Home Goals 2018

We are in the midst of one of the most annoying home renovation projects that one can have done — getting the floors refinished in a house we’re currently living in. Three fourths of out home is original hardwood floor, which is awesome, except that it means basically moving. We’ve taken everything we own and put it either in a storage unit or in the non-wooden floor rooms, which are the den, the kitchen, and the bathrooms. But it’s a once-and-done scenario so we’re dealing with an extremely inconvenient week. Doing this task has me thinking about the next...

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Saluda’s in Five Points

I don’t often go to fancier restaurants because it’s hard to take good food photos when the lighting is set for ambiance. But the ambiance was nice at Saluda’s on a random weeknight that Patrick and I went ahead of Restaurant Week Columbia, which starts today, January 11 and runs through the 21. Restaurant Week Columbia provided me with a gift card so I could write about this experience. It was my first time at Saluda’s, place that I haven’t really thought about since high school prom time, when people were trying to namedrop the nicest restaurants they knew of to go to and show off their fanciness. So we chose a quiet weeknight to wander up the stairs to see what lay beyond. Because we don’t go out to eat together very often, we decided to really make a night of it. We started with drinks — mine a white wine with notes of white flowers and apricots. I’m not a wine person, really, but it was a nice drier white that worked with the cheese plate that we partook of for our first course. That cheese plate was really a good one though, something that you never can tell until you order and see what comes out on the wooden cutting board … isn’t it always a wooden cutting board? Along with a selection of three cheeses, the...

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Trader Joe’s Savory Baked Tofu Recipe

Once upon a time, there was no Trader Joe’s in Columbia, SC. I would go every few months to Charleston, Greenville, or Charlotte for a day trip that included stocking up on tons of the exotic and exciting products that were unavailable to me on a daily basis at this magical oasis. Given the perishability of their baked tofu, a favorite product, I decided to experiment with making my own. Even if it didn’t taste similar, this stuff is delicious on its own merit. I had to stop myself from drinking the leftover liquid. I succeeded there, but did...

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An Easy Dinner with Trader Joe’s Thai Green Curry Simmer Sauce

There’s nothing like an easy dinner to warm you up quickly when it’s really cold out. This one can be done in the time it takes a rice cooker to be done with a cup of rice, or about 20 minutes. The base of the dish is this great green curry simmer sauce from Trader Joe’s It’s not very spicy on it’s own, so if you like your curry with some heat, you’ll want to add in some diced hot peppers. This dish also reheats really well for lunch leftovers. In other words, it’s a pretty perfect meal. Rice...

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Hoppin John and Other Lucky New Years Foods

Have you ever had putting effort in just backfire on you? Such was the case for me on New Year’s Eve day, where I had a long list of things I was going to Accomplish Before The New Year. That ended abruptly when I got slammed into from behind, so hard it shoved me into the car in front of me, and all I got accomplished yesterday was a broken vehicle and laying down the remainder of the day. Luckily I’m okay, as are the others involved, minus some soreness on my end. So needless to say, I am...

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Looking Back at 2017

It’s almost time to leave the year 2017. I love looking back at these reflective surveys each each and seeing what I was thinking, feeling, and experiencing at the time. Some things never change, and some things do, radically. Here are ones from New Year’s Eve 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011. 1. What did you do in 2017 that you’d never done before? How about SKYDIVING? 2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
 Yes, I did save a lot of money, which was my biggest goal. Plus I paid off a lot of debt...

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My Grandmother’s Cheese Ball

Something was wrong with me as a kid. I mean really wrong with me. I had some bizarre aversion to certain cheese products. I think I mentioned here before that something in my brain thought that the pimentos in pimento cheese were pieces of fish (I really have no explanation for this), therefore I was well into college before ever trying pimento cheese. Obviously, I’ve made serious changes in my life to rectify the situation. And again, with the cheese ball I had this notion that it was just wrong and bad and no. The holiday cheese ball that...

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Cooking from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbooks

Sometimes serendipity brings things together to have both books you wanted on similar topics ready at the library at the same time so it only takes one trip there. So it was for me recently when I reserved both of Deb Perelman’s books at the library the other week to pick up after work Friday. That evening was spent with those two books, sticky page flag things, a space heater, a drink, and a few dogs laying on me. I haven’t seen a lot of people discussing some of the recipes within and wanted to share some of my thoughts on the ones I tried and why I did or did not like them and what I did as tweaks. Crispy tofu and broccoli with sesame-peanut pesto, p. 121 Smitten Kitchen Everyday I had high hopes for this one and it looked and smelled great as I was preparing. The preparation was easy too, each next step could be done while another was happening too. But it fell flat for me. I ate a few bites, and tried to convince my husband to eat it all together, not just the pieces of fried tofu directly from the pan. The pesto just never came together. I tasted it and added a little more soy sauce, and it was still not doing it for me. But I made it exactly to the...

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How Our IKEA Kitchen Is Holding Up, Two Years Later

It’s hard to believe that we’ve had our kitchen for two years now! And on another exciting note, I just finished paying off the last payment on the HELOC we used to finance most of it. It goes to show that you can pay off a bunch of debt for something you really want if you put your mind to it. Also increasing your income helps too. So a lot of people considering IKEA kitchens wonder how they look after real life use. Two years into daily abuse, our stuff is holding up amazingly well, I have to say....

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Oh My Guac, There’s Olive Oil In This

We’ve all got those few foods that we just don’t want to like. And occasionally, it seems worthwhile to re-try some of those foods. Others, never. My never food is olives. I refuse to even try olives. But guacamole and avocados are on my re-try list every so often. I haven’t bought into avocado toast yet, but recently in Mexico, I tried guacamole again on a whim. And it was SO GOOD. It could just be blamed on the fact that we were in Mexico and the avos probably came from a few miles away, but our lovely server...

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About April Blake

April Blake edits web content by day and writes by night, usually about local food, unusual flavors, and craft beer. Please follow me on Twitter, but not in real life.

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