But who cares about that. Let's get to the good stuff. Food. Baby nephew. Family time. Bike rides. Animal snuggling. Heat stroke...ok maybe not the last one, but Texas in September is still ridiculously hot. Tomorrow will be better though with high's in the 70s. Too bad I'm at the airport, poised to get back to Maine now.
So where do I start? I came down for Gabriel's first birthday. It was a year ago today that he came into our lives and entire week early just to hang out with me! Or at least that's the way I see it. Since then, he's grown into the cutest little munkin (pumpkin and monkey put together) and I can't wait to see him at Christmas. Delish cupcakes were ordered for Gabriel's day before his birthday picnic at deep eddy pool. Since I would be leaving before his actual party, I decided I needed to give him my presents early and in person as well as ordering (and eating) way too many cupcakes for the event. I had ordered cupcakes from Polkadot Cupcake Shop for Erica's baby shower one were and a year ago but this time we decided to try Delish. They were WAY better and oh so tasty. If you are ever in Austin, go for the chocolate cupcake with chocolate or strawberry icing. Those are hands-down the best!
In order to eat these cupcakes (and EVERYTHING else I consumed over ten days of bliss in Texas), Daddy and I rode 205 miles total over six bike rides together. There was a lot of headwind but my dad's response to that is "The wind is our friend. It helps make us strong!" Ugh. In my head, I was singing Kelly Clarkson's "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger..." But we had a blast and saw much more that we would have just driving down the roads we traveled. We observed hawks, frolicking cows, GIANT spiders, a frog, flattened snakes, egrets, vultures, African wildlife on a ranch, longhorn cattle, a coyote, and much more!
After one of these rides, Daddy and I went to Wheatsville Coop for some African peanut stew, a smell and taste I hadn't experiences since my time in Madison 6 years ago and some spicy mango quinoa. To recreate this, cook white quinoa and add chopped up jalapeños (minus the seeds), cut up small mango chunks and cilantro. I will be thinking of replicating the peanut soup in the near future.
After other bike rides, we grabbed delicious tacos at Torcheys Tacos or a Thundercloud sub. The tacos are made fresh and I can't help getting a legit breakfast taco with bacon, cheese and eggs while Erica and Daddy enjoy fajita tacos, fried avocado and more. The sandwiches are always a favorite for me too. If I could find a place that made such fresh and tasty sandwiches, my life in Maine would be complete (minus the dog, bigger apartment, completely fulfilling job, stable relationship, inevitable kids, etc). I always get the Veggie Delight on wheat complete with hummus, sprouts, cucumbers, tomato, avocado, and extra red onions! This is the perfect lunch after a long ride. As my running friends can attest to, I don't like to drink or eat "naughty" things after I exercise.
The most incredible food experience that happened in Texas was on my sister date. We went to Uchiko, a Japanese restaurant created by geniuses. I was lucky that no one around us could hear us as we are. "Nom nom nom" and different levels of moaning were involved...each dish was incredibly delicious and one was so good that I just had to order a second round! We ordered a total of five appetizers, two sashimi, four sushi rolls and two desserts with two drinks each. Thank you to our very generous mama bear for footing that bill!!! Erica and I ate our way through the menu with edemame, brussel sprouts, golden beets, fried chicken and a hot rock (fine beef that you place on a piping hot rock for a couple seconds. Fancy....) Next up were the crunchy tuna roll (my ONLY tuna ingestion for the year and included big eye tuna, avocado, jalapeno, English cucumber and aioli), the "shag" roll (hehe, shag. This was a tempura-ed roll with salmon, avocado, sundried tomato and sumiso, aka a freaking phenomenal sauce with squid ink in it). Lastly, we shared the ham and eggs roll. This was the culprit that was so good we had to go round two! This roll had katsu pork belly (moan) with egg yolk custard and espelette (a type of pepper). Erica also ate two things I wasn't into but enjoyed: beef tongue and scallop sashimi. More power to her...We finished off this food-fest with not one but two desserts: fried milk and tobacco chocolate. Refer to the picture if you are confused. What we had here was nothing short of heaven in chocolate and dairy form.
Food wise, the cherry on top of the trip was when my brother in law created home-made tortillas just before I left for the airport. They were hot from the griddle and eaten with melted butter. I stuffed three in my face before I was forced out the door for my flight home. I could have had seven more...
The only sketchy thing that happened was: One morning at 4:30am, I was awoken to the sensation of something crawling on my chest. For anyone who has ever spent time in the Hill Country of Texas, or not, this will creep you out. I thought it was a scorpion! They have a tendency to come into stone houses through cracks (and don't even knock). I've only ever seen one in my bed but plenty on walls and floors in my lifetime. Immediately after I woke up, I swept the unknown creature off my, internally freaked out, turned on the light, realized I had been bitten/stung, and looked for the culprit. Fortunately for me, it was just a HUGE ant. But 48 hours later, I still itch like the dickens.
While I was on the flight, I got creative and wrote this:
Urban lights below
Ever morphing clouds in the middle and a clear, starry sky above
Imagine it is like passing the iceberg on the Titanic but without the fatal collision
Lightning sparingly in the distance
Three quarters moon lighting the way
Recipe du jour: Raspberry Tart
This will change your life....are you ready?
Set the oven to 375 and get out your tart pan which looks like this: http://www.amazon.com/Fluted-Tart-Quiche-Removable-Bottom/dp/B002UXI250/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1410810058&sr=8-6&keywords=french+tart+pan
For the crust:
8 whole graham crackers
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 stick unsalted butter (but if you use salted, it's all good!)
For the filling:
6 oz room temperature cream cheese
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 pints fresh raspberries (or other fruit if you are feeling adventurous)
1/4-ish cup seedless raspberry jam (or other)
To create: Preheat oven and crush graham crackers with a rolling pin, sweep into bowl. Mix with brown sugar and soft butter to create a well-moistened concoction. Carefully press into tart pan all over the bottom and up the edges. Bake for about 8 minutes or until slightly crispy.
While crust is baking, mix all filling ingredients in a Cuisinart or other mixer until fully combined. Wait until crust is cool to pour filling in and smooth out. Before serving, place raspberries in circles or design of your choice and top with jam (mixed rapidly in a bowl to make thinner. Enjoy!!