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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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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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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I love this recipe for a few reasons. It is simple, yummy, and balanced. Even though I work at home, I do not always have or take the time to make a well-balanced breakfast. What I love is that in just a few minutes I can grab some of the granola I premade, some berries out of the refrigerator and some Greek Yogurt and I have a great breakfast filled with protein and fiber, I can eat while I am working and sipping my morning cup of coffee.

The other thing I like about this is that with the Make and Take Snack Jar I have portion control at breakfast, which is one of those skills I need to work on in my life. I also have a balance of protein and fiber and I do not need to worry about what is really in my granola a I made it myself.

Making my own parfaits reminds me to maintain balance in my life, to make time for what is important, and not take on more than I need in my life. If you want to make these, here is the link https://www.pamperedchef.com/pws/sharonjacobson/recipe/Appetizers+%26+Snacks/Healthy/Yogurt+%26+Granola+Parfait/1113008 and you can find the Make and Take Snack Jars at https://pamperedchef.biz/sharonjacobson

When I was a kid we would play a game to build our vocabulary. I remember V being for vegetables and victory and a few other words. It was fun to be able to say that V is for V shaped. I love the shape of our V-Shaped Baking Pan Set for a few reasons. One being that it helps me make healthy snacks for my family, which is a challenge. It is going to also be making one of what Zoe calls junk food night, “taco night” fresher and easier. I can even use it to make some fresh and easy to make desserts. With my busy schedule, anything which  can make my life easier and help me get fresh and healthy food on the table is a blessing.

My wife is a chip addict. So I love that in minutes I can make her fresh potato chips and if I am feeling risky, I can try getting her to eat some homemade fruit and vegetable chips. What I love about this new set is that it lets me bake twice as many ships as I could on a sheet pan. So now I can make tortilla and potato chips on demand, well with some notice at least. LOL As long as I have potatoes and tortillas in the house I can make chips.

What I am looking forward to trying next is making dessert tacos with pie crust and my favorite fillings. The more I look at these pans, the more I realize that what I can create with this pan is limited by my own imagination.

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For the last few days I have been looking at these cookie cutters admiring the shapes and the playfulness of the seven cutters: pirate, sailboat, octopus, crab, shark, seashell, and turtle. These 3 ½” diameter cutters make the cutest 3” cookies.  Not only are they dishwasher safe but they snap together for easy storage.

What I love about these cookie cutters is that each one is different and each has a different story to tell about the sea. You can use them with children to tell different stories about the sea and the different gifts each brings to the world and the environment. They provide a great way to teach about these sea animals, about life on the sea and explore the myths and facts about being a pirate.

What I also love is that they remind me to value the diversity of those in my community. When we focus on each other’s gifts, we make room at the Welcome Table for all of humanity and by snapping together we also make sure none of us get lost. We stay connected and protective of the bonds we share, despite our differences.

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Three Onion Rub is more than a few of my customer’s favorite rubs and is a staple in their homes. Besides which, at $6 a bottle, it is easily affordable. So it was easy to pick this product as one of the many products we carry starting with a T.

What many people do not know is that our pantry products are exclusive eto the Pampered Chef and designed in our Test Kitchens at our Home Office. It is a blend of red onion, yellow onion, and onion powder.  Three kinds of onions which live harmoniously in one bottle, each bringing their unique flavors and gifts to the table. Not only that but if you somehow run out of onions, which I have managed to do, you can use three tablespoons of Three Onion Rub to replace one medium onion.

Did you know that our tasty spice rubs & blends are kosher & gluten free?What I love most is the simple lesson it teaches me. If we allow ourselves to open ourselves up we can be like any one of the three onions and work together in perfect harmony. It is a reminder that a diverse group of people (onions) can come together to create something even greater then themselves. We each have a purpose in life. However, we also have the opportunity to work together with others to make this world a better place. Our Three Onion rub can do that to your food and we can do that as human beings.

S IS FOR SPAGHETTI

March 2, 2019

This week has been crazy and I have been struggling to pick a product that begin with an S.  Then I found myself craving spaghetti and meatballs, vegan for us of course. I have always loved eating spaghetti ever since I was a child. Well actually it was Spaghettio’s until I discovered real spaghetti with amazing sauce, but that is another story. My wife, however, enjoys when I make spaghetti with homemade Pomodorro Sauce and vegan meatballs. There is something comforting for people about spaghetti and meatballs.

The thing about spaghetti I have found most interesting is that there is more to its history then I knew. When I think spaghetti, I think Italian and my guess is that most people do. However, it seems that the development of pasta, spaghetti in particular, has its roots in Chinese and Arabic cooking. Maybe that is why I enjoy lo mein so much. It reminds me of eating spaghetti, but without the sauce, which I never liked growing up, until I learned how it should be made, and with the vegetables, which I enjoy. Or why some of my favorite Middle Eastern dishes use some sort of pasta as a main ingredient, like lentils and pasta or a myriad of kugels. While we may associate spaghetti with Italian cuisine today, it has its roots in earlier civilizations and times.

One of the things I like about spaghetti is what its appearance on the plate teaches me about life. If you look at a plate of spaghetti, nothing is laid out in a clear distinct linear pattern. Rather, the noodles are interwoven, interacting with each other, and overlapping each other. The movement of one noodle affects the position of others. This plate of noodles reminds me so much of life. We are all like noodles, interwoven and intermingling on a plate. We may not always even realize we are somehow connected until a certain string of spaghetti is moved and we discover something shifting in our own lives.

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