a brunchin' we will go

 a beautiful day at the Dallas Arboretum

a beautiful day at the Dallas Arboretum

Spring has been an absolute whirlwind. Maybe because I have been sleep deprived beginning with Daylight Savings or perhaps it's due to trying to schedule FaceTime sessions with a son on the other side of the world. Whatever the reason, I feel constantly behind, always running to catch up. 

Long weekends spent with family are usually a great way to slow things down. In that spirit, our Easter week began on Palm Sunday with church services alongside our son and his pregnant wife. Oh wait. Haven't I told you? Our family is being blessed in 2018 with new babies. My eldest daughter (residing in Arkansas) is expecting her fourth child, due in May and our eldest son (lives here!) is expecting his first....TWINS! SO. EXCITING. I. MAY. JUST. WRITE. LIKE. THIS. UNTIL. SUMMER. Jk. But we are indeed overjoyed by all of these tiny blessings headed our way. 

Back to Palm Sunday. After mass, the four of us came home for brunch because a leisurely meal accompanied by mimosas is a surefire way to slow time. The menu was Eggs Benedict as requested by my DH. It's a timeless breakfast entree, isn't it? Crisp english muffins topped with canadian bacon, a pillowy poached egg and rich, decadent hollandaise sauce. In the Butterfield house, we like to change things up and sometimes replace the muffin with hash brown potatoes, or even stack the potatoes on top of the toasted bread. Also, we seldom serve the traditional skinny slices of canadian bacon and opt for slabs of smoked ham. Or, maybe a crab cake for ultimate, sinful gluttony. Whatever version, the crowning glory remains the same--bright, lemony hollandaise, and I'm sharing my recipe at the end of this post. 

Dinner that evening was also a feast. Expertly grilled New York Strip steaks, baked potatoes, sautéed spinach, roasted eggplant, a lovely crisp green salad with balsamic dressing. And there was chocolate cake for dessert. That was just for 4 of us! But our celebratory week was off to a good start.

Happily on Thursday, my in-laws arrived from Albuquerque without incident. They have not been in Dallas since 2015, the year of two weddings, a graduation, and a family reunion. We scheduled a number of outings for their visit and tried not to wear out their 80+year-old bodies too much. They were able to see our son's new home and hear the glad news that the twins are GIRLS! (see how I keep sneaking those announcements in..?!) On Friday, our youngest daughter, husband and canine child, Frank, were here with us from Round Rock. We enjoyed a margarita lunch, strolling around the Arboretum and a fabulous meal at 20-Feet Seafood Joint in Lakewood. 

Side Review: If you haven't heard of this little hole-in-the-wall seafood restaurant, I am here to endorse the establishment and send you as soon as your little feet can carry you that direction for the following reasons:

  1. It's BYOB. We brought 3 bottles of wine with us: rosé, sauvignon blanc, and a red blend. Also a premixed shaker of Manhattans (the in-laws go-to cocktail.) (we did NOT consume it all!) And they will uncork your bottles as well as provide stemware in which to enjoy your beverage of choice!
  2. The Lobster Roll. It's amazing. Also, the Green Room Mussels, Fried Oyster Po Boy, Fish & Chips, and any special they're offering that day.
  3. Service is better than any I've encountered in a casual setting. You place your order at the counter, but the servers are patient, pleasant and helpful. The table bussers are young and sweet, also helpful. There's just nothing to complain about. Tables are first come, first served, but they'll help put tables together and find an area, outside or inside for you. 

The weather was ideal Thursday-Saturday so we sat out on the patio and enjoyed our mussels, french fries, Lobster Rolls (3), Fish & Chips (2) and Shrimp Po boy (1). Afterwards we indulged in a little custard from Wild About Harry's and came home to play cards.

Saturday breakfast was 2 casseroles I pulled from the fridge making my life so easy. The kids returned to Round Rock and we prepared for the next round of guests--my brother-in-law, wife and canine arrived from Houston. We supped on homemade lasagna and caesar salad and dined al fresco while watching the NCAA Final Four.

Easter Sunday dawned cool and cloudy and the mass was just beautiful, uplifting and joyful. And then we headed to another brunch, this time at The Mercury, where although our server is the best (Medy?) the food was honestly, just ok. Not that they didn't have variety: prime rib, fried chicken, sushi, salads galore and waffles. But it's really hard to do Eggs Benedict for a crowd because it's always cold and a little congealed, don't you think? So that brunch was a bit disappointing. 

I know right now you're thinking, all those Butterfields do is EAT! And sometimes, it feels that way to us too. I have omitted the boring details of walking pups, gardening, and any exercise that made it's way on to the schedule.

Sunday dinner was a bit of a masterpiece, if I'm allowed to say so. Beef Tenderloin roast, perfectly seared on the grill by my hubby and accompanied by au gratin potatoes, maple-bacon roasted brussels sprouts, spring salad with asparagus, fruit and citrus vinaigrette (on the menu this week!) and finally a luscious Chocolate-Espresso Cream Pie for dessert was shared with my dear friend, Rosemarie and her three girls, making our number 10 for dinner. What a fun evening! After our meal we watched the live production of "Jesus Christ Superstar" and digested slowly.

Monday was so nice and quiet, with just the four of us. The weather turned cold, giving us an excuse to read the paper by the fire and only venture out for a little chinese bistro lunch. They departed on Tuesday morning and it was back to work for my husband and me. Thanks to their visit, we were able to extend those five days and truly experience five days rather than the rapid, whirlwind, collapsed time that I've been feeling is my life. In three weeks we head to Europe to meet my son--can you believe the semester is at a close?

Ruth's No-Cook Hollandaise Sauce

 

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?

Thou art more lovely and more temperate:Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,

And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:

-William Shakespeare

Summer, the most magical of seasons, is drawing to a close. Many of you were as busy during June and July as you are the rest of year..but I hope you had some respite from the crazy, frenetic Spring.

My favorite summer activities include going to movies to escape the oppressive heat, shopping the local farmers markets for amazing produce, picnics & concerts at the Dallas Arboretum and lazy afternoons by the pool. I also love eating dinner as late as we want to, outdoor exercise and the sun rising with me in the morning.

The images of summer that I adore are drippy ice cream cones, children in pajamas and puppies running around the farmers markets, colorful pedicures in chic summer sandals and emerald green waters with white sandy shores.

Soon the hot days will shorten to cooler evenings and we’ll be back on our patios sipping wine. The lights from Friday night football games will fill the neighborhood. The cross country runners will be on the streets early in the morning. After school activities will have us running, dividing and conquering. It’s all good, all part of the natural progression of things. One season closes, another begins. The goal is to enjoy each and every moment.

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IMG_0053

Ahhhhh, the Salad days

No, I’m not making a reference to my youth, a time of innocence, as the term “salad days”  usually refers to, but I mean THE Salad Days. As in, my consumption of salad Every Single Day for the past two months! Beginning with the Whole30 in June, I have managed to consume some form of fresh green concoction each day to the point that I don’t want to break the streak. Not that it’s become a religious experience for me, heavens, no. However, I actually look forward to my daily salad with some anticipation now.


My sweet M-I-L, Jeanette, was the first to introduce me to the idea that salad belonged on every dinner table, even at home. Sure, you go out to eat at a nice restaurant and you’re offered a salad before your main course but very few families consistently consume  greens with their meals at home. So my family grew up with the expectation that salad graced the table every night in addition to our main meal and possibly alongside other vegetables and bread. It was often a simple mix of red lettuce, carrot slices, diced cucumbers and Good Seasons dressing. Side topic: the joke in our house is that the making of the nightly salad is the first chore assigned to a novice in the kitchen. When someone enters Ruth’s kitchen and asks if they can help, invariably the answer is “you can make the salad.” This is because I am a bit of a control freak and don’t want you in my way as I’m trying to finish getting dinner on the table and truly, how can you mess up the salad? :)

Anyway, I digress. Salads. Lots of them. I’ve had some fabulous ones lately, from salmon & avocado atop arugula tossed in a sun-dried tomato vinaigrette to a romaine, apricot, walnut, avocado, olive number drizzled with a garlic-tahini dressing. A phenomena has started to occur when we go out for lunch or dinner…I think I’m craving a particular kind of cuisine like Italian pasta & pizza or Southern fried chicken and waffles but when I arrive at the restaurant I can’t get my eyes to wander off the Salad section.

I once scoffed at persons who chose salads thinking they were the “diet” choice on the menu when in truth the dressings and croutons made them anything but light. But now I embrace fat as an important part of my daily consumption and realize that the yummy flavors in a good dressing cause me to consume more healthy greens! Win-win.

In short, these are MY salad days. Two salads are on the menu this week. Join me.

 

White Wine Romance

Summer has arrived in all of it’s hot, steamy glory. Everything changes for this season. If you have school-aged children, they will transition to camps, activities, summer jobs, or just sleeping in late. Schedules relax a bit with meals at odd times. The patterns of what we eat may change also; some of you may grill every other meal, never turn on the oven, or eat mainly cold food straight from the refrigerator. And beverages! Summer means lemonade, iced tea, frosty beer, sangria, mojitos, and frozen margaritas.
If you’re like me, on a summer evening after work or play, there’s nothing like a beautiful chilled glass of crisp white wine.

{The chilled glass is essential—JB fills mine with ice and adds water to get the melt going. When the glass is chilled just right, he often offers the water to me to drink before dumping the ice to replace it with wine. Gotta hydrate, am I right?}

I have enjoyed many a robust red in my time. Cabernet Sauvignon with my steaks, and Pinot Noir with my Thanksgiving turkey. I like Chianti with my Italian meals and a nice Malbec with brisket. But I always considered white wine as a warm weather beverage that must only accompany chicken, seafood, and meatless dishes.

However, as of late I find that white wine doesn’t give me a headache or make me sleepy. I can consume several glasses without getting tipsy and let’s all agree, it can be sooooooooo refreshing. So I must confess that I have transitioned to a year-round white wine drinker. Sometimes I go against all conventional thought and enjoy a Sauvignon Blanc with WHATEVER I’m eating!

Turns out I’m not the only woman trending this direction in wine consumption. I recently read a Wall Street Journal article titled “Why More Women Are Siding with White Wine“ and found I am not alone in choosing the lighter version of the grape’s bounty. Many females cite health issues as their reason but a lot of women just prefer the refreshment quality of the whites. Click here to read the article and see the author’s picks for 5 good bottles to feed a white-wine addiction.

And armed with this justification (hey! it’s the Journal!) I will continue down my white wine path into these hot summer days and beyond! :)

Mini Food Explorations - NYC Edition

Typically when I head to a destination that is known for it’s diverse and delicious food landscape, I have a list in hand of restaurants and cuisines to explore. And I did have plans over spring break to discover a couple of boroughs in NYC that we had not yet visited. Unfortunately, with flight cancellations and delays, misplaced luggage and of course, Stella the blizzard, the trip developed a survival agenda and those plans were put aside.

Rather, the goal became “what CAN we do?” and not “here’s what we will do.” And that was fine. I’m not the girl to wallow over failed plans. So  I took my son to Burger & Lobster which we had extolled as an amazing burger palace with lobster thrown in. The Flatiron district restaurant did not disappoint. We sat at the bar and chowed down on cheeseburgers, crispy fries and a sweet, creamy lobster roll. Their once 3 item only menu now offers 3 different lobster roll versions, 3 burger varieties and 3 ways to have your fresh lobster. From there we walked through Eataly, always a fun stroll for food lovers and the Italophile in all of us.

The following day, my son’s mission was to taste an authentic New York bagel. We walked 11 blocks from our hotel to Ess-a-Bagel and found a line to the door. Luckily we discovered a second line — the Express-Bagels-only line and stood behind just 5 other patrons. As luck would have it, it was the best place to be where we could see into the back as the cooks pulled the bagels from the water and placed them on sheet pans which were shuffled to the front, right behind our counter, and placed directly into the oven! When we reached the top of the line, we learned they were out-of-stock of all flavors save two—the plain and the everything! So that’s what we ordered, along with plain cream cheese and some lox. We sat at a table and devoured the warm, chewy, crusty balls of bread as though it was our final meal! Oh. my. goodness. I am forever spoiled for these bagels.

By the way, I walked all over sodden, icy, slushy, snowy, dirty Manhattan in my Ugg rain boots. They kept my feet warm and dry and I happily splashed my way over hundreds of blocks and up/down countless subway stairs. I highly recommend! 

After a hearty bagel breakfast, we were ready for some exercise and because he’d not yet seen Central Park (there was a blizzard in the city early in the week…did I already mention that?) we headed there and were lucky to cross 5th Avenue ahead of it’s closure for the St. Paddy’s day parade. Frozen ponds, snow balls, and the Boathouse for hot apple cider and cappuccino.

From there we headed to The Metropolitan Museum of Art and after walking 30 blocks or so, I was hungry again! I’m a little embarrassed to admit that we purchased our admission tickets and headed directly to the cafe! But I’m so glad we did…I had the most amazing, out-of-a-plastic-container salad. I was so obsessed by this combination of grain, green, carrot, cheese and dressing that when we returned to Dallas, I made it on Sunday and ate it 3 days in a row!!! So…it’s on the menu this week. See what happens when you eat in an unlikely place just because you’re starving? Sometimes food-joy is waiting there for you!

There is one more food memory I want to share with you. We decided to see a show very last minute and therefore had no plans for a pre-broadway supper. I knew JT would love some pasta but we struck out repeatedly for reservations at all of the recommended Times Square area spots. We finally found il Corso, within walking distance of our hotel for a 5:45 pm meal. It was tiny, maybe 12 tables and the pasta was made in-house. Service was attentive and charming. Divine Cacio e Pepe. That’s it. That’s all I have to say.

A fun trip, though nothing like originally planned but delicious all the same. Lesson learned: always have an open mind, an optimistic palate and a willing stomach. Oh, and good walking shoes!

Rise & shine, campers--it's Groundhog Day!

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groundhog-day-poster

I love the 1993 cult classic “Groundhog Day.“ Bill Murray is the quintessential egotistical weatherman in this flick about a man who is locked into a 24 hour period that is set on repeat. And repeat. And repeat. It’s such a hilarious concept that I look forward to watching it every year, even with commercials (haha, that’s an inside Butterfield family joke).

What would you do with an extra month of your life, replayed in the same day over and over, with no loss of future days? Bill’s character Phil Connors’ goes through several phases of denial, self-indulgence, self-loathing and finally, acceptance and growth. I love this last period of his journey in which he improves himself by learning to speak French, play the piano, and ice sculpt. He also attempts to save a homeless man but learns that it’s just “his time.” He plans his schedule around other rescues—elderly ladies with a flat tire, a boy who falls out of a tree and the mayor who chokes during his dinner and would have presumably expired. It is in this final phase that Phil learns the joy of selflessness and thereby wins his leading lady and breaks the curse of Groundhog Day.

This movie really encourages self-reflection. What would I do if I had Phil Connors episode? What if I had an unlimited supply of the same 24 hours with no consequence at the dawn of the new day? Would I take advantage and live like a queen for 24 hours, with no thought to those around me and be a disgusting example of self-indulgence? Or would I wallow in self-pity that I am stuck living in the same moments over and over?

Immediately I think of dreams that I didn’t achieve as a child or youth that I would like to go back and try to have the experiences: taking ballet classes, learning to play an instrument, participating in a team sport; but some of these things I might be too old to acquire, even with an unlimited supply of time. Could I make a difference to others like Phil did by saving people’s lives? I would like to think that I could plant seeds of encouragement in individual lives that might grow, even though I was stuck in a 24 hour prison. Maybe I could prevent a child from being abused or going to bed hungry.

A perpetual day—at least for a season—is an interesting idea and perhaps the message is that I should live as though I have this one chance to make a change or to grow personally, without the prospect that I have the day to do over again.