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Seafood Stew

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One of the things I learned at art school was that I’m not special.  That sounds a little harsh.  I mean, specifically, that my life story, the things that have happened to me and the challenges that I’ve faced, aren’t unique.  When I was growing up I was one of the few people I knew that had divorced parents.  But every one of my close friends from college (save Dan) are the products of divorce.  For the first time since I was eleven I had a group of friends that totally got what I was going through, who knew what it was like.  Some of them have parents who still have a friendly relationship, others (like me) have parents whose relationship is rough, at best.  Swapping war stories with them was healing, made me feel like people beyond my  brothers understood what I was going through.

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This Thanksgiving was a demonstration of how things can play out in a funny way.  My parents live just a few miles from each other in Durham, which makes visiting both of them around the holidays easy since we can toggle back and forth from their houses.  This year, my dad and stepmom were supposed to be in Northern Virginia for Thanksgiving, so we made plans to spend the holiday with my mom.  Then we were invited to my Aunt Lori and Uncle Kevin’s house, my father’s brother and his family.   Just before Thanksgiving my dad and stepmom cancelled their trip, which meant they spent the holiday with her family while we spent it with my mom and my dad’s family.  Complicated.

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My dad has a section on b&s called “The Captain Cooks.”  So I was only mildly surprised to get a text (he just got an iPhone and started texting) from him on Thanksgiving morning inviting me to come over and take pictures of him frying a turkey.  Unfortunately we were due at our dinner, so I offered to document his meal for the Friday night dinner we’d be attending, a seafood stew.  I will, however, absolutely have to share his turkey recipe with you soon, because it was delicious.

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My dad does soups and stews really well.  Brunswick stew, chili, seafood boils, they are rich and full of flavor.  I used to love when he would make a few gallons; my sisters and I would just curl up in bed with a big bowl and allow ourselves to be filled with its warmth.  This stew was no different.  Full of flavor, perfect for a big family dinner over a family game of dice.  The biggest conflict on that Black Friday?  The difference between soup and stew.  Thoughts?

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Seafood Stew
Source: Captain James Rosemond

1 pound sausage

1 pound cod

1 pound shrimp

1 onion

2 cups carrots

4 potatoes

2 16 oz cans crushed tomatoes

1 4 oz can tomato paste

1 cup celery

2 16 oz cans green beans, canned

1 bottle V-8

Cayenne pepper

Salt & pepper

2 small cans clams (with juice)

2 small cans oysters (with juice)

4 tbsp olive oil

Chop celery, carrots, onion, and potatoes.  Set aside.  Parboil potatoes.  Drain.

Heat oil in a large stock pot.  Saute sausage until brown.  Add celery and cook 5 minutes.  Add carrots, onions, and potatoes, one at a time.  Stir in the juice from the clams and oysters, but not the fish itself.  Cook 5 minutes.

Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste, green beans, and V-8.  Add salt and pepper and cayenne.

Simmer for 2-4 hours.  30 minutes before you’d like to serve, bring heat back up and add seafood.  Cook for half an hour, stirring occasionally, and serve.

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Gingerbread Cookies

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I think one of the biggest challenges facing couples that are starting out (and cohabiting) is the blending and merging of traditions, especially holiday traditions.  Every family celebrates a different way, and it can be tricky to protect the traditions that are most important to you while respecting the way your partner feels.  It can also be hard to establish new traditions, to make the holiday your own, when so much of what we feel around the holidays is prompted by the way things were done while we were growing up.  Half of the time you’re fighting the urge to say things like “well the way my mother did it…”

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Dan and I have worked really hard to be respectful of each other’s wishes, traditions, and beliefs.  But, as in most cases, there are some things we just won’t ever see eye to eye on.  For one, I hate surprises.  I usually manage to keep half of what I’m giving him for Christmas a secret.  He loves surprises.  I could put his presents unwrapped in the closet and he would never peek.  We also like totally opposite kinds of cookies.  I don’t mean that he likes chocolate chip and I like sugar, I mean that he likes soft, chewy cookies and I like them to crunch.

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This was a problem when I made gingerbread cookies last week.  You see, I like very thin very crunchy gingerbread cookies.  Snaps, if you will.  He likes them soft.  And… I forgot.  The first batch I made were super crunchy, the kind of cookie that you have to dip in a mug of hot chocolate to eat.  Dan gave me sad puppy eyes while he was gnawing on one, so I made another batch of very soft sugar topped ones, just the way he likes them.  See, the holidays are about compromise.  And cookies!  Lesson learned.

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Gingerbread Cookies

4 cups flour

3/4 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1 cup dark brown sugar

1/2 cup molasses

2 tbsp powdered ginger

1 tbsp chopped fresh ginger

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1 tbsp cinnamon

1 tsp cloves

1 stick butter, room temp

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 egg

1 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp salt

Beat sugar and butter until fluffy.  Add in egg.  Beat in molasses and vanilla.

Mix together all remaining ingredients.  Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.

Divide, wrap in plastic, and chill in refrigerator for 1 hour.

Roll out on parchment paper.  Your dough should be 1/4 inch thin.  For snaps roll the dough out as thin as possible.   Put back in the fridge for 10 minutes.

Heat your oven to 350.  Cut into circles or whatever shapes you want and bake 8-10 minutes for soft cookies, 20 minutes for crunchy.  Let cool on a wire rack.

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Grape Salsa (The Wedding Post)

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So you knew this was coming, the post where I would rave about how wonderful my wedding was and how happy I am to be married to the world’s best fried rice maker (not that my opinion is biased or anything, that rice is damn good).  And it’s all true.  The wedding was wonderful and I am so happy.  But it wouldn’t be, you know, my life, if everything went as planned.  And now that I have all the photos and the craziness of the past few weeks is over, let me map out it out for you.

photos by emily brodie

Remember that singer, Alanis Morrisette?  Remember that song, Ironic? Remember how the only ironic part about that song is that none of the things she sings about are ironic?  Well, that song was stuck in my head for TWO WEEKS prior to the wedding, particularly the verse about, you guessed it, rain on your wedding day.  And that my friends is exactly what it did.  It poured buckets on my wedding day, dumped from the heavens like the apocalypse.  And everyone kept saying, oh, rain on your wedding day is good luck!  It’s a gift from the gods of weather!  You know what I think?  I think that saying that rain on someone’s wedding day is good luck is the booby prize for brides who get poured on.  Especially brides (like me) who plan an outdoor wedding, betting everything against rain during, you know, HURRICANE SEASON IN THE OUTER BANKS.  Okay, in retrospect it could have been a lot worse.

photo by elena (my seersucker white cotton dress by threadless design)

But here’s the thing.  I think the rain actually worked in our favor.  For one, the sound of rain on a tent is romantic and added to the whole feel of the event.  Our photographer also got some great photos of me with rainboots and an umbrella trying to work out the details.  Because it didn’t start raining until 4.15 for our 5 o’clock wedding.  Thankfully, eastern North Carolina is flat.  So the rain may have been pouring down outside the tent, but it sure didn’t flood the tent.  It just drained into the sandy soil.  But the best part was the intimacy it created.  People couldn’t wander the grounds, so they were forced to stay under the tent and mingle, dance, partake in our incredible food.  And the rain stopped long enough for us to take pictures outside, so all in all, we’re considering it a win.  Not so much for my white cotton shoes, but that’s okay.

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Consider that the first hiccup.  The second one almost caused the death of my brother and father.  A murder/aneurism, if you will.  So last summer my brother, Ryan, and his best friend, Pierce, bought a very expensive sound system.  As a way to save money we borrowed their system as opposed to renting one.  We also asked Pierce (who is a very talented guitarist) to play the guitar for the ceremony and to manage the music during the reception.  Pierce was unable to come down until Friday after the rehearsal, and despite my brother’s assurances that it would get done, they never made sure the equipment was, oh, functioning.  The day of the wedding instead of setting it up and giving it a test run you know what they did?  They went skurfing.  Surfing in the wake of a motor boat.  I’ll let you guess what happened next.  Picture this: it’s 4.05 and I’m rushing to the wedding site with my bridesmaids.  I get a frantic phone call from Ryan saying guess what! a piece is missing from the equipment!  They have to go to Radio Shack!  It was very much one of those “this is your life” moments.

photos by julia fiore.  back row from left: megan patrylick, genevieve pigeon, yours truly, lauren pigeon, mary catherine sonntag.  front row: meredith turcotte, tess waldron, maeve waldron

The rest of the drama was unbeknownst to me until after the wedding because I got sequestered out of site (sending my bridesmaids out like minions), but apparently by 4.45 the equipment still wasn’t working and Pierce was missing. And then Ryan told my father to chill out.  His exact words?  Chill out, old man. My poor father (who had already taken two blood pressure pills) was faced with the choice between following his instincts and killing his youngest son or not ruining my wedding.  Thankfully he chose the latter.  The whole wedding was moved under the tent so people were mingling and chatting and thought that the wedding was late because of the weather and the change in location, not the fact that my brothers are idiots who tried to ruin my wedding through skurfing.  It’s not even a real word.

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photo by elena (our honey by queen mary’s honey in holly springs, nc)

So flash back to me in my hiding place, feeling a lot like the Wizard of Oz (seeing all but not being seen).  I’m in this yellow house on the site, the Beaufort Historic Site.  The house is all 18th century furniture and funhouse mirrors and stuff you’re not allowed to touch so naturally we’re touching it.  I’m in there with my mom (who is drawing eyebrows on my face) my bridesmaids (who are spilling champagne on 18th century ceilings) and my flowergirls (who are posing for the camera like they were born L.L. Bean models).  We get the go ahead to start the ceremony and so people start filing out, all being escorted from the house to the tent under umbrellas.  After the flowergirls get a good head start my dad and I start walking in and I could tell he’s stressed (narrowly avoiding a ruptured brain vein is stressful) and trying to hold his shit together.  We get to the tent and instead of halfway down the aisle where they’re supposed to be my flowergirls are right there, at the edge of the tent, staring in horror at 90 people looking back at them.

photo by  han nguyen

I had three flower girls- my niece Meredith and my cousins, Maeve and Tess.  Tess is the youngest, and when we got to the tent she totally defected, scattering some flower petals by the bar but mostly opting to keep the petals for herself.  Meredith and Maeve were right in front of us, so we gave them a little nudge and they reached deep within, found their confidence, and started bombing the aisle with rose petals.  I mean it, there was no dainty tossing of petals.  Those petals hit the ground hard.  And all the while these two are giggling like this was totally the plan, to flank me with atomic bomb style petal dropping.  It was amazing.

photo by  han nguyen. on left, maeve waldron, on right meredith turcotte.  to the far left you’ll note tess waldron.

The ceremony itself was amazing, it couldn’t have been more special or more… us.  One of the biggest compliments we got about the wedding was that it so entirely captured Dan & I- who we are, what we love, our relationship.  Most of the ceremony and reception is a blur.  Dan kept asking if it felt like it was our wedding, and I feel like that sums up the way I felt the whole night.  It was surreal- it was a great party, but it didn’t feel like it was my wedding. It was a strange sensation.  After an incredible dinner by our caterers, Beaufort Grocery, we started into the dances.

photos by han nguyen

Dan and I chose our first dance to be to Ben Fold Five’s The Luckiest. It’s such a beautiful song and I think it’s perfect for what we wanted, but there aren’t many ways to dance to it beyond the typical sway.  So we swayed for 2 1/2 minutes, which was simultaneously wonderful and the most awkward two minutes of the night.  My father told me a few months before the wedding that he wanted to Carolina shag dance to My Girl by The Temptations.  Did he want to practice?  No.  You know what he told me?  He goes, “just follow my lead.”  Okay.  So it’s the day of the wedding, I’m in a floor length wedding dress and shoes that are falling off and while I’m following his lead he’s whisper screaming “IT’S A DOWNBEAT, YOU’RE MISSING THE DOWNBEAT” at me.  I’m still convinced he was trying to make me fall.  That being said, apparently we looked great because we got a whole lot of compliments on it.

photo by john turcotte

After the first dances came the part of the night when Dan and I were finally out of the spotlight, which at that point (after the awkward cake cutting) was a huge relief.  Everyone had so much fun.  It was incredible to see broken families and estranged friends laughing and enjoying each other’s company.  Over the summer my brothers Reid & Ryan asked Dan & I if they could perform a special something for us.  This was right after Michael Jackson died, and after watching the video for Bad they decided that they wanted to use it as a platform for showcasing their dancing (and background noise making) talents.  So 8 songs into the dance music playlist, Reid and Ryan took over the floor.  For the record, both of my brothers are insanely tall and lanky, gangly and spastic.  And when they dance it’s a perverse combination of skill and hilarity.  They have some rhythm but mostly the appeal of their dancing is that it looks so damn funny.  There was a moment when Ryan slid under Reid’s suspenders and started dancing on Reid where I thought I was going to die of laughter.

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photo by  han nguyen. on the left, ryan rosemond, on the right, reid rosemond.

Looking back, there are few things I would have changed.  Even with rainy weather, technology glitches, and the fact that until dinner I was HANGRY, it was perfect.  Everyone we’ve talked to said they had such a great time, that it was relaxed, intimate, and fun, which is exactly what we were going for.  I had such a good time dancing and laughing and seeing everyone.  From the tandem bike photos we took the morning of (we sure did) to meeting up with our friends and family at the bar later (and ordering Dominos to the bar) it was excellent.  My biggest fear leading up to the wedding was that the effort we put into it, all the handmade touches, wouldn’t shine through.  But those are the touches that were most commented on.  After thirteen months of planning, it was worth it that I searched high and low to find a cotton (seersucker) wedding dress, that the honey we gave as favors was not just any honey but the state fair winning honey.  It was all worth it.  It was worth the tears and the stress and the constant negotiating.  To stand up there with the love of my life flanked by friends, family, and all of my hardwork and effort, to feel that I did everything in my power to make it perfect.  Totally and completely perfect.

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photo by elena (my bouquet by petal pushers in atlantic beach, nc)

We weren’t the only ones that thought it was perfect.  The day after the wedding Dan and I had lunch with some of our friends, and we decided to go to Beaufort Grocery, because, well, we can’t get enough of their food.  While we were at the bar waiting for a table we overheard a couple talking to the owner, Wendy.  Apparently they had walked by the wedding and thought it looked perfect enough to use Beaufort Grocery and the Beaufort Historic Site.  And as my mother always says, imitation is the highest form of flattery.

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photo by  han nguyen

If you’d like to see more of our photos see our flickr page here, here, and the group of guest’s photos here.

Grape Salsa
Source: Beaufort Grocery Company

2 cups red seedless grapes

1 small red onion

2 limes

2 tbsp fresh cilantro

Salt & pepper

Slice your grapes and dice your onion and cilantro.  Mix together in a bowl.  Squeeze juice from both limes over the mixture.  Sprinkle in salt & pepper, and stir.


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