enough ideas to blow my brain to smithereens just by trying to list them. I’m still feeling overwhelmed at the thought of completing this program, but one has to start somewhere. I’ll get there.

Back at home and post-wedding, we took our annual batteau trip! Nothing says “I love the first week of married life” like sweaty muslin clothes, light beer, and the James River. As always, it was awesome. I didn’t even get sunburnt this year!
Okay, don’t fret – I am aware this is not my husband! I can’t remember if I’ve posted pics of Sebastian before – but he’s a dear, dear friend of Alex and me. Such a good friend, in fact, that we both had the pleasure of living with him at one time or another when we lived in Charlottesville. This dude is like a batteau god. For real. Between him, Alex, and Alex’s brother Andrew – we’re always in good hands on the festival.

Let’s see, what else…we’ve been doing lots and lots of work on the house. New (to us) furniture has been coming in on the regular, we’ve gotten some painting done, and we’re getting new windows this month. We did a lot of work on the outside/yard, too, but there are too many pictures of all this stuff put together that I should probably wait until later.

Oh! In case you need a good laugh – I did hot yoga for the first time today. I have to say, for first-timers, I think La and I rocked it. AND according to a random calorie calculator, we burned 885 calories in the process. WHAT WHAAAAAAT. I went to work right after (post-shower, of course) and had eaten my breakfast AND dinner by 11:45am. Note to self: take snacks to work on yoga days.

Cheers, backburner-ites. It’s good to be home.


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writer’s wednesday [fitzgerald 2]

“Then she was in the air, and Carlyle involuntarily held his breath. He had not realized that the dive was nearly forty feet. It seemed an eternity before he heard the swift compact sound as she reached the sea.

And it was with his glad sigh of relief when her light watery laughter curled up the side of the cliff and into his anxious ears that he knew he loved her.”

The Offshore Pirate by F. Scott Fitzgerald
(Barnes and Noble has a great collection of Fitzgerald’s short stories – affordable, too!)


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