Category Archives: travel

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Southern Snow and Beaufort, South Carolina

I thought I would drop in and let you know that I am, indeed, still alive.  Unfortunately, some new health concerns have arisen to put a damper on culinary enthusiasm (and life in general. . . boo, no more whining, I promise).  Here is a little of life lately. . .

If you live on the East Coast of the U.S., you may have heard that we have another winter storm on.  Right before the last one, J. and I made an impromptu trip to Georgia.  We got there just in time to enjoy a little “family bondage” (a cousin meant to say “family bonding”, but this alternate version now has a permanent place of honor in the Baird family lexicon!).

treedown A lot of ^this^ happened, which resulted in a lot of this. . .

Ispy It is amazing how long kids will play “I spy, with my little eye”!  Jason, his superhero dad, and a cousin spent the next three days keeping 4 houses afloat with two generators,  my mother-in-law kept twelve people fed three times a day despite a nasty cold, and I colored, “I spy-ed”, and hide-and-go-seeked my heart out!

After a visit further south with my folks, Jason surprised me with a mini vacation on the way back to D.C.  We spent a morning wandering around it the sunshine in Savannah, browsing Broughton St. and people watching in the park before heading just an hour upcoast to Beaufort, S.C.  We attended a festival on the waterfront there during college, and came away with the impression that it was a hidden treasure.  Twelve years later, and  a few days of down time: it is a really comfortable, relaxing, FRIENDLY place to pass some time.  The waterfront is lined with rows of porch swings,  truly amazing homes spread for ten blocks back from the water, the food is good, and the views are lovely.  There is nothing fancy happening: this is not a shopping mecca, nightlife seems fairly non-existant, the beach is not easily accessible, and away from the waterfront the town becomes a bit run down, shut down, fast-foodie.  So, if you are a mover and a shaker who doesn’t care for an extreme change of pace, you might want to keep going up I-95 until you hit the Charleston exit.  But if you are looking for a pleasant place to pass a weekend, keep Beaufort in mind.

Jason caught this little guy having a rock star moment in his own private fountain.  So sassy! cardinalfountain Then we spotted this beauty. . . streetcat which made this inevitable :) (cannot pass by furry fabulousness!). rubme

lighthouseslick The sheltered warmth of Beaufort made me long to see the ocean: inland warmth is deceptive, and sunshine is fleeting!  It was plum cold down at Hunting Beach State Park. scarethewolf Scare the wolf!  If this reference means nothing to you, disregard.  Otherwise, greetings from the lost boys in Neverland! shylighthouse Yep, did I mention. . .Plum. . .Cold.

Places we tried and enjoyed: Blackstone’s Cafe– great atmosphere, super friendly service, plain ol’ diner breakfast food, but with surprising gluten-free options (if you spend time traveling g.f. in the South, you will understand what a pleasant find this was!). Lowcountry Produce Market Cafe– really good food, lovely building, and fun browsing of local food and artisan goods.  Panini’s Cafe–  usually we skip places with enormous menus, but this one had the little “gf” symbol all over it (again, rare) so we had to give it a go.  It was great, and the waterfront side completely undersells what is waiting within.  Brick pizza oven and prep area out in the middle of the dining room, soaring ceiling, huge deck overlooking the waterfront, and solidly good food.  City Java and News– good hot chocolate and latte.

While in Beaufort I recommend: strolling through the neighborhoods, and don’t ignore the overgrown, dead end streets- they are the best!  A visit to Hunting Beach State Park- a bit of a drive, but well worth it on a warm day.  Grab yourself a waterside swing, or a bench, or a hummock of grass and just enjoy the view.   beaufortwater Have you ever been to Beaufort, South Carolina?  I’d love to hear about your time there; leave a note in the comments below.

 

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Melon Salsa

And we’re back! Greetings, y’all. Last month I shared with you that, in the wake of losing a dear friend, my husband and I were taking some time to simply enjoy life and each other. As we were experiencing all of these tumultuous emotions and trying to make sure we were being intentional about living life to the fullest, not allowing days and opportunities to slip away, we decided it was time to take the vacation we have been saving up time and money for. So, for a large part of the last month, while silence has reigned supreme here, we have been in Mexico (or fighting an epic battle royal with our internet service). We met some incredible, wildly creative, and interesting people, and had an overall fantastic experience. If you are interested in hearing about our trip to Playa Viva, in Julachuca, Mexico (near Zihuatanejo. . . yep, that clears everything right up, huh?) head over to Jason’s site, Good Brown Gravy. Part 1 and Part 2 are already posted; look for more to come in the days ahead. Since he has that covered (and I don’t want to lay out any spoilers), I’m free to get back to food.

Hot weather has me wanting light, refreshing foods. In the town where we went to college there was a cafe called LeAnn’s. For the few years its doors were open, LeAnn’s offered wraps, a few light salads, and a melon salsa unlike anything else available in that small southern town. LeAnn’s is long gone, but this stuff is too good to be lost in oblivion. Serve with tortilla chips, or try it as a topping for fish, shrimp, chicken. . . heck, even pork.

melon salsa at www.oneishungry.com

Melon Salsa

make a lot, a whole lot (unless you are having a party, cut down recipe or prepare to share)

1 small cantalope in small cubes (size of medium dice)

1 small honeydew melon cut same as above

1/2 red onion, diced

1 red bell pepper, diced

2 Tbs to 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped (this is largely a matter of preference)

juice of half a lemon (feeling crazy? try half a lime instead)

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Cut melons into small cubes in whichever way is easiest for you. I like to halve mine, scoop the seeds, halve again (now I have a melon, quartered). Cut through the flesh, but not the rind, lengthwise, then crosswise. Then, running the knife through the flesh (parallel to the rind, if that makes sense) at 1/2 inch lengths, slice off perfect little cubes! As you get into the deeply curved part you can even turn the melon quarter inside out to make the remaining flesh easier to cut. Combine all ingredients in a very large bowl, folding well to make sure all the ingredients are evenly distributed. Want to add a little kick? Mince up half of a jalapeno and toss in the mix.

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Baby Steps

Today is the first day I’ve been able to get out with collapsing into a coughing, wheezing heap of sick.  This is my third case of bronchitis this year, and by far the worst of the lot.  It has also been the most contagious; at last count we infected five family members (both families over Christmas) and one co-worker.  This afternoon I hauled my pale-as-a-sprout self over to the colonial area to walk around in the sun, and work with the camera a bit.  One of my favorite things about Colonial Williamsburg is the gardens.  We are here for work about twice a year, every year since 2008, and I still tour the gardens every time:  I am a dirt dauber!  They have formal English style gardens, working, educational vegetable gardens, and even a gorgeous estate size garden/park.   DSC_0323

Aren’t these cloches stunning.  The vegetable garden across from the church has an enviable display of winter greens, onions, and some hidden pockets of cheerful pansies.

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Also, here is my first attempt at a knitting project.  I chose to start with a scarf for Jason done in rick rack stitch; I found the pattern on Purl Bee.  I’ve learned that I cannot keep up with stitch count from one row to the next.  I can’t even put counters on every other row yet.  I ripped everything out three times before I finally started marking each row!  Okay, enough of my fiber frenzy (seriously, I’m going to have to start another craft blog so that I don’t have to keep apologizing for talking about this stuff :) ).

Look for more pictures and some of my Williamsburg restaurant recommendations coming soon.

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Brown Butter Cookies, Q, and a Merry Christmas to You!

Feliz Navidad, mes amis!  I know, I know, I’m mixing my languages, but those two phrases are each so lovely, they should be together once in awhile.  Jason and I are back in Georgia for the Christmas holiday, spending quiet, happy time with family.  My dad gave us an astoundingly tasty welcome with some homemade bbq.

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Say hello to Frank’s Smokin’ Hot Butt!  After 17 hours of smoking and baking, we gorged ourselves on this porky pulled goodness.

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Add homemade sauce, green beans, “cracked taters” and coleslaw, and it was a very nearly perfect meal.  And while I’m not allowed to share the secret recipe for that beautiful butt, I can slip you a little sugary Yuletide cheer.  What would you say to a gluten-free brown butter, chocolate-chip oat cookie?  If you are smart, you are saying, “Yes, please!”.

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This recipe is an update of last Christmas’s gluten-free Chocolate Chip Cookie

Gluten-free Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Oat Cookies

Ingredients

1/2 c. gluten-free old fashioned rolled oats

½ c. brown rice flour

2 c. tapioca starch

1 c. amaranth flour

1 ½ tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. baking powder

1 ½ tsp kosher salt

2 ½ sticks butter, browned and cooled slightly

1 ¼ c. brown sugar

1 c. + 2 Tbs. granulated sugar

2 large eggs

2 tsp vanilla

9 – 12 oz. chocolate (I use 70% or higher), chips, chunks or chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or Silpat.

In a large bowl whisk together flours, starch, oats, baking soda and powder, salt and sugars.In a separate bowl, mix browned and cooled butter, vanilla, and eggs.

Stir wet and dry ingredients together until fully mixed. Finally, add the chocolate and stir until evenly distributed.  Allow dough to rest in refrigerator  at least one hour, or up to three days, then bake .

Bake cookies in oven for 8-15 minutes, depending on desired doneness. Note: cookies may appear lighter in color than wheat flour cookies when done.

Aside from eating and cooking, I’ve spent just a bit of time finishing up my last sewing project.  This is an unflattering photo of my badly ironed new shirt (I’m blaming my mother’s iron, which I am pretty sure predates the last ice age).

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It is an ivory silk/cotton blend that feels amazing!  I love this fabric so much, this is the second time I’ve used it.  Anyway, enough about my boring-to-you shirt.  I really just wanted to take a few minutes  before Tuesday to say Merry Christmas, and may God bless you as this year comes to a close.

Merry Christmas

 

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Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach Boardwalk|via One is Hungry

You know that saying, ”  If you can’t say something nice. . .”; well, this will be a short post!  Virginia Beach was a work trip.  We were looking at it as a nice segue from full, flaming sun, southern vacation to the realities of home.  This was our first experience of the mid-Atlantic ocean and ocean front.  To be brief, we found it was not for us.  I have lots of pretty, cherry-picked pictures from the boardwalk, but they are not an accurate representation of the place or the experience.  However, let’s focus on the good things:  We had a room immediately on the beach (that was a treat), and saw the sunrise colors spread over the ocean each new day.  The food offerings, in town, not the hotel (Hampton Inn, you really need to work on your breakfasts!) were quite good.

The first night we took a leap of faith on an Urban Spoon recommendation, wandered into what appeared to be a biker’s dive bar, and were pleasantly surprised to find ourselves eating some of the best Mexican food we’ve ever had.  Hello tuna tacos with mango-passion fruit-chipotle dressing!  Everything at the Side Street Cantina was fantastic and really reasonably priced.  A few nights later one of Jason’s co-workers introduced a group of us to Mojito Cafe…fantastic!  Thank you, Chris!!  They are open from 5 til whenever they feel like it; the staff is great and the food is truly outstanding.  Jason highly recommends the fried banana cheesecake!  Almost forgot, Sunnyside Cafe and Restaurant has gluten-free pancakes and waffles, enormous portions, and roughly five pages of reasonably priced breakfast goodness (bad news- real maple syrup is by request and $2.50 extra).

Other good things, hmmm. . .dolphins.  So many dolphins at Virginia Beach; at least three separate pods of around ten dolphins each.  They come incredibly close to shore on a somewhat regular schedule.  One day while I was watching the water, a wave began to form about 20 feet ahead of me.  As it approached and grew, overtaking the couple in my sightline I saw a large grey form riding along inside the  translucent amber top of the wave, staying just ahead of the break.  After a few heart-stopping moments in which I was the only one aware that this sizable, unknown entity was eight feet from the swimmers ,it became comfortingly clear that it was a dolphin.  I’d never seen one so large (about 10 feet) and so close up. That moment had all the elements of my worst nightmares (sharks!) and best dreams (swimming with dolphins) rolled into one!

Finally, the airplanes.  We were near the Oceana Navy Base and received CLOSE, LOW fly-overs about ten times every day.  Once used to the almost sickeningly loud sounds (and I mean really, so loud as to nearly make one’s stomach hurt), it was amazing to see the various planes in flight.  We got to see quite a bit of the Blue Angels, in town for the air show, F22s, helicopters and more.

Those things were really the highlights of our time at Virginia Beach.  On our final morning, Virginia Beach bid us farewell with pelting sand like bee stings and a car that had been very carefully broken into and relieved of its hidden GPS.  More about that here.  So, my final words on Virginia Beach are these:  if you find yourself headed down the Virginia coast with time to kill and hankering for a good meal, by all means pull up at one of the fantastic restaurants this city has to offer.  Then get back in your car and out of town, preferably before 10 pm :).

Fun Slide, Virginia Beach Boardwalk | via One is Hungry

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