* I’m thrilled to introduce you to a partnership I’m especially proud of and excited about. Chateau St. Jean Winery in Sonoma contacted us several months ago after seeing our book, Date Night In. They loved the concept and I think it was pretty clear to them that Gabe and I are not only fans of dating each other but we also love wine. It’s a natural pair. Throughout the Fall and through Spring I will be bringing back the original series that inspired my first cookbook; Date Night In. I am so excited to share with you more stories about marriage and the intentionality needed to keep it going, stunning recipes with wine pairings, and beautiful videos shot by my brother, Chris Baron. Very special thanks to Chateau St. Jean for sponsoring this series.
Over five years ago Gabe and I started dating in. Then our kids were 5, 3, and too young to even have a number. We were deep in the parenting gig; changing diapers, scraping stale cheerios off the floor, and bandaging scraped knees multiples times a day. By the end of the day we’d congratulate ourselves for surviving and then retreat to our own corners until we fell asleep. Yes, we were surviving but as a couple, as a team, we weren’t thriving. And some seasons that’s really all you can do. When you bring a newborn home from the hospital I wouldn’t attempt much more than feeding yourself and your baby but as months passed and our newborn started to crawl and then walk and then beat up her brothers, we knew we couldn’t pass through this entire season without making a serious effort to connect in a deep and meaningful way.
If you’ve been a long time reader of the blog (thank you, I adore you!) or if you have the book (you’re the best!) then you know the story. You know that our exhaustion turned into a commitment to continue to date. One night a week, after the kids were in bed Gabe and I would turn on some music, change our spit-up covered shirts (maybe) and sit at our table to a meal I prepared (Gabe was in charge of bedtime and wine pouring) and then date one another. What was once deemed a consolation prize to actually going out on a real date turned out to be our preferred method of dating. We loved the privacy, the ease and the comfort we felt in our own home. These fun, intimate evenings took a marriage of roommates and turned it into one of intimacy, joy, and growth.
The other day this email landed in my inbox:
“Thanks for reminding my wife and me how we need to slow down and enjoy ourselves like we used to. Life had tired us out and we kept putting off “us” for another time. Hopefully, we can keep this in sight from now on.”
I keep reading that phrase “Life had tired us out” because yes, life does that doesn’t it? No matter the stage, the season, if you have kids or if you don’t, life is exhausting. You can’t wait for a time when you aren’t tired from life to invest in your relationship – you just have to do it. Gabe and I turned our date nights into a cookbook and collection of narratives and I am continually so encouraged by emails like this of others starting to date again and seeing the amazing benefits to their relationship.
Our date nights don’t look like they did even two years ago when the book came out. And that’s okay. Now that our kids are in school sometimes Gabe and I will take ourselves out to brunch or we’ll cook lunch here. When the weather allows it we’ll pop in a movie for the kids while the two of us head outside to the grill and enjoy some fish tacos. Our date nights change and evolve just like we do but their importance remains the same. Whatever we do, wherever we are in life we need to stay connected, we need to remind ourselves that we are one unit made up of two individuals – a living breathing being that needs to be fed and nurtured in order to thrive.
Smoky Fish Tacos with Herby Salsa Verde and Slaw
Pair these fish tacos with Chateau St. Jean’s fruity and well balanced chardonnay.
For the fish:
3/4 pound piece of white fish
Zest and juice from 1/2 lime
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
For the salsa:
10 tomatillos, husks removed
1/2 white onion, peeled
4 garlic cloves
1/2 jalapeño (more or less depending on how spicy you like your salsa)
2 cups fresh herbs, packed (parsley, cilantro, mint, basil)
1 tablespoon olive oil
For the slaw:
1/2 head cabbage finely sliced
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Juice from 1/2 lime
For the crema:
1 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder
Lime zest and juice
Wood grilling plank, soaked in water for at least 1 hour
Chef 1: Season the fish with the lime zest and juice, salt, chipotle powder and olive oil. Let sit for 20 minutes before placing the fish on the soaked wood plank and grill until the fish just starts to flake, about 10 minutes. Let the fish rest.
Chef 2: Put the tomatillos, onion, jalapeño, and garlic on a roasting tray with a bit of olive oil and salt. Roast in a 425°F oven for 20 to 25 minutes until tender and caramelized in parts. Carefully transfer the roasted vegetables to a blender and blend with the fresh herbs until creamy. Add the olive oil and a hefty pinch of salt and blend again. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
Chef 1: In a large bowl combine the sliced cabbage, salt, lime and cumin. Let this sit for at least 10 minutes.
Chef 2: Stir together the sour cream, chipotle powder, lime and salt. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
Chef 1: Grill the tortillas just until warmed through.
Chef 2: Set the table and pour the wine!
Chef 1 and 2: Enjoy the tacos.
Your recipe has my mouth watering. And you make a great point about enjoying life and each other. It doesn’t need to involve fancy destinations. It needs to involve attention and living in the moment. And that can happen anywhere, even at home. Thank you for the reminder!
I have never seen a recipe posted with tasks for chef 1 and 2. So creative!!
These look incredible, and I love that you divided the recipe up to be made by two people.
The recipe looks great, the news about more Date Night In stories even better, but most of all, at this moment, I have to say I am in love with the lighting and color in the cabbage photo! Beautiful!
Congratulations, Ashley! And thank you for continuing the series. My three year old refers to our copy of ‘Date Night In’ as “THE Cookin’ Book” because it’s the one that’s ALWAYS out. Every single recipe and every single story are nourishment for the body and soul!
That is the sweetest thing I’ve heard. Amazing. 🙂
Fish tacos are an absolutely favorite date night for us, too. Also, fun fact: the private residence where we got married is next door to Chateau St. Jean. It always bring back such good memories! xo
I’ve been a committed reader for a few years now (but I’ve never commented) and it was your date night in posts that really grabbed my attention. I adore your writing style and photography but it was this idea of being intentional and prioritizing your relationship that really gripped me, especially as it spoke of doing it in a way I understand- by food.
Your book is beautiful and it was fantastic to see it all come together but I just felt compelled to leave a comment to say how excited I am to see this content back on the blog again! Keep doing what your doing, the work you produce is beautiful and inspiring.