Thursday, September 30, 2010

When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get a Treat

Hey Ma,

As you know, I'm dutifully working my way through midterms right now. Though certainly challenging, I sort of thought it would be impossible to do and feel like an attentive mother/partner/sister/self and I'm pleased to report that so far this doesn't seem to be the case.

Anyway, I've always been a firm believer that when the going gets tough the tough get a treat. What form the treat takes isn't nearly as important as the feeling that it's a treat. And so today, instead of eating my usual yogurt with granola, I packed up M's and my things and we went to the Homemade Cafe where John works for a special breakfast.

I love taking M to the Homemade for many reasons, but one of them is admittedly that she usually sleeps when we're there. This isn't unique to her by any stretch. When I worked there I witnessed countless babies blissfully asleep while their parents blissfully ate. What this meant for me today was that I could get some work done while enjoying a breakfast I didn't make myself and M would get a timely nap. Talk about multitasking, right?

Of course, M's nap didn't amount to what it usually does. That's neither here nor there, though. I sat and ate eggs and toast (so simple and so good) and read some Nietzsche while M dozed and it felt like exactly what I wanted it to: a treat. I felt fueled enough to go home and finish writing a paper and all day I've had that little extra bit of happiness for having broken from the work routine and given myself a little something special.

Do you agree with my treat theory? How do you treat yourself?


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Failure at the Grocery and Five Fingers

Hey Ma,

So, I went to the grocery store the other day to fill out our meals for the week (we were starting to get low on the provisions you and Dad left us with...oh man, that was awesome) and I came home feeling quite pleased with our stash. I always feel pleased after grocery shopping (I'm sure there's something to be said about this), but this time I felt a little extra pleased because I had gone shopping without a list, an exercise I read about a few weeks ago that supposedly helps keep your brain sharp (because, you know, being a full-time student isn't doing that....but anyway). I always bring a list. Always. Admittedly this is mostly because I love a good list and not because I've ever feared I won't remember key groceries...or, at least, it was.

John is cooking dinner tonight (awesome). The meal scheduled for tonight (based on produce not turning before we use it) is sausages with beans and salad (sausage is one of our go-to busy day dinners...I really liked the pasta with pesto and sausage you made when you were visiting). Ten minutes ago, John came into the living room where G and I were watching an episode of 30 Rock (John has M in the kitchen with him, making this is a seriously luxurious moment) and asked if we had buns.

Nope, I forgot them.

Fast forward a few minutes. John's back, this time wondering if I bought mustard (sausages require mustard in our house).

Nope, I forgot it.

And so, though dinner will be fine, there goes my pride in grocery shopping without a list. You don't use a list, I don't think. It's one of the magical mom skills you posses (yes, though I'm a mom myself, I don't think I'll ever stop marveling at your super mom status...if anything I respect it now more than ever).

Alright. Here comes Super Dad (John) with our dinners so I'm off.


What's this picture got to do with food? NOTHING! My dad has become *obsessed* with these five finger shoes that supposedly make him use his feet the way we're supposed to. Anyway, during his visit he and John had some serious conversations about shoes and so this drawing is just a little present for my dad from John.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Candy Drawer: Take Two

Hey Rachel

So I'm strolling through the grocery store aisles doing my weekly shop and I get to the candy aisle and have a little epiphany. While I always said that the candy drawer was about having options for my kids (see post here), actually it was about me. I realized as I strolled past the Kit Kats and M&Ms and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups that the candy drawer was a way for me to have candy in the house but not actually have it be about my interest/need in having candy available. No, see I was doing this for my children. I was doing this because it was a way of giving them candy. The fact that I might occasionally actually taste a piece was completely secondary. This was about providing them with a little snack.

Yeah right.

Now that we are empty nesters, I no longer have an excuse. I am either going to buy candy BECAUSE I AM GOING TO EAT IT or we won't have any.

It was a sobering moment. Between me and my partner I am definitely the one who succombs to the sugar surge. I am (sadly) married to a man with tremendous fortitude. He weighs the same (or less!!!!!) as he did when we met, and has eaten a half sandwich and piece of fruit for lunch for DECADES. In other words, if I am going to buy candy for the candy drawer, I have to admit that I am buying it for myself, which then means I am going to eat it. Will I let myself eat it? I don't know. It's complicated.

I will say this: On this trip, I did not buy anything. I did, however, come home and make my mother's cream cheese pie. I may, or may not, have a piece for breakfast. I'm just saying.


Monday, September 27, 2010

Meatless Mondays: Burritos

Hey Rachel

I'm so glad you, John and M (vicariously or is it secondhand?) enjoyed the leftover burritos last week. First, how great are leftovers? It's so wonderful to come in the door after a grueling day at work, or in your case school, and know there is something nutritious to eat just a microwave away. I wish I had been more organized as a young working mother to figure this out. It wasn't until I started my gig in Albany (I work out of town two to four days a week creating magazines) that I started cooking ahead and making dishes that had leftovers for the rest of the week. Stuuuupid. How I would have loved to have done this in the days of juggling a job and young children. I hope you learn from my mistakes. The key to good meals during the week is smart cooking on the weekends.

Anyway on to the burritos. I don't think my burritos are particularly spectacular and they change just about every time I make them. It all depends what's in the house. These particular burritos featured black beans (a personal favorite of mine), corn, dirty rice (that I made from a box so there's THAT confession; it wasn't from scratch), chili powder, hot sauce, some guacamole, grated sharp cheddar, sour cream and salsa. Mix it all together in a bowl, wrap it in a tortilla, pop it in the oven, and voila, instant filling dinner.

I have also made burritos with refried beans, jalapenos, ground turkey and all of the above. I think that's what I like about them so much: You can do just about whatever you want within certain perameters, it's fast and it's nutritious. What are your favorite burrito fillings?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Hey Ma,

Last night I got home from school at 8:30 after having been up and about since 6:30 or so in the morning. M slept awfully the night before and decided to protest her nana and pamp's absence yesterday by having--no joke--maybe her fussiest day to date yesterday. G was supposed to watch her all day--and he was really helpful--while I read 100+ pages of Derrida (Anybody out there read Derrida? If you have, you know I was attempting the impossible). With M at fever pitch, though, I just couldn't quite disappear into my dining room to study all day as I'd planned.

Anyway, by the time I got home from class last night I was completely exhausted and rather depressed by the fact that I had Derrida to finish up, an assignment to write on his task in his exploration of Plato's pharmakon, and 60 pages of Hannah Arendt to read (Did you know she had an affair with Heidegger when she was 18 and he was her professor? Juicy, though it didn't make my homework any easier). John and G had already fed themselves. Most of the time I really like coming together for dinner with my family at the end of the day, but sometimes--and this was one of those times--eating in complete silence by myself feels like such a gift. I opened the fridge, pulled out leftover burritos that you'd made, popped them in the microwave and paused to--effortlessly (thanks to you)!--tend to my most basic self for the first time that day. It felt soooo good.

I never make burritos since we live in the land of burritos so having them in the fridge was an extra-special treat (since I completely adore them). You make really simple and yummy ones. Will you share your method?

Of course, I didn't take a picture to share with our lovely readers. Sorry guys, a photo will have to come along another day.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Chicken in Every Stomach

Hi Rachel

The red-eye flight home went well today/last night (kind of delirious at the moment I must admit so I'm not sure what day it is) although of course my theory of sleeping through it all was completely imaginary. The only good part of currently operating on about three hours of sleep is that I know I will sleep well tonight, and as someone who has battled sleep problems for the last decade ever since a particular female event occurred, I'm actually okay with being exhausted right now.

It was so wonderful to see Miss M, who is a baby rock star and that's just a fact not besotted grandma speak. It's amazing to see how much she's changed since we saw her about six weeks ago and to actually be able to interact with her. That smile is killer and renders her Pamp and me into total mush. Once she realizes how much she can control us, we are in trouble for sure.

It was also great to operate more as our new larger family. Three months into your new adventure, you and John are no longer as shell-shocked so, while you're both exhausted and Miss M still rules the day's schedule, we had a little more time to just be together as a family. It was so much fun to cook for you and to see how we all interact around this communal eating. I could picture times in the future when M (and perhaps a sibling or cousins from G and S?) are older and we all just cook and eat and play games. I can't wait.

In the meantime, if you want to know how to make this sour cream chicken, here's the recipe. I loved it as a kid and I've loved making it for you, G and S. It was one of those dinners when my mother announced this was what was coming to the table, I was so happy because I knew I would eat every bite. I can't wait to make it for M some day.

Sour Cream Chicken

I made it for 5 but you can add as many chicken breasts as you want and then just increase the amount of sour cream, etc

Note: This is a two=day recipe. The chicken marinates in the sour cream mixture overnight.

5 skinless chicken breasts
about 1 1/2 cups sour cream (I use low-fat)
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
Tobasco or hot sauce of choice to taste (about 6 jerks of the bottleis a good place to start)
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup bread crumbs (or more if you're making more)

Wash the chicken and pat dry. Mix all the ingredients together and then dredge each breast in the sour cream mixture and place in a flat baking pan. Whatever is left over I pour on top of the breasts. Cover the breasts with foil and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, carefully lift up each breast and gently dredge in the bread crumbs. Place back in baking pan. Put back in the fridge until you're ready to bake.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Uncover the chicken and bake one hour or until the chicken is done.

The sour cream "crust" makes this chicken especially tender. I served it with my favorite veggie (which I forgot you hate) and a version of your smashed potatoes, which G proclaimed later were not as good as yours. Dammit it.....stay tuned, I will make them again. :)


Monday, September 20, 2010

A New Format? Let Us Know What You Think...

Hey Ma-

You're in my kitchen right now cooking dinner for Dad and G and John and me (which, I guess means you are also indirectly cooking M's dinner). You flew out for just a few days and, in this little window, you have fed me in myriad ways. My laundry has been magically folded, my dishes done, my fridge and belly filled and I have felt myself relax for the first time in weeks (ok, maybe for the first time since you were last visiting). You are a phenomenal nana to baby M, kissing her and playing with her and tucking her into bed. Nothing makes me feel more sated then watching my mom and dad with my baby.

We've decided to explore a little bit more of the life side of our lives as they're told in recipes and this is the post that kicks it off. How perfect that what you're cooking is one of your favorite recipes of your mom's right now (in this way, Grandy is feeding M, too, and that is just kind of mind-blowing and awesome). I'll let you share the recipe some other day, but I do want to say that I--like you--have fond memories of eating this chicken dish while growing up. I'm excited to eat it in my house in California, feeling grateful for the continuity of and across kitchens and generations.

As you did last time, you are leaving us with a bounty of chocolate chip cookies (last time they were mookies, this time chocolate chunk...which you made without a recipe which totally impressed me). Every time I eat one, I will think of you and I will feel strong and supported and loved. This is the best kind of food.

Thank you for crossing the country for just a few days. The impact will reverberate in my belly and my heart for weeks to come.


Friday, September 17, 2010

Sausage with Smashed Potatoes and Cornichons

Rachel here: My brother G is staying with us for a while which means I am finally feeding the number of people I cook for (I seem doomed to cook for four, which leaves John feeling compelled to eat for three...when he and G combine their appetites, I am cooking for four). In addition to the noticeable decrease in leftovers, it's just really nice having my brother here and watching him and M play together and whatnot. Plus, he's pretty helpful.

Anyway, I'd been wanting to make this dish for a while and finally got around to doing it the other night when G arrived. It is super yummy and, frankly, I could eat these potatoes on their own. We rarely eat mashed potatoes because they feel like too much work, but smashed potatoes? Oh yeah--these will be cropping up on dinner plates in our house with regularity.

I got the recipe from Real Simple. Click here so you can have this super delicious and awesomely easy dinner tonight.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Food for Thought Thursdays: Feeling Full

Rachel here: In the days before M's arrival, John and I spent Saturdays in our kitchen together. Sometimes I'd cook, sometimes we'd both cook, but what felt important--what was important--was that we spent that time together, focused on feeding ourselves well physically in the upcoming week and in feeding our relationship through this weekly pause together. We'd talk and cook, sometimes listening to talk radio. The best, though, was when our friend Brian gave us new music of his.

John and Brian have always been friends (always). Getting to be friends with Brian (and his phenomenal wife--one of my best, best friends--and super awesome daughter) has been one of the great gifts of being with John. The music Brian makes is, in turn, one of the great gifts of knowing Brian. Brian makes music that articulates feelings I stumble to find words for, grasps moments that slip through my fingers. Ethereal and concrete, brave and intimate--the arrival in our kitchen of new music from Brian has always been cause for excitement in our house.

Today, it is my distinct pleasure to direct your attention to Brian's blog (click here). He has a new album out (called "Call")and, for the first time, he and John have teamed up with John illustrating each of the five singles Brian is releasing (a sample is our illustration for this post). The album is awesome and so are John's singles covers.

Spending the day in the kitchen with my best friend and true love, preparing food to fill our bellies while Brian's music filled our ears--this is as full as I've ever been and I feel incredibly lucky for such sustenance.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Pear and Blueberry Crisp = Yummmm

Janet here: The air is getting cooler here in the Northeast, which has me thinking about fruit crisps/cobblers/crunches/slumps, etc. As a warm dessert, it really is at the top of my list. So in my quest to make just about every crisp option available, all as an excuse to eat fruit crisp which I just love, I tried this combination from Anna Getty's Easy Green Organic and really recommend it.

The combination of pear and blueberry is outstanding, the sliced almonds on top add some additional texture and the brown sugar sour cream is a wonderful change from vanilla ice cream. Really quite perfect. I would also like to add that another benefit of making crisp is that it is wonderful for breakfast, and with fruit as the main ingredient, I maintain it's actually healthy. Who else eats this for breakfast? C'mon. Fess up. You know you do.

Pear and Blueberry Crisp
serves 6-8


about 6 pears, thinly sliced (I always keep the peels on my fruit for added fiber but if that bugs you, peel them by all means)
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla

for the crisp topping
1 cup flour
1/2 cup oats
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick butter cut into 1/2 inch cubes

for the sour cream part
3/4 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon light brown sugar


Heat over to 375 degrees
Combine the pears and lemon juice in a bowl. Add the blueberries, mix well and set aside. Melt two tablespoons of butter in a large saucepan and add the blueberry and pear mixture, sugar and vanilla. Cook, stirring occasionally, about 5-7 minutes until the pears just start to soften. Transfer to an 8-by-11-inch baking dish.

For the topping, mix all the topping ingredients together. Using your fingers begin to add the butter pieces, mixing it into the flour mixture until it starts to resemble coarse meal.

Spread the topping over the pear/blueberry mixture. Bake for 30-35 minutes until top is brown and the juices are bubbling.

To make the sour cream mixture, mix it together until the sugar dissolves. Then when ready to serve the warm crisp — always warm! — add a dollop of brown sugar sour cream to each portion.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Books That Make Us Hungry: Alice Waters and Chez Panisse by Thomas McNamee

Before we get into today's Book That Makes Us Hungry, we wanted to let you know that we've got another giveaway coming your way soon. We can't tell you the details, but we can tell you it will be something that helps you cook every day.

Now if that's something that interests you, you might be want to know about this website, Give Away Scout. The site scans the internet looking for giveaways. If you sign up for their email notifications, you can hear about more giveways. Sounds like a good deal to us so we figured we'd pass it on to you in case you're interested. Just click here to learn more about it.

Rachel here: When my parents came to visit right after M was born, my dad left me with two gifts. One was a book on cooking for children that I blogged about here and the other was Alice Waters and Chez Panisse by Thomas McNamee. It is this latter book that has provided me with little glimpses of Rachel-time this summer amidst the flurry of M's arrival as I've read a few pages at a time.

The adventures that focused around Alice Waters and generated Chez Panisse as it is today are decadent and delicate at once. I've enjoyed escaping into the French countryside with Alice and reading her recipes. Even absent a new baby, this book promises to transport both your mind and your mouth to fantastic places. The only problem, is that every time I close the cover I find myself feeling a little hungry.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Meatless Mondays: Food for Friends

Janet here: I have a fairly new friend who I found through a shared love of music. Without going into all the details, let's just say that Jean helped reintroduce me to a part of my musical world that I had left unsatisfied for 30 years. It's been great.

Sadly, in August her husband of many years died of cancer. Jean is understandably bereft. We've tried to help a bit by playing together more frequently, but the other thing we immediately jumped to was food. Without even thinking about it, Lisa and I added bringing dinner to the musical nights out. We jumped to this without discussion, without forethought.

While of course there's no way Lisa and I can make up for Jean's loss, this whole thing has made me think again about the healing quality of food. It doesn't really matter what the food is, of course; instead it's the act of cooking for someone else and bringing them sustenance. And then it's the shared moment of sitting down together and eating. We pass the food around the table, talk of other things and suddenly, for just a moment, everything seems bearable.

We are playing together again this week. Lisa is bringing vegetable lasagna and I will bring roasted vegetable soup. We will play trios, laugh and talk, and then we will eat. And when we leave, we will leave our food behind for Jean to reheat, and she will remember once again that she is not alone.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Ode to Banana Bread

Janet here: I was feeling a little verklempt about everyone having flown the coop (see my post here) and generally wanting to bake, which is what I often want to do when I'm feeling a little blue but also feeling as if there was no one to bake for (sorry Peter but you can only eat so much), and then I had one of those AHA moments and remembered we have a freezer. Duh!

So, inspired by making zucchini bread (which was seriously fantastic thanks to the molasses and applesauce; I strongly encourage you to try it out), I looked at the very ripe bananas on the table and decided to make banana bread. Not just any banana bread, mind you, but one with chocolate chips adapted from Anna Getty's Easy Green Organic, one of my new favorite cookbooks.

While I generally feel as if just about every baked good can benefit from the addition of chocolate chips, I did worry a bit these might be overkill. I mean chocolate chips in a typically breakfast bread? Really?

The answer is a definitive yes — even from Peter, who is not someone who indulges in chocolate in the morning the way some of us do — okay I do — but who does eat this for breakfast ... happily.

Rachel here: I love banana bread, like love it love it. I found what I've figured is a completely perfect banana bread recipe and haven't looked back since. It's what I make for people I love when they hit a rough run and I've been known to overnight it across the country. Anyway, the recipe I usually use can be found here. Next time (and I have two brown bananas in my more and I'm baking...I wasn't kidding that I love banana bread), though, I'm giving my mom's recipe a shot (oh, and hey Ma-I really like your tablecloth).

Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips

Anna got this from her good friend, Julie, who adapted it by adding chocolate chips. I adapted further by using butter instead of soy margarine

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 stick butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 eggs, beaten
3 very ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

walnut topping
1/4 cup ground walnuts
1 tablespoon brown sugar

Heat oven to 350 degrees

Mix together the flour, salt and baking soda. In another bowl cream together the sugar and butter. Stir in the vanilla and buttermilk. Add the eggs and bananas and mix well. Add the dry ingredients, stirring until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips and walnuts.

Pour batter into a loaf pan. To make topping, mix ground walnuts and brown sugar. Sprinkle over batter.

Bake 1 hour and 15 minutes. Let cool in pan before serving.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Egg Noodles with Smoked Trout and Sweet Corn Sauce

Rachel here: Things have been pretty hectic in our house as of late since I've started back at school. Those of you who've been reading for a while know that life was filled to the brim last year when I was in school and John was working, so with the addition of M to our family we are definitely feeling pretty scrambled around here these days. Fortunately, we had the foresight to save some of the food our dear friends and family made us right after M was born for these past few weeks (in fact, Ma, I just ate the last of your roasted vegetable soup and it was deeeeelicious). We didn't save much, though, and this has led to a lot of pretty simple dinners (we'd be lost without sausages). Even if we hadn't been investing so little time to our dinners around here these days, though, the dinner John made the other night would have been a stand-out.

In typical John fashion, he didn't write anything down, instead tasting as he went along until everything was just right (oh, this is a skill I wish I possessed...and really enjoy that John does). In case you cook similarly, I offer his ingredient list to you: egg noodles, shallot, garlic, sweet corn, cream, smoked trout. I'm sure a picture would help guide you, but I was too busy eating to take any. If you give this dish a shot, right down what you do and share it with us!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Speedy Suppers: Take Two

Janet here: I have been obsessed with pasta recently, most particularly with pasta that doesn't have a single thing red saucy about it. I grew up with marinara sauce and meat sauce and I loved it for years, but now I am all about pasta that has everything BUT red sauce in it the same way that my favorite pizza does not have any red sauce at all. What is that about?

Anyway this pasta takes about 10 minutes to pull together and if you love walnuts and olives, you're going to like this. I hadn't made this before so I'm still tinkering a bit. Perhaps kalamata olives next time? Anyway, I hope you like it.

Pasta with Walnuts/Olives and Capers
serves 3

3/4 pound pasta (I used farfalle because I like how it looks but fusilli could work too)
about 1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons diced garlic (about 1 large clove)
2 heaping teaspoons capers, drained
1/2 cup black olives, drained and cut in half (pitted obviously)
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup pecorino cheese, grated
1/2 cup bread crumbs

Cook the pasta. While it's boiling, pour about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan and saute the walnuts and garlic, stirring so the nuts don't get black and the garlic doesn't burn. Then add the bread crumbs and stir until slightly browned. Take it off the heat and add the cheese, olives and capers.

After draining the pasta, mix the whole mess together, adding perhaps some more grated cheese because when do you ever get enough cheese, and the rest of the olive oil. You can always add a little more olive oil if it seems dry.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Blogs That Make Us Hungry: They Cook and Draw

Janet here: Hope you all have a marvelous long weekend and that you were among the laborers who got Labor Day off...which we obviously took off ourselves.

Anyway up today is the fabulous blog, They Cook and Draw, thanks to Wynne, who let us know about it. In my secret life, I am an artist. I have wanted to be able to draw ever since I was a kid and while I have tried at various points to do it, the reality is I'm an abstract artist because ... I can't draw my way out of a bag and that's just the reality of the world.

Anyway this blog features someone every day who draws his or her recipe and it's just wonderful on every level. Every day is a different style and of course a fabulous new recipe. I just love looking every day to see what kind of wonderful drawing I'll find. Check it out. You're going to want to bookmark it, we guarantee it.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Sweet and Lemony Mint Iced Tea

Rachel here: Man, these are bad pictures. Between school and M and whatnot I find myself calling a lot of things "good enough"--my blog photos included--and, really, I think I need to work on this. Good enough has a time and a place and I'm definitely not knocking it in general, but I'm also a firm believer in investment, in presence and caring. So, yeah. I'm going to try to write things off as good enough a little less often. Thank you, blog, for bringing my good enough issue to my attention.

The thing is, though, that this tea is more than good enough. In fact, it's downright good! John really liked it and so did I. It's a perfectly simple and summery concoction. The first time I had mint tea made with fresh mint was when I volunteered on a farm in high school and it has stood out in my mind ever since as one of the better things in life. I'd never made it myself, though, and I'm so glad I did.

a handful of mint stems, leaves picked off
3 tea bags for making your own tea (these are significantly larger than pre-made tea bags)
1 lemon, halved
honey to taste

To a large pitcher, first add honey. I made our tea pretty sweet and used roughly 4 T of honey. You can always add more, so start with less, though, depending on how sweet you like your iced tea. Stuff the tea bags with fresh mint leaves and hang over the side of the pitcher (I use rubber bands for this part and it works great. You can see how I do it in the photo above). Fill the pitcher with hot water. Squeeze in juice from one of your lemon halves and slice the other half very thin, adding the slices. Adjust sweetness as needed at this point. Let cool before putting in refrigerator and removing the tea bags. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Food for Thought Thursday: A Foodie on — What Else? — Food

Janet here: Cara and I met over dancing at Nia, which if you don't know it, is this amazing form of exercise that feeds the soul and exercises the body. If you want to know more click here.

Anyway Cara mentioned one day that she is a regular LTIR follower so I asked her what I ask everyone who reads it: Would you like to share a food memory/recipe? Happily she said yes, so here you go.

I am definitely a foodie, so it was true excitement when Janet offered me the opportunity to write something inspired by the topic food in her blog! I think that I have loved food as far back as I can remember. I love the smells, colors, textures, and combinations of different foods.

When I think about what my first memories with food are I remember my mother’s cooking — pasta with a marinara sauce, meatballs, fish, and the baked goods ... Oh, the baked goods: banana bread, sugar cookies, muffins. Really my mom cooking for us, with the care and thought that she put into our meals, was an authentic expression of love.

Now as an adult I have grown to appreciate the value of cooking your own food in a way that I am so grateful for. I love to read novels centered around food (Like Water for Chocolate was my first), watch the Food Network, read and collect cookbooks, go out to eat, try different ethnic foods, and of course cook!

The recipe that inspired this story is Grilled Rosemary Salmon Skewers with a Vegetable Feta couscous. I am always trying to find healthy, flavorful and quick meals, and this one was definitely a winner. I made it with my friend, Leticia, who had come over for an evening of good old girl time. Leticia is so much fun to cook (and eat) with because she equally shares my love for a healthy and delicious meal.

The salmon is marinated in a simple combination of rosemary, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, and a little salt, and then grilled on skewers with grape tomatoes. It really is melt-in-your-mouth delicious. The couscous with diced peppers, tomatoes and goat cheese is light and a great combination with the fish. We spent the night laughing, drinking wine, cooking and having great conversation.

I am pleased that a recipe that I made on such a great night inspired Janet to ask me to write something on her blog for Food for Thought Thursdays. I understand that the topic of “food” can be very delicate (Suggested reading for anyone who is challenged with balancing how to “love” food and not eat compulsively: Women, Food, and God by Gene Roth).

Thank you Mom for giving me the gift of a childhood filled with loving and mouth watering food-filled memories!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Rachel and Julia...Omelettes!

Rachel here: One of the perks to having a baby is the justification of television watching. We don't have cable at our house and so the options are often pretty grim. However, on Saturdays here, there are tons of cooking shows on public television. One recent Saturday there was a Julia Child marathon. The whole thing was awesome, but the episode that really caught my attention was the egg episode. Click here to watch a clip from the episode. I swear you, too, will want to make omelettes afterwards!

I should warn you, though. I can make an omelette, sure. But a Julia Child omelette is a whole different beast. While she makes it look effortless, as you might be able to tell from my picture (which is really only half an omelette since I had the brilliant idea to make a giant omelette for John and I to share...not recommended when you're trying to master a new technique. Fewer eggs would definitely have been easier!), it's a little more complex than Julia makes it seem.

I'm determined, though, to master these scrumptious french omelettes. John can make them and, really, they're superior to their overcooked counterpart that serves as the standard. When done right, they're incredibly soft and gooey. I'll keep you posted as my efforts continue. In the meantime, I can recommend the insides I chose to stuff our omelette with (heirloom tomatoes, white onion, ricotta and goat cheeses) and serving it with a side salad of arugula. Even in an overcooked omelette I'm pretty sure you'll enjoy your meal.