INSIDE AND OUT

June 22, 2019

There are some things that every home cook, and chef, should know about and that is seasoning. For those of you who are new to my blog, there are two things you will learn. One is that I am a food show junkie. The other is that for me everything has a lesson about living life in a more spiritual and loving way. Seasoning my food is just one more lesson in my life.

Amongst my favorite shows, which I now watch on YouTube are MasterChef, Chopped, and MasterChef Professional for various reasons. One thing they have all taught me is the importance of seasoning every level. You don’t just season the breading on fried chicken, you season the chicken as well. As Gordon Ramsey let Season 10 contestants know you season the ground beef before you make the burgers as well as on the outside.  Don’t over salt your burgers though because there is salt in the cheese as well, if you are having cheese on your burger. The key lesson is to season inside and out.

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NONE ARE THE SAME

June 16, 2019

I am not sure why I have been mindful that no two people are the same. As you get to know us, you become aware of our personalities, what we like, don’t like, how we behave, what we believe, and so much more about us as human beings. I was struck this week while watching food shows on youtube about how important it is to get to know the food you are cooking with. (Yes, I am a food show junkie).

I am not sure how many times I needed to hear the message before I got it. It started with the judges on Chopped stressing how important it is to taste all the ingredients. That I understood. However, then while watching an episode of MasterChef season 10 for the 3rd time I heard the passion with which Joe Bastianich spoke to a contestant about not making a test sample of a scallop as not all have the same level of sweetness to them. He pointed out those who made test samples and those who did not. Later I was watching Bobby flay make a breakfast omelet and he spoke about jalapenos and not all are equally spicy. He spoke about the importance of testing one to see how spicy it was. Knowing the spice level would help you to know how much to add to the recipe.

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SHARE A MEAL

June 5, 2019

We are all busy.
we all have lives.
but we should never be to busy
to stop and talk
as we share a meal.

It is time to
turn off the technology and
be present with those we love.
We need to take time to sit, talk
and create memories
as we share a meal

Sharing a meal
is more than just eating the same food.
It is about sharing time
with each other,
creating memories
with each other and
honoring each other’s lives

MEALTIME MEMORIES

June 1, 2019

Usually when we talk about creating mealtime memories, it is about in the present to carry us forward. However, for me this last week I have been mindful of the memories I carry with me from friends and family members who have passed away. My mother, for example, was not the best of cooks, but she was an amazing baker and the smell of cinnamon reminds me of her rugelach and I can feel her presence with me whenever I make them. Sometimes I wake up and I can smell them baking in the oven even though there is nothing there.

Every year on her birthday, my friend Laura would ask me to make my lasagna and orange brownies. That is all she ever wanted for her birthday. I can not make either of those dishes without thinking about her and my heart is filled with memories of our time together and the love I still hold for her. I also remember the look on her face as she savored every bite and had this glow of glee when I told her I would pack up the leftovers for her to bring home. I know she savored those leftovers and waited in anticipation for her next birthday. It was the last meal I made for her before she died. I am so grateful for the joy it bought her during a dark time in her life.

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FOOD AS SPIRITUAL

May 26, 2019

I seem to have stumped quite a few of my friends with a simple, or what I thought was a simple question. What food do you consider spiritual?  I asked my wife and she looked at me like I had three heads. It wasn’t anything she had every thought of before. Made me wonder how many of us think about our food as spiritual.  Are there foods we think of as more spiritual than others?

If we thought about our food as spiritual, would we select it differently? Would we prepare it differently? Would we ingest it differently? If we thought about the sacrifices made by that which we eat, would we think about it differently? Would we make different choices in what we eat or where our food came from?

As I thought about these questions today, I found myself thinking about some of the changes I have made in my life recently. They may have been for health reasons, but they were also spiritual. So my reflection today, is not long, but here to challenge you to think about what you eat, how you eat it, where it comes from, how you prepare it and to recognize that everything we eat or drink is a gift that others have given so we may eat and drink what is before us. How does that change the way you think for yourself?

SELF CARE TIME

May 16, 2019

The next ten days are grading frenzy for me. This is the time when I have more on my plate then I feel as if I can handle. In the past, I have burnt the candles at both ends and did not take the time I needed to sleep, eat properly, do my physical therapy or take care of myself as I should have. This semester, I have decided to do all these things out of an expression of self-respect for myself and for my relationship with my Higher Power.

How can I say I honor myself and the Divine if I am not taking care of myself or the one who dwells within me. This semester I have decided to take a moment to plan out meals to eat which are quick and easy to prepare, that I can prep once and dine multiple times, and that are easy enough for Zoe to reheat when she is hungry. I have budgeted time in for my exercises and physical therapy. I have given myself permission to take power naps when I need to.

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MOM MEMORIES

May 8, 2019

Maybe its because Mother’s Day is rapidly approaching or that a picture of my mom appeared in my Facebook memories page, or that we have been talking about mom memories as Pampered Chef consultants, or all of the above that has me thinking about my mom and the lessons she taught me in the kitchen.  Even though my mom passed away in 2001, the memories live with me. There are days I can even smell the memories coming out of my oven, even thought it is not on.

My mother was an amazing baker, but necessarily the best cook. However, one thing she taught me was to skim off the scum from the top when making chicken broth. She would tell me the scum would rise to the top and I needed to skim it off. What needs to be removed will let you know it does not belong here. So I would always skim it off. She told me mixing it back in would give a bitter taste to the soup because I was not listening to the soup telling me what needed to be removed. This process continues to teach me to listen to how God speaks to me about who and what needs to be removed from my life.

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LOVE

May 2, 2019

Jess S. Scott, in his book The Intern wrote, “When somebody loves you, the way they talk about you is different. You feel safe and comfortable.” I used this quote earlier this week as our thought for the day. We all know what it feels like to feel loved. For me it is like being wrapped in a blanket where I feel the warmth, safety and comfort of those who love me.

I could edit this quote a bit and say “When somebody loves you, the way they cook for you is different. You taste the love and the positive energy.” You may be able to think of a meal or a person whose food you can taste the love in. For my friend Tom, it is my Smac n Cheese. He and his wife drive 90 minutes each way for him to eat this. The look on his face while he is doing so is priceless. He consistently tells me he can taste the love. I am so glad because I do think about how much I love him when I make it for him. My friend Laura, who is no longer with us, would always request a tray of lasagna and a tray of orange brownies for her birthday. I would think of her and how much I love her as I made it and I would always be rewarded by that look and the smile and the joy that radiated from her as she slowly savored each and every bite. She would then take the leftovers home and savor them and make them last as long as possible.

I was at a vending event once and a woman told me how she hated chocolate chip  cookies and then she tasted mine. She was floored. She asked me what my secret ingredient is and I very humbly told her love. We are not always conscious of how love and the positive energy we carry with us while we are cooking changes the way we cook and the way the food tastes.

A friend of mine shared a story with me about a time he was cooking dinner for his family. It was a dish he had made hundreds of times. However, this time he was not thinking about his family and how much he loved them. Rather he was thinking about all the things on his to do list and the frustrating day he had experienced at work. As he shared nothing came out right. His mother asked him if he had a bad day. She could taste it in the food.

It is not about the complexity of what you are making, but the love and attention you pour into whatever you are making. So as you prepare to make your next meal for yourself or others, fill yourself with love and then start cooking.

HAVING INTEGRITY

April 27, 2019

It has been years since we had a television and the only thing I miss is my cooking shows. Go figure. I especially love it when you can see someone grow, take a risk, push themselves, or step forward with integrity.  One of the shows I enjoy watching on YouTube is Master Chef. While I prefer the other countries over the US version most episodes, I have been struck by two episodes of Master Chef US where the judges gave those who had the least successful dishes the opportunity to act from a place of integrity.

I can only begin to imagine the pressure contestants on cooking shows are under. To want to stay in a competition which will give you additional training and mentoring as you begin to move into a new career is important. To then voluntarily leave, knowing it is the right thing to do, takes courage, integrity, and honesty. I appreciated in the two episodes I saw this happen how the judges gave the home chefs the opportunity to leave on their own. As you watched the contestants you could see the struggle within them. You could see the battle between wanting to stay and grow and knowing your opponent deserved to be the one to stay more than you.

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In our family, anything that can be done in one dish and in less than 30 minutes wins. So when I was debating over one of several zucchini recipes or the Zesty Ravioli Skillet, Zoe voted for the Zesty Ravioli Skillet. She has been craving Italian and Mexican foods lately, so this was perfect and it met one of my criteria – it has green vegetables (spinach). It is only fitting that the Z in my life got to pick the Z recipe for this last blog of the alphabet.

I loved this recipe because it gave me an opportunity to use my new Stainless Steel Nonstick Wok in a dish that is not a stir fry. Italian and stir fry make an interesting combination to think about. It is like when we first began dating. Zoe had no idea what a mustard seed was, never mind where to find one. We had so little in common, but 18 years later we have come to realize that sometimes differences can create something amazing.  Think about some of your favorite pairings. At one point many of them were considered strange. Like peanut butter and chocolate, bacon and maple syrup, bacon and chocolate, or my personal favorite habanero’s and chocolate. So maybe I am still on the strange pairing list. LOL
I have known I can cook pasta in fluids like water and broth, but this will be my first time to cook ravioli in the juices of the diced tomato’s. I can only imagine how much of the tomato flavor is going to get absorbed into the pasta as it cooks in the pan. It reminds me of how we absorb so much of the energy and ideas we have from other people. I would like to think that those who soak me up are absorbing love, light, and positive energy.

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