food rituals: nicole

by Nicole on November 10, 2014

I’m sort of a nosy person, so I’ve always loved hearing about people’s food rituals. I’m not really sure why I find it so fascinating. I guess I feel that it’s an aspect of people you don’t really think about very often, since when you share meals with others, it’s usually at a restaurant or something. But “the everyday” is infinitely more interesting to me.

So with that, I’m starting a new series on the blog called “Food Rituals”, all about different people and their eating habits. This first installment is all about me. I figure if I’m going to be nosy, I’ll at least let you have a peek into my life too.

If you’d like to be interviewed for a future post, please leave me a comment! I’d love to include a variety of eaters!

What does a typical day of eating look like for you?
Without a doubt, breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, and I never skip it, even on workdays. My favorite and most-frequent is eggs, in pretty much any form, although I usually do scrambled. I typically add spinach/kale and chives, always chives, and I cook my eggs softly in butter or olive oil. If I have any good leftovers, like beans or potatoes or taco meat, I’ll add those to the eggs too. Other frequent breakfasts include smoothies, simple omelets, and breakfast tacos. With the exception of smoothies, I really don’t  care much for sweet stuff in the morning.

I typically bring my lunch to the office. These days, we often do bento boxes filled with nut crackers, deli meat, cheese, vegetables like carrot sticks or cabbage salad, and seasonal fruit. Other times, I just take leftovers from dinner. I also keep a stash of Kind Bars in my desk, so that’s sometimes my quickie lunch if I didn’t have time to pack one.

In recent months, our dinners have been pretty simple. Lately, we like to prep a lot of food on Sundays and we’ll eat on it throughout the week. Tacos are probably one of our most-frequent meals, usually made with braised meat or a picadillo-style filling or a bean/vegetable mix. We’ve also been eating a lot of meatless “bowl meals”, so you’ll find often find some variation of grain + legume + veggies + fried egg.

I wouldn’t call myself a health nut, but I definitely do aim to have either fruits or vegetables in every meal. I like mixing easy comfort foods with good nutrition, so I’ll find ways to “healthify” things and still make them taste great (like baked sweet potatoes topped with a fried egg, black beans, sauteed greens, onions, peppers, a teensy bit of cheese, and avocado, in place of the usual baked potato).

I’m not much of a snacker, with the exception of sometimes wanting dessert late at night. Many weeks, Darius and I will each buy a really good bar of chocolate like Mast Brothers, and we’ll savor it all week long. And I usually allow myself one “special” dessert once per week like a cupcake or ice cream or something really indulgent. But I have a habit of easily letting dessert become a habit, so I try to keep it to once per week only!

I carry a little pink water bottle with me everywhere so I can drink good ol’ water all day long. In the evening, I often have one or two La Croix sparkling waters because I like a “fun drink” at night. I don’t drink sodas anymore. I drink coffee maybe a few times a week, but it’s not a daily habit.

How often do you dine out, and what do you eat?
On average, we eat out two dinners per week–often Asian for one and Tex-Mex for the other. We both love all kinds of Asian; Schezuan, Korean, Vietnamese, and Japanese are our favorites. At Asian spots, I’ll usually order something like mapo tofu (Schezuan), soft tofu soup or bibimbap (Korean), banh mi or pho or vermicelli (Vietnamese), nigiri or okonomiyaki (Japanese). I like Tex-Mex places that serve breakfast all day, and if they do, I’ll probably order huevos a la mexicana.

We also usually eat breakfast out on Saturdays and Sundays. Usually we have tacos or juice/smoothies, but other times we’ll go someplace more hearty for things like eggs benedict or biscuits & gravy. On the weekends, we usually just do a big breakfast and then don’t eat again until dinnertime.

What are your favorite foods–those ingredients you always cook with, or the things that you see on a menu that you always end up ordering?
Without a doubt, my #1 is eggs. After that, beans of any kind, avocado, potatoes, chives, mushrooms, garlic, onions, greens, broccoli, kale, really good rice, toast, chips & salsa & queso… a lot of the things you actually see in my daily eating! If any of those things are in a dish, there’s a pretty good chance I’m going to want it.

Less frequent, but just as loved: Biscuits. Raw seafood, especially oysters. Perfect fries with aioli. Mashed potatoes and gravy. Stuffing. Buttercream icing. Hollandaise or bearnaise sauce. Fried chicken (dark meat, please). Artichokes and asparagus in spring. Corn on the cob, and tomato & mayo sandwiches in summer.

What do you eat when you’re alone?
My go-to “lonely meal” is toast. I might top it with some sauteed mushrooms and goat cheese, or some sliced avocado, or some softly scrambled eggs, or I might just it eat with butter & salt.

How do you take your coffee/tea?
For the “everyday” coffee, just black. If it’s the weekend, then often a mocha or a milky iced coffee. I do enjoy tea, and I have a ton of it at home, but it’s still never my go-to.

Condiment of choice?
Cholula. We go through a bottle in a few weeks!

Are there any foods you dislike?
Pretty much the only food I will not eat is blue cheese. BLECH. I also don’t care much for Mediterannean flavors like olives, feta, balsamic, etc.

Do you have any weird food quirks?
Anytime I’m eating something like a a sandwich or hotdog, I usually take off any meat when there’s just a few bites left, and finish the rest with just the toppings and bread. I guess I just get sick of the main component and want everything else on its own sometimes?

Also, I almost cannot eat something like a PB&J without adding chips to the inside of the sandwich. I was actually quoted in the Austin-American Statesman once for this little quirk!

Favorite cocktail/beer/wine?
I like really bright cocktails with lots of citrus and gin and some kind of sparkling element (like a French 75). I also love a good, bracing Corpse Reviver #2.

I drink a lot of craft beer too. My favorites are floral IPA’s (Lagunitas and 512 are my favorites), and I also love a lot of saisons/tripels/wheat beers/etc.

Not much of a wine drinker these days, with the exception of sparkling wine. There is almost nothing better than a sparkling rosé on a summer day, or a good dry Champagne with oysters.

Sweet, sour, salty, bitter, or umami?
Umami. Although these days I’m starting to like a lot of acid/pickle-y flavor, so I’ll throw in sour too.

on choosing the light

by Nicole on October 27, 2014

Over the weekend, Darius and I walked to the local taco place to get breakfast tacos and juices. I was wearing yoga capris, a loose striped Plantain, and tennis shoes. I actually documented it for you:


While we were there, the table next to us (consisting of a girl and two guys) was talking at length about the types of clothes people shouldn’t wear because they look bad and just aren’t flattering (a.k.a. you don’t look SKINNY in them). The list included yoga pants (because “leave something to the imagination”) and horizontal stripes (because “they make you look soooo much bigger”). As Darius and I stood up to leave, their entire table got quiet and turned around to stare at me as we left. The look they gave is probably best described as a “see what I’m talking about?” type of look.

Now, I have no idea if they saw me all along, and were hoping I’d hear their comments, feel bad about myself, and resolve to change my ways or something. Or maybe they didn’t even notice me until I stood up, but then my presence confirmed everything they had been discussing. But either way, their looks and comments seemed to reaffirm for themselves and to each other that I was not something desirable, that I was the opposite of them and what they stand for.

I so, so, so, badly thought about turning around and walking back to their table to tell them that yes, I heard their exhaustive list of what not to wear to avoid looking fat (which obviously meant gross/undesirable to them), and that yes, I realize I was wearing things on the aforementioned list. But also that I did not care that I didn’t look my skinniest, and that it was fucking sad that they think I should be so concerned with such a thing.

But I knew it wouldn’t matter. I highly, highly doubt that they’d be all like, “Oh shit, you’re right, I’m so sorry we were judging you!” I’d guess they would say something like, “What?!? Noooo, we didn’t even notice you! If you’re upset, it says more about you feeling bad about yourself than about us being mean!” But the thing is–their comments didn’t make me feel bad about myself at all. I don’t think I’m “good” or “bad” because of how fat or skinny I look that day. I know that what makes me “good” or “bad” is how I choose to treat others. Overall, it just made me sad that it’s often easiest for us to treat others badly in order to feel good (nonsensically, even when we know that it feels even better to treat others well in order to feel good). Because even I wanted to make them feel bad for being mean.

To be honest, I’m not even entirely sure why I’m writing this post. I’m not looking for anyone to look at my picture and tell me, “No, you don’t look big in those clothes! No worries!” I do know I look bigger in clothes like that, but I shouldn’t be made to feel bad about that. I’m also not looking for anyone to vilify those people. I’m sure they are generally nice people.

But I think the situation this weekend is a good jumping-off point for a larger discussion. I think we can examine ourselves and see that we could have been sitting at that table too, so justified in our ways of thinking that we don’t care if those ways of thinking make others feel bad. Why do we try so hard to avoid what we think is undesirable? Why do we feel like we get to set the rules for others? Why do we seek to judge instead of understand? Why do we place ourselves in opposition to others, instead of realizing our interconnectedness? Why do we insist that we are so different, when we are really all remarkably similar?

Perhaps it’s naivety, but I feel that the real reason is that a lot of us feel ugly inside. We deny the things that cause us pain; we deny that we’re sometimes stupid and petty and ugly and untalented and bitter and mean and everything else that makes us hurt. We don’t want to feel the discomfort of knowing we screw up too. We place ourselves in opposition to others. We insist that we are good and noble and smart and pretty and worth loving. But my personal belief is that when we stop resisting the uncomfortable things, when we realize that sometimes we are all the bad things we see in others, that only then can we truly accept and love ourselves.

I’ve been that person staring at others and judging them. I’ve said mean things behind my friends’ backs. I’ve said mean things to myself, that I’m ugly or stupid or should have gotten it right on the first try. I’ve tricked myself into thinking I’m better than other people because of my IQ, or because I’m responsible with money, or because I know how to cook. I’ve been short with others because I don’t deem them worthy of my time. I’ve purposely made others feel bad because they made me feel bad first. I’ve been all these things and much worse. And it’s important to realize that I still have all these things inside me. It’s not so simple; I’m not either a good person or a bad person. It’s all inside all of us. But we have a choice. We can paint ourselves in opposition to the rest of the world, to do the ugly things to feel like we’re pretty people. Or we can embrace that we have the capacity for ugly, cruel destruction, but instead make the choice to be kind and loving and accepting and gracious and understanding.

Let’s not judge others for their “weaknesses” or missteps. Let’s not judge ourselves for our “weaknesses” or missteps. Let’s realize we’re all humans, all fallible, but also capable of immense beauty. We can’t be the light, because we are both good and bad. But we can choose the light.

life lately–10.22.14

by Nicole on October 22, 2014

This picture has nothing to do with the post, but we found this teensy guy outside our house recently! So cute, right?!? I wish I could have added him to my miniatures collection (and yes, I truly do have a miniatures collection).


I first learned about the Headspace app on this blog. I’ve always been somewhat interested in meditation, but thought it was only for the spiritual or the “woo-woo”. Well, I’m on day 18, I’ve purchased a year’s subscription, and I have to say I CANNOT IMAGINE LIFE WITHOUT IT NOW. For a while I was doing it during my lunch break, then before bed, but now I’m doing it when I wake up in the morning. It’s so hard to explain how awesome it feels, so why don’t you just go ahead and sign up for the free 10-day trial (you can also check your smartphone’s app store). (BTW–this is not sponsored by Headspace in any way; I just really really like the peace and clarity the app has brought me.)


I’m currently working on my fourth and fifth iterations of the Plantain t-shirt. In stripes! I’d say five plantains officially makes the pattern a TNT for me.

Not sure what’s next… I just got the entire Deer & Doe collection for my birthday (which isn’t actually until 11/9). Their patterns are my absolute favorite and are exactly how I picture my future handmade wardrobe.

Also, have you seen the sneak peek of the Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans? HOT HOT HOT. Jeans are probably beyond my current skill level, but I’ll definitely have to try them when the pattern is released.

I’m also loving Colette’s new Dahlia dress. But I don’t really see myself in it? A lot of their clothes feel too elegant/sophisticated to me, and I’m more of an “everyday dress” type of girl. Any ideas on how to make the Dahlia feel more casual? I might still end up buying the pattern anyway, because it would be great for board meetings.


Just got Sean Brock’s cookbook, Heritage. We haven’t been doing a lot of “real” cooking lately (hello, rice, beans, eggs, tacos, & smoothies), but that hasn’t stopped me from reading cookbooks like novels. Watching Sean on season 2 of Mind of a Chef completely changed my perception about Southern cooking. I pre-ordered his book immediately afterward!

Alllllmost done with Dreams and Shadows, my first foray into “urban fantasy/sci-fi”. I love the world the author created, and while I really liked the plot of the first half, the second half has been a bit slow to me.

Sped through Where’d You Go, Bernadette? in one weekend. Really fun read, and a really unique way of telling the story.

On my to-read list: graphic novels Habibi and Seconds (Darius just read both), Lena Dunham’s book, a memoir by a former NFL player (half-way through), Confessions of an Atheist Buddhist, and a true crime book about Ted Bundy. And probably like ten others things I’ve sent as samples to my Kindle that I just can’t remember off the top of my head.


Heard this song on the local public radio station and fell in love. Sadly, I don’t love the other songs from the band, just this one, but to say I’ve had it on repeat is almost an understatement.


What are you guys up to lately?