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Twenty Twelve’s Got it Goin On

By | food, house, thoughts | No Comments

twentytwelve

Well. Here we are again. The new year approaches. And quickly. It’s time for fresh starts. Renewed energy. High hopes. Our annual New Year’s Day bash (back after taking a reluctant year off). And most importantly: Collard Greens.

And as my annual gift to you, the awesome people who live in my computer, I bring you once again my recipe for Collards, which, along with Black Eyed Peas and Pork (hog jowls, ham, bacon, whatever), are the law down here in the South. They’re supposed to bring you luck and fortune, which you can’t say you don’t want at least some of. And, bonus! these collards are crazy good. So go for it — make yourself a mess o’ greens and bring on the luck. Happy new year, friends.

————

Braised Collards of Deliciousness

– 4 bunches of collards, long stems and tough ribs removed
– Salt
– 1/4 cup brown butter (recipe included)
– 1 onion, diced
– 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
– 1/2 chipotle chile en adobo, all chopped up (to taste — it’s intended to add smoky, not spicy)
– 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
– Pepper vinegar (recipe follows)

CollardsWash the greens thoroughly in a whole lotta water (I fill my sink and wash them in there). Place the dripping wet leaves in a pot with a little water in it, add salt (to taste). Cook the greens for about 10 minutes (until they’re all wilted and reduced down quite a bit). Remove and place in a bowl. Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water.

Heat 1/4 cup unsalted butter on medium-low until it turns brown and nutty. Strain off the milk-fat solids. (This is something I make a big batch of ahead-of-time and keep in the fridge.) Increase the heat to medium. Add the onion, garlic, pepper flakes and chipotle, stirring occasionally until the garlic is lightly colored and onion is soft. Add the greens, their reserved cooking water, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Cook for 30 minutes and taste again for salt (they can use a lot). You can continue cooking until the greens are “within an inch of their life” or you can stop here. The longer they cook, the better they”ll taste.

Serve with pepper vinegar on the side.

pepper vinegarRecipe for Pepper Vinegar: 1 cup white vinegar + 4 oz serrano chiles. Drop the washed and dried chiles into a bottle that has been freshly washed in hot, soapy water. (A narrow neck bottle is preferable so the vinegar can be drizzled rather than poured, but it doesn’t really matter.) Bring the vinegar to a boil in a small pan, then transfer to the bottle (via a measuring cup or some other easy-pouring device). Let it sit uncapped until cool. The peppers will absorb some of the vinegar. Add more vinegar to fill the bottle, then cap and set aside in the cupboard. The vinegar will be best if you make this ahead. But you can speed the process by including one pepper sliced into “coins.” Plus, the discs look cool floating around all the whole peppers.

 

(Thanks to Deborah Madison for the original base recipe, and especially for the brown butter secret. You have been helping me for many years to make people’s New Years just that much luckier and fortunier.)

Rockin the Queen City since 2007

By | house | 2 Comments

Happy happy everyone. Hope your days have been full-up with good stuff like gingerbread men, raffia, pine needles, chanukah candle wax, reindeer hoofprints, toys that have “off” buttons, friends from far away, family that makes you smile, ham, latkes, gooses, wine and all the trappings of whatever holidays you’re celebrating these days. We’re in the home stretch now, 2007 a mere 27 hours away and let me tell you, I’m ready. 2006 has been a lot. of. work. And I’m not one bit sad to see it move on into the history books.

To celebrate a whole new year, we’ll be rockin our annual New Year’s Day party on Monday and I want to encourage any of you who might find yourselves in or near Charlotte to please drop by. We started the NYD party concept when we realized that NYE was pretty much over for us until Zoe and Lucy get a social life. But we have a history of lovely happy and sometimes hard core new year’s eves and we just felt like we needed to continue to celebrate, even if we didn’t have the wherewithall to stay up drinking champan-ya til the wee hours (thanks to the wee ones). It won’t be quite the same here in Charlotte what with so many of our favorite loved ones still in Durham, but we’re forging ahead in the hopes of crafting new traditions around this holiday of renewal and hope.

So come on by and say hello. I’ll be servin up collards and black eyed peas all day and I’d love to put some wealth and luck into your tummy too.

And if I don’t see you, I offer you the world’s best recipe for collards (reblogged from last year) so you can put wealth into your tummy all by yourself if you want.

+++

Braised Collards

  • 4 bunches of collards, long stems and tough ribs removed
  • Salt
  • 1/4 cup Brown Butter (recipe included)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground dried chipotle
  • Pepper vinegar (recipe follows)

Wash the greens thoroughly in a whole lot of water (I fill my sink and wash them in there). Place the dripping wet leaves in a pot of water, add salt (to taste). Cook the greens for about 10 minutes (until they’re all wilted and reduced down quite a bit). Remove to a bowl. Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water.

Heat 1/4 cup unsalted butter on medium-low until it turns brown and nutty. Strain off the milk-fat solids. (This is something I make a big batch of ahead-of-time and keep in the fridge.) Increase the heat to medium. Add the onion, garlic, pepper flakes and chipotle, stirring occasionally until the garlic is lightly colored and onion is soft. Add the greens, their reserved cooking water, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Cook for 30 minutes and taste again for salt (they can use a lot). You can continue cooking until the greens are “within an inch of their life” or you can stop here. The longer they cook, the better they’ll taste.

Serve with pepper vinegar on the side.

Recipe for Pepper Vinegar: 1 cup white vinegar + 4 oz serrano chiles. Drop the washed and dried chiles into a bottle that has been freshly washed in hot, soapy water. (A narrow neck bottle is preferable so the vinegar can be drizzled rather than poured, but it doesn’t really matter.) Bring the vinegar to a boil in a small pan, then transfer to the bottle (via a measuring cup or some other easy-pouring device). Let it sit uncapped until cool. The peppers will absorb some of the vinegar. Add more vinegar to fill the bottle, then cap and set aside in the cupboard. The vinegar will be best if you make this about 6 weeks ahead. But you can speed the process by using sliced peppers rather than whole. Fwiw, whole peppers makes the finished bottle a little more artistic looking, but the main goal is spicy vinegar for your collards, so taste trumps all.

(Thanks to Deborah Madison for the original recipe, which has been helping me for many years to make people’s New Years just that much luckier and fortunier.)

+++

Happy New Year to you all. I hope it brings you everything you wish for, and then some.

See you on the other side.

Love Thursday: Who’s the lucky one?

By | house, love thursday, photos | 7 Comments

Once upon a time we lived in Durham. We had a large living room and we added built-in bookshelves with plenty of space for books and picture frames and “objets.” (Pron: Ob-jay. It’s French you know. For knick-knacks.) Then we moved to Charlotte. We now have an even larger living room, but we have no bookshelves, and no space for books and picture frames and objets. So one day my husband, the man who has been making my heart lurch for 14 years now, drew a picture of some boxes. He took that picture to the Home Depot and bought some wood. He brought that wood home and cut it into pieces. He took those pieces and put them together to make boxes. He took those boxes and he painted them. Then he took the painted boxes and put them on the wall in our living room. And wala! We now have a place for books and picture frames and objets.

Look at them! Aren’t they amazing?! And my husband, the man who has been making the corners of my mouth turn upward for 14 years now, designed, built and hung them. Just, you know, because we needed a place for books and picture frames and objets.

And his birthday was this past Monday! So I have lots of reasons to share Bob with you this Love Thursday.

Happy Birthday sweetie. I love you, and your right brain, and your initiative, and your left brain, and your whole sweet self.

I’m the lucky one.

Alive and Kicking it

By | house, moving, thoughts | 5 Comments

So. Hi everyone. Um, how’s it going? Some weather we’ve been having, eh? Heh heh.Yeah. Well, uh, as you may have noticed, I’ve been a little off the radar while we’re trying to put our life back together in the aftermath of our house sale, house purchase and move to a new town that all took place in a 4 week period. I know there are crazier lives than mine. I know I’m a notoriously stressed-out mover. And I know that I have a tendency to whine about things that feel to me as though they might cause my head to spin off into orbit around a distant, unnamed star, but don’t sound all that bad to anyone else. So for that reason, I’m not going to write a ridiculously long and tedious recap of our move. In fact, I’m not even sure what I am going to write about. I just miss writing to you so I thought I’d sit down and say some things.

We went to the beach last week with my family. My parents, my brother and his wife and daughter. Me, Bob, Zoe, Lucy. The last time we went to the beach was last August — same family trip, different beach. The night of the day we arrived at the beach, Lucy woke up burning with fever, vomiting all over her bed and covered with a rash. Zoe, of course, copied her later the next day. We thought they might have chicken pox. Turns out they had strep throat. The whole trip. My niece Tess was only 6 months old and was still a delicate flower who had not been sick yet. Her mom was frantic with worry that she might get sick. I had two sick 3 year olds. My mom had two sick granddaughters and a stressed out daughter and daughter-in-law. Bob left early to go to a wedding that we both should have gone to but we couldn’t bring the girls since they were scheduled to be violently ill with strep throat. My brother and father played some golf and watched the olympics, but when asked, said they were sorta stressed out too. Suffice to say, it wasn’t our most relaxed family beach trip.

So there was a lot riding on this year’s trip. We planned it (last year) even though we knew we would probably have just moved. Because, you know, we needed something else on our schedule for August. But as the time drew closer and we realized we would be able to go, I figured, “Heck. How stressful can a beach trip be? By that time, we’ll need a vacation, right?”

With that lead-in, doesn’t it sound like I’m about to tell you how horrible the trip was? And what a mistake it was to plan down-time in the middle of a life that resembles the fast-paced torture of bamboo strips in your fingernails? Heck, I don’t even know what that last sentence means!

Well my friends. It may not be as blogworthy, but I’m here to say the beach trip was fabulous. Great weather (it was about 278 degrees each day, but we had Ocean Breezes® and Kool Waves®. And plenty of sexy, glistening 45 spf sunscreen.). Great company (a family can prove quite palliative at certain times in a girl’s life). Great beach (our first trip to Oak Island, NC — amazingly off the beaten path). And great timing (everyone on this trip had some sort of hard time leading up to this trip, so we were all real happy to be there.) Zoe and Lucy, who were not thrilled with the ocean and the sand and the wind last year (fever. strep. rash.) were like little sand fleas this year. They would gladly and happily stay down on the beach from 6am til 8pm if they weren’t governed by boring big people with absolutely no sense of Fun in the Sun®. The waves didn’t scare them, the salt in their eyes got blithely rubbed away. The sand was caked on their bodies like wet concrete and they were totally unaware of the sandpaper effect on their precious smooth thighs. If only they had brown (or at least brownable) skin — they’d have been all set. Bob played hard with them every day, all day, digging humongous holes for them to dive into, building tall mountains for them to ride their boogie boards down, loading them on his back and carrying them out to sea. We ate great food, had good talks at night, didn’t sleep enough. In short, it was a lovely trip.

As for life in Charlotte, we’re slowly working on getting it together. Lots of boxes still fill the guest room (our ersatz attic for now, since the house doesn’t actually have an attic) and we don’t really have a place to put all our books, prompting us to say things like “We don’t really need all these books do we? Why do we have so many books? Let’s sell them all.”, but the house is looking and feeling pretty good, for the most part. The kitchen is totally unpacked and the girls’ room is totally unpacked — at which point I’m willing to say “All done!” Most importantly, the girls appear to be pretty settled in. In the couple of weeks following the move, they’d talk to me at night (emotional weakpoint of the day — for me too) telling me about all the people they miss from Durham. One night it would be all our neighbors, including Bill, with whom we exchanged perhaps 20 words in 6 1/2 years. Another night it would be all their friends from preschool. Then one night Lucy said to me, “Mama. I changed my mind. I don’t want to move to Charlotte.”

So we moved back.

No, not really. We’re still here. Settling in. Learning our way around (today’s Charlotte is a very different place from the Charlotte I grew up in. The roads! The shopping centers! The sprawl!). Starting over.

Thanks for your patience this last month. I’ll try to be a better blog pal from now on.

One Red Paperclip = House

By | house, sites to see | One Comment

Have any of you been following Kyle MacDonald and his one red paperclip adventure? If not, here’s the quick rundown: July 12, 2005 he posted a picture of one red paperclip on his website and offered to trade it for anything. His goal was to keep trading upwardly until he got a house. One year, 14 trades and many tv and radio appearances later, he has done it. Check it out, y’all. The power of the internets + original idea.

Meanwhile, we’re moving into our new house (the day after Kyle moves into his) on July 13. We didn’t have any paperclips to spare, so we just traded a lot of money for ours.

The corner of Thomas and School

By | house, moving | 2 Comments

So we made an offer.
Then they counter offered.
Then we counter offered their counter offer.
Then they counter offered our counter offer of their counter offer saying “this is the price it needs to be for us.”
Then we counter offered their counter offer of our counter offer of their counter offer saying, “this is the price it needs to be for us.”

Then.

They came back to us with the number we really wanted all along.
(O the love we have for our clever clever realtor.)

As of today we will be under contract.

Breath baited

By | house, moving | 3 Comments

(The offer is on the table. It’s a good offer. We accepted it. We’re not under contract yet, but they are in the house right now taking pictures. Good signs, no? More when I can.)

Dirty Deed? Done! Cheap, but not dirt cheap.

By | house, moving, sites to see | 3 Comments

Drumroll please…
(Have I requested too many drumrolls lately? I feel like I’ve requested too many drumrolls lately. You would tell me, right?)

Anyway. Drumroll, yadda yadda. I am pleased to announce:

206 Hammond Street, our beloved humble abode, is officially for sale.

Anyone want to buy a really freakin great house? It’s a 1923 bungalow we renovated ourselves (with a lot of help from Steve), 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, 1 office with its own separate entrance (or 4th bedroom. Do you need 4 bedrooms? We can accommodate! Got a teenager you don’t want crawling out a 2nd floor window at night? Heck! Give him this room with its own private entrance!), 10 ft ceilings, hardwood floors, fabulous light-filled kitchen with black and white floor (classic!), laundry room (not laundry in the basement, people. Laundry room!), lovingly landscaped backyard with lots of stuff from my southern mom’s garden, humongous front porch with archetypally perfect porch swing, big ole oak tree in the front yard just begging for a tire swing, great neighbors and walking distance from the museum.

I’m telling you people — you want this house. You need this house.

At the very least please send us strong Sell Your Freakin House Quick! vibes. If you think I’ve been horrible company the past 2 months while we molded and prodded and, yes, spanked (but just a little) the house into the best shape of its life, you really won’t want to be around me in two months if the house is still ours.

I’m just sayin.

Where else is Laurie?

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