We’ve been in Vienna for over a week now, the longest we’ve been anywhere since we left Claremont last July. Being here for five weeks has meant an entirely different rhythm of travel, one that feels a lot more comfortable as we’ve gotten more and more exhausted over the last ten months. We keep saying that it’s 50% normal travel – venturing out into the city to see and do things – and 50% normal life – grocery shopping and cooking, slow mornings and early nights, and lots of time at our computers catching up on work and life and getting things done.
On our second night here we cooked dinner for ourselves, made a cocktail, and watched a DVD on the television in our apartment’s living room. It really set in, then, that we’d get to have a fairly domestic little experience while we’re here.
Oh boy. I have a lot catching up to do. I mean this mainly in terms of things to tell you, but I suppose it also applies to life in general, at the moment. We’ve been away from normal life for a long time, and that means we generally always have a lot of catching up to do.
First, the big news – we decided that we’re moving to Madison, Wisconsin at the end of the summer (!!!), where Brett will start his PhD program (at UW-Madison). We’re both really happy and very much looking forward to getting back to a sort of normal, stable, stationary life again (we’re not ready for it quite yet, but a few months from now sounds perfect). During our short visit to Madison earlier this month we found a cozy, homey flat to rent, and along with plenty of room for guests it has a huge screened-in front porch and a big colorful kitchen. I’m particularly excited about having the space and the stability to work on projects I’ve been wanting to do for a long time – like home-brewing, and canning, and making cheese, and setting up the smoker I got for my birthday this past fall. We always knew we’d be leaving Claremont at some point, so for the last two years or so we were there we avoided setting up some of these more labor- and time-intensive projects that would require new equipment and space. But now we have the perfect space to do it, and things like canning will make a lot more sense when we’re living somewhere with actual seasons, somewhere we won’t be able to access most produce throughout the year.
So – you can look forward to lots of posts about adapting to life in the Midwest and settling into our new home. Read more
Is it time for me to categorize this as a summer cocktail? Is that okay with everyone?
Sometimes, you just need something sweet and fresh and boozy. Weekend time!
Two-thirds of your normal margarita equation, together with some fresh garden ingredients. Weekend time!
I also tested this cocktail with gin and lemon juice instead of tequila and lime, and found that version far too sweet and two-dimensional. The beauty of this recipe is that the slightly-smoky flavor of the tequila really shines here among the sweetness of the berries (which also cushion tequilas vegetal agave flavors in a really nice way). I now totally see why strawberry is such a popular flavor for those slushy “margarita”-type things they serve in restaurants.
Enough margarita snobbery for the moment. It’s weekend time!
Strawberry basil margarita
Makes 1, easily scalable
- 3 large strawberries, stem removed and quartered (plus more for garnish, if desired)
- 3 large basil leaves, roughly chopped (plus more for garnish, if desired)
- 2 tsp. sugar, divided
- 1 1/2 ounces tequila
- 1 ounce lime juice
- Sprinkle 1 1/2 tsp. sugar over the quartered strawberries in a small bowl or cup. Let sit for at least 15 minutes so the berries release juice. Smash with a muddler, a fork, or the bottom of a smaller bowl or glass until mainly liquid with chunks of berries.
- In the bottom of a shaker, muddle together the basil and the remaining 1/2 tsp. sugar. Grind until basil is torn into bits.
- Add mashed strawberry mixture, tequila, and lime juice to the shaker. Fill at least halfway with ice, then shake and strain into a cocktail glass. If there’s a good amount of fruit and juice left in the shaker, spoon into the glass as desired. (The less the strawberries are mashed, the more might stay behind in the shaker.)
We just spent five lovely days with our dear friends and their beautiful son. We cooked together, we took walks, we had a fire in the backyard, we drank wine, we listened to music, we went to the zoo, and we enjoyed what seems to be our yearly retreats together – full of important conversation and the making of plans and a wonderful, grounding connection with each other. I loved spending time with their toddler, my godson. He’s the first child with whom I’ve ever had a substantial relationship, and it’s amazing to see the world through his 17-month-old eyes.
I fell in love with blood oranges my first year of graduate school. Almost every Saturday morning that year we trekked to Santa Monica to splurge on produce at the farmers market – top-quality, top-price produce to distract myself from how much work I had to do and how terrified I was on a weekly, daily, hourly basis. Blood oranges were unique enough for me to fancy myself something more than a poor, lowly, graduate student with little other than my undergraduate loans to my name, and bitter and tart enough enough to wake me up a bit each time I had one. Eating a couple every day gave me little shocks to the system that kept me going through endless site visits and mapping exercises and paper writing and group projects.
Hello new year, new adventures, new friends, new foods, new experiences.
I’m ready to say goodbye to the last year – a good year, indeed. Full of laughter and excitement and travel and love. Crammed with delicious, meaningful nourishment of all kinds. And now here’s a new year starting with new projects, new work, new friends, new plans.
We ended the year with a night full of friends and laughter. And French 75s. Read more
Early tomorrow morning we’re headed to Oregon for what is sure to be a lovely week of family, of friends, and of relaxing. I’m looking forward to many good meals, plenty of good wine and beer, lots of time with loved ones, lazy mornings with books and magazines, and enjoying some good old-fashioned Pacific Northwest rain.
I have some work to do as well – you’ll notice there’s a few outstanding items on the list, with only one week to go. A good friend noted this morning that if I posted a graph of list item completion, you’d see an incredible increase over the last few months, and that is certainly the case. It was hard to see the urgency in mid-February, but I’ve certainly felt it over the last few weeks.
Photo credit: Tawny Mata
As I’ve got plenty of packing left to do before I leave to teach tonight, let’s get right to the update, including one particularly important go-to cocktail: Read more
Here’s a story about growing up:
1. Girl goes to college.
2. Girl meets boy.
3. Girl marries boy.
4. Wife and husband host their first Thanksgiving, with lovely other girl and boy guests.
5. Wife and husband eat Thanksgiving leftovers and drink Manhattans.
6. Wife and husband live happily ever after. Until the leftovers run out and they realize they can’t drink Manhattans every day.
Just a quick note, before we head into a jam-packed weekend. A few days ago I was in the mood for a drink and feeling festive (funny how those two feelings often go together), so put together a little fall-appropriate cocktail. I developed this from items we had in the house, but it was good enough that I’ll buy more cider specifically for this. A bit spicy, and filled with the flavors of the season. Enjoy! Read more