Barbie Cue

We had the pleasure last weekend of sharing the day with 2 wonderful friends exploring some of the BBQ goodness that central Texas has to offer. I can’t think of a better way to spend a summer day than gorging myself on smoked meat. MmmmMMMM.

Caution: You are about to either get really hungry, or, if you’re a vegetarian, you’re probably going to be grossed out.

The first stop we made was to Kreuz Market in Lockhart, Texas. Lockhart is the “BBQ capital of Texas” and they say you can’t go wrong with any of the choices you’ll find there.

Choices, choices…

GLORY!

Room of smoky goodness

Kreug’s was amazing. Best beef brisket I’ve ever had by far! They don’t believe in barbeque sauce and don’t even carry it in their restaurant. Not that their food needs it. So much flavor!!

Next stop was Smitty’s in downtown Lockhart across from the beautiful city hall.

Little peek at some of the goods in the smoker

Big Red=Texas bottled water

Lockhart city hall

Last stop was in Luling, Texas. According to their sign, Luling is somehow associated with watermelons. There was absolutely no lack of melons in this town. Or delicious BBQ at City Market. They had my very favorite meat of the day. Fall off the bone BBQ pork ribs. Be still my beating heart.

I'll eat bbq with this guy any day

The Browns-Our tour guides for the day.

Last brisket of the day

Watermelon central

When in Rome…

What a fun weekend. If anyone ever wants to go back and eat absurd amounts of pork and beef with us, we would not protest. Hope you enjoyed the photo tour of Texas’ pride and joy.

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Besties.

I’m reading a really great book right now by Bob Goff called Love Does. It’s a quick read about what God’s love looks like in human form. It has really been challenging me to love people in over-the-top, fearless ways. But even more than that it has opened my eyes to ways that others show their love for me and for others.

My bestest friend is named Julianne. Everyone calls her Juju.

When I flew into Georgia for my mother-in-law’s funeral last month, she whisked me away for the day to take care of my needs, when she could have taken her day off work to do a thousand other things. She took me shopping for a funeral dress and ate ice cream with me. She made me a sandwich for lunch and let me cuddle with her dog while I processed the previous day’s devastating events.

While we were searching for a black dress together, I found one that I loved. In fact, I decided that I loved that dress too much to wear it to something that would be so painful to remember. So I left it in the store and ended up borrowing one from Juju’s closet instead. I was glad I didn’t have to ever feel like I needed to wear that funeral dress again, and she saved me a lot of money in the process. But not only did Juju provide me with exactly what my heart needed in a time of trial, but she waited a few weeks after the pain subsided, and went back to the store we visited together to buy me the black dress I fell in love with in the first place. God has blessed me with people who truly care both about me and for me. Actively. And I feel so undeserving of such love.

I love you Julianne Baily. Your friendship has truly changed my life over the past 8 years.

Moving along

Summer’s here. And it’s not in the cute, “let’s play in the sprinkler” kinda way.

It’s way too hot. It’s hotter than last Summer. It’s killing my poor potted herbs on the porch. It’s BAD. I have a feeling this time around I am going to have to discover all the fun indoor activities Austin has to offer. Like bingo.

Our church family here has taken such great care of us since we got back from Georgia. We’ve spent many hours this past week sitting around in living rooms or around tables sharing meals and stories about Josh’s mom’s life. It’s been so therapeutic. I love seeing Christ’s body doing what she’s meant to do. I don’t particularly love being on the receiving end though, but that’s my own fault, with my stubborn inability to receive without giving something in return.

When we were in Georgia, some friends treated us to dinner at a place called Houston’s in Atlanta. I’d never been, but it was pretty incredible food. The real star of the show, though, was the key lime pie we had at the end. INDESCRIBABLY good. I couldn’t stop thinking about the green gooey goodness for the past couple weeks, so I decided to try to make some myself. I’m not one to make my own recipes up, so I had some help from Cooks Illustrated. If you’ve never tried any of these recipes, just know that you are missing out BIGTIME. They are almost always the most complicated recipes on the planet, but every time I buckle down and go for one, it always always always turns out even better than I expect.

So naturally, this is where I turned for a key lime pie recipe. (Which turned out to be the most simple Cooks recipe I’ve ever made. SCORE!)

KEY LIME PIE

INGREDIENTS

  • Lime Filling
  • 4 teaspoons grated lime zest
  • 1/2 cup lime juice from 3 to 4 limes ***This actually ended up being 11 limes for me. EEK!
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • Graham Cracker Crust
  • 11 graham crackers , processed to fine crumbs (1 1/4 cups)
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted
  • Whipped Cream Topping
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 lime , sliced paper thin and dipped in sugar (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. 1. For the Filling: Whisk zest and yolks in medium bowl until tinted light green, about 2 minutes. Beat in milk, then juice; set aside at room temperature to thicken.
  2. 2. For the Crust: Adjust oven rack to center position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Mix crumbs and sugar in medium bowl. Add butter; stir with fork until well blended. Pour mixture into 9-inch pie pan; press crumbs over bottom and up sides of pan to form even crust. Bake until lightly browned and fragrant, about 15 minutes. Transfer pan to wire rack; cool to room temperature, about 20 minutes.
  3. 3. Pour lime filling into crust; bake until center is set, yet wiggly when jiggled, 15 to 17 minutes. Return pie to wire rack; cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until well chilled, at least 3 hours. (Can be covered with lightly oiled or oil-sprayed plastic wrap laid directly on filling and refrigerated up to 1 day.)

    The final product, covered with freshly whipped cream and graham cracker crumbs..MMMMMMM!

    Since this blog is meant to be an expression of my joys and struggles of every day life, I figured that a triumphant pie should be included. I always love it when I find simple, wonderful recipes I can make over and over again.

    I have a grateful heart right now, not because my life is all that, but because I have a sweet puppy resting his head on my foot right now and I get to make dinner for the sweetest guy later. I’ve been struggling lately with whether or not I think true contentment really exists on this earth, and I hope to God that if it does He would help me get there.

    Amen and goodbye.

Loss and gain

The past week and a half has been the hardest my marriage has ever seen. Not difficult in the sense of arguments or anger, but sadness and loss. For the first time in our lives, Josh and I have had to learn to navigate the waters of deep, painful grief.

Losing a family member you love is always shocking, but somehow you’re suppose to always know in your hearts that it can happen. That it does happen. But let’s be honest, no one is ever ready for that phone call.

I’m typing with tears in my eyes thinking about what Josh has been through this week. About how much he already misses his Momma. About how we will have to tell our kids one day about the pain their Grandma experienced on this earth which led her to take her life. It shouldn’t be like this, but it is. And now is the part where we accept and move on.

The outpouring of love from friends and family has been overwhelming. From flowers at the gravesite to meals to shared tears…All of it has helped tremendously in the healing process. It was tough leaving Georgia after a week with family, but it is also such a blessing to have the friends we do in Austin. It is home. Somehow it is more of a home already than Portland ever was. I blame the rain for that.

A couple of our close friends had babies in the past week or so. What a blessing and a reminder of our time on earth. How we are but a vapor. Those little hands and tiny toes challenge me to try and use up every breath I have to do what the Lord has me here to do. To love fearlessly and passionately. And to take care of the people who need cared for. I can wish all day that I would have done that more for people who have come and gone from my life, but all I can do is learn, grow, and allow God to make me better.

You will be missed, Jennifer. Thank you for raising the most incredible man I have ever met and allowing me to be a part of your sweet family. I can’t wait to see you when we’re both with Jesus one day.