The High Cotton

infusing life with Southern food, hospitality, and fun

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may day

I can’t believe it’s May Basket time again already! This is one of my favorite days to be an Annapolitan.  This year, I made a more whimsical basket than I have in the past. I used a single kind of flower, which is the only way to go for someone who is not a natural at arranging flowers!

May Basket 2015

Unfortunately, I mistakenly thought the judging was over and removed my name from the basket too early. The judges actually hadn’t come around to our street yet, so I missed my chance at a ribbon.  Womp womp. Oh well, lesson learned! The point is to have fun and do something as a community, so it is probably a good thing for me to be more focused on that part and less focused on winning something.

Here are some others from around the neighborhood.


Bicycle helmet may basketGate May BasketMay Pole


kitchen happenings

I’ve had a couple of recipe successes lately. First up is a recreation of one of my favorite meals in DC: the Teaism salmon bento box. It has cooked salmon, rice with nori flakes, sweet potatoes with miso sauce, and a cucumber ginger salad. So good! I have no problem giving business to my favorite restaurants, but it’s also nice to have something similar at home without too much effort. In this version, I replaced the salmon with a tuna poke in lettuce wraps (we’ve also used tea-cured tuna that Tom makes using our sous vide machine). The tuna poke was especially easy because our Whole Foods has started carrying sushi-grade fish in the freezer section. Genius! For the sweet potatoes and broccoli, I just roasted those in a hot oven (about 425, I think) for 20-30 minutes until they were tender. Then I whipped up the miso dressing from this recipe to go with them. I made the cucumber salad earlier in the day so it could marinate in the fridge. I used this recipe, but substituted pickled ginger for the onion since that is what the Teaism version has. Finally, I just made some brown rice using the par-cooked kind from Trader Joe’s and sprinkled some nori mix on top (I bought the mix at Whole Foods).

Teaism Bento Box at Home

This mushroom pizza is the second yummy thing I’ve made lately. If you pay attention to food blogs at all, you probably saw the Washington Post’s recipe for mushroom confit that basically went viral a couple of weeks ago. I made some, and let me tell you, it is good. This pizza was as delicious as pretty much any mushroom pizza I’ve ever had at a restaurant, and it’s super easy. I rolled out a ball of Trader Joe’s pizza dough and brushed it with some of the oil from the mushrooms. Then I spread the mushrooms themselves all over the crust, and sprinkled the whole thing with some crumbled goat cheese. I topped all of that with some mozzarella, fresh thyme, and flaked sea salt. I went fancy with this version and used smoked salt, but you totally don’t need to. I baked the pizza on a pizza stone in our oven at 450 for about 12 minutes until it was bubbly and the cheese had started to brown.

Mushroom Confit Pizza

PS – I really need to stop posting food pictures with shadow on them. I will work on that. In the meantime, forgive?



everything was great, until it wasn’t

This blog is supposed to be about the good things in life: family, friends, good food, and good times. Alas, life is not always good. On August 13, 2014, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I am 37 years old. I have a family history on my father’s side, so have always been aware that breast cancer was a possibility for me, but my diagnosis was still a huge shock. I have since learned that I am BRCA1 positive, and am electing to have a double mastectomy. My prognosis is very good, and my amazing doctors all expect that I will fully recover from this and have a long and healthy life. I have decided to add a static page to the blog (right next to “About”) that I will occasionally update with information about my treatment and progress. Otherwise, the blog will be business as usual.

A case of the Mondays

We had another weekend of great weather, which meant lots of outdoor activities (mostly involving cocktails!).  The result is a serious case of the Mondays.  Going back to work after an awesome weekend is always super hard.

We bar-hopped to a couple of our favorite places in Annapolis on Friday night after work.  We started out on the rooftop deck at Metropolitan.  The food there is just okay, but the cocktails and scenery are great.  I think they have the best rooftop bar in Annapolis, by far.  After that, we went to Level, and then finished up with some neighbors on their porch.

On Saturday, we got up relatively early, jumped in the Jeep, and headed over the Bay Bridge to the Eastern Shore.  We had the top off, of course, and soaked up tons of sunshine.  When we got back, I decided to go ahead and do my long run.  Normally I do those on Sunday.  I did 10 miles using the same run/walk strategy I’m going to use for the race.  For the first half, I ran 0.9 and walked 0.1 for each mile.  For the second half, I ran 0.8 and walked 0.2 for each mile.  It ended up being in the neighborhood of my desired race pace, so I felt pretty good about it.  After that, we had delicious New Orleans-style barbecue shrimp at a neighbor’s house while we all planned our upcoming trip to Carmel, CA in July.

Yesterday was a low-key day followed by dinner at our friends’ house.  I brought an appetizer that I will share in an upcoming post.  The host grilled fish, steak, and vegetables.  Everything was delicious and we really enjoyed sitting on the patio taking in the pretty landscaping.  It made me even more motivated to do something with our back patio area.  It’s not looking it’s best at the moment….


Food Poisoning and a Bad Run

I got food poisoning from a salad I ordered for lunch last Thursday.  I still had to go to work on Friday, but when I got home, I went straight to bed and didn’t get up for 12 hours.  I felt marginally better on Saturday, but not well enough to do my usual cross-training spin class.  I decided to go ahead and attempt my long run as scheduled on Sunday.  That was a mistake.  It was the hardest run I’ve ever had.  Ever.  It was supposed to be 8 miles, but by mile 7.67, when I was mostly walking, I just couldn’t go any further.  I basically collapsed on my front porch in defeat, less than .4 miles from my goal.  That was tough to accept.  I’m still struggling with the fact that I didn’t finish my distance and had craptastic splits.  It was the first time I really questioned my ability to even finish the half marathon.

But I can’t let thoughts like that get me down.  I just have to pick myself up and try again.  No excuses.  No dwelling on the misery of the last run.  No negative thoughts.  One of the Southern preachers of my youth had a catch phrase: press on.  I will press on.

Having said all that, I think it’s worth reflecting on the bad run a little to try and learn from it.  It’s pretty obvious that my bad run had a lot to do with bad nutrition in the days leading up to it.  For the day and a half after the evil salad, I’d basically only had a pack of Ramen noodles, some peanut butter, a banana, and about a gallon of ginger ale.  That, plus a whole sleeve of Shot Bloks, does not a proper diet make.  I also need to figure out a better way to get water while I’m out on my long runs.  I really hate carrying something in my hands, but the places I stopped to grab a drink from a water fountain were few and far between.  I’m not too worried about the race, because there will be aid stations, but I need to think of something else in the meantime.  Maybe this?  You don’t have to grip it, which is good, but I worry about the water getting too warm.  #runningproblems


Weejuns in the City

I own plenty of NY-appropriate stilettos, but I left those puppies at home this trip.  It’s Bass Weejuns time.  Also the weather here is terrible today, and along with the brutal sidewalks, would have ruined my heels.  Weejuns, on the other hand, are indestructible.  In fact, they actually look better with a little wear and tear in my opinion.

photo (8)

Office lighting = terrible photo, but you get the idea.

I got this pair a couple months ago and they are just now comfortable enough to wear for an extended period of time.  The Weejun breaking-in process is a labor of love.  It hurts, y’all.  But once you’ve done it, they are the most comfortable shoes on the planet.  They also last forever.  This is only the second pair I’ve ever had to buy in my life.  Now that’s a good value.

There are numerous internet resources about breaking in Weejuns, but I just do it the old fashioned way: I wear them in increasing increments of time until they are fully broken in.  The first wear will usually be a walk to lunch and back.  Then I might wear them for an afternoon when I’m not walking too much.  Then a whole day with only light walking, and so on.  Today, it will be no problem for me to wear them for hours and hours while walking around a fair amount.

My next decision is whether to put in pennies.  I definitely had pennies in my last pair but am not sure about it this time.  I wear these with slacks sometimes and don’t always think pennies are appropriate with those.  However, I plan to wear these a ton this summer with shorts.  Pennies seem like a must for outfits like that.  The obvious solution is to just take them in and out, but anyone who has had Weejuns knows that is a HUGE pain.  I need to ruminate on this some more.

Half Marathon: Week 2

Well, it’s week 2 of my training program.  Since there’s nothing worth discussing about my running (sigh), we may as well talk about fuel.  I’ve recently begun experimenting with Clif Shot Bloks.


They purport to be “a streamlined approach to performance nutrition.”  The list of ingredients is…alarming.  Shot Bloks are essentially gelatinized sugar and artificial colorings coated in carnuba wax.  Some of them have caffeine, too.  They are pretty much every responsible eater’s worst nightmare.  On the bright side, they’re non-fat!  And organic!  Also, y’all, they taste AMAZING.  So far I’ve tried the strawberry and margarita flavors.  I typically chew a blok or two somewhere around mile 3 or 4.  I’ve observed at least two benefits from this.  First, it gives me something to do for a few seconds to take my mind off what a mistake signing up for this half marathon was.  Second, I really do feel a little peppier after I’ve eaten them.  Placebo?  Possibly.  Will I keep eating them?  Definitely.