Sunday Not-So-Detox: Austin’s Food Trucks

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I was down in Austin this weekend for a friend’s wedding, and spent the entire weekend in beautiful 75-degree weather reconnecting with Austin’s awesomeness.

The strip of outdoor cocktail lounges on Rainey Street, the beautiful running path along the Colorado River, and the line of craft fairs and antique shops on South Congress are enough to fill a weekend.  But, the food trucks made the biggest impression on me.  Unlike NYC where the food trucks are aplenty but typically organized into particular days or parking lots (think Smorgasburg), Austin’s food trucks are peppered throughout the city in the most accessible and delicious of fashion.  While there are a lot of great restaurants in Austin, I was really digging the food truck culture that seems so rampant.  Grab your food from a truck, grab your beer from a bar, and chill out on a picnic bench for the afternoon.

I only had so much time to make the most of the chill vibe, so I spent some time (perhaps more than I’m willing to admit!) finding the best food trucks in town.  Here’s my newly developed cheat sheet.

Paperboy:  My favorite, hands down.  A simple and delicious breakfast menu with sunnyside up eggs, sweet potato hash and chorizo.  A few picnic benches out front.  Sunshine.  Morning complete.

Gourdough’s Doughnuts:  We were chasing this homage to all things doughnut all weekend, and made the mistake of thinking it would be a nice dessert to top off the evening.  It’s more of a full meal — or two — but worth every calorie.  I’ve got a savory palate, so I went with the Mother Clucker (fried chicken with honey butter) but each concoction on the menu looked delicious.

Masala Dhaba:  On the popular Rainey street, Masala Dhaba is tucked inside a few of the craft breweries on the strip.  Delicious authentic Indian food (order the goat curry and garlic naan) on the cheap.

I’m heading back to the east coast bright and early tomorrow morning and already having a little bit of separation anxiety – this food and this weather is going to be tough to leave.

&d

Sunday Detox: Recommitting

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As you’ve probably noticed, I’m a big fan of making commitments at the beginning of the year.  I build an aggressive reading list and bucket list to chart out what I want to accomplish in the year to come.  I have a lot of friends who are staunchly opposed to making resolutions because they find it artificial, arbitrary, or too focused on negative qualities.  I get that.

But, for me, the tiny life pause that comes at the end of the year is a perfect time to focus on – and sometimes even more importantly organize – the personal goals I have for myself.  They’re usually not focused on changing things that I don’t like or think I should do less of (eat healthier, lose weight, stop killing your plants, etc.) but more on the positive things that I want to introduce to my routine.

Fast forward to the end of February and life has started to get in the way.  The life pause feels further away.  My intentions for the year are in the back of my mind, but the detail is foggy.  So, I’m using this Sunday to recommit, to take a look at those goals, to see how they might have changed for me over the past few months, and to see how I’ve done so far.

Let’s take a look at my reading list first.  So far, so good, thanks to the ladies from Prose and Hos(e).  I’m trying to read 40 books this year, and I’m on my 4th.  I have a little bit of catching up to do, but The Luminaries was a BEAST of a book, so I’m thinking I can pick up the pace.

  1. Me Before You by JoJo Moyes  (An easy, poignant read – check out Taryn’s review)
  2. The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton (An 800+ page tome.  Slowed down my progress but it was worth it.  Catton is a masterful storyteller, but you need to be ready to commit.  An openness to the supernatural helps.)
  3. Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari and Eric Klinenberg (I fell in love with Aziz on Parks & Rec and loved the mixed style of vingette and social science, but this book could have been half its length and just as effective. Most interesting, I bet, for folks who are navigating the world of online dating.)
  4. This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper (in progress!)
  5. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
  6. The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson
  7. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
  8. Empire Falls by Richard Russo
  9. Patron Saint of Liars by Ann Patchett
  10. Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
  11. All the Light we Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
  12. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
  13. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon
  14. The Power Broker by Robert Caro
  15. On Looking: 11 Walks with Expert Eyes by Alexandra Horowitz
  16. Unfinished Business by Anne-Marie Slaughter
  17. The Wright Brothers by David McCullough
  18. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks
  19. The Power of Unreasonable Peoplby John Elkington, Pamela Hartigan
  20. Susan Sontag The Complete Rolling Stone Interview by Jonathan Cot

On to my 2016 bucket list.  I’ve been a little bit of a homebody, concentrating my success on the reading and writing items on my list.  I am excited by the fact that I’ve made regular writing a habit for work and play, writing about 4 short form pieces a week for various forums.  That was a longtime goal of mine, and it’s now a regular practice that I love for all the reasons I thought it would.

Big accomplishment, for sure.  But, most of the items on this list have gone untouched.  Most of my time out and about in the city has been consumed by the standard drinks, dinner, coffee with friends and family.  Time to shake it up if I’m hoping to accomplish the rest of this list.  Excuses about the NYC winter be damned.

  1. MOMA PS1
  2. US Open
  3. Met Opera
  4. 9/11 Memorial
  5. Momufuku
  6. Mission Chinese
  7. Rockclimbing
  8. Bike all five boroughs
  9. Walk across the Manhattan bridge (with earplugs)
  10. Take a Soulcycle class (What IS all the hype about?!)
  11. Run a 10K
  12. Stay in crow pose for more than 2 seconds
  13. Take an Indian cooking class
  14. Read 24 fiction books (on my way with 4 down)
  15. Write twice a week
  16. Make homemade Gnocci
  17. Make Tamales
  18. Make Tagine
  19. Make Beignets
  20. Build a Gingerbread house (Kind of – do gingerbread men count?) 
  21. Grow tomatoes (take that Brooklyn!)
  22. Learn to sew (don’t judge me for not knowing…)
  23. Learn to crochet
  24. Buy a lifetime supply of cloth napkins and ban paper towels

Well, that felt useful for me.  Not sure how useful it was for you, dear reader.  But I’m feeling one part proud of what I’ve accomplished, one part recommitted to what I haven’t, and one part super hungry for tamales at 8am on a Sunday.

&d

P.S.  Who here wants to teach me how to sew?

My Superbowl Spread

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February. The most hated month of the year. There are really only a couple of bright spots and one of them is Superbowl. Even if you aren’t into football or your team never makes it (goddamn Jets), the Superbowl is more about good food, fun commercials and of course the puppybowl.

My friends had their annual Chili Cook-off last weekend. This is easily one of my favorite parties of the year. These people are from Kansas and take their chili very seriously. They get really creative and always delicious and lucky me I get to be a judge :). This year I am taking my favorites from the Chili Cook-off parties and translating it into the perfect Superbowl menu.

Last year’s chili winner, a White Chili,  is hands down my favorite chili ever (sorry Mom). I am obsessed!!  Kellie kicked it up by using ghost peppers and made it amazingly spicy.  So delicious. Great now I’m hungry.  I’ve been threatening to make this chili for the past year and never got around to it.  This weekend is the perfect time to finally make it and really impress people.

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This year for the party I entered my Buffalo Chicken meatballs in the sides competition.  Buffalo anything is usually a huge crowd pleaser.  These meatballs are no different and they are a healthy and easier version of wings.  That is until you dip the whole thing in ranch.  This is my go to recipe because it has about 3-4 ingredients and takes a little over two hours.  Just make sure to make enough because people love them and 24 meatballs go quick.

 

Now that I have my menu down the only thing to do is decide between Panthers or Broncos.  The Panther colors are much better but I love Peyton! Decisions, decisions.

&t

A New Orleans New Year’s Eve

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‘Tis the season, and we’re getting way ahead of ourselves – skipping right past Hannukah, Kwanza, Festivus and Christmas and planning for New Year’s Eve!  The plan this year:  an intimate New Orleans style masquerade dinner party, complete with poker, masks, and absinthe (if we’re feeling dangerous).

Having a great theme has injected a ridiculous – bordering on unhealthy, frankly – level of excitement around New Year’s Eve.  So, we’ve started menu and event planning.

For the menu, we’re rounding up our favorite New Orleans recipes.  The last time I was in New Orleans, I picked up The New Orleans Cookbook that promises classic meals from the city’s best chefs. So, I’m dusting it off the shelf that it’s been sitting on for way too long and going all out.

To whet our appetite…

  • Muffalata Deviled Eggs
  • Gumbo Dip
  • Okra Hush Puppies

For the main meal…

  • Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

And for dessert…

  • Classic King Cake
  • Beignets (first ever attempt at these tricky, delicious bites – fingers crossed!)

And for the main event… well, poker goes a long way.  But we’re also thinking we need a little something for those of us who don’t have the strongest poker faces (It’s sometimes just too exciting to get matching cards, isn’t it?).  So, we’re going to arm our guests with glitter, sparkles, feathers, and puff paint and have them create their own masks.  The not-so-unintended consequence: everyone will have a mask! No exceptions. I’m still a little traumatized from our Halloween party where only 3 of the 45 guests had costumes.  I’m done with the opt-in approach.

Between now and NYE we’re looking for more ideas to make this shindig as authentic New Orleans as we can get.  What NOLA inspired recipes and party ideas do you have in your arsenal?  Help us make this NYE as fabulous as possible!

We’ll be sharing the final recipes, make-your-own mask plan, and the pictures (all those that are appropriate anyway…) after we’ve rung in the New Year.  ‘Til then, joyeuses fêtes!

&d