Sunday, July 28, 2013


I love vacation. I love being far from home, far from responsibilities and obligations. I love forgetting what day it is because you just don’t need to know. Having 4 glasses of wine at lunch with absolutely no reason to say no or feel guilty. I don’t get enough vacation. I take days off here and there, I visit my folks down south. But I don’t get a week of whatever, whenever… hardly ever. So my recent trip to Colorado to spend time first with my sister and law and then with 2 dear friends was kind of magical.

There was bike riding, eating, drinking, reading, hammocking (I just made that a word), laughing, more eating and drinking, singing, driving, star-gazing… oh and dog loving! Because everyone in Colorado has a dog.

Here are some things I ate, drank and saw…

Denver skyline, from a bike.

A sampler at Odell Brewing Company, in Fort Collins Colorado.
My friend Emily works in the tap room.
Crab stuffed, fried avocado at Colorado's Austin's American Grill.

Sugar crusted cornbread at Austin's.

My friend's husband Dennis made the most amazing grilled
pizza with a crispy crust, kale, tomatoes and goat cheese. Amazing.

Welcome to Wyoming. My friend Stacey Doyle and I at the
Colorado, Wyoming border.

I fell in love with several canine friends during my trip. Among my favorites were
Cookie and Daisy, these two loves from Wyoming.

Wyoming is one of the most beautiful places I've ever been.

We took the long way out of Wyoming. Along the road, we stopped
at The Bar at the Forks for a beer. With country music in the background and a
bartender who was more akin to someone's mom, this saloon was in the
proverbial "one horse town." This was no Budweiser thought. The Forks served up
an icy cold Odell IPA.

Larkburger. While chains are typically not my thing, good food is.
This Colorado burger chain specializes in all natural ingredients, biodegradable
packaging and the juiciest, most flavorful burger I've ever had.
Oh, and those Parmesan truffle fries? Decidedly un-chain-like.

A picnic along the Poudre River allowed time for both
contemplation and lady giggles.

When I returned, my sister in law texted me: "So when are you moving to Colorado?" I wanted to say, "Tomorrow."

Thursday, July 25, 2013


Recently, the husband and I put our brave faces on and ventured down the street in the extreme, hell-fire like heat to the Providence Flea, a market that pops up on summer Sundays on South Water Street. If you've been in Rhode Island at all lately, you know the kind of heat I’m talking about. Absolutely brutal. But the sky was blue and it was something to do and hell, there would be food trucks. (In case you ever need to sell my husband on something, always open with “there will be food trucks.”)

We spent minimal time browsing the wares. I think I may have mentioned the heat? Yeah, it was way too hot to browse. But we did manage to put away some food. First we went up the line of trucks and investigated what each had to offer. (This is John's influence, of course.) After much debating, we hit up RadishFancheezical, Rocket and Flour Girls Baking Company.

Our chosen trucks, in all their glory.

The Radish truck is the tasty baby of some JWU and RISD students. We sampled their arrancini and their beef empanada. The empanada is fried to flaky, golden perfection and filled with juicy, flavorful beef. The arrancini, a fried risotto and cheese ball was the perfect combination of salt, cheese and fried goodness. We dipped them both in Radish’s red chili mayo sauce, which frankly, I could have eaten by itself.

Flour Girls, Fancheezical, Radish
Clockwise: Flour Girls' apple cider donut; Fancheezical Old Skool
and Radish's empanada

Over at Rocket, I went with the Rocket dog, the all beef,naturally cased Pearl frankfurter. When it comes to hot dogs, I like simple, so I dressed this doggie up with just some Dijon mustard, chopped onions and celery salt. The dog is delicious, but the bread really makes it.

While I waited for my dog, John opted for a grilled cheese from Fancheezical. He went simple as well. The “Old Skool,”  - add bacon. Buttery bread, crispy bacon, melted cheese. Yes. These guys also had another delicious surprise for us. Their cucumber lime and watermelon sodas were so refreshing. Not too sweet or cloying. Perfect on a hot day.

Fancheezical's cucumber lime soda; Rocket's dog;
Flour Girls' cookies and Radish's arrancini

You would think that after all that, we'd be ready to call it a day. You would be wrong. Next up was the Flour Girls Baking Company truck, where a sign advertising apple cider donuts drew John like a moth to a flame. They were served to us hot and smothered in cinnamon sugar, and were gobbled up in seconds flat. But this truck, out of Fairhaven, MA, also boasted some gorgeous cookies. We opted for chocolate chip and double chocolate. Okay, okay, we took the cookies home. Heat stroke was beginning to set in and we feared one more bite would be the bite that set us over the edge.

Now that was some good eatin'.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Baby Bucket List

Last night was one of those great nights out with good friends that I’ll look back on fondly for a long time. Awe sat at a lovely outdoor table at a downtown restaurant, I mentioned that this may be, at least I hope, my last child-free summer.

It’s that time. My 35th birthday is just weeks away. In March, I married my best friend of 20 years. And every time I see, hear, or worst of all, smell a baby, I’m reminded of how badly I want one. John and I agreed to give ourselves until the fall before we started trying, so it wasn’t the first time the thought had crossed my mind that this summer is something of a last hurrah. But it wasn’t until I said it out loud that the enormity of that statement hit me. I know what you’re going to say – having a child is not the death of fun. I know that. But I am certainly unfettered right now in a way that I will never be again once a child hits the equation.

I told my friends that I wanted to make sure that this summer is extra fun. And that I wanted to make the most of the time I have, even if that means going out “on a school night.” Never one to shy away from a list or a project, my friend Courtney ran inside the restaurant to procure a long strip of receipt paper and a pen. It was then that the Baby Bucket List was... ahem... born.

We started off writing down silly things. Fun things. Check out the Connecticut Wine Trail. Sky diving. Ride some roller coasters. Eat a cronut. But quickly, and fueled by much white wine, the list began to evolve into a manifesto for other areas of my life, aside from the fun.

Reach my goal of a 30 minute 5k.

Experience working in a restaurant kitchen.

Save money for a big transition.

Then we started asking others what would be on their lists. Our server suggested “Teaching something you’re passionate about to someone else.” A bartender suggested “Running away for a few days, no agenda, by yourself, just you and your car and some good tunes.” These were added to the list and circled and underlined.

I won’t share my whole list, but I’ll keep you posted as I check some things off. And hopefully, by the time I find out I’m about to start that new chapter of my life, I’ll feel like I’ve missed no part of the old chapter.

Have you ever made a list like this? What’s on it? Are you doing the things, or is the list relegated to your refrigerator door or cork board? I’d love to hear your stories!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Waffle House

The Coquettish Cook

One morning, very soon after our wedding, John announced that he wanted waffles. It took me by surprise, because my husband is just not a breakfast guy. I'm not afraid to out him on this - he's a protein shake guy. Maybe he thought eating homemade waffles together would really seal the deal? The conversation went down something like this, and if you know us both, you'll hear it:

J: Make me waffles?
K: We don't have a waffle maker.
J: Oh. Make me waffles?
K: Honey, I can't make you waffles without a waffle maker.
J: Can't you do it on the stove or something?
K: Those are called pancakes.
J: I hate pancakes.

Believe me, this conversation would have gone on for days. So I bought a waffle maker. It's a red beauty of a Cuisinart that I got at 45% off because it was a floor model.

The Coquettish Cook

Ok, waffle maker purchased. Next, learn to make waffles. Heh heh. There are a lot of waffle recipes out there. And since this quest began, there have been several waffle disasters in my house that were the source of much cursing. The most egregious error turned into an item we nicknamed, the baffle. Or the wagel - dense like a bagel and heavy like a brick. Not ideal. I realize now that the main mistake here was waaaayyy over-filling the waffle maker. (Yeah, I realized this when batter started squirting out the sides. What?)

I finally arrived on a great buttermilk waffle recipe from Bon Appetit. And I learned the two most important lessons of waffle making. Number 1 is "a little dab'l do ya." Really, a half a cup per waffle at the most. Do. Not. Over. Fill. And Number 2 is "trust the machine." Do not open the door until the buzzer sounds. Trust me. Trust it. Trust the process. It went well.

Yesterday, we enjoyed perfectly cooked waffles that were crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside and light and airy as our new marriage! (I said that with a straight face.) But if he wakes up next weekend and asks for crepes... he's getting cereal.