Friday, May 16, 2014

Cooking Coq Au Vin

To preface: as many of you may know, I LOVE to bake. Cooking is all well and good and is obviously more necessary than baking, but stand mixers and icing bags and the smell of sugar and butter being creamed together are just about as good as it gets in the kitchen.

Nonetheless, husband and I cook alot at home. Sometimes just simple stuff to get us through the week, and sometimes more interesting but also complicated things because while Joe is still learning to cook (I'd put him at the end of beginner into beginner/intermediate level...) he thinks it's really fun to crack open a Lee Brothers cook book and request that we make, oh I don't know, Frogmore Stew (you can find it on their homepage. It's not for the faint of heart). Which, BTW, we still haven't made because what usually happens when the husband gets ambitious is the following: "Dianna, go sit down, read or something, I got this. Seriously, I'm getting my mise en place together (yes he says that) and I'm going to be fine." 15 minutes later: "Hey honey, could you could help with something really quickly..." 2 hours later: ... well you can guess who finishes dinner. HOWEVER, it is pretty great to have a man who likes and is interested in cooking, and who knows, 5 years down the road I may be able to retire from the stove completely.

So to get to the point of this post, last week was our 3-year anniversary. Charlottesville has a host of just really really amazing restaurants, but we've been to most of them multiple times and wanted to do something a little more special for dinner than just go somewhere we'd go back to anyway. So Joe, of course, gets the idea to make Coq Au Vin. Well, as I mentioned earlier, I usually only get excited about baking and am wary of classic dishes perfected by greats like Julia Child. But, there is one thing that rallies me back in the kitchen for dinner -- my dutch oven. For whatever reason, when a recipe calls to pull out that 15 lb. pot, I'm all over it. *(You can find a short review of mine below the pictures.) SO, when husband pulls up this Serious Eats Coq Au Vin (trans: rooster in the wine) recipe which would require meat browning and stewing in my pretty enamel pot, I was game.

You should also know, I'm a horrible photographer 1. because I still only sort of know how to use my camera and 2. because I ALWAYS FORGET TO TAKE PICTURES! Is this difficult for other people? Sooo, I only have a couple shots below of our fantastic anniversary dinner, but it was a lot of fun to make and delicious to eat. I basically just followed the Serious Eats recipe, but found I had to de-glaze once or twice before it actually called for it. We paired it with super easy and absolutely perfect rosemary potatoes (recipe below) and of course the vin rouge used in the dish.

Roasted Potatoes:
6 red new potatoes, quarted
2 tbsp. olive oil (or in this case, I used the leftover bacon fat)
Salt and Pepper
2 tbsp. rosemary sprigs

Toss it all together in a bowl then pour out on a baking sheet lined with alumium foil. Roast on about 400 degrees for 40-50 minutes, stirring occasionally. They should be crispy and slightly brown and will be nice and tender on the inside.

Finally, in case you're interested, my dutch oven is a Fontignac. Not a brand I had heard of before setting out to buy one, but I've been very happy with it for my first year of ownership. I would obviously love to have a Le Cruset or Staub or even a few in different sizes, but sometimes a budget just doesn't permit spending $300 on a pot. I did a TON of research and ended up settling on a 6.5 quart Fontignac that could be bought and BBB for 1/3 the price. We've probably cooked about 15-20 dishes in it in the last year and it's cleaned up nicely after each one.. even when I char the heck out of the bottom. Supposedly it's owned by the makers of Staub, but whether that's true or not, to me the quality has been just as good. Even heating, no enamel chipping, perfect-fitting lid, and cleans up after each use. I'd be happy to share more about it if you're curious!

Happy Friday!


Friday, May 9, 2014

Friday's Letters

Dear Blog: I'm happy to be back. Writing for you helps de-clutter my often haphazard brain. You guide things into perspective and allow me to re-live things in life that I enjoy most.
Dear To-Do List: You're pretty good for organizing my brain functioning too, but I feel like these days you only grow longer and never shorter. We need to work on that.

Dear Sabrina, You're the greatest pup ever, and we love you lots, but this trying-to-eat-the-cat-phase that you're going through has really got to stop. Yes, your mouth fits around her head; that's not a good reason to put it there. And while we're at it, can we also work on the awful high-pitched shrieking bark you do out of frustration when the cat refuses to be eaten?

Dear Eliza: I'm sorry. I promise the puppy is not a punishment... or she at least wasn't supposed to be.
Dear Law School Friends Who Invited Us to the Beach: THANK YOU! We are pretty much packed up and will be heading your way soon. I still can't explain how excited I am for some sun and lounging and food and friends.  Also, CONGRATULATIONS! You're finished!

Dear Husband: You are also finished! I am so very proud of you and all of your diligent, hard work for the past 3 years of law school. I'm not sure how you managed to be an amazing student, pet-parent, loving husband, and still have a social life, but you did. AND NOW YOU NEVER HAVE TO TAKE ANOTHER LAW SCHOOL EXAM AGAIN! There is still the Bar.. but you're not allowed to think about that until after graduation. K?! 
Oh, and one more thing, husband. Thanks for being the best travel planning partner! I cannot  wait to traipse through Europe with you. I have a feeling we are never going to want to come home.

Hope y'all are having a fantastic Friday!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

3 Years and Couting!

Today's post is dedicated to my one and only: Happy Anniversary, Love!

Want to know what seems to operate out of all space and time? How about marriage? Today marks three years from the day when I said "I Do" to the boy I knew was meant for me when he was placed in my life seven years earlier.

Three years seems to have flown by and so much has happened, yet at the same time I'm prettttty sure we just go married yesterday! I remember very clearly getting up early that morning and going to Joe's grandparents home where our reception would be held that evening with my dad and sister. I needed to meet with the caterer and florist to make sure everyone knew where everything should be (not controling at all, right?!) It was a perfect day in May, and I had never felt so blessed and loved -- from the strangers in Merle Norman who wished me "congratulations" while someone was doing my makeup, to my MIL's precious friends who set up decorations at the reception while we were off taking pictures, to the abundance of family and friends showing up at the church to give Joe and I their love and support. God's blessings were truly apparent that day. The sun was shining, the flowers were gorgeous, and we were surrounded by love -- all things that surely only a LOVING God could create.

TL: Flower girl, Avery TR: Church door wreaths from Fresh Cut Floral and Catering M: My then LITTLE brother cuttin' a rug BL: One of the many perfect photos from the talented Lovely Union Photographers BR: Capturing our reaction at seeing the reception space for the first time
It's true what they say though; after a wedding all to do with you and a honeymoon away from all the worries of the world, things get real... but man, isn't real the best part?! Yes, you have to work and fight and TRY, and most of marriage is not particularly glamorous, but through strife God is able to work and shine and now the love I have for Joe can only be exceeded by the love I have for my God. We could not love each other and care for each other the way we TRY to do if it weren't for the example Christ set and His love encompassing both of our hearts.

I love this sentiment from The Five Love Languages: "The object of love is not getting something you want but doing something for the well-being of the one you love." That seems obvious enough, but if there's one thing I've learned in three years, it's that this is not so obvious to the heart. I'm very grateful for a husband who takes care of me through thick and thin, through law school exams and clerkship applications, from right at home or 800 miles away.

And as I sit here reminiscing, I'm also reminded of the amazing music provided by my college choir for our ceremony. My favorite hymn they sang was "Love Diving All Loves Excelling." It is such a perfect retelling of Christ's love and wonderful wedding-day prayer for how we should strive to love each other.

But since I apparently have noooo idea how to slice up my wedding video to show you the clip, here's a Mormon Tabernacle Choir rendition that is ALMOST as good as it when it was sung by several sweet members Mississippi State Choir and directed by one of my very favorite people, Bruce Lesley. You should definitely take a listen; it's as beautiful as a hymn gets.

Happy Anniversary, Joe! I'm so grateful for these first three years, and excited I get to be Mrs. Davis for the rest of our lives!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


and the living is eeeeasyyyy."

For the last several work days, I've been sitting in my windowless office daydreaming of what is to come this weekend. Betcha can't guess where I'm headed?!

Yep, to da beach! Growing up in Mississippi with family living on the coast, the beach was at least a semi-annual trip. We'd always go for Spring Break (even if it was 65 degrees and windy, we were determined to get tan and have fun in the sun even if it meant bodies covered in chill bumps!), at least once in the summer, and if really lucky, again right around Labor Day. There's almost nothing better than the hot sun, a good book, beach snacks, and the turquoise salty water to cool you off. Since moving to Virginia, husband and I have only made it back to the beach once. He took me approximately 8 1/2 months ago (not that I'm counting) for a weekend birthday trip to the sleepy shore-town of Cape Charles.

This weekend we will be introduced to a new beach -- the highly anticipated North Carolinian (?) Outer Banks. People love these beaches, so I'm very much looking forward to seeing what all the fuss is about!

I do feel mildly bad that while I'm here daydreaming of sun and making beach wishlists in my windowless office, husband is in a windowless room taking his 3rd of 4 law exams... at least by the time the week is over, he will be completely finished with all law school tests forever! (phew, less guilty feeling now)

ANYWAY, here's a list of a few suits and beach necessities I've been eying. I'm particularly excited about these beach towel steals at Target. Nate Berkus has a whole line of colorful, geometric patterns and all for under $20! I'm also a tad in love with anything J Crew AND seer sucker...

Beach Dreaming

Friday, May 2, 2014

How long is TOO long?

Blogging Community: how long is too long to be gone from the blogging world then come back? Say it's been a year-and-a-half since one posted... it's okay to pick up there, right?

I'm going to pretend like everyone just said yes, because I want to come back! My time in Virginia is coming to an end all too quickly and this blog has covered so many great parts of the first half of our journey here. I'd like to round it out...., and then probably cry every time I look at old posts because I'M GOING TO MISS IT HERE SO MUCH!

It's impossible to cover a year-and-a-half in one post (and just sounds awful), so here are some of the highlights.

First of all, we got a puppy!

Sorry for the weird digitized eyes. I promise she's a real dog.
 This was baby Sabrina a few days after we got her from Adopt a Stray Rescue back in February.  She came from a wonderful rescue organization, and we are so thankful for all the hard work they are doing to get in-need animals into loving homes.

Now she's a big 40 lb, 6 month old, energetic, cuddly, somewhat fraidy, water-loving pup. She keeps us and Eliza on our toes, but she's the most perfect pup we could ever hope to have!

Oh, and we had another giant snow... just 16 or so inches. Noooottt something us Mississippians are very good at dealing with, and apparently neither are puppies.

Also in the last 2 years, I've gotten very involved as a member of the Junior League of Charlottesville. It's an organization of amazing women doing amazing things, and I'm so grateful to have the opportunity to be a part of it. (Cue my tearing up and anxiety every time I talk about leaving...)


 Most recently, we spent our last Charlottesville Easter Sunday at Christ Church and then had lunch with our law school fam (again, cue tears). These people are wonderful friends and we are all going to have children who come to UVA so we have an excuse to be back in C'ville as often as possible.  

 Some of us even already have a head start on the kids. This little angel is about to be a big sis!
 Oh yeah, and I made this roast. Pears, rosemary, cipollini onions, oh yes. Happy Belated Easter!

And speaking of sisters and babies... MY LITTLE SISTER IS HAVING A BABY! I'm still a little in shock, but could not be more excited for her and her hubs, and guess what that means?! I get to be an Aunt! I seriously cannot wait to spoil that child.

So there's the very quick, very abbreviated summary of what this blog has missed. Even if all family, friends, and readers are lost to the rest of cyberspace, I'm excited to be back documenting our last days in Thomas Jefferson's great city.