Kris’s Cornbread (& grandmas)

She stared at my forearm. Icy blue eyes narrowing behind her round bifocals. Pupils as black as the ink on my skin.

“Is it permanent.” Not a question, really. A statement. Pushed through her pursed lips, words hotter than the bright kitchen lights burning above us.

Yes. It was. That’s the thing about tattoos – they tend to stay put.

And my grandma had never been a fan of tattoos – it was a well-known fact. To be honest, I hadn’t been a big fan of them either for a very long time. I’d seen far too many bad tattoos from seedy small town tattoo shops – scarred, blurry, uneven.

But this one wasn’t. It was small, straight, even. The steadiest hand had drawn it, applied it. Permanently. It was my first. It was sweet. Literally. I had gotten a small sugar molecule tattooed onto my inner right arm. And I loved it. And I’ve loved every one since. Falling deeper, my affection growing with each addition to my collection.

My latest one is my most beloved. It’s a recipe. Written in my grandma’s handwriting. Of a cake she used to make me every year on my birthday. She hasn’t made it for me in years, and every attempt I’ve made has fallen flat. But this tattoo, this tattoo was a success.

Because this tattoo my grandma doesn’t hate.

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Brioche Burger Buns (& barbecues)

‘Tis the season, y’all!

It’s warm enough for a cookout!

Burgers.

Brats.

Hotdogs.

You name it, I want it on the grill. Piled high on a paper plate. Served with a side of corn on the cob. Or coleslaw. Or Jell-O salad (God bless the Midwest and the ability to call something that’s half Cool Whip a “salad”).

All those burgers and bbq need a soft place to land, a comfortable place to rest. Enter, these brioche burger buns! Buttery, soft, tender as all get out! They will elevate any backyard shindig and are the perfect beginning and end to a summertime sandwich.

You can thank me later.

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Boozy Bread Pudding with Butterscotch & Pecans (& a visit)

I don’t really love bread pudding.

But I love Danielle.

And she loves bread pudding.

Boozy Bread Pudding with Butterscotch & Pecans via Midwest Nice Blog

And she’s here! Finally. After months of planning and prepping – she’s here. In the flesh. Fo realz. She’s currently sleeping since we didn’t get home from the airport until nearly 2am. It’s so nice to know that when she wakes up she’ll have a pan of bread pudding waiting for her.

To be honest, I almost didn’t make it. Then when I realized I had the opportunity to put booze in something, I seized it. And threw in some butterscotch chips and toasted pecans for good measure. It was also the opportunity to make my friend happy. Because if she can fly across the country with a Chick-fil-A sandwich stashed in her bag for me, then I can make her bread pudding. It’s called friendship.

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Sweet & Salty Soft Pretzels (& houseguests)

Entertaining can be stressful.

Sweet & Salt Soft Pretzels

The need to have everything planned and perfect. It’s work to make sure that the sheets are cleaned, towels are fresh, and snacks are prepped.

Pretzels can be stressful too.

Sweet & Salt Soft Pretzels

It’s work to make sure that the dough rises, the twists hold, and the salt stays.

Sweet & Salt Soft Pretzels

I’ve been making pretzels for a few years now and honestly, I’d rather make a double batch of these boys than have to entertain on a regular basis. Luckily, my friend Elise loves pretzels so entertaining her is pretty easy.

Sweet & Salt Soft Pretzels

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Pumpkin Bread Pudding French Toast (& true friendship)

A lot can happen in a year. 365 short days of learning, loving, and, yes, sometimes, leaving.

As you’re aware, dates are significant to me. Parks and Rec is also significant to me. And when I start thinking back in time in terms of years, I think of a scene in season five where Leslie asks, “are you better off now than you were a year ago?” She’s presiding over a town hall meeting into the first year of holding a seat on city council. To Leslie, life has certainly improved – she’s accomplished goals and made strides in her personal and professional life. Despite what anyone else says, Leslie feels accomplished (at least at the start of the meeting, what the townspeople do is a whole other story).

Pumpkin Bread Pudding French Toast | via Midwest Nice Blog

And today, I had to ask myself, “Am I better off now than I was a year ago?”

Because today is Danielle’s birthday. And, much like dates and Parks and Rec, she is important to me. She is largely part of the reason that I am better off today than I was a year ago.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding French Toast | via Midwest Nice Blog

Danielle is supportive of her friends – really and truly. She’s also unflinchingly honest and unfailingly hilarious. She is one of the few people I have encountered who puts forth actual effort into her friendships, they are important to her and she makes it known. I was lucky enough to experience this while living in Greenville, and even luckier that she’s continued to consider me worth the effort after my move. We communicate in memes and 90-minute phone calls, discussing everything from celebrity pregnancies to international travel plans.

Honestly, I’m thankful that “the breakup” happened – because if it hadn’t, Danielle and I would not be as close as we are now. She had gone through a similar experience the year before me, walking the path ahead. She was able to ask the right questions (even the uncomfortable ones) and listen intently, offering help and advice, wise and insightful. Her queries led me to discover more of who I was outside of someone else – a mirror whose reflection I couldn’t look away from. This experience, her comfort and friendship before, during, and after it, have guaranteed that I am better off.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding French Toast | via Midwest Nice Blog

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