St. Giles and the Chocolate Burren - Travel Stories From Ireland Pt. 2

All my many apologies for how long an absence I've taken, both from blogging in general and from sharing stories about Ireland. It's now approaching nine or ten months since our trip and we still haven't covered even a fraction of all the stories there are to tell. Still, with the weather taking an autumnal turn this week I'm full-up on nostalgia for Ireland and I decided to brush off, finish, and post this story of one of my favorite characters we encountered the whole trip. To read the first travel-stories post, click here!

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Hello! It's been a while since I've served up a recipe, hasn't it? Summer has come on in full strength and with it brought a number of life changes. I'm excited about all of them, and eager to begin to share them with you. It's funny - the older I get, the less likely I am to share things immediately. There are some things in life that are just nice to keep to yourself for a while, then decide to share when the time is right. One of the pieces of news I can spill is that I'm no longer working at Four Eleven York, which probably will come as a surprise to many of you.

The Merits of Dining Alone

"Waiters are seldom socialists." - George Orwell

As a perpetually single woman, I often eat alone. In new cities, in my own city, in small towns that are barely incorporated, let alone gentrified. At this point I am accustomed to the occasional condescending looks, to announcing I’d like a reservation for one, to being ignored by the waitstaff and given the absolute worst table. Of course it is arguably more fun to eat in company, but I have learned to enjoy aspects of solo dining. Barring a few uncomfortable situations which could potentially arise, there are a multitude of perks to independent meals.

Southern Summer Heat: An Existential Crisis

Today we experienced the first really really flesh-crawlingly hot day of the summer. I feel like the month of May starts off by tricking me into thinking I love the summer - the produce and the colors, the long evenings and the everything-blooming-or-green. And then. Oh then. So I wrote about the "then" in an effort to remind myself. I wonder: does anyone else become irrationally, out-of-control grouchy when the summer heat hits? Consider this the official frenemy-status with summertime you never even asked for...

Homemade Potato & Ricotta Gnocchi

Wow, y'all. An insane space of time passes between blog posts and when you finally try to report back and remind your long-suffering readers that you're actually still alive and cooking, the list of things you've been doing while away sounds pretty trivial. Between last blog post and this I have:
  • gotten a terrific sunburn on my first beach day of the year
  • gone strawberry pickin' and got the best strawberry ice cream in the state of Virginia (hollering at ya, College Run Farms!) 
  • taken an abysmal trip to the aquarium by myself

Cake To Share: Best Devil's Food Sheet-Cake

Oh my absolute goodness, friends. It's been so long since I've sat down and been able to share a recipe! When my friend Kevin from work asked if I'd posted anything new in a while I had to reluctantly admit...I had not. Life has just been a landslide: heavy, loud, graceless. Not gonna lie, when I finally sit down on my "weekend" I often have no space for words left within my heart and mind. There are exciting changes amid the negative, vision within the chaos, but it essentially has left me with a distinct lack of time to devote to actually cooking things and photographing them and sharing them here on the blog. Technical glitches mean I've even been quieter on Instagram which, as y'all know, is a place I tend to be overly vocal. But today I've got a recipe for you and I hope it finds a place in your kitchen the way it has in mine.

6 Chef Tools To Add To Your Kitchen

Guess how many months I've worked in the restaurant business? Seven. Already! It's weird to think that seven months ago I stood in front of a three-compartment sink without the faintest idea of how to work the drains, isn't it? Y'all, I still have so much to learn but I've come a distance since July. One thing I've become increasingly confident about is this growing list of professional tools that I've discovered I don't want to be without in my kitchen at home.

Persimmon Salsa Verde

The best tacos in Norfolk, Virginia are not created, as might be supposed, by any of the official tacquerias in the city (of which there aren't many), but by the back of house staff at Four Eleven York.

Coffee in Ireland: The Travel Guide

It's been nearly two months since I came home from Ireland and I'm finally getting life together enough to start writing about it! This endeavor definitely deserves some caffeine so of course we're going to begin by throwing together an illustrated travel guide to to coffee along our route. 

Besides a clean bed to sleep in at night and a rolling suitcase, what could be more essential to comfortable travel than being properly caffeinated? Contrary to my life now, I can remember the first time I ever walked into a Starbucks - it was the first coffee shop I'd ever been to in my life (if you can call Starbucks a proper coffee shop). Growing up we had this arbitrary rule that you couldn't drink coffee until you were thirteen, and even then you could only drink coffee while on a camping trip. Now, of course, my coffee habit is so pronounced that the manager of my favorite coffeehouse asked me to paint the trashcans and I frequently have dinner with one of the baristas and his wife. In America we're used to seeing coffee-shops on every corner - if not a craft coffeehouse, a Starbucks. If not a Starbucks, a walk-up counter with takeaway coffee. Ireland was a bit less this way the farther we traveled from hubs like Dublin, Galway, and Belfast, but we still managed to find and enjoy a wealth of coffee shops as we made our way through the Republic of, and Northern Ireland.

I Have A Brioche Body: The Power Of Being A Bigger Girl

You know, I've been thinking: my body makes perfect sense in the context of my job as a pastry cook. It is in my job description to eat cake. I have wide hips and soft curves in all the right places (and a couple of the wrong ones). Were I thirty pounds lighter you'd call me “sculpted.” As it is, I appear to have been shaped beautifully out of dough and then left somewhere warm to rise; same lines, somewhat less distinct. Soft. Wholesome. Real. I'm not chubby, I'm proofing.

Mas Sal: How Salt is Changing The Way I Cook

“Get used to the way the salt falls from your hands; experience the illicit thrill of using so much of something we’ve all been taught to fear.” - Samin Nosrat, Fat, Salt, Acid, Heat
"Mas sal! Mas sal!" My chef gestures to the finely chopped potatoes I am seasoning - or trying to season. He's not Hispanic, and I'm not Hispanic, so by the time I've finally understood that he wants me to add more salt to the potatoes, he's reverted to English:
"You need more salt
"How much more salt?"
"A lot more."
I pick up perhaps a teaspoon of salt and sprinkle it into the potatoes then begin to mix it in with my fingers. "Sorry, I don't speak Spanish."
Chef rolls his eyes. "That's bullshit. Every line cook speaks Spanish."