Recently, I have been eating out less and less. Mainly due to most of the "great" local restaurants not taking reservations and having a 2 hour wait. It's beyond annoying to wait that long on a Tuesday for dinner. We however, still find ourselves dining out about once a week and tend to gravitate towards those places with the most sentimental value. Do you do that with restaurants? You know how when you hear a certain song, it takes you back to a specific time or feeling or person? Well, I do that with restaurants too. There's the place we first met...which became the place we "wedding bombed". We showed up for dinner and quietly were pronounced at our table of 5 between the entree and dessert. There's the place we had our first date...which became the place Adam proposed. The place that catered my fashion week event last year and the place I would get coffee and breakfast tacos when I used to set up Manic Trout on South Congress. New places are added to the list all the time...the place I hired my current assistant has only held that title for a few months now. Some I never even eat at anymore...like the place we got married. I'm not in love with the food, but every time we drive by it, I announce why it's special to me. I actually recite wistfully what sentimental power is held by a restaurant every time I eat there, see it or think of it. Some people like to think back only on all of the delicious food they enjoyed in a place, but I find myself remembering just as fondly, all of the wonderful people, conversations and mile stones that happened while we were there more than the food.
When Adam and I were walking through a deserted 11:30pm airport Sunday night after our 40 hour trip to NYC this past weekend, I looked at him and said "you know, I was never one of those people who wanted to travel for work or spend all of my free time traveling". I wanted to be a designer, dammit. All of this traveling is becoming a pain in the ass and messing up my schedule in doing what I did dream of doing. 5 trips in as many months has left me never wanting to leave the house again. It also has made me ponder how hard it is to maintain a healthy lifestyle when traveling. Forget that once I return, I have missed that weeks farmers market and skipped the day I grocery shop, and have so much to catch up on with Manic Trout, that I have no time to exercise all week. The real problem is what to do while actually gone?
If you fly Jet Blue, the terminals and flights offer at least a bit of health options (there has been much time in airports as Austin airport is not big enough to justify direct flights) but on most of the other airlines, you're SOL. Once you arrive at your destination, the real fun begins...living in hotels, eating only at restaurants and being a guest. I prefer to not make a big deal out of my food allergies, I find it annoying when people are picky as guests. I normally just work around it, and its pretty easy to avoid aged cheese, red wine and good chocolate but being lactose intolerant, always avoiding dairy is not so easy. However, with the last one, its an intolerance, I'll live...so I just suck it up and go with the flow. Except people keep making creamed soups as the main course...what is that all about anyway?
Once we bump allergies and intolerances out of the way...then there is dealing with the preferred way to eat. As I discussed last week, I tend to gravitate to super heathy eating habits, avoid GMO's, buy organic and avoid refined flour and dairy. Traveling makes me understand that there are small pockets of the country where lots of people eat like this, I have been lucky enough to have lived the last decade in these places because wow, its hard to eat this way in a lot of the US! Again though, as not one to ruffle feathers when I'm a guest, I just go with the flow and work around it...which means I usually feel sick to my stomach or hungry most of the time which results in my fall back crisis mode...eat as much sugar as I can get my hands on. This last trip resulted in my eating a large amount of the most delicious and tiniest cupcakes I have ever laid eyes on.
There are times when I can get to a store and stock up on apples, almonds and other snacks so at least I'm not starving to death, but other than that do you have any suggestions of how to maintain a healthy lifestyle when traveling?
oh and ps, I have not taken one photo of food on any of the 5 trips...except those cupcakes
Until I was six I was not allowed to eat sugar in any form. My birthday cakes were little health bombs disguised as confections and I had never laid eyes on a piece of candy. This all ended when I was given a marshmallow on a play date and came home in tears that I was denied the wonderment that is sugar all of my life. As you can imagine, a child who does not eat sugar is raised in a super healthy manner which besides the sadness of the no sugar thing, it made my body crave that lifestyle.
Besides allowing myself sugar now (although the older I get, the more I try and restrict that...until I fall off the wagon and eat a pound of sour gummy worms in one sitting), I still gravitate to an almost vegetarian diet and enjoy this way of eating the most. Although sometimes a wrench gets thrown in the works and I get all out of whack, like when Adam and I moved in together. He shunned most of what I ate and with both of us being busy, we compromised by eating out a lot. Adam was eating every single meal out and even though I was at least eating two meals a day at home, we ate dinner out or had take out about every night.
Last month I hired a new studio manager at Manic Trout and found myself not having to work as crazy hours. I also found myself not fitting perfectly into some of my favorite clothes (partly as we are coming out of winter, but mostly the eating out is to blame). At this same time, I read about a cookbook that inspired me to get back in the kitchen. I made a few dinners and Adam asked why on earth was I not cooking more. Really because when I cook dinner, from start to finish it takes about three hours and I don't always have the time, but I have been able to do so more often this last month so we'll see.
I have also been enjoying cooking as a way to let off steam at the end of the day. Its much more satisfy to roast a chicken than it is to make a sandwich for dinner. It makes the little amount of time we spend together that much more special to sit down at a dinner I made for us. We both grew up in families where dinner together was a non negotiable ritual and I think that when you choose to not have kids, that ritual sometimes gets left behind without realizing it. We also started visiting the local farmers market together on a regular basis a few weeks ago as a sort of day date. In a way, we are just changing date nights from happening at restaurants to our own house. Instead of spending the time getting dressed up, I've been spend it cooking, ha!
This past week I bought another book...I think the key to cooking is to be inspired a bit and at the moment the books are doing it for me. Last night I made a meal I read about in the new book that I assumed Adam would run away from as there was an abundance of kale. Turns out, he liked it so much that he is still talking about it today. The down side is that he also declared that I was a culinary genius and that I have officially claimed the title as official house chef. I didn't real feel that was an honor...more that I have been relegated to do alot of work, ha! In reality though, I love leftovers and some of the week, like tonight, I have to work late and Adam will be home after dinner, so I really only am cooking 3 or 4 nights a week and creating enough food to fill the fridge. It also means I can be ultra lazy at lunchtime and just grab something already made and heat it up.
Some days, even if they start out really well can take a toll on you. Admittedly, I may be taking on an insane amount at the moment. I'm loving being so busy, but in stay on top of deadlines I have been stealing some time from my allotted sleep time. As usual, I also have cut exercise down to give me a few extra hours each week as right now working 16 hour days is necessary. Less sleep + less exercise + a huge amount of stress and well...you get the idea. There were tears. I however wiped my eyes dry and pulled myself together long enough to stop at Hey Cupcake on my way back from the afternoon post office run for a Red Velvet pick me up. In a moment of rare logical thinking, I opted to take it home with me and have a 20 minute nap before cupcake time. Its amazing the restorative powers a quick bit of shut eye and a yummy burst of sugar (esp as I've been trying to not eat candy again) can do for your state of mind. I feel immensely better and it gave me the energy to get back to work full speed ahead...yay!!
Well, on the edge of consuming so much sugar that I become diabetic (can you do that?), get sick and die. I have mentioned before that I love to bake. If you have been reading the blog for a few years, you may recall the great rainbow cake experience of 2010. It seems however that moving to Austin has pushed my baking bug into overdrive. This is somewhat unfortunate as I see considerably less people in my day to day life and therefore have no one to eat all of these confections. So guess who eats most of them...yeah, that's right...this girl. Sadly I end up tossing a good deal of baked goodies in the trash to 1. save my waistline from not being able to fit into the wedding gown I have already ordered and 2. because after a week of sitting on the counter, I'm not sure it's safe to be eating frosted goodies.
I have however realized that even if my efforts are not all gobbled up, my love of baking grows stronger more and more every year. Baking is my go to activity when I'm super busy with work and need a break. It forces me to slow down, take my time following directions and I get to clean...which always makes me feel better. The best part is that when its all done, I get a yummy treat. With all that goes wrong in the design process and the continuous need to obtain new knowledge to run a website and a business, its wonderful to know that you still can take a few simple ingredients from the pantry and create something so wonderful.
So today I have decided to let myself live a little on the edge and bake to my hearts content. I started trolling google for awesome baking blogs to add to my reader and inspire me. There is one blog I read that occasionally features a cupcake recipe. I have jumped up from my computer mid post on almost every single one to bake them...even the Vegan recipe which tasted kind of like water but were surprisingly moist. It's actually that impulse that has held me back from reading blogs dealing exclusively with baking...but I'm not holding back anymore!! I already have my eye on making red velvet cake balls covered in white chocolate for Valentine's Day...yum!
Do you read (or write!) any baking blogs? I would love recommendations...please share in the comments below!
There's something exceptionally cathartic about baking when I'm stressed out. You take a bunch of very boring in their own right ingredients (which I store in pretty jars so I'll admit that its kind of exciting to get out the stuff to begin with) follow some instructions, mix them up in a bowl, stick them in the oven and POW! You have awesomeness and pretty instant and spectacular results. I was having a low morning. Adam is away again (I have hardly seen him this month), I'm stressed from the online holiday craziness, the shows I have coming up and all the usual December brouhaha. I also have been working on some big plans for next year that I'll talk about soon (but its exciting!) that are insanely stressful, no matter how joyous. Add to that the extreme stress of traveling back east for Christmas and having to make sure I see everyone and everything that all of that entails and...well it makes for a bit overwhelmedness. Yes, I know that's not a word.
So this morning when I saw this post on
I'm not really a breakfast person. I would prefer to just have a cup of coffee, which I do usually have first...but I need to eat something within the first hour I'm awake or I get all shaky. The dilemma is what can I eat that's small, gives me energy and is quick to make? For years I would make the same breakfast everyday for a few months and then get bored and move on the the next. I however read recently that it's better for you to mix it up and not repeat the same food multiple days in a row. So recently I have been alternating a Wasa cracker with natural chunky peanut butter and local honey with a small bowl of cereal of almond milk. Then this week I was craving egg salad so I hard boiled a bunch off eggs and kept a few in the fridge. Now my new favorite thing is 2 hard boiled eggs with a sprinkle of Jane's Crazy Mixed Up Salt (the BEST stuff on earth!) So yummy! But I 'm feeling like I want a new mini meal to throw in the mix...any suggestions?
It has been months and months since I have enjoyed scrumptiously yummy Macarons. That is just cruel to treat myself that way! I did a bit of sleuthing of where to find the best Macarons in Austin and have narrowed in down to two places:
Have any of you been to either eatery or have any other recommendations of where to get the yummiest Macarons? I think tomorrow afternoon I'll take a field trip and fill my craving...I can't wait!
All images may be found on
There was an extremely slow and yet methodical stock boy bogarting the red grapes at the HEB when I stupidly went there during the after work rush yesterday. I tried to get around him and just grab a bag, but he stepped in my path and glared at me. So I shopped for the rest of my produce to give the kid some time to finish up and came back a few minutes later. I waited. He was still re-stuffing, re-twisting, re-organizing...come on man, there is a line forming! There seriously were a cluster of us watching him, waiting to jump in at the moment of his departure, when some blessed soul asked the kid for some help elsewhere. The guy in front of me leaped forward and I swear fondled every. single. bag. of. grapes. At this point I didn't even want red grapes anymore and instead grabbed a bag of seedless black grapes just so I could move it along. I snacked on a few as I was washing them last night and quickly remembered how AWESOME perfect black grapes were...WINNING!