Hey dolls!  So last week it was crazy and did not post my training on Friday.  And since I know you are just dying to know (just kidding) here it is and I am sharing it with the girls from Workout Wednesday.  Have you check out these fitness link-up?  If not-- you should.  My training consisted of the following ;-)

Notice what is missing from last week? RUNNING.  Last week was brutal on the body-- so much so that I had no energy for running either Wednesday or Thursday and on Friday I did not go to Crossfit.  Not because I did not want but because my body felt broken.  After the workout on Wednesday I felt exactly like this (excuse my French but I'm not gonna lie... I was hating CrossFit and thinking exactly this):


Next day and Friday I was sore.  Not just a slight soreness but rather "bone tired, my knees are hurting when I walk, when I sit, when I sleep... actually everything hurts" kind of tired.  I know my body and it was screaming at me for some rest.  So I did just that and spent Friday nursing those knees with Celebrex and ice packs while watching the Crossfit Games on my laptop.  Not that I was watching AT work... they were "background noise". 

Did you happen to catch the Crossfit Games? Oh my goodness, talk about a test of fitness.  Just like in previous years the games showcased what makes  Crossfit atheletes rocks stars in the fitness world.   Whether you love or hate the polarizing sport of Crossfit, the athletes are awe-inspiring.  What they do at the games its pretty incredible.

photo courtesy of
I think this year was really surprising to many because the events featured a LOT of running and many had awesome times. Which truthfully was very surprising to many because running that much is not a Crossfit thing.  And believe me, many questioned what was with all the running?  In all they were awesome and cannot wait to see what happens next year.

This year's winner (and so well deserved) was Camille LeBlanc-Bazinet from Canada.  After 5 years of getting better and better, you could tell from day one that she brought her A Game.  My girl Annie Thorisdottir a.k.a. Iceland Annie (a Crossfit Games two time champ) finished with a silver medal after skipping last year due to a back injury.  And to me that is pretty amazing!  You go girl!  Congrats to all the other winners!

How was your training week? 
Did you watch the Crossfit Games? If you did, who were you rooting for?


In a perfect photography world I would have an awesome camera with the fancy lenses and I would take pictures like the folks at Pastry Affair or some of the other food blogs I read, but I do not.  I really enjoy taking food photos because I like showcasing a recipe I made.  I am not much about styling.  I like my photos simple and unfuzzy.  I do not like too many props and I have no idea of how to create a "moody artsy" quality on a photo.  So I stick with what I know.  Keeping it simple.  

I do not claim to be a food photographer expert.  I AM NOT.  But I have a few tips that have helped me to go from the type of food photos I used to shoot like when I had my food blog a long time ago, like this:

To what I shoot now, which I think is a much better finished product, like this:

I big part was deciding on the aesthetics I wanted my photos to have.  And for me it is light.  I love photos that have a light quality with that tonality that reminds me of the light you see in Paris photos.  The light colors are muted while the colored details still show but with a delicate quality.  Photos like this require one main thing: light.  There are many home studio that you can buy with all the professional accoutrements and lights but since I am not a food blog, I do not want to spend that kind of money.  Instead I make my own.   

One of the key components of a clear and light photo is daylight.  You can fake it indoors with photography lamps but I like the real think whenever possible.  I am pretty fortunate that I have fantastic light in my house and unless it is cloudy in that way that Kansas can get, I can shoot with natural light.  If you have daylight, then all you need are some inexpensive materials and you will have what you need to take a really good food photography.  Here are my essentials.


No. 1 // White and brown banner paper

This is my favorite background item.  I just roll/tape the end to any surface and roll out enough to place whatever dish I am trying to photograph.  The great thing is that if the paper gets stained with the dish you can just cut out the piece of paper and roll out some more. 

I like the brown one if I want to photograph ingredients and I want to write the names.  I place the items and then using a marker I write the names by each ingredient.  Once I am done, I throw out that piece of paper. 


No. 2 - No. 3 // Aluminum tray or aluminum foil

One of the things about light is that when there is light there are also shadows, and aluminum foil is awesome for getting rid of shadows.  In the photo below you see how I place my foil board (which is nothing more than a piece of cardboard covered in foil.  Try different angles until you find the ones that get rid of the shadows.  Inexpesive but so key to lighten up a photo.

No. 4 // Black Project Board

I use this when I want a dark background like this.  It creates instant moodiness and depth.  There are certain food that show better in a black background than a light one.  It is all a matter of playing with the background and seeing what works better. 

No. 5 // Solid color bowls

This is where styling preference comes into play.  I personally prefer to use solid color plates and bowls because I think they show the food better.  But again, this is a matter of preference.  Some people like ornate table settings and props.  Me?  I like simple.

No. 6 // iPhone

Let's talk camera.  I do not have a fancy high speed camera.  I take all my photos with my iPhone.  I do and I love it.  I have had the iPhone 4s and now the 5s, and I tell you: that is one powerful little camera.  Why do I shoot with my iPhone?  For one it is convenient and second for photo editing.  I can get a photo to look pretty great and still sometimes it needs something.  I HATE photoshop with a passion and there is so much I can do with PicMokey.  In contrast I find that smart phones have a myriad of compatible editing apps that are really good.  Which brings me to the next two items: photo editing apps.


I love this app so much because it has many effects options to give your photos an artsy quality instead of a comic book harsh type effect (not what you want with food photos).  I usually use this app if I want to keep a photo light but give it more "feeling".  It truly is my favorite photo editing app.


No. 8 // Pic Tap Go App

This app is also a favorite of mine and has a lot of effects, but the main reason I love it because of one of the filters called Lights On.  This is the filter I first use on a photo because it lights up a photo making it brighter and getting rid of that grayish tone white background can get.  Below is a before and after, and you can how the photo on the right is much lighter after applying the filter. 

And there you have-- my favorite little tips for making my food photos better.  It does not take a lot of expensive equipment, I think.  Just getting creative and imaginative.  Hope these tips help you in taking your own food photos. 
Do you have any inexpensive food photography tips?


This weekend I celebrated a very important date: Jack's Gotcha Day!  If you are new to the blog, Jack is my 10-year old Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier.  I rescued this older boy last year and my life was never the same  It has been a very interesting year as a dog owner and dealing with dog issues I never had before has caused some excitement at times.  And while I lost my girl Rummer five months ago, I am so thankful that this boy was here to give me the type of comfort only a dog could give: the comfort of just being there snuggling with his mommy when she cried.  I love my sweet, sweet boy to the moon and back (especially that beard hair that is always out of control). 


A little thing many do not know is that I drove all the way from Kansas to the state line between Georgia and Tennessee to pick this boy.  Did I mention that I had made that trek from NC three months before?  But one look at his photos and I was a goner.  The drive just seemed minor.  To celebrate this milestone (and the drive) I wanted to make something the reflected that entire little journey through the oh so beautiful South.   After much thinking I decided on ice cream since it was in the summer and truly what is more Southern that bourbon and peaches? 

no-churn ice cream

Now ice cream is one of those foods that I have to be in the mood to eat.  I also do not like leaving ice cream sitting in the freezer for months.  Instead I buy the Ben & Jerry's small pints when I get a craving.   But lately I have been craving ice cream in a different manner: I want to learn how to make it at home.  Unfortunately I do not want to spend on an ice cream machine because I would rarely use it.  But do you know the best thing about ice cream lately? The NO-CHURN method.  And this my friend is what I am sharing with you today. 

ice cream

whiskey ice cream 

Most no-churn ice creams have the similar base: condensed milk (or coconut milk) and heavy cream.  No, this is not a low-fat ice cream but it is a perfect addition to your "wow them" repertoire when you want something special.  And trust me-- this is.  The great thing about this base is that it is creamy and basically you can add any flavorings to make it tasty.  

Because this was a celebration I wanted to make it a little boozy for my friends that came over on Friday and I used a liquor that I've had in the cabinet since the winter: Jack Daniel's Winter Jack Tennessee Cider.  

This Tennessee Cider is a blend of apple cider liqueur, Jack Daniel's Old No. 7 Tennessee Whiskey and holiday spices.  This is perfect served warm in the winter when it is cold outside and the snow is falling.  But when it is at room temperature, I find the flavor really light and delicate.  Goes down really smooth.  And that delicate bouquet is what makes it such a great complement to peaches which have an almost floral flavor.  Oh yes, momma!  Talk about delicious Southern flavors in a deliciously frozen bowl.


As I mentioned, this is a NO-CHURN ice cream and it is easier to make than I thought it would.  Watch out!  I am dangerous now!  Once you get the base right the possibilities are endless.  Now, a warning: this will not be about self-gratification right after you make it.  It will take about 6-7 hours in the freezer to be set firm but that is what you get with a no-churn.  Still I loved the anticipation.  And I was not let down.   Interested in giving it a try? Below is the recipe.  I hope you enjoy it if you make it because I sure did!  It was the perfect way to bask in the memories of getting my sweet boy.  Happy Gotcha Day, Jack!!!




1 can (14 oz.) condensed milk
1 tsp crushed vanilla bean
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
2 1/3 cups heavy cream, very cold
4 tbsp Jack Daniel's Tennessee Cider
1/2 to 1 cup peaches, chopped


In a bowl combine all the ingredients minus heavy cream and peaches.  

In the bowl of an electric mixer, pour the cold heavy cream and beat on high until you have stiff peaks-- about 4 minutes. DO NOT OVER BEAT.   With care and using a rubber spatula fold about 1 cup of the whipped cream into the bowl with all the other ingredients.  Once combined, take the content of the bowl and fold the mixture into the bowl with the remaining whipped cream until it is smooth.  

Cover the bowl and let it sit in the freezer for 1 hour.  Then take it out and pour the content into a loaf pan.  Carefully and using a fork or skewer, add the chopped peaches pushing the pieces into the mixture so it is evenly distributed through the pan (and so everyone gets pieces of peaches when served).  Re-cover and put in the freezer for 6-7 hours until firm.  Before serving, let sit in the counter for about 10 minutes so it softens a bit.  Serve and enjoy!



It is finally Friday and I am all about resting during the weekend.  After this week of Crossfit my plan is simple: REST in my PJs, relax, catch up on my reading and enjoy my brand new Chemex coffee maker.  I will probably also catch up on some of my favorite blogs. 

My favorites images this Friday come from two gorgeous Tumblr sites La Claes and Patron Saint of Sass.  I chose these images because to me they represent the lightness and relaxation of a summer weekend.   It you want a visual feast, a visit is a must.  And here are some other links that I am looking forward to reading... because I have other interests aside from fitness and Crossfit:

On Books {Recommended Readings} from Elephantine

New Instagram Feeds to Check for Beautiful Photography:
 //  //  //

A Visual Beach Getaway in Two Minutes

Whatever you do and however you decide to spend your weekend make sure you enjoy it and that is brings you joy.  Because life is too short to live it otherwise.  Have a lovely weekend!


I rarely talk about my faith and beliefs in this blog because this is not a faith or religion blog.  But sometimes, I have to and this is one of them.  My faith is a big part of who I am even when I am struggling.  It is an integral part of "the good life".  For many years I have been focused on what I want, the plans I have for ME.  I could get so wrapped up on my own life that I sometimes for to LISTEN to what God wants.
I am always asked, how does God "speaks to you"?  Sometimes in mockery and I respect that-- we all are entitled to our opinion.  But the truth is that it is more of a feeling and in some cases it does feel like a still small voice.  It is an overcoming emotion that comes to you and makes you realize that He is listening to your prayers and answering back.
The past couple of weeks have been pretty go-go-go for me in the professional realm and while I am happy about the future, a part of me felt like something was off.  Hard to explain.  I have been praying and praying over this, talking to my mother and fiance.  Finally yesterday during my morning prayers it came to me.
Right there in from of my face it was: what I thought I always wanted is not what I really want.  And more importantly God's plan for me.  That moment really rocked me because it was a total 180 from where I was.  And the emotions that came with realization were pretty overwhelming.  It is so good when the answer comes to you this way.  
I actually had this image of Jesus  leaning against the door with the sweetest smile on His face saying "It's been there all along.  You just had to catch up". 
Breaking the news to people who have helped me along the way in my career is going to be hard because they think they know what is best for me.  But for once I am choosing my personal life over my job.  Gone and finished are the days when I put my personal life on hold and it is time to start living, being a partner and wife, and a mother.  And I am really happy and content with that decision. 
I have friends wh have hinted that my life as I know it is finished.  That I am trading a thriving professional career to be "a mom to kids who are not even my own and to be a farmer's wife".  And to them I say, my life is now only beginning.  I am finally realizing that I need my people around me more than I need a job.  And this man and his kids are "my persons".  I am not finished.  I am just beginning what I think will be my most rewarding journey so far.

Own To It! It Is Part of Who You Are.

The lovely Elise at Cheers Y'all is having a link up and I love the idea about it.  It is about "owning it".  Owning your story, likes/dislikes, what makes you happy or sad, what makes your life your own.  And I love it so much that I decided to join her.  Here is my list.

  • People who tell me "eventually it will get better" about my dad dying last year make me want to lose my mind.  It will not get better-- he was my dad not some random person.
  • I have not been to church but twice since dad died last year.  It is not that I do not love God-- HE knows I do.  I just feel disconnected in some level I cannot pinpoint.  So for now I do my prayers/devotionals at home between Him and me.
  • I am the "jump to the worse conclusion" first kind of girl.  Then I get myself all worked up for nothing most of the time.
  • It has been really hard to be completely happy about my selection for promotion when so many of my friends did not.  
  • I love my dog more than I love some friends... or some relatives.  
  • I let my dog sleep in my bed every night... which will be interesting when David and I get married :)
  • I am a member of the Crazy Dog Lady club. :-)  For example sometimes my dog sleeps so soundly that I am afraid he is not breathing and I have to check.
  • I do not like change.  The other day I started thinking about moving to Arizona, the new job, the wedding planning and then moving to Minnesota... and got all nervous.  But one thing that keeps me moving forward with peace, Jeremiah 29:11  "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." 
  • I love Crossfit! Probably even more than I am loving running right now. 
  • I could polish off a whole box of Krispy Kremes by myself.  Which is how I celebrated my promotion: champagne and KK!!!  Best day ever!
  • When I get bored I move furniture around.  I think it drives my dog crazy.  On a related subject, I like things organized and tidy YET I cannot accomplish that with my closet. 
  • I miss my mommy in NC and I don't care who knows it!  She is my BFF and I love that about our relationship... plus she has great style.
  • I love David with all my heart.  Not just the kind of "oh he is handsome and hot" kind of love (although I do think so about him) but it is more than that.  It is respect, admiration and pride.  It is the kind that makes me want to make him happy without expecting anything in return.  Although I know my happiness and that of his kids are at the top of the list.  Every time I look at him I cannot believe how fortunate I am that he asked me to be his wife.  Ok, gushing over. :-)

And there you have it!  It's about owning it, my friends.

Also sharing with:  Thankful Thursday.  Little Things Thursday. Whatever Is Lovely.  The Weekend BrewSharing His BeautyThe Sunday CommunityCoffee For Your Heart.


Hello everyone!  This week's training has been good so far and I am loving CrossFit more and more, not only because it is challenging but because it is helping me get stronger.   I actually look forward to going to the box (the gym) as much or even a bit more than running, but no worries-- running is still my first love. :-) 

But as with every new workouts there is something that is always so challenging that just drives you crazy to the point that you tell yourself: "oh, it's on!" and for me that is kipping.  This is a very challenging move for me because it requires motion, flexibility and upper body strength (which I thought I had but I do not).  Never mind that this is my second time trying it.  I want to make it happen yesterday! Competitive much? lol. 

The kipping motion (using momentum and a sudden jerk down of the knees to push yourself up, is very controversial to some especially those who do the traditional pull-up.  They consider it cheating.  THIS is the correct way to do a kipping pull-up.

Below I am showing you my attempt at kipping pull-up.  First of all, I knew I would not be able to do a kipping pull up because... well, I have never been able to do a pull-up.  Right now I am concentrating on getting the initial motion right.  As you can tell there is a little bit if gymnastics flavor on this movement and it requires lots of shoulder flexibility.  I have been doing shoulder flexibility movements at home and during my second attempt I felt more comfortable.  Yes I need lots of improvement but baby steps.  I just wanted to show you the efforts.

Bottom line, when I swing back my body needs to come further away from the bar and I need to get the knee down jerk motion.  That is what will give me the push up impulse I need to get my head above the bar.  Just really having a hard time with it.

But I was trying to give it my all again and again.  Then this happened.  Ouch!  As my hand rolled on the bar it ripped the skin off.  Yeah... double ouchy.  The crazy thing is that I did not feel it while it happened.  It was after.  Today my hands feel sore and looking like crap.  David already told me that he is not too crazy about the  My instructor was like "ooh! you got your first rip" with a big smile like it was a badge of honor. 

Luckily this should be able to help me with this while I train.  A must from now on.  Can't have manly hands on my wedding day :)

photos via Invictus Crossfit

As you can tell, a bit of pain but TONS of fun, especially because each session is full of energy and everyone supports each other.  This is week 3 of the foundations class and I want to leave you with the one discovery I love the most so far:

crossfit foundations class

There is a way that CrossFit challenges you that it is different than running.  With running I usually get to a point where its painful but I can keep going.  With CrossFit, I get to a point where I do not think it is possible to do one more rep, where muscles are shaking and breathing is harder... and I somehow find a way to push through, and I amaze myself EVERY SINGLE TIME.  Yes, people have I drank the Kool-Aid and I am liking it! :)


When people ask me what do I want my last meal on this earth to be I always say: bread, goat cheese and a beautiful Argentinian malbec. But of all these three my essential one is bread. Bread...mmm...bites of delicious yeasty goodness baked into perfection. I love, love, love bread if you could not tell. The funny thing is that all this bread love really goes against my fitness regime but I tell you what, life it too short to not eat something this good, so I workout harder the days when I eat it. :)
But you know what? One of my biggest failures in the kitchen has been baking bread...or rather the lack of trying. BREAD MAKING INTIMIDATES ME! There I said it. I can make the most technically complicated French recipe yet when it comes to bread, I panic. There is something about the transformation of ingredients into dough, into a beautiful loaf of bread that seems hard to make. 

But last year I gave challah bread a try and it turned out beautifully thanks to the hilariously awesome couple of Kevin Meyers and his wife Dani at The Adventure Bite.  Now, if you are not familiar with challah, this is a special Jewish braided bread eaten on Sabbath and holidays.

I love foods rooted in tradition and I was a little hesitant about changing the traditional recipe.  But I felt that this could benefit from a little flavoring.  Nothing overpowering but lingering subtles layers of flavors and because the bread has a subtly sweet taste I immediately thought of bourbon and vanilla bean.  The flavors just seemed to go well together... and oh, they did. 
This is a SIX. STRANDS. BRAID.  This translates into tricky.  And I am so thankful the Meyers shared a video on how to do the braiding with six strands.  I got kind of cocky with the second loaf and had to start all over again halfway through. But the result is oh, so pretty-- don't you think?
There is a moment when you realize that a transformation is happening and you are part of this. It feels very earthly and organic. Maybe those are the wrong words but you get me. Plus, the smell is just heavenly. I enjoy this stage when the bread is rising and love the intense yeasty aroma {that is the best way to describe it} that took over my kitchen. Just intoxicating.  But nothing compares to the beautiful aroma of the bread as it is baking: mellow notes of vanilla and bourbon just makes this simply irresistible. 
This bread is eggy, a little sweet and soft which makes it just like a potato chip: you can't have just one. This bread is delicious with butter, jam {my future mom-in-law's raspberry jam would be so good with this} or just by itself because of those bourbon vanila notes. But I promise you, no matter how you eat it, it's delicious.
After it was baked, I was just in pure amazement that this beautiful bread was made by my hands. But even more I felt such a sense of accomplishment to finally do something I've always wanted to try. 
I am so happy I adjusted this recipe with the flavoring additions because it is totally worth it and if you want to impress someone, this is one way to do it.  The possibilities are endless!  Have a wonderful day!
{adapted from The Adventure Bite} Makes 2 Loaves


1 1/2 cups warm water
1/2 cup honey
2 tbsp bourbon
1 tablespoon oil
4 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons instant dry yeast
7 cups King Arthur bread flour plus additional flour (may take 8 or 9 cups of flour total)
1 tsp crushed vanilla bean
(If using whole wheat flour 1/2 whole wheat and 1/2 bread flour is preferable in flavor)
1 egg, beaten



  1. Preheat oven to 325F
  2. Mix all ingredients above line together except flour.
  3. Add flour cup by cup until the dough comes together enough to start pulling aside from the bowl.
  4. Pour out onto a floured surface and knead, adding flour as you go to keep it smooth and not sticking to the table.
  5. Knead for about 10 minutes.
  6. Cover top of bread lightly with oil and cover. Allow to proof until dough has almost doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.
  7. Punch down.
  8. Divide dough in half and then each half into 6 pieces for a total of 12 pieces. Try to make them as even as possible or weigh them to be equal.
  9. Roll the pieces out til they are about 1 inch in diameter.
  10. Pinch six braids together at the top and then braid. See Tammy's Recipe Braiding Vide for tutorial. A MUST!
  11. Gently transfer the braided challah to a greased cookie sheet and cover with a tea towel. Allow to rise again for about 30 minutes.
  12. Use a pastry brush to coat the loaves with beaten egg.
  13. Bake for 25-30 minutes.
  14. *If using active dry yeast instead of instant yeast see Tammy's Recipe for additional tips! 



Hello everyone!  Happy Monday!  If you are visiting from the Europe: Simple Irresistible Link Party, please click HERE or go to the previous post.  For everyone else, HI! I hope y'alls weekend was awesome.  Mine was really good and to be honest I was still riding the happiness wave of having made the Lieutenant Colonel list.  This made some not so cool moments not so bad.  Here are my ups and downs for this weekend (I'm using Rebecca Jo's Up & Down format because its fun):

// UP //
I found on Friday that my recipe for Ceviche Verde was published by Nutritional WOD, the sister food site to Crossfit related  I submitted the recipe a few weeks ago and was so happy that they published it!


On Friday I celebrated by going to my CrossFit foundations class and it was so AWESOME! NOT!  First we had a new instructor.  See that little lady on the left?  Yeah... she was a bit scary and super hyper at first.  And after the review portion we all agreed "we were going to die" that night. 

Oh my goodness, this was the hardest class so far and she was brutal.  The workout is called The Seven and it is infamously known for being a meat grinder.  When I was done with the workout I literally fell to the ground exhausted.  Had to stop for some coffee on the way home so I would not fall asleep.  The good thing? I am getting stronger.  I can tell when I do my run-only days.  and I am loving it.
// DOWN //
There are Christmas decorations displayed at Hobby Lobby.  Need I say more?  What the heck?  After the long winter, can I enjoy summer without thinking about the upcoming seasons? Ugh...
// UP //
Even though I should realize this every day-- this weekend I finally felt truly blessed.  I may not be rich but I have health, a good family, a lovely pup, an amazing fiance and a job that I really like.  This is good.  I realized I am living the good life.
how cute is that wall art?  Love my red toesies?  And how about Jack's bedroom eyes? ;-)

// DOWN //
So with the selection for promotion many friends and family are so happy and the congratulations just poured in.  But on that same token, some haters came out of the woodwork.  It was pretty surprising because some are friends... well at least I consider them friends.  But I refused to let them steal my joy.  Instead I say to them... 
Yes, this is not the end of God's plans for me!
How was your weekend?  What are your ups and downs?
Mingle Monday. Monday Morning Gossip


I do not know if you are like me but when I visit a place I automatically think of the "soundtrack of my life" at that particular moment.  And if I was in my little dream heaven the soundtrack of my life would be John Barry's Until September.  This is one of my favorite movies starring the very talented couple of thierry Lhermitte and Karen Allen.  I love it not only because it is set in France but because it is a gorgeously simple and stirring composition.  Here is one of the pieces for your enjoyment. 


There is a place within the fogginess of a French dream where I long to go, away from the greys of Paris and sunny Provence.  It is a place where bucolic rusticity and modern met.  Where the romance of the old world makes you believe that in this sometimes manic world, one can find a thinly veiled cocoon where beauty just takes your breath away.  Where tranquility exists and for a few moments time can stop.  For me that place is the town of Saint-Emilion in the Bordeauz region of France.  

St. Emilion is renowned as much for its beautiful buildings and scenery as for its wine, this charming town is what French country dreams are made of.  From the iconic 13th century Tour du Roy standing like a centinel above the city, to the steep, narrow, cobbled streets-- everything is a reminder of the rich history of the town.  

I have been in love with this town from afar for many years.  It is my favorite long distance relationship.  So much that when I wrote my first novel in college, this is where it was set.  And once I had the perfect location the words just flowed naturally.  Maybe one day the world will know of my love for this town through my words.

The charming town named so in honor of the monk Émilion, a traveling confessor, who settled here in the 8th century, is best known today as a mecca of wine-making in the world.  A business of commercial wine production that started by the monks who followed Émilion here.  As a History major with a minor in European History, and as a wine lover and someone who appreciates food history, this place is the perfect place where all these three intersect. 
A stroll through town would allow me to visit little stores, talk to the locals and make delicious food finds.  And if I am really lucky, I would look through a window and spot the lovely (and my foodie inspiration) Mimi Thorisson from Manger, on a day trip to town as she peruses for new products.  Of course she would take time to give me all her food photography secrets and recommendations on new cheeses to try. ;)   

In this wine enthusiast's dream, I get the opportunity to tour the town's best chateaux vineyards and leisurely stroll through them learning all about the history of the place.   

In underground lime caves I would be able to learn about how a particular vineyard came to be, how this particular terroir affects the flavor of a wine, what food pairings go best with a particular wine from the region.  This would be living wine education at its best.  The foodie in me would have a heart bursting with excitement at trying the cuisine from the region.  And if these images from My French Heaven are not enough to pique you appetite curiosity I do not know what will.

Lastly I want to touch on fashion.  One of the things I love the most about people in the French country area is that effortless chic style.  Remember Mimi Thorisson?  I would definitely ask her about her style.  I love it.  It is simple yet classy.  It is a style that says good living. 

I cannot tell you what fills me with this longing to visit this place.  Perhaps it the pull of the blood from my French ancestors who came to America from the region.  Perhaps it is because history, beauty and tranquility move me in a completely different plane that other things do.  Whatever the reason, to be able to visit Saint-Emilion one day would be my dream come true.  And if I could bring Jack, my Wheaten Terrier, with me.... then I probably would never return to America.  :)
Not many people know about this dream of mine.  But now I have shared it with you-- others with the same wanderlust and longing as me.  For those of us that dream of a place away from home that in our imagination makes us feel like we are indeed at home: keep dreaming.  You never know when the distance between your dream and reality are only a plane ticket away.  Au revoir, mes amis. 
I have the pleasure to be joining Anita from Castles, Crowns and Cottages for her Europe: Simply Irresistible Link Party all this week for more travelers and stories of wanderlust.  Have a beautiful week!



It is no secret to anyone that I love cooking.  Actually it is my passion.  I thrive when I am in an environment where I am entertaining or simply preparing a dish as a way of showing that I care and love.  Which is why I enjoy reading cookbooks, about restaurants and chefs.  There are many culinary masters in the world and to pick my favorite would be impossible.  But in a world as diverse and varied as the culinary world, I have always been fascinated by chef Alice Waters-- part culinary philosopher, part food historian and all about sharing her love for food with others. 

If you do not recognize the name you probably recognize the name Chez Panisse, her famous restaurant in Berkeley, California which she opened in 1971.  She has been such a culinary influence that in 2010 she received France's highest decoration: Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur. For the record the last American woman to receive this was Julia Child.  She is that big of a driving force in the culinary world.
But there is something about Ms. Water that I have always loved and that is her love for local fresh and sustainable food.  That is something that I have always gotten from her persona and her interviews.  That basic love of fresh food has been with me since I first heard about her and it is also why I try to normally eat fresh foods that require minimal cooking especially during the summer season.   Take this recipe for example. 

You cannot get any simpler than this.  The three main ingredients in these bowl are wild rice, salmon and avocados. Wild rice is something that was new to me up until two years ago when David introduced me to it while on my first trip to Minnesota.  This stated happens to be one of the two major harvest states in the US. Wild rice is not truly a rice but an aquatic grass which grows wild. The grains are dark in color and I have come to prefer it mix with other grains like white rice or basmati for a delicious combination of flavors.  To wild rice measure a ratio of 4 cups of water x 1 cup of rice, and then cook for 45 minute.  This is important to keep in mind if you are preparing a dish that requires you to have all the ingredients handy. 

For the salmon I like to use fresh fillets but most of the time I use frozen fillets and work great for this recipe because you will tear it into bite size pieces.   To season the salmon I like to use Mr. Dash Southwestern Blend.  Flavorful and with just a little bit of kick but not too much.

A very simple recipe, the only slightly time consuming part is gathering and chopping ingredients.  Once you have everything prepared, it is just a matter of assembling.  You will need:
1 cup wild rice, cooked
1 cup brown rice, cooked
1 tbsp olive oil
1 can canned black beans, rinsed
1 cup frozen sweet corn, cooked
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 avocado, chopped
1-2 tomatoes, chopped
Romaine lettuce, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
3-4 fillets grilled salmon, shredded into bite size pieces. 
- In a medium sauce pan add the olive oil and onions cooking untilt the onions are translucent.  Then add the bean and corn.  All we are looking for is for the veggies to be heated through.  Once heated, set aside.
- In a plate arrange in the following order: wild rice, brown rice, bean/corn mixture, tomatoes, avocados, lettuce, salmon and cilatro.  Drizzle with a little olive oil, if desired, and enjoy! 

The salad is the perfect combination of flavors.  No particular flavor is competing with the other; but rather they complement each other.  The salad is refreshing and filling without making you feel bloated (which I love). 
The beauty about good quality fresh food is that it does not need a lot to make it taste delicious.  Actually, I think the less you do to produce or fish, the better.  Ms. Waters was on to something when she became fascinated with the French's obsession for fresh food.  It tastes good and it is good for  you. 
I am always amused by the people at my grocery store because I come a few times during the week to buy fresh produce-- in addition to visiting the farmer's market. Growing up in Puerto Rico it was the same. We buy staples for the month, but produce and meats/fish are bought twice a week to get the freshest. It is all about minimal preparation and letting the fresh ingredients speak for themselves. And this recipe today is a prime example of that.