The other day a friend asked me why I was not a professional chef since I love cooking. I love cooking, but those I know who aspire to be part of the culinary world professionally, live, eat and sleep food and that I do not do. I love cooking for friends because I love my friends and family, but I do not have visions of plates and how food is arranged on them. It is not something I dream about, feel that passionate about, or feel called to do.

On the other hand, I love being an Independent Consultant for Pampered Chef. It provides me with opportunities to interact with people and have made some great friendships because of it. No longer being able to freely leave my house has limited my ability to do so, so Pampered Chef has been my lifeline. It has also been a way for me to earn an additional stream of income and who can’t use a side gig that comes with flexible hours. I also get to share what I have come to learn about cooking with others. So I get to do mini culinary instruction, but only because of all the amazing skills I have learned from Pampered Chef.

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BE OPEN TO LEARN

July 3, 2019

Zoe and I do not even an own a television anymore, so I get my cooking show addiction by watching shows and/or excerpts on YouTube. The other night I was watching a two part episode of Master Chef where Gordon Ramsey was teaching how to make a tarte tartin, which reminds me of Pampered Chef’s Upside Carmelized Banana Skillet Cake, but with a pie crust instead of a cake top. The second part of the episode was the home chefs making one, knowing that the worst one was the one would be eliminated.

There were more than a few that just looking at them, did not look edible or up to par. After going through them all, the judges were down to the bottom three. Fred was pretty sure he would be sent home. Sam was feeling the same and Evan knew his was amazing even though he was in the bottom three. If someone had asked me who I wanted them to send home, I would have said Evan. Why? Because there is something to be said for humility and being open to learn.

As a teacher, I am far more willing to work with with someone who is honest, has integrity, but is seeking to learn then those who think I have nothing to teach them and I am just a bad teacher who is not seeing their shear brilliance. For me Evan, was that latter student. Even as he walked out, it was about how awesome he was.

In order for one to gain new skills, one has to be open to learn. You have to be open to being a student and expanding your skill base. Whether it is associated with cooking or something else, being humble and recognizing you do not know it all is an important skill.  The other day I was watching an interview with Marco Pierre White, who mentored Gordon Ramsey, where he talked about how he is ever learning and evolving in his cooking. Whether one is a home cook or a professional chef, if you are not willing to learn and grow, your cooking will remain the same.

PUREE FOR THE SOUL

June 29, 2019

When I was younger, I thought of pureed foods as baby foods and food for the elderly. Now I look at them and see them as smooth and luxurious. I have tried making them before but they never look like they do on the cooking shows.  Imagine that. LOL. When I see them on cooking shows, they look so smooth and luxurious and I can only imagine how good they taste and feel. As I have been reading about and listening to chefs talk about them, I have been struck by a couple of simple steps which make all the difference.

One is to begin by peelings and/or washing your produce. This made me laugh, as this month the Pampered Chef guest special is your choice of serrated or vegetable peeler. Having a good vegetable and/or serrated peeler can be invaluable. I love serrated peelers for fruits and vegetables with hard to remove skins like kiwi, peaches, tomatoes, mangoes, etc. Having the right tools to begin is important.

The second step I learned is to steam your produce for 12-15 minutes. The best purees are from fruits and vegetables that soften as you cook them. Having a steamer insert for your pot is important. You can cook them without a steamer; however, the steamer makes it easier to get the produce in and out of the water.

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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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