Sunday, October 18, 2009

Back To Reality

Hey Mom?

I'm cold. Really cold.

Me too.

You don't even know.

It's so cold I have to tuck my nose into my tail.

Yeah, that's right, we're home! And when we got here, it was more than 20 degrees colder here than it was at the beach, and pouring rain. Enough to make a girl turn around and run South, but we persevered because we knew our beloved monsters would be excited to see us. Plus...

...we had beautiful red drum fillets to cook, which we caught just the day before! I got Cam a half day on a charter fishing boat as a sort of an engagement present, and it was a blast. We -- plus my Dad -- caught about 40 bluefish, these 2 drum, and all kinds of other fish too small or too junky to keep (flounder, black bass, grouper, pinfish, lizardfish, sea grunts). The red drum's a regional specialty, and Cam just broiled in it olive oil with salt and pepper, delicate, simple, delicious. I improvised a weird little recipe to use some beautiful Swiss chard and some leftover ciabatta.

I prepped the chard (learned a new method from a Cooks Illustrated video - hold the chard by the stem, and with a sharp knife, just slice down one side of the stalk, then the other, clearing the leafy part clean off the woody center. When you're finished, stack the leaves and leaf bits, then cut in slices. Worked like a champ.), then sauteed it simply with minced fresh garlic (seriously... If you use the jarred kind, chuck it out the window. Fresh garlic is the only garlic. Garlic powder is acceptable in certain applications, such as steaks before grilling, and garlic salt, in egg salad.), salt and pepper and olive oil. After 7 or 8 minutes, it was still chewy but tender. I took it off the heat, stirred in a big hunk of goat cheese, then spread it on toasted ciabatta.

Tomorrow we return to work! I'm packing a freshly baked apple cake to maybe cast a little of the attention in a direction other than the third finger on my left hand. Any bets on how well that'll work? Maybe I should also print out all these kitty pictures as an added distraction.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

He Put A Ring On It!*

Remember how Cam woke me up the other morning with "Good morning, beautiful. When you're ready, it's a great morning for a run?" Well, every morning since then I've woken up to something even better, infinitely better... Variations on "Good morning, my future wife."

Yup, that's right, Cam proposed on Monday night, and I am over the moon. I had no idea he was going to do it that night (or ever, really -- I mean, I hoped and hoped, and even had a couple false alarms, and I had no reason to doubt he would, but still, it was never something I'd let myself count on.), and never in a million years imagined so perfect an evening.

We went to dinner Monday night with my parents, at an island restaurant where we had a great meal last year. Cam and I walked in a few minutes after my parents, and the table was set for six.

"Hey," I said, "How come our table's so big?"

Dad said it was all they had, and though I could see empty four-tops, I'm not the type to dig in too deep when there's a menu to peruse. But then Cam's parents, who also live hundreds of miles away from the island, walked through the door! I flipped, completely confused but happy to see them, and before I had time to connect the dots, I heard Cam in my ear, quietly repeating my name, trying to get my attention.

I turned around, and in an instant, Cam dropped to one knee, pulled out a ring, and asked me to marry him. I'll save his words for my memories, but though it was quick, it was so meaningful, and I flushed bright red, my eyes pricked with tears, and I sort of squealed "Yes!" I grabbed him and hugged him so tightly, and all around us the rest of the diners were clapping and cheering.

When we finally broke our embrace, he held up the ring, and our hands shook as he slipped it on my finger. It's gorgeous and fits perfectly, and sparkles like I can barely believe.

The rest of the night was, of course, a blur of toasts and blessings, with couples coming by the table to share their joy and memories. One gentleman and his wife bought us a bottle of champagne!

So,for the past few days I've been working the words fiance and fiancee into my vocabulary, and being absolutely disgustingly cute with my betrothed. He's been filling me in on the back story of Monday night -- the guest orchestration, the procuring of my vintage ring. It's magical, I can't pretend any different.

I am so happy.

*I really did ask him if it was Beyonce who convinced him to ask me. I can't say I'm disappointed it wasn't, but I still don't think she hurt our case!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Vacation, All Is Right

What a beautiful day.

The ferry ride took nearly three hours, which we spent the first part of on the deck watching the mainland disappear. Wary of the sun, we headed to a shaded part on the starboard side, where four men who were traveling together could not get over the awesomeness of this.

What are these things called, anyway? At any rate, a bit later I headed inside and immersed myself in Born Round, while Cam peered at the horizon through his binoculars. He ran back inside to get me when he spotted a sailboat, and the water tower, meaning we were getting close. By the time we reached the island, it was nearly 90 degrees out.

We had the whole afternoon to do what we would with before meeting my parents and checking into the house, so we made our way to the pub with its beer list as long as my arm and college football all around. A couple beers and a crabcake for me, a couple beers and a tuna steak sandwich for him, and we were sufficiently fortified to explore. We found a little lake access beach and poked around picking up hermit crabs, then had a glass of wine at a cafe with wi-fi -- our phones, somewhat happily, don't work here, so Cam called Dad on Skype to get an ETA.

We met their ferry after poking around in another inlet, then came home for beers on the porch, shrimp pasta, and then, sleep.

This morning I woke up to "Good morning, beautiful. When you're ready, it's a good morning for a run." So we pulled on our socks and sneakers and headed out, then home for breakfast, and now, football.

Next up is a walk on the beach and some fishing for Cam, and tonight, we're grilling lambchops, and roasting Hasselback potatoes. I think my stomach's growling already!

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Beach Food

Quite soon (keeping it vague for all the robbers who spy on this quasi-anonymous blog. There are creeps/grebes out there!), Cam and I will depart on an incredible trip south to the beach. The beach in October - possibly stormy, still quite warm, and the fishing should be great. We're just a smidge excited.

We'll be spending a week in a huge, beautiful house on an island with my parents. The view in most directions is acres of marsh, and a ways off, the ocean. Last year we only got to spend 3 days there, but this time, we get a full, luxurious week. Cam just reserved our ferry, and Friday night, over cupcakes quartered and shared, Mom, Dad, Cam and I began to outline the food plan.

The food plan is crucial, of course! First of all, since our destination is an island, grocery items are scant and pricey. And secondly, I'll state the obvious: In my family, the food matters a lot, as does the drink.

Per our rough sketch, Mom and Dad will head up two or three dinners, as will Cam and I, and then 1 or 2 we'll go out for. More on that in a minute. The four of us like to play breakfast simply -- I'm practically married to my oatmeal with pumpkin puree, Mom and Dad like bananas, and Cam likes eggs and toast and bacon. For lunches we'll pack plenty of salad and sandwich supplies, to be supplemented with dinner leftovers. We're packing in steaks and lamb chops, shrimp, and pasta, and we're hopeful for fresh fish caught in the surf. I've got a bag of potatoes and a bag of onions in a bag by the door, ready to go. I plan to make a batch of granola.

Oh, and then there's the wine and beer and scotch. Yes, we've got that covered.

So, a question. What else should we bring? What beach snacks do you consider essential? What desserts would pack nicely, or would be easily made in a well-stocked but not-my-own kitchen?