I live to eat and love to cook. Welcome to my life!

July 24, 2009

Don't mess with my bacon

So I posted once today and thought I would not have time for another......Until I sat down with my sweetie after a frantic day of working, power shopping, pedicure (neccesity, not a luxury), laundry & packing for a trip.

We had BLT's for dinner-thick sliced bacon, iceberg lettuce, heirloom tomatoes (cherokee) from Dads' plants and good sourdough bread. The only garnish was mayo...no mustard, no salt, no pepper no fru fru stuff, just straight up fried pork, sweet tomatoes & crisp lettuce. I don't even toast the bread anymore because it scrapes the roof of my mouth and ruins the whole experience for me for days after.

Midway through my perfect sandwich my sweetie says...."what if you put bread & butter pickles on here...wouldn't that be good?" Blech. NO!

I am very open to trying new things and will eat damn near naything that anyone puts in front of me with an open mind (bananas being the exception), wild game...no problem, exotic veg or fruit...peice of cake, organ meats...minor hesitation, but what the heck!

Don't mess with perfection.

In my head I tried to envision the sweet/sour taste of a Bubbies bread & butter pickle with my perfect BLT and just was not having it. Heels dug in, I grubbed the rest of my sammy before he could corrupt it with a pickle. Being the good biddable girlfriend I am (Hah!), I tried his and I have to say.....

I was right.

Some things you just don't mess with and a BLT is one of them.

Getting ready for gluttony

Food, food and more food....add a few adult beverages and you get the gist of where I am off to. Half vacation, half work related, I am off to the annual NACE (National Association of Catering Executives) Annual conference in Charlotte North Carolina. The venue changes yearly, but the gist of the conference does not....generally a great keynote speaker (this year we get Rocco di Spirito) followed by 3 days worth of educational seminars ranging from food & wine knowledge, selling strategies, decor, trends, e-marketing....you get it. Then take that and intersperse a meal period every 2 hours.

No joke.

Breakfast. Design Session. Refreshment Break. Educational seminar. Lunch. Another educational seminar. Break. Where we generally go get cocktails before.....Reception & Dinner.

Repeat that.


And very little time to excercise or even get up out of that hideously uncomfortable banquet or chiavari chair and walk around.

My ass feels bigger just thinking about it. Added to that, we are going to the south where fried is a bonafide food group.

Don't get me wrong, I freaking love to eat and I love all the best things in the world that are horrible for my blood pressure, blood sugar, weight & cholesterol. So along with me to the conference go my old pals in pharmaseutical form...fat blockers, diet pills & acid reflux blockers...whatever it takes to keep up!

But there is really no conference like a catering conference where they bend over backward and do naked cartwheels to get you the best, funnest, most interesting food and beverage that they can. I will get to sample mini every things, ethnic foods, sample fizzy drinks in test tubes, enjoy refreshment breaks wrapped around baseball teams, colors, scents & countries and go to events that are so sensory oriented from the decor to the food that it makes your head swim. All you people that go to computer conferences, realtor conferences (yes, you mom), lawyer retreats and even incentive based meetings...I guarantee that you do not eat as well as we do. Because that is what we do. :)

Unfortunately no recipe for this week, but I will update you on all of the fun deliciousness that I get to sample and when I get back it is back on the old diet I go....Ugh!

July 14, 2009

Beyond the Farmers Market

Slow Food, locavore...we have all heard the terms that refer to eating local, sustainable foods that have not been processed, frozen, shipped and stored for a week before they hit our tables. It is a lovely thought and one that I embrace as much as I possibly can, but there are items that I am either not willing to give up or am just too damn lazy to make from scratch that are just easier to pick them up at the local TJ's or Vons. I love buying from the strawberry farm next to my neighborhood when she is open, clamming on the Rincon when the season is right and visiting the Farmers Market in Ventura or Ojai when the timing is right. Making my own pasta on a regular basis? Nah...been there and done that and it was a righteous pain in my arse.

I am lucky enough to have my parents ranch, which is the next best thing to the farmers market, fish shop & local butcher shop depending on the time of year. "Shopping" at the ranch can consist of the following and many more based upon what he decided to plant, raise or hunt this year: harvesting the late ripening tomatoes from the bottom of his vines to make marinara sauce (accented with herbs from mama's garden), random vines with squash, cucumbers & watermelon that come up intentionally or unintentionally based upon where he dumped the seeds at last year, picking several varieties of oranges, Meyer lemons and Mexican limes (the BEST limes ever!), filching ripe avocados from the counter, raiding the fridge for those gorgeous brown and tan eggs from the 9 laying hens on the hill or digging through the freezer for elk, venison or fish brought back from one of Dads hunting or fishing trips.

Yesterday afternoon, my buddy Tiffany took me to her garden where we harvested zucchini and the most beautiful heads of lettuce...which I traded her for a watermelon from my Dad's garden! Gotta love the trading system, it is almost like being without grocery stores again for a minute....but I digress, back to my original train of thought :)....

I headed home to make what I though would be a fantastic dinner with elk steaks seasoned with rosemary & oregano and served with sauteed mushrooms paired with this out of this world pasta dish my mom created from two different recipes. I could easily go face down in this dish alone and plan on enjoying the leftovers for several days if I can. The Elk steaks turned out to be a dissapointment as they were dry even though still very pink inside, but the pasta was as good as I remember it! Best of all I was able to use Tiff's zucchini & blossoms, moms herbs and an egg from the chickens, so I got to be a partial locavore which is better than not at all!


Cappellini with Zucchini & Zucchini Blossoms

1 small onion, chopped fine
1 large stalk of celery, chopped fine
3 cloves of garlic, chopped fine
2 T olive oil
2 medium zucchini, halved and sliced thin
Zucchini Blossoms, chiffonade
1/2 cup lovage, sliced
2 cups chicken stock or broth (reserve1/8 cup in a ramekin)
pinch of saffon
1 egg yolk
basil chiffonade
grated parmesan cheese
cappellini pasta, cooked al dente

Sweat the onion, celery & garlic in the olive oil until soft & a bit translucent. Add in the zucchini and mix well. Add in stock/broth about 1/4 cup at a time and let it reduce-the zucchini should be very tender at the end of this process. When there is about a quarter cup of liquid left, add the saffron, the zucchini blossoms & the lovage. Blend the egg yolk with the reserved stock and then stir in to the sauce and cook until slightly thickened. Season to taste with S&P (if you use boullion or broth, you may not need any salt). Stir in the cappellini gently. Garnish with basil & parmesan.

July 12, 2009

Asian Seasoning Salt

Good flavor, but use it with a light hand. The granules are fairly large and I used a little too much, even for a salt hound like me.

July 10, 2009

Coming Soon!

I have to get my dinner started so the profile will soon be updated! Trying out the Asian flavored sea salt on the grilled fish tonight...Review to follow!


Never thought I would have much to say that folks would want to read...but then figured, "What the hell...even if it is just me + Mom, I am fine with that"

My life is so filled with food, recipes, eating out and about along with the stories that come with it I started thinking about writing things down to share with my friends. From birth to death, celebration and depression, my life has revolved around a meal of sorts. Some are forgettable, some are memorable and some are freaking un-forgettable. Food to me makes me think of things that normally would not come to mind on a daily basis, long vacations & short road trips, holidays and get togethers and my general every day life that just keeps me fed and happy. I hope to share with you memories from me & my mom as well as recipes that have sustained our family on every imaginable holiday, birthday and every day life celebration

Tonight I am making Gumbo my moms way....Turkey Keilbasa, chicken, okra and the holy trinity seasoned with gumbo file (aka sassafras) and topped with splashes of tabasco. My sweetie...he says he doesn't like Okra, but we will see if he flicks it out of the way or decides that is is kind of OK when paired with sausage. It might not be authentic New Orleans style, but damn it is good!

Mama Lynn's Chicken & Sausage Gumbo
1/3 C Flour
1T Canola or Vegetable Oil
1/2 # Chicken or Turkey Meat
1 Andouille or Keilbasa Sausage ( I *heart* the low fat turkey variety)
1 Onion, chopped
1 Large Green Bell Pepper, chopped
1 Large or 2 small Stalks of celery, chopped
4 Cloves of Garlic, Chopped
3 Cups of stock-Chicken is the easiest, ham-bone based is waaaay yummier!
1-15oz can of diced tomatoes with juice
2 C Chopped Okra-Fresh or frozen
4 Jalepeno Peppers, pricked all over with a knife or fork
1 Bay leaf
1 Tsp Thyme leaves
Gumbo File

Toast the flour in a small skillet untill browned and set aside. Sautee Chicken & sausage separately until browned and set both aside. Sautee Vegetables in oil in a stock pot until browned. Add flour and stir until veggies are coated. Add stock and bring to a simmer. Add Tomatoes with juice, okra (if fresh), thyme & chiles. Simmer for 30 minutes. If it is too watery, simmer down a bit more, it should be a tad thick. Add the meat and the gumbo file a bit at a time until it is thickened. Season with S&P to taste. Serve over white rice with tabasco sauce. :)

Cheers, Slaite, Salud, Cin Cin, L'Chaim...here's to good food and a good life!