Hips Don't Lie

With my new gig comes a long commute home. Par for the course and welcome to Charlotte.  The city is just exploding and with it, cars galore. My morning drive is the business. Thirty to forty five minutes, contingent upon traffic, of quality "me time" as my cousin Graham coins it. This coveted new routine comprises a hot mug of green tea compliments of Matthew, NPR news and a beautiful breeze thanks to an ajar moon roof, the one redeeming quality of my 15 year old car. I drive past streets where friends live, work on my ujjayi breathing and enjoy the quality time to myself. The adventure returning home however is another story. I cannot explain it but the identical trip is somehow brutally transformed by a jumble of cars also trying to reach their destinations. Some folks are aggressive whereas other slow patrons clog the left hand lane designed for those of us with a lead foot or two. I see many Smartphones in hands and I think it fair to state that we all have a touch of frustration surrounding the fact that there are too few lanes and too many cars. Queen City joys.

Given the extra time in the car post work, I am all about quick weeknight dinners. Now that beautiful weather is upon us, I like to be out and about in the evenings or on the porch at a minimum. It should be noted that this week's heatwave might slightly sway the porch time notion. Gingerly stirring dishes and browning meat on a Tuesday night is no longer in my repertoire. At least not at this moment in time. I save said meals for the weekends. Suits me fine. What with swimsuit season upon us, we can chill out a bit in the food department. As such, we are regularly looking for ways to reinvent the wheel. We have begun using the slow cooker to prepare food in bulk (recipes coming) and I am making a variety of salads, which serve as leftovers for lunch the following day. I have somehow mastered chopping and that of which I cannot manage on my own, my Cuisinart takes over. Note, start incorporating fresh dill into your salads. They will be speedily transformed and you will thank me later.

Recently, when grabbing Saturday morning smoothies at a local favorite spot, we ventured to a place new to us called Savory Spice Shop. I usually buy most of my spices online from a delightful place in Chicago but to smell and taste on hand was a treat. Savory Spice Shop offers salts, spice blends, extracts, sauces, stocks and more. This little haunt has effectively changed our weeknight routine thanks to the purchase of Tan-Tan Moroccan Seasoning. A striking blend of Hungarian paprika, cumin, cinnamon, cardamom, parsley, coriander, turner and spices, we like to slather this on breasts and thighs for a meeting with the grill. This Moroccan medley loves pork too. When reading Sonoma magazine this weekend, dreaming about travel to the wine country, you can imagine my marvelous surprise upon perusing an article geared towards grilling tools. We all know that Matthew has the Midas touch with his but any pointers for greater pleasures, we will take. They advertised the black dust coffee & spice rub from our very own Savory Spice Shop. I have plans to pick up a jar or two  Now that the preparation of meat is a cinch, I pull together a salad or two and we are in business, literally. Bon appetit. 

Carrot, Edamame and Avocado Salad
Adapted from The First Mess
Please Procure
10 carrots chopped into long sticks - if you are following the recipe to a T, you will julienne but no time for such skill on this night
1 package of edamame beans - steamed and ready to rock n' roll
1/4 cup black sesame seeds - toasted
A bunch of cilantro - chopped - I am always generous
1/2 or whole avocado - chopped
salt and pepper
Juice of two oranges
Juice of two limes
2 TBS raw honey
3 inch piece of ginger - peeled and chopped
1 TBS sesame oil
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Cracked Pepper
1 tsp red pepper flakes

Do Your Thing

1. Chop your carrots, cilantro and avocado and set in a bowl. Also add your steamed edamame beans. Toast your sesame seeds, around five minutes and do please watch the pan so as to ensure you do not burn them. 

2. In your blender or Vitamix, add the orange juice, lemon juice, ginger, raw honey, sesame oil, olive oil, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Blitz until uniform.

3. Drizzle your dressing over the salad, gently toss to coat and enjoy. Mine made a spectacular base for leftovers comprised of roasted beets and tantalizing thighs that I enjoyed the following day.

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