Macarons and More

Today should be Style Sunday. Should being the operative word there, because it is not actually Style Sunday. Although I had every intention of dressing someone up in something trendy, doing their makeup, and photographing it, I actually spent most of the weekend doing anything but looking cute. It was a tee shirt and yoga pants weekend as I thrift shopped for plates and cups for my food photography, took my brother too and from a County Fair, and met up with a friend to discuss our upcoming plans for our Disney trip.

IMG_1242.JPG

This is the face of an exhausted but happy spoonie who has discovered the perfect place to meet for serious travel discussions. While some people might suggest a library, a coffee shop, or even a Panera, I have a bit of a different idea. In my mind, there’s no better place to get some work done or have a serious discussion than the local chocolatier.

IMG_1237.JPG

Yeah, hot chocolate is fantastic. It was finally cold enough to have an actual hot chocolate (with cinnamon and hot peppers, just the way I like it.) Before this, I was having to make do with frozen hot chocolate, which is great but definitely not the same.

IMG_1232.JPG

But let’s cut to the chase. There’s a real reason I chose this place, and it has nothing to do with their namesake sweet. I am here for one reason, and one reason only: macarons.

Macarons are the standard by which I judge any bakery or restaurant that has them. The best are from Rice and Noodles Vietnamese restaurant in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The worst won’t be named, but if you’re at overpriced French bakeries in St. Louis, Missouri- look out.

IMG_1236.JPG

I know I shouldn’t judge too harshly. Macarons are notoriously difficult to make. But if we’re speaking truthfully, while the best macarons taste like slightly crispy pillows around a creamy center, the worst ones taste like styrofoam Oreos. And that’s just not acceptable.

Every restaurant has the traditional flavors, like pistachio and strawberry. I give big points for any restaurant or bakery that goes above and beyond the usual offerings while still providing some quality, adorable desserts.

IMG_1229.JPG

So when I stumbled through the door of the chocolatier today and neon purple macarons greeted me, I couldn’t help but get excited. Recently, this chocolatier has had some delicious Earl Grey macarons, so I had high hopes. These turned out to be blackberry goat cheese.

I know what you’re thinking. “Goat cheese? In my macarons? That sounds absurd.” You’re right. It does sound absurd. But this was done right. So right. This was delicious.

So while these aren’t ready to knock Rice and Noodles out of the running just yet, I’m glad I have a solid place to snack on some macarons while I write blog posts like this one. I’ll take all of them, please.

Where’s your favorite place to get macarons?

Advertisements

My love language

I always joke that my love language is food. Seriously, you know the saying “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”? The way to my heart is definitely through my stomach. My idea of affection is someone making me cookies, then leaving me alone to eat them. That’s pretty weird for an extrovert, I’ve been told, but it’s the one sure way to woo me.

IMG_0829.JPG

That’s an earl grey, three sugars, with milk. The best way to calm me down when I’m stressed. The best way to cheer me up after a long hard month? A fancy dinner.

IMG_0850.JPG

So, since my love language is food- whether it’s making it for people or eating it myself- and my husband’s language of affection is doing small things for people or doing activities together. So we’ve figured out a pretty great way to strengthen our relationship, other than our weekly date out.

IMG_0376.JPG

Once a week, J and I have a nice steak dinner. He does most of the cooking, because he enjoys it, and I help out by pouring drinks, prepping the broccoli, and setting the table. The time in the kitchen together is an awesome way for us both to unwind and reconnect, and the resulting meal is always one of the things we both look forward to the most each week. In fact, our favorite part of grocery shopping together is looking for new ingredients for our favorite side dishes!

IMG_0847.JPG

Since I’m sick and he’s busy, it’s hard for us to plan huge outings or weekend trips. However, that doesn’t give us an excuse to get complacent in our relationship. Our weekly steak dinner is our solution. Shopping at Aldi makes this affordable, especially since there’s only two of us, but the menu isn’t what’s important. It’s the act of cooking together, for each other, and enjoying each other’s company.

It’s really the little things that keep our relationship happy and strong.

Convenience in the Kitchen

I like easy. I inherited this trait from my mom, who loves kitchen shortcuts. They all seem to work for her. I have fond memories of homemade egg rolls, curries, and pasta sauces that she whipped up with seeming ease. The same shortcuts and gadgets that she used with such success seem to be lost on me. I can burn brownies, break blenders, and ruin meals like nobody’s business. Because of this unlucky characteristic, my mom and husband have spent the past two years building me a “kitchen for dummies.” It has gadgets even I can use, and meals I can make even when my POTS is flaring and I can barely stand. So, what’s in my kitchen?

1. Pre-cut everything

I’m the worst about dislocating my fingers. Whether it’s from rampant texting, picking up kittens, or chopping vegetables, my hands are in a constant state of pain and dislocation. Because of this, I buy as many things pre-chopped and pre-shredded as possible.

IMG_0459-0.JPG

At best, the pre-chopped and pre-shredded foods become ingredients for a simple meal. At worst, I dip them in hummus and call it brunch. Yeah, I’m paying more for convenience, but it saves money on ER visits to get things shoved back into socket.

2. Green juices and Meal Replacements

Sometimes you can’t stand long enough to make a meal without passing out. Especially when it’s hot outside and opossums have chewed through the air conditioner wiring. On days like that, or on days when we have to rush out the door, meal replacement shakes and green juices come in handy. They keep my blood sugar from crashing until I can find some real food!

3. A rice cooker

Two rice cookers, in fact, because Target wouldn’t update our registry after people bought from it. Not to worry though, rice cookers come in handy. Not only can you make some perfect rice, there are plenty of other recipes you can try in them too!

4. A Keurig

Guess how many coffee making gadgets we have in our kitchen. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

If you guessed 10+, you’re correct. My husband and grandpa are coffee addicts, and my husband has tried just about every way to brew coffee that he could find. Me? I stick to my Keurig. Since I can’t have too much caffeine, I mostly use it to make tea and hot chocolate.

IMG_0289.JPG

A hot drink in 90 seconds? That’s what I’m talking about. Even I can handle that. (My Keurig was a gift from my mom and is probably one of the best kitchen gifts I’ve ever gotten.)

5. A Filter Pitcher

Better for the environment than bottled water, this is also a lot more convenient. No more late night runs for bottled water because your tap water tastes gross. No more wishing you had remembered to put your glass water bottle in the fridge after filling it, instead of setting it beside you and forgetting about it.

I have a lot more gadgets in my kitchen, but these are my top five. What’s in your kitchen?