Alerting all food lovers (don’t have to be a foodie/extra points if you love NC): A Chef’s Life

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I’ve had the unbelievable honor of meeting Vivian & Ben Knight. I’ve cooked with their Blueberry BBQ sauce. And I’ve been a part of an incredible, unforgettable guided dinner at their Kinston, N.C. restaurant “Chef & the Farmer.” (Daggonit why didn’t I get photos and autographs??)

They are AMAZING.

The food? I tried quail, yams and fried collards. I tried turnips and I tried trout caviar. All North Carolina local farm to table and all five-Michelin stars of talented, creative cooking (I’m qualified to grade, yes). Recipes adapted from grandmothers and neighbors, all dazzled with the sparkle of Vivian’s trade that she picked up from kitchens in New York City and brought home to eastern Carolina.

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And now it’s time for this kitchen to be shared across the country.

Vivian and her family have spent the past year cooking, creating and filming their own PBS primetime cooking show: A Chef’s Life.

I’ll let that sink in.

Watch the trailer here. Can't post on my blog sadly. The trailer is AWESOME. (yes, me yelling shows I'm for real!)

Watch the trailer here. Can’t post on my blog sadly. The trailer is AWESOME. (yes, me yelling shows I’m for real!)

Unsurprisingly (that’s how great this woman+husband+family team is) they’ve already met their dollar goal; but every bit still helps. Check out their site and even if you don’t support right now, plan to support soon when this show finally gets to hit your television in September 2013  (check your local listings)! I’m beside myself with excitement to watch and appreciate food and southern cooking culture. I’m far from a foodie, but the Knight family is just darn relatable. They’re funny, charismatic and every conversation I’ve had with Vivian has left me with so many interesting food facts that I didn’t know, didn’t know to ask about and feel better knowing.

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If you like food? Watch.

If you like southern culture? Watch.

If you like North Carolina? Watch.

If you like stories about real, everyday people being wildly successful doing what they’re passionate about? Watch.

If you like stories about people who take risks for what they love? Watch.

If you like to feel comforted in a “that’s how life should be” way? You should watch, too.

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The concept of farm-to-table makes so much sense. Every time I hear the stories of the ingredients and methods that “Chef & the Farmer” use it takes you back to that realization of: why do we make it so hard with preservatives and imported ingredients? Why don’t we support our neighbors more and live in a more connected world to the community that we live in?

But don’t let that make you think this is a backwoods, farmer food series for one second. Vivian and Ben spent many years in Manhattan before returning to North Carolina. They’re just going to show you the best of all of those worlds, coincidentally in the setting of a quaint small town.

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PS: Listen closely. Do you hear that North-Carolina Avett Brothers involvement? My heart swells with NC pride.

I’ve done half justice to swooning the Knights’ praises, so if this wasn’t enough–check this out:

A CHEF’S LIFE is nothing like the cooking shows you see on the Food Network or PBS. Every week you will see relationships bloom around family, stories, and places, while you glimpse Chef Vivian at work crafting dishes like the Perfect Tomato Sandwich, Pimp My Grits, and Pork Belly with a Pepsi glaze. Moonshine Cocktails, wine, and beer are also on the table. Vivian is a James Beard Award semi-finalist (two years in a row!), but through her eyes you will meet people you’d otherwise never see on television: home cooks, gardeners, hunters, fishermen, beef, chicken, and pork farmers, and wine and whiskey makers, drawn from every racial and social group. Vivian does what many working women aspire to do these days—building a local network and a global career, nurturing her family with water from the taproot of her hometown.” —Chef & the Farmer

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Babe-fest. Showers for Mama & Little Lynch.

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It’s official, I’m guessing August 8th birthday.

Over the past two years there have been countless 6 a.m. wake-up calls to drag myself to the gym and get ready for the day with some cardio with my best friend, once co-worker and sister in life: Bridget.

I met her when Ryan was the boyfriend who’s job brought her to Winston-Salem three years ago.

I knew her when she returned from a Labor Day Weekend beach trip with some sand in her shoes and a big rock on her finger.

I grew to trust her and cherish her in our budding friendship as she meanwhile planned a lovely wedding.

I decided that Ryan made a pretty funny friend too as they got settled in married life and Ryan was nice enough to share her with me on workdays, work mornings, some work nights and weekends.

I was perfectly happy to find that over the months that turned into years I loved having her as a sidekick throughout all of work, family, love and life celebrations and woes.

I’ve posting lots of best friend photos lately. Add this to the pile : )

I excitedly swooned with her last summer when she mentioned that her and Ryan were thinking about starting a family.

I hiked with Bridget, Ryan and Russ the last day that they knew they were a family of three (albeit, one — Russ — is a furry family member). And that brisk December day that they dropped me off at my apartment, they later found out that they would be four.

Dog+Girl+Boy+Baby.

And I was ecstatically one of the people who caught on far too early at her uncontainable joy.

And ever since I have been incredibly excited for this little baby to join the world and be a part of the family that I made for myself here in the Triad. <3. Selfishly I can’t wait to snuggle and love on him. Far less selfishly I cannot wait to see what an unbelievable mom and dad my good friends are going to be. (They’re the best.)

Rightfully so, my closest family of shared friends (a work mama Wanda and a work big sister Victoria) have felt the same. And thus, a celebration was planned and finally carried on last week. And if I do say so myself, it was lovely.

While Wanda made everything beautiful, Victoria added perfect touches of sweet signage, beautiful papers and the best paper straws in the world.

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Elizabeth, a newfound friend through Bridget who is one of Bridget’s most cherished in the area, cooked the most delicious spread of food.

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And I? Well I brought cupcakes of course and folded dozens of the tiniest paper airplanes.

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It was the most natural, comfortable, cute baby shower ever if I do say so myself. And while Bridget doesn’t always like being in the center of attention, we were all abundantly happy to have a moment to love on her. She won’t be ignored once little Lynch gets here — BUT, I can promise to share a lot of that loving on him.

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Me, Bridget + Victoria. ❤

Savannah Summer Kick-Off (Delayed).

I remember when I would be on summer break from school as soon as I had seen the first week of break end, the reality would hit that I only had a FEW weeks and I needed to savor it before school crept back onto the calendar. I would do the silent week tally in my head with each passing weekend. And I always dreaded the “halfway mark” just simply because then it became a literal countdown. You had less time left than you had already spent.

I do the same thing when I’m on vacation.

“Oh no, it’s Wednesday. We only have half of the trip left. Bummer.”

I’m weird. I need to not start focusing so quickly on what’s happening weeks ahead––but it’s just my nature.

So in the meantime, I try to take advantage of appreciating what’s happened so far this summer and make sure that I keep enjoying every second of sunshine in the meantime that I can.

This summer has been crazy. Crazy busy. Crazy unexpected. And crazy fast!

It seems just like yesterday that we were spending Memorial Day at the pool being lazy and playing water volleyball. Making new friends. And looking forward to three full months of post-work and weekend recreation.

That said, I realize now the “summer things” that I’ve meant to post about are getting further and further in the rear-view mirror. Have to post! I’ll try to do all my catch-ups this week and first give you a picture of the (surprisingly) only vacation yet this summer!

SAVANNAH.

A reunion three years in the making with some of my closest girl friends from being a sister of Alpha Omicron Pi. Aren’t we presh? It is no small feat to stay mediocrely cute when it’s 98% humidity, just saying.

 

These girls came into my life my junior year in college. I was already flexing my usual overachiever ways by taking full honors class loads (I think I was still a triple major at the time, man I’m a nerd) on top of some reporting internships and working as an editor on the college newspaper. Teaching children’s church at Cornerstone Summit. But, that wasn’t enough, duh.

So I decided to join the group of ladies colonizing a new fraternity at Appalachian State.

My perception had been that girls in Greek life lived for their organization. I already had a life. I was a busy girl with a lot of focus on doing what I needed to do to graduate successfully, get a good job, spend time with good friends that I already had. But I had room for more.

Joining the colonization of AOII at our campus was one of my best decisions. These ladies were dedicated to the values and principles of our organization (which were values I already held dear), but what made us so strong was that all of us were like me: we all things we were focused on fostering outside of Greek life too. In the photo below you have amazing academics, incredible musicians, wonderful teachers, smart businesswomen and marketers, writers and advertisers. Yeah, all in one photo : ) We weren’t all buttoned-up and professional all weekend though.

Coming from all over the East, and having not seen each other in 3 years, meant that there was a lot to catch up on. We traveled to Savannah, Ga. from all over. A handful from all over North Carolina, one from Nebraska, one from Connecticut and one from Florida. Dedication.

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There was celebrating. (An engagement! A graduation! A birthday! And a lot of other upcoming life changes to celebrate.)

There was sightseeing.

And beaching.  (Aren’t our visors super fly?)

Some sororities have bigs & littles. Well, AOII does too. But since we colonized we had to have twins instead. Here’s me and mine, Brandie. So special. Out of (I think) around 50 (i think? omg, how big was our colonizing class….now I don’t know…) girls, we picked each other. Handing in a piece of paper with the name of our twin preference. Yup, I picked her. She picked me. Soul mates.

LOTS of eating. (And some drinking, maybe.)

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There was running. (Yup, this is from that last run. Sad times.) And morning coffees.

And consequentially, there was embracing the “no make-up” moments. (So nice to have friends who understand the need to run on vacation!)

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There was a lot of smiling.

Whole lot of smiling.

And even more laughing.

But, I guess at the end of the day — it was just a lot of love : )

Later this week, I’ll make sure to share about how awesome Winston-Salem is in the summer; how some of us really know how to throw a kickin’ baby shower; how Brooke and I are experts at country music concerts and how I feel like I am living every day of the past few months to it’s very, very fullest.

 

All right, I’ve got to pull it together. Healthy, here I come.

I need to be able to say this on Thursday.

After a caving of KFC for dinner, I feel blech. Even embarrassed to admit I had KFC and while yes, it was tasty and quick. The guilt and sick tummy — not worth the feasting.

I’m not entirely sure what emotion I’m abusing the food with but you guys, I have been the worst since the holidays.

Sugar. Salt. Fat. Take-out. Rich food. Too much food.

Eating. Eating. Eating.

And while I’ve started back working out last week, it is extremely only halfway useful if I am eating like a slob! It is really, really hard for me to exhibit self control. I admittedly, struggle.

But that’s it. I have to draw a line.

Do I have a weight goal? Nope. But I definitely have a bikini goal! Tomorrow?

Insanity work-out one.

Run two of the week.

And a balanced breakfast. A balanced lunch. And a moderate dinner.

Keep me accountable, friends!

Picking Back Up Good Habits.

It’s a little trickier than anticipated writing a new blog. Likely because with Tumblr you are completely spoiled with the ever easy re-post. Partially because with this new blog I’m being a lot more conscious about what I post. Which is kind of ironic since the reason I made this blog is so that I could be more free! I just want to make sure I stay. . . real. Even though I can talk about anything.

The biggest part of this new blog is actually writing again on a personal overture. I have the mother-lode post in development (it’s a good one); but until then I’m having to retrain myself to put some reflection and practice into writing publicly again. Take time.

Do you ever find yourself falling out of good habits?

This time last year I was training for a half marathon, running religiously. This time two years ago I was so deeply in scripture and constant focus on growing in faith. This time six months ago I was cooking at home regularly and cognizant of not emotionally eating, controlling my portions. This time five years ago I was writing in my journal every day.

All indicators of a healthy life in one way or another. Call me an overachiever, but I’m trying to re-calibrate and get all four back on the same page. That means:

– Work out five days a week.

– Focus on living my faith seven days a week.

– Cook 80 percent of my meals at home.

– Don’t eat because I’m stressed or bored. (Cookies, contrary to what I would typically swear to, do not in fact cure your troubles. Love me some cookies.)

– Write in my journal seven days a week.

These are the things that make me happy.

These are the things that keep me sane.

My mother can vouch. Two weeks ago I started trying to put all of these things back in practice. This past Wednesday, she told me:

“You sound so much better. I can’t really explain it, but you just sound better.”

Oh, so happy, rested, fulfilled has a sound? I think so.

Picking back up good habits is hard though. So have patience with me in these early months if you visit the blog only to be greeted by the last post you saw on your last visit!

What are your best habits? Any suggestions for adjusting into your own best routine? I find if it’s routine, it’s a no-brainer!