Intro

If I could to speak to myself on the day of my wedding over eight years ago, this is what I would say…

I understand you’re a bit scared. You’re young and you are about to make a decision that will affect the rest of your life. You think it’s the right choice, you think you love him but what really is love? I know that’s what you are thinking because I am you.

For months leading up to the wedding day you’ve been asking everyone who would listen to help you understand what love really is. Sure he gives you butterflies and you can’t imagine not spending every day with this man. You’ve lost countless hours of sleep just clinging to his presence and not wanting to waste a moment with him. But is that really love? Is that enough to sustain a marriage that will survive moves across state lines, financial stress, young children, loss, and much more that we have yet to experience?

In case you do read this you should know that you made the right decision. But you didn’t really know love. The love you felt on the day you stared at him down the aisle, anxiously awaiting that glimmer in his eyes as he saw you for the first time in your wedding dress and the last time you weren’t his wife, that love was just the start.

At the time you thought love was how he made you feel. You questioned love the moment the butterflies didn’t flutter as rapidly as you thought they should. You resented him for shining light on parts of you that were selfish and gross. He didn’t complete you in the way you expected him to and surprisingly he didn’t completely understand you from the moment you both said, “I do.”

Love isn’t simply about how he makes you feel. I know that now. Love is a choice and love is action.

Now you realize that love is him warming up the espresso machine for you in the morning so it’s ready when you wander sleepily down the stairs. Love is how he saves the last scoop of ice cream for you, every time. Love is the way he wrestles with your sons (you have two and I can’t wait for you to meet them) after a long day of work. Love is the way he dances with your daughter (she’ll make you melt with each glance into her big brown eyes).

You slowly start to understand that when your dad told you, “Love is a choice”, he wasn’t being as unromantic as you first thought. You’ll realize that each day you have a choice. You can either choose to love Gabe and allow your feelings and actions reflect that or you can choose to allow the daily difficulties and his imperfections (yes, I know you can’t see it now, but he’s not perfect – and neither are you) to become a disease in the marriage.

Some days are better than others but over time you’ll realize that praying for and encouraging him is more useful than resenting him. You’ll start to see all the things he does for you and your family rather than focusing on what he doesn’t do. And you’ll realize that on the day you married him you really had no idea what love was and that eight years later you love him in way that you never thought possible.

It’s going to be hard. You’ll find out things about yourself that you really wish could have stayed hidden and yet, through it all you slowly become a better person. One that really knows and understands love – at least I hope that’s what happens, I’m not quite there yet.

What I do know is that no matter how tired you are, no matter how much you would just rather curl up on the couch and tune out the noise of the day, every once in awhile you need to put the kids to bed a bit earlier and ask your husband out on a date, even if that date happens at home.

You’ll plan the meal with great excitement and get inspired staring at the vibrant produce at the store while Ivy (that’s your daughter) tries her best to pull everything off the shelves and into the cart. You’ll spend the next 7 hours, on and off, preparing for a meal that you and your husband will devour in 10 minutes. He’ll appreciate every minute of your effort and you’ll love every chop of an onion and knead of the dough. You remind yourself of this moment and how many times before you’ve learned the same lesson – choosing him over your own selfish desires is what love is all about.

Menu
orange and avocado salad with shallot vinaigrette
pulled pork with a fennel, apple and raddicchio slaw on a sesame bun
piment d’espelette roasted new potatoes
caramel walnut tart with whipped creme fraiche

 

Plan
To eat around 8:00 pm the pork should be in by 1:30pm at the latest. So plan to put the rub on the pork that morning or the night before.
The tart and both dressings can be made the day before.
I pulled the pork out of the oven for close to an hour and set it over very low heat on the stove top while I roasted the potatoes and baked the buns.
When the pork was nearly finished we made the orange salad and enjoyed that as our first course. As the pork cooled, I finished up the cole slaw.
All that and it was gone in under 10 minutes but we’ve been eating incredible left overs for days.

Orange Salad with Avocado and Shallot Vinaigrette

 

1 Tbl chopped shallot
3 Tbl extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbl fresh lemon juice
¼ teaspon salt
fresh pepper, to taste
2 large oranges
1 avocado
2 Tbl thinly sliced red onion (optional)
1 Tbl chopped Italian parsley

 

Combine the first five ingredients in a small bowl. Whisk together, taste, and adjust salt and pepper as needed.
Cut the peel away from the orange then slice in ¼” rounds. Arrange on two separate plates, top with sliced avocado and red onion, if using. Spoon a bit of the dressing on each plate. Top with fresh Italian parsley and serve immediately.


Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Fennel, Apple, and Radicchio Slaw

Pork Rub
for a 5-7 pound pork shoulder

3 garlic cloves, peeled
¼ teaspoon cayenne
3 Tbl paprika
3 Tbl kosher salt
1 Tbl brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cumin
3 Tbl yellow mustard

 

In a morter and pestle or a food processor, mince the garlic then add the spices and salt. Stir in the mustard. Rub this over the pork and let sit for at least 1 hour or overnight in the fridge.

After the pork has bathed in the rub place in a large roasting pan and roast at 300*F for about 6 hours or until falling away from the bone.

Barbeque Sauce

1 cup apple cider vinegar
2 Tbl yellow mustard
½ cup ketchup
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon fresh black pepper
3 garlic cloves
1 small shallot, chopped
a few drops of natural hickory smoke

 

Combine all the ingredients in a medium sauce pan and simmer for 10 minutes. Set aside.

Once pork has finished roasting remove from the pan and let rest for at least 10 minutes. Add ⅔ of the bar-b-que sauce to the juices left in the roasting pan and scrape up any crusted on bits on the bottom of the pan. Simmer gently while the pork rests.
Using two forks and possibly your hands too, pull apart the pork into bite-size shreds.
Add the pulled pork into the sauce. Taste and add more sauce if you think it needs it or reserve remaining bar-b-que sauce to serve with the sandwiches.

On a freshly sliced sesame bun add a good amount of pork then top with the fennel slaw. Enjoy immediately.

Fennel, Apple and Radicchio Slaw

½ cup creme fraiche
2 Tbl mayonnaise
2 Tbl olive oil
1 Tbl apple cider vinegar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 Tbl lemon juice
3 green onions, sliced
1 fennel bulb, julienned
1 apple, julienned
1 cup thinly sliced radicchio

 

In a small bowl combine the first six ingredients. Set aside.
In a medium bowl add the fennel, apple, green onions, and radicchio. Toss with about ¼ cup dressing to start. Taste then add more as needed.
Can be made up to an hour in advance. It keeps for a day – perfect for leftovers – but doesn’t look nearly as fresh and starts to droop a bit.
The dressing could be made up to 3 days in advance.

Sesame Seed Buns
makes 9-12 buns
The point of a date night is not to exhaust yourself before the date actually happens, so I realize that after roasting a pork shoulder for 7 hours many may feel that making your own buns is just asking too much. I’m okay with that. I am, however, a bit crazy and can’t get enough of playing in the kitchen, especially when doughs are involved. So I’ve included the recipe for those who are like me or if there comes a day when you do decide to make your own buns.

 

2 teaspoons yeast
1 ⅓ cups warm milk
2 Tbl honey
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
4 Tbl (1/2 stick) butter, soft
2 Tbl sesame seeds
1 egg, lightly beaten (egg wash)

 

In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the yeast, milk and honey. Let stand for 10 minutes as which point you should see lots of bubbles and some definite growth happening.
Add flour, salt, and egg and mix with the dough hook to combine. While the mixer is running on medium-low add the soft butter 1 tablespoon at a time. Scrape down the bowl then continue to mix for 8-10 minutes.
Cover with a dish towel or plastic wrap and let double, about two hours.
Roll the dough into tight balls estimating that you will get between 9-12 buns. This is just a bit under ½ cup of dough per bun.
Place on a parchment lined sheet tray (you may need two if you don’t want them to touch at all) then cover with plastic wrap and let double again, about 1 ½ hours.
When the buns are just about doubled, pre-heat the oven to 400*. Brush the buns with the additional egg and top with sesame seeds.
Bake for about 20 – 25 minutes, until deep golden on top and bottom.
Let cool on a wire rack to prevent steaming.

Piment d’espelette Roasted Potatoes
It’s worth the online order or visit to a specialty store to gather this ingredient. Similar to paprika without the intense smoke and a stronger, fresh heat in place of it. A dear friend brought this back from France and I can’t help but put it in nearly everything.
If you can’t find it you could use paprika or simply do a perfectly delicious garlic roasted potato.

 

1 ½ – 2 pounds new potatoes, cut in rough ½” pieces
1 ½ Tbl extra-virgin olive oil
1 ½ teaspoons piment d’espelette
¾ – 1 teaspoon kosher salt

 

Pre-heat your oven to 400*F. Combine all ingredients and roast on a parchment lined sheet tray making sure the potatoes are not too crowded or piled on top of one another. Roast until interior is tender and the exterior edges are crispy and deep golden in places, about 40-50 minutes.

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Orange Salad // Pulled Pork Sandwich with Radicchio Slaw // Sesame Seed Buns // Roasted Potatoes

Orange Salad with Avocado and Shallot Vinaigrette

 

1 Tbl chopped shallot
3 Tbl extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbl fresh lemon juice
¼ teaspon salt
fresh pepper, to taste
2 large oranges
1 avocado
2 Tbl thinly sliced red onion (optional)
1 Tbl chopped Italian parsley

 

Combine the first five ingredients in a small bowl. Whisk together, taste, and adjust salt and pepper as needed.
Cut the peel away from the orange then slice in ¼” rounds. Arrange on two separate plates, top with sliced avocado and red onion, if using. Spoon a bit of the dressing on each plate. Top with fresh Italian parsley and serve immediately.

 

Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Fennel, Apple, and Radicchio Slaw

Pork Rub
for a 5-7 pound pork shoulder

3 garlic cloves, peeled
¼ teaspoon cayenne
3 Tbl paprika
3 Tbl kosher salt
1 Tbl brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cumin
3 Tbl yellow mustard

 

In a morter and pestle or a food processor, mince the garlic then add the spices and salt. Stir in the mustard. Rub this over the pork and let sit for at least 1 hour or overnight in the fridge.

After the pork has bathed in the rub place in a large roasting pan and roast at 300*F for about 6 hours or until falling away from the bone.

Barbeque Sauce

1 cup apple cider vinegar
2 Tbl yellow mustard
½ cup ketchup
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon fresh black pepper
3 garlic cloves
1 small shallot, chopped
a few drops of natural hickory smoke

 

Combine all the ingredients in a medium sauce pan and simmer for 10 minutes. Set aside.

Once pork has finished roasting remove from the pan and let rest for at least 10 minutes. Add ⅔ of the bar-b-que sauce to the juices left in the roasting pan and scrape up any crusted on bits on the bottom of the pan. Simmer gently while the pork rests.
Using two forks and possibly your hands too, pull apart the pork into bite-size shreds.
Add the pulled pork into the sauce. Taste and add more sauce if you think it needs it or reserve remaining bar-b-que sauce to serve with the sandwiches.

On a freshly sliced sesame bun add a good amount of pork then top with the fennel slaw. Enjoy immediately.

Fennel, Apple and Radicchio Slaw

½ cup creme fraiche
2 Tbl mayonnaise
2 Tbl olive oil
1 Tbl apple cider vinegar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 Tbl lemon juice
3 green onions, sliced
1 fennel bulb, julienned
1 apple, julienned
1 cup thinly sliced radicchio

 

In a small bowl combine the first six ingredients. Set aside.
In a medium bowl add the fennel, apple, green onions, and radicchio. Toss with about ¼ cup dressing to start. Taste then add more as needed.
Can be made up to an hour in advance. It keeps for a day – perfect for leftovers – but doesn’t look nearly as fresh and starts to droop a bit.
The dressing could be made up to 3 days in advance.

Sesame Seed Buns
makes 9-12 buns
The point of a date night is not to exhaust yourself before the date actually happens, so I realize that after roasting a pork shoulder for 7 hours many may feel that making your own buns is just asking too much. I’m okay with that. I am, however, a bit crazy and can’t get enough of playing in the kitchen, especially when doughs are involved. So I’ve included the recipe for those who are like me or if there comes a day when you do decide to make your own buns.

 

2 teaspoons yeast
1 ⅓ cups warm milk
2 Tbl honey
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
4 Tbl (1/2 stick) butter, soft
2 Tbl sesame seeds
1 egg, lightly beaten (egg wash)

 

In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the yeast, milk and honey. Let stand for 10 minutes as which point you should see lots of bubbles and some definite growth happening.
Add flour, salt, and egg and mix with the dough hook to combine. While the mixer is running on medium-low add the soft butter 1 tablespoon at a time. Scrape down the bowl then continue to mix for 8-10 minutes.
Cover with a dish towel or plastic wrap and let double, about two hours.
Roll the dough into tight balls estimating that you will get between 9-12 buns. This is just a bit under ½ cup of dough per bun.
Place on a parchment lined sheet tray (you may need two if you don’t want them to touch at all) then cover with plastic wrap and let double again, about 1 ½ hours.
When the buns are just about doubled, pre-heat the oven to 400*. Brush the buns with the additional egg and top with sesame seeds.
Bake for about 20 – 25 minutes, until deep golden on top and bottom.
Let cool on a wire rack to prevent steaming.

Piment d’espelette Roasted Potatoes
It’s worth the online order or visit to a specialty store to gather this ingredient. Similar to paprika without the intense smoke and a stronger, fresh heat in place of it. A dear friend brought this back from France and I can’t help but put it in nearly everything.
If you can’t find it you could use paprika or simply do a perfectly delicious garlic roasted potato.

 

1 ½ – 2 pounds new potatoes, cut in rough ½” pieces
1 ½ Tbl extra-virgin olive oil
1 ½ teaspoons piment d’espelette
¾ – 1 teaspoon kosher salt

 

Pre-heat your oven to 400*F. Combine all ingredients and roast on a parchment lined sheet tray making sure the potatoes are not too crowded or piled on top of one another. Roast until interior is tender and the exterior edges are crispy and deep golden in places, about 40-50 minutes.

 

 

120 Responses to “Dating My Husband”

  1. katie.

    Oh, Ashley. So well said. Did you know that your blog posts make me cry… and often. Maybe I shouldn’t admit that, but sometimes, you just hit the nail right on her pretty little head. Josh and I have been married for 10-years this year. I think I’ll make him this meal (which he’ll love!) for our anniversary… xo.

    Reply
  2. Kat

    I loved reading this. As a relatively recently newly-wed it reminded me why I got married and I can only hope that in 8 years’ time I can have a similar love and appreciation for him to how you described. In the meantime, I will be making the pork this weekend… looks delicious.

    Reply
  3. Aesc

    A bit weird, but I actually just came here thinking, “I really want another Dating my Husband post.” And here it is. Wonderful.
    Also, I can’t wait to make the walnut tart.

    Reply
  4. lisa

    this is such a wonderful, honest and heartfelt post. I will remember them when I get to this stage. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
  5. Lyn

    What a beautifully written post! I firmly believe ‘date nights’ and choice are an integral part of what has kept my marriage going through four sons & 25 years.

    Reply
  6. katherine

    I am always inspired by this blog, by your recipes, photos, words, and philosophies. Thank you for all! This post finds me with perfect timing as I am getting married on Thursday!

    Reply
  7. Morgan

    Such a beautiful post, Ashley! As a newlywed (my husband and I were married this most recent New Years Eve) I absolutely love reading this. We started date nights last July when we got engaged because I was so inspired by your date nights with Gabe. I am definitely going to try this menu in the upcoming weeks!! 🙂

    Reply
  8. Gabby @ Gabby's Gluten-free

    Such an inspiring, beautiful post. As someone who is just a 3-month newlywed, I love everything in your letter to yourself.

    Reply
  9. kimmy@lighterandlocal.com

    This is perfect. So indescribably true and honest. I’ve been married 5 years, and some of this struck the perfect chord. Love is a choice, so is happiness. You can choose to focus on the bad, or on the amazing good. Thank you for sharing!

    Reply
  10. Kate

    We’ll celebrate 10 years of marriage this coming August, and I could have written this post, as every word of it rang true with us. Thank you for being so clear on a topic that brings so much emotion, both good and bad. Amazing words.

    Reply
  11. Cara

    So lovely. I’m getting married this fall, and while my fiancé and I do find love in the meals we make together and for each other, it’s hard to picture life when we’re married, a bunch of years down the road. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
  12. MikeVFMK

    This is beautiful. Ever since I read Leo Buscaglia say Love is a Verb, it changed my perception and reality. Love isn’t a word or a belief or a voice. It’s an action.

    It seems that you two prove that. Often.

    Beautiful. The recipe. Photos. Words. Actions.

    Reply
  13. Erica

    What an insightful post. I agree with you wholeheartedly that love is a choice. The first time I heard that was from an adult leader at my church youth group. I, too, thought it sounded terribly unromantic! I did not understand it at all. Over the years, however, I came to understand how true those words are, and how important to sustaining a marriage. Thanks so much for the wonderful words and the delicious-sounding recipes 🙂

    Reply
  14. la domestique

    Such a beautiful post! My husband and I will be married 5 years in October, and I’m amazed at how much our love has changed over time in the same way you describe here. I think back to the beginning and how much we’ve each grown in our own way. There is a depth and kindness to our love that only time can develop. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  15. Tina

    What an encouraging post. My husband is away on Army duty for the next 2 months and that has really given me time to realize how much I love and miss him. Date night’s? they are rare in this house, by the time he get’s home I am whiped out from a 16 month old, 8 yeard old and 4 month+ pregnant belly. I LOVE LOVE LOVE baking and cooking and the such (I HATE the mess and clean up).. Your blogs and yourself are so inspiring to me, your a mom, lots of kids, loves her husband and a wonderful chef.. ( Can I be like you when I grow up?) lol.. Anyway, I am having a hard time with balance and my husband usually gets cut out of the equation. I have to do this for him, at least once a month. Your website is always my “go to” when I am looking for something to cook however, I may just need a clone to accomplish what you did with this one! Great job! keep on inspiring 🙂

    Reply
  16. Bethel

    I love your “Dating My Husband Posts”. Although my husband and I have been married for a little over a year, we’ve only lived with each other for about 6 months now because of his career with the Navy. It has been quite the adventure and it hasn’t been easy, but I have yet to regret saying “I Do” on our wedding day. When I read this post, I could genuinely feel every word of what you said come to life in my heart. I’m new at this wife business, but I feel so much joy when I can prepare Tim a good meal. There is a sense of satisfaction that I have, knowing that I can give him these simple gifts of delicious food because I love him so much. I am so grateful for his hard work and dedication to our country, and to me. I think he deserves a good pulled pork in the near future. Thank you for the all of the recipes that have graced my kitchen these past 6 months, my husband appreciates it 🙂

    Reply
  17. Esther Sam

    Ashley, this is such a great post and honestly true. I myself have been married for two years now and completely agree with everything you said. Thank you for sharing your heart and being honest about what love is. It is refreshing!

    Reply
  18. Megan Gordon

    Oh, Ashley. There’s so much to say here and I don’t even know where to start. This is one of those posts where I feel like I need to sit with it for just a little while … such truthful, beautiful writing on love, the cycles of love , compromise, and what it all means. And such honesty — something I think people are scared to do when it comes to talking about their partners and their relationships. Not to mention the absolutely epic recipe action happening here. Looks like a wonderful date night, and I hope YOU have a wonderful week. ~m

    Reply
  19. Brandon @ Kitchen Konfidence

    A beautiful post and a beautiful menu. Your man is lucky! I like to have date nights at home and I always try to make each one special. I get dressed up, clean up the house, cook a full menu, set a unique table, lights some candles, stream our favorite playlist, etc. I want date nights as home to be even more special than our ones out 🙂

    Reply
  20. Deanna

    That is great advice. I’m not married, or even close to it, but I will be filing it away for the future. I think homemade buns are worth the effort. They are so much better than store bought.

    Reply
  21. Sarah

    Such a perfect, honest, and much needed sentiment. I needed that reminder today. Our lives are so busy and chaotic that it’s so easy to let love go by the wayside and forget that sometimes focusing on love can often actually be easier than focusing on what’s wrong. Thank you for reminding me to choose love… and the fantastic looking recipe!

    Reply
  22. Hairee

    This post was inspiring both at the content level and form. I’m a blogger also and I never occurred to me to start a recipe post this way with a short essay seemingly unrelated to the food. Thanks for the inspiration!

    Reply
  23. sara

    Oh wow, those sandwiches look so insanely good! Love the slaw on top – I’m a huge fan of slaw on pulled pork sandwiches, and that one looks especially crunchy and delicious!

    Reply
  24. jo-lyn's cup cakes n' candies

    Fabulous post! So much truth! Great recipe, too!! =) I have been married 18 years (October 30, 1993) and it just gets sweeter and sweeter! But we have been through the loss of our ten year old son and many many other struggles that most people wouldn’t be able to overcome. We CHOOSE to stay together through whatever God brings our way, with His help!! Blessings to you and yours. Thanks for an encouraging post today!

    Reply
    • Ashley Rodriguez

      Jo-Lyn, Thank you so much for commenting here. Your post was so incredibly powerful. I can’t even imagine the pain of losing a child and the struggle to move beyond that. I am inspired by your strength and I appreciate you adding your wisdom here.

      Reply
  25. Amanda @ Once Upon a Recipe

    What a stunning description of love and marriage. And a stunning feast for date night! I don’t have anyone special to make this for at the moment, but I just might have to make it for myself. I’ll consider it practice. 😉

    Reply
  26. Christi's Chirps

    Great post! What an incredible menu! I can’t decide what is my favorite item on this list! 🙂 The sesame seed buns look better than any I’ve ever seen! I need the orange and avocado salad right now!

    Cheers,
    Christi

    Reply
  27. lindsey @ a pear to remember

    Boy, I thought after an exhausting day, I would make this little Greek Risotto for me and the hubs… all i can think about now is how I have ALL the ingredients for sesame buns and I need to make some THIS WEEK. Thank you for making them so accessible!

    Reply
  28. MJ

    Amazing…I am a new follower and cannot wait to read more from you. Your love for your husband is apparent, so clear that you truly understand love…

    Reply
  29. Gayle

    Very sincere. Looking down the gun of my second marriage I feel like I know so much more now than I did then, and I know it still won’t be enough. Also, the food looks amazing! We like to do this too, sometimes I can even get Mr. in the kitchen to help which makes it even more fun.

    Reply
    • Ashley Rodriguez

      Gayle, I have so much more to learn. It’s a hard process, always learning and growing and being refined but the end result is always so much more lovely and wiser than what you started with.

      Reply
  30. Carly

    Thank you. This post spoke to me in a way I didn’t think a post on a food blog could ever. I’m not married, and I may never be, but I can relate to the type of love you describe here. My partner and I are very independent and have had our struggles and will have many more, but it is the little things that keep us together. We have admitted to each other recently that we sometimes think it’s just not worth it, but to be apart from each other is an even harder concept to grasp. Thank you for these lovely posts. I am going to give my partner an extra warm squeeze when I see him because of what this evoked in me.

    Reply
    • Ashley Rodriguez

      Carly, Thank you so much for your honesty and vulnerability with your comment. There are times when it seems like quitting is the best option but in a committed relationship you choose to fight through those seasons and I find that the biggest joys are right around those corners. I love that this evoked an extra warm squeeze. Thank you.

      Reply
  31. yoon

    I guess I never know which ‘yeast’ to purchase in a store when a recipe calls for them, do you have any suggestions? preferably something convenient to pick up at a regular grocery store like Target, since I live in the suburbs!

    Reply
  32. Brenda

    You have a lot of good ones Ashley, but for me this was your best post yet. Well, it’s a tie between this one and the ones that involve your children, cause I love me some kids.

    Beautiful post, just what I needed to hear.

    Reply
  33. April

    What a lovely post! Your thoughts and feelings on marriage are heart warming especially in this idealistic world where the divorce rate is now over 50%. I have been married 21 years so your post certainly rings true for me. Not every moment is cherished but it probably should be, because every second of your life with someone else ends up coming together and making the sometimes hard work of marriage so incredibly worth it.

    Your slaw and sandwich look amazing! I bet your husband feels very blessed! 🙂

    Reply
  34. Ash

    Your writing is beautiful, this post is beautiful, your whole blog is really just beautiful. Thank you for writing such an honest post on love- what real love is. I wish I could express my thoughts and observations on life as well as you.

    Reply
  35. Laura Wright

    Just like you, I have been married 8 years and just like you, it has taken me till now to really understand what love is and begin to actually live it. Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not boast and is not arrogant. Its a hard call to answer but loving someone is a choice – thank you for sharing your choice, it is a great encouragement to me.

    Reply
  36. Azurae

    Preach sister! Gorgeous as always. Loved the most recent collaboration – carmel walnut tart – and that it served as dessert! Proud of you both!

    Reply
  37. Maria

    Ashley, thank you so much for these beautiful, wise words! God bless you and your marriage.

    Reply
  38. Jasper @ crunchylittlebites

    oh my word. how in the WORLD do you manage to style the food, shoot the photos and not eat up all of your delicious looking food! the food is probably tastier than the photos if that’s possible – the photography is AWESOME!

    Reply
  39. Amy

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I have been married for one month, and I am learning what you wrote is very true. Thanks for inspiring me to be unselfish and a better wife, I am just learning how.

    Reply
  40. AmyDishes

    Ashley, I love this post. I read it a couple of nights ago and am still thinking about it. It’s full of truth and beauty and love. The part about Gabe turning on the espresso machine for you made me weepy – Nate does the same for me, and it is such a simple yet telling sign of love. I only hope I can do the same little things each day for him. Thank you for sharing this!

    Reply
  41. Quelcy Kogel

    I’m a sucker for love lessons and romances from the heart, so I appreciate this post. I’m also really fascinated by the associations we make with food throughout life. I once made an elaborate pulled pork meal for a love I had hoped would last forever. It didn’t, but that’s part of the journey, a journey which has led me to someone else truly special. These images and your sincere post have inspired me to create a new version and a new association, for I am very much in the butterfly stages, and those butterflies deserve something memorable too!

    http://withthegrains.wordpress.com/2011/10/01/bittersweet-bourbon-heritage-month/

    Reply
  42. Maureen

    This should be required reading for every married person.

    I would kill for a pulled pork sandwich right now. I probably shouldn’t admit that.

    Reply
  43. Lindsey

    This post made me tear up. Food looks amazing, but the advice to your younger self was endearing. I will take these words to heart. Thank you :o)

    Reply
  44. Janet

    I couldn’t agree more. This is exactly what I’ve been contemplating this past little while… And I must say that your words have encouraged me greatly! Thank you!

    Reply
  45. Leanna

    You put into words what I needed to realize most about my marriage, & I think you might have helped save it for me. I can’t thank you enough.

    Reply
  46. Messy Jess C.

    I just read your post and it is one of the sweetest things I have ever read. My husband and I just got married six months ago and I will definitely keep all of your thoughts in mind every day. Thank you for such a beautiful post.

    Reply
  47. dee

    Wow, I loved this post! It actually made a lot of sense because as you continue to grow together, you find more reasons why you said “I do” 🙂
    Thank you for sharing!

    Reply
  48. Jeanne

    Wow, thank you thank you for posting this! I’m getting married in 7 months, and this spoke to my sense of love and my insecurities. What a beautiful perspective. I’ll read it again, and I can’t wait to try those sliders!

    Reply
  49. Jo

    Ashley, every time I come back to your blog, I read something that touches my soul. Your honesty here resonates with me. I’m not married (anymore) but every insight you shared, I completely understand. God bless you, your husband and family. Happy travels to the Netherlands!

    Reply
  50. Chelsey

    I’m sure i’m saying what everyone above me has already said but, beautiful. Well said, and so thoughtful. I will remember that when i get married. No selfishness, just love. Thank you.

    Reply
  51. Rachel

    Thank you so much for sharing your gift, Ashley. I can’t help but think of you and Gabe when I remember my own wedding day almost 5 yrs ago, because you were both there–as our talented photographers! I’ve been following your blog ever since (yeah, way back in the Artisan Sweets days). This post resonates with me so deeply and I could never have put it so eloquently or beautifully. What a reminder of how God intended it to be. What a cool kind of love. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Ashley Rodriguez

      Rachel – Wow! Thanks so much for this comment and for being such a devoted reader. You’ve seen me through some rough photos and odd posts – thanks for sticking with me. 🙂

      Reply
  52. allie

    beautiful post! as a hopeless romantic i love hearing about these things 🙂

    cant wait to make those sandwiches this weekend! they look amazing!

    Reply
  53. Talia

    This post is incredible; it really confirms for me so many thoughts and emotions that I had been tossing around in my head. Thank you 🙂

    Reply
  54. Lilly

    Ashley!! I love coming by for inspiration! I read your post and couldn’t stop thinking about making those buns. I finally baked them last night and loved them. Just a quick question, do you know how I can make them fluffier? They were great but just wondering if they can be even better.
    Regarding your views on love, I totally agree with you, love is a verb, you have to act, it is no use to love deep inside if you don’t work on it. Here you are choosing to work on your date nights!. Congratulations!!!

    Reply
    • Ashley Rodriguez

      Lilly – You may want to try a recipe that contains more egg and butter. That will give a fluffier, slightly more cake-like texture. The other thing to be aware of is making sure you are allowing enough time for them to rise. If they are risen fully then they will bake tight. Thanks for such a lovely comment. I love hearing people use the recipes.

      Reply
  55. Lilly

    Thanks Ashley! I was so proud of my buns because they looked just like yours! But the truth is you are great at giving recipes. I look forward at reading more o fyour posts

    Reply
  56. Rachel

    Oh, not at all! Your posts and photos have *always* been gorgeous and a pleasure to read. You just keep getting better. 🙂

    Reply
  57. Lindsay Wormser

    Incredibly beautiful and inspiring to someone who has only been married now for 8 months. It so resonates with my heart and is so encouraging to hear that after 8 years and experiencing more of the truth of what love truly is, you love him in a way you could barely have fathomed on your big day. My husband and I say, loving one another is really about the 1,000 little choices that each of us makes each day. It’s in taking out the trash, emptying the dishwasher, leaving a note on the bathroom mirror, etc.

    Reply
  58. Sarah from 20something cupcakes

    Your dad was 100% right. It is a choice. People will always think, at some point, the grass is greener somewhere else. Which is why our divorce rate is so high. But all of that’s fleeting. It’s about making the choice to know and understand that up front, that you are choosing to be with this one person. Forever. Beautiful post.

    Reply
  59. Ashlae | oh, ladycakes

    I had (err, have?) the same ideas about love. And to be honest, it was so refreshing to see my thoughts proven otherwise. The older I get, the more I’m starting to realize that just as you choose to be happy, you choose to love your partner. And that’s what I need to do.

    Thank you for this. I needed it. And if I could kiss you through the computer screen, I would.

    Reply
  60. Boni

    This post couldn’t have come at a better time in my life. I’ve been married for 5 years and yes, it’s hard. I’m not enjoying the parts discovering that I and my husband are so very different yet love each other so much. I’ve focused a lot lately on the differences, and the unintentional pain he causes me from his selfish actions. I too am selfish at times but 99% of our relationship is happy and he does those thoughtful things that you mention in your post. We have a beautiful daughter that he adores and he is there for us 100%. I need to take your advice and realize that accepting his imperfections are part of the love we’re building. I need to be thankful for the love we have and his attributes which I love. This gives me food for thought, no pun intended. Thank you for writing this.

    Reply
  61. Michelle

    This was a beautifully written piece. I feel your emotions, I feel your words. I’m glad I don’t envy your love but understand it. I think it’s an achievement to write what you feel and although it might not be what you wanted exactly, it came across perfectly to me and to your other readers, I hope. I’ve always had troubles translating what I feel and think into words and you do it so beautifully that it serves as an inspiration. Thank you 🙂

    Reply
  62. Shada

    I couldn’t even read the recipe because your words that came before it honestly made me cry. And I’m at work. Now I’m just embarrassed.

    Beautifully written, and the recipe (now that I can see) sounds marvelous. Thank you so much for sharing.

    Reply
  63. julie

    I have no idea how I ended up on your site. Perhaps it was my good night present. Your sentiment, recipes and photographs all resonate for me. Truly beautiful!

    Reply
  64. Annabel

    I love this post. In fact both my boyfriend and I did. We’ve reached that point where it takes work. But, it’s so worth it. It always helps to hear about other’s experiences and this was definitely inspiring.

    Reply
  65. Steve

    Lovely little essay on love. My wife Elizabeth and I have been married for almost 29 years, and I can attest, it’s not “love at first sight” or “happily ever after” that truly matter. It’s finding little ways to stay connected by making more deposits to than withdrawals from the “emotional bank account.” Your example of saving the last scoop of ice cream for someone else is right on point. I always tell my kids that “real love” is when subordinating your own needs to the needs of your loved one does not feel one bit like “sacrifice.”

    Reply
  66. Vin

    Im about to get married in a few months and this post has really warmed my heart and put any doubts to rest. Thank you for this post it brought tears to my eyes, it is a beautiful piece of writing x

    Reply
  67. Natalia

    Ashley, your words at the beginning are beautiful! I wish I had re-encountered them before I was married with a head full of unreal expectations. Thank you <3

    Reply
  68. Debbie

    Can I say I just found your wonderful blog by chance – your flavour combinations are awesome … This article incapsulates a lot of my own thoughts – you have expressed well my husband read this over my shoulders and looked at me with that look… Yes I think we will have to have a moment shared with this fantastic menu…thanks for sharing and inspiring.

    Reply

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