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Food

Quick Pickled Brussels Sprouts + Watermelon Rinds

quick-pickled-watermelon-rinds-brussels-sprouts-3I’m the kind of girl who piles more sauerkraut on her ballpark hotdog than the bun can hold. I’ve never met a jar of kosher dills I didn’t like. I have an insatiable taste for the briny goodness that is the caper. That is to say, I love pickles.

Until a couple weeks ago, my love for all things preserved was limited to the store bought. But then, after relieving a watermelon of its juicy innards, I felt the usual pang of guilt while throwing away the rind. So I did what any respectable Southern girl would do: I decided to pickle it. After that, the salty part of my palate sort of took over and I’m not responsible for what happened next. You’ll just have to read about it. Hint: it has everything to do with Brussels sprouts.

N.B. These quick pickles are intended to be eaten within 24hrs to 10 days. These are not meant to be kept for long periods of time because the jars haven’t been properly sterilized for long-term storage!

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quick-pickled-watermelon-rinds-brussels-sprouts-2Spicy Pickled Watermelon Rind
*adapted from David Chang’s Momofuku recipe

Ingredients
• 1 quart watermelon rind (including ½-inch of red flesh left on the rind), cut into pieces about 1-inch square (~2 pounds; approximately half of the rind from a seedless-sized watermelon)
• 1 cup cider vinegar
• ½ cup water
• 1 cup sugar
• 2½ teaspoons table salt or 3¾ teaspoons Kosher salt (Kosher salt has more volume by weight*)
• ½ tsp turmeric
• ½ tsp mustard seed
• ¼ tsp celery seed
• 1 habanero, finely chopped

Directions
1. Trim the rind of ½ a seedless-sized watermelon of all the dark green, leaving about ½” red on each rind. Cut to about 1” cubes.

2. Combine everything except the habanero and watermelon in a large saucepan and bring to a boil.

3. Add watermelon rinds to pickling liquid and bring back to a boil. Simmer for one minute and turn off heat.

4. Let cool then fill two mason jars with rinds and liquid. Top with ½ a habanero per jar.

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Pickled Brussels Sprouts

Ingredients
• 1-1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
• 1-1/4 cup water
• 1 Tbsp sea/pickling salt
• 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
• 4 chiles de árbol
• 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
• ½ tsp black peppercorns
• 1 pound brussels sprouts, trimmed, cut in thirds

Directions
1. Cut brussels sprouts into thirds and let soak in lightly salted water for about 15 minutes.

2. Thinly slice 6 cloves of garlic and set aside.

3. Stir together vinegar, water and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil.

4. While the pickling liquid is heating up, add ¼ tsp of mustard seed and black peppercorns to each mason jar. Then, add in the Brussels sprouts. Finally, add one or two dried chiles de árbol to each jar, depending on your preferred spice level.

5. Once the liquid is boiling, pour it over the Brussels sprouts and let cool. Once cool, top with lids and refrigerate.

quick-pickled-watermelon-rinds-brussels-sprouts-7 *the kind of salt you use matters! Here’s a handy conversion chart.

Food

A Pie for My Valentine

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This lovely heart-encrusted pie is one of those desserts that looks way more impressive than it is. The flaky, buttery crust is super easy to make, and the filling offers that perfect sweet/tart flavor profile—plus, it comes out a beautiful red color. I made this a few days ago, and the whole thing is already gone. Good thing I had some leftover dough to make hand pies for breakfast!

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Strawberry Rhubarb Sweetheart Pie
Pie dough recipe adapted from The Joy of Cooking; filling recipe from Epicurious.

Dough Ingredients:
• 4 cups flour
• 2 tsp salt
• 1 1/3 cup shortening, chilled
• 4 Tbsp unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes
• 8 Tbsp ice water (you might not use all of it)
•  1 egg (for egg wash)

Filling Ingredients:
•  3 1/2 cups sliced rhubarb
•  1 16oz pack of strawberries (about 3 1/2 cups sliced)
• 1/2 cup packed golden brown sugar
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 1/4 cup cornstarch
• 1 tsp ground cinnamon
• 1/4 tsp salt

Directions:
1. To make the dough, combine four, salt, shortening and butter in a large mixing bowl. Cut the butter and shortening into the flour with a fork until there are pea-sized pieces of dough.

2. Add the ice water one tablespoon at a time as you gently mix the dough with your hands. Stop mixing as soon as the dough comes together in a ball (you may need more/less water depending on the circumstances).

3. Split the dough into two even balls, cover them with plastic wrap and stick them in the fridge while you make your filling.

4. Preheat the oven to 400°F.

5. To make the filling, trim any excess leaves off the rhubarb (because they’re toxic!), and cut rhubarb into 1/2″ length pieces. Then hull and half strawberries.

6. Combine all ingredients into a large mixing bowl and mix it all up. Easiest pie filling ever.

7. Now we are ready to roll out the dough. Take one ball of dough from the refrigerator, sprinkle some flour on your counter or cutting board and roll until the crust is about 1/8″ thick. Again, the goal here is the keep everything nice and cold so your lovely chunks of butter don’t melt and we get that nice, flaky crust.

8. Grease a 9″ glass pie dish and slide your pie dough in. I like to roll out my dough on a thin plastic cutting board so I can put the pie dish on top and flip everything over. That way you don’t have to worry about folding the dough or tearing it. Then, trim off excess dough.

9. Place your pie dish back in the fridge while you roll out your second ball of dough. Find a pretty heart-shaped cookie cutter and cut out a bunch of hearts—I think I used 27.

10. Time to put it all together! Take the chilled pie pan with crust out of the fridge and add the filling. Then, start layering your hearts on top in a spiral pattern starting from the outside. You can add as few or as many as you like, just be sure to leave little gaps for steam to escape.

11. Mix an egg in a small bowl with a little water and brush it over the pie crust to create that shiny golden brown finish.

12. Transfer the pie dish to a baking sheet lined with foil (very important, because your pie filling will bubble over in the oven) and bake at 400°F for 20 minutes. Then, reduce oven to 350°F and bake until the crust is golden brown and the filling is set, about 1 hour 15 minutes. I like to turn my pie half-way through so it browns evenly, and I start checking it every 5 minutes at the 1-hour mark to make sure the crust doesn’t burn.

13. Let the pie cool completely before you top it with vanilla ice cream and dig in!

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Lifestyle, Travel

My 3-Day Guide to Nashville

Let me start off by saying that I am in no way an expert on Nashville. I am, however, an expert at exploring a new city by eating my way from one destination to another. So when Max’s mom suggested a fun, quick jaunt to Nashville after Christmas, we set to work gathering recommendations from friends and family who call Nashville home.

We wanted to pack as much goodness into one night and two full days as possible, and I think we did a pretty great job planning our itinerary. Of course, there were a couple of things on the schedule that we didn’t end up having time for, but that just means that we have another trip to Music City in our future.

Without further ado, here’s my three-day (food-centered) guide to Nashville!

Day One:
Let’s say you drove to Nashville from your family’s house in Texas, and let’s say that you arrive in Nashville around 7PM at night, ready to get out of the car and very ready to eat something delicious. If you’re staying in East Nashville**—like we were—you can hop back in that car and drive a mercifully quick five minutes around the block to The Pharmacy. Known for the best burger in Nashville, The Pharmacy also boasts old-fashioned soda fountain drinks like a scratch-made strawberry ginger ale or a classic chocolate phosphate. Equal parts burger parlour and beer garden, The Pharmacy’s menu also features a full selection of house-made sausages. I especially loved the jagerwurst with horseradish mustard.

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Day Two:
We were planning on checking out Marché for breakfast, but it was closed for the day, so we moved on to our back-up brunch option and headed over to Monelle’s at the Manor. The meals are all served family style around big dining tables in what look to be the dining and living rooms of a grand old manor. Think heaping dishes of mashed potatoes, biscuits, chicken and dumplings, green beans and most importantly, fried chicken. There’s also classic pecan pie for dessert and enough (delicious) sweet tea to wash it all down.

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After such a filling lunch, we decided we needed to walk it off, so we headed down to Broadway. Admittedly, this area is pretty touristy, but it’s the kind of place you have to see once. Lower Broadway is lined with neon signs and towering honky tonks leaking muted licks of country classics.

Pinewood Social was next on our list, so as the sun set we headed over to get our bowl on. This establishment bills itself as “a place to meet,” and totally delivers on that promise. It’s probably best described as a complex that boasts reclaimed bowling lanes, a coffee bar, an outdoor pool (for the summer), karaoke and delicious dining. The wait time for a bowling lane ended up being about two hours (!) since we didn’t have a reservation, but we managed to keep ourselves occupied with the food and drink menu in the meantime. Like any good hipster-leaning purveyor of food, Pinewood Social offers a wide selection of artisan toasts. We tried them all, obviously, and they were first-rate. Also super delicious: the fried broccoli with an almond garlic dipping sauce that I plan on recreating as soon as humanly possible. The drink menu was equally as imaginative and impressive, with a range of tasty cocktails like the Mourning Glory (mezcal, Ancho Reyes, guava and lime).

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Day Three:
The Tour de Food continued with a long-awaited lunch at Husk. Max and I had been wanting to try Chef Sean Brock’s farm-to-table Southern food since watching him on Mind of a Chef, and Husk did not disappoint. The fancified shrimp and grits with earthy mushroom broth was the stuff Dixie dreams are made of, and the fried chicken was some of the best I’ve ever had. I can’t wait to visit Charleston so I can try Brock’s other outposts.

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A post-lunch pick-me-up seemed in order, so we headed right down the hill to Crema for a Cuban coffee with sweetened condensed milk. They are clearly very passionate about coffee and roast their beans to perfection in-house.

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Since we were already downtown, we headed over the the Ryman Auditorium to check out The Mother Church of Country Music. I spent some time reading about the history of the Grand Ole Opry and perusing displays of old performers’ clothing. So much embroidery. So much sparkle! As the sun started to set beyond the stained glass windows and the Ryman prepared to close to the public for the day, the band that had been casually milling around the stage started doing a sound check. Before we knew it, we were watching Old Crow Medicine Show do a full-on rehearsal for their evening show. Even though we had to leave after one song, we got to experience a secret one-song serenade in the most legendary country music venue there is.

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Riding high on a cloud of free country music, we floated over to the legendary Hatch Show Print studio. This renowned letterpress shop has been printing handbills and gig posters for preachers, musicians and more since the late 1800s and is know for its distinctive Americana style. For a design nerd like me, it was a treat to look around the working shop, and it reminded me of my years-long desire to take a printmaking class.

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Next comes the amazing experience that was Prince’s Hot Chicken. I was new to the whole concept of hot chicken (fried chicken plus a whole lot of hot sauce and cayenne pepper), but I am now completely addicted. In fact, my mouth waters every time I even think about it. We got to Prince’s around 6:30PM on a Tuesday night, not really thinking that there would be much of a wait. A little over an hour and a half later, we finally left, clutching our bags of hot chicken to our chests while other patrons congratulated us with more than a little envy in their eyes. Having ordered pieces of medium, hot and extra hot chicken (which we were warned against), we armed ourselves with glasses of milk and proceeded to devour all the chicken in about 20 minutes. I tried the medium and hot versions and found them both to be amazingly moist, deliciously crispy and painfully, perfectly hot. I don’t say this lightly: it was worth the hour and a half wait.

IMG_6513(Note: we scarfed the chicken down so fast that all I got was a picture of the perfectly worn tablecloth.)

After we recovered from our hot chicken binge enough to think about dessert, we walked down the street to Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams—my all. time. favorite. ice cream. My roommates and I used to hunt down pints of Jeni’s at specialty stores in San Francisco, so it’s always a treat to go to a proper Jeni’s parlour for a scoop of brambleberry crisp ice cream or lemon buttermilk tart frozen yogurt. It was a sweet ending to a truly fun trip to Nashville.

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**We stayed at this awesome artists’ bungalow Airbnb in East Nashville, which I highly recommend! It’s across the river from downtown, but smack dab in the middle of a bunch of great restaurants, bars and coffee shops. And if you’re looking for a few more recommendations from the locals, check out this list of the 30 best things to do in Nashville as told by local Airbnb hosts.