Intro

It had been a long time. For weeks excuses were made when Thursday nights would come around. Our Google calendar would notify us of “date night” but I would simply sigh and push it away putting some other task in its place.

A couple months passed before this evening where we finally sat down to a table together, surrounded by food and no distractions. It seemed so small and insignificant when I ignored the reminder of our weekly appointments. “No, this week is just too crazy.” I would say. “We’ll do it next Thursday. What’s one week?’

The following Thursday would come and without searching too much I managed to find another excuse not to cook, not to sit down to the table and to avoid some things that really should not have been avoided.

I simply didn’t feel like cooking after a long day. I longed to linger on the couch with a good book and sit in my own space rather than connect with my partner and best friend. There wasn’t anger there or heated issues that I was necessarily trying to escape it was more a matter of apathy and choosing my own desires rather than putting the needs of our marriage first.

This week was no different. Excuses could have been created, other plans could have been made. We longed to shut down after a more-exhausting-than-usual day. I could see in his eyes that he didn’t have much more to give and I am sure he saw that in mine too. But it had been too long since we made our relationship a priority and we have been dealing with the painful effects of that.

The meal was simple. Classic burgers, a simple salad dressed with homemade ranch and a strawberry tart for each of us. I fought my crazy desires to make the buns and chips from scratch reserving that energy for my husband and our time together. Scrambling through the fridge I sought out ingredients that would make these burgers special in order to set this night apart from the others. Counting on the tart to woo us to dinner and to each other I sliced local strawberries and laid them on a cushy bed of mascarpone that snuggled into a tender crust. A shower of turbinado sugar rained over top setting off a light molasses scented breeze.

We lingered over dinner, sat in our exhausted silence then finally gave ourselves permission to leave the table still cluttered with dishes and a few remaining bites.

It would make for a more compelling story to speak of how that one evening changed our marriage. How we managed to stay up talking for hours, rekindling those late night that rolled into early morning conversations that came so easy when we were dating. But that is not what happened. In that I was reminded that the health of our marriage is defined by the small decisions. The ones in which we choose to fight through our fatigue to spend time with one another. The decisions we make to put work aside in order to be there for one another. To put the iphone down so that we can actually look into each other’s eyes. It’s when we choose our marriage rather than ourselves.

That night over burgers we did connect. A conversation that lyrically described the perfect burger (I have much to say on that subject) made its way towards one that dug below the surface to where the heartbeat of our relationship lives. We poked and prodded under there then gave ourselves the grace to turn on a movie and just be together knowing there was more to be said but encouraged by the small, yet powerful step towards intimacy that came from making the right decision.

It’s far too easy to make excuses. Those pesky little twerps that squirm their way into our lives whispering lies of a more satisfying and rewarding decision. Their grip is firm and once they’ve got a hold they are not inclined to let go. The power of excuses is only waned by the act of not using them.

We neglected our excuses the night we dated at home. Tasting the sweet reward of a more connected relationship has helped us fight those excuses since. I have no doubt we will be tempted again but we fight together for our marriage, for each other, because it is those little battles that we bravely fight that will strengthen and bind our marriage in the years to come. And near the end of it all he’ll slide my withered and wrinkled hand into his, we’ll look into each other’s eyes and continue to say, “I do”. Just as we did 8 ½ years ago and just as we continue to daily.

I did, I do and I will.

 

Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

2 cups buttermilk
½ cup mayonnaise
3 T finely chopped herbs (I used chives, parsley and dill)
1 garlic clove, finely minced
¼ teaspoon Espelette (optional, paprika is a good alternative)
salt and pepper

Stir together the buttermilk and mayonnaise until well combined. Stir in the herbs, garlic and Espelette (if using). Taste and add salt and pepper to your desire.

Refrigerate what you don’t serve. Will keep for 1 week in the fridge.

 

Tart Crust

adapted from Alice Medrich

I have made so many variations of this recipe over the years. It simply could not be easier. In fact once while teaching a tart class I had the students time me while making this recipe and I think the mixing took all of 10 seconds. In this latest variation I attempted to add a bit of nutrients as well as depth of flavor by using coconut oil and white whole wheat flour. Of course you could substitute butter but I found this version perfectly light, tender and ever-so-sweet.

4 oz coconut oil, melted
¼ cup Sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup white whole wheat flour

Pre-heat oven to 350*

Combine the coconut oil, sugar, salt and vanilla extract. Stir in the flour then press the dough into individual tart pans (makes 4-5 4″ inch tarts) or a 9” inch tart pan. Press the dough quite thin as it puffs a bit while baking.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden.

Let shell cool completely before removing outer ring. This dough is incredibly tender so take care while unmolding to ensure the fluted edges remain intact.

Once cool cover the base of the crust with a rough ¼” layer of room temperature (makes it easier to spread) Mascarpone. Top the tart with sliced strawberries and a sprinkling of Turbinado sugar (dark brown or muscovado would do nicely here as well).

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Buttermilk Ranch Dressing // Fresh Strawberry Tart

Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

2 cups buttermilk
½ cup mayonnaise
3 T finely chopped herbs (I used chives, parsley and dill)
1 garlic clove, finely minced
¼ teaspoon Espelette (optional, paprika is a good alternative)
salt and pepper

Stir together the buttermilk and mayonnaise until well combined. Stir in the herbs, garlic and Espelette (if using). Taste and add salt and pepper to your desire.

Refrigerate what you don’t serve. Will keep for 1 week in the fridge.

 

Tart Crust

adapted from Alice Medrich

I have made so many variations of this recipe over the years. It simply could not be easier. In fact once while teaching a tart class I had the students time me while making this recipe and I think the mixing took all of 10 seconds. In this latest variation I attempted to add a bit of nutrients as well as depth of flavor by using coconut oil and white whole wheat flour. Of course you could substitute butter but I found this version perfectly light, tender and ever-so-sweet.

4 oz coconut oil, melted
¼ cup Sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup white whole wheat flour

Pre-heat oven to 350*

Combine the coconut oil, sugar, salt and vanilla extract. Stir in the flour then press the dough into individual tart pans (makes 4-5 4″ inch tarts) or a 9” inch tart pan. Press the dough quite thin as it puffs a bit while baking.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden.

Let shell cool completely before removing outer ring. This dough is incredibly tender so take care while unmolding to ensure the fluted edges remain intact.

Once cool cover the base of the crust with a rough ¼” layer of room temperature (makes it easier to spread) Mascarpone. Top the tart with sliced strawberries and a sprinkling of Turbinado sugar (dark brown or muscovado would do nicely here as well).

66 Responses to “Dating my husband: no excuses”

  1. Amanda

    I’m getting married in less than three weeks, and this is something that I’ve discussed with my fiance and we feel it’s so important to say “I do” through your choices every day! I hope we’ll continue to pursue each other in our relationship, just as you and Gabe have in yours. Thank you for an honest post… it was powerful and encouraging to a soon to be newlywed.

    Reply
  2. Liza

    what size of tart does that recipe for the crust make? you made two individuals but the directions are for one. is that for one full size or one small size?

    Reply
  3. Megan Gordon

    Ashley…this is so wonderful. I know the feeling all too well and would go out on a limb to say maybe it’s even harder for a partnership who works for themselves/works from home? Because it’s so hard to draw a line in this case for when work can actually end. As usual, beautiful words and photos. Also: I really need to bake something with strawberries soon, soon, soon.

    Reply
  4. Shira

    This looks just gorgeous – perfect for any night, especially date night! They are too important to miss out on! Lovely photos and recipes! :)

    Reply
  5. Piper

    I love this. It’s true… flirt with your husband, make time, have fun and remember that he is the ONE. You committed to him, now do it all the time. Marriage is hard and sometimes we lose our way, but treating each other with love and respect is huge. We’ve been married 27 years, and some of them have been… tough… but keep at it. Just like cooking, marriage is a labor of love and should be viewed as such. Share, share, share…. and a little flirting is always nice.

    Reply
  6. Jen @ Savory Simple

    Date night is important. We have to do the same thing periodically. Life gets in the way of more important matters sometimes. With regards to the food, everything looks delicious as always.

    Reply
  7. Jessica

    This is such a beautiful post, both in words and photos. Every Wednesday night, my husband and I cook together. It can be tough to do sometimes when the rest of life gets in the way, and sometimes we push it to Thursday, but we’re always happy we kept at it. You’re blog is very inspiring!

    Reply
  8. Lauren @ Part Time House Wife

    We used to have date night on Wednesday’s. It’s been about a year since that has actually been a regular thing. Like you things came up, we had plans with friends on the weekend so that could be our date night instead. It absolutely takes a toll on a marriage not setting time away for just the 2 of you. I was actually just thinking today that we need to re-instate this rule or at least once a month take turns planning a special night for the other. Glad I read this. It brought me back to the date night days.

    Reply
  9. Katrina

    It’s crazy how everyone can make excuses…even when they WANT to do something! Myself included of course, but you’re right – there can’t be any excuses for date night!

    Reply
  10. Erin

    I love this post. Just today my husband and I were talking about how we feel like we’ve fallen into the trap of being too busy for each other. and how now that we are back from vacation and have spent a lot of time together, we want to be careful not to fall into that trap again.

    Reply
  11. Andrea

    Thank you for sharing this, in a real way. It is strangely refreshing to read about a struggle that is so relatable as this. A sweet reminder, indeed, to resist those “pesky little twerps.”

    Reply
  12. Shalini

    I don’t know what I liked more: the beautiful way you wrote about overcoming your will to just be and instead work to connect, or the recipe you shared for the tart crust and very vivid photos.

    Reply
  13. Emilia

    Those tarts look amazing! Good decision to have the date. It is so often one just walk side by side distracted with own things.

    Reply
  14. DeAnn @ TheSIPproject.blogspot.com

    Oh my good gracious women! I love your photography and food and writing! It’s a trifecta! Me and my hubs will be married 8 years in November and what you said is sooo true it’s choosing your marriage even when you are tired and have tons of nagging little tasks to be done. Wow, this is seriously one of my favorite posts ever, that I have ever read anywhere! Muah!!

    Reply
  15. erin @ from city to farm

    “Counting on the tart to woo us to dinner and to each other I sliced local strawberries and laid them on a cushy bed of mascarpone that snuggled into a tender crust. A shower of turbinado sugar rained over top setting off a light molasses scented breeze.” BEAUTIFUL!!! And you’re absolutely right…it’s the little choices that lead us to the big ones. Bravo for your success (although a little time with a good book is a great choice for YOURself as well).

    Reply
  16. Laura M.

    You are in my brain … “It’s far too easy to make excuses. Those pesky little twerps that squirm their way into our lives whispering lies of a more satisfying and rewarding decision.”
    I would say the same thing about doubts and worries.

    Congrats on a successful date night!

    Reply
  17. Katie

    This is really great. I love what you have to say about marriage – which remains the hardest thing I’ve done in this life – and about excuses. It’s a good reminder to shut the computer, put away the phones, and just spend a little time together, even if it is exhausted. The tarts are beautiful, and local strawberries have just appeared in my corner of the world. I’ll be trying this recipe soon!

    Reply
  18. Jenice

    Thank you for the reminder. This is something my husband and I have to work diligently on. It’s not just time together but quality time that goes beneath the surface level of what has happened this week.

    Reply
  19. Emily @ Peck Life

    This is one of the best posts I’ve read all week and something I have to constantly remind myself to be better at. I’m so happy you shared it like it really is. :) Looking forward to meeting you next week at the Seattle blogger photography evening!

    Reply
  20. Stephanie

    Very well written…. the recipes look good too. I haven’t ever thought about a date at home. Being a new parent, just moved to a new state, new job (for my spouse), and new stresses where we haven’t met anyone suitable for being our babysitter yet – THIS is a great idea! Thanks so much for being real in a world that tells us we have to have everything perfect its extremely refreshing! I haven’t “dated” my husband since we moved and its been awhile. I will try this, this week :)

    Reply
  21. aubrey

    This was beautiful. My husband and I will have been married for two years in August and have been together five years as of this past May. Even when we were dating, we had a date night every month (our dating anniversary). Now, we have a date night the 7th of every month (we got married on August 7th). No matter what…we make sure to be at least conscious and present with one another on the 7th. Sometimes we go out to dinner or pick out a special movie. Sometimes I just try to make a particularly wonderful dessert. But always we remember we chose one another because our lives are better together than apart.

    Reply
  22. Lauren

    Such a compelling post! It made me want to hold and kiss my husband. :o) This is my first time here, btw, and I love your blog name! It’s definitely a food philosophy of mine!

    Reply
  23. molly

    i need this dressing. almost now. it is ten p.m. it will wait, but just barely.

    good for you, for pushing away the urgent many’s. for who will remember them in ten years’ time?

    Reply
    • Ashley Rodriguez

      Molly – I do hope you make it. I’m sort of reliving childhood fantasies of dipping everything from carrots to fries in it. So good. And so true what you say. These little things do not and will not matter. Now to just remind myself of that daily.

      Reply
  24. Kelsey

    I really needed this today. The part about making small decisions AND the recipes. :)

    Reply
  25. Mikaela Cowles

    It’s so easy to forget that when you make a commitment, you have to make it every day and not just on the days it’s convenient. What a testament to your love for one another. This is beautiful.

    Reply
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  27. Erin

    Thank you for the post and the recipes! I made the tart shell and filled it with lemon curd today. It was absolutely delicious–the coconut oil took the taste right over the top, and I loved the texture of the pastry.

    Reply

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