Looking at Last Friday

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We are in Amsterdam this weekend! We booked this trip a couple months ago and while we were excited for it we got caught up with booking travel home for the wedding in August, the honeymoon in September and our Greece trip this summer. All the sudden Amsterdam was upon us and we had barely looked at information or made an itinerary. I managed to make a few dinner reservations and jot down a few ideas on places to visit (here and here, please. oh, and definitely here), but Adam’s been before and has some basic knowledge that we can rely on. Also, when you go to a place like Amsterdam I fully believe you can employ the “let’s just show up” philosophy and you undoubtedly be entertained.

Instead of a list of links (to be fair, I made two big lists this week–Wednesday and Thursday) how about a list of pictures? Here are a few shots from last Friday evening at the park. We enjoyed Prosecco and prosciutto and the sunset before going out to dinner. It was the perfect way to celebrate our meetiversary. Have a great weekend! And Happy Easter to those celebrating : )

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Introducing: Need Supply Co.

Black Pants

 

luca jersery top

 

leopard tee

 

 

 

jumpsuit

 

clara tote

 

eva in natural

 

peak ring

 

Medium Island Necklace

 

Need Supply Co. embraces every aspect of my preferred aesthetic: heavy emphasis on a neutral palette, tomboy style with a slight lean toward feminine accents, and a minimalist approach to fashion. I’m completely sold.

Based out of Richmond, Virginia, Need Supply Co. carries a unique blend of well-known brands and those just making an entrance into the fashion world. They began by selling vintage Levi’s but quickly expanded and started carrying a larger, more diverse array of both men’s and women’s clothing. I’ve seen their pieces crop up on Pinterest frequently, but I’ve been returning to the site nonstop to check out these sneakers, which I think need to be mine asap:

New Balance Sneaks

Very, very cool.

You can visit their store in Richmond or surf through their well-designed website. As of now they are offering free shipping within the U.S. on orders over $75 and they offer international shipping for a flat rate of $15, which is actually pretty great considering some of the atrocious prices I’ve seen out there. Above are a few pieces on my spring wish list (those sneaks being at the top) and you can click on the images for more information.

Obviously I’m most interested in the offerings for women, but here are a few cool options for the discerning gentleman:

technical windbreaker

 

raglan tee l:s

 

indigo yarn tee

 

men's vans

What’s on your wish list? Are you looking for anything in particular? I’m on the hunt for white jeans after mine were ruined in the wash last summer. I’d also like a few more dresses since I never seem to purchase them but always like the look of something softer in the spring and summer.

 

(Note: this is in no way a sponsored post, only an impassioned one. All images courtesy of Need Supply Co.)

 

Wedding Music

Planning a wedding is _______________ and _______________ and _______________.

These descriptors change all the time depending on my mood and how close to the wedding date we actually are, but more than anything they’re rather personal. It’s unfair to generalize a day that is so sacred and distinctive, and even more I’m learning to respect that both the planning and execution of said day deserve to remain completely free of judgment.

But, to be quite honest, I must say how glad I am that we are already married because if I was also juggling the emotional weight of the impending lifetime commitment bit then I think I would have canceled everything for an elopement and we would still be exactly where we are now.

Last week I had a mini-meltdown while talking ideas over with Adam and the only recourse was to chill out alone with some “Scandal” and bourbon. Isn’t it annoying that a big party can cause so much drama?

The next best cure for my panic was to listen to music. I’ve been debating what music I’d like to be playing for the pre-ceremony part of the day and, of course, for the procession. I have been leaning toward some nontraditional songs and last Thursday I found myself elbow deep in options. Though I was annoyed with both myself and Adam, not to mention the wedding industry, listening to these songs instantly reminded me of the beauty of love and weddings.

The song above had me weeping at my desk as did Cat Power’s “Sea of Love.” Can you imagine anything more romantic? Below I’ve listed out a few other tunes that feel especially meaningful and poignant for our wedding day. They are in no particular order and fall into categories such as “Pre-Ceremony,” “Processional,” “Cocktail Hour,” and “For Sitting and Crying and Gaining Perspective.”

I Will, The Beatles

La Vie en Rose, Louis Armstrong

Sparkplug Minuet, Mark Mothersbaugh (instrumental)

First Day of My Life, Bright Eyes

Little Martha, Duane Allman (instrumental)

In My life, The Beatles

If I Needed You, Andrew Bird

Forever, Ben Harper

Paris Sunrise – Ben Harper (Instrumental)

Where Do You Go to (My Lovely), Peter Sarstedt

Hold You in My Arms, Ray LaMontagne

Glasgow Love Theme, Craig Armstrong (instrumental)

I Love NYE, Badly Drawn Boy (instrumental)

Wouldn’t It Be Nice, Beach Boys

You Make My Dreams Come True, Hall & Oates

Hoppípolla, Sigur Rós

Walking on a Dream, Empire of the Sun

Coronado, Deerhunter

Hallelujah, The Helio Sequence

To note, we also have a band for the wedding, and they are reserved for the whole day. Rather than accessing a playlist on our iPod we could definitely ask them to play during these times. But, we hired them especially for the reception because they are one of the area’s best soul, funk, 70s, groovy, party-time-excellent bands and I’m not sure that’s the vibe we want for the whole wedding. I’d like to have some music that is representative of what we like now (and have throughout our relationship) and will fit the tone of the day. It’s fun to have a mix, right?

So, I obviously have a healthy list going so far but I’d love to hear from you! What were important songs on your wedding day? What music could you not live without? People don’t always remember the music that was played before the wedding–it’s usually about the dancing music, I think–but it’s fun to play around with different ideas.

 

 

Tuesday Book Club: Portlandia Activity Book

portlandia cover

Does anyone here watch “Portlandia” on IFC? I haven’t watched it recently simply because we don’t have reliable access to it anymore but it was secretly one of my favorite quirky shows. Every time I watched it I got that itchy second-hand embarrassment from how outrageous the sketches were, but the ridiculously funny characters and one-liners make all the sweaty pits worth it.

McSweeney’s recently published The Portlandia Activity Book, which promises to “expand your mind through participation, dehydrate you to a state of emotional rawness, then linger in the corners your bare soul.” Sounds thrilling!

The conversation starters and stoppers that are included in the book look like they would be most helpful at upcoming outdoor barbecues and summer weddings. Which ones are your favorites?

conversation starter cards

 

conversation stopper cards

Given my recent forays into indoor plant life and outdoor gardening I think the geranium question would be a pretty smooth transition piece for me. I honestly don’t know what I would say if someone asked me what hummus was like. Delicious? Flesh colored?

Do you ever buy kitschy coffee table books like this? I have a couple that I’ve received as gifts over the years, and while I don’t open them often whenever I do it’s usually a hoot. They make great White Elephant gifts and “just because” gifts if you’re ever in a pickle on what to get.

Oh, and you can wear this t-shirt while you read the book : )

Green House(plants)

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One of the first ways I wanted to improve our apartment was through the addition of houseplants. They add softness and warmth to a space and can also help purify air, creating a more enriching environment. I was, however, at a loss as to where to begin and what to buy.

I did a lot of internet searching, mostly sticking to queries such as, “common houseplants” and “easy plants to keep alive indoors.” I don’t necessarily have a black thumb, but I don’t have the most promising track record either. I wanted to start slow and take it easy; I initially thought I would buy a snake plant, which is well known as the easiest plant to keep alive.

Well, as of today we have 12 houseplants, including a cactus who is biding its final adieus to us as we speak, and I have only killed four plants since we moved in.  In eight months? Not bad!

Or is it? I really have no idea. Two were grocery store plants that just didn’t get enough light on the kitchen table, one got a moldy virus that completely dried it out and turned it a charming gray color, and the last one was woefully overwatered and was living in a swamp by the time I figured out what had happened. When I went to take the last one out of its pot it literally disintegrated in my fingers.

I thought that since I’ve found blogs and forums to be founts of growing tips and recommendations I would share a few plants that are working well around here. To note, we have eastern and western facing windows only. We’d be making a killing selling oxygen if we had one of the elusive south-facing apartments in our building, but with the particular sunshine we do get our plants seem to fair well. Of course, adjust accordingly to suit your optimal growing conditions.

Before I share all the plants I must confess that a lot of these plants were purchased before I read extensively about their care and maintenance regimen (i.e., you’ll see a lot of tropical plants). I was wooed by their beauty and couldn’t resist buying them. So you might find that they don’t really make sense here, but alas they are mine and until they die I’m going to try mightily to take care of them.

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UMBRELLA TREE:

Sunlight: Bright, indirect

Water: Once every week during the growing season, about half that during dormant periods

Temperature: They like it warm and humid, do not allow temperatures to go below 60 degrees F

This umbrella tree is pretty happy here in our dining room. With the curtain pulled back it receives indirect sunlight nearly all day long thanks to generous reflections from the apartment across the lawn. I moved it from its initial spot in the family room because it was dropping leaves like mad (literally 5-10 every day) and it is faring far better in this brighter room.I haven’t done it yet, but it’s been recommended to put this guy in the shower and give it a healthy rinse. It helps mimic the tropical climate in which the plant thrives.

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CHINESE EVERGREEN

Sunlight: Low to medium light

Water: Once a week, or every two weeks if the plant begins to droop

Temperature: 60-75 degrees

This is the Mall Plant. It is in every mall you’ve ever been to and it’s living its best life there. This plant is easy going and low-maintenance, making it a great first attempt. It sits in the window of our living room because it was really sad next to the record player where it used to live. I found that it needed more light than was initially recommended and since it’s been getting extra vitamin D it’s been thriving. Pretty regular misting also helps. Every other week I take it outside and mist it with a spray bottle and that seems to do the trick. NOTE: This plant is highly toxic and can cause irritation to lips, mouth, and throat if chewed or swallowed by both humans and pets.

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CROTON

Light: Bright

Water: Heavy watering necessary; keep soil moist and mist 1-2 times per week

Temperature: Warm, up to 80 degrees

This plant is high maintenance in terms of its need for regular watering. I find I water two or three times a week and mist it as much. You can read its needs by the leaves, which droop when it’s been too long between waterings. I love the bright colors and stiff leaves in contrast to the other greenery on the plant stand. NOTE: this plant is also poisonous and harmful if chewed or eaten by humans and pets.

 

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MISTLETOE CACTUS

Light: Low, indirect

Water: Check the soil, let it dry out on top, but ensure the bottom soil is still moist; do not let sit in water; mist regularly

Temperature: 70-85 degrees

This is one of those plants that I probably shouldn’t have but do. It loves the tropics and should really live in a greenhouse, but I just think it’s so cool looking! I think it will be alright in its small container for a while, but it might need to be repotted semi-soon. This plant gets a misting once a week, though it could use it more often. If you do repot it, add in bark or wood chips to promote drainage. Orchid compost mix works well here also.

IMG_2554CREEPING FIG–WHITE SUNNY

Light: Bright, indirect; will tolerate low light, but not direct sun

Water: Water thoroughly when potting soil is dry 1-inch down

Temperature: 55-85 degrees

I’m not a huge ivy fan but I like a little creep in my life. This guy would do well in a basket and I’m tempted to move him outside under the shade of the above balcony. It would also be cool if I trained him to climb down the plant stand, so we’ll see. This might be the easiest of all the plants…

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BOSTON FERN

Light: Medium, Indirect or dappled shade

Water: Water regularly and keep soil moist; mist 1-2 times per week; can keep in a tray of pebble with water if environment is especially dry

Temperature: 60-75 degrees

The Boston Fern loves humidity. I should probably just take it to Bali when we go there this fall because it will most likely not be satisfied here. I’ve had it for a month and so far it’s stayed alive, but I’m not sure it’s in the right spot. A few pictures up you can see that it’s not even in the right size pot but, to be quite frank, I’ve been too lazy to do something about it, presumably figuring that it’s about to implode. Give this guy plenty of water and do not let it dry out. While it looks most at home in a country or cottage style abode, I think it looks smart when kept to a smaller size.

IMG_2569^^Hey, Toby!

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DRACAENA MARGINATA (sometimes DRAGON TREE)

Light: Bright

Water: Allow soil to dry between waterings, though not completely; do not let it sit in water

Temperature:65-80 degrees

I bought this plant the second week we lived in the apartment and it hasn’t changed AT ALL in the last 8 months. Literally, hasn’t grown an inch. But, it hasn’t died either so I’m counting it a win. It’s incredibly easy to take care of, very hardy and drought resistant. I like the spiky leaves and think it makes a good accessory in the bedroom corner.  Unfortunately I planted this in a pot without any drainage holes, which may end up being an issue. There are rocks at the bottom that can trap water, but since this plant is highly susceptible to root-rot it would be better to plant it in a pot with drainage holes.

 

IMG_1646^^there’s a dresser in here now…

 

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FIDDLE LEAF FIG

Light: Bright, filtered (can take full sun if in an eastern-facing window)

Water: Keep steadily moist but do not let it sit in water; wait until soil is dry about 1-inch down

Temperature: Warm, 70-85 degrees

Ah, the design world darling. Everyone wants a fiddle leaf and it’s no wonder since they are such beauties to look at! If only they weren’t so temperamental. Some people consider these low-maintenance plants, but I think they require some work. The watering is the most important and precarious aspect. It might take you a few weeks to figure out how much water and how frequently, but be mindful that overwatering is the number one way to kill this guy. Brown spots on the leaves indicate that you are drowning the poor thing. Since the leaves are so large they catch quite a bit of dust. Wipe down leaves every week with a damp cloth so their pores remain unobstructed (see, picky). Rotate the plant once a week as they will grow aggressively toward the light and you will soon have a sexily leaning plant in the corner of your room if you don’t keep ahead of its movements. Once you find a spot for the plant keep it in place. It does not like relocation and will suggest as much by promptly dropping all its leaves. As I mentioned, there are a number of factors at play when attempting to keep this plant alive but it adds great drama and interest to a room and I think we could all use a little more glamour at home.

desk^^that’s a real life working desk, my friends

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SNAKE PLANT (sometimes MOTHER-IN-LAW’S TONGUE)

Light: Bright, with some sun; although, this plant is very forgiving and can tolerate low light conditions

Water: Let soil dry between waterings; monthly water should suffice; water only around the edges of the pot

Temperature: Anything above 50 degrees, though they prefer the warmth

Contrary to the fiddle leaf, the snake plant could survive in a closet if need be. This is the toughest of all house plants and perfect for anyone just getting started with flora and fauna. The stiff, upright leaves are just as dramatic as the oversized fiddle leaves but, again, much easier to care for. You can easily split one plant up into several groupings around your house, but I like the impact of a big plant. It wants a lot of light, and will even flower if it gets enough, but as stated above it can tolerate low light. Just be prepared for it to stay pretty stagnant, much like the dracaena. I think it looks best in a minimal basket or pot.

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RUBBER TREE

Light: Bright, filtered; can tolerate morning sun

Water: Keep steadily moist; mist weekly or bi-weekly

Temperature: Warm

I’m really excited about this tree, but it’s not so happy here. Right now it lives in the guest room but it doesn’t get enough sun, which is causing the leaves to turn slightly yellow and droop. I’ve been playing around with it in the living room (eastern-facing) and I think it will do better in there. I love the big, glossy leaves and bright red vein that goes down the back. Like the fiddle leaf, this tree can grow to be 40-50 feet in nature so it’s really more like a topiary when grown indoors. Find a nice bright spot for this guy because it’s supposed to be a fast grower, rewarding you with hearty leaves and a gorgeous fullness.

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Not plants, of course, by foliage nonetheless. I have really enjoyed having both permanent houseplants and fresh flowers around the apartment. They lift my mood and add dimension and warmth to our home. The trick is to find the right plants for your space and lifestyle, a trick that I am obviously still learning.

To note, I didn’t share all the plants we have going on over here. There’s the aforementioned cactus that could die at any moment and a zee zee plants that’s quietly ticking away by the sofa. It’s a good little plant that barely does anything, but a bigger size promises more action and style. Note that this plant is also toxic and poisonous if consumed.

So, what kinds of plants do you have? Live? Silk? Imaginary? I would really love any tips or suggestions because I’m always looking for ways to create a more homey, rich environment. Happy gardening!

 

 

 

Happy Meetiversary, Adam!

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Memory Lane is a well worn, rutted and muddy path I traverse often. It’s muddy because of all the crying I do, creating puddles of emotion as I remember the best of times and the roughest of times. I’m extremely emotional. Just wait until we start talking about choosing songs for our wedding, which I’ll dive into next week.

Until then, let’s happily skip along the Lane and celebrate today–our meetiversary! Do you remember the day you met your significant other? Adam and I never officially started dating, like made a big pronouncement or anything, so we’ve always used our meetiversary as our anniversary. Now, of course, we have a wedding anniversary in June and will have another one in August. Lucky lady!

Above is the restaurant where we had our first date four years ago. Naturally I was very giddy and excited and had spent the afternoon watching American football in Zurich with a couple of my closest buds before grabbing a pre-date glass of Champagne to help calm my nervous jitters. Adam and I walked along the lake and then ducked into this Italian restaurant where I regaled him with stories about how I was an adored au pair who was very well taken care of by her employers. Actually I think I might have told him that I was pretty sure I was being watched by a nanny-cam (which I was) and that I was positive the middle child hated me (which he did). He had just been to Amsterdam and Berlin and had lots of good stories about the vibrant cities and his recent travels. It was a very successful first date.

Obviously!

Being with Adam has been one of the biggest joys of my life and I’m eternally grateful for his positivity, encouragement and endless love and support. Don’t worry, I’ll save all the really moony stuff for him on our dinner date tonight.

I love the picture below so much. This was taken exactly one year ago today at our favorite bar in Charleston, The Belmont. We were both drinking bourbon and waxing on our relationship, of course oblivious to how much it would change over the next year. It’s really nice to catch him looking at me like this:

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Then, too, sometimes it looks like this, but I still love that crazy guy anyway:

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(We don’t even have a remote! But, we did have a Walmart in Emporia when we visited his parents last summer and we came home with the city’s greatest spoils.)

Two Kansans out on a date in Zurich; what are the odds? We’ll be toasting to our relationship this weekend, but what are you up to? Hopefully it’s warming up wherever you are and you have a chance to enjoy some sweet weather.

 

Friday wouldn’t be complete without a few links so here’s what caught my eye as of late:

Majestic dog photos.

Is the lime an endangered species? Who knew they were the crux of the Mexican drug cartel?! (Thanks, Courtney!)

Anthropologie for the win: Bali essentials.

LSU gymnast scores a perfect 10 with her groovy hip-hop routine.

A teacher responds brilliantly to a student’s profane letter.

Pretty maxi dress.

Cool art deco tee. 

Easy pasta to make with grilled chicken. Looks like dinner this weekend!

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are making a movie!

Can you recruit lesbians? Some South Carolina conservatives say Yes. (sometimes I just have to shake my head at the backwardness of politics)

A gin cocktail I am 100% on board with. (psst, buy Death’s Door gin!)

Things I Would Wish on My Worst Enemy.

 

 

Green Vegetables

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Do you get aggressively excited about spring produce? I really love seeing all the bright colors and enjoy walking around the outdoor market in more friendly temperatures, but to be honest I also mourn a little because I know that the hearty dishes I so love to make and eat must be shelved for a few months. I embrace shopping seasonally and locally so this past week I picked up what everyone else was picking up.

To be fair we are almost out of fennel season so this recipe is a little late in making its table debut. Nonetheless it’s still appropriate and delicious! Last night I made a caramelized fennel risotto that nearly knocked my socks off. I’m committed to a new expedited method of cooking risotto and this particular recipe throws that out the window in that one must cook the shallots and fennel for 30-40 minutes to reach optimal caramelization. But, that’s really the best way to enjoy fennel (personally) because the long cooking time takes away the sharp anise flavor and leaves you with a light sweetness and unbelievable added creaminess. In short, it’s not a quick dinner or one to make at the last minute, but if you’re looking to fill the Sunday dinner slot, this is your guy.

I omitted the peas because I really don’t like them, but it certainly makes the dish more spring-y. Also, I stirred in hunks of rotisserie chicken to add protein. This is an inexpensive and easy way to add more oomph to a dish, not to mention great depth of flavor. I also do this with soups and salads. Just add in the chicken when you add in the last cup of stock so it heats throughout. I had this with a white Bordeaux and it was magnifique.

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And what can we say for asparagus? Only that I love it. Oh my, yes I do. I love it so, so much and eat it every week while it’s in season. One thing I like so much about the grocery stores and markets here is that, for the most part, they really stick to what’s in season. Sure, you can buy watery tomatoes year-round, but asparagus only comes in the spring and when it does it’s glorious. Ditto pumpkins and squash, peaches, berries, bok choy, blood oranges and other fun favorites. It’s a good rule of thumb to stick with: if it’s not in season, it’s probably not going to be that good. (And who really, really needs a pound of asparagus that traveled 6,300 miles? I’m looking at you, Peru…)

This week the temperatures dropped just a wee bit and it rained enough for me to want soup again so spargel creme soup it was! I loosely followed this recipe, but will go ahead and rewrite it below because I did make a few modifications. Bon appetit!

 

Asparagus Cream Soup

Servings: 6-8

Time: 50 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4-2 pounds asparagus, woody ends removed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions, roughly chopped
  • 2 sticks celery, trimmed and roughly chopped
  • 2 leeks, white and light green parts only, sliced into half moons
  • 6 cups chicken stock (you can use up to 8 cups if you want it a bit thinner)
  • 1 russet baking potato, diced*
  • 1/3-1/2 cup heavy cream
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  • parsley, to garnish
  • lemon, to garnish (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Trim tips off asparagus and set them aside for later.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Cook onions, celery and leeks until they are soft and tender, but not colored, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the chopped asparagus stalks, potato and stock and simmer for 20 minutes with a lid on.
  4. Remove from heat and blend with an immersion blender or carefully transfer to blender in small batches and puree. Note: either way, let the soup sit for five minutes before blending to allow it to cool. If using a blender, keep one corner of the lid up to release heat and prevent an explosion. Also, use a dish towel to cover the top.
  5. Add cream and stir to incorporate. Adjust level of cream to desired thickness.
  6. Add salt and pepper to season to your liking. I’m not crazy about a lot of salt, but pepper is really nice here to balance the sweetness of the leeks and cooked veggies.
  7. Add asparagus tips, bring back to a boil, then lower to a simmer until the tips have softened.
  8. Serve with chopped parsley and a light drizzle of lemon if you like.

* I only had a leftover potato that had already been baked and it worked perfectly. I added it in just before I blended the soup together so it would warm through and it worked as an excellent thickening agent.

We ate this with grilled cheese sandwiches, but Jamie Oliver recommends buttered toast and poached eggs. I tried poaching an egg the other day and the result was disgusting. I make a mean soft-boiled egg, however, and will enjoy that with my leftover soup for lunch today.

 UPDATE: The poached/soft-boiled egg is a go! Adds incredible richness. 

 

Do you like asparagus? What’s your favorite way to eat it? Besides soup I also love it grilled with olive oil, salt and pepper (keep it simple!). This recipe looks super simple and delightful. MethinksI know what we’ll be having next week…