© 2017 by Lauren Wiatrek - Austin, TX
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Pickles & Peanut Butter

04.07.2017

I am a foodie at heart. Food brings me joy. Now when I say that I mean…good for you, wholesome, (mostly) nutritious, made with love, homemade, homegrown, farm to plate food. I love creating beautiful dishes out of an array of ingredients. I created a food blog right after I got married, and loved posting about all the dishes I crafted. Somehow life got busy (what…?) and it went on the back burner as we moved and had our babies.

 

But, my passion for cooking is still in my heart and when it emerges I get excited to share my passion with others. Throughout this process on the red rollercoaster of fun, food has become so weird. I was told by cancer survivors not to eat any of my favorite foods while undergoing chemo, because I would later despise them. Easier said than done. I mean how do you undergo one of the hardest seasons of your life, and not lean on your favorite foods to help make you feel just a smidge better? So, I trod the chemo path with all the wise words in my pocket and I quickly learned that I had to take each day as it came. On my icky weeks, I might succumb to the peanut butter and on my happy weeks I would choose the pickle. As I’ve been through two infusions and have my third infusion looming, I am trying to be more conscientious about how I move through my days. I admit to allowing myself to become a little lazy during this whole rodeo. I know I know, I should be allowed to be lazy. But as my loving husband continues to remind me, this is a marathon not a sprint. And I can’t get too excited about feeling good one week and not take care of myself, because the following week I will be knocked off my feet. So, my goals for this week, while I feel great are to put the best ingredients into my system, to meditate, to do some yoga, go on walks, breathe deep, and rest to gear up for when my body is working the hardest...to conquer cancer.

 

Some of the foods that I enjoy lately are: pickles (they help the metallic taste in my mouth go away), soups, smoothies, oatmeal (I’ve been making a yummy batch with almond milk, berries, cinnamon and a dollop of maple syrup), I’ve always been a lover of cheese and can’t imagine cutting that out of my life, so I’ve been on a search for better made cheeses.

 

We’ve ventured out to eat a few times and found some pretty awesome places with spectacular food. For anyone local reading this, you should definitely check out these restaurants. Veggie Heaven is one Evan and I first found when I was diagnosed, we immediately made a drastic change to my diet to help prepare my system for chemotherapy. Veggie Heaven had a menu that was full of flavor, but a healthier option for anyone trying to avoid meat or just trying to make a better body decision. We ordered the edamame (came with this amazing spicy garlic sauce), Miso Awesome (has that delicious broth and bamboo shoots, a few veggies and pickled onions), Himalayan (a lot of veggies in a yummy ginger sauce), Protein Garden (vegetable proteins…that taste just like chicken with a plethora of veggies in a delicious brown sauce), we loved the atmosphere and the staff was very nice.

 

 

We also started visiting all the really cool farms in Austin, Springdale farm is one of our favorites, such a fun place to go with kids. They can run around, see all the yummy veggies growing, check out the chickens and ducks and then you have Eden East serving up scrumptious food. We got brunch there a few weeks ago, I ordered the veggie omelet which had fluffy perfect eggs and locally farm-grown veggies. Evan ordered the pulled pork egg sandwich…it was ridiculous, so good, the pork was crazy tender and they had all the elements for a perfect bite… salty, crunchy, creamy…yum. Their whimsical atmosphere is tucked under tall pecan trees alongside the farm with twinkly lights strung up in the trees. All kinds of people were gathered amongst the picnic tables, some for a low-key brunch, and others for an upscale birthday noshing, it can be as down home or high end as you make it. It is BYOB so people would bring bubbly and order orange juice from the food truck to pair...we’ll definitely be going back.

 

 

We love Garbos food truck and discovered their brick and mortar the other day when I was feeling well enough to meander out of the house. It is off Bratton Lane and you wouldn’t think much when you park in the shopping center, but when you walk in you are instantly transported to New England, the décor won me over instantly. We ordered the smoked salmon dip which came with crusty bread to spread it on. Then we had to order the lobster rolls, they have them Connecticut style or Maine style… I prefer Maine. I want that luscious lobster meat rolled in creamy mayo and crunch from that celery. I think I could eat 10 of them they’re so incredibly delightful. Their food truck goes all over and you can follow them on Instagram to see their location.

 

Thunderclouds is always a fav for us, since I can’t have deli meat my new go to has been the Office Favorite…egg salad with bacon…yummy. Their veggie sandwich is pretty delish too. We also love that Jimmy Johns will deliver, I ordered the vegetarian club sandwich on the 9-grain bread… I didn’t even miss the meat, and of course I got the giant pickle.

 

We met my brother's family at Bouldin Creek Cafe last week before our appointment with my breast surgeon, that is definitely one of my favorite local Austin eateries. They are vegetarian/vegan, with no meat on the menu, but they do such a great job with their dishes that you really don't miss the meat at all. I ordered the Veggie Royale, which was a veggie burger and I got cheese on it with a basil aioli, it was all locally grown and so fresh.

 

For our anniversary, I was so excited to be able to go out and have a nice date, which is rare for us. I love the foodie scene in Austin, so we decided to go to Salty Sow…it is just so good. If you live in Austin and haven’t checked it out yet…you need to. The atmosphere is great and deceiving as far as size goes, it kind of winds all around, so if the weather is nice sit outside, the patio is lovely. We started with a seasonal cocktail, then had the Salty Sow meat & cheese board… the cheeses were so yummy, the meats were all different from pate, to head cheese, to smoked salmon and the accompaniments were stone ground mustard, pickled onions, a creamy dill sauce and crusty bread to spread everything on. For our main course Evan got the pork butt braised in milk which came with escarole and butter beans. I ordered the special which was a bone in pork chop with bacon butter, creamy grits, black bean relish and a chimichurri sauce. It was crazy good…again all elements for a perfect bite, smooth, fatty, creamy, crunchy, salty…yum. They have one must order dessert on their menu, the bananas foster beignets with nutmeg ice cream… y’all I was in dessert heaven. Just take my word for it. It would be such a fun little outing to just order a cocktail and dessert on their patio. Go. You’re welcome.

 

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