a simple elegance

February 12, 2015

FOR THE LOVE OF BEIGNETS




like any other reason to celebrate, I love valentine's day. not because of the candy or the flowers or the presents. goodness knows we all got spoiled enough at christmas to at least last until mother's day, wouldn't you say? no, but because the holiday itself celebrates romanticism and kindness and, well, the kind of lovey dovey nonsense that I am super fond of. and in honor of our heart-filled holiday, I thought I whip up a festive batch of beignets. why beignets? it could be because mardi gras is just around the corner or perhaps it's because they're a deep fried ball of dough smothered in powdered sugar. either way, I have been really craving them lately and they're one of mitch's favorites, so I set to work.

I have only made these twice before and this is, by far, the best batch I have ever made. the trick to any good yeasty dough is patience (in the form of letting it rest long enough), which is terribly hard for someone who's waiting on deep fried balls of dough smothered in powdered sugar. I adapted my own measurements from this recipe, which is sure to make you feel like you're hanging back at cafe du monde or somewhere wearing all black and a beret or something equally moody and worldly whilst nibbling on their amazing beignets. and I'd just like to mention, these are nowhere near as delicious as theirs! but I'm cool with it because I don't believe in setting unrealistic expectations.

the ingredients

3/4 cup warm water
4 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tbsp active dry yeast

1 large egg
1 egg white
3/4 cup evaporated milk
1 tsp salt

4 cups all purpose flour
2 tbsp butter

vegetable oil
powdered sugar to preference

the method

step one :: combine the warm water, granulated sugar, and yeast to a large bowl and stir. wait about ten minutes or until your mixture is wet and bubbly.

step two :: combine the egg, egg white, evaporated milk, and salt in a separate bowl and then stir into the yeast mixture.

step three :: add two cups of flour stirring in gradually until the mixture looks like too-thick pancake batter. add in the butter whilst still solid and mix until smooth.

step four :: add the remaining two cups of flour. when dough starts to pull together, turn out onto a heavily floured surface and begin to knead. this can take anywhere from five to ten minutes depending on how vigorous your kneading style is. then, place in the fridge overnight if you're planning on these for breakfast or let rise in a warmish place for two hours if you're kneading them done asap (pun intended).

step five :: if you placed your dough in the refrigerator, remove and let sit at room temperature for a half hour or so, or until you can poke it with your finger and it doesn't spring back at you. then you're ready to turn dough out onto a floured surface and, using a rolling pin, roll out until it's about a 1/2-inch thick. 

step six :: traditionally, beignets are cut into squares, but in light of the romantic holiday coming up, I opted to shape them into hearts with the cookie cutters my mom sent in my care package last week. once you've cut through all of your dough, cover with a clean tea towel and let prove (that is to say, give them a second rise) for about 45 minutes or until they've doubled in thickness. that part is crucial because otherwise your dough won't cook all the way through once in the fryer.

step seven :: heat a vat of oil to 350-365 degrees fahrenheit. you might need to measure via a candy thermometer several times throughout the frying process to insure that the temperature stays constant. then, begin frying those little beauties. mine took about 30 seconds on each side or until they turned a beautiful golden brown color. remove from oil with a spatula and let cool on paper towel.

step eight :: place seven-eight beignets and a handful of powdered sugar in a paper grocery bag. fold the top over a couple of times and shake over the sink until beignets are coated. if you have a few that just aren't cooperating, sprinkle a little powdered sugar over them yourself. and voila--a valentine's treat worth breaking your resolutions for! this recipe yields about 36 medium beignets.





and I don't think I can express, in words, how excited I am that it is almost friday! this week has been a long one and I am super excited about the r&r this weekend has to offer. I hope all of your weeks are going a little smoother and that you're getting pumped for your own valentine's day festivities even if it is to 'just stay home,' which is one of my favorite activities! happy frying, everyone!


love, arielle

February 11, 2015

ON THE HALF SHELL




 we're still getting all caught up here on a simple elegance, so I hope you'll bear with me while I share a fun little adventure mitch and I had whilst home for the holidays. it's not a very "festive holiday" post, mind you, so I don't feel too behind posting it for all the world to see. now, I know most of you will never visit my hometown of pensacola and maybe you've never even heard of it, but something I look forward to every time I go home is oysters. raw. fried. baked. if it's an oyster, I'm sure to love it. and there are lots of places to get them, but the best are from this little oyster bar right on pensacola beach. oh sure, if you're needing an oyster fix quick there are places a little closer to home, but believe me the 10ish mile drive down to the water is far more than worth it. mitch had only had oysters raw and he'd only had them one other time in his life, so when we ordered them in all of their different varieties he couldn't believe how versatile they were. by far, our favorites were the oysters rockefeller. though, I've always had a soft spot for eating them raw, too. everything was so tasty that we all but licked the plate clean. thank goodness we were able to leave with just a bit of our dignity. and we kept our pinkies up the entire time, you guys. don't you even worry.

after recounting how delicious our meal was several times over and snapping a few pictures for posterity (which means you guys, duh), we were headed out to the car until something caught our eye. now, let's pause for a second. have I mentioned that mitch is a little incredibly obsessed with boats? all kinds. row boats and speed boats and giant yachts and even paper boats and sure enough (unpause), it was boats that caught our eye. a whole dock of pretty boats of all different names and shapes and sizes just sitting there waiting to be appraised by my very-manly-though-sometimes-childlike husband. like any other boat encounter, the conversation veered toward the typical "how much do you think this one costs?" and "what do you think it's owner does for a living?" and then of course, "would you ever think of investing in a boat?" but what really struck me as interesting is that there was an entire waterway community back there. one where all of the people who own waterfront property nearby drive their boats around instead of their cars to get from restaurant to grocery to home and so on. and so I countered mitch's conversation points by rattling on about that for a good five minutes, or ten. and then, when we had exhausted all of our boat talk and walked off a fair bit of our lunch, we headed home. just in time to miss the rain. and we spent a perfectly pleasant rest of our afternoon reading books and sipping tea and loving life. 





and then it was wednesday! truthfully, I'm a little ready for this week to come to an end. not because it's going slowly or going badly or anything like that, but because it's test week and I'm really rather ready to have my husband back. how are your weeks going thus far? are you feeling those february blues or is the promise of paper hearts and an endless supply of chocolate keeping your dispositions afloat? I'd love to hear all about it below, in the comments.

love, arielle

February 09, 2015

FEBRUARY FOCUS

calendar :: vikki chu for anthropologie (sold out)

this past week was such a pleasant, but albeit, busy one! full of long days at the 'office' and plenty of life laundry! friday morning, I actually took my car in for its biannual inspection all by myself. no one even skipped me in the line! it was a good day and I was pretty chuffed with myself, so I rewarded myself with a chocolate croissant. okay, so the croissant may have come before the inspection, but it was only to subdue the nerves. I still can't believe how incredibly nervous I felt! like waiting-in-line-at-the-dmv-to-get-my-motor-vehicle's-license nervous. but despite the fact that the car was out of windshield wiper fluid, it passed with a "good enough" and I rewarded myself with a putter around the craft store for a solid half hour or so before I had to go manage other productive, grown-up activities. but still, a fairly successful morning!

now, can you believe it's february? can you believe a week in february has already long since past? can you believe it's almost valentine's day? can you believe that means second block is just around the corner? oh, where does the time go?! I'm not complaining. there is loads to look forward to in this shortest of months. I'm just saying, time flies. so about that whole february thing, it seems a little obvious what its whole focus should be--love, obviously. but I feel like there's a lot to be said on that subject. love your neighbor. love yourself. love your life. but ultimately, do all things with love. there have been times in my life where I'll occasionally get so bent out of shape about something that I'll just let my tongue lash out at them (usually to mitch or in the car by myself because confrontation gives me a bad case of the shakes). but as momentarily indulgent as this may be, I feel like this is neither therapeutic nor fair. in most of these cases, I end up exhausted and worse off for having spent a good 15-20 minutes ranting about who did what and how unfair I found it. and the saddest part is that because I said it to mitch or just myself, I didn't even give that person an opportunity to explain their side of the story! I'm terrible. maybe they're going through something really awful or haven't had their diet coke that morning. or maybe they're just hungry. so here's my suggestion to myself, and to all of you who are you're looking for something to work on this most glorious of februarys, do all things with love. look at everyone as though you love them. like they're someone very precious to you. because truth be told, they're someone very precious to someone, amiright?

just one second while I put away my soapbox. okay. this weekend sped past every bit as fast as the week the proceeded it and my only real recollection of the whole thing is the delicious lambchops I made for the first time last night (it's taken me years to get over the fact that their called lambchops!) and this unshakeable nagging feeling I've been getting to chop my hair, which has been the topic of many long, drawn-out conversations between mitch and me and we both go back and forth on it so often I can't even remember what our last consensus was! all I know is, I'm feeling very snippy over here. how was your weekend? are you all ready for monday? I surprisingly am, even if it is only for the sole purpose of getting junk done. happy february, you guys! thanks for reading!

love, arielle


January 30, 2015

TEN SIMPLE THINGS || IT'S BEEN AWHILE

photo via 

it's been a long, long time since I've sat down and put fingertips to keyboard and logged all of my simple things. I'd even say it's been too long. for the past month, I'd go throughout my week and say, "oh, this totally makes the list" be it the darling white and yellow butterflies that seemed to undertake the whole island for a solid week or a heartwarming conversation with a friend, life just seemed to get in the way, and then I'd totally forget to share my 'ten simple things' altogether. but not this week. this week, my nights have been almost completely free, which is super conducive to writing down all of my bright and shining moments from the past seven days.  a week full of healthy dinners (minus the pizza on monday evening, but it was a special occasion, after all), hot and busy days, and gym time with friends. here's a little bit more on how this past week went...

one :: being able to purchase (more) affordable fruits and veggies at the closest thing to a whole foods this island is gonna get. finding raspberries at $3.50 a carton is pretty much unheard of down here, but it led to a very colorful berry salad that was both sweet and tart all at the same time.

two :: being featured on rosie's blog. so many wonderfully talented bloggers are featured on there each month and it's always so nice to be a part of the lovely little community she's created via her patch of the internet.

three :: gossiping about the fictional characters in into the woods with my best friend. the two of us together are incredibly shameless when it comes to who did what in whatever show we're both watching these days. and just to be clear, we felt that into the woods was just okay.

four :: making meals out of this amazing cookbookgina, the author, has a knack for enhancing flavor while cutting calories and all  of the recipes I've tried can easily be made in under and hour. I've probably made fifteen different meals of hers so far and only found the slightest bit of fault with one.

five :: an amazing husband who will do all the tough jobs whilst cleaning the house (ie :: vacuuming the stairs). even while he studies, he is always so helpful.

six :: having just enough sugar to finish wednesday night's chocolate chip cookies. it's a beautiful thing when life works out like that, is it not?

seven :: thursday morning's run. after only running here and there for the past several weeks, I hunkered down with a killer playlist and--not to toot my own horn--killed it. I felt a little miserable afterward, but it was totally worth it to feel that powerful and strong for the first time in a long time.

eight :: paying all of our bills until the month of march! getting all of that adult stuff taken care of early is a gigantic load off my childish mind.

nine :: grocery shopping with friends. when I shop on my own, it's all about efficiency, so I never stop to take a look at all of the new and different foods the stores are getting in each week. but when I shop with friends, all of a sudden I'm taking the time to peruse the aisles, which inevitably leads to buying chocolate covered pomegranates and a giant box of otter pops. no, they weren't on the list, but they definitely would have been had I known I needed them ;)

ten :: an amazing neighbor who will give me her last quarter-cup of soy sauce as I am in the midst of my mid-dinner preparations. just another reason why where we live now is so much better than our old place.

and now, all I have to worry about it where we're going to watch the superbowl. not having cable only really stinks a couple times a year and this is definitely one of those times! what are you all doing this weekend? I'd love to hear all about it in the comments. and as always, thanks again for reading along!

love, arielle

January 28, 2015

THE TOURISTS


you would think that living somewhere for an entire year would entitle you to 'local status,' but that never quite happens because you know your leaving is imminent. when mitch and I first arrived here, we should have taken the time to explore like tourists do. walking down the boardwalk in search of the perfect macrame coverup. sipping coconut water right from the source. having people take our picture in front of sandy beaches. but we never did. until yesterday. yesterday, mitch finished up with his tests early and rather going to swim in the waves (which is our standard go-to activity around here), we opted for something we never got the chance to do before, which was all of the touristy things. I think when we moved here I was a little too focused on not appearing like a tourist. I wanted to fit in. be one with the island and all that. but as I realized our time here is winding down, I find myself wanting to take more pictures and drink more coconuts (figuratively because, in truth, I didn't really like them).






after getting a very sweet lunch at one of our favorite places to eat on the island, we drove down to little divi bay, which is probably one of the swankiest parts of our side of the island. mitch had always seen it from afar but had never been, so we finally decided to stop. the infrastructure surrounding the place is perfection. it's condos, but it's also little beach shacks that make your stay on our island feel more authentic. and for whatever ecological or geographical reason, this beach has the coolest marbled sand that looks wet even when it's dry. not to mention it sticks to you like nothing else! for this reason, mitch and I decided not to lay out here and move onto the boardwalk, which is where all the cruise ships roll in.











everyone on the boardwalk is extremely friendly and helpful and we set out in search of coconuts. being honest, real coconut water was not what I expected. maybe I expected something sweeter or fresher tasting, but to me, it just tasted bitter and old. mitch finished mine off as we discussed what a miracle it is this island has coconuts. here they are surrounded by salty, undrinkable water on all sides, and yet they were given a source of clean hydration right there in the coconut. amazing. then we walked and walked past shop after shop as I searched for the perfect white, macrame coverup, which has yet to be found, whilst having passersby take our picture in front of the crowded beach. and then, assessing the crowd, we actually drove all the way back to our own little beach on the other side of the island for some relaxation because being a tourist is actually kind of exhausting. and then we went home to a perfect night in full of pizza and diet coke (mitch must love me or something) and sabrina, which we had forgotten completely, so we were both really into it.








and then it was wednesday! which means a whole day of hard work and sunshine followed up with girls night tonight. we've been watching the bachelor and is it just me or does this season seem a lot more crazy than the bachelorette last season? and I feel like just because he's a farmer, doesn't mean that all of the dates should be farm themed. just a thought. have a wonderful day and thanks for reading!

love, arielle