Monday, July 27, 2015

farmers' market eating

One of the things I was most excited about when we moved to the metro Detroit area was Eastern Market. I had been there many times before with Vintage Blonde, and I remember being so thrilled after every visit. It truly is a remarkable version of a farmers' market, situated in a unique surround of restaurants and small businesses.

And yet we ended up being pretty lazy about visiting since we moved here, especially considering how relatively close it is to our apartment and so very easy to get to. Thankfully, we finally fixed that earlier this summer; and yum, did we do it well! In fact, we enjoyed our purchases so much that we decided to sign up for a CSA share. And so, in preparation for my upcoming looks at our weekly farm bags, I thought I'd look back at the tasty dishes for which we used the bounty from our last trip to the market:

First to be used was this delicious, fresh buttermilk blue cheese that we purchased from Zingerman's. It was creamy and tangy and just right as a topping on a big chef salad with slices of toasted sourdough from the bakery down the street.

The wedge of blue cheese was large enough for us to use it in a second dish, along with one of the red bell peppers we picked up at a veggie stall. This isn't something we make often, since the steaks are a bit on the indulgent side for our budget; but the balsamic reduction, sauteed red peppers and blue cheese make for a rich blend of flavors that is worth the indulgence from time to time (especially with fresh ingredients).

One of my favorite purchases at farmers' markets during the summer is fresh corn on the cob...the kind you have to shuck before you cook it. It made a perfect side for shredded chicken barbeque and a large scoop of potato salad. (And yes - I have to acknowledge that, as much as we enjoy fresh foods, we do use store-bought shortcuts, especially when it comes to potatoes - be they mashed or in salad.)

With the extra corn, I made an earthy brown-butter corn pasta that I topped with leftover baked chicken. It was a really nice lunch to enjoy outside on the lawn on a sunny Saturday afternoon.

Another awesome discovery was Corridor Sausage Company. (That's one of their tasting boards in the photo at the top.) With such a variety of flavors available, we had a difficult time choosing; but eventually, we selected the Apple, Sage & Pork sausage; and it was a perfect pairing with some simple roasted sweet potatoes. As much as I love sausage, I've really struggled with the list of ingredients in most brands available at the grocery store. To find this local company felt like a real score.

Last on the list of delicious meals was a big tray of chicken fajitas - that I was so ready to eat I forgot to take pictures of the final product. However, I will say that these fajitas had never tasted better as they did with fresh bell peppers.

Here's to a summer of fresh eating!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

this week was good because...

...I got to spend so much time at home snuggling with and loving on this adorable puppy that my parents adopted just a couple of days before I arrived. It was super fun to watch him acclimate to his new home and discover all the trouble to be found (like the dirt underneath the side porch).

...sometimes, the most rewarding professional development is not just about what new information you learn, but also about reflecting on your journey and your story. This past week's symposium had those two elements balanced beautifully, and I felt both encouraged and challenged as I prepare for the new school year.

...after a week away, I got to spend some fun times with Wildcat Guy - whether it was having a "pizza and a movie night" at home or taking a road trip to Ann Arbor for Sunday brunch. (Our faces don't show it, but we had a really nice afternoon!)

What made your week good?

Sunday, July 19, 2015

this week was good because...

...after a busy work week with a little bit of absurdity mixed in, I got to spend three days with my parents, relaxing at their home in the Kentucky countryside. Sitting in the shade, feeling the breeze, having conversations both light and meaningful, enjoying cold glasses of Ale-8 and sweet iced was perfection.

What made your week good??

Monday, July 13, 2015

coming up for air

"What are you still doing here?"

It would seem that summer is becoming my time to wrestle with purpose and direction and intention in this place. For the second summer in a row, I've found myself down in a rut...enjoying the moment of creating my weekly "this week" reflections, but once again falling prey to doubt and self-belittlement and even those pesky technical difficulties. In addition, this summer I've experienced the extra pressure of time. As I strive to use my time in the most productive and satisfying ways, I have very much run into that sense of, "what's okay to let fall to the wayside?"...and sadly, blogging has fallen into that category.

And yet...every time I have thought to myself, "let's bring this to a close," my heart resists. At first, I chalked it up to emotional attachment. But throughout the month of June, I found myself sitting in moments of, "this would be a fun story to share...and you have the perfect venue to share it."

So if you are still here, thank you for your patience...for bearing with me as I sort out in my head and heart how I want to use this particular venue. It's possible that things may feel a bit formulaic as I get back into the rhythms of being here, in this space...but I feel that my time as a blogger has not yet come to a close, so I'm going to continue exploring and moving forward.

Here's to letting my soul celebrating the stories that each of us has to coming up for creative air.

Monday, July 06, 2015

a patriotic picnic in the park

I was so pleased with how our Independence Day celebration went! Wildcat Guy got off work at three, which meant plenty of time to finish preparations and find neighborhood parking before settling in for a picnic at the city park.

We found the perfect tree to hang out under - tall enough to be majestic, broad enough to throw shade - the good kind, of course.

After a busy few weeks of going, going, going, we both were very grateful for the opportunity to kick back, relax and breathe...together. Life has been a particularly interesting adventure lately, and moments like this are such a delight, to just sit and talk and dream.

Of course, the food wasn't bad, either. Knowing we'd be there for many hours, I'd assembled an assortment of snacks. Veggies and finger foods that were easy to pull together and simple to pack.

We also brought a deck of cards. I feel lucky to have a partner who enjoys playing cards - specifically rummy - like I do. (And for the record, I totally won.)

Playing cards and having good conversation can sure make a person hungry, though; so we took an intermission for sandwiches, barbeque chips, and homemade sweet tea. (You know, I didn't think I'd like those sipping lids when Mom gave them to me for Christmas...but I'm becoming fond of them.)

As the time for fireworks got the sky got darker...I may have gotten impatient and started acting like a five-year old. "Is it time yet?", I whined. "How much longer?" Poor Wildcat Guy. But truly, the wait was worth it. The city put on a fantastic show! It was the perfect ending to an already beautiful day.

However you celebrated, I hope your Fourth was just as wonderful.

Monday, June 15, 2015

this week was good because of... weekend in North Carolina, visiting Baker Blonde and her family.

(Okay, there were other things too...but this trumps it all!)

What made your week good?

Sunday, June 07, 2015

this week was good because of...

...a fun day trip to Port Huron, where we saw the oldest lighthouse in Michigan.

...sunshine and mild temperatures.

...spending the weekend with my love.

...a perfectly-timed reminder that there are blessings in the midst of the dark.

...going to yoga not once, but twice in one week!

...starting a new evening devotional.

...the grace of letting myself rest on the couch (and the lovely company of kitty curled up next to me).

...a salad recipe that makes for an unexpectedly delicious combination of strawberries, avocado, feta cheese and chicken.

...discovering the beautiful writings of an inspiring woman. (How had I not read anything of hers before this?!?!)

...finally treating myself to a pedicure. (It had been a few months!) opportunities at work.

What made your week good?