My friend had a little heart to heart with me last week. He said I should share a little bit more of myself in my posts, a little bit more of my story.
So, here goes—just hope he doesn’t mind he kind of is the story . . .
I need to drum up some serious positive thinking, ‘cuz I just came down with something and right now I feel like a blunt awl is tunneling into the left side of my skull.
Positive thought #1: Good thing I made this chicken soup for the kids last week. They had all taken the week off from school, with their little faces glued to shows like Kickin’ It and Good Luck Charlie, so they could get rid of this fever and sore throat they all had. They never ate (drank, whatever you insist on saying) the soup, so now I still have a big pot of it for me.
Positive thought #2: On Saturday night, when I was watching a movie with some friends, I started aching all over my body and shivering. I knew had caught what my kids had. Oddly enough, I kind of like fevers—they mean I have a provable illness and can take time off and no one will judge me—but the headaches that come with them . . . they’re maddening. (In case you missed the positive thought in there, it was the bit about taking time off.)
Positive thought #3: The people at Muir Glen sent me samples of their amazing tomatoes awhile ago, and I used them for the soup. And I’ll totally be talking about them again soon.
Positive thought #4: I awoke this morning to find my friend Jon shoveling my walkway at 7:15. I have good friends.
Have you seen the latest November issue of Martha Stewart Living yet? I’m quoted in the Kashi ad for their Original 7 Grain Sea Salt Pita Crisps. Here is what I said about them, along with a little recipe for that mediterranean salsa:
Eating healthy always tends to present a challenge for me, especially as a food blogger. When I write a post on something naughty . . . let’s say, for example, those maple bacon pecan bars, I have a tendency to opt for the naughty food over regular meals. There’s a crazy part of my brain that thinks that since I made the maple bacon pecan bars, then I am somehow entitled to every . . . last . . . one. And furthermore, why would I make a salad or throw together a quinoa dish when something is already in the fridge—right there, ready to be eaten? It’s all very dangerous.
There is a grocery store here in Utah called Harmons that I will drive twenty minutes out of my way to visit. That may not sound like that far of a drive, but when you consider I pass at least eight other grocery stores, a Costco, and a Super Target on the way, those twenty minutes prove just how much I love it. I don’t make enough money to buy all my groceries there, and they don’t even have everything I could find at a Whole Foods, but their service is exceptional. It seems like everyone in there knows all there is to know about the food in their section. And there is always someone standing within five yards who can answer any of my questions.
Oh, and don’t get me started on their Cheese Man. I don’t know that he knows that I call him that—apparently, his real name is Andrew—but he knows everything there is to know about cheese, and he deserves the distinction.
Last week, I was there browsing (I like to browse at grocery stores. I once had a
roommate flatmate from Australia who said this drove her CRAZY when we would shop together), and I was looking for something interesting. The kid in the produce section asked if he could help me, and I told him I was looking for fruit. He immediately suggested these honey tangerines (or Murcott tangerines), which are sweeter than other varieties, and suggested I put them in a salad. After some research on the internet, I found out that these tangerines only grow in Florida, and are available in the Spring.
Here is the salad I made.
I’m sure I don’t have to tell you the biggest occupational hazard of writing a cookbook is getting fat. I just added an hour walk to my daily routine, but even so, my body and my brain seem to think a plate of cookies for my book—whether the recipe passes or fails—should be scarfed down, with the best intentions of being better tomorrow. Mm-hm. Right.
Once, when I was in high school, my brother’s girlfriend got sick. He made a pot of chicken soup for her and cut the carrots into little butterflies. Later, she made him some soup as well, but cut the carrots into little hearts. I pretty much thought they were geniuses, and have copied their idea here and there over the years.
Today, my kids and I were all sick, and I knew we needed something a little extra special, so I made their chicken soup with the heart shaped carrots. Before you panic, there is a trick to making them. I’m going to blog à la Pioneer Woman for a minute, and show you how to do it, step by step.
Hello, my friends, I’d like you to meet my new friend, burrata. This little lump of cheese has made me one of the happiest people in the world. And I think it will do the same for you.
I was first introduced to this little orb of the creamier, dreamier relative of fresh mozzarella, when my peeps at babble took us out to dinner in New York last year. Since then, I have been searching high and low for it in Utah. I am happy to announce, that last week, I found it at Whole Foods, one of my favorite places in the world.
This is the macaroni and cheese I grew up on, and is nothing like what you find in a box. I suppose it is slightly reminiscent of a lasagna, made with layers of cheese and tomatoes. However, this dish, passed down to me from my mother, who got it from her mother, is layered with bacon. I’m sorry, but nothing else can compare to it. It is truly addicting.
When Newman’s Own* asked me to take a favorite recipe and make it my own using their pasta sauce, I thought of my Mom-Mom’s Macaroni and Cheese. Instead of using canned tomatoes and seasoning each layer with salt and pepper, I simply used Newman’s Own Fire Roasted Tomato and Garlic Pasta Sauce. It adds a new depth of flavor to the dish, cuts out the step of seasoning it, while keeping it as delicious as I remember it.
I’m excited to have this recipe appear in the latest issue of Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food. There is just something about her October magazines that make me giddy for cooler weather, sweaters, and socks. So if you see this issue, be sure to pick up a copy. I can’t wait to get mine. And Ashley Rodriguez of Not Without Salt has a Newman’s Own recipe in Martha Stewart Living this month, as well, so you’ll need to see it. She made a gorgeous calzone.
Every cookbook library should have a nice, sharp pencil handy. So often, the best recipes are the direct result of improvising on another recipe.
The seasoning I used for this blackened chicken is made up of the ingredients I had in my cupboard: paprika from my local Indian store, ground dill and thyme.
You could, by all means, make a rub with a more cajun flavor, using white pepper and onion powder. It’s up to you. But I didn’t have those things, so I made it my own way.
Ever since I saw the movie Ponyo, I’ve been wanting ramen that looks like this. Simple food elevated into art. Not that any Japanese chef would call my rendition here art, but whatever, we’re not going to talk about that.
For me, collecting the ingredients for Asian food is usually a bit of a process, and if I were to try it in one go, it would mean several trips to many many stores, and would be one long, and frustrating day. It’s best to do this in intervals. The collection for this soup started with the ramen noodles. I found a package of plain Chuka Soba noodles. Grocery store ramen contains a heavy amount of hydrogenated oil (at least it did, the last time I checked), and I wasn’t about to have that stuff tainting my masterpiece.
That sat around in my cupboard for awhile until the neighbor kids started selling me eggs from their chickens. Once the chickens started to eat a lot of greens, and the yolks started becoming brighter, I knew it was time to finish collecting the ingredients for my ramen.
Miso, which is a soy bean paste, was easy enough to find once I asked the health food store worker. It’s kept in the refrigerator section. I bought a small organic tub of white soy bean paste for about four dollars. Since you only use a little bit for one pot of soup, I still have tons, and it keeps for a very long time.
Then I searched for a good protein. I thought of using seared ahi, but that would have made this a more costly soup than I wanted it to be, and then on Ponyo, they use ham, which I wasn’t too excited about. My friend JoLene—who is a foodie I’ve mentioned before, and was a missionary for our church in Japan some years ago—and I talked this over for some time, and we concluded that shrimp would be the best choice here.
My last mission was to come up with some colorful vegetables. I wanted baby bok choy, but could only find the big kind, and it turned out that either variety was fine. I gravitated to a globe of red cabbage in the grocery store, so I bought that as well, and then I remembered I had seen these radish roses, by Noriko at NorikoBurky.com. Hers are even more beautiful.
Then I grabbed some roasted seaweed, or nori, which I have to keep under lock and key at my house, since my daughter, who you all know is probably the pickiest eater in the world, can down a package of that stuff in about five minutes. I’m not kidding. As it was, I had to fight to get the few little strips that are barely visible in the picture.
Once I had everything, putting it together was quite simple.