Sunday Smatterings

Sunday Smatterings! 3.11.18

Hey, folks! It's me, The Kerr. We're halfway through J.T.'s annual sabbatical—she comes back in only three weeks! She wants me to let you know she misses you desperately, but she's getting good work done on the next Brit book.

Her brain never shuts off, y'all. It's amazing to watch.

I hope you had a great week. In the realm of food, I absolutely did. Fair warning: I'm about to nerd out heavily over Tex-Mex. 💃🏻

What I'm Eating


I was born in South Texas, and I was drinking salsa before I could walk. Smoky meats, hot salsa, and fresh-from-the-comal tortillas are my comfort food. 

But I live in Nashville now. Nashville isn't Texas. And there aren't any good Tex-Mex places here. 

Except for Uncle Julio's.

I heard from another transplant that Uncle Julio's was worth a visit. So armed with cautious optimism, on Wednesday I went to Uncle Julio's and ordered a huge platter of beef fajitas, nestled them in little corn tortillas, topped them with guacamole, sour cream, and pico... and reveled in the tangy meat bliss. 

I couldn't believe it. They tasted like the fajitas from my childhood. They were so good.

Yes, it's a chain. No, I don't care. If someone serves me delicious fajitas, I do no question where they came from. Plus you know it's legit if they serve homemade tortillas.

And if fajitas aren't your thing, Uncle Julio's has all kinds of Tex-Mex classics: enchiladas, tacos, margaritas, the works. Their table salsa that's different than a straight roja—they char their tomatoes and chiles over an open flame, and it is excellent. Across the dining room I saw a few folks getting tableside guacamole. I'm springing for that next time.

Other Texas transplants, do you have the same problem finding good Tex-Mex joints? How do you get around it? I've found one way to fix it: make my own Tex-Mex... (see below)

What I'm Playing (in my ears)


You can tell a lot about a person by the podcasts they listen to.

Here's what I've listened to this week:

Food and TV and artists. If someone starts a podcast about greyhounds, that'll be the pinnacle of podcast perfection.

What I'm Reading

Since my trip to Uncle Julio's, I've been clawing the walls for more Tex-Mex. 

So I picked up my worn copy of  The Homesick Texan Cookbook, and decided to get cooking.

This time every year, when the earth is waking up, my taste buds wake up too. I crave chiles and onions and cilantro, and I'll stop at nothing to put them in my mouth. 

Texas transplant Lisa Fain wrote a book that helps me fulfill that mission. I've never made a recipe from this book I didn't like—and I've cooked my way through this book more than once. 

This week, I'll whip up a few quarts of Lisa's escabeche, a spicy blend of jalapeño/carrot/onion pickles that pack a wallop of pucker and heat. I'll mix together some creamy green tomatillo salsa to put on my eggs and chicken... and to squeeze into my mouth whenver I feel like it.

My personal recommendation: make her enchiladas. Whether you pick her cheese enchiladas (tuck some onions in there, folks) or her sour cream chicken enchiladas, you can't go wrong. And if you have guests coming over, even better—it's a cheap dish for a crowd, and they'll love them too.

And for quick access to her food, check out Lisa's blog. Try at least one recipe—she has all kinds of meats and sauces, breads and desserts. Let's find new Tex-Mex favorites to gush about!

What I'm Watching

Today I'm dragging my little sister to the movies. We're going to watch A WRINKLE IN TIME.

Confession: I have tried to read A WRINKLE IN TIME no less than five times, but I always put it down. Between the physics and magic and crazy dimensions, it's goes too cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs for my wee little brain. 

I hope the powerhouse acting of Oprah, Reese Witherspoon, and Mindy Kaling will help me finally understand what on earth is actually going on with Meg Murry, and if she actually finds her father. We'll see. I'm paying $11 to find out. 

(Also: going to one movie is more expensive than a month of Netflix. A month, people. Let that sink in.)

Dog of the Week

Talk to the feet—it’s Friday. 🤫

A post shared by J.T. Ellison/The Kerr til 4/1 (@thrillerchick) on

Crockett was over it by Friday. 😂

Have a Tex-Mex dish you love? A great podcast I should listen to?
Let me know in the comments—and have a great week!

Sunday Smatterings (The Kerr Edition)

Sunday Smatterings (The Kerr Edition) 8.6.17

Hi, peeps! It's me, The Kerr, filling in for J.T. while she makes her way home from vacation. She'll be back tomorrow—let's all be nice and welcome her back to the real world gently, okay?

Not that you wouldn't. You guys are pretty nice.

Did you have a good week? I did: my little sis came to town! It's been fun doing all the touristy Nashville things like walking down Broadway, playing in Dragon Park, finding new treasures at Parnassus Books, and eating hot chicken (forget what you've heard: if you visit and wanna try of our city's dish of the moment, Pepperfire is the place to go).

ANYWAY. You came for some links. Here's what happened in my world this week.

What I'm Eating

I'll tell you what I'm eating this week: everything from READY OR NOT!, the new cookbook from my favorite cooks, Michelle Tam and her husband Henry Fong. They're the brains behind the hilarious yet informative cooking blog, Nom Nom Paleo.

The recipes in this book are super fresh, with tons of aromatics (ginger! garlic!) and herbs (cilantro! basil!) and sauces (roasted garlic mayo! sriracha ranch dressing!) to keep things delicious. The best part of this cookbook is the layout: instead of the conventional starter/entree/side we expect, this cookbook is laid out according to how ready you are to cook/how much time you have. For those of us who could use a little help with time management, this is genius.

Curious? Here's a peek inside!

What I'm Playing

The title of a new podcast caught my eye: "Conversations with People Who Hate Me." 

How could you not click? Read the description, and let me know what you think. I listened to the first one, and I liked it. I'm intrigued to hear more!

What I'm Reading

Slow reading week for Amy: I'm still not done with WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR, but I learned that my copy of JUST MERCY is available at the library. I better put my serious nonfiction kick into high gear before these books both expire!

What I'm Watching

You guys. We are so close to football season, I can taste it.

To quench my thirst for pigskin, I started new season of ALL OR NOTHING on Amazon. Did you miss Season 1? All right, let's download: ALL OR NOTHING is a documentary that follows an NFL team for an entire season. And by follow, I mean follow them everywhere: practice, locker room, their own living rooms with their families. It's a fascinating look into the biggest money generator in sports and how it affects everyone from fans to families to staff.

This season of ALL OR NOTHING is bittersweet because (a) it stars the 2016 L.A. Rams, whose head coach is my main man, Jeff Fisher [aka former Titans head coach who took us to the Super Bowl in 2000 and we lost by 1 yard and I cried] but (b) I know what happens to my main man at the end of the season [he gets fired 😭].

Don't worry, that's not a spoiler—that's how the doc opens. 

Also, it's narrated by Jon Hamm, who has one of the best voices in the history of voices. I could listen to him narrate almost anything, which is why I get excited about Mercedes-Benz commercials, even though my dream car would be a brand-new Toyota Corolla. Because I have exquisite taste.*

*I drove a rental once, and I loved it. That's all. I know nothing about cars, don't listen to me.

Dog of the Week

This is Lita the Greyhound! Lita is available for adoption through Greyhound Pets of America – Nashville. And if I didn't have two greys in my life already, I would adopt her because she is so precious, I can hardly get over it. Look at that face! 😍

Her favorite hobbies are loving stuffies and loving people.

Hobbies we should all strive for, Lita.

That's all from me, folks! Bless you Southern parents who have school-age children going back to school. Our hearts go out to you and your early morning alarms and forcing your little ones to eat breakfast and saying Would you just get in the car already!? for the umpteenth time with clenched teeth. You Northern parents, y'all have fun with that in about a month.

For those of us without school-age children: I hope you also enjoy hitting Snooze on your alarm.


Sunday Smatterings (The Kerr Edition)

Hi, guys! It's me, The Kerr. Did you have a good week? Everything is getting so green again, I wake up to a brilliant blue sky every morning, and the evening sun hangs out much longer after work than it used to.

I love spring. I love feeling the warm breezes, working by an open window, seeing the joggers and stroller-pushing mamas out again. I feel a bit brighter, too, full of energy and possibility. I hope you're feeling it too!

Here's what I've been up to this week.


What I'm Eating

Confession: this is kind of like guacamole. But not really.

I had this avocado salad at a little brunch place near my house, and I order it every time I go—it's so simple, yet so delicious. Diced avocado, shallots, grape tomatoes, lime juice, olive oil, salt & pepper. That's it! Gentle tossed together, it's a perfect little salad to serve for Easter brunch, or placed on spinach with some chicken on top. 

Alas, I have no photos of said salad, because...

Another Confession: I am not a professional food blogger. This is evident by the way I consume everything I eat without taking photos of it. What can I say? When it comes to food, I have trouble with the word no. 🤷‍♀️

What I'm Playing (on my headphones)

I'm a sucker for a good podcast. This week I blazed through S-Town, from the producers of Serial and This American Life.

Murder, mayhem, a treasure hunt, a clock maker, small town Southern politics, a backyard maze with 64 permutations of escape, Kant and Plato. This seven-part series is all over the place—I mean that in the best way possible. Every spare bit of downtime I had—cooking, cleaning, dog walking—I was listening to this riveting show. It has the intrigue of Serial Season 1 without having to wait weeks for the next episode. I highly recommend it.

If that didn't convince you, here's a lil' preview.

Um, yeah. Go listen to it.


What I'm Reading

Remember last week, when I talked about my favorite, must-pre-order-book-as-soon-as-I-see-it-and-wait-in-breathless-anticipation-for-release-day authors?

Anne Lamott is one of those authors.

This week, her new book HALLELUJAH ANYWAY showed up on my Kindle. I have gleefully been reading a chapter every morning over coffee—it's my motivator to get out of bed and get through a workout, actually. The sooner you get this over with, I think, the sooner you can go read Anne.

I always need a kick in the pants, and Anne is always there to give me one—and a laugh or two along the way. Filled with thoughts on mercy, why we all need it, and how to spread it around, it's a lovely way to start each day, a goal to aspire to. I fail miserably, but I'm still practicing.

What I'm Watching

This. This video from Harlequin is hysterical. The 75 seconds are worth your time, I promise. 

Dog of the Week

Crockett the ridiculous greyhound

This week's winner is my greyhound, Crockett, for being this week's #1 office distraction. He can't understand why anyone would ever stop snuggling with him. 

I know, buttercup. But Mommy's gotta bring home the rawhide somehow.

Sunday Smatterings (The Kerr Edition)

Sunday Smatterings (The Kerr Edition)

Hi, friends! It's me, The Kerr. Did you have a good week? It was a bit crazy in our neck of the woods. Between the RITA® nomination for FIELD OF GRAVES and THE DEVIL'S TRIANGLE hitting #2 on both the New York Times and USA TODAY bestseller lists, there was much hoopla here in Nashville! Top that off with warmer spring weather, and I'd have to give this week a 10.

Without further ado, here are your links for the week:


What I'm Eating

This week, I'm all about quick, flavorful proteins. Lately, I've been on a roasted chicken thighs kick (because you can get a big pack of boneless/skinless thighs at Costco for very little dough). I preheat the oven to 400 degrees F, sprinkle them with a spice rub, and roast for 40 minutes. Pair it with a salad or green vegetable and boom: instant healthy meal!

Variety is the spice of life, and I like use different spice rubs on my chicken. This week I used Primal Palate BBQ Rub. And whoa!!! Talk about a flavor explosion!

I wouldn't say this chicken tastes like BBQ. In fact, I noticed this rub has 11 herbs and spices . . . if you catch my drift. 

BTW, Primal Palate spices are the bomb. I use the Adobo Seasoning on everything—it's especially good on sautéed veggies (and bonus: these make great gifts for the cook in your life). 

What I'm Playing

I love Lady Gaga, and I don't care who knows it. When I need to motivate myself to get up and get moving, I play "Just Dance." Because who can't dance when listening to Lady Gaga!?

What I'm Reading

Confession: I'm not into "diet books," but I am trying to be more conscious about what I'm put in my body. This week I'm reading Wired to Eat by Robb Wolf, and I'm finding it pretty fascinating.

Robb talks about why we humans eat and crave food the way we do, and how we can become more conscious eaters who consume foods that our bodies can not only handle, but benefit from.

I've just started it, but I like it so far!

What I'm Watching

If, like blood types, we could be categorized with Humor Types, mine would be Tina Fey. On any given lunch break, I am probably watching 30 Rock. Because I am a sucker for smart and goofy physical comedy.

Please go watch it. The end.

Dog of the Week

Crockett refuses to leave the bed

This week's award goes to my greyhound, Crockett, who loves the bed so much that he refuses to leave it . . . even after the bed is made. He is a goofball. 

That's it from me! Go forth and cook some chicken, pat a dog, stop to smell the roses, and we'll chat again soon.

The Kerr

Sunday Smatterings (The Kerr Edition)

3.5.17 - Sunday Smatterings (The Kerr Edition)

Happy Sunday, one and all! Assistant Amy/The Kerr here (J.T. and the rest of the world call me The Kerr, so that's what I'll go by here).

How'd your week go? I don't know what happened, but mind kind of flew by. All of our Bradford pears are blooming now (!), which means spring isn't too far away! I'm excited. But not for humidity. Though I'm not going to focus on that for now.

If you've been under a rock and wondering Where is J.T.?!?!? don't worry, she's okay! She's just taking her annual social media sabbatical for Lent. And she's finishing up a book, which means she's super in the zone, which means you're stuck with me for the next six weeks. But if you've got an important message, let me know and I'll pass it along!

Alright—you're here for links, and I'm here to give you some. My format's a wee bit different than my boss's, so I hope you'll indulge me as I talk about my favorite things.


What I'm Eating

I am a lazy eater. I don't care. If I like something, I like it, and I don't mind eating the same thing over and over again. It's served me well throughout my life (especially as a broke college student—I miss you, college burritos . . . and college metabolism 🌯). 

Since I'm lazy, I usually make a big pot of something at the beginning of the week that becomes my work day lunches. This week, I'm all about this curry from Nom Nom Paleo (but I actually make it with this green curry paste—I like the heat!). I even double the amount of frozen veggies it calls for. It's an easy way to get tons of veggies quickly and easily. And as we know, I do like easy. 

What I'm Playing

I love a good quiz. I also love sitcoms. Ergo, I give you the "Can You Name These 25 Leading Ladies in Comedy since 1975?" quiz.

Sidenote: The Golden Girls is streaming on Hulu now, and I'm going back through the series. It's even funnier than I remembered as a kid . . . probably because I understand all the innuendos that whizzed over my head. 😂

What I'm Reading

Right now, I'm in the middle of Mario Puzo's The Godfather (yes—that Godfather).

Confession: I have a thing for mafia stories. I don't know why. Doesn't matter who they're about or where they're set—if there's some sort of "alternative economy" going on, I am all about it. The SopranosThe WireNarcos: I love them all. I'm trying to savor my time between mafia TV shows, actually, so they last longer—I still have Boardwalk Empire and Ray Donovan on my lists.

I think what fascinates me the most about mafia groups is that the rules of engagement in these stories are super clear—there's a black-and-white world filled with loyalty and lines that you don't cross. Because when you cross them, you (or, at least, the viewer/reader) know exactly what's going to happen, and it's not going to end well. 

ANYWAY. The book is wonderfully written, shock, shock. I'm enjoying myself immensely.

What I'm Watching

You guys. Can we talk about This Is Us? 😭

This show. I haven't seen anything so wonderful on network television since Friday Night Lights. NBC really knows how to make a wonderfully written, emotionally complex drama, and This Is Us doesn't disappoint. There are so many different stories here, so many journeys represented onscreen. Ultimately, they all show us the importance of connection, how beautiful it is to know someone, how we can never really know another person fully, but what a gift it is to see in side their worlds. It shows what happens when we communicate well—and what happens when we don't. 

The details. This show is masterful at evoking emotion from the tiniest details, ones that seem mundane at first, like a split-second shot at cracker-jack-box toys. But in five minutes those toys have a story behind them that'll reduce you to a puddle of tears. Guaranteed.

AND! Perhaps the best thing about the show, perhaps the thing that demonstrates how wonderfully written and moving it is? Everybody is watching this show—and I do mean everybody. College kids. Young moms. PR executives. Hedge fund managers well into their seventies. And these are all people I've met personally. Old, young, male, female—this show resonates with all of them. And right now, I am thankful that there's something that crosses the gulf and unites us. It doesn't matter that it's "just a TV show"—this is the power of art at work, y'all. 

Okay, okay, I'll stop. It's clear I'm head over heels for this show. Give it a chance, just the first episode (the whole thing, mind you), and tell me what you think.

Dog of the Week

When it feels too good.. lol 😂

A post shared by Leo Greyhound (@leo.the.greyhound) on

I am a dog person through and though, and I have an especially soft heart for greyhounds. They're the sweetest, goofiest dogs, and I just think they're the bees knees. So this week I bring you one of my favorite InstaGreys, Leo! Someday, I wish I could be as relaxed as he is. 😂


Alright, kids, that's all I've got for you. Enjoy your week, go great The Devil's Triangle (which, as of this writing, is cheaper than the ebook on Amazon at $14.63!!!!), and I'll see you soon!

Amy/The Kerr