Seven days

Recently, we returned from a vacation to the Florida gulf coast with three out of four off-spring and two respective spouses. We were so fortunate to have time with family for our week because it doesn’t always work out that way. Now that most of our adult children are married, they must divide time between us and their in-laws so a week together here and there is a real treat.

So, in brief, here’s a look at our week by the numbers…

1 round of golf, 1 stand-up paddle board, 1 date night

2 days of rain at the end of our week, 2 sheet-pan breakfasts*, 2 martini nights

3 girls on the beach, 3 books finished by yours truly, 3 family meals at the vacation home

4 boys in the water, 4 absolutely-drop-dead-gorgeous days on the beach, 4 delicious dinners in restaurants

5 walks on the beach, 5 days without rain, 5 ways to eat oysters

6 games played, 6 different swimsuits, 6 water bottles consumed each day

7 sunrises & sunsets, 7 days of laughter, 7 cruiser bikes

Countless: inside jokes, photos snapped, snacks consumed, waves ridden, eye rolls, quotable comments by JB, songs shuffled, cocktails created, memories made.

Can’t wait to do it again.

*Recipe for Sheet Tray Pancakes for your next family vacation/reunion!

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Ahhhhh, the Salad days

No, I’m not making a reference to my youth, a time of innocence, as the term “salad days”  usually refers to, but I mean THE Salad Days. As in, my consumption of salad Every Single Day for the past two months! Beginning with the Whole30 in June, I have managed to consume some form of fresh green concoction each day to the point that I don’t want to break the streak. Not that it’s become a religious experience for me, heavens, no. However, I actually look forward to my daily salad with some anticipation now.

My sweet M-I-L, Jeanette, was the first to introduce me to the idea that salad belonged on every dinner table, even at home. Sure, you go out to eat at a nice restaurant and you’re offered a salad before your main course but very few families consistently consume  greens with their meals at home. So my family grew up with the expectation that salad graced the table every night in addition to our main meal and possibly alongside other vegetables and bread. It was often a simple mix of red lettuce, carrot slices, diced cucumbers and Good Seasons dressing. Side topic: the joke in our house is that the making of the nightly salad is the first chore assigned to a novice in the kitchen. When someone enters Ruth’s kitchen and asks if they can help, invariably the answer is “you can make the salad.” This is because I am a bit of a control freak and don’t want you in my way as I’m trying to finish getting dinner on the table and truly, how can you mess up the salad? 🙂

Anyway, I digress. Salads. Lots of them. I’ve had some fabulous ones lately, from salmon & avocado atop arugula tossed in a sun-dried tomato vinaigrette to a romaine, apricot, walnut, avocado, olive number drizzled with a garlic-tahini dressing. A phenomena has started to occur when we go out for lunch or dinner…I think I’m craving a particular kind of cuisine like Italian pasta & pizza or Southern fried chicken and waffles but when I arrive at the restaurant I can’t get my eyes to wander off the Salad section.

I once scoffed at persons who chose salads thinking they were the “diet” choice on the menu when in truth the dressings and croutons made them anything but light. But now I embrace fat as an important part of my daily consumption and realize that the yummy flavors in a good dressing cause me to consume more healthy greens! Win-win.

In short, these are MY salad days. Two salads are on the menu this week. Join me.

 

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I want to be STRONG like Wonder Woman!

Yes, I confess: I went to see this feature film about the Amazon woman/goddess turned superhero. Much to my surprise, I enjoyed the film as did my son and husband, whom liked it even beyond the fact that a gorgeous woman was in EVERY scene.

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Besides possessing Greek Goddess strength and power, the heroine has an admirable moral compass that points to doing the right thing, no matter the time constraints or obligations pulling in opposite directions. My favorite scene involves her journey to the frontline of World War I in which she chooses to save a small town that has been forsaken by the Allies as un-winnable. She charges through the enemy line followed by soldiers and brings victory to the “good” guys because she refuses to ignore the plight of the innocent.

That’s what I want to be. Not a superhero. Not even a simple everyday hero. I just want to be courageous with the strength of my convictions to stand up for those who can’t fight for themselves. Or speak up when I see an injustice done. I want to make a difference. It could involve making a phone call to a state representative about ending Daylight Savings Time, like another Wonder Woman I know. Maybe I just want to stand up to the bully who is trying to intimidate me at the gym and force me off a machine. (another story entirely, ha!) July is Grow my Strength month.

However, Wonder Woman is but one role model. I speak to courageous women every day…many of my customers are strong beyond measure with firm convictions. You may not battle Aries, God of War, on a daily basis but you fight the wars of Dallas, Texas. You go girl!

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Thankful for my Faithful Father

It’s Father’s Day weekend and time to honor and celebrate the men in our lives. Mothers get so much more acclaim than their male counterparts and moms definitely deserve to be honored. There is nothing like the nurture you receive from your mom to shape your personality and future.

But I want to speak to the blessing that my dad, Tom Beach, has been in my life. When I think of my father, so many diverse images come to mind. Scholar. Pilot. Jesus-freak. Teacher. Sports fan. Marathoner. Evangelist. Brother. Husband. Son. He has been all those things to so many people.

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Dad was the “cool” teacher at T.A.S.

He ran track for Kansas State for one year.  Became a missionary in Taiwan after graduating from college. Learned to speak perfect Taiwanese. Received a Masters in Divinity. Earned his private pilot’s license. High school teacher at Taipei American School. Founded a ministry-“The Way Inn” to provide a meeting place for young people to worship in Taiwan. Youth pastor at Christian Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Avid motorcyclist. Ran multiple marathons. He can name every tree in the forest and identify the clouds in the sky.

But besides all of the talents and accomplishments, my father is the most faith-filled man I have ever known. He believes that every person is “savable.” He is compassionate and discerning and loving and affectionate. He married a girl who could speak no english but he saw in her the beauty of Christ. And he has loved each of his children fully and unconditionally. I am so proud to call him my dad and am so thankful for the way he raised me.

So on this Sunday, I just want to express my gratitude for him. I love you, Dad. Happy Father’s Day! ❤

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Smooching on Daddy 1969

 

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In Pursuit of Patience

For the month of June, I’m finally getting around to calling out my problem with impatience. As evidenced by the pained look that appears on my face when I’m standing in the express line behind a woman writing a check. Even worse than the fact that I am utterly impatient is the fact that you can read it on my face. So I’m going to try to take calming breaths and assume a look of peace and tranquility.

But beyond my impatience with every day tasks, driving conditions and snail mail, I really need to learn to wait on life. On God to answer prayers. On solutions to dilemmas that will only be solved with time. I must acquire peace through stillness and inactivity. And. This. Is. So. Hard.

Sometimes we think we can make things happen quicker. That if we line up all the chickens, we will be flush in eggs. That if I pray the same prayer every morning, I must get the answer I am desiring. Unfortunately, we are NOT always in control and God may have a different plan. In June, I will try to let go of my expectations about timeframe, and even more difficult to do, let go of my demands for the outcome. I know I will find peace in this act of faith.

This doesn’t mean I will discontinue my prayers and hopes. As long as I’m not impatient and demanding and can remain peaceful. And that’s where I hope to be.

I hope that many of you are around this week to enjoy our fabulous menu. We will be cooking all of June and will be sporadic for most of July, then close completely for two weeks at the end of July and first part of August.

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White Wine Romance

Summer has arrived in all of it’s hot, steamy glory. Everything changes for this season. If you have school-aged children, they will transition to camps, activities, summer jobs, or just sleeping in late. Schedules relax a bit with meals at odd times. The patterns of what we eat may change also; some of you may grill every other meal, never turn on the oven, or eat mainly cold food straight from the refrigerator. And beverages! Summer means lemonade, iced tea, frosty beer, sangria, mojitos, and frozen margaritas.

If you’re like me, on a summer evening after work or play, there’s nothing like a beautiful chilled glass of crisp white wine.

{The chilled glass is essential–JB fills mine with ice and adds water to get the melt going. When the glass is chilled just right, he often offers the water to me to drink before dumping the ice to replace it with wine. Gotta hydrate, am I right?}

I have enjoyed many a robust red in my time. Cabernet Sauvignon with my steaks, and Pinot Noir with my Thanksgiving turkey. I like Chianti with my Italian meals and a nice Malbec with brisket. But I always considered white wine as a warm weather beverage that must only accompany chicken, seafood, and meatless dishes.

However, as of late I find that white wine doesn’t give me a headache or make me sleepy. I can consume several glasses without getting tipsy and let’s all agree, it can be sooooooooo refreshing. So I must confess that I have transitioned to a year-round white wine drinker. Sometimes I go against all conventional thought and enjoy a Sauvignon Blanc with WHATEVER I’m eating!

Turns out I’m not the only woman trending this direction in wine consumption. I recently read a Wall Street Journal article titled “Why More Women Are Siding with White Wine” and found I am not alone in choosing the lighter version of the grape’s bounty. Many females cite health issues as their reason but a lot of women just prefer the refreshment quality of the whites. Click here to read the article and see the author’s picks for 5 good bottles to feed a white-wine addiction.

And armed with this justification (hey! it’s the Journal!) I will continue down my white wine path into these hot summer days and beyond! 🙂

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My Box Club Love Affair (Have you been to my Costco yet?)

That’s right. My Costco finally opened on Thursday, May 11, to great fanfare at Churchill Way & Coit, the first Costco warehouse within Dallas city limits.

I refer to the store as mine because I have been longing for a location here ever since we left suburbia in 2013. Because. I. Love. Costco. I love the wine selection, the gourmet cheeses, the organic meat, fruits, vegetables and olive oil. Their bakery is good, return policy rocks and the customer service is always pleasant and friendly. Seriously…what’s not to love?

The ONE thing that I do not care for about Costco are the sample carts. Many people love, love, love the samples as evidenced by the crowds that form around the space, but those clusters of free-food-seekers drive me crazy when I’m trying to shop! I’ve also never eaten in the little cafe at the front of the store for which the big box chain is famously known for their $1.50 beef hot dog & drink combo. Do you know that price has been in effect since the warehouse first began their cafe offerings in 1985? They’ve never once raised the price.

And that’s another reason I adore Costco. It’s one of the few retail establishments where I don’t feel like the goal is to gouge it’s customers on prices. In fact, their average product mark-up is 11% compared to 24% at Wal-mart!

But enough of my gushing over my favorite big box store…head on over, tell them Ruth sent you and pick up a $4.99 rotisserie chicken on an evening when you don’t have a Butterfield Gourmet dinner for your table!**

P.s. We had a great day out at St. Michael’s on Saturday and loved seeing some of you while we sold out of our inventory. I forgot to share the link to the awesome write-up in the Dallas Morning News last week, so hope you’ll read it and catch the nice mention they gave the market and Butterfield Gourmet!
**all comments and opinions are my own and Butterfield Gourmet received no compensation for this essay. I just really love Costco!

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Blowing kisses in May

By golly, I’m going to get my act together. If my resolution in May doesn’t shape me up, it’ll kill me for sure. So, first my confession: I’m a bit of an aggressive driver. Impatient to a fault. Lead-foot. Not a tail-gater, but have been known to talk to the driver in front of me, gesturing with uplifted hands, smacking my head, hoping they are looking in their rear view mirror to register my annoyance, disgust or anger.

Well, this month my goal is to gesture in a completely different way when I’m cut off or delayed by the very cautious motorist in front of me. For May, I will try to blow a kiss to the subject of my irritation and utter this saying “I hope you arrive safely and on time to your destination.” I will attempt to murmur this blessing every time I feel the need to scream silently or when I feel my blood boil in righteous indignation.

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This may be my most difficult change to date. Please send help.

But seriously, if I can accomplish this goal, how much better will the roads be?! If we could all send out blessings instead of curses, the energy around us would completely change to a positive force of synchronized oneness from which all love would abound…yeah, right. Sorry, that’s just silly talk. Life is well, life. It’s messy and dirty and can be negative and ugly. For now, I’ll just be happy to change the 6’x6′ atmosphere inside my ride to a place of peace. Most of my commutes to the kitchen or the big box store are short and SURELY, I can blow kisses and whisper blessings for the 15 minutes I’m in the car each way.  I hope. I’ll try. Pray for me. 🙂

At the end of this week, we honor our mothers, whether honorary, adoptive, by birth, or by action. I am so blessed by my mom, Sadako, who brought me into the world and continues to be a Godly inspiration of sacrifice and service, and by Jeanette. my mother-in-law, a woman of limitless patience and discretion. I wish I could hug them both on Sunday and tell them in person what they mean to me, but a phone call will have to do. Be sure to tell your mother figures how important they are to you this week and as often as possible.

I have a special menu for those of you who want to make Mom’s day easy and tasty–you can find it here. If you are a mother on my list, know that I admire and respect you in your tireless devotion to your families.

Blessings and car kisses,

Ruth

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Psst- the secret to perfect pie crust revealed here!

How do you make your pie crust? Why is your pie crust so flaky? What is the secret to perfect pie crust? These are the questions I most frequently receive, or some variation thereof.

You may have heard the following tips before and I also repeat them when posed the question of my pie crust:

  1. Use ice water when mixing the crust.
  2. Refrigerate the dough and allow it rest before rolling it out.
  3. Do not overhandle the dough or the crust will become tough.

But the Number 1 secret to MY pie crust is…(drum roll please) Practice. And the number 2 tip is Practice, also. See, I’ve made thousands of pie crusts in my days in the kitchen. A modest estimate of pie crusts rolled for the year 2016 is about 923. Thassa lotta pies! So of course I know the right amount of pressure to put on my rolling pin. And obviously I know how thin to spread the dough for the just right bottom and top layers of each pot pie, quiche, and fruit filled dessert. Your pies would absolutely be as flaky as mine if you had to make as many as I do!

So my advice:  keep making pies! Practice, practice, practice. Or not. You can always get them from Butterfield Gourmet! 🙂

Isn’t that true of most life skills, hobbies and endeavors? We need a lot of practice to get those things just right. If you really care about something, you won’t give up on the first couple of tries, but will attempt perfection again and again. I recommend you have a slice of pie and think about what you want to be really, really excellent at making and then create a practice plan to put it into action. Maybe two slices of pie–action plans require lots of fuel for the brain.  ❤

 

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You say potato, I say poe-tah-toe

I just love how everyone has their own name for certain dishes…whether it’s a regional thing, family history or even happenstance based on a memory or experience. I ran across this situation recently when in New York, having dinner with a group of women. If I recall correctly, we were discussing dietary limitations and I mentioned that I had gone “Whole30” for the month of January and thereby consumed a lot of eggs for breakfast.

Growing up, I must admit that I was not a “breakfast girl.” I didn’t like oatmeal, pancakes, waffles, or eggs. Cereal, toast and bacon were the few things I enjoyed for my morning meal. My father, however, adored all breakfasts, especially any variety of eggs my mother was serving up. One of her specialties was Roundin’ Eggs, for which she would cut perfectly round disks out of the center of a piece of sandwich bread using an upturned juice glass. She would then toast the bread and the little disks in a frying pan and crack an egg into the center of the hole in the toast. She’d slather the little crisp round toasts with butter & jam to serve alongside the Egg in Toast. I would happily eat all of those little disks but she insisted I eat an egg as well, much to my pouty disappointment.

What? Your version of Egg in Toast wasn’t called Roundin’ Eggs? Maybe you called yours Egg in a Basket or One-Eyed-Jack? Egg in a Hole? Moonstruck Eggs? (Do you remember the scene from that movie with Cher and Nicholas Cage? Olympia Dukakis plays Cher’s very Italian mother and cooks these eggs for her, adding roasted red peppers on top of each egg before serving them to the breakfast table. It’s a very famous foodie scene.)

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My favorite variation has to be the cute story one of the ladies in NYC relayed to me about her parents. Terry told me that when her parents were newly married, her mother, Ronnie, wasn’t much of a cook. But she worked hard to please her new husband and one morning he requested french toast for breakfast. Well, she didn’t have Google to help her look up what a recipe for that dish entailed! So she made the fanciest (and to her, French) breakfast she could imagine, by cracking an egg in the middle of toast. He loved it and the dish was christened Ronnie’s French Toast.

I have finally grown up and love many things for breakfast…bagels & lox, green chile scrambled eggs in a tortilla, chicken ‘n waffles, blueberry pancakes, and of course, Roundin’ Eggs!

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