Monday, January 21, 2013

Feast and Plague

I don't know about you Internet folk, or specifically you people I adore in far off lands like Athens, Georgia, but here in Austin we're in the middle of a full-on flu-plague.  I guess Texas is too expansive to warrant a NY-style state of emergency situation related to illness, but I'm not exaggerating when I tell you that everyone I hold near and dear (and even those people I just kind of know) here has been under the weather.    I lived under a fleece blanket for about a week, and as soon as I was better, John needed to take similar shelter.  We have spent a Benjamin on medicine.  Finally, and fingers crossed, we have come out of the other side.

As I rotated helping to care for J and various family members over the past few weeks (my dad was perhaps the most difficult patient, but he and I are cut from the same hypochondria-cal cloth, so no judgment), I did finally truly understand the healing powers of eating right during an illness.  There's a reason why soup is the miracle sick-food; it's got the essential, ancient base of broth and becomes a vessel in which you can throw anything into--veggies, lean meats, aromatic spices, you know the drill.  The best part is that if you have some chicken or veggie stock on hand, good soup requires no recipe outside of a little imagination and understanding of what's good for your sick-y people.  And I never realized how well paprika and cumin hang out together in a bowl.

I've been cooking A LOT lately; in fact, J is in the process of designing a new food blog for me that will be replete with recipes.  I'll share the link soon, but in the meantime, here's a little photo montage of what we've been up to.  Highlights: a wedding in a cave in Boerne, Texas (pronounced Bernie)--a town that has delightful people but a Yelp presence that hasn't been updated in years; we tried to hunt down many establishments that apparently do not exist, including a Starbucks I desperately needed.  Also lots of cuddling with the cats during our illnesses.  The aforementioned cooking.  Running when we can.  And hosting a couple of gatherings in which I get caught off guard by the camera (see below).

HI! to all my friends and family that are still reading. Miss you.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Finally, some holiday weather

All over Austin today tags finally got ripped from sad sweaters on shelves. When we get any kind of cold snap here, everyone wears as many layers as they can stand. As if they wish they lived in Minnesota. But they live in the middle of Texas.

Here's a mini photo essay of twinkly lights, wine, holiday colors, and some precocious cars who are NOT allowed outside ;)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Books and baking

I was fortunate enough to see Deb Perelman speak at BookPeople here in Austin last Friday; she's the New York food blogger who turned a simple site ( into a cottage industry--and now a top-selling cookbook.  She's not your average blogger.  She can write with unforced wit and charm, for starters, and every recipe post is more a story and a slice of life than it is...well, a recipe.  Plus, bottom line, I respect that she's turned a small kitchen-based endeavor into a lucrative financial venture.  For as many bloggers that start out with exactly that goal is mind, few really ever succeed.  My best guess as to her success is that she's tapped into amateur chefs' need for a loose but guiding structure in their experimental cooking.  A friend, if you will.

All that to say, I also wanted to write this entry to support BookPeople Austin's efforts and encourage everyone here to keep supporting the BEST and really ONLY remaining large independent bookstore in our midst.  That (by my estimation) about 500 people showed up on a Friday evening to talk crepes, get a book signed, and wander around browsing in a bookstore tells me that 1) I live in the right town and 2) people still crave cultural gatherings, plus thank goodness we've got a place that prioritizes hosting them.

Here is my effort to make one of Perelman's most popular new recipes--maple bacon biscuits.  I baked up a storm for Game Day this past Saturday but forgot to document the cinnamon squares I also made, mostly because once they exited the oven we were digging into the gooey layers.

The biscuits turned out wonderfully, but hey Deb, here's a message from my bacon- (and overall, just breakfast-) obsessed boyfriend: they need more bacon.

So the Dawgs lost, but our house won because it was filled with bacon and sugar.  Also jalapenos, pictured below as well.  John's pepper patch has exploded.


Christmas in Tejas

The humidity is here to stay. I drink hot cocoa defiantly and relish in the ability to run in shorts in December.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A big fat gap

To the friends and family who graciously keep up with this blog (many of whom have emailed me over the last few months wondering, "what the hell"):

I'm in the process of re-doing my entire web presence, and may start a "real" (i.e. professionally designed and much more focused) blog soon.  In the meantime, some quick updates--

Here's a link to a great new essay collection on the more complicated aspects of Louisiana history, being published by Wiley in January and featuring a piece on race relations by yours truly.  Order a copy, please, and help save books written by real historians.

What else.  My niece and nephew grow like weeds.  John and I cook A LOT of Mexican food and got addicted to Homeland.  I began a little job at the French Legation Museum in East Austin, where we research the Republic period and things like Pig Wars (which are real, and thank you, years and years of grad school, for prepping me to handle something so strange in a historiographical manner) and cooking pots.  The experience has even further ignited in me a need to work in the public history realm, and I'll share more on that end with you soon.


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Life lately

Life during my first two full months as an Austinite, in drinks and suppers and cuddly moments with my niece and nephew. Also, next on my writing agenda is a screenplay about what happens when you re-find someone you knew when you were a child and everything suddenly makes sense again. Cheers to strange twists of fate and new beginnings.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Photoessay: mid-July

My friend Meredith and I have systematically invaded the east side of Austin on a hunt for new coffee shops and watering holes (highlights: Weatherup, Papi Tinos, where a DJ spins during brunch, Blue Dahlia). My dad and I hit up the Paramount downtown for a classic film series. My nephew has yet to learn how to smile, but I promise he likes me. And Antone's has quickly become my favorite smaller music venue here.

Happy Saturday, folks.