travel | charleston, south carolina

Charleston, SC

speaking of celebrating:
we spent a long weekend away!
the thing about travelling with dw
is that the man likes to walk.
our first day in Charleston,
a trip we planned months ago
due to some crazy airline sale,
we walked 13 miles,
the 2nd day, 8 miles
and 3rd day, about 5 miles.
i’d complain, but we discovered a few gems.

Charleston, SC

|sleep|
airbnb **

|eats|
the park cafe
leon’s oyster shop
bakehouse bakery cafe
husk ******* (it was an emotional meal, the pigs ear salad wrap was a revelation, and i got teary-eyed over the duck entree)
poke tea house ** (we went TWICE, gimme all your salmon)
king street cookies
xiao bao biscuit ** (their special: fish balls + congee was delicious, i’m already thinking about recreating it)
hominy grill
glazed gourmet doughnuts

Charleston, SC

|sights|
hampton park
the citadel
old city market
waterfront park *
rainbow row
the battery *
old city jail
college of charleston
natural history museum of charleston
halsey institute of contemporary art
charleston library society
old slave mart museum *

Charleston, SC

3 years ago: soy sauced chocolate chip cookies – dairy free
2 years ago: chocolate meringue kisses – gf
1 year ago: chocolate chip cookie dough + coffee ice cream – gf and vegan
other travels: adventures galore!

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diy | flameless fire pit + fake rocks

Flameless Fire Pit

i know,
this is kinda ridiculous.
however, i’m willing to bet
there are plenty of people,
(as it were, my kind of peeps)
who would appreciate this
level of ridiculousness.
it’s been a mild season,
but winter nonetheless,
and i am giving
H Y G G E
the seriousness it deserves.

DIY Flameless Pire Pit

DIY Flameless Fire Pit
adapted from free people

materials:
tree branches, size up to you, but aim for the thicker ones
white or light grey fabric strips
aluminum foil
mod podge glue
paint brush
LED light string (i got mine from IKEA, leftover xmas lights are fine)
rocks, real or homemade. recipe below

wrap branches with aluminum foil, make sure it’s covered

brush glue on a fabric strip and wrap it around the foiled branch. overlap if necessary, but cover the entire branch.

do this for all the branches and set on WHITE/LIGHT colored paper and allow to dry (you risk the paper sticking to the glue/fabric, and having newspaper ink stuck will mar the effect.)

when completely dry, anywhere from overnight to a couple nights (i lost steam with the project after the first sitting… it took me almost a week to get back to it… don’t judge me), using an xacto knife or box cutter, carefully cut down the seam of the branch, end to end. it’s ok if you cut through the foil, the goal is to peel the whole thing off the branch. carefully take the cast off the branch, peel the aluminum out. reshape if necessary. do this for all the branches.

chuck branches and foil.

arrange stones/rocks in a circle, within reach of an outlet. pile the stringed lights in the middle. then like you’re building a fire, arranged the branches in a cone-shape over the lights.

turn lights on and squeal in ridiculous child-like abandon.

Flameless Fire Pit

DIY homemade ROCKS
adapted from handmade mamas
makes 8 palm-sized rocks

26 oz coffee grounds (still wet from the day’s brew)
1 cup corn flour (or cornmeal)
1/2 cup soy flour
1/2 cup salt
1 scant cup whatever flour (i used whole wheat, cus my precious spelt is pricey)
water

preheat oven to 250F. line cookie sheet with parchment paper. if you planned ahead, use an old/used one cus RECYCLE.

in a bowl mix dry ingredients together. the coffee grounds will be wet. as you’re mixing you can determine just how much water to add.

slowly add the water, 1/4 cup at a time. you’re aiming to bring the mixture to play-dough consistency. if you don’t know what that is, i feel sorry for you, aim for pasta-dough consistency. you want the stuff to stick together.

shape into rocks. they don’t have to be perfect, irregular shaped and dents and cracks are nice.

place on prepared cookie sheet.

bake for 20 minutes.

turn off oven, flip over the rocks and leave in oven while it cools.

BAM!

DIY Flameless Pire Pit

3 years ago: kale + tofu balls with pasta
2 years ago: frozen old fashioned waffles
1 year ago: feijoada – brazilian bean stew

mohinga – burmese fish noodle soup

Mohinga - Burmese Fish Noodle Soup

in an effort to end 2016 with some
kind of happiness,
with some mad hope,
dw & i split the 4 day break
with friends,
then snuggled up,
(hygge, H O L L A!)
hiding from people,
watching sherlock.
we are our best selves
after a period of anti-social behavior.
it’s been a whirl of short weeks-long weekends,
now faced with not another holiday until spring,
i’m doing what i can to break the monotony of winter.

Mohinga - Burmese Fish Noodle Soup

the first step is a minor adjustment
to my social calendar.
i signed up to volunteer
at our local IRC office,
i was matched with a burmese family.
for a few hours a week
i will tutor them in english,
along with whatever else they’re up for.
this will likely challenge me,
i’m not naturally inclined toward teaching,
but this is necessary,
as i fight,
COME AT ME KC,
in a small way,
the absolute cluster of the next 4 years.

but first, let’s eat.
happy 2017.

Mohinga - Burmese Fish Noodle Soup

mohinga – burmese fish noodle soup
adapted from luke nguyen

makes an ass ton – we were eating this for dinner for about 5 days, and there was still more, but i had to put an end to the leftover thing

note: i did not add the rice powder, because i didn’t feel like grinding rice. my spice grinder is for coffee grinding anyway.

noodle bowls:
rice vermicelli noodles
hard-boiled eggs, halved
chopped cilantro, to garnish
lime wedges, to serve

broth:
1 head of fish, if you had to choose, catfish is fine
1 lemongrass stem, bruised
2 garlic cloves, bashed
1 tsp ground turmeric
3 TBL cooked chickpeas, mashed (i used jarred jovial)
1 red onion, quartered
1/2 red onion, chopped
fish sauce, to taste
1.5 lbs catfish fillet, cleaned and de-boned

spice paste:
3 lemongrass stems, finely sliced, white part only
2-4 red chilis, to taste
1/2 red onion, rough chopped
4 garlic cloves , diced
1″ piece of fresh ginger, peeled & sliced
1/2 cup grape seed oil
2 tsp shrimp paste
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp sweet paprika

make the broth: place the fish head in a large pot with the lemongrass, garlic, red onion quarters and turmeric. pour in enough cold water to cover the head and bring to a boil. skim off any muck, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. strain the broth and put back in pot. keep the heat at low, and gently lower the fish fillets into the broth and cook for about 15-20 minutes. remove the fillets and with forks, flake them into chunky pieces. set aside. keep the broth pot on low though.

while the broth is simmering, make the paste: in a mortar & pestle, pound the lemongrass, chillies, chopped onions, garlic and ginger into a smooth paste. you can use a food processor for ease.

in a saucepan, heat up the grape seed oil. add in the paste and saute for 20 minutes. you’re gonna question if the amount of oil is correct, and i’ll just say, i asked the same question and it worked out fine. stir in the shrimp paste, tumeric and paprika. add in the flaked fish, be gentle with mixing, cook on low for an additional 5 minutes.

returning to the pot of broth, add the fish mixture to it. next, throw in the mashed chickpeas and chopped red onions. season with fish sauce to taste. stir to combine, and let simmer for 30 minutes.

to serve:
cook vermicelli noodles according to package instructions. divvy into soup bowls.

ladle soup over noodles, being sure to add in chunks of flaked fish.

top with half hard boiled egg and generous smattering of chopped cilantro.
spritz with lime juice.

BAM!

Mohinga - Burmese Fish Noodle Soup

3 years ago: coffee chocolate chip ice cream
2 years ago: carne rustida de navidad
1 year ago: spiced mexican cookies

meringue roulade with shaved chocolate and salty-sweet peanuts

Meringue Roulade + Chocolate Shavings + Salty Sweet Peanuts

dear sweet dw:
today we celebrate 1,095 days of married life.
we don’t count days to boast,
but to be held accountable for
the Love Story we are writing together.
you know i was a shitty student
unless something was captivating to me,
and you, kind sir, are a being
i am most interested in.
i want to learn everything about you,
as you grow and evolve.
i remain ever curious about you,
and in our life together.
i commit to being your bestest student.
you are the gift that i never expected,
and i accept you with all my heart.

happy anniversary, sweet love,
let’s always have cake.

photo courtesy of luke eshleman & used with permission
photo courtesy of luke eshleman & used with permission

meringue roulade with shaved chocolate and salty-sweet peanuts
inspired and loosely adapted from yotam ottolenghi, also found in plenty more
serves 8, or in our case, just the two of us

*note: it was a dreary/wet day when this dessert was made, which made the meringue sticky. still very delicious.
humidity  cannot be fought.

Meringue:
4 large egg whites, at room temp
1 coconut sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp distilled vinegar
1 tsp cornstarch

Toppings/Filling:
1 cup chocolate bar, whatever your preference, shaved
1/2 cup crushed roasted peanuts
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 TBL coconut sugar
So Delicious’ Coco Whip (alternative if you can’t get this product, skim the fat off of 3 cans of FULL FAT coconut milk and whip with 2 TBL powdered sugar until fluffy)

preheat oven to 325F. prepare a 13X9 rimmed cookie sheet with parchment paper.

in a stand mixer & whisk attachment, add your egg whites and whisk until frothy. add the sugar by the tablespoon-ful. you’re aiming for stiff, glossy peaks. add in the vanilla extract, vinegar and cornstarch and whisk until blended.

spread mixture on the parchment paper and with an off-set spatula spread it out until level.

bake for 30 minutes, a crust will form, but the meringue will be cooked. remove from oven and let cool in pan.

flip the meringue onto a fresh piece of parchment paper, and gently peel the lining paper.

spread however much of the coco whip you want on the meringue, it’s your party, you do what you want. i would say i used about a cup, and leave a small border around the edge. sprinkle with the shaved chocolate and salty-sweet peanuts.

from the long edge, and using the parchment paper to help, roll the meringue into a log. transfer to serving plate. chill in fridge for 30 minutes.

top the meringue roulade with even more coco whip and sprinkle with yes, even MORE chocolate shavings and salty-sweet peanuts. slice and serve.

BAM!

Meringue Roulade + Chocolate Shavings + Salty Sweet Peanuts

3 years ago: diy wedding envelopes
2 years ago: chocolate tahini cake + rosemary infused buttercream
1 year ago: 6″ chocolate cake

where the wild things are smash cake

Where the Wild Things Are Cake

following in the same thread
as last post’s boxed confection,
i recently created a small cake
for a small bae
with a wild streak.
a smash cake was reqested
and since i figured it was going to be,
well, smashed to smithereens,
i went boxed, again.
but since it’s for a most beloved child,
we did go organic.
i still have standards y’all.

the theme was
Where the Wild Things Are,
a book i vaguely remember.
i doubt NT will recall this occasion,
though there were plenty of pictures that captured it.
in any case,
it was so easy to put together,
though you’da thunk i slaved over it
by the reactions of everyone in attendance of the party.
that’s winning at adulting,
if there were such a thing.

Where the Wild Things Are Cake

Where the Wild Things Are Smash Cake
makes 1 2 layered 6″ cake

1 box of cake mix, i used Immaculate Yellow Cake Mix
1 can of frosting, i used Wholesome Chocolate frosting
half bag of chocolate chips, a brand i like is enjoy life
1 tube of pre-made pie crust, i used immaculate ready to bake pie crust

bake the cake as per box instructions. for 6″ i baked for 35 minutes. it did dome a smidge, so it had to be leveled.

for the crown: on a lightly floured counter top, lay out the crust layer. with the mind set of an heir and a spare, i made 2 crowns. i measured out 2 10″ wide rectangles. i’m bad at math and space, so one of the crowns was taller, while the other was stubby. just make a chevron/jagged crown. using either the upside of a muffin or popover tin, wrap the crown around the base. for shininess and some color, do an egg wash. bake for 12 minutes, until gold brown. hopefully 1 of the 2 will come out. in my case, the heir died and i had to use the stubby spare. set aside, be careful, try not to break it.

for the textured bark: you can either melt the chocolate in the microwave or double boiler style. when the chocolate is fully melted, spread it into a rectangle on parchment paper, you want it as thin as possible, so use an off-set spatula. carefully fold the parchment paper into a roll and fridge it until set.

to assemble: lay the first cake layer on a plate or whatever you’re gonna serve the cake on. pipe in a layer of frosting, spread and then top with 2nd layer of cake. crumb coat it. it does not need to be perfect. you do want to make the top be as smooth as possible though, the sides can be bare minimum though. when ready, take the role of schmeared chocolate out and crack it. unroll the paper, you should have varied sized shards of chocolate. adhere them to the sides of the cake, you may need to dab on some frosting to get it to stick. again, it does not need to be perfect, just think of what a tree stump looks like. when the sides are sufficiently covered, re-melt the remaining chocolate shards and with a pastry brush, dab on the chocolate to the the cracks and fill in blank spots. you’re aiming for something rustic.

fridge it. take out about 30 minutes prior to smashing. top with the crown.

BAM!

Where the Wild Things Are Cake

3 years ago: tofu gyoza – vegan
2 years ago: peach ginger scones – vegan
1 year ago: summer salsa – vegan

nile + smash cake