Thursday, January 29, 2015

Frites Review


"Fritz … Frightz … Fry-tez…"

A few Sundays ago my husband and I offered to prepare a large meal for a "coming out" of sorts for my brother. (No, he's not gay.) We had bought Anne de la Forest's book Frites during Anthropologie's 40% off sale items promotion and we thought that one of the fry recipes in this book would perfectly compliment the ribs Justin would be making. Having never studied another language, my brother had no idea how to pronounce Frites nor did he understand what they actually were. I can only imagine what images the word "frites" was conjuring up in his mind. After all, the cover of this cookbook doesn't necessarily give it away…

Forest's book Frites has been one of the most surprisingly essential books I have ever owned on a particular subject, especially fries. Covering everything from how to peel a potato to which types of oil you should use and including recipes where she encourages you to allow the fries to reach a certain temperature and provides background information on that specific recipe all make this cookbook a practical and helpful guide to the art of fry making, which is notably more complicated than I was even aware of!

Justin used the Belgian Frites recipe for this particular family dinner which is currently my favorite. Even my step-grandmother, a supposed expert in cooking, came away from the dinner begging Justin for the recipe. What did he do different than her? What could she improve on? (Justin is trying very hard to obtain the greatest-grandson-that-never-was award. I do believe that so far he's exceeding her own blood grandchildren in nearly every way except for the fact that he hasn't produced any heirs yet. *sigh*)

Nevertheless, the following is the recipe we used. I highly encourage getting your hands on this book and trying some of the many other delicious recipes if you like the Belgian frites! You won't regret it!

(And by the way, in case you are wondering, the meal went wonderfully. News was shared and everyone was happy, which is exactly how all meals that offer frites should be!)

not quite done…

Belgian Frites

Ingredients:

1 kg (2.2 lb) Bintje, Yukon Gold or Similar Potatoes
2 litres (8.5 cups) of cooking oil
1/2 tsp of table salt
1/2 tsp of sea salt crystals

Recipe

• Peel and wash the potatoes.
• Cut them into medium-sized sticks with a kitchen knife or potato cutter.
• Wash them thoroughly by leaving them to soak in cold water for 30 minutes. Repeat this process several times to remove all of the starch (the water used for the last soak should remain clear) and then dry them carefully with a clean, dry cloth.
• Heat the fryer to 140ºC (284ºF), Place the dried potato pieces into the basket.
• Lower the basket into the fryer and cook for 7 minutes. Lift out the basket, shake well to toss and drain the frites and leave to cool for 30 minutes.
• Reheat the oil to 170ºC (338ºF) and cook a second time for no longer than 3 minutes. Your frites should be perfectly crisp.
• Remove the frites, shaking well to drain them. Then tip them into a large bowl lined with kitchen paper.
• Salt generously with table salt. Add a sprinkle of sea salt just before serving.


* Don't you love January break? Today's post brought to you by the phrase "on your plate".
** I'm not getting paid or compensated in any way for this review. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

A Letter to My Husband


Dear 18 year old Justin,

This is the year that you are going to get to know me … really, really well. Are you scared yet? ;)

We'll begin with my 18th birthday party. How did you get yourself invited? Luck, perhaps? Fate?

Then there will be your first girlfriend, Sarah… She's pretty weird, but somehow fits with your personality. I don't understand nor do I try.

You're going to be stuck taking me to Sarah's house one day in that ratty, old truck of yours, because my friends are heartless and cruel. (I'm sorry about that.) You'll be nice to me though … gentle, patient, and understanding even though you have to drag conversation out of me. It will be worth the time and effort in the end though, I promise. :)

Then, shortly before Christmas, I hate to break it to you, but Sarah will drop you like a hot tamale. Honestly, her father never really liked you… Or maybe she just didn't really like you… I don't know. It doesn't matter. The whole debacle will only add fuel to the fire as you whine and complain to me online. When I tell my dad, he'll say: "Remind Justin that you're still single!" Because that's something I would totally flaunt to 18 year-old you…

In the months that follow, I convince you to move on, which will be a bad idea. Intervening will take place … and things will end traumatically with Julie too. (Or is it Tew? Only you would know.)

Having been through this dating thing countless times before, you rebound like nobody's business and ask me to prom within like 2 days of your break up. No thanks. I'm going to turn you down just like I've done to every other guy who has ever asked me out. I'm stubborn. Despite the fact that you've gotten more than 2 words out of my mouth, this is the year you will learn exactly how much effort is required to get me to agree to anything… Is it worth it?

Luckily for you, fate will step in again, in your favor. Dani will push me to continue developing my relationship with you (despite my desire to hide out after you admitted having love feelings for me) and I will sprain my ankle (your fault) providing me with lots of online chat time and some occasional hang out in my bedroom and watch movies with you time. (You sprained my foot on purpose, didn't you?)

Nearly 6 months after you originally asked me out on a date and a year after inviting you to my birthday party, I will say yes to a relationship with you

Eighteen is going to be complicated. Are you ready?

Sincerely,

your loving wife

* I'm participating in January Break. And this post is sponsored by the term "personality trait". :)
* National Spouse Day was 1/26. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Frontier Airlines Review

Photo taken by Andreas Traxler located on planespotters.net

Up until recently, all of my trips around the US have been taken by car. My parents didn't have a lot of money when I was growing up … or at least not enough extra in the bank account to splurge on plane tickets. I don't feel like I missed out on anything in particular. We lived (and still live) within driving distance of many fantastic places. Road trips to the Alabama Space Station, the Tennessee Aquarium (before Georgia had one), Disney World, Savannah, Charleston, and even DC were all within our reach. Throughout my entire childhood I never flew anywhere … until I went to New York City in high school shortly before 9/11. 

I digress.

The point is that I haven't had a lot of experience flying.

In September I spotted a "deal" for a flight to DC, a place Justin and I had been wanting to visit for a while. Justin has friends that live there. They had been down to see us at least twice since moving there, but we had never been to see them. Of course, the deal was with the badly reviewed Frontier Airlines. Prior to booking I read horror stories about cramped seating, lost luggage, and flight delays. The stories were enough to make you reconsider any desires you may have had. The practicality of it was that Justin and I didn't (and still don't) have a lot of money or time, but friends are important to us. We worked out the logistics, booked the flight, and decided we would make do with whatever came from it.

To be fair to Frontier, Justin and I avoided as many of the negatively reviewed aspects of Frontier as possible. We paid more for the extra legroom provided in the emergency row seats and we did not take in checked baggage. (Do you really need any if you are only going to be gone for a weekend?) Planning for only one carry-on, we paid for it in advance a few days before our flight, a price approximately $10 lower than what would be charged at the gate.

With all of the upcharges, we ended up spending approximately $50 more per person on this flight per person than we had initially planned on. If I were to do it again, I would skip the carry-on bag fee and just take two personal items. Truthfully, we could have fit everything we needed in those for two nights. Nevertheless, the flight went well. The plane seemed old, but the seating certainly wasn't uncomfortable for the two hours we were onboard. And while we were expecting the airline to charge an arm and a leg for beverages and snacks, we were surprised at the decent pricing that seemed similar to what you would pay at a vending machine.

My main take away, and the only downside to the whole experience, is that if you need to speak to a gate agent, you might as well forget it. At both Hartsfield (ATL) and Dulles (IAD), the gate agent only arrived a mere 10 minutes prior to boarding. I have no idea if that is typical for smaller airlines, but my experience with Delta and Air France was that gate agents were ready and waiting up to an hour before take off offering upgraded seats at discounts and helping to solve problems. (Perhaps that's only necessary with international travel?)

Anyway, given the low rates that Frontier offers (most recently I was considering $98 RT flights to Denver from Atlanta), I highly recommend flying with them. You aren't going to be treated like royalty, but do you really care about that on a two hour flight? The main things you should be aware of when flying with them is that 1) they charge for every single upgrade including food and drink (which isn't bad if you don't need too many luxuries), 2) your flight may not be on time (one RT flight with them is hardly enough for me to tell how consistently on time they are and whether online reviews I've read are worth anything) and 3) the best way to make sure luggage isn't lost is to solely bring carry-ons (which is true of any airline). If you keep those things in mind when flying Frontier (and get a cheap enough rate), you should have an enjoyable flight.

Have you flown with Frontier before? Did you have a good experience?

Friday, January 23, 2015

Five Foods To Consider For Friday

YAY! It's finally Friday. After eating healthy all week (yeah, right), it's time to pig out on my favorite foods all weekend! Hoorah! :) Here are five things I'm looking forward to enjoying during my two days of … more working. 

Yeah. Unfortunately, I have to work this weekend. Oh well. Even more of a reason to enjoy my favorite foods! #yolo


1. Brookside Crunchy Clusters (buy)

Crowdtap sent me a sample of these delicious, fruity, crunchy chocolates and I can't get enough. They are perfect snacking size and oh-so-good! Pair it with some organic fat-free non-homogenized milk, and I am in heaven!

(note: I drink fat free milk, because I don't like the excess fat that floats to the top. YUCK! It's not because I'm worried about having excess "fat" in my diet. Oh - and non-homogenized milk just tastes better. Trust me on this.)

image from Birch

2. Olive Oil + Balsamic Vinegar

These are the best when they come straight from Italy, but they aren't necessarily terrible when bought from a fancy Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar store. Plus, you get to try it there as well!

I'm not sure how I love this combination best. It goes great on salads, tastes delicious when you dip bread into it, and I'm ALWAYS a fan of caprese salad and bruschetta! Yum!


3. Baked Brie (buy) + Pink Lady Apples Or Pretzel Crisps (buy)

My first real experience with this concoction was over Christmas break. We got a huge brie for $10 and we took it to multiple get-togethers before it was all gone. Pretzel chips give it a bit of an extra salty flavor while pink lady and green apples add a bit of sweet.

Other options include serving fondue instead of brie OR you could go the healthier route serving delicious, roasted pine nut hummus with your pretzels and apples. All are delicious and addicting. :)

(I'm also a huge fan of President camembert which I haven't been able to find since my flight last year on AirFrance. Anyone know where to get it stateside? This seems a bit expensive.)


4. Jeni's Ice Cream

I have tried nearly every kind of ice cream available in the states, and I can say with utmost certainty that homemade Jeni's ice cream (or buying it online or at the Atlanta stores) is the best ice cream I have ever had, up to this point that is.

• Blue Bell is too sweet.
• Edy's is good, but it contains high fructose corn syrup.
• Mayfield is eh.
• Turkey Hill is good AND it only contains approx. 5 ingredients on the package. (I'm not looking at the package right now, but the number is low.)

Of course there are other options as well. Paolo's Gelato, if you live in Atlanta (or Charleston), is delicious. I also got to try Kroger's raspberry sorbet recently which is very good. (Actually come to think of it, it's a "frozen dessert" rather than sorbet, so you might want to stay away from it. Clearly more research is needed in the field of frozen deliciousness.)

But back to Jeni's. It's thick, it's creamy, and most of all … it's dreamy. I've only had the chocolate, vanilla, and a caramel, but I look forward to trying some of the many other flavors found in her cookbook. :)


5. Deerpark Raspberry Lime Sparkling Water

I'm particular when it comes to sparkling water. Really, any water. I'm comfortable with tap water from where I live and that's about it. If I have the choice I always go for Aquafina, a pepsi product, even though I pretty much hate all of the other pepsi products in existence. When it comes to sparkling water, I'm just as particular. We usually make sparkling water at home. (At less than 50¢ a cartridge for a liter of sparkling water, it's a pretty cheap beverage to make AND it encourages me to drink more water!) San Pellegrino and Perrier are ok when we are on the run. Recently Justin introduced me to Polar Springs which was pretty good … not too carbonated and the water was good.  But, one of my current favorites is Deerpark Raspberry Lime Sparkling Water. There is no added sugar listed on the label, it contains "natural flavors" (whatever that means), and at 0 calories a pop, I drink them like they are a dessert! Yum! (note: Deerpark regular bottled water is also on my bad side, so I recommend giving it a try even if you are finicky about water like I am.)

Have you tried any delicious foods recently? Do you have strong opinions on water, ice cream, or cheese? Share with me! I'd love to hear about new and exciting foods I may not have tried yet!

* 80% of these foods I tried without being offered free samples; however, for the 20% I was offered a free trial for, I can assure you that all opinions are my own. I was not asked or coerced into writing this blog post, and I will only be paid if you click on my links to buy the products I highly recommend.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Swagbag Thursday + Early Spring Cleaning

During the past month, my calendar has gone from slightly full to brimming over. Between weddings, a trip to Europe, and the recent announcement of a pregnancy from someone within the family, I've been overwhelmed and stressed out. One of the best ways for me to counteract the stress and worry is to host a giveaway. I have so many products leftover from previous giveaways and I hate seeing them sitting around unused. This is what prompted this giveaway. (Well, that and the desire to begin spring cleaning.)

To have your chance at winning a swagbag, enter my rafflecopter below by telling me either how you are beating the January blues (movies, books, spending time with family, traveling, etc?) or your best recommendation for spring cleaning (a method or product). In two weeks I will ship the products in the image below as well as anything else noteworthy I find to the winner.

Sound good?

Hope you are having a wonderful Thursday!


• coupon for $$ off of an Advil product (to be used by sometime in March)
• Celestial Seasonings tea
• Sweet N Low packets
• Zep degreaser
• purse hanger
• Team Ranch t-shirt
• Sweet N Low bag
• Seeds of Change bag
• candy

a Rafflecopter giveaway *This giveaway is not being sponsored by any company or particular brand. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Wordless Wednesday

Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany

"Those who don't believe in magic will never find it." - Ronald Dahl

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

My Top 5 Favorite Travel-Related Pins

Given that I am struggling with my internet today, I have decided to share my top 5 favorite travel-related pins I've pinned to pinterest over the past year. It can be difficult to find good, useful travel information and I'd love to provide at least one resource you can access if you need it. Feel free to peruse other articles on my travel board as well. Perhaps something will stand out on there that I didn't mention here. :)



So you need somewhere to eat? Somewhere closeby perhaps? Not to far from your room? Perhaps this list, published in November 2014, might have the perfect place! There's only one way to find out!



Your time is precious. You know it; I know it. If you aren't a frequent traveler, or even if you are, this might be a good article to review prior to arriving at the airport. Maybe you'll even have time to grab a quick snack or do some shopping before you board your flight!



There is a lot more to travel than merely packing, planning, and traveling. The travel tips listed in this article can help you make the most of your time away from home (whether in the airport, on the plane, in the hotel, or out wandering the streets).



Ever heard of Mastering the Art of French Cooking? Well … this is that for packing. 



If you're struggling to get the most for your money, this article might be of some help. There are a lot of ideas, so be sure to consult it before you book your next flight.

Do you pin travel ideas to pinterest as well? Have you read any awesome articles lately?