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So many meals to celebrate 30 years

My friends have long teased me about “Ruth’s birthday month.” Honestly, the ribbing is well-deserved because over the years I have managed to celebrate my birthday which falls in the first week of November over the remaining weeks of the month; a couple of lunches one week, dinner and shopping the next week, brunch with family and cocktails with friends, sometimes a long weekend trip to a food destination too. The streak continued for quite a number of years and I basked in all the attention. Until finally my three adult children decided to sabotage my birthday month by each finding mates whose birthdays also fell in November! Can you believe the audacity? That they would dare to horn in on my birthday month so that we now must celebrate their spouses in the midst of my once-dominant four weeks of celebration?! LOL, I am so completely kidding. It was a very nice trade-off to gain three wonderful family members and give up my 30 days of celebrations.

But I rocked it for 2018, in commemorating our 30th anniversary with meal, after glorious meal. For this grand milestone, we managed to stretch the celebration for six months! Beginning in May, at a lovely Michelin starred restaurant in Barcelona, and ending last week in a long weekend trip in southern California, we’ve celebrated over some memorable meals along the way. The following are a couple of the highlights enjoyed most recently.

Anniversary Party at Venue Forty⎜50, Addison, Texas

Yes, we threw ourselves a party and my only culinary contributions were apple pie and a chocolate cake. It was such a fun evening with all of our children, parents, siblings, cousins, nieces and nephews. The food was excellent and the venue staff could not have been more professional, helpful, or pleasant. We will definitely host another party here and I cannot more highly recommend the venue, owned and operated by Macklin’s Catering to all of you.

Uchi, Dallas, Texas

October 18 was our actual anniversary and after a long day of cooking a special menu for my customers, I was thrilled to be taken out to dine for the first time at the much-talked about sushi restaurant. Our server began the evening on a perfect tone when learning our newbie status, by asking if we would allow him to construct a meal for us of his favorite menu items. As he had served there since their opening in 2015, and because he thoughtfully inquired about allergies and budget, we appreciated his offer and accepted. The evening was perfect and his selections flawless; we highly anticipate returning for another fabulous meal.

Fig + Olive, Newport Beach, California

Although this restaurant is owned and operated by a corporation, we quite enjoyed a delicious dinner beginning with 6 different crostini and ending with an anniversary flourless chocolate cake. The Fashion Island location boasts beautiful decor, impeccable staff and tasty meals. Added bonus: it was within walking distance from our hotel on a beautiful California evening, the perfect setting in which to end six months of celebrations.

Of course, the most remarkable thing about all of these parties, dinners and experiences is that I’ve been walking this life with my very best friend for over thirty years. I am so blessed. So very blessed and in awe that God could be so good. The travel is fun, the meals are pleasurable but it’s the relationship with this amazing man for which I am most grateful. I love you, JB; you’re my one and only forever. ❤️

To the Best Guy

It's Father's Day, another made-up Hallmark holiday that actually has turned into a worthy occasion. After all, without a card company to tell us that we need to celebrate the special someones in our lives, would we ever get around to telling them how much they mean to us? Maybe we would, maybe not. But I'm going to use this excuse to share with you about not a father figure in my life, but my husband, the father of my children.

In case I've never really said it, JB's kind of great. He is patient, sweet, funny, generous, intelligent, and ambitious. He has adored his children from the first moment he held them in his arms as infants. He also imparted his Faith to our children, raising them to seek God and follow His ways. JB preaches tough love to his kids but then worries about them incessantly. He loves to laugh with them, and to make them crack up. He looks forward to golf outings with his sons more than any other humans. He enjoys sharing what he knows about life, travel and business with his family, teaching them as much as he is able. All of these things make him a really great Dad.

But there is one thing that JB especially does well that makes him an all-star father:  He loves his kids' mom. In our house, we believe that the Marriage is the foundation on which the family is built. So we have always tried to put our relationship as the top priority. Not to say that the children are excluded from the inner circle, but that they are outer rings that form the family with parents that love each other at the core. So on Father's Day, I am so grateful to this man that has adored, protected and loved me like I never knew was possible. His commitment to "Us" is steadfast and true, and there would be no family without his dedication to all of us. Life is not perfect. But I am blessed beyond measure to be walking this imperfect life with the man that is The One for me.

On the lighter side...when our children were young, my husband was highly skilled at playing what came to be known as the "daddy game." It's a very simple game--someone starts to tell a story about their day and invariably, Dad repeats a part of the story back to the teller, but mispronounces one of the names as though he misheard. The storyteller corrects his mistake and he acknowledges but then continues to repeat the incorrect usage until finally, the child wises up and realizes that Dad is doing it on PURPOSE. It is a father's right to tease and torment his children, don't you agree? BTW, JB answers to many names in our circle: there's Dad, Pops, and Daddy; also JB, Loverboy, Butterman, Master of the Universe, Captain Obvious and lastly, Johnny B, when he speaks of himself in 3rd person, usually after performing a signature dive into the pool. 

Hope you all have a wonderful Father's Day filled with laughter and good food. Be sure to hug your daddy or your children's daddy or someone who likes to be called daddy. Hugging is always a good thing.

Thursday Night Pasta

It was 4pm and I hadn't planned dinner...
My DH had asked for pasta this week and somehow the days got away from me and it was Thursday and I had yet to plate up his request. He called me when I was finishing up at the shop and made a suggestion. "How about if I grill salmon and you make some kind of light pasta to go with? Forget about the red sauce--just use what we have on hand." Being exhausted and given a free pass to avoid a stop at the grocery store, I jumped at his menu plan with both tired feet!

When I arrived home, I immediately raided the refrigerator for any and all available ingredients. This was the resulting dish and it was perfect with his smoky-lemon-butter salmon. 

Everything But The Fridge Pasta

Note: I am obsessed with this goat cheese, now available at my Costco! I eat it straight from the package and also with baguette toasts. 

All of this to say that I am grateful for my JB, who knows my heart...that my intentions are good but I don't always have the energy to pull my plans together without his assistance. 

Thursday night dinner: smoky-lemon salmon filet + everything but the fridge pasta

Thursday night dinner: smoky-lemon salmon filet + everything but the fridge pasta

Life of Pie

What was the first thing you ever baked in your parents’ kitchen? I think 9 out of 10 people would respond “cookies.” Me too! I remember that our neighbors across the street  (Joyce Strong and her mother, Mary) had shared these funny little brown, bumpy lumps with us and I thought they were divine! When I asked Joyce about them, she said they were “Cat-tails.” The joke was that we had cats and the Strong family did not care for pets of the feline persuasion.

The cookies were actually an unbaked oatmeal confection that many of you have probably tasted or made at some point. It was the perfect first foray into the baking world for me because the cookies required no oven time! My mother’s cookies were a different story. Unlike those Peanut Butter Chocolate No-Bake cookies, each of Sadako’s cookies were perfectly round spheres…crisp and chewy and mostly eaten right off the wax paper where they cooled on the counter.

My mother, Sadako, born and raised in Taiwan, was a novice to American baking but she applied the strict attention to detail learned in her mother’s kitchen to her newly acquired skills. Due to her quest for perfection, she struggled especially with pie crust. And of course, apple pie was my favorite dessert in the world. I could not wait until she baked pie—sneaking into the kitchen late at night for a last piece before bed, waking up in the morning and eating a slice for breakfast. I even loved the little cinnamon strips she would make with the leftover pieces of pie crust. But she constantly complained of the troubles associated with rolling out crust so we did not have pie as often as young Ruth would have liked. :(

Fast forward to my first kitchen away from home and by golly, I was going to learn to make pie. Ironically, I don’t remember the first fruit pie I baked. But I do remember the first time I made a chicken pot pie for my sweetheart, JB. I recall that I used too many herbs in the gravy and one in particular, tarragon, was not his favorite. So several tweaks later, the Home Sweet Home chicken pie as it is today, became my signature dish. I took it to pot-lucks, friends who’d had babies recently or lost a loved one, and family reunions.

Eventually, we all return to our first (food) love and I am no different. I’m baking Apple Pie this week and every one of my senses will be aroused to memories of my mother’s flaky pies which she claimed were less than perfect but I found to be pure heaven.

Grandma Alice's Apple Pie

Grandma Alice's Apple Pie

The IKEA Milestone

There are many different phases in the development of children from baby (completely dependent) to adult (hopefully independent). And as they near closer to that jumping off point into self-reliance, I think the benchmarks sometimes transition to becoming our own milestones.

Case in point, this past month my husband and I loaded up a rental truck and headed to Ft. Worth to transfer our college junior into a rental home that he is sharing with 5 other TCU students. I remember making this same trip six years ago with our daughter as she moved into a house two blocks from campus with 3 other girls. (Incidentally, all 4 housemates of “Casa Wabasha” are now MARRIED! How did that happen? Where did the time go?) And then, as in this summer, we moved a bed and several lovely boxes purchased from that mega-store, IKEA.

Sidebar: What is it with millennials and IKEA? I recently viewed a pre-showing of Reese Witherspoon’s new movie “Home Again” and one young man, in an attempt at seduction, offered to construct something from IKEA. Lol.

Back to the subject at hand…three boxes, three hours and three people to put together a six-drawer dresser for my son’s room! I am not exaggerating. When we finished, my son was thrilled. His room was complete and represents a safe, solitary haven to escape to from the stresses of upper level courses, internship applications and an ex-girlfriend. So I  consider the building of IKEA furniture a milestone in our continued advancement of moving him along the path to adulthood. Cross another one off the list. Had to do it. It’s done. Move on. No tears associated with this objective.

But two weeks later, when he texted me a picture of his first home-cooked meal made in the rental house kitchen, I felt a little more sentimental. He had requested I send him a few simple staple recipes and I recently came across an idea whereby you save these go-to recipes as contacts on your phone. Perfect for young people whose lives are on their smart phones; if they are at the grocery store, they have only to search for the recipe name in their contact list and they have the ingredients list in front of them! So he made spaghetti for himself. My baby made his first meal away from home AND it was not only edible, but delicious! I’m so proud. And a little sad…that he is one step closer to not needing me anymore. :(

james' first self-prepared meal as a college student

james' first self-prepared meal as a college student

Thankful for my Faithful Father

It’s Father’s Day weekend and time to honor and celebrate the men in our lives. Mothers get so much more acclaim than their male counterparts and moms definitely deserve to be honored. There is nothing like the nurture you receive from your mom to shape your personality and future.

But I want to speak to the blessing that my dad, Tom Beach, has been in my life. When I think of my father, so many diverse images come to mind. Scholar. Pilot. Jesus-freak. Teacher. Sports fan. Marathoner. Evangelist. Brother. Husband. Son. He has been all those things to so many people.

My father in his post-Jesus freak phase

My father in his post-Jesus freak phase

He ran track for Kansas State for one year.  Became a missionary in Taiwan after graduating from college. Learned to speak perfect Taiwanese. Received a Masters in Divinity. Earned his private pilot’s license. High school teacher at Taipei American School. Founded a ministry-“The Way Inn” to provide a meeting place for young people to worship in Taiwan. Youth pastor at Christian Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Avid motorcyclist. Ran multiple marathons. He can name every tree in the forest and identify the clouds in the sky.

But besides all of the talents and accomplishments, my father is the most faith-filled man I have ever known. He believes that every person is “savable.” He is compassionate and discerning and loving and affectionate. He married a girl who could speak no english but he saw in her the beauty of Christ. And he has loved each of his children fully and unconditionally. I am so proud to call him my dad and am so thankful for the way he raised me.

So on this Sunday, I just want to express my gratitude for him. I love you, Dad. Happy Father’s Day! <3

Loving on Daddy, 1969. Tonia is left, Ruth is right

Loving on Daddy, 1969. Tonia is left, Ruth is right

Blowing kisses in May

By golly, I’m going to get my act together. If my resolution in May doesn’t shape me up, it’ll kill me for sure. So, first my confession: I’m a bit of an aggressive driver. Impatient to a fault. Lead-foot. Not a tail-gater, but have been known to talk to the driver in front of me, gesturing with uplifted hands, smacking my head, hoping they are looking in their rear view mirror to register my annoyance, disgust or anger.

Well, this month my goal is to gesture in a completely different way when I’m cut off or delayed by the very cautious motorist in front of me. For May, I will try to blow a kiss to the subject of my irritation and utter this saying “I hope you arrive safely and on time to your destination.” I will attempt to murmur this blessing every time I feel the need to scream silently or when I feel my blood boil in righteous indignation.

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This may be my most difficult change to date. Please send help.

But seriously, if I can accomplish this goal, how much better will the roads be?! If we could all send out blessings instead of curses, the energy around us would completely change to a positive force of synchronized oneness from which all love would abound…yeah, right. Sorry, that’s just silly talk. Life is well, life. It’s messy and dirty and can be negative and ugly. For now, I’ll just be happy to change the 6’x6’ atmosphere inside my ride to a place of peace. Most of my commutes to the kitchen or the big box store are short and SURELY, I can blow kisses and whisper blessings for the 15 minutes I’m in the car each way.  I hope. I’ll try. Pray for me. :)

At the end of this week, we honor our mothers, whether honorary, adoptive, by birth, or by action. I am so blessed by my mom, Sadako, who brought me into the world and continues to be a Godly inspiration of sacrifice and service, and by Jeanette. my mother-in-law, a woman of limitless patience and discretion. I wish I could hug them both on Sunday and tell them in person what they mean to me, but a phone call will have to do. Be sure to tell your mother figures how important they are to you this week and as often as possible.

I have a special menu for those of you who want to make Mom’s day easy and tasty—you can find it here. If you are a mother on my list, know that I admire and respect you in your tireless devotion to your families.

Blessings and car kisses,

Ruth

Planting Seeds in March

The Greenhouse of the Heart

If thoughts are seeds, what will you plant? As intelligent beings, we are most decidedly in control of the thoughts that cross our minds. Sure, a random thought can pop into the consciousness but where it goes from there…down a negative turn or an optimistic scenario is completely up to us. For example, my son was interviewing for a position in a new company and he had a very encouraging meeting. However, when he received the phone call informing him the company was choosing another candidate, he could have been filled with self doubt. Instead, he chose to be optimistic stating that the process had been a good learning experience. “Moving on!” he told us.

So let’s think of our hearts, which are swayed by our minds, as a greenhouse to be filled with lovely, growing things. And maybe one morning you spend a few moments recalling blessings and those thoughts produce roses. Whereas time spent dwelling on past disappointments create weeds that attack healthy plants.

For March, I’m going to work on filling my greenhouse with flowers, fruits and tender green grass. “Sow seeds of hope, enjoy optimism. Sow seeds of doubt and expect insecurity.” Max Lucado

sow-seeds-704x396
sow-seeds-704x396

How to plan a perfect date night

Step 1.Choose your date. Whom should you take? Well, obviously- your best friend or soul mate, husband, boyfriend, girlfriend, daughter, son, any of these will do. And sometimes if you’re very fortunate, the person qualifies for 3 of these descriptions.

Step 2.Choose a day. Now that we are empty nesters, we like Thursday. It starts the weekend, without the crowds and we are always relaxed near the end of the work week. But Saturday is good too. Or Sunday. Or Monday. Finding a day that will work for both of you is key!

Our date night this past week

Our date night this past week

Step 3. Choose your venue. It can be the pizza parlor around the corner or the swanky steak place on Oak Lawn (this was our date this week thanks to a most generous patron). You can take a picnic to the Arboretum or White Rock Lake. Pick a place you’ve never been or one of your old favorites.

Step 4.Commit to putting your phones away while you’re out together. Be present in the moment.

Step 5. Eat a little or eat a lot. Drink a little or drink a lot (Uber required). Laugh. Talk. Whisper. Conspire.

Step 6. (optional)Dance, with or without music. In the parking lot or in the car—yes, you can chair dance in the car—it’s fun! On your front porch, in the bedroom, in the foyer with the kids watching. Dancing is an added bonus to the date experience.

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We all have busy lives but take time to plan a date night this week; you won’t regret it. And for the other nights of the week, I have some delightful menu options for you…see the menu tab above.

Real Life Kitchen Adventures

Our college sophomore is just now heading back to school this weekend. His break was nice and long—four weeks to hang with friends, eat a lot of home cooking, chill out and even squeeze in a ski trip. He made the most of the time and is headed back to TCU ready for the semester, albeit not quite as excited as he was in August.

Snowboarding &amp; GoPro, such a multi-tasker

Snowboarding & GoPro, such a multi-tasker

His fraternity brother has a home in Park City, Utah, and my son joined his buddy and 3 other friends for the coldest, powder-filled week he has ever had. What an adventure! Snow-boarding through pristine powder and filming it on a camera is an experience I can only imagine. I jokingly told my friends that I wish I had his life. And I have heard that same sentiment from many other parents. Our children have access to amazing experiences and adventures that we did not have in our youth.

Tres amigos

Tres amigos

However, I don’t really want his life. I kind of like mine. After all, his ski trip was just one week but every week I get to have Kitchen Adventures! Like refilling my gigantic rolling flour bin with a 50 pound sack of flour and spilling about 5 pounds on the floor. Or, locking myself out of the kitchen and having to run around the building to get in. Or, pouring the wrong kind of broth into a pot pie gravy and scrapping it to start over. These are real life adventures, people!

Just this past holiday season the Butterfield Gourmet team and I: rolled out 82 pie crusts in one week; shipped 212 gift boxes around the country; made 106 pounds of savory nuts, 76 pounds of chocolate bark, 852 caramel bars, and 68 pounds of pecan pie bar candy; baked 36 chocolate-pumpkin breads; rolled out and baked to buttered perfection 22 dozen dinner rolls. Mmmm-mmm, those were the best!

Thanksgiving dinner rolls

Thanksgiving dinner rolls

So I want to thank each of you, my loyal and hungry customers, for giving me the joy and pleasure to experience so many kitchen adventures in 2016. I obviously love what I do and I look forward to another year of excitement, peril, and delicious adventures with you via Butterfield Gourmet.

The real superwoman - Jeanette Weisenberger Butterfield

thxgiving 04
Last Sunday I took you down memory lane to my mother’s story and this week it’s only fair that I tell you about my lovely mother-in-law, Jeanette. She is responsible for my wonderful husband’s appearance in the world and as we celebrated his birthday this past weekend, of course she comes to mind. Incidentally, he is the middle child in a line of seven. (I am the middle of 3 — don’t middles always end up together?!)

My first impression of Jeanette was through her son’s eyes. He talked a lot about what an amazing cook his mother was/is and how she served delicious meals to their table every single night for his crowd of a family. And dessert. Every night. Baked. Homemade. Desserts are a big thing with Michiganians, I’ve decided. So I couldn’t wait to meet her and she was everything he’d described her to be: sweet, quiet, welcoming and a Fantastic cook.  Her menus became the model for what I served our young family over the years. If I were to put her dinner philosophy to paper, I believe the list below summarizes it well.

1. The table must be dressed with a freshly pressed tablecloth.

2. Grace will be said before the meal commences, always by Pop, and ending with his signature “We pray for the gifts of wisdom, love, courage and perseverance.”

3. Every meal must have a tossed green salad. With no regard for extra dishes to wash, Jeanette happily adds salad bowls or plates to every table.

4. The main course will be hearty, delicious and hot. And plentiful. When you are feeding a crowd of 9, be sure to have enough for everyone to eat and be satiated.

5. There must be at least one side dish, either a vegetable or a starch but preferably both.  See crowd comment above.

6. Milk is the beverage of choice to accompany dinner, especially during the week. Wine is a close second.

7. THERE WILL BE DESSERT. Sometimes, if everyone is too full from the delicious dinner, dessert is moved to the time slot after dishes are done. The sweet treats range from homemade Angel Food Cake topped with macerated strawberries and freshly whipped, sweetened cream to tart Rhubarb Pie (btw, I had never tasted home-whipped cream before her’s and it changed my life) Of course, there are always a few of her famous cookies on a plate and plenty of ice cream. On the weekends when we dined with them several evenings in a row, she would bake something fresh each day, even if the previous evening’s dessert had not been completely consumed. Another rule: Jeanette takes the first bite. Pop is the enforcer of this rule. Do not break it.

I think it is safe to say that Jeanette manifested love for her family with her work in the kitchen. Oh, and through her ironing…she is a master in the laundry room but I’ll save that for another blog.;)  Check out the Menu for the next few days and give your mother-in-law a big hug; since mine is arriving midweek, I will do the same! -R

Valentine's Day - staying home and having the best meal of the year!

I won’t say that we’ve never gone out for dinner on Valentine’s Day…there was that time that our server at a (now closed) French restaurant insulted my husband and me by telling us that we “just didn’t understand fine dining.” And another year when the establishment lost our reservation and made us wait for an hour and a half. So unless you are at the beginning of a relationship, I am probably not the person to recommend braving the restaurant crowds to eat out this coming Saturday night!
However, I do recommend cooking a meal in that night with your loved one.  This has become a fun tradition for us, whether we cook with another couple or by ourselves. Get a babysitter and send the children to the other side of the house to pretend they are on a camp out. Then you can craft a romantic dinner together and eat by candlelight in the dining room!  Here’s what we are making this Valentine’s Day, and trust me – we will make it TOGETHER:

Appetizer

Lobster Roll Crostini

First Course

Mushroom-Parmesan Soup with Savory Biscotti

Roasted Beet Salad

Main Course

Filet Au Poivre

Truffled Mashed Potatoes

Sauteed Spinach

Dessert

Surprise

You will have to check my instragram account to see what we have for dessert! Follow me @buttersgourmet.

In the shop this week I’m making things that remind me of love – Chicken Parmesan, Caesar Salad, Chocolate Custard Pie…so let me know if you’d like to put some Butterfield Gourmet love on your dinner table! 2015 Menu for Feb 9