Saturday, August 31, 2013

Good Love

I've linked you up to her before, and she's here again: the marvelous Sarah Bessey.

Rachel Held Evans is writing a series on submission, as it pertains to spouses and others in the church. As usually with Ms. Evans, I agree with some, disagree with some, but generally appreciate the attitude of not slamming those with whom you may disagree, but trying to dialogue and understand.

Sarah Bessey wrote this beautiful post on what mutual submission looks like in her marriage, and folks, lemme tell you...

This is what I want my marriage to look like.

"I just want to read dog-eared poetry books and cook his meals, argue with him about theology and then kiss him on the kitchen floor."

I don't need to set down rules and lines for how Dan and I will show grace and love (and yes, sometimes submission) to one another. I do need to continually remind myself of the incredible grace and love shown to me, and continually strive to extend that grace and love to my husband.

Sometimes this will mean submitting to my husband's will by him going out with friends again. Sometimes it means he submits to my will and has a quiet night in with me. Sometimes it means we carefully discuss the pros and cons of the churches we've visited and decide together which one we feel is best for us.

And that's the beauty of Sarah's post. It doesn't matter on which side of the egalitarian/complementarian line you fall. She's talking about love, self-sacrifical, servant-hearted love.

The kind Jesus gave, and asks us to give.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Chocolate Ganache Tart

I'm not exactly sure what to call this dessert (except AMAZING, of course). Isn't a ganache usually a garnish? Or is it a style of preparing chocolate? And tarts usually include fruit of some kind....

Anyway, this dessert is awesome and amazing and you will love your life after one tiny little slice.

You will also be highly energized. Holy dark chocolate caffeine.

Both of my sisters in law requested this dessert for their birthdays this year, and I was more than happy to accommodate because (as is generally true of my cooking) you get a lot of bang for your buck.

And a lot of chocolate.

I originally found this recipe in a Real Simple magazine. The original calls for hazelnuts, which I have omitted largely because I am lazy, and I did not feel that they added very much to the tart. Hazelnut is lovely, so if it's really your cup of tea you can always add some (very) finely chopped hazelnuts to the crust.

Also? This isn't a cheap dessert. Especially if you use good chocolate. But it's worth every penny (except the pennies you didn't spend on the hazelnuts, because they're not important. Unless they you...).

Onto the important stuff!!

Chocolate Ganache Tart

2 cups of finely crushed chocolate wafer cookies
1 stick of butter
12 oz dark or semisweet chocolate (I usually buy Ghiradelli's, which is sold in the baking aisle in 4 oz bars, and I buy two bars of their dark chocolate, either 60% or 72% cocoa depending on what's in stock, and one bar of semisweet)
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
coarse sea salt

Finely crush your chocolate wafer cookies. Nabisco is my favorite brand, their cookies are thin and fine and not too sweet, but I've also used chocolate graham crackers in a pinch and they work just fine. I throw the cookies in the blender and pulse until they're very fine. Throw those cookie crumbs in a bowl, and add sea salt to taste (I probably only use about 1/4 tsp).

Melt the butter and, while mixing with a fork, slowly pour the butter into the crushed cookie crumbs. Stir until thoroughly mixed. The cookie crumbs should be damp, but not soggy. Pour the cookie-butter mix into a tart pan and try to refrain from eating the whole bowl. Press the crumbs firmly and evenly into the pan with your hands. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes, or until firm and dry. Cool completely.

In a medium saucepan, heat the cream until juuuust barely boiling. Meanwhile, break the chocolate bars into small pieces. Turn off the heat to the cream and slowly stir the chocolate into the cream until all chocolate is melted and smooth. Pour the chocolate ganache into the crust and place in the refrigerator until completely cool and hard.

You'll know you're at the perfect temperature when you see lots of little bubbles around the edges of the pot. Don't heat it far beyond that! 

At first it seems like all that chocolate could never be melted and absorbed. Just keep stirring. 


That's it! I like to serve this with something like raspberries and coffee--the flavors blend really well. I've also had this with sweet dessert wine, which is a real treat. Anything either sickeningly sweet (like the dessert wine) or equally rich and somewhat bitter (like good coffee) balance nicely.

Oh, and if you know anything about what makes a tart or ganache a tart or ganache, please let me know so I don't die in ignorance!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Vacation Part 2: San Diego

After five days in Colorado, we boarded another Southwest flight (more kids) and headed for our second favorite place on earth: San Diego!

Besides having gorgeous weather all.the.time, beautiful beaches, and a very fun, laid-back vibe, San Diego is also home to some delicious food and beer. So naturally we're obsessed.

We rented a sweet ride, too.

It was suuuper windy in the backseat (especially on the highway, which is mostly how we got around) so I decided to channel Audrey Hepburn to keep my hair presentable.

Or something.

Anyway, we had three days to cram a lot of fun and food (and beer). We got right down to brass tacks.

I was super excited to offer what I believe is my first actual contribution to vacation plans. Like, ever. Yep, I'm the girl who usually shows up with a suitcase and that's about it. Anyway, Picky Palate posted an Instagram photo of this awesome looking meal at this place called Hash House a go go. We dropped by for breakfast! 

And ate maybe 1/3 of the portions. 

It was totally delicious though, and would be still be a great meal if you want to share plates. Ha. 

We spent one day in Coronado Beach.

I highly recommend it.

In addition to being gorgeous, there was a fantastic little beach town with cute shops and restaurants and such. We had perfect weather, so we strolled around before parking ourselves on the (free) beach to enjoy the sunshine and surf.

We also stopped by the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

We hit up the actual zoo last year, and which was amazing, and I'm not a zoo person. We got Groupons for the safari ride, and it was pretty cool. We all agreed that the full price for the particular ride we did (it was the trolley car thing, with lots of people and a tour guide driver) would have felt like too much, but the discount we got made the price just right for what we got to see and enjoy.

Chad and Liz had a fancy date night planned, so Dan and I dropped them off and went to La Jolla Cove to hang out with my favorite San Diego locals...


Seriously, I could watch these guys for hours. We almost did.

Nearby to La Jolla, we also hit up Torrey Pines very briefly. Apparently the state reserve is really cool, but we only had time for some scenic driving and photo ops.

And this awesome dude. What could be cooler ?! 

One of our last stops was the Gaslamp District, which is apparently a thing. It was another really neat stretch of cool shops and restaurants. I guess it's kinda touristy? But we enjoyed it anyway.

Oh, and anyone wondering--some of our favorite San Diego beer included Lost Abbey/Port Brewing, Alpine Brew Company, Green Flash, and Stone Brewing Company (we visited Stone last year, but didn't go back this year).

Green Flash Tasting Room

Lost Abbey/Port Tasting Room (duh)

Food recommendations must include Hash House, as well as Pizza Port in Ocean Beach, and Spike Africa in downtown San Diego. Yum!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Vacation Part 1: Colorado

As promised! I'm gonna break this up into two parts because a) I have a lot of pictures and it'll be easier to read this way, and b) I didn't really take pictures in Schroon, so while it was beautiful and relaxing and lovely, I don't have a ton to say. So the second part will be San Diego.

After about 40 minutes of utter panic at the lines for baggage check and security, we boarded a nice early flight to Denver. We flew Southwest, and, holy moly! I guess that's what families fly. So many kids.

(And remember, I'm a teacher. I like kids. But holy crap.)

Upon landing, we were bewildered to find flat.flat.flat land. Aren't we in the Rockies?!

Turns out, the Rockies are to the west. To the east? Plains. Bizarro.

Anyways, we did lots of fun things in Colorado. We drove through Rocky Mountain National Park and saw some beautiful mountains.

Traveling Buddy! 

I was nearly accosted by a chipmunk,

Which, as it turns out, was the least exciting of our animal sightings. Throughout the trip we saw hoary marmots, a moose, an elk, and Dan saw a prairie dog. He was thrilled.


We also went rock climbing and whitewater rafting (sorry, no photos--we were too busy pretending to be extreme). The rafting was super awesome, we did an intermediate route (Level 3-4, for anyone who knows what that means) but we all agreed that we would have done something more challenging and exciting. Apparently the best rafting is in late May/early June, so I'm scheming to dash out to Denver for some rafting as soon as school lets out.

Or something like that.

We also did one hike in Rocky Mountain National Park. Because we were already struggling with the change in altitude, we decided to tackle a fairly short, easy hike (especially in comparison to last year's Half Dome Hike in Yosemite). We did an in-and-back to Jewel Lake.

The first "lookout." 

A ptarmigan! 

Other Traveling Buddy, pointing the way. 

I mean, seriously.

 Our destination was lovely, but it started raining on us halfway through the hike (we learned that Rocky Mountain weather changes at the drop of the hat) so we were quite chilly. We tried to enjoy the view anyway.

It wasn't hard to enjoy. 


Garden of the Gods, in Colorado Springs, was astonishingly breathtaking. We'd already seen lots of cool rocks, and I wasn't expecting to be wowed, but it was pretty awesome. Just, you know, enormous slabs of rock, sticking straight up into the air.

Oh yeah, and they're red.

Pretty sweet.

Of course, we also did our fair share of brewery hunting and beer tasting. The boys weren't thrilled with the selection (apparently the huge influx of microbreweries in Colorado leads to a lower quality standard?) but I thought it was fun.

Denver also has this really cool little pocket called LoDo (Lower Downtown) that's basically several blocks of shops, restaurants, etc. We found a fantastic Mexican restaurant, where Liz went into spasms about the tacos and I tried mole for the first time. Yum. Times infinity.

After five days in Colorado, we were psyched to head to San Diego for the remaining three!