well, better late than never, right? about a month ago i went to new orleans for a few days on work travel and had a wonderful time. it was my first time there, so for the weeks leading up to my trip i heard others’ opinions of the city ranging from how dirty it was to it being one of the most fun places to visit. i can now report back that…both are true. the city is dirty, but in that gritty, romantic, almost european way, and although i wouldn’t want to live there, it didn’t bother me much. it’s also quite fun – for as small as it is (smaller than omaha, so, basically tiny), NOLA had a big-city feel and there’s tons to do. i obliged to many of the predictable activities – beignets at cafe du monde (amazing), gumbo, drinking on the street (very amazing), and the like. i loved all the adorable balconies, the brightly-colored houses, and the tiled street signs. i definitely did not go hungry and ate tons of great food and possibly the best fish dish of my life at one of john besh’s restaurants. there’s jazz music everywhere you turn and the city generally just feels so alive in a way distinct from other places i’ve been. NOLA has a culture all its own and at times i almost felt like i was in another world. i liked it a whole lot. a few photos from the trip…
harvested the first and last peppers from our first backyard garden. we have no idea what we’re doing, but i’m proud of us for giving it a go and already can’t wait to have a bigger and better garden next year.
enjoyed the (probably) final few times we’ll be having drinks or dinner outside for awhile, thanks to the impending doom of midwest winter. glad we finally made it to 1912 for rooftop drinks, and happy we had grilled salmon one more time – it’s a house fave.
watched a lot of baseball, surely more than i ever have in my life. i kind of love to hate baseball, but i did some serious bandwagoning this year for kevin’s sake and actually (shhh) enjoyed watching the world series games. and got two new shirts out of the deal, so not half bad. #beroyal
cooked beef bourguignon for (surprisingly!) the first time ever. i still aspire to make the julia child version someday, but ina garten’s recipe is a shorter, simpler, and still very delicious rendition. serve with mashed potatoes, lots of buttery bread, and red wine. we froze half and i’m interested to see how it’ll taste in a couple weeks.
took an impromptu wine tasting trip to a few iowa vineyards. certainly not a lot of amazing wines coming out of this area, but a fun little fall day trip and we did end up taking a couple of bottles off their hands.
last sunday kevin and i ran our sixth half marathon. we signed up for this one with only a couple months to train, and weren’t sure what to expect, since we didn’t have time to train on or even drive the course before race day. we’d heard great things about this race from other runners, and it definitely did not disappoint. super flat, well-organized, lots of crowd support along the course, plenty of aid stations throughout, nice medals and race t-shirts, a great pre-race expo, and – let’s be honest, the things we really care about – awesome post-race food options (red vines! spoonfuls of peanut butter to spread on cookies! walking tacos!) and free beer.
the weather was perfect – a little chilly to start, but full of sunshine and plenty warm by the end. we were so grateful to have kevin’s cousins watching for us around mile 10 – having cheerleaders really makes a difference. i surprised myself with a new PR, and kevin came very close (maybe if he hadn’t stopped to take so many snapchats?). i think we’re done with distance races for the season, but we’re looking forward to the springfield turkey trot 5k for thanksgiving! a few photos from race day…
i love spending weekends poring over complicated recipes and learning new techniques, but sometimes (most times), i crave something simple. that’s especially true for chilly friday nights, when i’m tired from the workweek, feeling lazy and just wanting to go out to dinner, but having an internal struggle because i also want to put on sweatpants at 6pm and not get up from my spot on the couch all night.
enter: shakshuka. it’s the perfect antidote to both cold weather and laziness – it’s warm, incredibly simple to make (with ingredients you likely already have most of), and equally important – it tastes wonderful. there are tons of variations of this – you can leave out the greens, add parsley for garnish, top with any number of cheeses, or use no cheese at all, and use any of your favorite spices – but the basic premise is eggs poached in tomato sauce. that’s it. easy peasy.
the tomato sauce is really the star of the show here, so you’ll want to get something good. now’s the time to splurge on that $2.99 can that you may not have seen before because it’s not at eye-level like the 80 cent one. get some good tomatoes, something made with san marzanos if you can. oh, and bread: you’ll want lots of that too. shakshuka is your excuse to a) not use silverware and b) eat an entire baguette because you have to because it’s your utensil. so go ahead, get a bigger baguette than you normally would and slice it up, butter it, and broil the whole damn thing. you’re welcome.
my version that follows has you add some swiss chard toward the end and is topped with feta, but i encourage you to play around with it and make it your own. you can’t go wrong. simple flavors for the win.
-1 onion, diced
-3 garlic cloves, minced
-1 28 oz. can whole tomatoes
-1/2 bunch swiss chard, de-stemmed and chopped
-salt, pepper, red pepper flakes
-feta cheese, to top
2. heat olive oil in a deep skillet. add onions and cook for a few minutes, until fragrant and soft. add garlic and spices, cook for a couple more minutes.
3. cut whole tomatoes into smaller chunks (this is a great time to use your kitchen scissors) and add them to the pan. i like to add a good amount of the remaining sauce, too.
4. let tomato mixture cook for a few minutes on medium heat, then add chopped greens, cooking for a few minutes more.
5. once the mixture is boiling, crack the eggs in, one at a time. you can do as many or as few eggs as you like here. for the two of us, i like doing 3 eggs, but 2 or 4 would work, too. cook until egg whites are firm, about 7-10 minutes (but keep an eye on them).
6. while the eggs are cooking, cut baguette into slices and butter one side. place buttered side up on a baking sheet and cook under the broiler, about 3 minutes, until bread begins to crisp.
7. serve shakshuka in the skillet, sprinkled with feta cheese, and using buttery bread as your utensil, and with some good red wine. you'll want some napkins too.
you guys. i’m not sure how we’ve lived so close for so long and visited kansas city fairly frequently without ever having gone to oklahoma joe’s before just a couple weeks ago. i mean, it’s on anthony bourdain’s “13 places to eat before you die” list. and as he says, “it’s the best BBQ in kansas city, which makes it the best BBQ in the world.” i have sadly not tried all of the BBQ in the world, but i’ve tried a fair amount, and oklahoma joe’s (currently rebranding as joe’s kansas city bbq) is the very best i’ve had, hands down, and i’m happy that i ate here before i died, and plan to many more times.
also, you guys, we’ve become those people. you know, the kind of people who walk up to a food establishment, see a crazy-long line, and don’t walk away. in fact, we get excited. long lines equal food that’s worth the wait. i love standing in line in the cold with the rest of the crazies, listening to the regulars telling the first-timers what they’ve absolutely got to order (burnt ends, the z-man sandwich), overhearing hardcore parents telling their kids “just a few more minutes” (liars).
also adding to the charm: the original ok joe’s location is inside of a working gas station mini mart. (close proximity to snacks while you wait – score!) the fact that we drove out of our way to a weird little spot in kansas to wait an hour in line to eat bbq in a gas station sounds nothing short of crazy, but it’s just the kind of crazy that we like to be.
i’m sure you can’t go wrong here, but we listened to the recommendations of the regulars and were far from disappointed. the burnt end luncheon is only served mondays, wednesdays, and saturdays, but it’s worth going on one of those days. burnt ends are a kansas city classic, and theirs were outstanding – crispy on the outside with incredibly tender meat, just like they’re supposed to be. they were great with the cole slaw. the z-man sandwich is slow-smoked brisket, smoked provolone cheese, and crispy onion rings – yes, on the sandwich – on a kaiser roll with their signature bbq sauce. i thought we might regret getting two brisket items and not trying their also well-known pulled pork, but once the food arrived, there was no time for regret and only time for devouring. the z-man was awesome with the just-spicy-enough red beans + rice.
sit inside if you can. (but if you can’t, call in your order and skip the line) the service is awesome (bonus points), and it’s fun to watch all the other food come out and dream about what you’re going to order next time. we’ll be back.
oklahoma joe’s | original shamrock gas station location
3002 west 47th avenue
kansas city, kansas