Green Eggs and … Duck??

green eggs

This post comes to your from Philadelphia-“The city of neighborhoods.”¬†I had a lovely visit with an old friend from college and we enjoyed brunch at a great local spot-Green Eggs Cafe. (sans ham ūüė¶¬†despite my love of the Dr. Seuss story growing up)

duck hash

I had my usual dilemma of feeling overwhelmed by the amount of wonderful food and wanted to order everything on the menu. I also could not decide if I wanted sweet or salty. Kristen is a vegetarian, so sharing would probably not be an option since I was craving meat. I decided to go for something salty and ordered the duck hash skillet, which included pulled duck confit, sweet potatoes, parsnips, two eggs over easy and a cabbage slaw on top. It was served over their signature brioche toast and smothered in gravy. Very colorful and tasty!

quinoa porridge

Kristen¬†ordered the quinoa porridge with agave nectar, cinnamon, cardamom, golden raisins, and cream topped with fresh berries and fresh berry compote. She ordered¬†orange juice and to¬†our surprise it tasted freshly squeezed!¬†Quinoa is a nutty grain that is also a complete protein, and I believe it’s the only plant-based complete protein source.

Next time I visit, I must get the Red Velvet pancakes, which¬†is Kristen’s favorite¬†item on the menu! The menu describes them as buttermilk pancakes with chocolate morsels layered with strawberry mascarpone¬†and topped with fresh strawberries and a maple syrup and chantilly cream.

http://greeneggscafe.com/

Green was the theme of the day as we ended out visit with a trip to Green Street Consignment. I’m not usually big into thrift stores, but this was one so well-organized and had a great selection of name brand items. And it never hurts to support recycling.

http://greenestreetconsignment.com/greene-thrift/

Stay Green,

Cara

B’more Merry

hampden

Merry Belated Christmas and Happy New Year!¬†I’m not usually the most merry person around Christmas time. I am so prone to let the stress of family, singleness,¬†presents, traffic, etc. get the best of me. I usually come to peace with things this season by realizing that those things I struggle with are¬†exactly why I need Jesus and He came into this world to be near to my brokenness.¬† And this year,¬†I was able to find a little¬†Christmas magic just in time.

I started to feel it when I decided to take the advice of my¬†new Royal Farms friend and¬†just “be.” I’m a big quality time person so the best thing about¬†Christmas this¬†year was the people I got to spend time with.

My favorite Christmas song is Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. It shows what I like Christmas to be about, the people (other than Jesus being born of course).

Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas Let your heart be  light

From now on our troubles will be out of sight

Here we are as in olden days happy golden days of yore

Faithful friends who are dear to us gather near to us once more

Through the years we all will be together if the fates  allow

Hang a shining star upon the highest bough
And have yourself a Merry Little  Christmas now..

I always think of my siblings and cousins with this song. Over the years, our family has been through a lot, but now we love the time we have together so much more and it’s just like the old days but better.

cousins
Shipley-Dembeck girls!

candyland

Candyland

cousins in candyland

All the girl cousins and nan

We made our annual stop at “candyland” aka a random house that we frolic through every year¬†after the lights in Hampden. It’s so magical and I’m convinced one of us need to get married there one day ūüôā What are some of your holiday traditions?

layla christmas

Get this girl an agent! She has to be the cutest baby in charm city!!

Merrily yours,

Cara

Chip off the ‘ol block

chip salad

Hello from Chipparelli’s! I celebrated a very special going away dinner Thursday night for my dear friend Mhinjine. Little Italy¬†in Baltimore set the scene for this lovely dinner.¬†We were supposed to see the tree lighting in Mt. Vernon, but gave up¬†when parking proved to be impossible. The night ended up being just what¬†we all needed.¬†Good food, wine, people, laughter, and conversations about saving the world with healthy food, one corner store at a time.

My mom used to work as a waitress at Chipparelli’s¬†back in the day, and the family joke is that she worked there just long enough to steal the famous recipe for their salad dressing. That may be where I got some of my waitressing¬†skills from… or my love of salad. This salad has become famous in my family and is a staple at every Christmas¬†Eve dinner. I’m not usually a fan of iceberg lettuce due to its lack of flavor and nutrients, but the combination of that with the oil, vinegar and freshly grated parmesan in the dressing made for buttery taste with a little crunch, making it one of the best salads I’ve ever had. Sorry¬† mom, Chipparelli’s does it better than you…

chianti

After our salads came, I started off with a glass of Chianti (my brother, the Italian wine connoisseur’s¬†favorite). Chianti, which comes from the Chianti region in central Tuscany,¬†is hard to describe. It reminds me of Malbec¬†with its spiciness. According to¬†wine-searcher.com, it is characterized by its red and black cherry character, with notes of wild herbs, mint and spice, supported by a racy acidity and mellow tannins. It must be aged for a minimum of four months. It paired really well with the Gnocchi Bolognese that I ordered.

chip gnocchi

I heard from a friend that the gnocchi¬†is one¬†of dishes Chipparelli’s¬†is known for.¬†¬†I’m glad I took his advice! I love gnocchi and have tried quite a variety¬†during my culinary adventures. The menu described them as handmade fresh ricotta dumplings with a traditional rag√ļ of beef, pork & veal. These were the lightest,¬†fluffiest little pillows of heaven I’ve ever had. This dish¬†was so light, I did not feel like there was a ton of bricks in my stomach.¬†I’m usually one to default to a vegetarian option when I got out to eat, but the meat had so much flavor and I’m glad I tried something different.

chip tiramisu

The night would not be complete without dessert. There is always room for¬†dessert, and we got three forks so it worked out¬†to be just enough.¬†I don’t have a huge sweet tooth, but I make an exception for¬†anything involving chocolate and/or coffee.¬†The Tiramisu, which literally means “pick me up” in¬†Italian,¬†was creamy and rich, not too heavy, with subtle notes of coffee and a light dusting of cocoa on top. Perfection. My brother made us some¬†Tiramisu¬†when he came back from studying in Italy and I must say he did well because this authentic home-made Tiramisu from Little Italy reminded me of what he made us a few months ago. Maybe he is the chip off the ‘ol block!

Please pay Chipparelli’s a visit next time you are in Little Italy!

http://www.chiapparellis.com/

B’more Thankful

Celebrating Thanksgivukkah Baltimore Style!

natty boh

My celebration began Wednesday night serving up Natty Bohs¬†while beer tubbing¬†at Looney’s Pub! They know how to throw a good pre-thanksgiving party and it was so great catching up with old friends.

 

thanksgiving

My parents hosted this year, so it was a bit of a busier day than usual. However, our day began as a lazy morning as¬†it always does with the Macy’s parade and french toast casserole.

On the menu was turkey of course (which is probably the second best turkey I’ve ever had, due to the chicken broth my mom put in the bottom of the pan to ensure it stayed moist). My sister and I were like the professional basting¬†squad, basting obsessively¬†at least every 15 minutes.¬†There was also cranberry apple stuffing, sweet potato¬†casserole (made with brown sugar and pecan topping not marshmallows), mashed potatoes,¬†our polish staple of sauerkraut and polish sausage (which is amazing mixed with mashed potatoes), tarragon broccoli, and my grandma’s specialty of peas and dumplings.

coins

Thanksgiving and Hanukkah last overlapped in 1888 and it won‚Äôt happen again for another 77,798 years so¬†Colleen brought some gelt. We don’t have any ounce of Jewish in us, but we figured why not try to appreciate the culture since it was the second night of Hanukkah?

dessert

It would not be a holiday for our family without more dessert than we know what to do with! Fenwick bakery provided a lovely coconut cake. My grandma’s famous¬†cheesecake of course was a hit as always. But I think what stole the show was an apple crumble pie with candied nuts on top.

ravens

My night was complete¬†with some Baltimore football. Despite Emmanuel Sanders’ completely disrespectful jerk move of doing Ray Lewis’ touchdown dance in our stadium,¬†the Ravens¬†still came through for a win! It was like the whipped cream on top of¬†pumpkin pie ūüôā

I know this post¬† is a day late (I still have not gotten the hang of blogging in real-time) but now it counts as a “Foodie Friday” post. I will have to post the recipes later and I may be working on adding a separate recipe page to this blog so stay tuned!

One thing I have have realized is that Baltimore has a lot of transplants¬†(like people,¬†not just kidney transplants). And I am so thankful that my family all lives in the Baltimore area so I did not have to spend the day traveling or running around. At times, I do take my family for granted, but have been recently reminded that I need to b’more thankful that I have them closeby.

Thankfully yours,

Cara

A Very Maryland Birthday

BBVACOMPASS_201311231355331324

Today is another honorary blog post complete with a miserable picture from my childhood and a not-so-miserable picture from some birthday festivities. I’m posting today in honor of my dad, whose birthday was yesterday.

daddy bday pic

Everyone feels love in different ways. My mom is definitely “words of affirmation,” but my dad is much more into quality time and acts of service. Hence, the all¬†day adventure in college park and the cold football game. For those of you who know me,¬†you know that is love because cold and I do not mix.

maryland game sunset

Even on his birthday, my dad was thinking of us and buying hot chocolate, offering¬†up his gloves¬†and letting us leave the game early when our fingers and toes just couldn’t take any more. That was a great reminder to me that people show love in different ways. My dad shows¬†love through¬†acts of service and I think it took me a while to realize that. Over the years, I definitely took things for granted¬†like my dad coming to the rescue and fixing my car whenever something happened that¬†seemed like a¬†crisis to me.

Check out The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman for more information. This book really helped me understand every relationship in my life so much better.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Love-Languages-Secret-Lasts/dp/0802473156

So this post in itself is n0t¬†the present like it was for my mom last month. Instead, my dad,¬†a guru of the English language and future creative free-lance writer,¬†will be a guest blogger for charm city magic!! My dad has always been so supportive of everything I do, including this blog ūüôā

So Dad, this is for you. You get to pick a topic of your choice and write a blog post to be published here sometime in the next month!

daddy bday pic 2

P.S.We had a lovely lunch at Franklin’s Restaurant and Brewery¬†in Hyattsville¬†(another post coming with more details..for now check out their website http://www.franklinsbrewery.com/). In addition to my goofy, dry sense of humor¬†that I get from my dad, I found myself using a “daddyism” at lunch without even realizing it. My sister Caitlin was eating a very spicy curry dish and I reassured her, “Don’t worry it’s good for¬†your sinuses.” Our entire family has allergy and sinus issues so there will be many more posts coming with all kinds of fun ethnic, spicy foods!

Three Weddings

I had the honor of attending three weddings during the past month! I used to be that girl that never wanted to get married, but I must say, couples like these give me hope. I wanted to wait until the end of the fall wedding season and do a post with highlights from each one.

Sickle-Benjamin Wedding 9/21/13

Kaitlin and Greg's first dance

Kaitlin and Greg’s First Dance

A lovely day at Greenwell State Park that even the rain could not ruin! In fact, it did not even start raining until the ceremony was over and we were all in the tent. I grew up in youth group with Greg and although I do not know Kaitlin very well, I can tell that she is the perfect match for him. They are an amazing Godly couple that were so sweet to watch the entire night. What I will remember most about this special day is that during her speech, the maid of honor said when she asked Kaitlin what she loved most about Greg, it was that they serve better together than apart. I could not stop the tears at that point. What a beautiful summary of what marriage is all about.

Sisters!

Sisters!

Phelan-Berube Wedding 10/12/13

Beautiful Couple

Beautiful Couple

Sisters? Distant Cousins?

Sisters? Distant Cousins?

I was so lucky to be a part of celebrating¬†Kathleen and Matt’s wedding. I have known Kathleen for a very long time. I believe we met in 7th grade math class. I hate math more than anything so she was the one good thing I got out of prealgebra ūüôā We are in fact distantly related.. by marriage. I was showing a friend at work pictures from the wedding and she was like oh my gosh is that your sister?! I took it as a compliment since Kathleen is absolutely gorgeous and I would be lucky to be related to her. Since I have known Kathleen for a while, I have been there¬†through most of her dating life. But when I met Matt, I knew something was different and that they were really great for each other! He challenges her in a way that no one else every has. It was so sweet that he started crying during his speech at the wedding and couldn’t even get out¬†the words what he wanted to say to Kathleen. Real men can cry so he’s definitely¬†a keeper ūüôā

Davenport-Dembeck Wedding 10/19/13

The Lovely Dembeck Family

The Lovely Dembeck Family

A chilly fall day at Rocks State Park set the stage for Neil and Laura’s wedding.¬†Every relationship takes work and things will not always be easy, but¬†at the end of the day,¬†Neil and Laura totally get each other on a soul level. Although the best man speech was filled with deep thoughts from Dumb and Dumber and Wayne’s World, the quote I will remember was from the pastor during the ceremony. He said “remember to love the most the one who loves you the most.” Meaning put God first in your relationships and everything in life and that will make your worldly relationships that much better. I’m so glad I got to be a part of this special day for them!

Precious

Precious

I am just overwhelmed with joy, happiness, and excitement for each of these couples. I cannot wait to see where this wonderful advernture takes you!

Love,

Cara

Mother Like Mine

Mom

Happy Belated Birthday Mom! 10/13/13

I like to think that gift giving is one of my “love languages,”¬† but I usually only make time for really thoughtful, planned¬†gifts¬†around Christmas time. And working for free as an intern last year definitely taught me how to get creative with gift giving on a budget. The busyness of my internship last year also taught me that sometimes time can be a gift in itself just my making time to be there for someone. My mom always insists she doesn’t need anything so I figured a blog post would be a good gift this year.

I saw Lady Antebellum in concert this year just before Mother’s Day and the lyrics to their song, Mother Like Mine stuck¬†with me¬†and served as the basis for the card I made my mom. The message is beautiful, basically that the world would be a better place if everyone had a mother like their own. The root of a lot of problems in this world stems from a lack of love, and how people choose to fill that void. My mom and I had our share of fights over the years, but at the end of the day, I always knew I was loved and that she believed in me.

dreamIf the world had a mother like mine:

Everyone would follow their dreams.

My mom always saw something in me that she knew would change the world one day. She did not know what it would look like, but she saw my stubbornness as a defiant child as something that could be channeled into something good. My dreams evolved over the years as I considered the possibility of becoming  a veterinarian, lawyer, nurse, and finally a dietitian. I have her to thank actually. She was the one who first told me that there is such a thing as a dietitian. Over the years, she watched me as I read food labels, asked her to buy salads to go with dinner, and read articles online about current nutrition trends and she knew I was onto something. She set me up to shadow her friend who works at Hopkins as an RD. I found a profession that resonated so much with me internally and I have never looked back.

Everyone would be themselves and love it.

I don’t know anyone else that would have put up with and embraced¬†my goofiness¬†the way she did.¬†She said I was one of a kind. I have my own set of weaknesses and quirks, but my mom always loved¬†them because¬†they were a¬†part of who I was. She liked that I was completely myself and didn’t care if people didn’t like it. Just a side-note, embarrassing stories from my childhood is a post for another time.

Everyone would have their own personal cheerleader.

My mom¬†was always there for me when¬†I was facing major life challenges whether it was a tough class, getting cut from a team, surviving my dietetic internship (those of you who know me or have gone through this process know that it is one of worst years of¬†your life)¬†or going through my first heartache.¬† They seem small now, but at the time, it was a crisis and it was earth shattering. She always reminded me there was something better right around the corner and that my time will come. There were times when I didn’t believe in myself, but she did and that is what got me through. She always told me she was proud of me, even when I felt I had failed.¬†We need people like that in our life because we are human and weak and there are times when we have self-doubt¬†and need to hear from others that we can do it.¬†I can thank her for the perseverance I have today and the ability to see obstacles and discouragement and¬†as motivation. When someone doesn’t think I’m capable of doing something, I love proving¬†them wrong.

Everyone would have fresh food, and appreciate where it comes from.

Pop

I have my mom’s dad to really thanks for this. He gave my mom her green thumb. I always looked forward to the days when we got to go over to Nan and Pop’s and pick strawberries, lima beans, plums¬†or green beans.¬†My mom loves gardening today and has been so supportive in my desire to fight hunger and food insecurity. She was always the one during college sending me articles about new urban farms in popping up in Baltimore or health food stores¬†replacing old corner stores. She was lovingly nudging me to move home I’m sure, but was actually cultivating¬†an interest¬†in¬†me that would grow into an unstoppable, fiery¬†passion. Honestly, I never thought I would move back here¬†or fall completely¬†in love with Baltimore for that matter. But because of the amazing things happening around Baltimore right now, I can’t help but stay and get involved. As my sister Colleen likes to say, “it’s in my blood.”

We would all have faith that could move mountains.

Most importantly, I can thank my mom for the faith and trust I have in the Lord today. She and my dad were pretty radical back in the day and decided to leave the Catholic Church to begin searching for something deeper.  Although I still have very different views than my parents on some matters of faith, I can thank both of them for wanting more for our family. They introduced me to church as a way of living through faith instead of just going somewhere once a week to be a good person and check it off your list.

Hebrews 11:1

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

So that’s it. Happy Birthday Mom! I love you so much ūüôā

Your daughter,

Cara

P.S. There is a¬†story behind the picture at the top. First of all, Colleen loves to point out the fact that I was crying in all the pictures from my childhood. It was always something. I hated the feeling of sand on my feet. (I have some sort of weird tactile disorder because I used to hate when my socks had”lumps” in them.) I was quite a “spirited child” back in the day, which is th politically correct term for difficult. See definition below:

“The spirited child–often called ‘difficult’ or ‘strong-willed’–possesses traits we value in adults yet find challenging in children.¬† Research shows that spirited kids are wired to be ‘more’–by temperament, they are more intense, sensitive, perceptive, persistent, and uncomfortable with change than the average child.”

–from Raising Your Spirited Child by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka

Anyways, my mom would hold me for the entire duration of our vacations to keep me from having a meltdown. That’s true love ‚̧