1st October 2015


Little redheaded Anne of Green Gables said it perfectly: “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”

As a fellow redhead and autumnophile, I have to agree. I think my husband would, too, and not just because it’s his birthday this weekend. But I’m sure that helps. October also happens to be the month that most of us here in the states celebrate Oktoberfest – even though it’s technically held in September in its home country of Germany. So that’s another point for this particular twelfth of the year.

chickenfriedchickensandwich-3 chickenfriedchickensandwich-2 chickenfriedchickensandwich-44 chickenfriedchickensandwich-9

We Texans have a particular affinity for Oktoberfest thanks to our large population of German settlers. If you haven’t already guessed, my husband and I happen to be part of this wonderful group. Every year our love of chicken-fried meats and an ancestral connection to the historic Reinheitsgebot – the original beer laws created in 16th century Bavaria – makes us want to celebrate the season. And it just so happens that these beer laws are celebrating their 499th birthday this year. Another excuse to party German-Texan style.

chickenfriedchickensandwich-10emptybar3chickenfriedchickensandwich-11 chickenfriedchickensandwich-13

There are so many aspects of Texas culture that come from our German forefathers: our hard work ethic, love of beer and long hikes, a year-round affinity for eating (and drinking) on porches or picnic tables, our two-steps are essentially just polkas, and don’t even get me started on the Germanic influences buried in a plate of barbecue. Then there’s the ties with potato salad, cole slaw, baked goods, and sausage. Our chicken fried steaks and chicken fried chickens are essentially just oversized schnitzels. Let’s just say, we might not speak the same language or live in the same place, but we’d get along fine when it came to the dinner table.


So that’s how we get to these little chicken fried chicken pretzel sandwiches. Our Germanic ties are so deeply rooted, I can’t even point out which part of the sandwich is more German or more Texan. Let’s just say a plate of these would be as equally welcomed at your Opa’s beer garden picnic table as they would to a bevy of hungry locals walking around Austin City Limits Fest in their Chacos.

chickenfriedchickensandwich-16emptybar3chickenfriedchickensandwich-20 chickenfriedchickensandwich-21

chicken fried chicken pretzel sandwiches

A German Texan classic, perfect for walking around Oktoberfest or sitting on your back porch with a beer in hand. Pair with sour pickles, sweet and spicy mustard, and your favorite sides.

homemade pretzel buns
makes about ten small buns

1 1/2 cups warm water (110 to 115 degrees)
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 package active dry yeast
4 1/2 cups flour
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup baking soda
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons water
coarse salt

In a large bowl, combine the warm water, sugar, and salt. Sprinkle yeast over the top and let set for about 5 minutes until the yeast begins to foam. To the bowl add the flour and butter and stir with a large wooden spoon to combine. Continue with the spoon until the dough is too tough to stir, turn out onto a lightly oiled surface, and knead until smooth. Clean the bowl, lightly oil, return the dough ball, and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit in a warm spot to rise until doubled – about 1 hour.

Once the dough has risen, punch it down and form into 10 evenly sized portions (about 3 1/2 to 4 ounces each). Gently knead and form the pieces into round little buns and place on a lined baking sheet, leaving several inches between each. Set the sheet in a semi-warm place to rise again.

Set the oven to 450 degrees. Fill a large pot with water, set over medium-high heat, and bring to a boil. Add the baking soda and stir to combine.

In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and water. Set aside.

Bring the pot of water to a low boil. Carefully add a single piece of dough (or two if your pot is large enough) to the soda water and let it float for 30 seconds, flip it onto the other side, and boil for another 30 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon and return to the lined baking sheet to drain. Repeat with remaining pieces of dough.

Lightly brush each bun with the egg wash and sprinkle liberally with coarse salt. Bake in the middle of the oven – rotating the pan halfway through – until the pretzels are a deep golden brown, about 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool until ready to eat.

chicken fried chicken

3 to 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3/4 cup flour
salt and pepper
1/2 cup milk
1 egg

Gently beat each chicken breast until very thin, ideally about 1/8-inch thick. Cut each breast into smaller cutlets – about 2 to 3 pieces each – in order to fit on the pretzel buns.

In one bowl, combine the flour, salt, and pepper. In another bowl, whisk together the egg and milk. Dredge each chicken cutlet: first in the flour, then the egg, and then in the flour again. Continue with remaining cutlets.

Fill a heavy cast-iron skillet with about an inch of canola oil and set over medium high heat. Test the oil by dropping in a few pinches of flour – if it sizzles, the oil is ready. Gently lay a cutlet into the oil – or two if you have the room – and let fry until crisp and golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes. Flip and repeat on the other side. Carefully remove and transfer to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Repeat with remaining chicken cutlets.

to assemble…
warm pretzel buns, split
hot chicken fried chicken cutlets
dill or garlic pickles
grainy mustard mixed with sorghum

Sandwich in the following order: bottom half of bun, mustard, chicken fried chicken, pickle slices, top of bun. Repeat and eat.


– the pretzel dough can also be mixed in an electric stand mixer with a dough hook.
– when thinning the chicken breasts, I put a piece of chicken in a zip-top bag and beat it with a heavy handle-less rolling pin.
– any strong mustard works with these sandwiches, but I prefer something a little sweet. so I mix my grainy mustard with a bit of plain sorghum.


chickenfriedchickensandwich-25emptybar3chickenfriedchickensandwich-23 chickenfriedchickensandwich-6

Happy 499th birthday, Reinheitsgebot, and happy 27th, husband! Hope you enjoy the schnitzel sandwiches.


23rd September 2015


Today officially marks the first day of Fall and it is taking everything I have to not break out the Halloween decorations. Hocus Pocus is already on my afternoon agenda and I may or may not be planning my evening walk around the nearest place that sells pumpkins (not that I haven’t already bought a half dozen and proudly displayed them on my porch). Growing up in Texas, Fall was our family’s favorite time of the year. It marked the start of so many other seasons: school, football, dove. And it held the promise of good things to come: pots of chili, bonfires, kolache fest, Austin City Limits fest, the great exodus of the mosquito, county fairs, and ever so slightly cooler weather. Literally everything good that could happen does during this time of year. Living up here in New England, autumn has a whole different kind of grand entrance. The leaves change color, the Dunkin Donuts menu gets an overhaul, people also get excited for sports (although it’s no where near as crazed as Southern folks with high school and college football), and the air literally – and I mean literally – smells of cinnamon. And it’s not from candles or boxes of artificially scented cinnamon brooms, but from the boiling of fresh apple cider followed by the frying of apple cider donuts.

appleciderdonut-3 appleciderdonut-1emptybar3appleciderdonut-6

Little stands dot the countryside, appear at every farmstand, and are requisite stops at all the apple orchards, each selling their own take on the classic New England fall treat. Spiked with freshly pressed apple cider or boiled cider syrup and liberally dusted with cinnamon and sugar while hot. At my favorite farmstand, you can buy them fresh from the kettle from a little shack set up in the garden nursery and finish your shopping with cinnamon-sugar all over your face. It’s the best.


With so many apple cider donut recipes already out there, and not wanting to mess with a Yankee classic, I decided to infuse those same flavors in another fall-weather sweet that I remember from home: the funnel cake. Donuts are essentially straight-laced funnel cakes anyways. Both apple cider and apple cider syrup goes into the batter and the resulting delicate doilies of fried dough are then dusted with both cinnamon and powdered sugar. The house still smells of spice and the state fair. And now I have a snack for watching Hocus Pocus later.

appleciderdonut-9 appleciderdonut-10emptybar3appleciderdonut-11 appleciderdonut-13

apple cider donut funnel cakes
makes about 1 to 1 1/2 dozen 3-inch cakes

1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of cloves, allspice, nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons apple cider
1 egg
2 tablespoons walnut oil (or other light and neutral oil)
1 tablespoon apple cider syrup
powdered sugar
extra cinnamon
oil for frying

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, spices, and salt. In another bowl, whisk together the apple cider, egg, oil, and cider syrup until thoroughly combined. Make a well in the flour mixture and add the liquids. Stir to combine, making sure there are no lumps. Transfer the batter to a squeeze bottle or pastry bag and set aside.

Heat 1-inch of oil in a large heavy skillet. Squeeze a small drop of batter into the oil. The oil is ready if the batter sinks, rises, and immediately begins to bubble, but not immediately turn a dark brown.

Hold the squeeze bottle close to the oil to avoiding splashing. Working quickly, create little doilies, concentric circles, webs, criss-crosses, etc with the batter, about 3 to 4 inches in diameter. Let the cakes fry for 20 to 30 seconds, flip, and then fry for additional 15 to 20 or until the cake is golden brown. Remove and transfer to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Repeat with remaining batter.

Dust the warm apple cider donut funnel cakes with additional cinnamon and powdered sugar and serve immediately. Pair with chilled glasses of leftover apple cider.

– apple cider syrup is available in gourmet shops, but you can also simply boil a cup or so of cider until it reduces down into a thick, almost gel-like syrup.
– a simple spoon or funnel also works in lieu of a squeeze bottle (it just makes a bigger mess).
– fry only 2 to 3 cakes at a time to avoid burning.


appleciderdonut-16 appleciderdonut-18 appleciderdonut-20

Happy Fall, y’all.


19th September 2015


Again with the bowls. I’m recently smitten with all things served in bowls. Plates just seem to hazardous, risky even, whereas bowls keep everything safe and secure. The chances of cheese being involved in a dish are also greatly increased when bowls are used (probably). While I’m staunchly against the classic American casserole and the inappropriate mingling of all those flavors (usually sourced from a can), I’m definitely pro-bowl layering. It might sound like a complicated concept, but it’s not. Though I feel obliged to reiterate how unlike casseroles the bowl-layering technique is. In essence, you control the contents of the bowl and exactly how the flavors come together. Can casseroles give you that flexibility? No. No they can’t.

peasonstove riceemptybar3collardsandpeas

My latest adventures in bowl-layering involve some truly Southern staples that always manage to find their way to one another on potluck plates anyways. A bare-bones sort of two-part hoppin’ john – a classic mixture of rice, black eyed peas, and spices – combines with quick-cooked collards. It took two decades, but I’ve since learned that I’ll be more likely to eat my greens if they aren’t boiled to death, but feel free to cook yours longer if you like. Day-old cornbread gets baked again to make cornbread biscotti, aka the best use of leftover cornbread ever. And then there’s a sprinkling of bacon, of course.

collardbowlangle cornbreadbiscottiemptybar3peasfromabove biscotticrumbs

hoppin’ john bowls, collards, and cornbread biscotti

These bowls are easy to assemble and all the various parts can be prepped ahead of time and dished out when ready. To be honest, these things all taste better the next day anyways.

black eyed peas

1/2 pound of dried peas, soaked overnight and rinsed
2 tablespoons olive oil or bacon drippings
1/2 yellow onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, finely diced
bay leaves
salt and pepper

In a large pot, heat the oil or bacon drippings. Add the onion, garlic, and bay and cook until the onions are translucent. Add the soaked and rinsed peas and stir to incorporate. Top with 5 cups of water and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and let the peas cook until they are tender – about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Salt and pepper to taste. Set aside until ready to use.

cornbread biscotti

1 day-old pan of cornbread
sheet pan

Heat the oven to 300 degrees. Slice the cornbread into 1-inch strips and evenly onto a sheet pan. Bake in the middle of the oven for 20 minutes, flip the biscotti, and bake for an additional 20 minutes or until both sides are crisp and slightly golden brown. Let the pan rest on the counter – the cornbread biscotti will harden more as they cool – until ready to serve.

collards and rice

1/2 cup of wild rice
1 1/2 cup water
1/2 tablespoon butter
4 – 6 collard leaves, rinsed, stems removed, and cut into thin strips
salt and pepper to taste

In a small pot, combine the rice, water, and butter and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to medium and allow to cook for 10 minutes. Add the collard strips and stir to combine. Continue to cook, lowering the heat if necessary, until the rice and collards are tender – about 5 to 7 minutes. Fluff with a fork and set aside until ready to use.

To assemble…

collards and rice
black eyed peas
cooked, crispy bacon, cut into strips
cornbread biscotti
hot sauce

Fill the bottom of a shallow bowl with the warm rice and collards mixture. Ladle on a few spoonfuls of peas and some extra cooking liquid. Top with cooked, crispy bacon strips and a cornbread biscotti. Serve with additional black pepper and hot sauce on the side.



Happy bowl-layering, y’all.


14th September 2015


Compensation for this post was provided by Discover card via AOL Media.  The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Discover card or AOL.

It’s been exactly four years since I moved up North and made the Boston area my home. And it only just dawned on me that in all my recent adventures – to Paris, Iceland, and all over the US – I’ve never done a tour of the great city of Boston. With a whirlwind summer nearly behind me, I thought I’d share some of my favorite stops around downtown and a few of my frequent haunts in Beacon Hill.

While I’m not quite a regular at the new Tatte Bakery location on Charles Street, I’m well known enough by the weekday staff to get the “to stay” cup without asking. Paired with one of the many lovely pastries and Middle-Eastern tinged fare – my go-to is a massive croissant or the large bowl of yogurt with homemade muesli and chopped fruits – you can quickly see why this is a local favorite. I like to go early, set up my computer and answer some emails or edit the newest batch of food photos, but I generally get distracted by the passersby and end up packing up my things with very little work done and going out to explore the crooked brick streets of old Beacon Hill.

IMG_20150318_103702 IMG_20150324_132629

But first I like to pop across the street to Follain for a few healthy (and all made in the US!) beauty essentials. I’m currently loving the body butter by Organic Bath Co. (made right here in Boston) and the belly oil by Soap-Walla the perfect things to keep this growing baby bump in shape. The shop is so perfectly curated – with products for both men and women – and is quite honestly picture-perfect, too.


Whenever I’m in Beacon Hill, I like to hike up to the historic Acorn Street – one of the last cobblestone streets in Boston. It may be the “most photographed street in the country” and a huge pull for visitors from all over the world, but it’s still well worth the stop. Snap a few shadowy Instagrams with the American flag that always seems to be flying halfway up the street and you have a perfect (and free!) souvenir from your trip to Boston. And though I live here, I still like to walk by every so often to catch glimpses of the old city and smile at the sweet wedding shoots that often take place on the bumpy little street.


To walk off the last flaky bits of croissant, I like to pass through the Public Gardens and the Boston Commons. There are so many routes through and around the two green spaces, you can see something new each time. Walk around the edges to avoid the large crowds of tour groups that gather in the summer and meander through the middle during the fall to gawk up at the sunset hued leaves that turn the whole city into a post card.  In fair weather months you can catch street performers, summer concerts organized by the city, and the occasional Revolutionary reenactment.

My next stop – even when I don’t have the time for it – is always an old book shop. I have several downtown favorites, but recently I like to pop by Commonwealth Bookstucked away on the little historic Spring Street. In my opinion, the older and dustier the bookstore the better – that’s where the best treasures are anyways – but the main lure of this shop is the resident orange cat that has his own little reading nook in the front window. When you finally stop trying to win the cat’s affection, you’ll find stacks upon stacks of old books – some tucked away behind glass cases due to their age and rarity – deftly piled to create narrow aisles to help you navigate around the store. Give yourself plenty of time and maybe pack an extra tote to carry back all your dusty finds.

Young_Austinian_Bookstore4 Young_Austinian_Bookstore3

By this point, I’ve likely spent a bit too long in the bookstore and need to refuel. My new favorite stop downtown is the brand new Boston Public Market. A permanent, year-round indoor market featuring dozens of local vendors from all over New England, this old-world style market has everything from farm stand finds and locally sourced meats and cheeses to baked goods and artisan donuts. There are also several booths selling ready-to-eat and take-away fare like the local food-truck-turned-market-vendor Bon Me and other places to grab a great green juice (Mother Juice), hot chocolate (Taza Chocolate), or herbal tea (Soluna Garden Farm). Essentially, you can grab a few things, bits and pieces from here and there (and maybe a jar of local Boston honey for later), and make yourself an affordable little personal picnic.  Find a spot out on the greenway across the street or snack while you walk through the nearby middle section of the Freedom Trail packed with things like Faneuil Hall, Quincy Market, and the Boston Harbor.

IMG_20150730_130230 Young_Austinian_BPM1

The market is so conveniently located next to Boston’s North End – our little Italy, if you will – that it’s almost a shame to walk by it without at least looking at the cases of delicate and oh-so-sweet cannoli. The popular stops are tucked further into the neighborhood and usual consist of long lines, throngs of confused people, and grumpy locals who are just trying to walk down the narrow sidewalks. I say skip those and pop into Maria’s Pastry Shop located just on the edge of the North End near the intersection of Cross and Haymarket Streets. This semi-hidden gem is a local favorite and only features the basic cannoli in either plain or chocolate ricotta or sweet cream with pistachios or chocolate chips (compared to the popular rivals’ 18 plus flavors). It’s a bare bones establishment and Maria herself can often be found tucked away in the back talking quite loudly on the phone, but that somehow makes it all the more worthwhile.

Young_Austinian_Marias1 Young_Austinian_Marias3

A great way to end the afternoon, and fit in a few extra steps to counteract that earlier croissant and more recent cannoli, is to walk along the harbor to the Seaport district and the Harpoon Brewery and Beer Hall. If you’re new in town or meeting up with a few friends, you can take a tour of the brewery for a mere $5 (which includes a spell in the tasting room sampling as many brews as you can manage). Meet back out in the beer hall for your favorite pint (or a Prohibition Era-pour root beer) and a freshly baked pretzel made with spent spelt and grain recycled from the brewing process. Through the wall of windows along one side of the hall, you can watch the sun set with a drink in hand and a great day of walking and snacking under your belt.

Young_Austinian_Seaport1 Young_Austinian_Harpoon4 Young_Austinian_Harpoon2emptybar3Young_Austinian_Harpoon1


9th September 2015


I guess it’s time to face facts and realize that summer is at its end. The leaves are already turning, the evenings are a fair bit crisper, and the first gourds of the season are already popping up at the farm stand. And I couldn’t be happier. I enjoy summer, and every season really, but fall is probably the best thing that could ever happen to me. I know it’s not for everyone, as many bemoan the loss of sunny days and sits on the beach, but the fall season is my personal instant pick-me-up. Just the thought of it (even if it is still 90 plus degrees out today) makes me happier than a clam still left alive in the shallow waters at the end of summertime.

rosehipsemptybar3rosecheesecloth lemonprep

And just because summer is nearly over, doesn’t mean you can’t transition your favorite summertime sundries into fall. Just like that light scarf that works for multiple seasons or that trusty denim jacket that carries you from spring through fall, homemade lemonade is one of those versatile drinks for-all-occasions. As the earth phases out of blueberry and peach producing mode, I like to spike my lemonade with something a little more appropriate for the upcoming fall. My new favorite is this rose lemonade mixed with a homemade simple syrup infused with rose hips and dried rose buds. It will make your whole kitchen smell like a greenhouse.

Since I was pregnant all summer, I’ve been sipping on these kinds of herbal and juice concoctions to keep cool, but also to keep the still lingering morning sickness under control. Several women recommended sipping tonic water with quinine, it was, after all, invented to keep the symptoms of malaria and its unbearable nausea at bay. Thankfully, I’m surrounded by wonderfully talented people, some of which even make their own homemade tonic water made with real quinine bark. Usually paired with gin, they said it happily mixes with plain seltzer, too. So I’ve been eeking along all season with a single mason jar of this potent elixir, mixing it in a teaspoon at a time here and there. And it seems to do the trick. Plus, it has all that herby, perfectly bitter taste that takes a simple homemade lemonade from backyard to bar lounge.

lemonadeingredients lemonadeinglass3

rose lemonade and tonic

The tonic I used was a homemade concoction prepared by my new friend and local mixologist, Maxine. We brewed up a batch of her special tonic on a South End rooftop earlier this summer while talking about old school cocktails, British imperialism, and the miracle-like properties of quinine. I can’t even recall all the ingredients, but I know it included dried bitter quinine bark, all the citrus rind and juice we could muster, lemongrass, and sugar. I have yet to perfect the recipe on my own – it’s on my to-do list – so for now, I’d suggest using your favorite all-natural, quality, and preferably old world-style tonic. You can find these in most large liquor stores or in the natural foods section of your grocery store. I like Fever Tree.

for the rose simple syrup
makes about 1 cup

1/4 cup dried rose hips
1/4 cup dried rose buds
1 cup water
1 cup sugar

Combine all the ingredients in a small sauce pan set over medium high heat. Bring to a bowl then lower to a simmer, heating until the sugar is completely dissolved and the whole kitchen smells of roses. Remove from heat and let cool. Strain the contents, discard, and transfer syrup to an airtight container until ready to use.

to make one glass…

juice of one lemon
2 tablespoons tonic
2 teaspoons simple syrup
cold water or seltzer
lemon slices and rose buds for garnish

Fill a small glass with ice and top with lemon juice, tonic, and syrup. Fill the rest of the glass with water or seltzer and garnish with a lemon slice and float a rosebud on top.

to make a pitcher…

8 to 10 lemons, juiced
1/2 cup of tonic
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup rose simple syrup (depending upon how sweet you like it)
cold water or seltzer
lemon slices

In a tall pitcher, stir together the lemon juice, tonic, and simple syrup. Fill the rest of the pitcher with cold water or seltzer. Add more syrup or tonic to taste. To serve, fill small glasses with ice, top with lemonade, and garnish with a lemon slice.